Intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.

From the Promises of Depressed Anonymous #11.

As  my mind began to heal and my thoughts became more lucid, it became apparent that something inside of me is changing. Depression, when you begin to examine the various symptoms up close and deal with them, the experience becomes less threatening. Some say that depression is a collection of behaviors that are brought into play to defend us against things that are too painful to face. Also, depression results when a love object is lost through death or that one feels abandoned.  We have become so at one with our  lost love, that we mourn the death of part of us. The love object and ourselves has become one. I believe we use the word co-dependence today.

At first I was frightened by my various symptoms of depression. The symptoms proved to be baffling. I was not able to get out of bed as well as being unable to concentrate or manage a complex thought.  I began to worry that I was losing my mind.  I often asked myself if I was going to survive.  But now my ability to handle situations in a meaningful way is due to my frequent attendance at meetings. I was also  making a daily time for prayer and meditation and  began to  feel  that my life has purpose and meaning. The more I am physically active, i.e., going to meetings even when I don’t feel like it. I began working in my Depressed Anonymous Workbook and reading my 12 step literature.

The behavior is where my freedom  and hope begins. And yes, I do feel lousy at times but I also know that nothing can stand in my way to make  in my own behalf. Previous  to my involvement with the group I had no idea that my depression was not so powerful as to prevent me from even thinking that I could choose to feel differently.”

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Sources: Copyright (c)  I’ll do it when I feel better. (2017) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 50-51.

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

NOTE: More to come tomorrow on how to respect our “gut” feelings and  handle those difficult situations that come up in our lives.

Loosening our grip on the life of the depressed loved one !

” A major element of our personal renewal in this program of recovery is the gradual “loosening of our grip”  on the life of the our depressed loved one. We have learned the hard truth that it is in “giving up control” of what is to happen to our loved one. The only way our loved one is to get better,  is for each of us in our own way to support their efforts at getting connected with life, others and those like themselves. in a Depressed Anonymous Group.

The paradox here is that the times that we spend taking care of ourselves has an inverse effect on the condition and recovery rate of our beloved one. We only win the fight with depression by not fighting. The proof here is that the more we promote a positive emotional and upbeat home environment and trying ourselves to understand depression the more we will assume a new sense of identity  and be a survivor instead of a victim.”

See The Dep-Anon Family Group Manual (2000). Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky.

We are not passive victims.

In  our mutual aid group, Depressed Anonymous, we soon learn that to get well we have to begin to  believe that we are not passive victims of depression which  comes out of the blue and bites us.  We are not talking about a cold  and/or the  flu. We learn that we have to be responsible for our own health and healing.  We have to learn that motivation follows action. I will not blame myself for being depressed but I do have to take responsibility for my own health now that I know what I have. We are responsible for the depression because it has made  its home in us and has crippled us for months, and yes, for years.

We can learn how to go from being a patient to be in charge of our own feelings and health. It could be well to take a look at our childhood and early life relationships; especially infancy and early childhood relationships. Even more importantly  it’s important to look at how secure was our early growing up environment. Were we loved? Were we cherished by our parents. Was there drinking in the home? Was there abuse? Were we ignored? If you had parents who said you were worthless, unsuitable and told that you were  no good, then  this has without an ounce of doubt, influenced you in deep and deleterious ways today.

Also, we know that one major manifestation of depression is what we call Obsessive Compulsive behavior – namely, that ritual attempt to reduce stress by repetitive rituals such as hand washing, checking doors to make sure they have been locked and stove burners, to make sure that they have been turned off. All of this is a person’s ritualistic attempt at reducing  stress. Allied with this disability is perfectionism where a person who is obsessive-compulsive also has a hyper moral sensitivity.”

Finally, one might add that our mind  follows a familiar track, circling around and around in our head attempting to figure out how we ever got depressed in the first place. This type of circular thinking usually   brings us back to the same starting point. We are no further out of the woods than when we started. The side effect of this  rumination is that we are mentally  and physically exhausted. Fatigue is one of our biggest problems when we are depressed.

A bigger solution is to follow and use the Twelve Steps of Depressed Anonymous and become proactive in your own recovery.

 

(c) Depressed Once-But not Twice!  Hugh Smith (2000).Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

Remarkable things happen.

 

Remarkable things happen  when we are willing to admit  defeat and talk about our powerlessness over our depression and how our lives had become unmanageable. This first step is the beginning of the flight of steps that takes us up and into our new way of living. At our fellowship  of Depressed Anonymous we talk hope, we are hopeful, and we think hope.  We learn that our thinking depressed and negative thoughts might have gotten us in the  shape that we are in today.  What you think is  what you become. For us who find sadness our second nature, we at times continue to revert  to the comfort of our old familiar negative thinking and are in actuality returning to self-destructive activity. Hope is overcome by sadness.

