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In Limbo - Dealing with Drinking and Depression

Old 08-19-2021, 12:26 PM
  # 21 (permalink)  
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I'm sorry for what you are having to deal with FauxFern. I am a codependent man and of course we care about our loved ones, but I am learning I have to step back from trying to always help others who are struggling with dependency and addiction. I worry constantly, and fear for them, and naturally want to give advice or try to learn more about how they are feeling but have been told my behavior is controlling, which I acknowledge. I also get emotionally exhausted from it all and get little else done when in that situation. I am currently re-reading Codependent No More and learning... That said there are things we can do, like just holding the person sometimes, to reassure them of how we feel and care for them. Or just saying it.

Originally Posted by fauxfern View Post

We've lived with his depression for a long time. He's had depressive episodes in the past but never, never, never like this. He's had times when he drank too much in the past but it never, never, never effected his behavior or depression like this.

Prior to 2020 I never thought of him as an alcoholic. I never had the "don't drink" conversation. There were times he drank too much but it was never to the point where I thought he couldn't control his drinking. He's had periods of time when he took a drinking break for months at a time to focus on sports, get in shape etc. We'd have a drink with dinner and leave it at that.
Alcohol certainly increases depression over the long term. It is a depressant. Many alcoholics like the temporary feeling of elation they get.. but the long term effect is to increase depression. I have seen it with my ex GF who has both anxiety and depression. She drinks to relieve her anxiety (temporary relief at best) and it increases her depression. My understanding with most dual diagnoses (and I have found this to be true also with my own) is that the addictive substance, ie. the alcohol, has to be removed before progress can be made on the disorder itself - whether depression, anxiety, OCD, etc.

Originally Posted by fauxfern View Post
I feel like 2020 changed him. During that time we both drank too much. Then things got better in the world and I went back to normal but he is stuck in a deep, deep depression and is now struggling with addiction. I don't know if that's how alcoholism works, if a period of excessive drinking can trigger an addiction, but that's how things look and feel to me.
Yes, it IS how it works. Many people cross the line between regular drinking and alcoholism at a point in their lives when they have drank heavily for one reason or another. And once over that line, it's almost impossible to go back. There is a very good book called Alcohol Explained by William Porter that I highly recommend. It's informative and easy to read, but not preachy about it, so I have found that even alcoholics will read it. You might find it helpful to see how the alcoholism progression works.

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Old 08-19-2021, 03:50 PM
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Wow. So much. First of all Sage that was so brave to share and thank you so much for caring that much. Having dealt with suicidal ideation for a decade with my son I understand everything that has been said on both sides. I've tried to eliminate the methods. I've stayed up worrying. I've asked the questions and had the conversations. I've worried myself literally sick. And not one of those things changed anything. And for me, it took the alcoholism to understand and see that. Two years of being afraid to go to sleep because he might not be alive in the morning. Two years of waking up and hoping to hear him snoring so I knew he was alive. Two years of terror. My son found the perfect way to end his life and not feel any pain it seemed---but of course he didn't---of course he still felt the pain and so did we. I think those were really wise words about not being able to control it--you can't. You also can't stop caring and being concerned. For me, I have to compartmentalize that for my own mental health. I have to tell that voice in my head that tells me that closed door is the enemy, that it could be, but remember that a thousand times it was not. I have to tell that voice that at the lowest points in the past, he reached out and just trust that he will again. I have to tell that voice that even if he doesn't there isn't a "something" that I didn't do. It's sound advice about acute care but for both fauxfern's husband and my son, they are adults and have to choose to comply with that. I don't know about your husband ff, but my son is not about to comply with that---and I have to let it go because I can't change it. I think for me, I've tried to focus very hard on what I can do. I can, if he makes a threat or statement about self-harm, get him to a hospital if he's willing and call someone to take him if he isn't. I can be loving and supportive and present. I can take care of myself--it isn't an either/or proposition. I can choose to live my life outside of his addiction and outside of his mental health issues without choosing to live my life outside of loving him.
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Old 08-20-2021, 06:29 AM
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He stopped drinking in May and has just now felt good enough (not depressed) to go out with friends and had drinks on those 3 occasions.

He hasn't stopped drinking, then.

Many people drink from time to time; have a drink when they come home from work or at a party. Most people who do that, if their doctor said, "You have to quit. It's a danger to your health because [fill in diagnosis here]" they'd stop. He or she might miss having a Margarita with the ultimate nachos at a favorite pub, but would manage.

When an alcoholic drinks, she or he won't stop. Sometimes it's a gradual increase (a few after work on Friday, then three times a week, then it's every day) or every time he drinks it's a binge. My husband would be irritable in the morning, because it would be hours before he could drink again.

You husband, if he's an alcoholic, needs to quit, not just cut down. He's still under the delusion he can drink like a normal person. He can keep up that pretense for a few weeks, I suppose.

