Recovering But Struggling: How Faith In God Helped Me Beat Anxiety And Depression
You’re relieved. You’re exhausted. You’re elated. You’re deflated.
Recovering from alcohol or drug addiction is a long and complex process. That’s long as in lifelong, and complex in that it involves other problems which crop up along the way.
I’d like to tell you that once you stop using, it’s all plain sailing, but sadly that is not the case at all. You need help all the way along. And who’s going to give you that, from the depths of your despair to every minute of your future?
For me, there can only be one answer: God.
When I was 20 if you had told me I would one day write that last sentence I would have laughed. I had no time for religion – I hardly knew what it meant. I’m not even all that keen on the organized variety even now, and I think that is a view shared by many people in our free-thinking, self-sufficient world.
But believing in God doesn’t necessarily mean going to church. It means having a personal relationship with the Lord, and that is what is so important to me.
I’m telling you this because there came a time in my life when I needed a best friend beyond the capability of any human being. Someone who would be with me 24 hours a day.
I am a recovering alcoholic and meth addict. I started drinking at the age of nine and by 22 I was in prison on a two-year sentence for drug-related offenses. I had tried it all: marijuana, cocaine, ketamine, heroin, you name it. But methedrine was the one I loved. Meth and alcohol was the diet I craved, the one I had to have, and in addition to being incredibly bad for you physically, such dependence gets you into trouble because when you’re in the throes of drug addiction you will do anything to get them. Alcohol addiction is different in that a bottle of booze isn’t so expensive, but it eats away at your ability to function, and that in turn can severely impair your ability to earn money.
Drug addiction can happen quite quickly, while alcohol addiction can creep up on you over a long period of time. Once you stop using whatever it was you became addicted to, there is a void in your life. Some people compare it to bereavement: losing a loved one. The drug has been propping you up even as it was wearing you down, and without it, you can suffer anxiety and depression.
That certainly happened to me. You might think suddenly my world was bright and filled with optimism, and while that might be true to a certain extent – as regards your long-term prospects – in the short time there’s no fun, no comfort, no protective blanket. You’re exposed and vulnerable.
In prison, I went to Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings. But for the wrong reasons. It was a way of getting out of my cell for a while, and believe me, being banged up in your little box all the time drives you crazy.
One of the crucial factors of the famous 12-step program is that you must acknowledge that you can’t do it all by yourself – you have to accept the help of a “higher power”.
Many people probably do what I did: go through the motions and say the right things, not thinking it really applies to you. I tried that at first. I had a “sponsor”: a fellow addict with experience of the same things, who I could confide in and ask for support. And that does help.
You may think the physical side is all there is to drug detox or alcohol detox. Take away the toxins and you’re laughing. Sorry, but that’s only part of the battle.
And it wasn’t until I had failed, despite all the human support, that I started to take the “higher power” thing seriously.
I didn’t even take the idea of drug rehab or alcohol rehab seriously because I was so blinkered by my own problems. It wasn’t until my parents talked to me about drug and alcohol rehabilitation that I started to take it seriously.
Some people think it is uncool to believe in God. They would prefer to think of this higher power as The Universe or something. But when I started looking for something spiritual to help me through the swamp of despair that lay between me and peace of mind, I found God talking to me. and he has helped me every step of the way since.
Anxiety tells you it was better when you were using; you didn’t feel so raw, so weak. Depression tells you it’s always going to be like that, so you might as well go back to your old ways.
When I found God and had him by my side I found a way to get through. The anxiety didn’t just disappear but I found help in resisting it. Same with the depression. Left to their own devices, no one who is depressed will accept that it’s only temporary because that negative feeling is part of it.
If you’ve ever tried to help someone who is depressed, you will know what I mean. They are convinced it’s not going to get better because they are weighed down by the world and it just doesn’t feel like it’s able to be changed. If they could just “snap out of it”, they would. But that is not an option.
With my new-found Christian faith I was able to get through that long period of mental lameness, and when I get little blips from time to time even now (did I mention I’ve been clean and sober nine years now?), he sustains me.
But don’t just take my word for it. There is information out there like there is about anything. Faith can combat anxiety and depression and if you or someone you know are in that hole at the moment, help is at hand if you just accept it. Ask God to help you, and mean it. He helped me, and I would have said I was worthless at the time, so it’s not a question of deserving it. It’s what he does.
From struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, I have made the transformation into a successful businessman. I’m a partner in a company that helps people with their online, techy presence, and we’re very successful. I’m doing well, but I couldn’t have done it on my own.