Depression, Ain’t It A Bitch?

Don’t take the title of this post as a joke about depression; I know there are varying levels of depression with some so severe that it can result in suicide. I also know when I went through a mild depression early in my sobriety, all I wanted was for the way I was feeling to end.

I actually began to understand why some people commit suicide. I wasn’t suicidal myself, but I desperately wanted the deep sadness and dread that I felt to end. I would have taken medication if necessary, but I was fortunate to talk to a therapist and they helped me believe I could be OK on my own.

I do know, however, that some people need help through therapy and medication, and I wish more people would seek support.

Through my bout with depression, I had the fortune of not only talking with a therapist, but also receiving support in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. It helped to hear how others with more severe problems than me dealt with depression and were still able to get through it. They also said how they learned to recognize warning signs of depression and became better at combating the sometimes debilitating emotions that come with it. Some even said they were eventually able to reduce any medications they were on, or stop using them all together.

There are many factors involved in depression, and I want to make it clear that some people need medication to help them because of their brain chemistry. However, studies show that along with medication, when people get professional help and talk to others who have problems with depression, they stand a better chance of recovering from it. Click on National Institute of Mental Health for information on depression.

As I said, I was fortunate because of the many people who helped me, but I also prayed for help.  Maybe just the act of praying and accepting help from others did the trick, but this period in my life would actually reinforce my growing hope that something created life and the universe for a reason. It certainly taught me to never be afraid to get help from any source possible when I need it.

 

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What The World Needs Now Is Love Sweet Love

Something that still frustrates me today is how some people can be so closed-minded when it comes to gay people. Science tells us that we’re all made of the same stuff, and my personal belief is that if something created life and the universe it must have had a reason for why we’re “all” here. I believe it is to grow both spiritually and as a person, but it certainly doesn’t seem like someone is growing in any way if they can’t try to understand others and see there can be good in someone no matter what their sexual preferences are. When I try to understand others, not only am I able to find good in most people, but also love the good I find in them.

Now in all honesty I can’t say I love everyone, and there are actually some people I don’t like, but I refuse to hate anyone. Hatred can consume us and prevent us from growing.  I don’t think everyone who is against a gay life style hates gay people, but many do seem consumed with anger over it, and this also stops our growth.

I believe love really is the universal language, and if there was ever a time when we needed more of it, I would say it’s now. It’s been my experience, however, that we need to learn to love ourselves first, and I can’t image how anyone can honestly love themselves when they act in hurtful and unloving ways.

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Enough is Enough When Greed Comes Before Needs!

Ever hear the saying, “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer?” I’m thinking if there was ever a time for this phrase to be fitting, it may be now.  Reports show that oil companies and other large corporations are making record profits at a time when a lot of people are unemployed, or if working, have little chance of getting a raise. Sadly, some folks have actually even had their wages cut.

I’m all for companies making a profit, and I have no problem with rewarding the hard-working people who helped make that profit. However, when I hear how huge some of the profits and rewards are, it makes me wonder how justified it really is, especially when so many other hard-working people are struggling just to make ends meet.

Now I do realize, of course, that some businesses put their employees first, and there are  wealthy people who give money to charities and help the needy. However, the average American is in need of help too.

When it comes to how much wealth and material things anyone truly needs in life, I always ask this initial question. “What’s not enough?” I then follow-up with other questions. Is making ten million dollars a year not enough? Or is making fifty million a year not enough? Is owning three homes not enough? Or is owning six homes not enough?  What about having enough cars?  Is owning five not enough?  Or is owning a collection of cars, some that may never be driven, not enough?

Again, I know there are businesses that care about their employees, and there are wealthy people who understand the plight of the average American. But there is no denying that greed often comes before needs when it comes to big businesses and wealthy people.

 

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Inspiration

Inspiration can be defined as “Divine guidance or influence exerted directly on the mind and soul.” Sometimes we find this type of inspiration through people, a TV show, a magazine article, or a song. And sometimes we have to search within ourselves. But no matter where we find it, inspiration can help us focus on the good things in life, and in some cases, even help us believe there’s something that guides and influences us.

Here’s a song I listen to now and then for inspiration with my writing. It reminds me of times in my early sobriety when all I could do was hold on and have hope everything would be all right.

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Negative Thinking

“When it rains it pours.”  “That’s just my luck.”  “Why do things always have to happen to me?”  Do you or someone you know say any of these things when something goes wrong in life? Although statements like these may seem harmless, studies show that speaking negatively can actually help perpetuate negative events in our lives. Studies also show that not only should we be careful with what we say, but more importantly what we think. Our thoughts are more powerful than you might imagine, and when we think and speak negatively, it can lead to a very problematic life.

It took a few years in my sobriety before I started changing my thoughts to more positive ones, and it was well worth the effort. Today, I have very few problems in my life, and even when I do, I use them as a chance to grow.  

I’ve learned that stopping negative thoughts as quickly as I can and watching what I say helps me live a happier and more useful life.  Not a  perfect one, but a better one than when I was drinking.  That life, while not always miserable, sure seemed that way because of my negative thinking.

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A Simple Reason for Fear

I thought I’d share something that I read in the literature of Alcoholics Anonymous years ago about having fears. It basically states that we are afraid we won’t get something we want or will lose something we already have.  I like this because it gives a simple reason for why we can feel fearful from time to time.

One of the things that helps me with my fear is trying to believe that there is something (rather than nothing) that created life and the universe for a reason.

I try to believe as hard as I can that there is something more than just this world, but I also try to believe in myself. I find that when my belief in a creator and myself are strong, I’m less fearful and more joyful in life.

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Sometimes Regrets are Good

I learned many things about myself when I used to go to Alcoholic’s Anonymous and do the Steps, but I didn’t always agree with everything I read in the literature. One of those things was one of the Promises written in the Big Book…”we will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.” Even with thirteen years of continuous sobriety under my belt, I still feel some regret for not being a better father and husband than I was.

I do, however, agree with the last part of that Promise, and I actually use the way I feel to help others. I explain to people that we can use the sadness, and in many cases anger we feel towards ourselves, to help motivate us to be a better person today.

I get emotional at times when speaking about my past, but quite a few people have told me they feel a connection when I cry. You’d be surprised at how many people relate to feelings of sadness and anger for past regrets, and how much better they feel hearing someone talk about it.

Sometimes regrets are good. Especially when they can help us remember we’re no longer who we used to be. I’m not the same person I was in my drinking days and I’m glad I’m able to use the way I feel about my past to help others.

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