Recovery Stories - Keith O'Blenis

My story and recovery

By: Keith O’Blenis

This is a brief overview of my battle through much of my life with mental health issues and alcoholism and, most important, my recovery.

I began drinking in my mid teens and was a daily drinker by my late teens. I had a lot of fun with alcohol in the early years. My drinking progressed through my 20’s and 30’s. It was a slow process but I crossed a line from where I had control of it to where it had control of me.

My problems with mental health began in my early 20’s when I began to suffer bouts of serious depression. These bouts of depression often lasted for months and made day to day functioning difficult if not almost impossible. I married at the age of 27 and was married for 17 years. During this time my periods of depression became more intense and my alcohol abuse increased. My wife finally divorced me primarily because of my alcoholism. I was treated with antidepressants much of the time but they were mostly ineffective because of my drinking.

As I look back on it, I attribute my depression to several factors. First, my mother suffered from depression so there was a heredity factor. Second, I was drinking and, of course, alcohol is a depressant. Last, but certainly not least, I was living a lie. You see, I am gay. I always knew it deep down inside but would not admit it to myself or the world because of my conservative upbringing.

My last diagnosis was bi-polar disorder. Today, I am completely put of the closet as a gay man. I am not drinking and I am active in AA. I am on medication for bi-polar disorder. I am in a committed relationship and proudly sing in the Maine Gay Mens Chorus. Lastly, I work in a recovery center; a perfect fit for me.

My advice? Stay active, be yourself, don’t drink, stay on your meds if you need them, don’t isolate and find and trust a higher power.