Do you feel extreme sadness despite great accomplishments or disappointments in your life?Depression is a serious mental illness that goes untreated. It’s hard to know how to deal with depression and sadness, alone.
Have you ever heard someone say, “If you would get out of the house then you wouldn’t be depressed anymore?” This is ironic because a symptom of depression is a lack of motivation. I am a person in long term recovery which means I have not used a mood or mind-altering chemical in years. I have suffered from depression my entire life.
As a child, I remember feeling alone, sad and scared. I recall going to the skating rink with friends and it was so much fun. I remember skating and this horrible feeling of doom came over me. I felt that I wasn’t good enough to be having fun.
The first time I drank alcohol I vividly remember that I felt “enough.” I felt ease, happiness and felt like I belonged. I self-medicated my depression with alcohol and other drugs throughout my teen years. The progression of my alcoholism soon began to actually make my depression worse. I wasn’t drinking anymore for relief and fun but to be able to function in daily life.
A typical day for me was: wake up and take diet pills for energy, take opiate pain killers throughout the day for energy, drink immediately after work to relax, and then take Xanax at bedtime to be able to relax and sleep.
I began my journey of recovery in my early 20’s. I was told by another member in a twelve-step fellowship that if you work the steps then you wouldn’t need an antidepressant. I suffered for years in sobriety because I have a chemical imbalance in my brain that causes my depression. I was 15 years sober, working in a treatment facility, suicide prevention specialist, and planning my own death by suicide. I felt ashamed and like I was a failure. I am so grateful that another member of the fellowship reached out to me and suggested I go get professional help and treatment for my depression.
Feeling Sad and Being Depressed
There is a huge difference between feeling sad and being depressed.
Sadness is a feeling typically involving loss or expectations not met.
Depression is a prolonged state of sadness that has symptoms. Here are some common symptoms:
- trouble focusing or concentrating anger
- loss of interest in pleasurable or fun activities
- sleep issues (too much or too little)
- no energy
- craving unhealthy foods
“It’s not a sin to be sick.” Depression is a brain/mood disorder. I did not choose to have depression and I can’t stay well if I don’t get medical treatment and counseling.
Many people believe that depression is a sign of weakness but I disagree. I believe people that suffer from depression are very strong because they continue to trudge through daily activities when they want to give up. Will power doesn’t “cure” depression.
Depression is Not the End
A medical professional can treat the imbalance of brain chemicals and a counselor can help with new coping skills. The co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous suffered tremendously from depression prior to and during his sobriety. Many people suffer, but you don’t have to suffer alone. We are fortunate to have the medications and support services that we do today.
Please do not suffer alone! There are professionals and peers who know what you are going through, that are more than willing to help you on your pathway to recovery and happy life. There is hope!
By: Kimberley Lamar ADC, ICADC, CRSS
Pathway Healthcare Recovery Navigator