Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 16 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Three years is a long time NOT to drink.

Today is my anniversary. It's been three years since I took my last drink. More importantly, it's been three years since I realized I could no longer quit drinking on my own. I needed help, and I found it in the rooms of AA.

I was the most unlikely candidate to get sober using the twelve steps, as I didn't "believe" in them. Powerlessness, God, unmanageability, making amends--it was all crap as far as I was concerned. (Typing that last sentence made me laugh, and if you got sober in AA, I bet you're chuckling, too!)

I didn't want to accept I was an alcoholic. Like so many newcomers, I figured I was unique. I thought my education, intelligence and willpower somehow protected me. I was the exception to all "their" rules. Even if I was an alcoholic, I thought, I could figure things out and get sober alone. (I'm laughing again!) In the last three years, I can't count the number of times I've heard those exact thoughts from newbies crossing AA's threshold. I wasn't even close to being unique!

Ultimately, not being unique saved my life. Just as no one understands depression better than another with depression, nobody gets alcoholism better than another alcoholic. The secrets of a drinking life can only be honestly shared with others who've struggled the same struggles, thought the same thoughts, and endured the same experiences. Different, I was not.

I came in seeing only differences. Rooms initially filled with people who were "nothing like me" became rooms of brothers, sisters, confidants and mentors. The people in the rooms didn't change. I did. They didn't have to change. I did. Once I sat down, listened, and got out of my own way--a process which took about a year--I felt a new happiness and a new freedom. I began to recover. Life is not all sunshine and roses, as any regular reader of this blog knows, but it is different. Recovery makes it different.

AA may not be for everyone, but without it, I know I wouldn't have recovered from my alcoholism. I am alive today because of the family I found in the rooms of AA. I am living today because I stopped treating my depression with alcohol and started treating it with antidepressants. (With alcohol, suicide was all but certain. With antidepressants at least I have a fighting chance.) I am more hopeful, more honest, and a lot happier today because I do my best to practice the Twelve Steps in all my affairs. Through the generosity, compassion and understanding of my friends in AA, I have a new life today--a life I never imagined just three years ago. And for that, I am so very grateful.

10 comments:

la said...

Good work!

Jackal said...

Way to go!

Anonymous said...

Congrats! Hope you keep it up for a lifetime.

Say, I have my blog I'd like to share with you. Is that okay? Let me know.

Creston

etta said...

Thank you all. This is a good day.
@Creston: I'd be happy to view your blog. Leave me the link. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Keep on keeping on... 3 years and moving forward!! good job to you!!
sm

etta said...

thanks, sm.
couldn't have done it without you!

Katharine said...

Wow good for you! That is truly quite an accomplishment. And it gives me hope.

Anonymous said...

Etta,

my blog is at:

itsallinmyheadtoo.blogspot.com

thanks!!

Creston

Darrel said...

I wonder how many people treat their depression with alcohol. I think we would really be surprised to find out how many alcoholics are suffering from depression
darrel
www.hopefordepression.blogspot.com

etta said...

Darrel-
I think the percentage is quite high. We learn that alcohol "works" immediately--i.e. we numb, whereas meds can take up to 3 weeks. It is no wonder we choose alcohol!
Thanks for your comment.



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