Depressed with or without alcohol

I haven’t had a drop of alcohol in over a year and yet I think my depression has returned.

That sucks.

I haven’t changed my medications since I quit drinking either. It’s the same cocktail of Celexa, Wellbutrin and Klonopin that I’ve been taking for at least 2 years.

My husband hates that I quit drinking and got into recovery. Well, at least that’s how I see it. I go to AA meetings now. I talk to my sponsor on the phone. I don’t rely upon him as I did. He is hurt and acts detached or angry, depending on the day.

I hate myself. I feel I’m a burden to my husband because I don’t manage the finances well and I’ve been out of work for a few months. I imagine life would be easier with me gone so he could have his full retirement. He doesn’t have a lot life insurance on me because I’m not the high earner in our household. He could carry on fine without me. Comfortably even. Probably be able to retire in the next 5 years.

I’d like to know if he could meet our budget? He seems to think it’s my choices that cause us to go over each month. I don’t take his criticism well. I get defensive and withdraw.

I wish I could vanish and not deal with life right now.

Therapy session was tough…

This is from my newer blog that chronicles my problem with using alcohol. I drink to hide from my depressive feelings and trying to break the habit is not as easy as I thought.

My Healing Recovery

This is a follow up to my last post regarding being honest about relapsing to my therapist.

Yesterday I had a session with Lynn and, after getting the pleasantries about her vacation and my surgery out of the way, I squirmed uncomfortably on her couch and bluntly said, “I should start by telling you that I started drinking wine again.”

She asked a few questions, the first one, “What day did you have a drink?”

I answered, “May 18th, the last time I saw you before you went on vacation.”

She asked me to tell her about what happened and I dismissively replied, “Who, what, where, when and how don’t matter as much as the why.” She nodded and played along. I say played along because I feel like I was deflecting from the whole truth because I didn’t have the guts to be totally straight forward. I…

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Self-medication and depression

Depression is creeping back in through a side door.  I should have seen it coming.  Even reading my most recent posts on this blog are clues that it was making a reappearance.

Ruminations.  Negative self-perception. Exhaustion even without alcohol.  Hating my husband and my life.

I saw my therapist on Saturday and she raised the Wellbutrin to 100 mg. and lowered the Klonopin to half a 0.5 mg pill.  I continue to take 20 mg Celexa.  Lynn must think my depression is worse and the Klonopin is making me tired.  It’s been 4 days with a higher dose of the SSRI and still not feeling better.  My plan is to continue lowering the Klonopin but since I use it to sleep I fear insomnia so I’m tapering off gradually.

My resolve is down and I am weak right now.  I broke my 100-plus streak of sober days and drank on Saturday night.  It’s odd how I really don’t feel that bad about it.  In fact, I liked the tranquility.  Sad but true, self-medication is what I know when my thinking turns against me.

♥ Daylily ♥

The twisted mind of a depressive alcoholic…

I made a decision to not drink as a way to treat my depression and high blood pressure.  By the looks of things, with over one hundred days sober, you might think I’m doing well.  I’m not.  Every imaginable self-defeating thought bombards me and I can’t get away from my inner critic.  It’s not easy giving up a vice that I used as a way to control the negative thoughts pounding in my brain.  In fact, I really miss drinking wine — it gave me a reprieve from myself.

I’m on-again/of- again with the AA program because I have difficulty looking at my defects and making positive changes.  Tonight the AA meeting was about “making amends” to those I’ve harmed.  Truthfully, I was a boring drunk.  I stayed home and drank quietly before flopping into my bed.  Aside from hurting my husband and kids for not being fully present in mind and spirit, I don’t see a whole lot of damage.  I didn’t call people; I rarely went out when I was drinking so I pretty much kept it hidden from everyone.

The AA meeting got me thinking of what amends to make and this is what my twisted mind came up with.  I stole from my brother’s coin collection when I was younger.  I also totaled the car he was supposed to get from my mother for his college graduation.  This brother did worse crimes to me, sexually molesting me when I was around age 8-11.  He still brings up how valuable his coins would have been if I hadn’t spent them at the penny candy store.  I feel anger and resentment that he has such nerve to bring up what I did to him; but, I also carry regret and shame that I’m guilty of stealing and destroying his things.  Instead of rightfully directing my anger at him, I turn it inward where it can fester and grow into depression.