Here's an analogy. I have a friend who was a prison guard. Prisoners used to leave saying, "I'm never going back to ______town (or hang around my old friends) again. I always get in trouble." I said, what's wrong with that? He told me it's not enough to say "I'm never going back to my home town." It's not about getting a different set of friends. That situation, those *kinds* of people are everywhere. It's about choosing to take up pickleball or go to church *instead* of going to a bar or smoking dope with your friends. It about having friends who are not engaged in what got you into the mess in the first place. If his friends really cared about his health, and he told them he was an alcoholic, they wouldn't go out drinking. So, he hasn't told them he's trying to quit.

You have a problem with his drinking. He doesn't.

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Old 08-20-2021, 12:49 PM
  # 24 (permalink)  
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I appreciate everyone's insight. I'm especially appreciate those sharing personal experiences caring for family dealing with both drinking and depression. It takes a lot to share to that degree. If I'm not directly responding to you it's because thats especially hard for me, but I am thinking about what you share.

Lynn, thank you for sharing this experience with your son.

Originally Posted by 555Lynn555 View Post
I don't know about your husband ff, but my son is not about to comply with that---and I have to let it go because I can't change it. I think for me, I've tried to focus very hard on what I can do. I can, if he makes a threat or statement about self-harm, get him to a hospital if he's willing and call someone to take him if he isn't. I can be loving and supportive and present. I can take care of myself--it isn't an either/or proposition. I can choose to live my life outside of his addiction and outside of his mental health issues without choosing to live my life outside of loving him.
My husband has clearly expressed to me, doctor and therapist he wants help with his depression and especially with feeling suicidal. Feeling suicidal has not been part of his past episodes, as soon as he had a suicidal feeling he communicated this. He asked to go in-patient, it's not an option. He's on a waiting list just to get a permanent therapist. He's not receiving acute care because of the strain on the healthcare system, not because he's resisting care. We've worked with his temp therapist to create a safety plan. That's the best we have right now.

If he weren't seeking help for depression I might feel differently, but right now my partner is in pain, he's asked for help and I'm 100% committed to helping him with this. We've been through bouts of depression before and he's successfully worked on his mental health.

Understanding the drinking is still new. This degree of depression, level of drinking this past year and the significant impact of drinking on his mental health is something we're both dealing with for the first time and just starting to understand.


Originally Posted by velma929 View Post
You husband, if he's an alcoholic, needs to quit, not just cut down. He's still under the delusion he can drink like a normal person. He can keep up that pretense for a few weeks, I suppose. You have a problem with his drinking. He doesn't.
I don't know if it's fair to say that I have a problem with his drinking and he doesn't. What seem more accurate is that over the past few months, roughly starting in March, I've come to recognize his drinking is a problem and he has just started to see, within the past 2 weeks, that his drinking is a problem.

Again, thinking about him as an alcoholic is new. We're at the "if he's an alcoholic" stage. He literally just said that he recognized the connection between drinking on Friday and feeling angry and depressed on Saturday.

Originally Posted by velma929 View Post
He stopped drinking in May and has just now felt good enough (not depressed) to go out with friends and had drinks on those 3 occasions.
He hasn't stopped drinking, then.
Yes, its accurate to say he didn't stop drinking. He stopped for a period. Then, when he felt less depressed, went out with friends and had drinks like he's done in the past, but this time he had a different experience. It was after this that he acknowledged he saw a connection between drinking and his mood and behavior.

I think he needed to see that. He's been in depressive state for months. He's just starting to return to a normal state, a state where he can now see things more clearly. I think he was able to make the connection.

I honestly don't think this has been his experience with alcohol in the past. It feels like the period of excessive drinking during 2020 changed him.

Originally Posted by advbike View Post
Yes, it IS how it works. Many people cross the line between regular drinking and alcoholism at a point in their lives when they have drank heavily for one reason or another. And once over that line, it's almost impossible to go back. There is a very good book called Alcohol Explained by William Porter that I highly recommend. It's informative and easy to read, but not preachy about it, so I have found that even alcoholics will read it. You might find it helpful to see how the alcoholism progression works.
Thank you for sharing this, it's really helpful to read. Maybe this is basic knowledge but it's so helpful to have you say this. I honestly didn't know this. I feel foolish not understanding this. I feel angry at myself for not knowing this sort of thing.

I understand you're all well versed in addiction and recovery, and I appreciate your insight which is why I posted, but my gosh this has not been a part of my life until this year. It's all so new.

Truthfully, some statements are feeling a bit harsh. Also, truthfully, I'm feeling very tender right now and could be taking things the wrong way. I'm going to practice self-care and step back from posting and stick to just reading the forum.

Please know I am grateful. Thank you.

