Monday, January 26, 2009
Please Welcome My Guest, Vivian Eisenecher
Author of Recovering Me, Discovering Joy / Uplifting Wisdom for Everyday Greatness, Vivian Eisenecher has been an inspirational speaker, mentor and writer since 1996. Using her experience, strength and hope, she is committed to helping educate and enlighten the general public about the puzzling aspects of the addiction/recovery process and the strong correlation between anxiety, depression and alcoholism. Vivian holds a marketing degree in Business Administration (magna cum laude). Her other published works include articles for The Chicken Soup for the Soul series, Woman’s World, Viewpoint, and JUST FINE: Unmasking Depression and Anxiety Disorders (due out in 2009). She is featured on the 2009 Faces of Recovery Calendar and is a Board of Director for A New Path (Parents for Addiction Treatment and Healing). You can visit Vivian Eisenecher's website at: www.recoveringme.com.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Recovering Me, Discovering Joy reveals how to recover (from any ailment or condition) not to normal but to a better normal. After numerous attempts at sobriety, stints in more than three rehabs, followed by repeated relapses, Vivian shares the “secret” that finally brought her lasting recovery and profoundly changed her life. In an effort to improve the success rate of recovery and quite possibly save lives, one of the book’s main goals is to raise awareness about the profound correlation between depression, social anxiety, and alcoholism. Vivian has struggled with these disorders and is in recovery from all three.
In addition, Recovering Me, Discovering Joy is a remarkably honest book of creative non-fiction about the positive nature of life’s problems. It is about the journey to know oneself. With a sense of humor and an uplifting spirit of gratitude, Vivian suggests ways to live a more meaningful life. She offers a fresh look at enduring truths which we all tend to forget in our day-to-day fast-paced lives. By using stories from people in recovery, famous quotes and personal reflections, she re-establishes the importance of faith in the healing process. Her experience, strength and hope provide the reader with keys to living a richer, easier and happier life.
Recovering Me, Discovering Joy is for anyone who has ever had to forge ahead after a negative life event. If you have ever had to bounce back from a failed relationship, convalesce from an illness, recoup any kind of loss, or just recover from a bad day, then this book will be beneficial. It will help you with your recoveries, and it will help you move on to live a richer, easier and happier life.
Recovering Me, Discovering Joy takes a good honest look at how I, my husband and countless others have used recovery not as a disadvantage, but as an opportunity and springboard to an improved life. We learned that it’s not about recovering to normal – it’s about recovering to a better normal…from anything.
This book is about my transformation from a depressed, anxiety-laden alcoholic to a successful, grateful and joyful woman. For me, it took my total collapse and complete failure to finally understand that I wasn’t just battling alcoholism, I was fighting two other distinct disorders as well. Believe it or not, this realization paved the way for me to finally enjoy life. Until then, my life had been a struggle, an uphill climb within the grim-looking landscape of my mind. My newfound love for life was such a complete turnaround that, to benefit others, I wanted to commit to paper pivotal parts of my journey. It took the diagnosis and successful treatment of not only alcoholism but also my chronic low-grade depression, called dysthymia, and my social phobia or S.A.D. (Social Anxiety Disorder) for me to recognize that these two lifelong disorders were ‘triggers’ for my alcoholism. They were the ugly underbelly of the beast. Substance abuse was a mere symptom of two underlying disorders that were not discernible to anyone, not even me.
All my life, I had wondered why everything seemed so hopeless, why my life seemed so meaningless, and why I was unable to experience any real joy. Along with that, I had a deep, lifelong fear of encountering people who I deemed ‘better’ than me (anyone with more money, better educated, etc.). Even though I had never known anything different, somehow I knew the way I felt wasn’t right. I had no idea that I was depressed and anxiety-ridden until I was curiously (and serendipitously) treated for both conditions.
Here's What Vivian Has to Say Today:
Dysthymia (Chronic Low-grade Depression)
What does it actually feel like
Depression, in its various forms, affects nearly 19 million Americans each year according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). With prolonged major depression, shortages or imbalances of mood-influencing chemicals in the brain usually play a role.