Do you see my problem?  I’m supposed to make amends to become a more honest person but the amends I come up with are toward a sexual predator.  Isn’t there something wrong with this fucking picture?

This is why I can’t go deep into the AA steps.  I turn against myself; a habit learned long ago when I couldn’t depend on anyone to help me.  At AA meetings there’s a lot of time to self-analyze and berate myself; and no one is qualified to set my thinking straight. This mental work is best done with a therapist and thank god I have one.

It’s late, I’m tired, and I know this post didn’t make a clear point.  It’s a snap shot of how confusing it is to be me, a woman who suffers with depression, alcohol addiction and the aftermath of childhood sexual abuse.

♥ Daylily ♥

Feeling vulnerable without alcohol

Telling Lynn my marital woes didn’t have the desired effect. I thought freeing my pent-up resentments to an objective therapist would help; but, strangely, the opposite happened. I walked in feeling confident and full of self-righteous anger and I left anxious and distraught. My original anger was directed at my husband for choosing the home and town we’ve lived in for 20 years. I was forthright with Lynn, divulging my frustrations. All that sanctimoniousness disappeared when Lynn asked a simple question, “What would your life be like if you had made the choices in your marriage?”

Lynn touched a sore spot and the truth hurt.  Fear crept in and I couldn’t speak of my own needs. Quietly, with eyes cast down, I sullenly spoke, I don’t have goals. If I had things to aspire toward I would be disappointed and let down. With tears and sadness I realize the reason my life is not different is because I haven’t spoken up about my needs or desires. I own the problem in its entirety.

Okay, so let’s get this straight. First my anger is directed at my husband and I see myself as the unappreciated and unloved victim and when that assertion is challenged I retreat to the safety of believing its my fault that my needs are not met.

Which the fuck is it? The answer to that question isn’t as important as how to stop my mind, no matter what the scenario, from arriving at the same conclusions. I constantly blame myself. I either don’t get something because I’m not worthy or it doesn’t happen because I’m weak.

This is hard shit to swallow because I reject either of those things. I stuff this down with my alcohol consumption and rarely do these feelings see the light of day. My wine signifies a glass of straight up denial.

Where do these ideas originate?

The obvious answer is survivors of childhood sexual abuse learn to feel unworthy. I assumed my mother didn’t stop my brother from coming into my room at night because she loved him more. With every nice gesture or favorable event that happened to this brother, I became more certain that he was worthy of good things and I wasn’t. I didn’t speak up about the atrocity that occurred against my prepubescent body; instead I stifled my voice and learned to endure life.

My therapist reiterated that my childhood left behind a belief that no one loves me but she stated, “You are not a child anymore.” She reminded me I have a voice and people around me do care what I want and need.

I wonder why I’m so stuck in my old ways.

I hate myself for turning the entire resentment issue into something bigger than it is. We “depressives” know how to blame ourselves about everything. It’s true my husband makes a lot of the major decisions but the reality is I don’t speak up for myself; I’d rather suffer in silence and allow resentments and anger to fester. How fucked up am I? I’m not a child anymore; what’s my problem that I wallow in self-pity instead of making changes to get things that I want in my life?

So, I pretty much left therapy feeling angry that my husband doesn’t do or care about my needs and, ultimately it’s my own fault because I don’t speak up.

I have always thought that no matter who I’m with I’m still stuck with myself.

Ideally I would like to learn to speak up for myself without shutting down with anger, resentments, shame, and self-blame locked inside and so, I had the best of intentions to not bring my befuddled feelings home from therapy. I didn’t want to be angry with my husband or have a pity party for myself.

Let’s just say, that didn’t work.

All day long I was a quiet, hateful, sulking angry wife. I tried to manage my feelings, but eventually I headed for the door to buy a mood altering bottle of wine. I honestly felt the need to drink was as strong as the desire a suicidal person may feel while they prepare to jump. I saw no other options to relieving my anxiety. The self-berating thoughts that play in my head were overwhelmingly strong and I did not know how to calm myself. I had no coping skills or tools in my tool box.

Husband stopped me from blowing my 90 days of sobriety by talking me down off the cliff I was dangling from. When he asked, “Where are you going?” and I replied, “I need a bottle of wine.” He responded sympathetically and was very calm as I’m sure he did not want to upset me further. During this interaction I was unsettled and anxious but not angry.

