I feel compelled to write this morning. I have other things to do, but my computer calls me to type, to plug away and to describe an overwhelming and compelling need to describe my obvious observations between alcohol and depression, or a fancy way of saying it ‘lugubrious intoxicants’.
Depression is a hard topic to write about for me, coming from a long line of over enthusiastic optimists. My descendants battled through many adversities but depressed they were not, well not all the time, and if they were it was for good reason. I think depression is a human emotion expressed and felt by all. It is not normal to be happy all the time, and if you are perhaps you are pretending to be?
Now this sounds pessimistic I realise, but when I was a drinker, I realised that alcohol was masking my depression. I was drinking to feel better, to ease my mind, to escape my reality, and yes it did work. For the few hours I was knocking them back in succession. However, reality strikes back as your waking consciousness greets you groggily the very next morning.
Filled with dread and regret, a foggy recount of drinks consumed begins, and your mind may begin to recall the evenings events and quickly try to remember if anything bad or embarrassing happened. Usually there were a few things in there somewhat regrettable, if they were actually remembered…
However, I digress. My point on this article is alcohol is a depressant and can exacerbate your depressed moods. Sure at the time of consumption, life is great, but when you are not drinking, life may not be a very happy place to be. One of the main reasons I gave up drinking was I recognised I was in a depressed state and all depressants needed to cease. If you are trying to make yourself feel better, why sabotage it with a substance that is known to harm your mind and make you feel sad? This was my experiment, and guess what? It worked, well mostly.
Drinking acts as a bandaid to cover your wounds, provide protection, create a barrier, and it does a good job in almost pretending they are not even there. But like a festering wound, your problems and issues continue to bubble, they are just masked very well by a daily consumption of avoidance. Ripping our protective bandaids off, quickly or slowly take your pick, is when the real work commences with facing our moods. This is when we get real, face the music, have epiphanies, and through hard work and tears; this is when we choose to face reality.
I will be honest and say my depression has not completely lifted from sobriety alone. My depression is linked inextricably to grief and loss and tragedy. However minus alcohol I am working harder at dealing with my real emotions. Dealing with those feelings that I can no longer drink away every day. It is a tough gig and it is not easy, but the results so far have proven very worthy. I continue to face my grief head on as best as I can, and that is really all you can do in life when faced with adversity.
This morning I met with a lady who I met through our new Revival group. I began to recount my grim tale of death and loss, in response to why I took a break from drinking. In case you are a new reader in summary all my family died in the last 4 years, and I am a lonely little orphan (cue Sinead O’Connor ‘Nothing compares to you’). So that’s depressing. And to be fair, I think any one on the planet would be depressed if they lost all their family and literally had no one left. So for me, drinking was helpful to drown my sorrows in the beginning, but I realised after a few months, that drinking was not helping me take positive steps forward in my life. It was holding me back, wasting my time, costing me money, harming my health and making me feel miserable. Take away that bottle of Gin please!
According to drinkaware.co.uk :
‘While alcohol can have a very temporary positive impact on our mood, in the long term it can cause big problems for our mental health. It is linked to a range of issues from depression and memory loss to suicide.’
Sounds heavy I know, but these facts are true. Memory loss is another major reason why I gave up drinking but that one is for another post.
Furthermore from the same UK website as above:
‘When high levels of alcohol are consumed, instead of pleasurable effects increasing, it is possible that a negative emotional response will take over. You could become angry, aggressive anxious or depressed.’
These facts are not startling revelations for most of us, I feel like it is more of a wake up call. Alcohol can really be very damaging to your mental health and wellbeing.
Alcohol is one of the most socially acceptable drugs on the planet, and I dare say it causes the most widespread harm. Hospitals are full of patients from alcohol related health issues,and I am sure we all know someone who drinks to excess, if it is not ourselves?
Our last excerpt from the drink aware website:
‘If you drink heavily and regularly you are likely to develop some symptoms of depression. It’s that good old brain chemistry at work again. Regular drinking lowers the levels of serotonin in your brain – a chemical that helps to regulate your mood.
In Britain, people who experience anxiety or depression are twice as likely to be heavy or problem drinkers. For some people, the anxiety or depression came first and they have reached for alcohol to try to relieve it. For others, drinking came first, so it may be a root cause of their anxieties.’
Let’s say Britain can be interchanged with planet Earth. Pretty much this is a global issue and it is great to see more people opening their eyes to the damaging effects alcohol can have on our health, minds, lifestyles and families.
I hope my article has helped you to know you are not alone if you are drinking and feeling depressed. Or even if you are feeling depressed and don’t drink, know that you are not alone and if I could give you a big warm bear hug right now I would, gosh I could do with one of those myself! This is my way of reaching out to you as my reader, bringing you words of hope, of encouragement and sharing with you my story.
Lifting depression is a whole other topic, and one could write about this topic extensively, which I might in a future post. I wanted to first share with you the links I discovered between alcohol and depression and hope they have helped you make some better choices.
Hugs, Anita xx