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Depression and Addiction: Same Nature, Different Beast?

I find it on my heart to start off from the top with what I think Jesus meant for us that struggle with depression, addiction, or both. It’s from the greatest sermon ever told, told by the walking embodiment of the Word while He was on Earth.

From Matthew 5:1-3, the beginning of the Beatitudes

            And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

There is not a time in my experience that, for me, my depression didn’t come with a healthy side of my addiction. Likewise, when as addicts we indulge, most of us feel shame and become depressed. It is that depression that weighs down on us like an anvil on our chest. It is shame that we don’t have to have when we let go. I know it’s hard to see out of the seeming abyss that can be depression. The reason I asked in the beginning whether depression and addiction are the same nature, but different beast is because there can be an addiction to being depressed. I know it doesn’t seem that way and this idea may be terrible to some.

Please understand, this is a tough subject. I confess that I am taking faith with the Lord and the guidance of the Holy Spirit telling whoever reads this about my bout with depression and addiction and how they coalesce. I had a lot of denial for a very long time about how long I was depressed and an alcoholic. I thought that amount of time was give or take 5 years. I’ve come to understand how very wrong I was. Anytime I wasn’t actively at war, I cycled through either depression or alcohol. So, it was more since 2010 when I became able to drink that I was addicted. In basic training in Fort Sill, Oklahoma I carried my soldier’s Bible with me everywhere. After that, I became of the world even though I still believed. I thought that if I wasn’t at war or with people drinking, my life had no purpose. When I was alone, I admit I was largely depressed. I never told anyone, and I certainly never prayed. Reading the Word became a distant memory. I was consumed with surface happiness filled with too much of the worldly things we become trapped by.

Our adversary wants us rudderless without hope. He wants us to think that depression doesn’t have a solution. That we can’t stand up and continue to move without that dark cloud. The greatest part of depression is that this is the valley where Jesus wants to meet us. The depression is where, when our spirit is poor, the kingdom of heaven can be at our hand. We must let the Holy Spirit reside in us and guide us. There is nothing in this world that can hold us down when we allow the Holy Spirit into our lives. Funny enough this reminds me of a passage soldiers reference all the time.

Psalm 23:1-6 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

            What I now understand since I have become a part of this wonderful church family, is the difference this Psalm makes to me even now. The valley of the shadow of death is that depression, the fear of not being good enough, succumbing to a substance to fill your soul. The enemy is the same enemy there has always been. The adversary, Satan, wants to present enemies as people in the world, problems he wants you to think can’t be solved, never ending misery. This is where we need Jesus the most. Thank God I was able to let Jesus back into my life before it was too late. Now one day at a time, I can be happy and sober. I can remember the Word and bask in it every day.

So can you.

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