When we become convinced that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity, we found ourselves turning many times during a twenty-four period to that power. It is a rock in a rocky sea that we all hold onto when we find it easier just to give up and sadden ourselves instead of facing the storm and living through the fear.  What Bill W., said about the alcoholic applies equally to the saddict:  “He/she can settle for mediocrity and self-satisfaction even though this may indeed prove to be a precarious perch.  Or he/she can choose to go on growing in greatness of spirit and truth.”

You never stop using and following the Steps. We are in recovery all our lives. You don’t graduate. When we return to saddening ourselves, we return to the old compulsion that can again reduce us to that bankrupt individual who is bereft of peace and hope. We want to grow in the conviction that the Higher Power will restore us to sanity. One of the  best ways to grow out of our saddiction is to start acting the healer instead of being the passive victim. We are under the care of no one except our God.”

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SOURCE: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY. Page 107.

COMMENT

I knew that the Twelve Steps had a power.  I now had a plan.  A plan, like a map, showing me a way out of my aloneness and misery.  Not only was I not alone, but now I was part of a fellowship of persons – just like myself.

At the root of  my addiction was depression.  It was then that I not only appreciated my particular recovery program but I felt that what I needed,  more than anything now, was a Twelve Step program to  deal with my depression and isolation from family and friends.  At the time, 1982, there wasn’t a  program specifically 12 Step that dealt with depression.

What we felt that was needed was a group program specifically oriented to depression. We knew  one’s compulsions and addictions had at some level a sadness, those depression symptoms rendering  lives unmanageable and out of control.

By the Spring of 1985 we had developed a program of recovery, specifically using the Twelve Steps as means for  recovery from that life threatening scourge of depression.  There were some of us who knew that we needed to have a Twelve Step program, developed by those of us who were depressed.  In May of 1985, we held our first Depressed Anonymous meeting in Evansville, Indiana.

Our Big Book, Depressed Anonymous (May 1998)  was written and created by those  of us who were depressed. (An earlier edition  titled DEPRESSED? HERE IS A WAY OUT! was published in 1990) . Ever since that time, persons depressed could read literature written   by persons just like themselves.  The Twelve Steps are a perfect solution – focused  recovery program that fits the needs of the depressed.

Hugh

Is depression contagious?

 

A good question. Yes, depression can be contagious. Even though depression is  not a thing , like a cold or the flu with its  virus or a bacterium.  When a depressed person  sneezes in your face who has the flu or has a cold, you will not contract a depression. It just doesn’t happen that way.  But, instead you might  get a cold or catch a flu.   On the other hand, persons with depression create an environment which  presents a low mood  in their relational  environment. An employer who is controlling and moody,  can themselves create a negative and debilitating atmosphere.

On the other hand, it has been proven that those of us who  live or work with a person depressed,   might  begin to experience the same low moods  as the person depressed.  Let me explain. A few years go, two women wanted to start a Depressed Anonymous group for family members and friends of the depressed. The results of  their efforts is a group  called the  Dep-Anon Family Group.  When they started to write some of their feelings about their own life experiences with their  depressed family member,  they discovered they were feeling these same feelings as those of  the depressed family member.

Do  we remember our own  struggles with depression and how we wanted to isolate and  withdraw  from family members and our friends? We lived alone in the prison of our own making.

Depressed persons create their own atmosphere of depression.  This is where the family member begins to notice how their own mood begins to  mimic the depressed member. Let me quote from the Dep-Anon Family Group manual  in which our two founders of Dep-Anon share their own feelings of the contagious nature of depression  and how they experienced it.

“At a planning meeting for constructing a Dep-Anon group these two family members were asked to list all the feelings that they experience while living with a depressed loved one. From the discussion,  we were surprised to find out some amazing facts, 1) that the feelings family members were experiencing were very similar to those which their depressed loved ones were  also experiencing, and 2)  these feelings were also having an equally destructive effect in the lives of family memebrs.

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

  1. Feeling overwhelmed and burdened by a family member’s depression.
  2. Feeling restricted around the depressed, feelings of something similar 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 loved one’s immobility and lack of motivation.
  7. Feeling anger and frustration at the depressed.
  8. Beng an enabler
  9. Feeling that one was living an unproductive life as one was stymied by the depressed’s unproductive depression.
  10. Having feelings of  irritability and impatience.
  11. Feeling inadequate.
  12. Unhappy.
  13. Feeling betrayed in retirement by spuse’s  late life depression.
  14. Indecisive
  15. Lack of confidence in oneself.

