When drinking too much isn’t about drinking at all

Photo by: Matthew Wiebe

Questioning Your Actions

Am I addicted to these drinks?” This question came to my mind after spending 48 hours wallowing in self deprecating thoughts. “Is this what depression feels like?”

The answer was yes, and what I was experiencing was called ‘situational depression’.

I didn’t know how to cope with all the turmoil and transition that suddenly came swirling about me. Eight deaths happened in less than one month. I felt some might have even been preventable. I found myself wondering if what I did as a wife, mother, daughter, mentor, business owner or friend made any difference.

So much had happened that it made my head spin. Even our family dog of 12 years died. I felt I couldn’t take it. Intellectually I knew I wasn’t alone, but all I felt was deep sorrow and loneliness. Negative thoughts spooled over and over again in my mind like a horrid replay.

Tried It All, Nothing Worked

Have you ever known what to do because you are the one everyone comes to for a “state change”? That’s bringing others out of their immediate sorrow and into emotional freedom. Breakthroughs. That’s how I make my living. I tried it all and still nothing worked. How is that possible?

  • I changed my thoughts from negative to positive (or at least I thought I had)
  • I spent time with God and went for lots of walks. (lots and lots of walks)
  • I spoke only healthy words and said lots of prayers.

I did everything I teach my clients and students to do and still nothing. The problem was, I couldn’t get my heart into it. I just wanted to BE sad. So I turned to “the drink” to drown my achy-breaky heart. Not one, but THREE. To me, these were the worst kind of drinks I could’ve put into my body. Three large chocolate chip frappes from McDonald’s.

Now you might be tempted to stop reading right here, disappointed that my drink of choice wasn’t alcohol. Listen, to a health nut like me, consuming tons of sugar all at once is like drinking 10 glasses of alcohol. Your brain gets fogged up, your decisions are impacted and you entire body feels horrible. The same thing happens with too much alcohol, only add mumbling and stumbling to the list.

On my 3rd drink I began thinking about how people said I was a naturally positive and inspiring person. I laughed thinking this was like saying I was born with curly blonde hair. The truth was, my old nature was the one who was sitting there silently complaining about all that was wrong with my life. My old nature was wallowing in self pity. No one was there to comfort me except my drink.

6 Powerful Steps For Breaking through Situational Depression

What I was experiencing is called “Situational Depression”, and it can happen to anyone.  (that insight shared by Carrie Wilkerson, The Barefoot Executive) I know that whenever there is a powerful breakdown in my life, there is usually a powerful breakthrough right around the corner.

So here are the steps I took, and now share with others about situational depression. Drinking too much, isn’t about the drink at all.

Photo by: Maico Amorim

1. Emotions are energy in motion – When things get chaotic we turn to grieving what’s lost. (My husband’s time, my daughter’s companionship, my mother’s weekly phone calls, etc.) Grief is something we all experience, and it often sneaks up from behind.

Emotions (whether grief, anger, or other) is simply energy in motion. When your energy goes deeply low, your thoughts will be severely negative. When you feel sad, angry and very emotional. you’ll need to give yourself permission to feel the energies; to sit quiet, to cry, to pray or read, and then move forward with small steps. Small steps come by choosing healthy, grateful and generous thinking. Journaling on a daily basis can help you see the shift and celebrate your small victories.

2. Seek compassionate understanding – Share what’s wrong with someone who loves you. My daughter did one of the kindest things anyone could have done. She sat next to me on the couch while I cried. She simply put her arms around me without saying a word. This compassionate touch was all I needed.

It’s okay to feel sorrow and allow others to love you through it. What’s not okay is choosing to stay that way. And not making a choice is still choosing to not take personal responsibility for making a shift.

3. Movement is vital – Do something active. If you can get your body moving, you can physiologically change what’s happening.My husband asked if he could bring me to the lake, (not to drown me, though that might have crossed his mind), to sit by the beach for a change of scenery. He didn’t need to say or do anything once we got there. It helped just to paddle our boat in silence.

To get out of the house and away from reminders can often have a huge impact. Even though depression wants us to stay in anguish, our body, mind and spirit needs activity. Exercise and being out doors changes our mental and emotional state on a biochemical level. Physiologically if you can shift your body by getting it to the gym or get out to hike, swim, kayak or just go for long walks. Only you can shift your energy to a happier state.

4. Expect the waves – I’m a life coach, not a grief counselor, but I deal with grief often. I can tell you that grief keeps coming in small pockets of pain. Pockets of the ‘woe is me’s’ and ‘why doesn’t anyone care’ moments. You absolutely MUST ride the waves. You do not need to drag others into your pockets of pain however. Expecting the waves to happen suddenly, letting others know its happening, helps everyone cope and get through them much easier.

5. Ignore the three “S’s” – Do not try to be silent, stubborn or strong. If a friend wants to rub your back, feet, hands, or even your nose – then let them. Its hard for those who love you to be around you without wanting to help you. Its their way of blessing you, but if you rob them of that blessing, it hurts them. Vulnerability can do amazing things.

6. The grand finale is important – We may not see it, but our negative energy impacts EVERYONE around us, including our pets. Maybe you need to go one step further and humbly ask, “Will you forgive me?” Those who love you will absolutely will forgive you eventually. Those who don’t, you don’t need to be around. You are the sum total of the 5 – 10 people you hang around so determine if you’re being influenced or loved in healthy ways by your friends. This is one of my favorite things to coach others on. If you know you need new friends but aren’t sure how to make that shift, get in touch with me. I’ll help you turn it around during a free consultation.

Love Yourself Differently

Whether its alcohol or not, the issue is that you feel you have no control over what’s happened, or happening, so you turn to anything to make you feel better. This is why we become addicted.

REMEMBER THIS: what you focus on expands. If I stayed focused on all the things that were out of my control, I would still be depressed, on medications, seeing a psychiatrist and making others miserable in the process. Make no mistake, if you can’t fight your way out of a paper sack because of it, then seek professional help and do whatever necessary to get healthy. What I shared with you are 6 steps I teach my clients who have struggled with situational depression, and it worked great for them. The biggest thing is that its really learning how to love yourself differently.

The pictures of those McDonald’s drinks use to make my mouth water because of the addiction to sugar. If alcohol is what makes your mouth water, then get yourself checked into rehab. If you want my coaching and accountability to get you to the place where you have incredible self discipline and success, then take this quiz (lol…its not really a quiz) and I’ll be in touch. 

In the mean time, trust these steps above. Too much of anything is not a good thing.

Always Love,