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Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

I drink because I'm depressed, I'm depressed because I drink...

About a month ago, one of the greatest actors in our time, Robin Williams, admitted himself into the Hazelden Addiction Center in Lindstrom, MN. He had publicly announced that he was an alcoholic back in 2006. It is unclear, so far, if Mr. Williams, had been drinking recently.

In my opinion, alcohol is a chameleon. It is disguised to be the thing you need, when in fact it is exactly what you DON’T need. The advertising says liquor creates fun when in fact it creates chaos.

In my youth, I remember going out with a group of friends with drinking as the means to “lighten up” and “enjoy the moment.” The next morning, I did NOT enjoy that moment hanging my head over the toilet.

I hear young people now who are very excited about the idea of going out and getting so drunk they can’t walk – “I’m going out and I’m going to get sooooo drunk…” Then you hear about the fights, hook-ups, and general bad behavior nonsense and I have to ask myself, why was that was so much fun?

Later on, if I had a tough day at work, I’d open a bottle of wine and have a few glasses just to take away some of the stress. All the wine usually did was make me open up about my stressful day and re-live it over again. Guess what? The stress was right there in my office when I returned to work.

Our society drinks alcohol. It is a fact that cannot be disputed. We are a society that uses alcohol to celebrate happy times and alleviate the pain of bad times. In my opinion, our society creates situations that generate alcoholics and then we shun them as though they are less human than those of us who are not afflicted with alcoholism. Alcoholics must hide the fact that they are alcohol dependent because they do not want to be labeled as being something as distasteful as an alcoholic. Of course, that’s just my opinion.

Robin Williams was depressed, or at least that’s what the news media is telling us. I believe it. I have no reason not to believe it. However, I wasn't at his house when he died and I have no first-hand knowledge of what actually happened. I only know what the publicity agents want me to know.

What I do know is this: Depressed people often mistakenly turn to alcohol to give them that “pick me up” that they need because the hype is that it will make them feel better. It is not unusual that people mask or medicate their depression with alcohol. However, alcohol is a depressant and the more alcohol consumed, the more intense the depression. The alcohol takes over and the voluntary action of drinking to medicate turns into drinking to feed the alcohol addiction which is making the depression worse. It becomes a descending spiral that leads to many physical complications generating the need to mask other pains from such things as liver failure, coronary heart disease, brain damage, etc. The alcohol now has complete control over the depressed person and adds the gift of poor physical health.

The only way out is through some form of rehab/recovery program. However, if the program only treats the alcoholism and not the depression, the chance of relapse is strong. In my opinion (again), when an alcoholic is admitted for detox and follows with rehab, the rehab portion should be in conjunction with intensive psychological therapy to get to the root of the depression. Without the treatment of the depression it is like removing only half of a cancerous tumor. The tumor just continues to grow and eventually kill the patient.

The first movie that made me fall in love with Robin Williams was Good Morning, Viet Nam! Many of my friends had fought in that war and since Mr. Williams was close to my age, and I had married a Viet Nam vet with PTSD issues, this movie was very relevant to me.


Having had my own life threatened as author of this blog, I understand why celebrities sequester themselves from the prying eyes of the public. There is a danger in notoriety. It’s too bad that celebrities must hide their anguish and put up a brave front for fear of letting all of us “fans” down.  If I could say something to Robin Williams before he did whatever he did that caused him to leave us, it would be: “Thank you for the laughter you bring into my life. If you ever need someone to help you remember that your life is worth living, you can call on me.” I doubt he would have called… but I would have left that door open not because he’s a celebrity, but because he is a human being.

12 comments:

Furtheron said...

I think the programme he was on at Hazelden will have been good for what he was suffering. Why do I say that? 10 years ago this summer I was in a residential rehab in the UK - based on a programme similar to the Hazelden one, when set up 20 years before the counsellors were known as the Minnesota Mafia!

The programme there told me that I was an alcoholic as I was using alcohol to treat my depression. Personally I'm not sure if I'm a depressive alcoholic of an alcoholic who is depressed... which comes first becomes meaningless once you are over a certain point in addiction in my mind.

Whatever today I'm sad that Robin lost his battle, also, and this tells me I truly am an alcoholic, I'm glad it wasn't me that failed today.

Syd said...

It is indeed a sad thing that people make the decision that living is more painful than dying. But I do believe that sometimes, no matter whether alcohol is involved or not, people get to a point in which depression is so overwhelming that all hope is lost. That is a dark black hole that I have seen more than one person travel into.

I have read that alcoholism co-occurs with other disorders, depression being one. I believe that. And I do believe that there is the physical craving, the mental obsession, and a spiritual malady in real alcoholics.

Lakesidelady said...

You are saying what I have been thinking about my husband. After the detox before last, I knew that he so needed help with what depresses him and I felt like they had only addressed the alcoholism and that was why he just relapsed again. He has issues he has never faced about his own mother dying from her alcoholism when he was a teenager. In those days the doctor gave him some strong pills to relax and make it through the funeral. They probably had alcohol to cope too. Never did he, his brother and father have a chance to work through their grief and I feel like that is the root of the depression. I recently drove my husband to his mothers grave and he simply sat there and wept. I hope that will be the beginning for him to find his way out without any alcohol or pills to dull his senses. It's a battle everyday for all that are afflicted

Anonymous said...

I saw a mouse struggling in a glue trap. I wonder if it thought about how it shouldn't be there.

Anonymous said...

Psychological Projection

Psychological projection is a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against unpleasant impulses by denying their existence in themselves, while attributing them to others. Wikipedia

coping said...

I am so sorry for Robin Williams and his family. My father committed suicide because of depression. He did not drink....in fact, I never saw him touch a drop of alcohol in my whole life.....but, he could not beat depression. His suicide left a huge hole in my heart, as I was only 23 at that time. Now, being 40 years later....I wish I could have helped him in some way. Depression is a demon so many cannot beat.....and coupled w/alcohol, it can surely be deadly. RIP Robin Williams. My prayers for you and your family.

Donnie Benson said...

There must be available help for those who are depressed and alcoholic, whether they’re famous or not. It’s pretty hard to start a battle against those advertisements about alcohol, but we shouldn’t stop stating our opinions against alcohol. Aside from wasting your money in a bottle of vodka, you’ll also suffer from the headache and nausea after your “happy hour.” Whoever you are and whatever you do, it’s best to reach out to those who are alcoholic and help them in their way to sobriety. Thanks for sharing your encouraging thoughts, Linda! I’m sure you'll post more encouragement to all your readers. :)

Donnie Benson @ Midwest Institute

Joe Rodeck said...

"I drink because I'm depressed, I'm depressed because I drink." Is there a source for this quote? Thanks!

Joe Rodeck said...

"I drink because I'm depressed, I'm depressed because I drink." A source for this quote? Thanks!

The Immortal Alcoholic's Wife said...

Joe -- I don't think it is a quote from anyone or anything. It's just a title I came up with. I may have heard it somewhere, but I have no idea where. Sometimes I hear things and they just sit there in my head until I can use them. -- Linda

Shear said...

Love it.... I've never drank before but I am drinking g now... Thank you! May God be with all of us!

Shear said...

Mice don't think!!!!!