My husband listened to me complain and then he heard me berate myself for not speaking up about things I wish for in my life. He said I haven’t changed or gotten better in all the years I’ve been in therapy. He meant I continue to give myself a psychological beating. We’ve been together for 30-plus years and I didn’t want to believe him but a part of me felt he was right. I thought I was making progress in my life but he thinks I live in the past and can’t let it go.

My husband reassuringly told me everyone has pain from their past but it doesn’t define them or continue to be the driving factor in their lives. His words were like a gentle caress to a baby bunny. They felt compassionate and forgiving.

I had backed off the ledge by this point and my anxiety was reduced to a manageable level. My husband hugged me and whispered, “I love you. I want you to be my wife and tell me what you want.” I shrugged and stood limp and lifeless, drained of all emotions.

I didn’t drink, though and I’m grateful for my husband who helped me through a tough time.

I’m afraid I still won’t know what to do next time. I need tools in my toolbox. So, I called Lynn and asked if she was available for a session on Saturday. This is monumental in my life. Me asking for help. Lynn agreed and said it would be good to talk while the conversation and events were still fresh in my mind.

Daylilyœ 

It’s about time I faced my resentments

I’m going to do it TODAY.  I will go to therapy in one hour and open up about my 25 year marriage and all of the bitter resentments that entails.  The marriage is actually 8 months shy of 25 years.  The enormity  of 25 fucking years is incomprehensible.  Holy shit.  How did I survive that long in this marriage?

Merriam-Webster first defines “enormity” as “the state or quality of being utterly evil.”  The second definition is “the quality or state of being very large.”  I intended to mean the second; however, in addressing my resentments I would have to go with definition number one!

I feel I’ve allowed my husband to make most of the big decisions in our lives and now I hold onto anger that the house we’ve lived in for 20 years is not the one I wished for and the neighborhood was never where I envisioned raising my children.  Shutting up and taking it is why I’ve been drinking.

This should be an enlightening therapy session.  My fear is that once the words come out I will go into a tailspin of anger and bitterness.  So, my plan is to protect the marriage by not overreacting with my husband.  I intend to start by opening the can of worms in therapy but not cause undue strain and friction with my husband by being reactionary.  I will protect both his self-esteem as well as my own by working through things with Lynn.

I can’t think about where this will lead me.  For now it is the right time to bring the subject of resentments up in therapy.  No more; no less.

♥ Daylily

Depression without alcohol

Lynn lowered the Celexa from 20 mgs to 10 mgs and within a month I felt depression lurking. Oddly, I was clear-headed and “normal” for about a week while the medication slowly left my system.   This phenomenon has happened enough times that I’m certain others have been on this merry-go-round.

It starts with taking an antidepressant and as the ride goes up I begin to feel some relief.  When I get to the top, along with relief comes the negative side effects that outweigh the good ones or my therapist and I feel I’ve spent enough time at the top with medications and decide to withdraw me from the meds and see if the ride can continue on its own.  Will my brain be able to balance its chemicals properly?  I hopefully believe maybe I’ll stay on top and the medication’s side effects will go down.  For me, there’s a brief period where it looks like that’s going to happen – I’m on top of the world!  Look, Mom, no antidepressants.  I’m back to myself again.  I have normal emotions and the negative ones aren’t over powering all the others.  Then, every damn time, I begin the decent.  It’s happening as I write.  My emotions are morphing from contentment and acceptance to displeasure and a feeling of rejection with myself.

This time I don’t have alcohol in my system so I’m not self-medicating and the experience is all the more real.  In fact I think this is a first!  Depression without alcohol.  Man, does it suck.

About a year ago I told my therapist I need to treat my depression in order to stop drinking but she said I need to stop drinking to treat my depression.  Here is what my therapist said: “Your drinking is the big elephant sitting in the room.”

I don’t disagree with her analysis but who wants to live constantly aware of the elephant.  Not I.  I want a glass of wine to dull the awareness of my depression and forget about the actual depression.

A couple of days ago, I called Lynn and she suggested we increase the medication to 15 mgs and see if the side effects and the depression both lessen and I find a happy medium.  While I wait for the meds to kick in I’m sleeping a lot and eating more chocolate than I should.  I am also guilty of taking an extra clonazepam (Klonopin) last night.  But at least I waited 5 hours between doses and, more importantly, I didn’t drink.

