BILL WILSON’S STRUGGLE WITH DEPRESSION

 BILL WILSON STRUGGLED WITH DEPRESSION; as do many of us alcoholics in and out of recovery.  This doesn’t mean that we are weak or inferior.  All feelings come from a valid place, a place of truth.  That place is our heart and the heart doesn’t lie.  However struggling addicts tend to beat themselves up about their heartfelt feelings.  We were taught to that our hearts were “wrong” at a young age if we shared our feelings to a trusted adult who then informed us;  “you shouldn’t feel that way” or “that’s nothing to be afraid of”.  I think if Bill Wilson could have found a safe place to allow himself to be emotionally vulnerable and to cry and express his fears at a core level he could have gotten out some of the source of his deep and on-going well-documented, self professed depression…as can we.  I say this because journaling core feelings, talking about core fears and allowing my heart to be illogical is a part of self-love. Screaming and crying instead of transforming all my hurt into anger is a solution to depression and anxiety.   After all I believe, sad though it may be that depression is merely “anger without enthusiasm” Alcoholics lean toward self-loathing and usually they don’t even know that they hate themselves.  Read about Bill Wilson in his intimate grapevine writings.

                Bill Wilson’s Fight with Depression     Copied from:  thank-you to:  http://www.a-1associates.com/aa/LETS_ASK_BILL/Fightwithdepression.htm The pamphlet that Bill had published on niacin therapy was a collection of articles by several doctors who had done research in the area. My former sponsor (since moved out of state) had a copy and I believe I saw one at the Akron A.A. Archives, too, if memory serves correctly (always questionable). When searching for information on this, try using “nicotonic acid” and “nicotinamide”; both are forms of niacin and the terms are often used in the research literature. 1912 Sept, at the beginning of the school year at Burr and Burton, Bill W was president of the senior class, star football player, star pitcher and captain of the baseball team and first violin in the school orchestra. (BW-FH 19) Nov 18, Bill W’s schoolmate and “first love” Bertha Bamford, died from hemorrhaging after surgery at the Flower Hospital in NYC.

She was the daughter of the rector of the Manchester, VT Zion Episcopal Church. Bill learned about it at school on the 19th. It began a 3-year episode of depression, which severely affected his performance at school and home. (AACOA 54, PIO 35-36, BW-RT 51-58, NG 12, BW-FH 19-20) 1915 Early, at the start of his second semester at Norwich, Bill W hurt his elbow and insisted on being treated by his mother in Boston. She did not receive him well and immediately sent him back. Bill had panic attacks that he perceived as heart attacks. Every attempt to perform physical exercise caused him to be taken to the college infirmary. After several weeks of being unable to find anything wrong, the doctors sent him home. This time he went to his grandparents in East Dorset, VT. (BW-FH 21-22) Spring, Bill W’s condition worsened in East Dorset but doctors could find nothing physically wrong.

He spent much of the early spring in bed complaining of “sinking spells.” (BW-FH 22) Later, his grandfather, Fayette, motivated him with the prospect of opening an agency to sell automobiles.   Bill’s depression lifted and he began trying to interest people in buying automobiles. He wrote to his mother that he nearly sold an automobile to the Bamfords (the parents of his lost love). (BW-FH 23) 1927 On returning to NY, Bill W and Lois rented a three-room apartment at 38 Livingston St in Brooklyn. Not big enough for Bill’s desires, he enlarged it by renting the apartment next door and knocking out the walls between them. (BW-RT 144, LR 71, PIO 80-81) By the end of 1927, Bill W was so depressed by his behavior and drinking that he signed over to Lois all rights, title and interests of his stockbroker accounts with Baylis and Co. and Tobey and Kirk. (LR 72, PIO 82) 1934 Dec 14, Ebby visited Bill W at Towns Hospital and told him about the Oxford Group principles. After Ebby left, Bill fell into a deep depression (his “deflation at depth”) and had a profound spiritual experience after crying out “If there be a God, will he show himself.” Dr Silkworth later assured Bill he was not crazy and told him to hang on to what he had found. In a lighter vein, Bill and others would later refer to this as his “white flash” or “hot flash” experience. (AABB 13-14, AACOA vii, 13, BW-40 141-148, NG 19-20, NW 23-24, PIO 120-124, GTBT 111, LOH 278-279) 1944 Summer, Bill W began twice-a-week treatment with Dr Tiebout for debilitating episodes of depression. Some AA members were outraged and castigated Bill for “not working the program,” “secretly drinking” and “pill taking.” Bill endured the attacks in silence.

