This is the root of his alcoholism: depression. Ben is clinically depressed and on Prozac. But the Prozac hasn’t had a chance to work, because of the amounts of alcohol he’s necking. He’s adding a negative to a positive and ending up with zero.

As every specialist will tell you, depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain. And alcohol is a depressant, so if you’re depressed and you drink, you’re just feeding your depression. One of the best ways to counter depression is with physical exercise. But Ben has gone from being an energetic, fit man to an idle, exhausted one.

He slouches around in the alcoholic’s costume: shapeless, stained sweater, ragged jogging trousers, ill-fitting jacket with deep pockets (deep enough to hide a can or small bottle), scuffed trainers. His feet are bone white. He is always cold.

I see them everywhere now. Shuffling about in their drunks’ uniform, some wearing dark glasses and knitted tuques.

One of them regularly begs in the pedestrian subway by my local tube station. His nose is a ravaged potato, his face red and ruined.

At my unkindest moments, I’ve told Ben he might as well join the pedestrian subway guy, because that’s where he’s sure to end up the way he’s going. He’s not far off now. He’s lucky I haven’t thrown him out, because that’s exactly where he would be, sitting on a broken bit of cardboard, nursing a tall can, holding out a dirty palm or paper cup…

This is the thing that stops me from sending him packing: the thought of walking by him one day with Rosie. What would she say? Would she recognise him? Would he her? How would we explain it to her? Would she ever forgive me?

So was it the depression or the alcoholism that came first? Hard to say. Both run in his family. His mother is depressive. She has also been alcohol dependent. What I do know is that his alcoholism is fuelling his depression. He’s coasting down into a dark and oily well. Before we know it, he’ll be there with pedestrian subway guy – in spirit (see what I did there?) if not in body.

If we’re lucky, the treatment they offer him will address his depression – unlock the root of his anxiety and help him find healthy coping mechanisms. I’m waiting for Monday, and that elusive rehab assessment. But Monday feels like a whole continent away right now. And the end of next week, a whole world.


2 thoughts on “Depression

  1. Pingback: Depression – A Clinical View « moorestorms

  2. Pingback: Photographic memories | married to an alcoholic

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