I’m committed to getting my mental state under control without abusing alcohol.  No more drinking to numb out.

Sorry for all of the metaphors.  I’m not sure what’s up with that!

– Daylily –

Aside

The decrease in Celexa did the trick.  I’m not as tired which translates to not feeling like a freaking zombie.  When I’m numbed out on antidepressants it’s the worst feeling to forget half of what I or other people say.  I’m so glad that passed.  On the flip-side, my emotions are all over the place.  I can go from sad to grateful to ornery all in an hour.  So, even though I don’t like to feel like a zombie I do like the way antidepressants depress my reaction to everything.

My state of mind right now is that of hyper-awareness.  Since I quit drinking and lowered the Celexa I am forced to deal with my feelings and the aftermath.  The good things are when my kids hug me, say they love me or are helpful and I’m fully present to appreciate them.  The negatives are when I feel put upon by my husband and blamed for all of our financial woes for something as stupid as I don’t cook from scratch every night.  That’s just one example of how he can send me over he edge into anger.  It’s not his big screen tv purchase or his new computer or the video camera I just had to have for Christmas – no, it’s my behavior in the kitchen.  Without drinking I’ve got to learn to sit with this shit and it’s not easy.

It’s Easter and I felt put upon my husband’s complaining.  We fought over religion and politics most of the morning.  He feels strongly about the economy and worries incessantly whereas I just don’t care.  He sees no issues with Catholicism and I do.  We ended up going to the Catholic church where we all took communion without having confessed our sins (is that a sin?) and when we returned the shit hit the fan.  Husband was a volcano waiting to erupt.  The final straw was he got mad that I didn’t support him with the children over their desire to eat peanut butter sandwiches rather than deli turkey.  Such a minor thing but Husband blew up and stormed off claiming I don’t back him up.  I say he wants total control of everything and everybody and f-that.  I let him storm off.

This was not a great Easter.  I wanted to drown my anger and frustration in wine but I controlled myself.  I have quit drinking a few times in my life (pregnancy, breastfeeding and once for a year while on Effexor) but this time feels different.  I want to learn new ways of solving problems instead of opening a bottle of wine as my default behavior.  My therapist says the medications that are treating my depression will work more effectively and of course, I know she’s right.

I’ve been living in a state of denial that I had to fix my depression in order to stop drinking.  I had convinced myself that I drank because I was depressed, believing if I wasn’t depressed I wouldn’t drink.  That may have been true in the beginning but somewhere along the way things changed.  I drank to get numb to my feelings.  I wasn’t treating anything I was using alcohol to withdraw and hide from the painful stuff that gets thrown at me.

I realize now this pattern is never going to help me with my depression.  Whatever feelings I’ve been avoiding since childhood when I experienced trauma and abuse, I must face in sobriety.  It’s not even the childhood issues, really; I must learn to handle any conflict without alcohol.  Past and present.

Today I wanted to drink after fighting with my husband.  I also had thoughts that I wanted out of this life.  I imagined dying to end it all.  Let Husband have his retirement package all to himself if he’s that worried about it.  I don’t want to keep hearing the same fears of his and I wished I were dead rather than deal with the tension around our finances.  My only options were to drink or die.  How sad and pitiful is that?  Have I not learned anything in this life?

Actually, yes, I have.  I picked up my phone and called a friend.  I admitted to everything I felt and she helped me through it by simplifying things.  Disagreements happen, she assured me. I don’t need to run and hide.  Agree to disagreeLet him have his problems and don’t take them on as your own.  I can only work on my life.  This friend restored my sanity and I felt calmer for having shared my crazy thoughts with another person.

This is going to be the answer to learning to cope with emotions.  I can’t isolate myself and feel unworthy and alone. I must share my anxiety with others and it will be cut in half, reduced to a more manageable level.

Friends, we all know this but talking to others makes us feel vulnerable and it is so hard to put ourselves out there.  There’s such a fear of being judged or hurt (as many of us have been abused and harmed by another).  I’m learning to take a leap of faith and expose my weaknesses.  I want to break the barrier of shame and self-blame.  I don’t want to drink to keep pushing painful emotions down.

