For much of my life, alcoholism and depression alternately masked and exacerbated each other.
I only drank because I was depressed, I would argue, or I was only depressed because of the consequences of my drinking. Jumping between these two narratives meant that I never had to stare at either issue for too long. It was an exhausting, ineffective balance but it was the only way I knew how to live. It was also very likely the way I was going to die.
In January of 2008, I was admitted to the emergency room with a 0.4 BAC, an often lethal blood alcohol content. When I sobered up, the hospital admitted me to the psych ward for suicidal behavior. Both alcoholism and depression were staring me in the face, but I was still only capable of addressing one. I hoped that by getting sober, my depression and my alcoholism would disappear. Instead, it simply left nothing for my depression to hide behind. At first I worried that perhaps I was doing sobriety incorrectly, that quitting booze was supposed to solve all of my problems. I wasn’t entirely wrong; it improved my life immeasurably.
It was harder to admit I was depressed than it was to admit I was an alcoholic. Being an addict in recovery was kind of badass thing, I thought. Being a person struggling with depression was just sad. Weak.
I’ve come to learn that neither of those things is true. That for me, alcoholism and depression are two different but fundamentally intertwined creatures. They are issues to be addressed, not things to hide. I am not alone in these challenges, though it can be hard to remember that. Both addiction and depression thrive on isolation and alienation. They blossom in the depths of loneliness. That’s why I believe in Anxy. I believe that sharing our struggles, our triumphs, our reality of being works-in-progress, is a necessary part of being human. In our collective vulnerability, we find connection and a path forward.