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Forums / Depression / Depression and Alcohol

Topic: Depression and Alcohol

26 posts, 0 answered
  1. Mickii
    Mickii avatar
    45 posts
    1 October 2021
    Hi Everyone. I am interested to hear about your experience with alcohol and depression. I self medicate with alcohol. Maybe I am an alcoholic but I don't know. I know when I drink I feel better mentally but non physically, I can mix with people and feel I am happier. I am worried about how much I drink though...never more than one bottle of wine a night, but often every night.I would like to give up alcohol but am scared if I do I will not be able to mix with people anymore....I am interested in any feedback. Thank you.
  2. smallwolf
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    smallwolf avatar
    5742 posts
    1 October 2021 in reply to Mickii

    hello and welcome.

    while I cannot personally relate alcohol and depression there are other aspects of your story that resonate with me. You said it makes it easier for you to mix with the people - that part I understand. Let's just say that reduces your inhibitions and so it is easier for you to talk to people. I would say however ... you are able to talk to people, it is just the alcohol makes it easier? I would also say you have made the first step here in starting to tell your story. One exercise I got my psych was to rock the boat - to be a little more assertive with others and to see what happens. The reality did not match what I thought. Yes it was uncomfortable. And change is hard. And I am here to listen to you.

    2 people found this helpful
  3. geoff
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    2 October 2021 in reply to Mickii

    Hello Mickii, a good thread and I was exactly the same as you, used alcohol to self medicate while I was suffering from depression/anxiety hoping that it would allow me to be able to jump all those hurdles I was struggling with, but physically I was unable to and mentally only at times, although sometimes I pretended it did, but next morning I was back to where I began, needing a drink to start the day, I was an alcoholic, now I don't drink at all and haven't for a couple of years, that's another story as you're discussing your own issue.

    Mixing with other people was more appropriate if alcohol was involved and would genuinely laugh or make comments that would make others see the humorous side and would continue until they left, then I'd fall straight back into depression.

    The problem was that my family would see me laughing and naturally thought that my depression had gone, only to be disappointed when they would see me falling back into the dark side when the friends left.

    When people did arrive I'd offer them a drink, so that I could move into a 'happy' state and if they didn't I'd pretend that everything was OK, but that's when I became a cupboard drinker, I would have alcohol hidden away so if the occasion arose I'd be able to drink without anyone knowing.

    I like your comment and hope you will get back to us, as there is much more to discuss.

    Geoff.

    1 person found this helpful
  4. RJ#3
    RJ#3 avatar
    29 posts
    5 October 2021 in reply to Mickii
    Hi Mickii, nice to talk with you. I've had to stop drinking alcohol almost altogether, apart from the occasional low alcohol glass of wine with friends, because I eventually realised it was making my depression so much worse. It definitely made it easier to socialise and appear as though everything was okay, and I thought I felt happier, but in actual fact it was making my thoughts unbearable and I was self harming everyday just to cope. I can't for the life of me remember what made me put two and two together, but I tried cutting down, and that helped a bit, but now that I've pretty much stopped, I don't have to worry about causing those totally intense feelings for myself anymore. For me depression is hard enough and that only made it so much worse. Stopping wasn't as hard as I thought either, because it's far too scary to contemplate those feelings again, especially since the choice is mine. I'm not sure if any of what I've said will be relevant for you, but it's really helped me.
    1 person found this helpful
  5. geoff
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    7 October 2021 in reply to Mickii

    Hello Mickii, there is no problem if you are having trouble with the alcohol, we aren't here to judge you and many have been in exactly your position, that's precisely why we can't criticise you, so if you need people to talk to, then we are here, please don't be afraid Mickii.

    Geoff.

    2 people found this helpful
  6. mmMekitty
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    7 October 2021 in reply to Mickii

    Hello Nickii,

    I was drinking for a while, because I wasn't coping with things well beyond my ability to cope with. I was overwhelmed and wanted to blot out what was going on in my head. Didn't work. & the things I couldn't cope with were still there. I spent money on the alcohol for nothing.

    I was depressed, had been for a long time. I was prescribed an anti-depressant and told I could drink a little. I thought, no, I would want to still drink much more than a little. So I stopped drinking all together.

