Help is on the way!

Many times it is difficult for persons interested in attending a face to face Depressed Anonymous meeting in their community, sadly discovering  that there are no DA meetings available.

Our Fellowship has developed tools to help  those who have no support groups to utilize our Home Study Kit of Recovery. The Home Study Kit includes a Depressed Anonymous Workbook and the Depressed Anonymous Group Manual( 3rd edition).  Both books used together provide information about depression plus personal enrichment.

You will find that the Depressed Anonymous Workbook, with questions pertaining to each  of the chapters in the Manual   are coordinated by page and paragraph with the Manual.

Our approach to depression is based on the 12  spiritual principles of Recovery. Your answers to the questions are your own and gradually move you one step after another until all the 12 Step are personally assimilated and examined based on  your own life experiences. The whole Home Study process will let you go at your own speed so that you have an in depth awareness of how depression can by overcome by learning  how you got to where you are today.  Following this learning experience you will  gradually acquire  tools for facing  and overcoming  those areas of your life which     previous to the study, had you imprisoned in pain plus  isolated from others. In fact, after moving through all the Steps and learning how depression has negatively affected your life – you will gradually have   tools to dismantle those various thoughts, behaviors which have kept you immobilized.

For every person who uses the Home Study a sponsor will be available to you (just like in any 12 step program) as a mentor, per your choice, and walk with you through this recovery process. If you choose to take this healing path and make a decision to do so, you will find that you not only are feeling better but that life has meaning for you once again. You are hopeful!

An example from  The DA Workbook on Page 83, Question 11.18 states that:

“We conclude that since our depression and sad thoughts are getting progressively worse  over the course of time, we then have to admit that our feelings are out of control and we need help.” (M116). And it is here that the question prompts a solution from the same person. Here is her solution and one that you could use as well.

M116 refers to the Depressed Anonymous Manual where we find  the personal story of Frances who shares with us that “I just hope that I will always be able to attend Depressed Anonymous meetings regularly and wish more people had the opportunity to do the same. Depressed Anonymous has helped me so much. I cannot begin to explain sufficiently the support the meetings can give one who is depressed. Depressed Anonymous has been and is my salvation. I know the Twelve Steps program is the only way to go to get one on the right track and it takes the meetings to keep you there.  They are also  a “Godsend” for me and I know for a lot of others who are depressed.” Page 116.

Finally, if there are no meetings in your community  this process of using the Home Study Recovery program will provide so much for you that it will enable you   to lead a support group in your home community now that you have worked all of the Steps – and that with the support of a sponsor.

Resources:

(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications . Louisville. Ky.

(c) The Depressed Anonymous Workbook (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.

Both books that make up the HOME STUDY KIT can be ordered online from the Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore. These two books are also in eBooks format  and are available for ordering online.

You can get started today.

Depression dies in the light of discussion.

“It is our negative thinking, our compulsive way of processing negative  information, which means that we habitually store the negative and dump the positive thoughts flowing into  our minds.                                                         

That promotes a feeling that makes us wanting to fall back in the old habit of staying isolated and avoiding others. We might fool ourselves and say that people have nothing to offer so  I begin distancing myself from everyone .

 Part of my nature when depressed is to avoid and distance myself from whatever I feel is threatening, like a child afraid of the dark.

I can only do what God wants me to do and I find out what this is by spending time with my God in meditation. Whatever we do, we need to know that our isolation and our withdrawing from friends and family, is an environment by which our depression can grown strong. Depression dies in the light of discussion.”

SOURCE: The Anti-Depressant Tablet. Volume 3:3. p.10.  Louisville.KY.

The compulsive nature of depression.

“Given the need for control in all people to one degree or another, it is not at all surprising to discover that compulsive patterns are often related to depression. Compulsive patterns are by their very nature attempts to control anxiety, fear, doubt, and of course depression through establishing a repetitive and even ritualistic way of managing aspects of one’s experience.

