Mental Health Month: Why Drinking While Depressed Leads Downhill

Depression & Drinking - Transcend Recovery Community

The great English poet G. K. Chesterton wrote: “drink because you are happy, but never because you are miserable.” More than just a saying, there is a profound and applicable truth to this, even in the modern day. Depression and drinking go hand in hand, and one makes the other worse. It’s a terrible relationship, one you would never want to entertain – and just as abusing alcohol can make you miserable, abusing alcohol because you’re miserable will only make both worse.

Alcohol is a common coping mechanism for the simple reason that it does, to a degree, make us happier. To be more precise, it makes people worry less. As an anti-anxiety drug of sorts, alcohol soothes the mind and calms the spirit – but at a cost. Not only is alcohol addictive, but it is poisonous. Too much at once, or over one’s life, will kill you.

And despite alcohol’s ability to make you forget for just a moment, nothing will have changed once you wake up. The way out of misery – the way out of depression – is by fighting through the pain and pushing against the problems. Therapy and treatment are in preparation of these two things – and drugs like alcohol will present you with setbacks in your depression, and other problems. Here’s why.

 

Alcohol And The Brain

Anyone who’s had more than a few drinks knows that alcohol clearly has a perceivable effect on the brain – one that does not take long at all to kick in. From slurred speech to difficulty thinking and slower reaction, the consensus between all drinkers is that it makes you slow – regardless of whether you are a happy drunk, a sad drunk, or an angry drunk. Alcohol lowers your inhibitions and reduces anxiety, with the specifics differing from person to person based on their history with alcohol, and their genetics.

Outside of the effects of a single binge drinking session, alcohol also leaves lasting effects on the brain – negative ones. Alcohol slowly eats away at the brain and at several of your organs, primarily your heart, liver, and kidneys. But in the brain, rapid and severe drinking will lead to memory loss, slowed cognition, and increased risk-taking – followed by problems with decision making, caused by a combination of nerve damage and grey matter damage.

 

Why Does Alcohol Worsen Depression?

This all goes hand in hand with mental health issues, as alcohol not only induces brain damage, but worsens the effects of depression by increasing feelings of guild and helplessness and presenting a risk of addiction.

The damage is long-lasting, but not permanent. Abstinence can give your body enough time to heal, but the process takes years. Just like the battle against alcoholism, improving your brain and organ health after excessive drinking takes time.

 

Finding The Motivation To Do Anything

Depression is more than occasional sadness. Sometimes, it is defined as the inability to feel joy or pleasure. To paint a picture, people struggling with depression are fighting an existential battle that, from an outsider’s perspective, is completely invisible. They struggle with thoughts of suicide, and some days, getting out of the bed can seem like an impossible task – let alone getting a change of clothes, taking a shower, or cleaning up.

There are ups and downs for everyone, but for people with clinical depression, the downs slip far below the limits of the chart, off the board, into unseen realms.

Telling someone with depression to simply feel better is asinine, but the ultimate goal of treatment and therapy is to make this very task possible. Fortunately there are treatments for depression available, including new depression treatment methods like TMS, that can help without feeling the need to drink due to depression. People with depression sometimes lack the motivation to do what most would consider the most basic things – and they feel all the worse for it. Friends or family may tell someone with depression to just do it – regardless of whether it means getting dressed, walking the dog, doing the dishes, or making coffee – and finding themselves unable to, the feeling of worthlessness grows, and the disease becomes crushingly difficult to shake off.

There are days when things are better, and the depression is not as dominating. Days when a person might wake up and have just enough energy to start the day.

These are the most important days, especially if your depression is coupled with a dangerous habit like drinking. When you wake up, make it a goal to immediately jump up and out of bed. Summon as much visceral vigor as possible to complete the most basic and fundamental task of the day – before your mind can find a way to talk you out of it. In most cases, depression manifests as a long list of self-defeating thoughts and voices – by starting the day quickly before the voices can take hold, you can get dressed as hurriedly as possible and get to the first task of the day.

That task should always be something therapeutic. Exercising, walking in sunshine, listening to music, or starting your day with a comedy podcast are all quick and easy ways to achieve an initial mental boost, right out of the gate. Choose something depending on how you feel that day and make it a morning ritual to infuse your day with a spark of joy.

With time, you can set up a more complex schedule, and draft some goals. It can start with something like completing two chores in one day, or folding laundry faster. It may be something like increasing the time you spend walking, finishing a project for one of your hobbies, completely reading a book, or progressing to a harder exercise. Accomplishing things – no matter how small they might seem – can feel like adding notches to your belt, as well as improving both your physical and mental health. There may be times when motivation is harder to come by – but in the long-term things will get better if you work at it, and get help for addition and mental help.

 

Sober Living: Honoring a New Kind of Hero in NY Next Month

Sober Living: Honoring a New Kind of Hero in NY Next Month | Transcend Recovery Community

Typically, when we think of heroes, we think of people who have achieved a heroic act, someone who has the traits and abilities others admire, someone who has lived through disastrous times, such as 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina.

Take for example 18-year old Ismael Jimenez, a student from Animo Inglewood Charter High School. In April 2014, a FedEx truck veered across Interstate 5 and headed into oncoming traffic. The FedEx truck and the charter bus Ismael and his peers were on collided. The fiery bus crash led to 5 student deaths, 3 adult chaperons, and the deaths of both drivers involved in the accident. One witness from the accident indicated that those emerging later from the bus were bruised and covered with blood but unaware that they had been injured because of the shock of the experience.