The amazing fact here is that these two women were having the same feelings as their own family who were depressed. It is ironic that as I went down the list of feelings the two members  were feeling, that   these were some of my own feelings when I was depressed. So Is depression contagious?  From what has been written here so far,  it is obvious to most of us that a loved one’s depression definitly has a negative  effect our our lives.

Dep-Anon can be a great source of help and hope, just as Al-Anon has been a great help and resource for the family members of an alcoholic.  I believe that Dep-Anon will be a good resource and fellowship to help family members and friends develop their own program,  based on the spiritual principles of the Twelve Steps.

Dep-Anon  places its focus on creating a relationship with the depressed that is not only supportive, but also creates an environment where the whole family can find healing. Also, the Manual finds ways on how we can help our depressed family member find the necessary support so that a future relapse can be prevented. There are a number of routes that can be taken to ensure that this happens and we will discuss them in our Dep-Anon Manual .  We all have choices  and we  will be proactive in our own healing.

As one of the founders wrote about her own experience with her depressed husband , she tells us that now  “she is going to mind her own soul.” We might not be depressed, but we will still have the feelings of being helpless and without hope. That has changed now that we are  taking  care of ourselves using the spiritual principles of the Twelve Steps in our own lives.

The program we have offered here is the personal hope of two persons,  believing that by taking care of themselves first of all, they will best be of great help to the depressed family member.

SOURCES:  Copyright(c) Dep-ANon Family Group.(1999) Depressed ANonymous Publicatins. Louisville. Ky. PagesA-G.

Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011)  Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisvile.KY.

 

It takes one to know one!

And so it goes in life that God often uses those of us with a certain experience to help others who are experiencing that same hurt and pain.” Debra Sanford in her recent publication: A Medley of Depression Stories.

Without a doubt, the statement  “it takes on to know one, ” is right on target. The truth of this   statement is verified by the increasing number of mutual aid groups that  keep cropping up in our communities. The fact remains, that if anybody can understand my situation or my particular  physical or mental condition, it most likely  will be that person  who has  experience the same condition.

During  my experience with depression, I found myself isolated and alone. I also found myself asking questions about what was happening to myself. I was  not coming up with any answers. I was scared!  I was living a lie.  There was a smile on my face  with others, but inside I was also  fearful of being found out.  Without any exterior evidence on my body that I was in  pain, every day turned out to be a momentous challenge for me.

Not until I discovered that all my pain, mental and physical had to do with being depressed, did I start to deal with it.  It was then that I became proactive in my own personal recovery. What did I do?  I started walking five miles a day. The only way I could chase the pain away was to walk.  And walk some more. Every day.

During this time, just getting out of bed was an overwhelming  chore. At this time in my life, I had to have a job to support  myself. Calling in sick  at work wouldn’t get it.  I kept walking. And after months of  exercise, I gradually felt my mood begin to rise.  Of course, because of my familiarity with negative thinking and bashing myself unmercifully, I told myself that  this calm in the storm, would not last. I was right. It didn’t last. Eventually, because I persisted with my walking , I  eventually was able to live  my life   without depression. I could live with peace and hope.

Also, because of Depressed Anonymous and sharing with others in the group, I got stronger, found more tools to stay depression free, and helped others start their own  Depressed Anonymous group. One of our members   pointed out to the new members how  our own “feeling better”  could be attributed to the “miracle of the group.”  It was in the group where  sharing our struggles and experiences   made it possible to have hope and a gradual  from depression.

As Debra C., tells us in her account of persons who tell their stories     (A  Medley of Depression Stories) and experiences,   as being part of the Depressed Anonymous group.  She states a fact  about the members of Depressed Anonymous that “The sheer healing obtained from the group is immeasurable.”  A Medley of Depression Stories. (2017) by Debra  Sanford.  ( ISBN 978-1974499601). Her book can be purchased at Amazon.com/Books. I highly recommend it. Her book is filled with those personal and powerful testimonies of how people joined together for the same  purpose can find the help they need. Why wouldn’t they? We all have come from the same experience and isolation and now find kindred souls in our life who not only speak the same language of hope but continue to offer it to each other.

Hugh

SOURCES:  (c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.KY

(c)  Debra Sanford A Medley of Depression Stories. (2017)  @      Amazon.com/Books

Who is in charge here, anyway?

The God of our understanding.

Please reflect on how the group that you are part of, Depressed Anonymous  , has helped you find acceptance, and mercy, from this God   of your understanding.

