Friday, January 28, 2011

Depression Symptoms: Substance Abuse

Several months ago I was working on a series of posts about my experience as it relates to the formally recognized symptoms of depression. There are a few still to go.

I’ve seen enough movies to know that alcoholism is associated with depression (Crazy Heart, anyone?) but have not thought much about it except in the abstract. I was surprised when, in the middle of my own depression, I discovered that drinking is an effective anesthetic.

The denomination in which I grew up is historically a tee-totaling crowd. I picked up on that undercurrent and drank little even through college. I became accustomed to social drinking during our years at the seminary. Odd, I think, and problematic, but that’s for another time.

I remember clearly the night I realized I needed to guard against excessive drinking. My family was out to dinner, celebrating a major achievement in my brother’s career, and we shared a couple bottles of particularly yummy wine. It crossed my mind that I would like to stay there and keep drinking and forget the unrelenting sadness of my life.

I told my husband about it that night. I’ve found that telling my secrets takes the power out of them. This one seemed particularly shameful to me. I don’t think I ever told it to anyone else or ever spoke about it again with my husband.

The urge to drink too much came and went throughout my depression, but I think that having spoken about it aloud helped me stay aware of how our unhappiness could have been multiplied by alcohol abuse.

To read all the posts in the depression symptoms series, go here.


  1. THank you for your blog! I am just starting to read through it. It was sent to me by another friend. I, too, am a pastor's wife! And, my husband and I just came out of a VERY abusive situation. Actually, he resigned Dec. 2008, but it took yrs for him to find something else thanks to the economy. In any case, I have also battled severe depression, etc. I'm beginning counseling this weekend. We're now in a really great situation, but after 2 yrs of being the strong one I'm finding everything is starting to pile up. I will enjoy reading your blog and it's nice to know I'm not the only one! My blog address is Blessings to you sister!

  2. Jeni,

    Sounds like we have a lot in common. I'm glad to be connected with you and look forward to browsing your blog. We're in a good situation now, too, but good mental & spiritual health has not yet settled on us. Still working.

    God bless you and your family.



Thanks for using this space to share your encouraging words.