    Those things I was not coping still were problems. Some were not MY problems, I had to realise. I could not be in any sort of relationship with one person who was the source of much of the problems.

    Other things I have had to sort through more slowly.

    It's been many years since I have had any alcohol. I (mostly) don't miss it. It's been harder dealing with the expectation that when in social situations I am expected to drink - "Come on, you can at least have one. It won't hurt you" from others around me, or similar. I think the attitude that drinking is so normal is changing, though, and people are now more accepting of those of us who do not drink. I have had milkshakes in pubs! I caould hardly believe it - like a dream come true.

    For me, though, my problem was not so much about fitting in and seeming to be comfortable socially, because I simply didn't want to. The pressure to be sociable was more difficult for that reason. I got the message there was something wron with me.

    Just by the way, alcohol itself is a depressant. It might give you the impression of feeling good for a while, but inevitably. your thinking is not quick and alert, but rather, it declines, becomes confused and irrational. Other effects on the body are well recognised as well.

    It seems you want to be social, so, what if, instead, learning some new social skills? Are you able to

    talk about that with a therapist?

    mmMekitty

    1 person found this helpful
  7. jtjt_4862
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    7 October 2021 in reply to Mickii

    Hi Mickii,

    Although I don't have any experience with self medicating depression with alcohol, but I can relate to the social challenge that you seem to be encountering at the moment. A curious question to ask, as I'd like to understand more, how do you feel about yourself towards social encounter? Do you feel like you want to be more sociable? Or do you feel like you have to be more sociable to fit in with other people?

    The difference between "want to" and "have to" is that, "want to" comes from wanting to change/improve to do better for yourself. While "have to" is feeling pressured to go out of your way to be sociable for others (trying to fit in). On one hand it comes from what you truly want, and on the other hand it comes from the fear of being judged by others for not being social. Do you feel one of those correlates to your situation?

    Jt

    1 person found this helpful
  8. Mickii
    Mickii avatar
    45 posts
    8 October 2021
    Thank you everyone for your comments. I haven't been back on this page since I posted so I apologise for not responding earlier. I think I have also come back to this site because tonight I have opened a bottle of wine. I feel guilty. I have a diagnosis of major depressive disorder and alcohol is a depressant. I feel so wrong drinking, but I truly like it. I like feeling 'normal', and alcohol makes me feel that way. It helps me sleep. It helps me to feel confident in engaging in communication. So I would appreciate if any one has similar feeling sharing their journeys. I am a little intoxicated at the moment....but would love to engage with people who have experienced the same pathways...
  9. Lost hope
    Lost hope avatar
    5 posts
    9 October 2021 in reply to Mickii

    Hi Mickii

    Ive suffered MDD for over 20 years and as well as been on anti depressants, anxiety medication and several other prescribed drugs I have always run to alcohol, it creeps up on you and you don't even realise its a problem till you look back at how much you actually drink, I'm high functioning and would only ever drink at night but half a bottle of vodka was nothing, I knew I was selling my soul and would pay for it the next day but for all of us who live with the pain of merely existing the welcome relief alcohol brings for even a short time is hard to give up. The negative side is the bad decisions made while drinking and I'm sure it has cost me more than it has given me. I often ask myself that same question " am I an. alcoholic" I will google the classification for an alcoholic trying to reassure myself that I'm not, I don't think I am as I can go a week without drinking and I will feel ok so ill drink again then deal with the guilt. I think my mental health would be a lot better without alcohol but I also can't imagine a life where I don't drink, I've travelled the world and drunk in bars in NY and London etc and couldn't imagine it being the same without alcohol, so does that make me an alcoholic, either way it makes me someone who lives a life of anxiety and depression and regret and sometimes I need to not be me. I'm also very fit an active but I often feel I'm working the line of just giving in to the alcohol. Either way I wish no one had to deal with the pain we all do, I feel like I merely exist just to get through each day and I feel sad that the one life I have been given is been taken away by this crippling mental disease there seems to be no relief for no matter how hard you try. I guess it's nice to know we are not alone but also sad to see how prevalent this curse is. All we can do is keep moving forward and hope that science brings more relief for those with treatment resistant depression as everyone has a limit.

