5 Weeks After Getting Sober, A Major Depression Crash & Plans for Suicide.
I rode the classic "pink cloud" for 5 weeks after getting sober but when I encountered external emotional "triggers" I couldn't deal with, suicide became my final solution. After all I reasoned, drinking alcohol obviously hasn't worked and neither does sobriety so what else is left? I've been obsessing about suicide for decades and it's time to get it over with. I had given up.
I began the arrangements immediately selling or giving away my possessions, finding new homes for my dogs, mentally composing the "it's not your fault" letters to my children & family. I planned to call 911 from the desert which is my back yard, tell them where to find my body & go out Mafia style--a 22 to the back of the head. Very effective & not as messy as a shot gun for emergency responders to deal with. I actually felt good about it, which they tell me is common prior to committing suicide because there is nothing left to worry about.
As time grew nearer I told my wife--who had left months ago my rage made her fear for her life--that I'm hopeless & she should take the retirement & life insurance & get the hell away from me because I'll just drag her down with me.
She began crying & said that I was not hopeless & that she didn't want the money & that I can overcome this & that it was the depression talking. She convinced me to call my psychiatrist who in turn convinced me to check into a hospital. It was off to a another treatment center. Only this time--the fifth in-patient treatment for me starting in 1986--I decided to figure out what's really wrong & the solutions as I'm tired of this crap. And so began what I call "My Recovery Project".
Fortunately, I had done EMDR therapy on childhood traumas which had conditioned me to never ask for help & the two most traumatic events from my early teens, so I was finally able to ask for help & I received it, much to my surprise. And with nothing left to lose, I overcame the shame about my behavior during hypo-manic episodes making me able to tell my doctor what was really going on, which enabled her to correctly diagnose type II Bipolar Disorder. It was a huge relief to learn that I have an illness with symptoms that are clearly documented on the American NIMH website. And now that I'm being properly treated, my mood & behavior have improved considerably.
The new diagnosis also gave me a new direction. I decided to pay close attention to the lectures in the treatment center & in doing so I learned that depression is normal after the pink cloud of early sobriety dissipates because I have eliminated my primary coping mechanism & that my brain is in the early stages of healing itself from the effects of large, frequent doses of alcohol. I'll have withdrawal symptoms for at least 18 months.
I am grateful to my wife that she chose to show compassion for me instead of agreeing or taking a neutral stand with my suicide plan. I also learned that it is my own thinking, conditioned by sick parents and bullying peers & a guilt based, punitive religious organization, that has kept me in constant turmoil with myself, authority figures, co-workers, family & relationships--all my life. I was literally trained to hate myself & to fear others & so I must retrain myself if I want to be happy.
I'm also attending an intensive outpatient program to learn Dialectical Behavior Therapy skills such as emotion control & how to recognize & overcome the distorted thinking that causes me to behave in self defeating ways. I realize that I need to go beyond the confines of AA's 12 steps. Contrary to popular belief, a lot of very good therapies such as DBT & psychiatric medications have been developed since the Big Book was published 75 years ago. There's an old saying which goes, "When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail", and a lot of AA's are literally afraid to go beyond the Big Book, regarding treatment centers & therapies as threats to their way of thinking & sobriety.
It's true--I was conditioned by a brutal alcoholic father & a pain med addicted seemingly bipolar mother to perceive the world & myself as bad & to seek relief using alcohol--but it's also true that it's up to me to recover using every means at my disposal. Instead of being the perennial victim, I now choose victory.