However, right after the collision, Jimenez, broke a window at the front of the bus as it was filling with smoke. People were getting burned from the heat and fire. Jimenez began to lift kids out in an effort to save them. However, in the end, he was one of the five students who lost their lives that day.

Certainly, the last few moments of his day were heroic, as he helped the other passengers to safety. Although we don’t know the precise medical details, it might be safe to say that he sacrificed his life for the sake of others. In some circles, this is the quintessential definition of a hero – someone who sacrifices something for the larger whole.

In general, a hero or heroine is defined as a person who is admired for his or her courage, outstanding achievements, and noble qualities. And like Jimenez, this is the kind of hero and heroine that’s being celebrated in New York City this summer. Like Jimenez who worked to save the lives of others, the heroes and heroines being celebrated this summer are those who are also working to save lives: their own.

Instead of lifting other people to safety, the heroic achievements of those in sober living are the heroes and heroines in the limelight this August, who are lifting their own lives to safety. Given the remarkable mountain that those with addictions must climb and the daunting task of breaking free of their past, they are indeed heroes and heroines! We might even see them as the stars of their community. They are the Heroes in Recovery working hard to transform their lives through sober living.

To celebrate these heroes and heroines, you can find community-gathering 6K races taking place around the country. And there’s one in New York City coming up soon:

Manhattan, New York City, Riverside Park on August 16, 2014

The New York event not only intends to bring the community together to break the social stigma of mental illness and addiction but also to raise funds for Xcel University. Xcel University advocates for mental health awareness and making quality mental health services to everyone. They are a voice for those in recovery, encouraging them to overcome obstacles and to participate in their recovery with commitment and conviction.

If you want to support the movement and lend a hand to those struggling with addiction, run in the race! You can find information about New York’s race here.  Help break the stigma of addiction by joining us!

Heroes in Recovery 6K in New York, NY
Riverside Park – 103 Street Promenade
August 16, 2014
Race begins at 8:30am!

And even if you’re not in a sober living program, if you simply want to honor those like Jimenez, who are working toward saving the life in themselves, come join us. All heroes and heroines are welcome!

 

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The Razor’s Edge: Don’t Run Away, Run for Recovery Instead

The Razor's Edge: Don't Run Away, Run for Recovery Instead | Transcend Recovery Community

It’s easy to run away from a problem. It’s the effortless choice. It’s less complicated to stay numb to the problems we face. Besides, no one likes pain. It feels safer to stay comfortable.

Although it is disguised with discomfort and suffering, pain bears many blessings. When unwrapped, when finally faced, pain can lead to victory, to achievement, and to healing. It can lead to feeling like you are the hero or heroine of your life. Although you might want to run away, although you might want to look the other way, pain is a blessing in disguise.

But  you’ll have to cross the razor’s edge first. When you’re faced with the great challenge of living sober after years of addiction, when you’re faced with the tremendous climb of acquiring sober help after years of drinking and drug use, you might feel the sharp edges of pain. Yet, if you’re willing, for the sake of sober living, for the power of sobriety, peel each layer of pain back and see what’s underneath. You might find a core energy that lies within, a sort of nucleus holding an entire cluster of painful emotions, memories, thoughts, and images together. That energetic center is where one can find the gift within the suffering.

The razor’s edge is the great challenge you face when attempting to reach a higher state of consciousness. It is the tremendous obstacle to overcome before breaking through to long-term sober living. It’s difficult, but not impossible. In fact, this sort of breakthrough is a part of your heroic destiny.

Reaching your potential is always possible. Achieving sober living is right within your grasp. So if you find yourself running away from your addictions, problems, and destructive patterns, you should know that walking the razor’s edge isn’t as dangerous as it seems; it’s teeth are not as sharp as they appear. When you turn towards those problems, they will become less frightening and lose their power over you.

And when you finally make the scary but fulfilling decision to walk the razor’s edge and to face those problems head on, come run or walk a 6k race among other heroes and heroines just like you. Instead of running away from your addiction, run for recovery instead.

In fact, many communities around the nation are celebrating the heroic efforts of those with addictions, those who decided to get the help they need despite any feelings of shame. And it’s not just a celebration; it’s a movement to honor the heroes and heroines of addiction. Given the remarkable mountain that those with addictions must climb and the daunting task of breaking free of their past, they are indeed heroes and heroines! Communities are celebrating by coming together to raise money through a 6K walk or run.

For example, the run in New York City takes place in Riverside Park on August 16, 2014. The New York event not only intends to bring the community together to break the social stigma of mental illness and addiction but also to raise funds for Xcel University. Xcel University advocates for mental health awareness and making quality mental health services to everyone. They are a voice for those in recovery, encouraging them to overcome obstacles and to participate in their recovery with commitment and conviction. If you want to support the movement and lend a hand to those struggling with addiction, run in the race! You can find information about New York’s race HERE.  Help yourself and others become heroes and heroines too!

Heroes in Recovery 6K in New York, NY
Riverside Park – 103 Street Promenade
August 16, 2014
Race begins at 8:30 AM!

If you are reading this on any blog other than Transcend Recovery Community or via
my RSS Feed, it is stolen content without credit.
You can find me on Twitter via @RecoveryRobert
Come and visit our blog at http://TranscendRecoveryCommunity.com/blog