(BW-RT 299, BW-40 166, BW-FH 6, 160-161, 166, PIO 292-303, GTBT 121) 1945 Bill W started seeing psychotherapist, Dr Frances Weeks (a Jungian) once a week on Fridays. He continued to see her until 1949 for his episodes of depression. (BW-FH 166-167, GB 66, PIO 334-335) 1955 After 1955 the depression that had plagued Bill W for so long, lifted and he regained his bright outlook. However, during 1956, his best friend, Mark Whalon, died. (PIO 359, 364) 1956 There is a link between Bill’s LSD and niacin (vitamin B3) experiences: British radio commentator Gerald Heard introduced Bill W to Aldous Huxley and British psychiatrists Humphrey Osmond and Abram Hoffer (the founders of orthomolecular psychiatry). Humphrey and Osmond were working with schizophrenic and alcoholic patients at a Canadian hospital. Bill joined with Heard and Huxley and first took LSD in CA on August 29, 1956. Medically supervised by psychiatrist Sidney Cohen of the LA VA hospital, the LSD experiments occurred well prior to the “hippie era” of the late 1960’s. At the time, LSD was thought to have psychotherapeutic potential (research was also being funded by the National Institutes of Health and National Academy of Sciences). The intent of Osmond and Hoffer was to induce an experience similar to the DTs in hopes that it might shock alcoholics away from alcohol. Among those invited to experiment with LSD (and who accepted) were Nell Wing, Father Ed Dowling, Sam Shoemaker and Lois Wilson. Marty M and other AA members participated in NY (under medical supervision by a psychiatrist from Roosevelt Hospital). Bill had several experiments with LSD up to 1959 (perhaps into the early 1960’s).

The book “Pass It On” (PIO 368-377) reports the full LSD story and notes that there were repercussions within AA over these activities. Lois was a reluctant participant and claimed to have had no response to the chemical. 1966 Hoffer and Osmond did research that later influenced Bill, in December 1966, to enthusiastically embrace a campaign to promote vitamin B3 (niacin) therapy. It also created Traditions issues within the Fellowship and caused a bit of an uproar. The book “Pass It On” (PIO 387-391) has a fairly full discussion. 

Note: In January 1958, Bill wrote a Grapevine article titled “The Next Frontier: Emotional Sobriety” commenting that he had a bad episode of depression after 1955. The article also mentions what he did in response to it. SOURCE REFERENCES: AABB Alcoholics Anonymous, the Big Book, AAWS AACOA AA Comes of Age, AAWS BW-RT Bill W by Robert Thompson (soft cover) BW-FH Bill W by Francis Hartigan (hard cover) BW-40 Bill W My First 40 Years, autobiography (hard cover) GB Getting Better Inside Alcoholics Anonymous by Nan Robertson (soft cover) GTBT Grateful to Have Been There by Nell Wing (soft cover) LOH The Language of the Heart, AA Grapevine Inc LR Lois Remembers, by Lois Wilson NG Not God, by Ernest Kurtz (expanded edition, soft cover) NW New Wine, by Mel B (soft cover) PIO Pass It On, AAWS*************************************************************************
These are two of the most personal accounts of Bill W. life that we have available to us.  Pretty sure Language of the Heart is A.A. approved literature.  You would be surprised what is and isn’t considered “approved.” For instance The Little black meditation book “Twenty-Four Hours a Day” for men that’s so popular is not AA approved literature but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good and helpful.

*Borrowed from:http://www.theguardian.com/science/2012/aug/23/lsd-help-alcoholics-theory LSD could help alcoholics stop drinking, AA founder believed Author reveals Bill Wilson’s acid theory, but his experiments upset other Alcoholics Anonymous membersLSD-acid-tabs Bill Wilson believed LSD had helped him overcome depression and that it could also give alcoholics’ insight to aid their recovery. Most members of Alcoholics Anonymous disagreed. Photograph: AlamyAmelia Hill@byameliahillThursday 23 August 2012 13.37 EDT Last modified on Wednesday 21 May 2014 02.41 EDTShare on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via Email Share on LinkedIn Share on Google+Shares4,902Comments219The co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) believed LSD could be used to cure alcoholics and credited the drug with helping his own recovery from often debilitating depression, according to new research. About 20 years after setting up the Ohio-based sobriety movement in 1935, Bill Wilson came to believe that LSD could help “cynical alcoholics” achieve a “spiritual awakening” and start on the path to recovery. The discovery that Wilson considered using the drug as an aid to recovery for addicts was made by Don Lattin, author of a book to be published in October by the University of California Press, entitled Distilled Spirits. Lattin found letters and documents revealing that Wilson at first struggled with the idea that one drug could be used to overcome addiction to another. LSD, which was first synthesized in 1938, is a non-addictive drug that alters thought processes and can inspire spiritual experiences.

