Feeling Blue – Grapevine Article December 2015 by Stu K.

December can be tough for some alcoholics. One member hopes his fellows understand

Another run through the holiday gauntlet: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah, New Year’s Day and many others I am ignorant of or have simply forgotten. Heck, even Halloween is a marketing bombardment that spurs drinking to excess.

During these times, depression seems to be prevalent, and even more so for those of us in AA. It is no secret that many AA members suffer from depression in some fashion or another. The severe depressive is mentioned in the Big Book (I wish they had written an entire chapter about it). There also is moderate to mild depression. And then there is my case, which is that of the person with depression who longs for the “mental bill of health” he once had.

This situation of mine can be a difficult one in AA, as there are plenty of people professing (or maybe I should say, preaching) in meetings about how others should feel. I recently heard a man with more than 20 years in the program declare, “Happiness is a choice. I make it every day. God wants us to be happy, joyous and free after all.”

Well, good for him. But statements like his can be detrimental to people who are of the depressive type. Doesn’t he think we ask God to remove our depression? Don’t we want to be happy, joyous and free? I guess I must have done the Steps wrong. I must not have the right Higher Power. That is what we depressive types in the program hear at times.

While some strive to be happy— hell, while they excel at it—it’s actually a daily struggle for many others of us to thank God for keeping us sober and giving us a shot not to do something harmful to ourselves, our loved ones or our sobriety. We’re doing the best we can. Drinking to excess wasn’t a choice; it was our physical allergy coupled with our mental obsession. In other words, it was our disease. We had to, and have to, pray that it be removed on a regular, sometimes daily, basis, even with multiple years of sobriety.

Mental illness is a disease as well, and to say I am simply supposed to be happy by choice can be as dangerous as it is ridiculous. I must pray that my mental illness, which is depression, be removed every day.

Please be careful throwing around absolutes in the rooms of AA. What works for some members to be happy may work only to keep some people sober. We sometimes have to settle for that­being OK with just being OK. We have lives to lead. We have family and friends who rely on us and we have sobriety to maintain. It’s hard enough to meet these responsibilities without being told that feeling happy is just a choice. Especially this time of the year.

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