Sober is better, but depression still sucks

Hi all

I have depression. If I’m honest, it has been there, off an on, for my entire life. In my last few years of drinking it became really bad, but I refused to recognize it for what it is, or do anything about it. It almost took me down then, and I have my semi colon tattoo to remember.

I take cipralex, a SSRI. It brings my general mood from despondent to normal. I am definitely not always happy, but I can cope with life. I love my life. It is full of beauty and joy and contentment. My ordinary life.

This fall has taken me down a good notch. All of October I felt myself become more tired, prickly and sad. I tried to rest more. I did less hot yoga and more restorative. I ate more regularly. But it continues.

Small things added to it. I was taking an online course in self care and the instructor, a yoga teacher, was mean to me. I knew, that sounds silly, but it’s true. In the group forum she called me passive aggressive and insinuated my criticism of her flippant disregard for fulfilling the course outline was due to unresolved issues of mine. And when another classmate joined in, they ganged up on me.

It sounds minor, but it was enough to push me down that last step. I cried and cried. I felt so hard done by, and finally I left the course. That was probably the best thing about self care that I learned from it. That I don’t need to remain in a situation that isn’t working for me, just because I paid for it. Sometimes you need to cut your losses.

So…as my mood dropped I became more worried about myself. I had a day where I honesty considered driving to the hospital and checking in, fearing I might hurt myself. Just writing that is hard. Why would I think that? That is the scariness of depression. There is no reason.

So, I told people. Like addiction, for me, depression seems to like isolating me. When I tell others it lifts the weight of fear and stigma and let’s me see the love and support I have from so many others. It reminds me that I am an important part of lots of lives. And I needed that.

I’ve been to my doctor. We have done lots of blood work to make sure it’s not an underlying issue and will go back next week.

In the mean time I have slightly increased my cipralex, upped my vitamin D and started using my happy light every day. And it has made a difference. The black cloud of doom has parted enough that I remember that emotions come and go in waves. And when I feel a bad moment, it is not all moments. It is temporary.

My doctor asked me if I thought I was putting expectations on myself to be above depression with all the meditating, yoga, spiritually I use. Maybe there is some of that, but I know depression is a chemical imbalance and sometimes our bodies just can’t keep up with the demands placed on it. I am thankful there are medications to help. I am thankful the medication is working for me. I know it isn’t always so simple.

None of this would have been possible without sobriety. That is the catalyst that has brought me to a place where I can deal with life as need be. And where I realize happiness is available to me.

Stillness and peace

Anne

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64 thoughts on “Sober is better, but depression still sucks

  1. The word “brave” gets over-used in the blogosphere, but it applies here: this is a brave, smart, insightfully self-reflective post. I hope all of the work you do helps. Happier days are ahead.

  2. Depression – like so many other physical conditions that manifest mentally – has a lot of the same stigma as addiction. People want you to “just snap out of it” and to “be happy.” Having struggled with both addiction/alcoholism and cyclothimia/depression since my teen years, I get how hard it is for you. Just reaching out and telling somebody – even us anonymous nobodies on the other side of the screen – is a huge first step. You always have such great, insightful, supporting replies to people’s posts and I love to read what you write about how you feel. Keep that up and take care of you.

  3. Thanks for this post. I also feel like criticism from someone else (or got forbid, a confrontation) triggers depression and can bring me down for weeks on end. I have nothing wise to say about it, only that I’m always a little ashamed at how much I’m laid flat by someone being mean to me, and it’s good to hear that someone else experiences the same thing.

