Sober and Depressed? You are Not Alone
I’ve had a difficult week, in fact I’d say the last month or so has been difficult for me.
I have depression (and it comes and goes as depression does), and I don’t want to hide it in this blog that shows my life as shiny & brilliant since going alcohol free. My life is lovely, and I am grateful for the life I am building as a yoga teacher, and as a writer, and with Margot by my side. But …
Some days I feel completely alone, unworthy, ugly, useless. Other days I feel empty – totally worthless and like there is no point. Depression gets me when I least expect it.
Somewhat naively, I thought my decision to go alcohol free would be the cure for my depression – it wasn’t. Of course, it wasn’t. Sobriety has helped, but there is no instant cure.
So I am sober and depressed. It can happen. It does happen.
Sobriety isn’t a magic pill that instantly cures your (my) mental health issues.
But what sobriety has done for me through my depression, is given me the head space to see my depression for what it is. On a good day, I know that the dislike for myself, the low moods, the feeling useless – or worst of all totally empty – is depression. It’s not me. It is feelings and thoughts and moods but it is not me.
“You are the sky. Everything else is just the weather.” – Pema Chodron.
I don’t see my depression through a hangover cloak of self-loathing anymore, I see my moods without chemical enhancement (or dis-enhancement I suppose you could say).
I used to use alcohol to self-medicate my depression (and my anxiety), it didn’t help. It left me depressed and more anxious worrying about a couple of terrible life decisions that would be made whilst drinking.
When you have become used to – and are actively choosing – a life without booze, self-medicating with alcohol isn’t an option anymore. And that is something I am very grateful for.
I have had to find other ways to manage my depression, and I have been choosing different ways for the last 13 months. This isn’t the first re-occurrence of depression I’ve had since I stopped drinking. I’d say I’ve experienced it through two or three extended periods since stopping drinking.
I have found many ways to manage my depression whilst staying sober; with medication, with yoga, with writing (usually nonsensical stuff in a notebook) with sleep, with therapy (although my therapist is currently on maternity leave), with eating well and with as many walks outside as I can motivate myself to do.
What I don’t do anymore is manage my depression with wine. I know that wine is not the answer.
Wine will not make me feel better in the short term or the long term.
Nothing might make me feel better in the short term actually, but I can choose things that are not harmful to me. Sleeping is not harmful, eating well will not cause me harm, going outside and taking a walk will not cause me harm. I make these decisions for me. I may still be sober and depressed, but I know the depression will lift and I will be grateful for my sobriety.
I’m not an expert at being sober and depressed (I mean who is?) but on the days when I feel like life is more manageable – days like today – I feel it’s important to talk about it and my experience with it. Depression still isn’t talked about enough, and yet it’s something
Like a broken bone, sometimes we need time to heal. Allow yourself that time. Allow yourself to do the bare minimum you can to keep going (or take time off if you can). Watch Netflix, sleep, sleep some more, see a therapist, talk to your family and let yourself off the hook.
Depression can make me feel so alone. Yet I know I’m not alone. And if you are reading this you are not alone either.