Consider some common patterns of the compulsive personality. Such individuals are characterized as being highly moralistic and judgmental, excessively preoccupied with rules and protocol, and emotionally distant. Why the preoccupation with rules and judgments? The tendency to feel out of control (and thus anxious, afraid, doubtful, and depressed) is very strong if every detail of every experience that life has to offer is not covered in the rule book…When a person requires or expects others to follow his or her rules, he or she is inevitably disappointed, angry, and hurt when they do not.  When a person adheres to a rigid rule system for managing the unpredictable and often different things that are a part of life, the ability to adapt flexibility as times and rules change is underdeveloped…it is these types of rigidities  –that can get  and keep depression going…Given the  involvement of early learnings about control, power, responsibility, and other issues  central to depression it can be a useful assignment to have the client identify  his or her values that underlie the range of choices likely to be perceived by him or her.   This exercise is called “Me Mapping.” Thus the client is required  to think about the positions of each of the people that played a significant role in his or her development. The client can consciously discover how readily such positions can be identified and may likewise discover how readily  such positions can be identified and may likewise  discover that their positions are unknown. Either outcomes provides for interesting and useful discoveries. The individual who under controls  situations is the person in  the  helpless “victim” mid set. When opportunities arise in which the individual could act  in a specific way in order to favorably influence the outcome of a situation or escape a hazard, he or she does not act…The individual who over controls situations will attempt to  exert control over situations that are, in fact, beyond the range of his or her influence. For such individuals, there is a blurring of the lines between hope and  reality. The individual may know what he or she  wants and will attempt to attain it, only to become increasingly stressed and depressed as the goal slips further and further away. By interpreting the inability to attain the goal as evidence of personal failure than as having attempted to reach a goal outside the sphere of one’s influence, depression is a predictable consequence. “

SOURCE: (c) Copyright. When Living  Hurts. Michael D. Yapko.  Psychology Press. (1988 . pp.104, 105, 106. 117.

Signs of hope!

Addiction to a depressing way of thinking  leads in time to emotional imprisonment and  continued unconsciousness that keeps one from trying to have mastery over one’s life and feelings. The feeling that one is powerless doesn’t mean that we have to be the victim of our depression. By the fact that I admit my powerlessness I can direct this new recovery energy of starting over today,  and my work in feeling better. My mood   gradually increases to the point that I am hopeful. So many who come into our Depressed Anonymous program and who are at various levels of depression can testify to a personal elevated mood. Once they believe  that they don’t have to stay  depressed and now have a choice  to feel  better, finding different ways and tools to help themselves out of that boxed in feeling of depression. For many this is the first sign of hope that they have felt for many years — for some — all their lives. I do have a choice in the way I am to feel. I have the key (Depressed Anonymous) for my complete recovery. I know this is true as I continue to  spiral upwards into  a newfound level of serenity and hope.

Hugh

I practice seeing life as hopeful and filled with promise.

“You dismantle your depression by thoroughly examining your own beliefs and how you construct your world. It’s in the way we usually think about ourselves and the world that enables us to predict with accuracy the way things turn out.” Dr. Dorothy Rowe.

In the past I usually predicted gloom and doom about everything that I chose to do. I always felt that whatever I did or whatever I tried to do would end up in the trash. I never felt that I could do anything worthwhile because I never really considered anything I did in the past as being worthwhile. I predicted that nothing would ever turn out for me – and  you know, I was right!  Now I am predicting success as I am beginning to value myself and the things that I do.  I have found with some small experience that the more I predict success, the more that success appears on my horizon. It this what they call a self-fulfilling prophecy?

My depression made me  an excellent prognosticator. These things were always bad. I always had cancer, was suffering from a heart attack or had some rare and incurable disease. I was always seeing life from the negative and hopeless side. I was learning that it is only when I practice seeing life as hopeful and filled with promise, that I discover my mood beginning  to lift.  I am feeling more cheerful like when I used to have hope in my life but took it for granted.”

MEDITATION

WE TRUST OUR GOD, TO LET US SEE LIFE AS IT IS AND NOT AS WE USUALLY THINK OF IT WHEN WE ARE DEPRESSED. I SEE LIFE WITH PROMISE AND POSSIBILITIES.

