On Depression and Addiction and Love
A different sort of write tonight …
Yesterday, I found myself in a very dark place, something familiar, though always disturbing and just not fun. I like fun, I like the frivolity of life, so falling into an abyss of depression coupled with the nature of addiction can be a haunting torment for anyone. I have to constantly remind myself I’m not special, unique, better than anyone else. I’m just who I am with the constant reminder of an inner struggle that is identified rather than a mystery. And then, I have to recall the concept of love.
The day I discovered I had an addictive personality, I didn’t have a revelation, the skies didn’t light up, my world remained routine. I would call my realization more of a solution to my struggles. Unfortunately it took me 45 years to come to terms with the idea. In the meantime, everything I did in my life has contributed to who I am today. A man tossed around by the reality of an insidious disease, that on its own contributes to my state of mind. When I add depression to the mix, I can only be thankful that rather than allow the monster to revive itself, I have discovered there are coping skills that do bring me out of the mire, eventually.
I think people have triggers that place them in situations they relive whether they want to or not. For me, it is family of origin. I recently spent time with a sibling, a person I love, who treats addiction and depression as a sort of over sold movement, or call it a cult, or phase that too many people rely upon to mask their true mental health or state of mind. I think if I could, I would pull my bootstraps up and put this feeling behind me, but I am more convinced today than I have been over the last three decades that the despondent nature of my reaction to depression is real and valid. Without a strong grip on my addictions, my life could turn badly overnight, as anyone in recovery can attest.
I won’t go down that road again, I cannot, I wouldn’t survive. That brings me to where I am tonight, and why I feel compelled to write this story. I want people to be able to hear the facets of how our vulnerable selves truly do feel this pain, rather than recreate it in our minds as some sort of benefit toward masking the truth. If someone comes up to me, and for the sake of their own insecurity, jabs my own strength with my recovery, I feel shallow, weak, and later on the sadness overwhelms me. I recall all of the burdens that I placed on others when I was actively practicing my alcoholic behavior, my gambling tendencies, any game that allowed me to disassociate from that person I couldn’t stand to be around, myself. I begin to question my own ability to prove to that person that I am as capable and strong as they are. In other words, if I follow their lead, I’ll be proving I can drink them under the table, in a manner of speaking.
But, I am happy to say that is not who I am, and in order to keep myself in check from my demons, I surround myself with the people I love in every capacity, and I try really hard to count on the positive energy that allows our lives to flourish, rather than the negativity that easily destroys so many fragile lives.
Depression is always knocking on my door, I have to just agree with that reality and when it reappears put myself in the right situations to assist me with healthy decisions. If I say one more time, ‘I’d feel better with a scotch’ to ease the tension of a difficult situation, than I am stepping closer to the bar. If I pretend that this feeling of sadness, immobility is my own crutch and something I need to take more seriously and ‘get over’ I move myself that much closer to my own personal demise. In both situations, I forget something invaluable in my life and that is the concept of love.
We have to allow ourselves the ability to love. If in the throes of self destruction, we choose to hate ourselves, we don’t stand a chance. But if we can love, if we can know that those people that want to be around us are out there waiting for our call, then maybe we can make it to that next sunrise. I found my support in a close friend who reminded me of the beauty of life, and from her guidance continued to seek out those that would certainly help me move forward.
The reason I wrote this is still a little vague, except to say, I needed an outlet to be able to express myself. Perhaps my words can ring familiar with another reader, and we can both find some peace tonight. Perhaps we can accept there truly is a reality in the compassionate and supportive nature of love.