    1 person found this helpful
  10. Sadie23
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    12 posts
    10 October 2021 in reply to Lost hope
    Hi all. This thread is really resonating with me. I have been using alcohol to cope for some time now. I have just started seeing a new psych who has prescribed a new anti anxiety drug which cannot be taken while drinking as it causes liver damage. Don't know how to stop. Feeling really anxious and depressed today.
    1 person found this helpful
  11. Sophie_M
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    Sophie_M avatar
    5891 posts
    10 October 2021 in reply to Sadie23
     Hi Sadie23,
     
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences around depression and drinking.
     
    Have you been able to have a conversation with your psych or your GP around your medication and drinking?
     
    They may be able to prescribe something different while you are struggling with alcohol usage in order to avoid any dangerous side effects.
    1 person found this helpful
  12. Sadie23
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    12 posts
    10 October 2021 in reply to Sophie_M
    Thanks for you reply Sophie. I must admit I very much downplayed my alcohol consumption as I have faced unpleasant and unhelpful judgement from many health professionals including my former psych. I have had depression for almost 50 years and have used alcohol to cope on and off for the last 5 years. I consider my main issues to be depression and anxiety and want health professionals to be able to focus on them.
    1 person found this helpful
  13. Sophie_M
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    10 October 2021 in reply to Sadie23
    Hi Sadie23,
     
    Thank you for your response. We understand your hesitation based upon your previous experiences of disclosing your alcohol usage. However, we would strongly recommend having a discussion with your psych or your GP about your medication if there is potential reaction with alcohol or any other medication. You always have the right to ask for a second opinion or an alternative medication if you feel your current medication is unsuitable.

     
    1 person found this helpful
  14. Lost hope
    Lost hope avatar
    5 posts
    10 October 2021 in reply to Sadie23

    Hi Sadie

    I also don't tell my psychiatrist when I have drinking relapses as I don't need to be told for the 100th time that drinking while on these medications can make the medication not work properly and can have adverse effects when mixed with alcohol, well perhaps if they could come up with a medication that actually works then we still wouldn't need to drink to free our minds for 30 minutes, we are well aware we are selling our soul to the devil but people that don't know why we do it could never understand. We heap enough guilt on ourselves for it, we don't need it from others also. I have gone through stages when I don't drink at all ( I'm going through one now ) and luckily my job requires me to be 00 so I some how manage to keep it under control but its always there waiting for that moment of weakness. I'm not allowed to mention specific meds on here but your psych can give you meds to help with alcohol cravings. I also don't consider myself an alcoholic, I consider my relationship with alcohol to be complicated. Don't beat yourself up over it, I have battled depression for 26 years and at the age of 42 I feel its getting harder to pull myself out of that black hole each time, psychiatrists answer is more or different drugs but they don't have to deal with the side effects or withdrawals if you want to stop them and psychologists talk to you about identifying why you are the way you are but talk therapy is like taking a sling shot to a nuclear war when you suffer chronic mdd and anxiety. If you want to listen to some great psychology on the relationship between mental illness and drug/alcohol dependancy have a listen to Gabor Mate, my favourite line he uses which resinates with me is " don't ask why the addiction, ask why the pain " I'm sorry we were cursed with this disease, I've often said to people who try to talk to me about it, I wish I could hold your hand for just a minute and you would feel what I feel and see the way I see the world and feel how hard I fight everyday to get better or be better but on most days to just merely exist and survive the day so I can go to bed, unfortunately for me I don't get much peace there either , although I sleep well my demons just follow me into my dreams so I wake up exhausted ready to fight another day. Writing this has made me start crying, even though I'm a fit 42 year old man who most people would have no idea of the torture my own mind is putting me through most days.

    1 person found this helpful
  15. Sadie23
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    12 posts
    10 October 2021 in reply to Lost hope

    Thank you so much for such a powerful post. I feel so much better for having read it. It brought tears to my eyes. I am sorry that you are feeling that way too.

    1 person found this helpful
  16. geoff
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    11 October 2021 in reply to Sadie23

    Hello Everyone, I wasn't sure who to address this to, as all the replies have been very good.