Wilson thought initially the substance could help others understand the alcohol-induced hallucinations experienced by addicts, and that it might terrify drinkers into changing their ways. But after his first acid trip, at the Veterans Administration (VA) hospital in Los Angeles on 29 August 1956, Wilson began to believe it was insight, not terror that could help alcoholics recover. LSD, by mimicking insanity, could help alcoholics achieve a central tenet of the Twelve Step program proposed by AA, he believed. It was a matter of finding “a power greater than ourselves” that “could restore us to sanity”. He warned: “I don’t believe [LSD] has any miraculous property of transforming spiritually and emotionally sick people into healthy ones overnight. It can set up a shining goal on the positive side, after all it is only a temporary ego-reducer.

 But Wilson added: “The vision and insights given by LSD could create a large incentive – at least in a considerable number of people.” Advertising His words were found in a late 50s letter to Father Ed Dowling, a Catholic priest and member of an experimental group he had formed in New York to explore the spiritual potential of LSD. Wilson is known to have taken LSD in supervised experiments in the 1950s with Betty Eisner, an American psychologist known for pioneering use of LSD and other psychedelic drugs as adjuncts to psychotherapy, and Sidney Cohen, a psychiatrist in Los Angeles. Wilson also discussed, in great detail, taking LSD with the author Aldous Huxley, and it is likely, though not proven, that the pair experimented with the drug together. “I am certain that the LSD experiment has helped me very much,” Wilson wrote in a 1957 letter to the science writer and philosopher Gerald Heard. “I find myself with a heightened color perception and an appreciation of beauty almost destroyed by my years of depressions.” In a talk given in 1976, Humphry Osmond, the British psychiatrist who coined the word “psychedelic”, said he told Wilson in 1956 “that [LSD] was good news”. Osmond said: “But [Wilson] was far from pleased with the idea of alcoholics being assailed by some strange chemical. Later on Bill got extremely interested and … he likened his LSD experience to his earlier vision of seeing this chain of drunks around the world, all helping each other.

This caused various scandals in AA. They were very ambivalent about their great founder taking LSD, yet they wouldn’t have existed if he hadn’t been of an adventurous kind of mind.” Lattin also found letters in which Eisner described Wilson’s thoughts when attending the VA hospital in 1956 to take LSD in a controlled experiment with herself, Cohen and Wilson’s wife, Lois. “Alcoholics Anonymous was actually considering using LSD,” Eisner wrote. “Alcoholics get to a point in the [programme] where they need a spiritual experience but not all of them are able to have one.” In a letter to Heard in September 1956, shortly after his first LSD experience, Wilson admitted he was appreciating the drug’s value. “I do feel a residue of assurance and a feeling of enhanced beauty that seems likely to stay by me.” A few months on Wilson was yet more positive about the long-term benefits. “More and more it appears to me that the experience has done a sustained good,” he wrote to Heard on 4 December 1956. “My reactions to things totally, and in particular, have very definitely improved for no other reason that I can see.”

 Lattin said Wilson was “so intrigued by the spiritual potential of LSD” he formed the experimental group that included Dowling, and Eugene Exman, Harper’s religious book editor. Wilson, however, remained sensitive to the controversy of his experiments. In a letter to Cohen, written between 1956 and 1961, he reported hearing gossip about his LSD use in AA circles. He reminded Cohen about “the desirability” of omitting his name “when discussing LSD with AAs”. Cohen reassured Wilson that his LSD trials did not include other active AA members. In 1958 Wilson defended his drug use in a long letter but soon afterwards removed himself from the AA governing body to be free to do his experiments. According to the anonymous author of his official biography, Wilson felt LSD “helped him eliminate many barriers erected by the self, or ego, which stand in the way of one’s direct experiences of the cosmos and of god”. He “thought he might have found something that could make a big difference to the lives of many who still suffered”. But, according to Pass It On, published in 1984 by AA World Services in New York, the movement was totally against his suggestions. “As word of Bill’s activities reached the fellowship there were inevitable repercussions. Most AAs were violently opposed to his experimenting with a mind-altering substance. LSD was then totally unfamiliar, poorly researched, and entirely experimental – and Bill was taking it.”

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