  4. wow. thank you sooooo much for sharing this with us. you seem so together online, but i understand we all definitely have our struggles. you are fantastic Anne, just remember that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    love from Lisa

  5. Hi Anne,
    Sorry to hear that times are so hard on you. And yes, if people gang up it is definitely time to leave – no matter if they are right or wrong: ganging up in a self care course means that they did not understand something very basic and that is providing a safe environment in which things can be learned. :-/ I’ld like to continue to say that that is actually pretty dangerous place to be. Glad you left. 🙂

    I am glad you posted about what is going on in your life. I hope it takes some weight of your shoulders now this is out in the open. Please note that I don’t take it personally (maybe I should?) if people do not read my booksize posts. So if you skip mine, you gain half an hour a day 😉

    I have little wise words in me apart from these possibilities:
    I used to sauna 3 times a week after sports, after a few weeks it left me down and depleted and I realised that I had sweat out way too many minerals to actually function. When I hear you speak of hot yoga I thought you might have something similar?
    Secondly; since you are already on the path of looking at depression as (also?) a physical thing, maybe you might want to check with your (far away?) Ayurveda doctor. I have had great help from my pills, something is living again.
    Or possibly the book from Doctor Joan Mathews Larsson ‘Depression free naturally’. She explains very beautifully how it all works.
    And well: on the vitamin D, you might want to check out the web on what to take. It should be drops, not pills and I thought D3, not D2 and also animal provided is better than man-made. So fatty fish and cod liver for lunch ;-). Not too much cod liver though, it is extremely high in vitamin A.

    I hope there is something in this reply that might help you. I’m burning a candle for you here. Hoping to light a little something in your heart.

    Hugs and love,

    xx, Feeling

  6. Anne, I’m so sorry you’re going through this. But as you say, I think for those of us who suffer from depression, the down spells can’t be avoided forever.
    Reaching out is the best thing, although I’m not good at it! I hope you start to feel better soon, I’ll be thinking about you xx

  7. Dearest Anne,
    Having suffered from this many, many years, I truly understand.
    And, I too almost had hubs drive me to hospital.
    I am so glad you reached out, because yes, isolation is the worse part of it.
    Just writing a post seemed to help me.
    You have helped so many people on-line.
    Your insights always amaze me.
    Tonight, I am sending you light and love.
    Hope and a hand.
    xo
    Wendy

  8. That’s an awful story about the online course. And on a self care course! Comments can be mis-read so easily, normally a reflection of the readers own prejudices, or mood. EVEN if you were coming across like that, a teacher should perhaps send a nice message, or personal message. Anyway – glad you left. Definitely made the right decision. I am grateful for this wonderful community, which is very different to much of the nasty, judgemental internet world!

    Depression. I hear you. Sometimes, sadly, I think we have to just ride it out a little. Even with pills ‘that work’ and yoga, and relaxation, and good friends, it’s just still there. Sounds like you are doing all the right things, and especially on writing about it, so we can remind you you aren’t alone. And it’s good to talk/write it out – be forced to turn those million and one usually negative thoughts into something slightly more coherent, and manageable for your brain to work out.

    I’ve suffered with depression and anger management (not lashing out at people – internal anger) ever since I can remember. The last month has been really bad, and I know I’ve been isolating, but I have nothing happy to report and I don’t want to talk. And I can’t be fixed by what people suggest – I know myself well, and sometimes, most of the times, my solutions do help. As it seems did yours. But occasionaly they don’t, and there is something deeper – a change needed, or, you’re just going through a mental tough patch – and the clouds will eventually start to part and let a little light in. But the main thing is – be kind to yourself. Don’t put on too much pressure. Celebrate, and only focus on the little things, which are so hard to do when you are feeling so awful. I make myself laugh sometimes by whoooping at doing stuff like managing to get in the shower and get ready for work. But some days its a battle! And not cause I’m lazy, or hungover. Day by day – that’s all. And massively congratulate yourself that you are still sober, and stronger. xx

    Sorry massive essay here!

    On a totally different note…. I just understood your name. DOH. No A’s for me on that one!! 😉

      1. Hmmm, now you write this I think I am beginning to understand about the ‘need to fix’ and how it keeps us away from what is. Like standing with the feet in the here and now but head wise leaning over to ‘there’, yearning for ‘what we want to obtain but can not’. Hmmm, not a good concept indeed.
        May I ask why your heart says to let things be? When I’m in the fix mode I don’t even hear my heart. 🙂 / 😦
        And possibly, what is the driving force to not listen? And please don’t answer this if these questions are too, don’t know the word, but if they make you feel uncomfortable.