    I do love this quote ' don't ask why the addiction, ask why the pain', because as soon as we come home, our first thought is 'a drink will pick me up', and once this happens a huge sigh of relief overcomes us, but it keeps on going till we've drunk more than expected and then start to feel the consequences that alcohol gives us, the sadness returns, this is different to having a few drinks with friends where we laugh and have a joke, but this can turn unexpectedly if something is said against us.

    When we are asked by our doctor/psych how much do we drink, do we honestly tell them, probably not because we don't want to be told once again, it's no good for your liver and your medication doesn't work as it should, so we lie, keep it a secret and hide the alcohol so we won't be blamed for drinking everything that was in the frig and the more we get criticised the more we hide and if we are caught, then the label sticks, you're an alcoholic and not 'why do you need to drink', that's when the relationship/marriage suddenly changes.

    Geoff.

    2 people found this helpful
  17. mmMekitty
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    860 posts
    11 October 2021

    Just a thought, it seemed to me, in the moment I was reaching for the bottle, I was already avoiding asking myself why I wanted that drink right now, but instead, focusing my attention upon the goal of oblivion. A neat bit of fancy footwork that.

    It was only after I stopped drinking that I really began to examine why I had been in the first place.

    It was bleeping hard, several difficulties I was not wanting to deal with, lots and lots of raging memories and emotions, feeling overwhelmed. I would not have begun to work through the lot if I had continued drinking.

    Finally being offered anti-depressants may have been why I even considered how I could or would keep drinking. So, I must thank that PDr for at least that much. I decided to give the anti-depressants as good a chance to be effective as I could, so the drink had to go.

    Over the time of my 'experimentation' with a few anti-depressants, I learned somehow to accept my emotions, to begin to examine the memories, to just be human.

    Later I had wondered if the anti-depressants I was using were really doing anything for me. So, with the help of my current PDr, I slowly reduced how much I took, and eventually stopped using them. There were some odd tingly feelings, and I was easily startled, quite a bit for a while, but that declined. Apparently these things are about my anxiety, which the anti-depressants may have been calming, while the depression remained the same.

    Okay, I think. I am familiar with my depression. I've lived with it for almost fifty years, maybe. In a sense, I work around it, despite it, I don't know. I see it, and say, 'you again, I know you'. I acknowledge it only, that's all. If I can just keep treading water, keeping my head above the surface... that's what matters now.

    I don't know how I have survived through some things. Stubborn, or I got really angry, or just that with time, the things simply don't have so devastating an impact upon my daily life. Or maybe, as I get into my mid sixties & my memory is getting so bad that I am not recalling everything as frequently...that would actually be okay, so long as I don't end up with emotional outbursts, which I am unable to relate back to any specific memory, temporarily unavailable to me. That is a separate source of frustration I will have to work on.

    I wish everyone here even a moment of gentle calmness & peace of mind, if only to show it is attainable.

    mmMekitty

    1 person found this helpful
  18. Mickii
    Mickii avatar
    45 posts
    11 October 2021 in reply to Lost hope
    Thank you for your post. Sometimes I feel no one can understand. Your post reminds me that I am not alone. I just wish there was an easier answer....I feel my demons are everywhere.
  19. Mickii
    Mickii avatar
    45 posts
    11 October 2021 in reply to Lost hope

    Thank you for your honesty. I also google that question. 'Am I an alcoholic?' Still don't know for sure, but what I do know is I feel I can not function socially without alcohol. So I was invited to lunch today...to celebrate NSW opening. I went. I didn't drink. When I got home I was so consumed with exhaustion...I slept...and then I opened my bottle wine. I see my alcohol pattern, it is like my medication against the world....the problem is it opens the door for all the other demons that are knocking.

  20. Mickii
    Mickii avatar
    45 posts
    11 October 2021 in reply to smallwolf
    Thank you for replying. Alcohol is my resource to feel normal. Without it I feel misfit with other people. Without it I feel funny and normal. My issue now is I drink alone.....just to feel relaxed. It helps me sleep...it is what makes me be honest with myself..and I like that.
  21. geoff
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    12 October 2021 in reply to Mickii

    Hello Mickii, drinking alone was always my forte, then no one could say 'haven't you drunk enough', but do know that your doctor can prescribe medication, as mentioned that will stop the urge to drink, that's if that's something you want to consider.

