It seems like you’re hearing about depression a lot more now than ever before. Life, in general, creates more stress these days than at any point in the past; ours is the first generation who will not reach or exceed our parents’ success; a full-time job no longer promises you the ability to pay for both food and electricity. And after all of that, they still canceled Guardians of the Galaxy 3.
A lot of things go into causing depression, though, even if you don’t consider external sources and pop culture as the driving forces behind your daily mood (that’s really just me?). A lot of people are facing situational depression – something happened, and they’re upset about it, and that’s totally valid. An external trigger like a death in the family, the end of a relationship or some kind of financial crisis can push you over the line from “upset” territory into actual clinical depression.
Some who suffer do so chronically, and no matter how their life situation improves or external factors become more and more positive, they simply cannot be happy. This is the classic “chemical imbalance” that everyone who listened to Morrissey in the 90’s claimed they had. They want to be happy, but they can’t be, and sadly this is often true. This is especially the case for those who have suffered some sort of past trauma; someone on the outside looking in might tell you to “get over it” but that’s not only a really stupid thing to say, it’s also really insulting.
Personally, my depression had a tipping point. There was depression before, and depression after. I like to refer to this as my “Howard Hughes” episode. If you’ll recall, he was basically Tony Stark (who was also famously an alcoholic with depression) but he had a few bad days and decided to skip clipping his fingernails for a couple of years while he lived in a hotel room he would never leave. I can relate; I’d always been depressed, and even before things changed I started drinking in response to that, but there is a definitive point in my life when my depression went from “I’m feeling down all the time” to “I am unable to both shower and eat today, but I must make a choice.”
The latter kind of depression is completely debilitating and there’s nothing you can do. To this date I’ve tried 17 (yes, seventeen) different medications to treat my depression. As you can imagine, filling out forms at the doctor’s office can be a chore. But it’s important to keep trying medication, because the easiest thing to do when you’re depressed is to give up, and if you’re reading this where I think you’re reading this, you know exactly what happens when you give up – and sometimes you don’t even bother with a mixer.
Keeping sober is absolutely essential when you’re suffering from depression, even though the depressed part of your mind is screaming for relief. “It will work!” your brain says. “Only for a few hours,” it replies to itself. “A few hours is more hours than zero!” it retorts. But your brain, in this argument – with itself – needs to be aware that not only is alcohol a CNS depressant (interesting word, eh?), but hangovers are not generally associated with elevated mood.
So it’s good to keep busy. Being a part of AA is time consuming enough on its own, but there is free coffee, so I like to promote that option. You don’t want to be “that guy” whose life outside of AA doesn’t exist, though, so it’s good to find other productive ways to spend your time too. Don’t sleep your day away when you’re feeling depressed, and even if you don’t feel like leaving the house (to this day I’m convinced I hold the record), just do literally anything inside of it. Take a shower, do your laundry, clean the bathtub, see what really lives in the back of the fridge.
And remember, this might sound stupid, but it’s true: you’re special.
First, consider that you’re loved; consider the way your pets look at you, think of the way your parents regard you or how your friends seem so pleased when you show up at events (note, you’ve got to show up to these things, or your friends will think you hate them, and you’ll think they hate you). And don’t forget the people in this program and the people on this site love you, as well. Just because it’s the internet doesn’t mean you’re not forming real relationships here, and they’re available 24/7.
That’s not the only component of your being special, though. You are, genuinely, unique. The chances of you existing with those chromosomes and features, being born to those parents in that location on that date in history are astronomical. And don’t forget how rare being human is; I’ve heard it calculated that there are four major barriers to entry for life to exist. As a result, for intelligent life to exist and reach the level of civilization where we could not only broadcast How I Met Your Mother, but also go online to talk about how bad the ending was, the chances are so low that we may actually be alone in our galaxy. Life itself is so difficult and unique to achieve that there may be no aliens for us to meet.
Maybe that is a whole lot of feel-good nonsense, a semi-literate half-time speech. That’s alright, it’s supposed to be. We’re here because we’re alcoholics, and we’re alcoholics because of something else – whether it’s something we were born with or it was something we experienced. It’s dangerously easy to let depression send you to the liquor store wearing ratty pajamas at eight in the morning. That’s a temporary solution to what might be a permanent problem, though, so I’d propose you give the program a real chance and see if a permanent solution works out better for you.