This was a very interesting read, thank you for sharing it : )
I've always found that writing which conveys something from that grey area, between despair and hope, has more of an impact on me than writing that offers only facile pleasantries, or ranting cynicism. There's something authentic about this middle ground, and writing that covers its landscape isn't pandering to mass appeal/editors demands/money, it's just 'truth' plain and simple. I guess it's for much the same reason that I (like you I think) tend to find it easier to relate to those who have lived a life in full acknowledgement of this middle ground and the struggles it brings (like the recovering alcoholic example you give) -- they are, usually, authentic people, there's no facades at play.
Have you read any Kierkegaard? I find his rather pleasantly named 'The Sickness Unto Death' to be a perfect exposition of this middle ground and feelings of despair, whilst managing to retain a good degree of optimism about life at the same time, but then maybe I'm just a weird Kierkegaard-nut.
Anyway, thanks again for writing this : )
All the best,