Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 19 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!

Saturday, December 28, 2019

14 today

I don't remember my last drink. I don't recall one moment where I thought, "This is going to be my last drink." In fact, after being sober for a bit, I wasn't even sure on which date that last drink took place. As near as I could figure it was December 28, 2005, (give or take) so that's the date I went with. Fourteen years ago today I took what would be my last drink.

I'm sober. But more importantly, I'm in recovery. I'm in recovery "from a seemingly hopeless state of the mind and body." That state is alcoholism. I'm an alcoholic. I will always be an alcoholic, but without continued work on my mind and body there is absolutely no guarantee I will always be in recovery.

Recovery is actually different than being sober. Anyone can get sober. I did it a bunch of times. I stopped drinking for days, weeks, months, and even years in the past. I was sober a lot. It's easy to stop. The key to recovery is to stay stopped. That's the piece I never understood despite years of accumulated "sober" time.

It takes willpower to stop drinking. It takes a willingness to change to recover. It also takes acceptance, humility, honesty, and guts. Every time I stopped drinking I had the opportunity to recover, but I never took it. I thought removing the alcohol was enough. Funny thing was, removing the alcohol did nothing to change my personality, and I was miserable.

Eventually it became a conundrum. I was miserable when I drank. I was miserable when I didn't. It wasn't until December 28th, 2005, that I accepted the possibility I might need to change something more than the alcohol. I might need to change me. I didn't leap into this thing with enthusiasm, not by a long shot! But I was so tired of feeling miserable and confused, I finally became willing to look at other possibilities.

At that time I was fortunate to be connected to two people whose lives I admired. I wanted what they had; connection, security, serenity, laughter, and love. They weren't constantly thinking about the alcohol they weren't drinking. In fact, they didn't seem to think about alcohol at all! And they were fun! The more time I spent with them the more willing I became. I became willing to ask for help, to listen, to humble myself, and to learn. Those two people played an instrumental role in my first steps toward recovery.

That was 14 years ago. A lot has changed since then. More people than I can count have contributed to my recovery. The only constant over the last 14 years has been me. And how I look and act today is unrecognizable when compared to how I looked and acted prior to December, 2005. Thank God!

I like who I am today. Recovery taught me to be a better daughter, friend, sister, coworker, therapist and patient. I owe who I am today to the program I was taught and to the actions I took in order to recover. I will be forever grateful to the people who guided me, cared for me, and cheered for me over the past 14 years. I proved countless times I couldn't stay sober on my own. But together, we did what I couldn't do alone. That, my friends, is a priceless gift. God willing, I've no plans to let it go.

Fourteen years... damn. So amazed. So grateful.

3 comments:

Katy said...

Thank you for sharing this. Congratulations on year 14!

Julie Gathman said...

You make a very helpful distinction between being sober, and being in recovery. I actually never knew that! It makes so much sense.

Katy said...

I am finally done with all Christmas activities. I thought it was never going to be over. It wasn't bad. It's just a hard time of year. The last get together with my husband's half brother and sister and their families was today. It went very well, but I was anxious about it all day. It is always hard for me to have people over. I don't see any way around it. I just have to walk through it. Then when it is over, I realize how ridiculous my anxiety is.

The other issue that comes up around the holidays is the unpredictable behavior of the alcoholics in my family. Their behavior worsens around holidays, and I think we are all on edge until the holidays are over.

What you said about how you stopped drinking but didn't change at first is very familiar, too. The alcoholic in my family has quit drinking for 6 months before. His behavior was improved and not so unpredictable. He was still very angry and unhappy and depressed. He started drinking again unfortuantely after about 6 months.

It's great to hear from someone who has gotten through that and has created a new life for herself. It gives me hope. My mom and I got my dad to talk to the alcoholic in my family and offer medicine which helps. It's a new medicine they have which helps with the cravings (my dad is a physician). I think it would help. He just has to agree to use it. At least he knows about the option now. My dad is the one in the family who everyone really listens to. He doesn't say much, but when he does, it is wise to listen.

So far... no changes. I know the drinking is related to the depression, and it makes the depression worse for this family member. I think we have to keep telling him that we are there to help him...go to AA with him...whatever it takes. Right now, I feel so far away from him, and I don't feel like any of us are really reaching him. About every 3 months or so, something terrible happens that derail him a little bit. He got his job back. He still has his wife and kid, but I worry...how long? I hope that he does not drive, and he usually doesn't. I love him, but it is difficult to see him destroy his life.

Thanks for listening.



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