        Ooh, the other day, I read something on Tricycle.com about ‘wanting to get out’. In short: people want to transcend this mortal coil, addicts choose the wrong way out. But wanting to ‘escape’ (transcend) is a natural want or need if you will. Not sure if that is of any help. It just keeps on coming back to me because I am very much about a need to ‘get out’ and finding the way.
        Sending hugs and love,
        xx, Feeling

      2. I feel like my heart is saying just stop seeking different answers.
        The ones I have now make sense and bring me peace.
        When I try to find alternative I either fight against it or I search for common ground.

        I slide a bit into approval seeking. Which give my personal power to others. I don’t want to do that any more. Because even if I get their approval, it doesn’t really help unless I have my own first.

        Or something like that…

  9. yes, so many people think, ‘you just need to buck up and get through it’. They have no understanding of the chemical imbalance. A dear friend of mine is on big-time anti-anxiety meds and she really does need the meds. Great job, beautiful person, she just needs that extra help and god knows, i’ve been on them off and on during the past 10 years. I’m so glad you wrote about this AND recognized what was going on. I”ve left groups/classes before as well when my gut was telling me to leave….and I have never regretted my decisions…you did the right thing…for sure. hang in there, look at the moon at 3 a.m., walk, draw…: ) be well. : )

  10. This really resonated – I have been known to totally crumble when I am criticised, too. For the record, I think the criticism was unjustified. I’ve been reading your posts and comments for a while now and passive aggressive has never once sprung to mind.

  11. Hi Anne, I am a it of newby in regards to commenting and just finding my path in terms of getting sober. I have been following a lot of blogs, and it has been really helpful. However, what I popped in to say from doing all this following is, you’re are so positive and so supportive to so many people, basically you’re awesome! I love your style; you have helped me tremendously. So glad you have stopped doing the course; you’re definitely not passive aggressive (and believe me I have met a few in my time…) Please take care, best wishes Meg

  12. Anne! When I read that your teacher and classmate ganged up on you, it made me quite angry…I would really like to punch those bullies straight in the nose (no anger issues here lol)…in all seriousness…please don’t let that teacher and what happened knock you off your game…to me you are a guru of self-care, and I mean it…your insights and encouragement have helped me to begin taking care of myself, which in turn helps my whole family. I think sometimes people are intimidated by other people’s greatness, so they tear people down. How sad.
    And I’m sorry you are suffering. I’ve been going through some muck myself as well. I am sending you hugs and wishing you peace and comfort.
    I don’t know why shit has to be so damn hard for any of us sometimes. I am glad you’re here.
    Jenn

  13. Hi Anne, I hope you feel better soon. I always find that this time of year can trigger depression, with the dark days becoming shorter and shorter. We need that light! Which you’ve obviously tended to with your light box.
    Good for you for taking all the steps to care for yourself.
    Xo

  14. Anne – I get it. It’s a struggle all the time to manage mood.
    We learn our kitbag of things that help – running, talking, meds, yoga, mindfulness. I hope things continue to improve.
    Take care of yourself xx Love to you xx

  15. Ugh, depression does suck. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. I’ve been there, and I know how shitty it is and how even the smallest things are so tough. Keep reaching out. Keep doing the small things and taking care of yourself. I’ll pray for you.

  16. If there is a silver lining for your sadness it must be what you give to others through your insights and reflection. The softness, encouragement and kindness you give is a gift. Must it come alongside some suffering in order for you to truly understand and therefore help people?
    Being made feel bad online sucks, it makes us so vulnerable. I am amazed sometimes how awful I feel over such innocuous things. This is a work in progress. Not have alcohol induced depression certainly helps and I cope much better : )

  17. I also have had to wrestle with persistent low moods. But I tend to go to Ancestral Health as a starting point for finding my answers, and looking at it from an evolutionary perspective, I can’t imagine that depression is supposed to be a common feature of homo sapiens – and especially to the extent that it is prevalent today in the West. If it were, the human race would have extinguished itself a long time ago.