    Geoff.

    2 people found this helpful
  22. Mickii
    Mickii avatar
    45 posts
    29 October 2021 in reply to Lost hope
    Hi, I was re-reading posts on this thread tonight and just want to thank you for what you have said. I struggle with MDD and can relate to everything you say. I was thinking...if I die earlier because I drink, yet it gives me some peace, is it wrong? I am a happy drunk (compared how I am sober). I take my prescriptions, and they make a huge difference ( I tested this by not taking them for a while), but alcohol gives instant relief on bad days. I wonder if there are any 'prescription' drugs that do the same?
  23. geoff
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    31 October 2021 in reply to Mickii

    Hello Mickii, no one can really deny you the pleasure of drinking if you enjoy it, there were amounts of times I really enjoyed it and had fun, the only times were when I was depressed and needed it to numb how I was feeling.

    I know doctors ask you how much you drink and they always say ' it's too much' whether it's a glass or more, but if you enjoy it and it's not causing any trouble, then enjoy it.

    There is medication that is supposed to make you feel better but could be addictive, so the doctors will only prescribe it for a short time only, however, it hasn't had any benefit to me, and I'm excluding the one that makes you stop drinking when I say this.

    Most threads with alcohol are for those where there is a problem, but if it gives you peace and there isn't any problem then cheers.

    Geoff.

    2 people found this helpful
  24. Lost hope
    Lost hope avatar
    5 posts
    13 November 2021 in reply to Mickii

    Hi Mickii

    Sorry I haven't been on here for a while, mate I totally get what your saying, alcohol makes me feel normal it takes away my anxiety, it stops my brain from trying to analyse the past and come up with an answer that doesn't exist and it gives me peace if only for a while. There is no substitute, I have asked my shrink why nothing can make me feel the way alcohol does, if I have a heap of stuff I need to get done around the house having a few drinks gives me the energy and focus to get it done. I too like you think of the health impacts as I only have one kidney, the human mind is a complicated thing, on one hand I don't care what alcohol does to me but on the other hand I worry about its impacts on my health, just something else for my mind to analyse. I'm yet to decide if it's a problem or just who I am, I enjoy drinking especially when I'm out or travelling etc, I guess the problem is I can go for a couple of weeks without a drink and I often start to feel a bit better so I will buy a b bottle of vodka and the next minute I have bought a bottle every second day for the next 2 weeks. I like to go for periods of not drinking just so I know I can and luckily for me my job requires me to be 0.0 and you get tested randomly. I think I have just excepted its a part of me that will always be there just like the depression, I guess the question is will I control it or will it control me in the long run ? All I know is sometimes there is no fight left in me and my mind needs a rest, I have learnt to forgive myself for that. Thanks for all the responses, sometimes we feel so alone in the battle but we are not unique, we are just aware enough to know why we are drinking.

  25. Sophie_M
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    Sophie_M avatar
    5891 posts
    13 November 2021 in reply to Lost hope

    Dear Lost Hope,

    Thank you for your post.

    We're sorry to hear about your concerns about your alcohol use, and that you experience poor mental health. Please remember that there are crisis support services that you can contact, such as Lifeline (13 11 14) or the Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467). 

    We're not sure if you're familiar with Turning Point, but they are an organisation dedicated to supporting people across Australia affected by alcohol or drug use. They have telephone and online counselling support services that operate 24/7. You may want to visit their website to learn more about their services here: https://www.counsellingonline.org.au/about-us 

    Please continue to post as you see fit. 

    1 person found this helpful
  26. Chris_Tas
    Chris_Tas avatar
    51 posts
    14 November 2021 in reply to Mickii

    Hi Mickii.

    From my own personal experience i can assure you alcohol and depression (and worse) are definitely related.

    My 6 hospital visits and 3 stays in a mental ward in less than a year suggests that. (I have no mental illness diagnosed outside depression).

    Of course everyone is different and i was drinking much (much) more than you.

    You seem already aware of where this might head and I'd really dislike you follow my path of self-medication due as it's it's an elevator in life that only goes down not up.

    Best of luck and feel free to chat to me anytime as yes, I'm very well experienced on what alcohol can do.

    Chris

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