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Keeper of the Month – August

Lifering’s e-mail groups are active, thriving communities of people who use them as strong sources of sobriety support, and many members often post remarkably written sources of inspiration, hope and encouragement that many other group members call “Keepers” – posts that they save for themselves so they can go back and look at them as often as they like.

We here at LifeRing like sharing these posts, with the authors’ permission, on our Blog so that everyone can enjoy them as much as our group members do.


For many of us, myself included, the process getting and staying clean and sober takes several tries, sometimes over a long period of time, and one tends to be of two minds about their drug of choice before and during this period. It can be a frustrating and infuriating cycle, but it can’t be glossed over or ignored, both because it’s the reality of living with addiction and because it’s part of the process of becoming free from it. 

This month’s post, from a discussion about this vicious cycle, is from group member Ewa C., who is now sober:


I go through these things too…perfectly fine until for some reason i go on a rampage…with days lost from work, the shakes, feeling suicidal, unable to think clearly…Although this has been happening much less frequently.

Aside from that I am often just a so-called “functional alcoholic”…low key, just a couple of drinks at the end of a prolonged and stressful day… which is every day in my line of work.

And I know that is not an excuse. I don’t drink because i’m stressed I drink cuz I think I still love it, and after I’ve had a drink or two I’m so bored with it that I drink the rest just cuz I’m bored and want to go to sleep.

Go figure.

I am sick of this as i can see you are… I’ve been trying for YEARS to get right and still here I am, negotiating with my alcoholic self vs. my real self who is quite a nice woman.

In The Aftermath

One of the things that has come to the fore in the wake of Robin Williams’s suicide is an open, wide-ranging discussion all across the interwebs of mental illness in general and depression in particular, much of which has been profound and thought-provoking.

Although Williams’s wife released a statement yesterday assuring the public of her husband’s sobriety, along with the previously undisclosed revelation that he’d also been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, shed a little new light on what may have led to his untimely demise, it’s my personal hope that if anything good can come from the overwhelming sense of trying to understand what he was going through, it’s that it may lead to breakthroughs in our perceptions of depression moving forward.

With that in mind, here are some links to an article and two blog posts I was alerted to in the past few days that I thought might interest you, as well:

  • First and foremost, those of you with access to The Disney Channel might want to know that they’ll be running “Aladdin” at various times throughout this weekend. Given that it’s always been not only one of my favorite Disney cartoons but Robin Williams performances, I’ll definitely be firing up the DVR and watching it again soon myself. See the info. about times/listings here.
  • Annabelle Giles, a British celebrity I was heretofore completely unaware of, has written incredibly apt descriptions of what it’s like to be depressed, and what friends and family can do to help their depressed loved ones, on her personal blog – see it here.
  • In a post which reflects something closest to my own experience, Marc Lewis writes what he sees in Williams’s struggles with addiction and depression on his blog, Memoirs of an Addicted Brain, here.

Finally, all of this will be further discussed in the third and final installment in my series of personal posts, “Bodies in Motion”, coming next week. In the meantime, I wish a peaceful weekend to us all.



O Captain, My Captain

A lot has already been said, discussed, and written about Robin Williams’ addictions, depression and death, and a lot more will be, no doubt.

Me? For many people of my generation, it’s so terribly strange to realize that such an integral fixture, who we’d come to depend on for glimpses and vignettes of genius the way we depend on air,  has gone away from us, and in the saddest, loneliest way possible. My heart aches for what his pain led him to, and now for his family, friends, and co-workers and peers in their grief and loss.

And since I heard about his passing yesterday afternoon, I’ve thought an awful lot about depression and what it means to get to a place inside where the strongest instinct a human being has – the will to survive – becomes overridden by a desperate need to end their life, and I’ll have some more to say about that in time, too. 

But…right now? I don’t want to ever forget Mindy finding Mork inside the egg-shaped spacepod from Ork crashed on her front lawn, and then, after they’d moved in together and fallen in love, when Mork gave birth to Jonathan Winters – Williams’ comedic inspiration from his childhood – their bouncing “baby boy”. 

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Another New LifeRing Meeting – In Antioch, CA!