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Old 08-20-2021, 02:33 PM
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fern.....I totally understand how you must be feeling, right now----raw and tender and vulnerable.....I sure do see how some of the responses can sound "critical"---even if they are not really intended to be so,
Your position is such a hard one----beyond difficult and so so scary. I know that dealing with deep depression is a whole field in itself.
It sounds, to me, like you are quite versed about depression and have a committed medical team to help. I say to follow their advice and instructions, regardless of what anybody else says.
God bless both you and your husband.
Please don't hesitate to post anytime you feel like you want to. Yes, do take care of yourself.
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Old 08-20-2021, 08:16 PM
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ff, before you decide to stop posting, I suggest you read this thread:
https://www.soberrecovery.com/forums...y-they-do.html (To newbies - why people respond the way they do)

Your reaction isn't uncommon at all. Maybe this will help you understand what seems harsh to you. I know that a lot of what I heard when I first came here made me angry or uncomfortable. With time, I found that the things it was hardest for me to hear were often the things that helped me the most.

Also, if you haven't checked out the stories in this section yet, I'd suggest it:
https://www.soberrecovery.com/forums...-recovery.html (About Recovery)

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Old 08-20-2021, 09:09 PM
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Originally Posted by fauxfern View Post
II feel foolish not understanding this. I feel angry at myself for not knowing this sort of thing.
How would you know unless you had experienced it, or had a close friend or relative who was an alcoholic, or had confided in you? People who haven't experienced it don't know the signs, and people who have can spot them a mile away. For instance, another alcoholic knew my husband was one, and only met him a few times over the years.. There are several people (family and friends) who I suspect are addicted. I don't live with them, but I'm a pretty good guesser. One is a relative of my Current Guy. He should be about the age of CG, but looks at least ten years older, and Current tells me it isn't unusual for relative to drink a couple cases of beer a weekend. I think that sounds problematic but current guy says, oh no, he hasn't got a problem. I suspect his relative's ex-wives think otherwise.
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Old 08-20-2021, 09:41 PM
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I so agree with this, who knows much about alcoholism unless they actively seek the information? My Father was an alcoholic all his life and never sought treatment (that I am aware of). It wasn't until I was well in to adulthood that I even bothered to look at alcoholism and find out about it. He drank, he drank too much, it disrupted everything but it was "normal" for the children and even as a teen and adult. I knew he was an alcoholic, I didn't know how that had come to be, now I know. He was one of 5 children, 4 were also alcoholics , one was not. Still, I never wondered why! Then again I certainly couldn't change any of that, so I guess that's pretty normal.

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Old 08-21-2021, 12:16 AM
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My husband also dealt with both depression and addiction issues. Suicidal ideation was a serious problem for us. I thought if I could be there to “help him through” the not-thinking-clearly part that it would be enough. That I could help him avert the worst symptoms and maybe even start to see clearly. We got psychiatrists and psychologists on board. There were several times I thought I would have to call 911. I hid car keys so he couldn’t drive somewhere and buy a gun.

It wasn’t enough. And honestly, if he hadn’t left me in a hypomanic state, everything going on might have destroyed me. I was working so hard I was starting to have suicidal thoughts of my own and trouble getting up off the couch. He did appreciate the effort and me, and even in the worst depression times let me know how grateful he was I was his partner, even tried to take care of me in the ways he could, but ultimately my optimism and encouragement could never break through the PTSD/depression for very long, and each time the depression came back I think he felt more hopeless and ashamed that he couldn’t “get better” even with all this help. Eventually, I think that meant every time I “helped” it started to hurt, like he was letting me down. And nothing I said could convince him otherwise.

I’ll be honest. I still believe that he is capable of coming out on the other side of this. Whether or not he will remains to be seen, but out of respect for him, I realized I married a man I trust to fight for himself (and that includes asking for help when he needs it). I have a lot of hope we may be able to be together again. But if we hadn’t separated, as angry and sad as I was at the time for him initiating the separation, I think it could have gotten a lot worse. I think if I had started to be his “therapist” instead of his partner, it would have changed our relationship forever, even after he “got through” this hard time.

For myself, learning to focus on “my side of the street” was equally helpful for the depression/PTSD/bipolar tendencies as it was for the addiction issues. And treating all those labels as different facets of the same mental health struggle REALLY helped. Each label was not an answer, but rather a way to describe a piece of the puzzle that was my husband. And ultimately, they were inseparable pieces, just like he is one whole person.
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Old 08-21-2021, 12:58 AM
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Here are a few threads from the Newcomers forum you might find helpful:

https://www.soberrecovery.com/forums...periences.html
https://www.soberrecovery.com/forums...epression.html
https://www.soberrecovery.com/forums...addiction.html
https://www.soberrecovery.com/forums...epression.html
https://www.soberrecovery.com/forums...ing-sober.html
https://www.soberrecovery.com/forums...epression.html


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