Copyright(c) Higher Thoughts   for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 Step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.KY.

Copyright(C) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.

Family members and friends often feel they have

  nowhere to turn for help. They may find themselves reading books on depression and other resources, but still feel lost as to what to do. This is where DEP-ANON can offer assistance. It is a fellowship of persons who come together to share their stories and offer support to one another in the process. Their issues may be different from those suffering from depression, but they are just as valid.”

The DEP-ANON FAMILY GROUP MANUAL

Family members discover they experience many of …

the same feelings as the depressed!  If you checked off more than five of the items below, you might consider the DEP-ANON Family Group.

When family members were asked to prioritize, describe and list which feelings they experienced most often and most intensely, the following are those which they documented: 1) feeling overwhelmed and burdened by a family member’s depression. 2) feeling restricted around the depressed, feelings of something similar to the to the expression of walking on eggshells. 3) Feelings of helplessness. 4) Anxiety about the situation and not knowing what to do about the feelings they were experiencing. 5) Feeling emotionally drained. 6) Feeling inadequate, faced with a loved one’s immobility and lack of motivation. 7) Feeling anger and frustration at the depressed. 8) Being an enabler. 9) Feeling that one was living an unproductive life as one was stymied by the depressed unproductive depression. 10) Having feelings of irritability and impatience, 11)  Feeling inadequate. 12)  Unhappy. 13)  Feeling betrayed in retirement by spouses late life depression. 14) Indecisive and lacking confidence in themselves.

Are you surprised to learn that the depressed experience the same emotions?  You have more in common than you thought!

Quote from the DEP-NON FAMILY GROUP brochure.

Walking in another’s shoes.

Family members also feel guilty about the situation and feelings of their depressed loved one. They somehow feel they have played a part in the melancholia and so are to blame. That is exactly what we don’t want to produce in the family member, more guilt and shame.

Walking a mile in another’s shoes is good advice today. Unless a family member has ever been depressed – then it won’t do   to wish that their loved one would just think more happy thoughts or just pray more or just get out and get busy. All these suggestions fit someone who might be sad or unhappy –but they don’t apply to a person who has a mood disorder –like the deep immobilizing mood of depression.

When I was depressed I became overwhelmed by all the situations  and circumstances surrounding me til I became consumed by them. They became all ever conscious, these thoughts that I could no longer keep at bay –like a  lion tamer wielding chair and whip –poised for action against an angry lion.

Many times the stigma of a family member who is experiencing is often enough for a family to avoid the subject.  They pretend it isn’t there. In a  way it is like the behavior of those people who live within an abusive relationship, or with a practicing alcoholic, or a verbally abusive spouse. There is an elephant sitting in the living room and everyone quietly walks around it. Nobody wants to talk about the problem that lies in the center of the family.

Gradually a vicious cycle of negative feelings and behaviors manifest in the family members. They feel isolated, resentful, angry or despairing, and this complicates the sense of  isolation, guilt or hopelessness.

I believe that DEP-ANON will be or can be a great resource of strength for those members of the family who live with the depressed day after day.  They too must begin to work on the 12 Steps, one after another so  they can begin, in a supportive group context, facing the fact that that their feelings about their loved one have resulted in them feeling hopeless and helpless. This is the first step for all of us in  recovery,  to admit that we are powerless over the   behavior of a loved one depressed.  Once the 12 spiritual principles of Depressed Anonymous are interiorized in our hearts and minds, and actively operating in our own daily lives, we will see progress. Not only will we change but so will all members  of the family. The DEP-ANON group provides the whole family an  opportunity to experience a new found peace and wellness.

Copyright(c)  DEP-ANON family group manual: A 12 Step support group for families and friends of the depressed. (1999) Hugh Smith. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky. 

“My course is set for an uncharterd sea.” Dante

 For any  of us who have a friend or a family member  suffering  from depression, Dante’s words  ring true, as we set sail in an  unchartered sea attempting  to set them free from their misery and pain.

