Posts Tagged ‘AA’

How I Defeated Depression

January 6, 2023

With a gratitude list. It was that simple. In the mornings I would make a mental note of the good and positive things in my life: 1. I am sober. 2. I am alive. 3. I am in college. 4. I have my future. 5. I am single. 6. I have a place to live. 7. I have food on the table, etc. If I didn’t make this list, I couldn’t get out of bed.

This was what my psychologist recommended and it worked like a charm. The list automatically gave me encouragement, willingness and hope. After this mind exercise in the morning, my depression ceased and I could get on with my day.

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I was 24 years old when I became seriously depressed. I was going through a difficult break up and I found myself alone for the first time after I had quit drinking 8 months before. I think I didn’t know how to deal with my emotions being sober. I also know I felt hopeless many times when I drank heavily.

My main depression symptom was that I found it very hard to do anything at all. All tasks were overwhelming and I could find no willingness inside of me. It was almost as if the limbs in my body had become too heavy and any kind of movement was too burdensome.

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I was not eating, not showering and not taking care of myself properly. I also had lost my ability to concentrate or focus. I was in college at the time and during lectures, whatever the teachers said didn’t register in my mind. When I tried to read the class textbooks, the words made no sense. I would read the same paragraphs several times, not knowing what I was reading.

What was saving me before I learnt about the gratitude list were the AA meetings, and I was going to as many as three every day. Sometimes on my way to the AA clubhouse my head was in such turmoil and unrest that all I could think about was the movements of my legs: Right step, now a left step, another right step. I had to focus and watch my legs or I felt I wouldn’t get there. The clubhouse became my safehouse, my shelter and my mental hospital. At the meetings I spoke to whoever was willing to listen. One night amidst my depression, I had a dream in which my AA friends were carrying me in their arms.

My brother also came to visit and stay with me that summer of 1992 when I was going through all this. He was taking a graduate class at the same university where I studied. His companionship and being able to talk to someone were of tremendous help. I’ve heard people say at AA meetings that “just talking about it” solves 50% of the problem.

Besides the depression, many of the very difficult feelings I was having were due to the break up. The emotions played in my head incessantly like a merry-go-round. And then when it was all over and my girl friend had completely left me, the pure depression truly set in.

I continue to do the gratitude list some mornings when I’m not feeling too emotionally well. It still works like a charm.

Every cloud has a silver lining my father would say. If one door closes, another one opens. Life is full of opportunity. The Higher Power gave us life to live and experience it.

Copyright © 2023 Jorge Luis Carbajosa

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Spiritual Awakening Saved My Life

January 11, 2020

Discovering that I’m not the center of the Universe was a Spiritual Awakening for me, and it saved my life. I never believed in believing in God,  and when I had this experience, I was twenty-three years old and I had just stopped drinking and joined Alcoholics Anonymous, also known as AA.

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The word “God” is part of the AA program and frequently heard in meetings. It is a struggle for many new-comers. My therapist said to think of the word, whenever I heard it, as an acronym–G.O.D. which stands for “Good Orderly Direction.” I thought to myself that I could do that, as much as I disliked the Christian tone of AA.

The Third Step of AA says: “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” And the idea of a Higher Power also comes up on the Second Step: “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” It is therefore inevitable that AA members who work the Steps will come across a similar, or the same kind of spiritual Awakening that I had, if they haven’t already when they walk into the rooms of AA. But the Steps are well thought out, and they guided and helped me find my own definition of a Higher Power.

After a meeting one day someone said that even though I didn’t believe in God that I could believe in a Higher Power, or something that is bigger than me. So I started focusing on that. I’ve never understood the idea that God is somewhere else, in a different place. I also knew that the Aztecs and ancient Europeans worshipped the Sun, so I thought, why not? The Sun will be my Higher Power. I need to believe in something I can see and feel.

I remember at night before I went to sleep, I would think about the size of the Sun and compare it to the Earth. I know the Sun is roughly a million times bigger than the earth, so just picturing that in my head was incredibly spiritual and soothing. I soon realized that I’m not the center of the universe and I believe that realization saved my life. I liken it to Christians when they say they have discovered Jesus and given their lives to him. I think it’s a similar experience, if not the same. I also realized that I until I found AA, I thought I was the center of the Universe, and I wasn’t even aware I had this frame of mind. My life was like a lost ship adrift in the ocean.

The Sun soon became everything to me. At first it was awkward to pray to the Sun, but when I joined AA, I was always saying the Serenity Prayer at the end of meetings anyway, so it eventually became easy.  In addition someone after a meeting–it’s always a good idea to stick around after a meeting and talk to other members–said to me, after I expressed how much time I spent worrying about things, that if I prayed, I couldn’t worry at the same time. So I decided to use prayer to quieten my mind from worry, and from my unbalanced emotions that I had from years of heavy drinking. Praying to the Sun helps me meditate and sleep; it takes away my worries and helps me find serenity. The Sun is my Higher Power and I always put the Sun in front of me and my life first. Without the Sun, I wouldn’t be alive today. Prayer is a fundamental part of my sobriety and life.

Copyright © 2020 Jorge Luis Carbajosa