You come very close to fitting the typical description of depression. Depressed people often feel that doing things is “pointless” or prefer to be alone or to sleep. People who are not depressed can feel the meaning and purpose of their life. They feel the richness of life and want to share it with others. Lacking meaning and purpose, in one’s life, is a hallmark sign of depression. No one can diagnose you over the internet. I am only pointing out similarities and not attempting in any way to offer a diagnosis. A diagnosis must come from meeting in-person with a therapist, who will gather relevant information and is free to ask the many questions of you that are necessary.
Gambling and drinking are also consistent with depression. They are distractions— forms of escapism. When you are engaged in these activities, you don’t have to think about your problems. When you’re gambling, you’re focused on the game, your next move, your next hand, your next roll of the dice, etc. When drinking, you’re numbing your emotions. For a brief time, alcohol erases your problems. Those activities bring temporary relief but they are band-aids. They ultimately drive you further away from happiness and can lead to more suffering, pain and anguish; for you and also for your family.
I would recommend counseling. It could be immensely helpful in determining whether you have depression and why you are having these problems. We all have the capacity to improve our lives. You can choose to seek help and by doing so, significantly increase the probability of your happiness.
Let me share one last thought with you. There is a remarkable documentary about a man named David McCallum who was exonerated after spending nearly 30 years in prison for a crime that he did not commit. The fact that he was eventually released is nothing short of a miracle because, despite his clear innocence, his exoneration seemed unlikely. The majority of the documentary took place when Mr. McCallum was still in prison, when his being released was against the odds. The most astonishing aspect of Mr. McCallum was his attitude. Even though his chances of leaving prison were minimal, he maintained an appreciative and upbeat attitude. He was not angry or bitter, which would have been understandable, given his circumstances, but he chose another way. It reminds me of the quote by Viktor Frankl, a psychiatrist who survived a concentration camp, who said that “everything can be taken from man but one thing: the last of human freedoms–the ability to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.”
The documentary also underscores something that most people take for granted, which is freedom. The freedom to make choices in our lives, the freedom to positively change the course of our lives by the choice of our actions. In your case, the action that could positively alter your life course, would be seeking help. By doing so, you would be choosing a better life for yourself and for your family. Make no mistake, getting help is a choice and the freedom to make that choice is yours.
You can begin the process of seeking help by asking your primary care physician for a referral or by clicking the find help tab, at the top of this page, to locate a therapist in your community. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle