Recovery From Addiction and Depression: An Interview with Vivian Eisenecher


Today I have the honor of interviewing Vivian Eisenecher, author of “Recovering Me, Discovering Joy,” and a sought after speaker, mentor and writer since 1996. Her other published works include articles for “Chicken Soup for the Soul” and Woman’s World. Her inspirational story has been enthusiastically received by churches, companies and corporations, national organizations and national associations. She is passionate about reducing the stigma of mental illness and substance abuse. She loves helping people meet their potential and discover joy in their lives!

Question: I love the definition of authentic success that you give in your book. You spell out PROCESS as an acrostic and go through the seven components of process. Could you abbreviate them here for my readers?

Vivian: Authentic success is not a destination. It is a PROCESS that includes: Perseverance, Resilience, Openness, Compatibility, Enthusiasm, Self-esteem, and finally, Spirituality.

1. Perseverance – The ability to stick with a project or situation until it is completed regardless of setbacks and disappointments.

Success in many things comes word-by-word, step-by-step, or stroke-by-stroke. Nothing is mastered in one giant leap forward. I thank God everyday for the gift of ‘stick-to-it-iveness’ He has so graciously bestowed upon me. Perseverance has allowed me the successes I now enjoy, and continue to build on every day.

2. Resilience – The ability to roll with the punches, to deal effectively with life’s adversities. To continue to move forward even after failure.

I can’t begin to relate to you how many times I tried to stop drinking and failed. I would bet I tried to quit fifty times. So, what if I hadn’t made that fifty-first try to quit? I’d be dead! Boy, am I glad I decided to get up and try one more time. Today, I have deep-rooted resilience, and it is such a tremendous advantage for which I am grateful every day.

George Patton once said, “Success is how high you bounce after you hit bottom.” Well, I’m on a bungee cord to the heavens, and I’m taking everybody I know with me. I am sitting on one sweet victory, and the opportunities my failures have awarded me are astronomical.

3. Openness – This includes open-mindedness–being receptive to other arguments or ideas and open-endedness–not rigorously fixed.

To remain successful, we must consider any success as an open-ended project. It is a fluid, evolving experience, not a one-time event. In my mid-forties, I figured I had attained all my goals. I had a beautiful boy and girl, a nice home, and I was happily married to a successful husband. I was even a good tennis player, which was very important to me at the time. By the standards I was brought up to believe in, I had done well. I had ‘arrived!’

I had arrived all right, and was on the brink of complete destruction.

I had what looked like success, but I didn’t have authentic success. Why? My thinking was closed-ended, and my life was at a dead-end. I had stopped imagining. I had stopped dreaming. I wasn’t open to new challenges, new opportunities for success.
We must look at every completion as a new beginning. Today, I have learned to leave the door open, and listen for new thoughts…

4. Compatibility – The ability to exist together in harmony. But authentic success means much more than that.

One of the best ways to become successful is to surround ourselves with successful people. Behind every achiever is usually another achiever. No-one achieves greatness without the help of others. By reaching out to others with generosity, we lay the foundation for lasting relationships.

The most powerful tool we have for building lasting and mutually beneficial relationships is a service attitude, in which our goal in every relationship is to add value to the other person’s life. If we approach our relationships with that attitude, we will always be able to find shelter in the friendship and trust of others.

5. Enthusiasm – The state of being inspired.

Enthusiasm is one of the most empowering and attractive characteristics we can have. The level of our talent isn’t nearly as important as the intensity of our passion.
When we’re passionate, we’re focused, purposeful, and determined, without even having to try. Pursuing our passion will sustain us when no external rewards seem evident. The chance for success at what we are passionate about is much greater than anywhere else in our lives.

When we enjoy doing something, we make it a priority. We discipline ourselves to be able to include it in our lives. We make sacrifices in other areas of our life in order to be able to concentrate on our passion. And sacrifice is usually the only difference between those who succeed and those who don’t.

6. Self-esteem – The appreciation of one’s worth.

Without self-esteem, it’s difficult to tap into our inner strengths. Self-esteem is a tool that can help us weather thousands of obstacles.

Having a self-worth more powerful than any rejection or failure that we encounter enables us to move forward with confidence. With high self-esteem, it is difficult for failures to defeat us. We can accept setbacks and move on. This kind of self-worth is essential for continued success.

7. Spirituality – One’s personal relationship with God

By adhering to God’s principles on a daily basis, we exponentially increase our chances of success. Nothing can compare to the power derived from our trusting acceptance of His gentle perfection. On the contrary, by refusing to place God first, I am deprived of His help.

Belief in God’s great power carries a huge amount of positives in concentrated form. Faith increases our social awareness, expanding our interest and perspective. Keeping God central in my life helps keep me from getting all mucked up in self-gratification, which is one of the core traits often found among the success-challenged.

Success is best achieved under His direction. Fulfilling our uniqueness within His moral and ethical guidelines will bring us success upon success. When we start having little victories, a momentum begins. Every success empowers us for more success. As we become more successful, we are in a position to give more and take less. All of my successes since I turned my life around are a direct result of adherence to His plan, which includes: Perseverance, Resilience, Openness, Compatibility, Enthusiasm, Self-esteem and Spirituality. This is my continuous path for authentic success.

Question: What would you say is the hardest part about being both and addict and a depressive would be?

Vivian: My low grade depression (dysthymia) fueled my alcoholism. It was a catalyst, a trigger. But when I was depressed and drinking for relief, I was miserable. Not only did I feel bad (depressed) but I felt bad about my drinking, too! I didn’t want to give up alcohol because I thought it was the only solution for me. It lifted me up if just for a little while. But alcohol is a depressant and so I would sink lower requiring more alcohol for the same affect. That is the classic definition of addiction, isn’t it? And so it became a deadly cycle for me.

Originally published on Beyond Blue at

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Therese Borchard
I am a writer and chaplain trying to live a simple life in Annapolis, Maryland.

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