Studies show that depressive illness can and often does run in families. The genetic connection is beyond controversy. Another proven fact is that women, as a group, are twice as likely to experience depression.
Up until the age of 46, I had gone through my entire life feeling blue, never feeling quite right. I was missing a dimension, a dimension of joy. I don’t remember ever experiencing real happiness until I was successfully in recovery from alcoholism. By then, I was already in my mid-forties. My life had looked all right, but my quality of life was severely compromised by my low-grade blue moods.
There was rarely any reason for my dark moods, but they transcended everything I did. My internal outlook diminished all peak experiences. I envied other people’s rosy perspectives, and often wondered how they could feel so good. I felt deprived. I felt like I was missing out on something very basic.
There was a sad undertone lurking beneath even my happiest events. I’d wake up not really wanting to get out of bed. I could never quite shake the awful, all-encompassing feeling of “What was the use of it all.” At times, I merely went through the motions of living. I remember thinking that everybody couldn’t feel like this, or it would be the topic of conversation on the news, talk shows and amongst my friends. I don’t know how many times I asked myself, “Am I the only person who feels like this?” Somehow, I knew that I couldn’t be the only person who felt so low.
Because I usually put on a happy face, nobody seemed aware or showed concern that I had this constant drag pulling me down. I subconsciously thought that if I acted normal, I might feel normal. I knew something was wrong, but I felt that I couldn’t describe it to anybody without them telling me to just get over it. I do remember my husband giving me pep talks from time to time, but the way I felt just wasn’t pronounced enough to seek professional help, or so I thought.
I figured I was different, but I didn’t know what to do about it. I didn’t think there was anything legitimate that could ever relieve my cheerlessness. I always thought psychiatry was for crazy people, and the only way to feel better was to pick myself up by my bootstraps and do something on my own to alleviate my sadness.
The best I ever hoped to feel occurred when I was totally distracted, immersed in something that diverted my attention or completely consumed me. So, I worked hard at staying busy, achieving and excelling in whatever I did, in spite of the way I felt.
I now know that all those years I was suffering from chronic, low-grade depression. This condition, called dysthymic disorder, is a long-term, less severe form of depression that is rarely detected, recognized or talked about.
I spent the majority of my waking hours battling a constant smothering, confining hopelessness, until my depression manifested itself in a more outwardly visible debilitating condition.
Why hadn’t I recognized that I had a treatable disorder sooner? Besides, how could I say that I wasn’t happy when I didn’t know what happy was? And sure enough, when researching this mood disorder, I found that the majority of people suffering from depression don’t understand what they are experiencing. With most people, clinical depression goes unnoticed and untreated.
I never knew there was such a thing as chronic low-grade depression, but I was far from alone in not recognizing my depression for what it was. According to NIMH, only 20% of people with mild depression recognize what it is and seek help, and only 50% of people with severe, incapacitating depression ever receive medical advice.
There are a number of reasons why many people are reluctant to seek professional help. In this great nation of ours, there still exists a general feeling that seeing a psychiatrist represents some sort of personal failure. A psychiatric problem is no more a personal failure than diabetes or heart disease, but we don’t want to be classified as ‘abnormal.’ We truly want to believe that everything is ‘fine,’ but no problem has ever been solved by denial.
Because I hadn’t experienced any of the more blatant manifestations of depression such as insomnia, loss of appetite, or even thoughts of suicide, I had decided that what I felt couldn’t be depression, and that I was just not as happy as most people. I was able to function, but I felt bad much more often than I felt good (instead of the other way around—the way most people feel).
At times, getting through my daily life was difficult for me, but I always talked myself out of having a serious condition. With few outward manifestations, chronic low-grade depression doesn’t always escalate into a crisis (thank God it did for me), therefore it seems as though there is nothing to address. It is an insidious disease in that it exists, but nobody else knows about it other than the sufferer. You feel terrible but, essentially, it’s a non-issue.
The bottom line is that if the depression doesn’t result in some other more blatant negative condition, such as substance abuse, many of us are likely to suffer our entire lives. When I was finally given an anti-depressant, I felt like an incredible weight had been lifted, one that I had been carrying all of my life.
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