My new plan is to reach out to others and release my anxious thoughts and feelings.  I am also doing mindfulness meditation where I’m learning to accept feelings that make me uncomfortable.  Lastly, helping others and offering compassion takes me outside the selfish world inside my head.

Tonight all of these changes helped.  I didn’t stay stuck in the thought, I need to either die or drink.  I recognized how harmful that is and  I’m no longer catering to my self-defeating thoughts — also known as my inner critic — which has had way too many years of free-rein in my head.

♥ Daylily ♥

Celexa side effect — sleepiness

After discussing how tired I am with my therapist she looked at her notes and remembered I increased the Celexa not too long ago.  Lynn thinks the medications could be causing my exhaustion, especially since I wasn’t this tired when I was drinking and the tiredness came on at  the time of the increase in meds.  She said sleepiness can be a side effect of Celexa.  No shit Sherlock?   Isn’t that the case for every SSRI? 

Lynn commented that the Wellbutrin is known for having a positive effect on addiction so she didn’t want to change that right now since I quit drinking 2 months ago.  It still took me a year to quit drinking so I don’t know if I would say Wellbutrin has helped with my sobriety but it definitely helped reduce my urge to eat.  I’ve lost a bit more than 30 lbs and I feel pretty good about that.  The other night I actually felt my hip bone protruding while I was lying on my back.  I’m by no means thin but I went down 2 jeans sizes so that’s good!

I lowered the Celexa dose 3 days ago so time will tell if the Celexa was stealing my energy.  I’ll keep you posted. 

♥ Daylily ♥

My depression now that I’m sober

How’s my depression now that I stopped drinking wine, you ask. 

I feel numb.  Not especially happy or sad.  Emotionless, I suppose, would be a good word for how I feel.

I fake excitement and joy so my kids think I care about what happens in their lives.  I do care but if it were up to me I would respond the same way whether they got straight A’s or got kicked out of school.  It’s all cerebral without much affect.  Not bad or good feelings — basically no feelings. 

And it’s not like I’m that smart or intelligent either; I’m just playing the roles of wife, mother, daughter, teacher, patient, student, sister and aging woman as anyone would expect a person like me to be. 

Even without drinking I still take a nap almost everyday.  I’m not sure if it’s because I stay up too late or my body’s nervous system continues to adjust without alcohol or if my medications (celexa, wellbutrin and klonopin) are the culprits.  I know I’m tired, unproductive and letting chores go by the wayside.  It’s not a good feeling to feel so unmotivated.

I haven’t seen my therapist for 3 weeks so I suppose we will talk about all of these things.  She encouraged me to stop drinking on my antidepressants so I can at least feel good I haven’t had a drink in close to 2 months.  That’s progress in taking charge of my mental health.  Shouldn’t I feel more excited about it?

Alcoholics Anonymous has become a regular routine of mine.  Who knew there were so many women-only groups?  I certainly didn’t and I’m pleasantly surprised to find 3 different groups that I can go to for support.  My ability to connect on a personal level with other women is not a strong point of mine.  I’ve mostly been listening and sharing tiny bits of  myself.  However, the more comfortable I get the more I see that I don’t need to connect or be more intimate than I want to.  The anonymity piece of AA allows for people to come and go without anyone judging or holding them accountable.  This works for a person like me who dodges people who want more in a relationship than I’m willing to give.  Surprisingly, I do have a sponsor who is supporting my path to sobriety but she recognizes I’m like a deer caught in headlights so she’s not pushing too hard for me to get into the steps.  We’re keeping it simple.  “Just don’t drink,” is my mantra.  It’s going well and I’m discovering the cravings are psychological.  When I feel uncomfortable my mind whispers to me that if I just get through the event/issue/meeting (whatever) I can have a glass of wine later. 

Now that I’m not drinking I am focusing on being mindful by recognizing my thoughts and feelings, acknowledging them and trying to release them without judgment.  Perhaps this emotional work is exhausting and that is why I am emotionless.  It’s easier to not drink if I stay dead to the world and allow nothing or as few things as possible to upset me. 

Hmmm, just writing that last sentence makes me wonder if I’m shut down emotionally.  When you’ve been depressed as long as I have it is really hard to know what normal feelings are.  Maybe emotionless is really a sense of peace and calm???  If so, I’d like to have some peaks and valleys, too; but if I stay even keel I will accept it as a good sign.  Better than depressed and angry.

♥ Daylily ♥