Many people think that alcoholics are all about fun and they don’t care about anything else. While this may be true for a small portion of alcoholics, that isn’t true for most of them and it certainly wasn’t for me. I drank to cover up a broken heart from relationships that had been torn apart, problems with the family, emotional pain, anxiety, depression, and more. It may sound like an excuse and if that is what you believe, you are correct. I made excuses to drink each time I drank. I wasn’t just an alcoholic, I was depressed. I took that depression and I drowned it in the bottle. I didn’t feel comfortable talking to anyone about it. In fact, I was always one of those people who had a smile on my face every single day and I laughed everything off (the problem was that I wasn’t actually laughing it off, I was just burying my emotions).
My Childhood Depressive Years
How was anyone supposed to know that I was depressed if I didn’t show it on the outside? They couldn’t and looking back, besides my addiction, I can’t blame them for not knowing. There were so many times that I just prayed someone would ask me what was wrong but any time they did my response was simple,, “I’m fine,” with a smile. This got them off my back and they didn’t ask again. I can remember when I was a child and I would cry myself to sleep many nights. At the time, for the most part, I didn’t even know what I was crying about. Come to find out later, after my recovery from my alcoholism, I had been molested starting at 8-years-old and that could have very well been the trigger to my depression.
My Teenage Depressive Years
When I reached my teenage years, I hid my depression in an additional way. I was already a pro at making everyone think I was alright when I was anything but alright. I couldn’t connect with my family. How could I? They all had their own stuff going on and they were all so much better than me. This was what I had truly believed and that was part of my depression talking. Since I didn’t feel that I could talk to anyone, I started acting out. I didn’t care what happened to me and I threw all safety concerns for my life out the window. When I was 15-years-old, I went away for a weekend and didn’t tell my parents where I was going. Around this same time period I had been raped. Things were more out of control than I could even admit to myself so, I started drinking and drank multiple times a week. My mother knew about this because I drank with her but still no red flags seemed to be raised.
Even though I was a 15-year-old going to school with a hangover and partying many times a week, still nobody got my call for help. I dove deeper into the bottle and my depression worsened. With the start of the drinking, I began to be reckless with relationships and I quickly became a sex addict too. I could care less if I made it to the next day. I gave up on talking to anyone about anything that I felt. What was the point? Nobody would understand but again that was the depression talking. At 17-years-old, I had my first baby and his father moved out of state. I was left to take care of a child on my own with the help of my mother and I can’t thank her enough for that. She was the reason I was able to graduate high school. However, even after my son was born, I couldn’t give up drinking and my depression continued.
My Adult Depressive Years
After I graduated from high school, things didn’t get any better. I continued my alcoholism, sex addiction, and did whatever I pleased. I would drink until I had no idea where I was. Now, that I am in recovery from my alcoholism, I do believe that was my way of getting out of my own head and escaping from my life. At 21-years-old, I had my second child and I got married. Not even a few months after being married, my husband divorced me because I drank too much. At the time I couldn’t grasp why he would leave me like that, but I get it now. Everything went downhill from there for awhile and about a year later, I even started dancing at a topless dance club. This may sound crazy but that was the first time I felt like I had some control, even though I actually didn’t. I started drinking five nights a week and I became even more depressed. I couldn’t think about any of my emotions without crying and so I just drank some more. By this time, I already had one DUI and a little over a year later, I had my second DUI. My thought was that my life was falling apart and there was nothing I could do about it. Little did I know at the time but that second DUI would change my life. I even had three children by this point.
My Depressive Years in Sobriety
I got sober on April 8, 2011. The night of my second DUI was my last time drinking alcohol. However, this didn’t take away the depression, it just made me actually have to think about it. For a little while, I just convinced myself that I was fine but I wasn’t. I would argue with my husband and family members, sometimes for no reason and sometimes because I had so many thoughts in my head that I couldn’t think straight. I had a diagnosis of anxiety but now I think it was mainly depression. While I was going to recovery groups, I thought things were getting better. I wrote and published a book, I talked about my life in group therapy and I wrote in journals about my feelings. I thought all of this was working but I still hadn’t been fully honest with myself. I hadn’t talked about my depression.
When did my depression finally rear its head for others to see and so that I could finally deal with it? During the summer of 2015, my husband and I were in a rough patch and I didn’t feel comfortable being honest with any of my family members and I didn’t have any friends. I was feeling helpless and I thought everyone would do better without me. I took a knife and I went out into the woods. I had left a note for my husband. For the first time in my life, I was able to thank God for my anxiety. When I was out in the woods contemplating the worth of my life, I started crying and had an anxiety attack and passed out.
The Road to Recovery From Depression
I don’t know how long it was, but later I heard voices. I was coming to and the paramedics were there to help. I hadn’t hurt myself but that was by far the scariest point of my depression. I needed help. The paramedics took me into the hospital and when I was there, they gave me the option to go home with a lot of supervision or to spend some time in the mental health portion of their hospital. While I didn’t want to leave my children, I decided the hospital would be best. It would give me the time to step out of my life and get the help I truly needed. Those six days in the hospital opened my eyes. I learned more in there than I ever had before. I had to go home and be me.
Before I left the hospital, I created a life management plan and that plan is saving me today. There are still days when I get a little depressed but I remember what the amazing people at the hospital helped me to learn. I could be me and if anyone didn’t like that, they weren’t for me. I had control over my life. I just had to believe it. I have many more brighter days than I ever did before. Today is a great day and I know that there will be more of these days in the future! I still have a long way to go but I know that I can get there if I keep believing in myself. My advice for anyone who is in depression, is to reach out to anyone. I know it’s difficult but it can help.
Cara Havens, author of Overcoming Any Addiction: Finding the Inner You, works as a professional freelance writer. Cara began her sobriety in April of 2011 and specializes in addiction and addiction recovery. She also enjoys spending time with her three children and her husband.