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August 16 • It's Getting Worse

Day 769

I've often wondered about the connection between my chronic clinical depression and my sexual addiction. Because I can identify life-long feelings and symptoms of depression that subsided or went away once I began taking DHPs (Damn Happy Pills) in my 40s, I concluded that I've suffered from undiagnosed depression most of my life. It seems reasonable then to presume that my depression contributed to my sexual addiction, especially since I am motivated to have something to blame for my bad behaviors.

That connection is further suggested by most of my sexual acting out during a three year period being concurrent with the last time I stopped taking my DHPs because

"I didn't need them anymore."

The day after my last massage parlor visit — that day in July that has become my 'anniversary date' for coin collections — was also the day I began taking my new DHPs. My sobriety, being thus tied to the meds, further contributes to the idea that my addiction is a side-effect of my depression.

But maybe it's the other way around. The further I get into recovery, the more I identify those 'depressive episodes' with the struggles and consequences of the constant battle with my sexualization of everything.

Fellow Hoosier Jane Pauley got my attention this morning on CBS Sunday Morning when she talked about her mental health and depression issues more openly than I had previously heard. Everyone's story is different, even in the similarities, so I am often touched by the intertwining of the unique manifestations of depression with the familiar and relatable expressions of that darkness.

I was grieved by Pauley's story on a new study from the National Center for Health Statistics suggesting that there has been something like a 300% increase in the number of people reporting some form of anxiety disorder in the past year. That is sad, and certainly a lot of that can be attributed to the pandemic issues. My particular grief comes from personal clarity about my functional depression and debilitating sexual addiction that I have not had in many years. While it is interesting to me which of my mental disorders came first and which has more impact on the other, I don't know that it's all that important to know with certainty. As I've said before, the treatment is the same for recovery. But I think there's a touch of premature survivor's guilt because I am feeling so much better even as so many people are feeling worse.

I've had enough ups and downs in the past few years to know that I'll likely be writing about the lows again in a week or two, if not tomorrow. I've also had enough success in my 12 Step recovery program that I no longer expect or anticipate imminent recurring episodes of fear and unworthiness. It's not that I'm conquering all my demons as much as I'm learning to live with them in the light where I can better defend myself and my family from the harm my addict wants to do.

The feeling of having something to say about that, and maybe even a little power to fight back, feels pretty damn good today.



If you're a little depressed, and a little bit lost

Maybe write it all down, and then blow it all off

We're all a letter away from perpetual bliss

Put an F on the B of your bubba bubba bucket list

–Kenny Chesney, “Bucket”



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