    I view depression as a warning sign that one or more of my innate human needs are not being met – community, connection, whole foods, sunlight, green nature, physical movement, creative expression, meaningful work. Or maybe I’m taking on a problem that isn’t mine to take on, and the resulting feelings of inadequacy and helplessness start to take their toll. Using that perspective allows me to look at the situation holistically and find more satisfying solutions than the Western quick-fix mentality. It sounds like you’re taking the “big-picture” approach too. 🙂

    (And before anyone jumps down my throat for this, I’m not taking a stand against medication, per se. What I *am* against is the Western medical tendency to be satisfied with managing symptoms, rather than taking the time to look deeper.)

    Wishing you literal and figurative sunshine…

  18. Thanks for sharing this, though I’m so sorry you’re dealing with it. You’re such a rock for everyone, your strength obviously runs much deeper than people may realize. I’ve been on an SSRI for years. As much as I’d like to be drug free, it really changed my life for the better. Saved my marriage, etc. Depression, anxiety, other addictions, etc, seem almost an inevitable part of personalities that find themselves in the throws of alcohol abuse and controlling compulsion. It seems like such a cruel situation, but at least there is help, and the bright side is that we really appreciate the good in the world when it befalls us.

  19. Hi Anne, I’ll repeat something already said, that you have never once come across as passive aggressive, and I’ve been reading comments of yours and your blog for over a year. I have been in similar situations and I would react the same way. I’m happy that sobriety allowed you to walk away from that, to just take care of what you needed no matter what.

    It is very scary to talk about depression and suicidal feelings. I’ve been having them a lot lately – had them acutely twice today. I’m going through the necessary steps to take care of myself, and to get some help. I’ve been considering medication for awhile, and after I finish all the tests I’m taking I’ll go back to my GP and discuss it with her. It may be time. I feel like I’m falling apart. I know drinking has a huge affect on my depression, and that my sense of hope comes through again when I stop drinking. But at the same time, I have been wondering if all of my relapses this past year have been related to this depression. I told myself the last time I attempted to get sober (during most of August and September)…that if I drank yet again…I needed to get some therapy and strongly consider medication. So, here I am. Getting and considering.

    Thank you for your support of so many, including me. I appreciate your honesty and, yes, your courage.

  20. That’s so great that you did reach out to people and your doctor. It sounds like a very scary place to be but it also sounds like you have the tools in place to manage such a situation and you did it! Happy that you are feeling better! 🙂

  21. I have suffered from depression for almost 20 years. I struggled in the beginning with having to be on medication but I stayed with it because my children needed me and their needs have always come before mine. In many ways, they saved my life.

    It turned out to be a gift because I was able to recognize it in my son at an early age. He’s been on medication since about the age of 12. I’m blessed.

    You are doing all of the right things (which I know you know) so I will just wish you peace and dedicate this evening’s practice to your well-being and peace of mind.

    Namaste my friend.

  22. HI Anne,
    Hope you are working through this – the seasonal variations of this malaise always used to catch me unawares. It’s like we are torn open when we are at our most vulnerable and exhausted and then we just have to sort of sit it out. I used to get angry depression and it would turn inward and bury me for weeks and months. Be gentle on yourself and feel what is right for you – you have all the tools at your disposal and you know how to use them best.
    thinking of you, and sending uplifting power (it’s a thing!)
    Bren

  23. I don’t like the sound of that mean yoga teacher. I hate it when people are mean to me, and I get really paranoid, so like Healthy Jen said above, I’d like to punch that yoga person on the nose. Ok, not very helpful, I know. Anne, you have been and continue to be one of the kindest, most supportive people in my life. I am glad you have reached out, and I hope the comments here show you how much you are loved and appreciated. Annie x

  24. I’ve been thinking about this a lot and kind of stepping back and waiting for an answer and this is what I think. I recently read that those who cannot accept criticism are showing their fear. This felt right to this situation. The greater her fear the more she used excuses and tried to turn it back on you. Her response was out of line and that is what made it so uncomfortable. You spoke with love and honesty but her response was fear. She did not take responsibility for her own behavior. I applied this to my situation with that horrible email I received. I looked at the person who wrote it and asked if he was coming from a place of fear? Within a week I was talking with a friend who brought him up. She told me that this teacher had been accused of sexual misconduct at school. It proved to be false but he quit his job. This person then wrote an email to me about being immoral. Now I see the link. I did not know this story. He lashed out at me from his worst place of fear.