In  Speaking of Sadness, Chapter six,the author, David A. Karp, a sociologist,  speaks about Family and Friends of the depressed and how  they  establish sympathy boundaries in their interactions with them. 

The opening paragraph in this chapter quotes  a therapist, named Mark, who shares his thoughts on how overwhelming it actually is to deal with someone’s depression — especially that of a friend or relative.

“The thing about depression is that it is overwhelming and anyone who takes it on is going to lose. As a family member and /or friend –anyone who is close –is too overwhelming. And the only way to deal with someone else’s depression is to maintain your own life and to understand that person and emphasize and be there as you can be. But to recognize that fundamentally it’s their experience and you’re not going to shift it. All you can do as a friend is to allow it to happen and to be there again and again and again. ” 

When all is said and done it is my own experience that tells me that when I gave them some tools to work with their own experiences, that this was  a non-threatening, not in your face attempt to force a change of behavior. Some  thoughts that people tell the depressed are “just snap out of it” or “say a prayer” and everything will be better and you will be happy. But the more we tried to force our solutions on them, the more they retreated into their isolation.

INTRODUCTION TO DEP-ANON, A SUPPORT GROUP FOR FAMILY AND FRIENDS OF THE DEPRESSED.

Scores of books have been written on the subject of depression. If you are like most of us, we have all run after and read the latest work on depression. We are looking for clues to see just what is wrong with our loved one and what it is that they face and struggle with. We want to learn how to help.

  The DEP-ANON program is very much like AL-ANON where family members and friends  gather to help each other learn how to detach and cope with opioid addictions and alcoholism. In the same way, DEP-ANON is an effort of family and friends    learning  how to live with and cope with their depressed loved ones.

At a planning meeting for DEP-ANON family members were asked to list all the feelings  they experienced  living with a depressed loved one.  These discussions  brought out some surprising   facts.

When family members were asked to prioritize, describe and list which feelings they experienced most often and most intensly, the following are those which they documented:

  1. Feeling overwhelmed and burdened by a family member’s depression.
  2. Feelings of helplessness
  3. Anxiety about the situation and not knowing what to do about the feelings they were experiencing.
  4. Feeling emotionally drained.
  5. Feeling inadequate faced with a loved one’s immobility and lack of motivation to get out of bed.
  6. Feeling anger  and frustrated at the depressed.
  7. Feeling inadequate.

 These are just some of the feelings which family members listed indicating   they felt as helpless and hopeless as the people whom they were trying to help.

Now that we learn that the depressed and family members and friends suffer from the same problems of the depressed–isolated, alone and helpless. But the thing that we have going for us is the same thing that the depressed   have going for them. We have choices. We can begin to be proactive in our own healing and recovery. We have a program of recovery using the Twelve Steps. We now know, as a family member that we are not alone, in a small boat, being tossed about in a turbulent sea.

Together, not to complain or blame but to face our common problems and pain and   live in the solution of a program based on spiritual principles, just like the depressed who can get help with their group Depressed Anonymous. One of the more important things for a family member is knowing that their loved one cannot simply think themselves out of their sad moods and isolation.

In both the DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS and DEP-ANON groups there is a place where experiences, strength and hope can be shard with each other. It is in these two recovery groups, one for the depressed and one for the depressed family member, where both can come and talk freely about their path out of helplessness and the feelings of being overwhelmed.  In both groups, with time and  work they can discover how to use the tools to live through the trauma of depression and the ongoing acceptance and understanding provided by family and friends of the depressed.

It is a fact that the more supportive a family member is of their depressed member the sooner that family member will recover. This recovery is   strengthened by looking at our own lives, dealing with the ongoing frustrations and letting go of our need to fix the other. And like AL-ANON it is  in the letting go of the other and their depression but taking care of our own  lives.  We soon learn that we have no control over other’s feelings and emotions. We learn that all we can do is  be there, again, again and again. At the same time, like the depressed, get involved with the recovery tools of Depressed Anonymous, go to meetings, pray and join with others like oneself.  We want to  find solutions and  keep the focus on these solutions –   not the problem of others.