As early as grade school, I remember struggling to gather up the energy and motivation I needed to get out of bed in the morning and go to school. Some days it was so bad that my mom had to nearly drag me out of bed. I had no problems in school and no real reason to dread going, but I did anyway. I was a smart, approachable young girl. I could put a big smile on my face and I made friends easily. Regardless of the facts, I simply felt as though I didn’t fit in with the other kids at school. I had no desire to socialize or participate in the activities that other kids looked forward to. I was happier alone in my bedroom.
This isolation brought me to a place where I began to hate myself. I was slightly overweight and was teased in school. Insecurity took hold of me and I let it run my life for several years. I was constantly worried about what other people would think of the way I looked or the things I said. I second-guessed everything I did. At the age of 13, I learned that a little whiskey from my parent’s musty liquor cabinet could effectively remove my feelings of desolation and insecurity while enhancing my mood.
Over the next few years, I continued to drink in secret. I began to go to high school intoxicated and alcohol was playing an important part of my life as I sought confidence and happiness through a bottle of liquid courage. Alcohol was my favorite companion that later became my worst enemy.
Although alcohol seemed to be the solution to my depression in the beginning, it eventually made it worse. It dramatically changed my life in terrible ways. By the time I went to college, I couldn’t get out of bed without having withdrawals. Around this time I was also introduced to opioids – which provided me with the functionality I needed to go to class high until I could get back to my dorm and take the next drink.
It wasn’t until alcohol and drugs had taken away my desire to live that I realized I had been self-medicating my depression for nearly 10 years. I felt as though I only had two options: to kill myself or to get sober.
Fortunately, my suicide attempt failed and I decided to get help.
When I went to a dual diagnosis treatment center I was diagnosed with depression for the first time and put on the right medication while receiving therapy to help me get to the root of my problems.
During the 90 days I spent in treatment, I was taught about the relapse prevention tools I needed to stay sober and treat my depression simultaneously. I was surrounded by a group of other individuals who were also suffering from co-occurring mental illness and addiction. This group not only thoroughly understood what I was going through, but they were willing to listen to me, provide me with immense support, and hold me up when I was feeling down. I learned how healing it can be to talk about my problems and emotions with other people who shared common ground. This helped me learn how to identify and cope with emotional triggers in order to avoid letting depression control my life.
Treatment also encouraged me to incorporate healthy habits into my lifestyle that can be used as coping mechanisms, such as yoga, meditation, and spending time in nature. These activities are all helpful in reducing stress and anxiety while promoting a sense of well-being. I have found that if I start my day with a short walk outside and end it with a relaxing meditation, I feel better and have more energy.
While the cycle of depression and alcoholism may seem like a hopeless one, it is estimated that 20 million people are living lives in sobriety. My own recovery proves this as I embarked on a journey of sobriety hand in hand with other alcoholics and addicts. I was given a life where my dreams were restored, my motivation came back with an enthusiastic outlook on life, and I found gratitude for the little things in life. Through treatment, hard work, and an outstanding support group, I believe that anyone has the ability to recover from depression and alcoholism.
Cassidy Webb is an avid writer. She advocates spreading awareness on the disease of addiction. Her passion in life is to help others by sharing her experience, strength, and hope. Twitter: @Cassidy_Webb41
The opinions and views expressed in this guest blog do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in this article or linked to herein.
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