I haven't had a drink since 1993; you will have to ask someone else how long I have been sober though. How long I have been "of clear mind" is hard to figure.
It was also in 1993 that I was diagnosed with depression. I started living on my own for the first time in 1991, hundreds of miles away from home in central Wisconsin. At first everything looked great. I had a promising new job, was making new friends, had a great apartment, and my first adult car.
Over the next couple of years I realized the job wasn't what I would be doing forever. My friendships were mostly linked to one person with whom our on and off again romantic relationship was coming to an end. I was having a hard time keeping my finances afloat and had to give up my apartment for a smaller one. I even tried selling my car for a less expensive one to reduce my payments.
I found myself telling my employer that I was either on the road, working from home, or ill. In fact I was spending several days on end sitting at home unbathed and in my bathrobe watching TV. Of course the drinking came.
I had always had my issues with alcohol. However it was limited to social binge drinking in high school and college. Now I was drinking until I passed out at home. Of course the binge drinking was also a factor.
In the fall of 1993 I finally took a look at the situation and realized (informed by family history) that I was on a downward spiral. In a rather dramatic fashion, I poured about a dozen beers, a bottle of cheap wine, and fifth of gin down the kitchen sink.
I scheduled an appointment with an Employee Assistance Proram counselor. Working together we determined I was both an alcoholic and depressed. Dutifully I began going to meetings and found a counselor. While AA kept me off the gin, the depression was not going anywhere. My therapist and I were far from compatible. Additionally, I now realize, I had failed to fully invest and commit to recovery.
In April of 1994, I found myself again unbathed, in my bathrobe (albeit free of alcohol), and giving up hope. Pursuing a meaningful life seemed out of reach. I finally found the ability to get off the couch when I formulated a plan: gin and sleeping pills. I got dressed and got in my car on a mission. Ironically enough the liquor store was the same country highway that led to the nearest mental health facility, 23 miles away. I kept driving uncertain of everything.
I stayed a week. Afterwards my parents invited me to adulthood on hold for a while and move in with them while I did the work I needed to undertake on my recovery. Less than month after leaving Wisconsin I was I back to stand up in the wedding a longtime friend. Ironically enough his bride had grown up the same part of Wisconsin I had just left. During the rehersal I was introduced to the bridesmaid I would be partnered with, my future wife.
The attraction was instant and sparks flew. In the middle of this romantic moment I shared with her my recent struggles. She paused for a moment, but did not walk away.
We dated long distance (I in Michigan, and she in Chicago) for several months. Eventually she and I (and my new therapist) agreed it was time for me to move to Chicago and for us to start a new life.
Fast forward to 2009. I had been married for 15 years and had wonderful eight-year-old twin boys. After several false starts, my career was going well: I had been working in the printing industry as a Customer Service Representative for 11 years and been very successful. Although I was taking anti-depressents for maintenence, I felt good about life.
However the printing industry has been struggling and the small family-owned company I had been working for was no exception. In March 2009 I was laid off. I totally understood and we parted as friends. I felt certain things would work out. I pursued my job hunt and projects around the house.
However my unemployment went on for months and I was becoming discouraged. One week in December I was rejected for two jobs I and was declined for back-to-school funding to gain new job skills. This hit me hard and my ambition began to fade away and most of my time was spent watching TV.
In February of 2010 I was offered a job in the printing industry. It promised to be an ideal fit. However it did not seem to be the fix for which I was hoping. There were compatibility issues and my depression was interfering with my ability to do my job. This led to a cycle of depression causing problems which caused stress which deepened my depression.
March 8 found me hospitalized again. My depression was very deep, with strong urges to hurt myself. After positive experiences during a week in the hospital and three weeks in a partial-hospitalization-program, progress was made. However my new employer did not hold my job.
The process continues on with wonderful support from my family and my health care team. My recovery has focused on mindfulness and spirituality and exercise. My therapist and I are working on my negative thinking patterns with CBT. Additionally I have recommitted myself Currently I am keeping myself busy working in retail.
I look forward to sharing and growing with the members of this community.