In addition to a 12:00 Noon meeting held at Kaiser CDRP in Antioch, California (see here for more information), LifeRing is pleased to announce another, new meeting in Antioch, beginning Monday, August 4th:

When: Mondays at 7:00 PM

Where: Kaiser Sand Creek/Antioch Medical Center, 4501 Sand Creek Road, Room 1E, Antioch, CA 94531

Note: This meeting is being held at a hospital, therefore, Kaiser’s routinely closed days will not affect the room’s availability.

Convenor: Dale P., with beginning support from fellow convenors Bob D. and John D.

Contact Information: E-mail:  Home Phone: 925-684-2248  Cell Phone: 925-628-5160


Congratulations to Dale P.  – we wish you, your fellow convenors, and your future group members all the best!

Keeper of the Month – July

Lifering’s e-mail groups are active, thriving communities of people who use them as strong sources of sobriety support, and many members often post remarkably written sources of inspiration, hope and encouragement that many other group members call “Keepers” – posts that they save for themselves so they can go back and look at them as often as they like.

We here at LifeRing like sharing these posts, with the authors’ permission, on our Blog so that everyone can enjoy them as much as our group members do.


This month’s post, reflecting on a different sort of life-changing anniversary, comes from Craig W.:


I’ve been sober since 2001, but yesterday marked the 8 year anniversary of the second most important event in my life in the current millennium — I had a stroke. My recovery was almost complete, but not a day goes by when I’m not aware that “almost” is not at all the same as “complete.’ I spent five weeks in a hospital and nursing home learning how to walk again — I hadn’t lost strength in my limbs but my balance had been strongly affected. It’s still less than perfect. I lost a little feeling on my right side but not enough to make much difference. The main difficulty that has stayed with me is something called “post-stroke fatigue,” a rather mysterious tiredness that plagues many stroke survivors. The condition isn’t related to the location of the stroke and doesn’t seem to be related to the seriousness of the stroke. It means I’m tired all the time and very tired some of the time. It’s pretty unrelated to the amount of sleep I get, so I try not to give in to it too much. But it’s why I retired early.

For a long time I thought the fatigue was the only “cognitive” impact of my stroke. But I’ve learned in recent years that the tiredness is part of a larger mental syndrome in which certain types of mental tasks are very draining, while physical activity is actually refreshing. The most draining seems to be multitasking, jumping from one thing to another back and forth. That was the essence of my job as a bookseller — dealing with customers at the counter and on the phone, paying bills, preparing orders and a bunch of other stuff all at the same time. I was good at that until the stroke. I wasn’t bad at it after my stroke, for that matter. Except that it exhausted me after a couple of hours.

So I retired a couple of years early and after about a week started climbing the walls. I’d had my bookstore as the focus of my life for 40 years. I never put in the sort of hours that many small business owners do, but it was always on my mind. Replacing it with …. nothing soon horrified me. Which is how I found myself coming down to the San Francisco Bay Area to volunteer for LifeRing. It has been an almost perfect solution to my retirement dilemma. There’s more to do than I can do, so I never feel purposeless, and yet as a volunteer I decide entirely by myself how much to do each day, which allows me to make full allowance for my tiredness problem. And the weather down here is so …. different (I was going to say “better” but one shouldn’t make those sorts of value judgements) that I can spend at least an hour each day walking in the warm sunshine, something that was a rare occurrence up in the Pacific Northwest.

There’s a point to this story for addicts like us. My stroke happened well after I got sober and the cause was unknown. But I figure it was all those years of ignoring my high blood pressure while I was drinking. For me, there was no escaping the consequences of my years of imbibing. But the other point is more positive — I changed my entire life after age 60, moving, doing work I’d never done before in a place I’d only visited briefly. I realized when I retired, I could afford (doG bless Social Security) to live almost anywhere and do almost anything (anything that wasn’t too expensive, at least). Sobriety gave me this new life.It’s so easy to feel trapped by life, by addiction or a bad marriage or lack of money or health problems, or …. But I’m here to tell you that everything can be changed for the better, and it all starts with sobriety. It starts with facing reality and fixing what’s wrong with our lives and nothing is more ‘wrong’ than addictive drinking or using. Fix that and move on to the next thing on your list.

Be patient, but persevere.