    1. I think using that ability to step back is important.
      My mind starts looking for reasons that I should be to blame, even if that isn’t true.
      As I see that clearer it is easier to see that people’s actions actually do t have anything to do with us sometimes.

      Interesting.

  25. I can so relate to what you’re saying about how some random person being mean to you can make you feel so down and make you cry and cry…I’ve had that happen more times than I can count. We’re so busy pretending that we have it all together, putting on our brave face for the world that we forget to give ourselves permission to just feel like shit and we berate ourselves for letting something get to us like that. It’s ok. I get it. Being sensitive really sucks sometimes. Big hugs and thanks for commenting on my blog the other day when I was feeling so low. I hope you know you’re not alone.

  26. Hope you’re feeling better today Anne. Sometimes I think we do try and do too much all in one go and put WAY too much pressure on. Well I do anyway. Trying to figure out how to ease off on ourselves is the question! xx

  27. Hi Anne,

    Thank you for having the courage to share your struggles! I also find that sharing my own demons in the closet, so to speak, robs them of some of their power or hold over me. I’m so glad that you have a supportive doctor to help you through this time.

    I too, have struggled with depression for most of my life and am currently taking medication to treat it (Wellbutrin). Sometimes, the fear of regressing is worse than the actual mood symptoms themselves. One of the things that my psychiatrist tries to remind me of, and that I am becoming better at reminding myself of after a lot of CBT, is that when I am feeling blue, it won’t last forever.

    The sun will come out again! I am wishing you the stillness and peace that you give to others!

    Lulu

  28. I had not see this post until your post of today’s date. I am glad you are feeling better, and thank you for sharing, especially the steps you took when you knew you were really slipping far into depression (quitting the course and going to the doctor and talking to others). You are really helping many with this share and today’s post.

  29. I’m glad you’re feeling better, Anne. Your post resonates with me. I’ve been back down in the pit, which had me neglecting my blog, and most everything else. I recently started back on the meds after two years off. I felt defeated. But am beginning to feel a bit better. Instead of hiding, you’ve inspired me to write. And post. Thanks for the hand up.

    Ella
    xo

    1. I’m glad.
      Medication is a funny thing. Most of us are quite willing to take it for any other ailment. Why not for depression?

      The pit sucks.
      Keep writing! We are all in this together!

  30. Thanks for sharing what occurred with Yoga. I recently had an experience at work that left me on tears and overwhelmed. Now for some reason I am feeling better. The situation hasn’t changed, after my “breakdown” I had a realization that I can’t control most situations, I can only control my response. I know that is not a brilliant realization, but a common one, but for me I need to be reminded of it often. I also think the lack of light is depressing. I just passed my third American Thanksgiving without alcohol and am feeling confident that I will pass my third Christmas. I am hoping that the third is the charm and I will not feel depressed this season. Very insightful.

  31. I have been exactly the same since the end of the summer. Your description of wanting to hurt yourself resonates with me too. I have so much to be grateful for but I can so easily slide down . I was in a show with my son in November and had to go from having a principle part to being in the chorus at the very back. I felt invisible and I know it sounds stupid but I felt really angry and upset. The problem was I was still measuring myself by what I think others think. It just got worse and worse and then it got a bit better when I did a presentation at work that went well. But I have slumped again and its because I am constantly trying to prove myself. It’s exhausting and sometimes I want to check out! Sorry for my ramblings. I’m sober today .

    1. Do you have a doctor to help you?
      The tough thing is knowing why we feel hurt, but knowing doesn’t make it go away.
      Somewhere there is the realization of how we think we should feel, but we disappoint ourselves when we can’t be that way.
      I’m thinking of you. This is one area where doctors really can help. Brain chemistry cannot be corrected with will or positive thinking. It just can’t.
      Hugs. Hold on.

      1. I’m on prozac but I think I’m needing oestrogen as I’m getting to that time of life. I made a gp booking but didn’t go. Need to do so . Reading all the replies to your post made me realise how many if us struggle with this.

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