A comment from the AA Grapevine:

“…The faith of my Sunday school days was gone, and the “God of my understanding” was far off. (But not so far as I thought, as it turned out). It stretched me to even imagine “a power, a strength, and for me to   became willing to take this route. I wasn’t ready to take on God just yet.

However, God was ready to take me on, for in my ignorance I’d done about all that AA asks –I had become willing. And this is how he did it. In some casual reading about seeds, this statement caught my attention: “Science can construct a seed identical to a natural seed in every detail but one -science’s seed will not germinate.” The words seemed to leap from the page. They demanded answers. What is the missing ingredient in the man made seed? Is it some dimension I don’t know about? Is it in everything? Even people? And then the big question. Who is in charge here, anyway?

Backed in a corner finally, by a logic greater than my ego, I conceded. Too many miracles, too much coincidence, and too much evidence of a power greater than  myself all around me left me defenseless and in awe.  I surrendered. And the power wasted no time in reinforcing my new belief with these words from the Big Book:” We found that as soon as we were able to lay aside prejudice and express even a willingness to believe in a power greater than ourselves, we commenced to get results, even though it was impossible for any of us to fully define or comprehend that power which is God…

He is always there if I but look, feel and want him to be; my conscience contact  is dependent upon my being willing.”

How willing are you now to continue the progress that you have made so far?  Please note how willing you are  to help your fellow sufferers of depression in Depressed Anonymous?

Pages 81-82. The Depressed Anonymous Workbook. Depressed  Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY

Question: Does the natural beauty that surround us everyday lead us to the thought — how did all creation come to be?

What are the triggers that spiral you downward into depression?

Question: How do you see your depression as a compulsion? What are the triggers that cause you to spiral downward back into the dark pit of depression?

When you think of depression do you think of it like one big thing or do you see it for the many parts that make up a depression experience, namely, the way that we think, behave or feel!  In other  words,  when we make it to be a thing, that is,  when we reify it — it holds power over us – like it comes out of the blue .  We talk about depression in medical terms such as” I just had a bout of depression,”  like  it came from outside of us like an infectious germ or virus. In reality, our depression is made up of many parts, such as our  negative ways of thinking, behaviors and feelings.”

The  Depressed Anonymous Workbook,  asks us an assortment of questions which  can  reveal to us the various parts that  form   our depression experience.

The following questions as proposed by the Workbook,  will help you to distinguish  those various parts and ultimately to their dismantling.

Which of the following illustrations can you relate to as being a part of your daily living and thinking?

  1. A need to be perfect?
  2. A need to be successful
  3. A need to please others?
  4. A need to never get angry?
  5. A need to have someone in my life love me before I feel like somebody?
  6. A need to always put myself down and think thoughts that I am worthless, and unacceptable to myself and to others.

Now, write down how one or more of the above keeps you down, despairing and hopeless? Also, write about where these attitudes come from?

As we move from one question (from the Depressed Anonymous Workbook) to the next, we will begin to find a way to remove these negatives from our daily behavior.

This week, we will begin to take a deeper  look at some of these parts and how they can cause us to be isolated and depressed. Keep coming back and learn more about yourself and ways to be free!

Hugh

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SOURCES:   (c) The Depressed Anonymous Workbook, Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY. Pgs. 79-80

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

(c) The Home Study Program of Recovery. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY

  VISIT THE DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS BOOKSTORE for information on the above publications  plus how to order online.

How can I help the depressed? Join a Dep-Anon Family Group.

 

“One thing I’ve learned is that of all the horrendous problems we face in the world, what strikes me as the root cause of them all, and it is a myth: “I don’t have any power.” Mark DuBois, Director of Worldwise.

“Many times the desire to help the depressed pushes the helper deeper into the isolation of the depressed -mirroring the reality of the depressed person.”

Sometimes in our efforts to help the depressed significant other, we often forget that it is our own recovery that needs to be first considered. We need a fresh approach and we need a plan. We can now admit that we became angry because our depressed friend  didn’t recover according to our schedule of events for  their life. We might have even berated our depressed friend or family members that all they had to do was pick themselves up by their boot straps and all would be well. Now that our eyes have been opened and our minds have been enlightened we realize that we are learning new ways to take care of ourselves.

We want to be conscious of the ways that have neither helped or fixed our depressed significant other.   Because  our ways have not worked is no reason why we need to beat ourselves up over the past experiences which have done more harm possibly than good.

We might even begin to talk to our loved one about how we now are going to take care of ourselves. We  also might tell  how we are getting help for ourselves. We are doing what we have asked them to do so that they might get the help that they need.

Our recovery begins the minute we make the decision to turn our minds and our wills over to the care of God as we understood God.  ” ( Page 64, Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition).

We are learning that our own individual strength, our sanity if you will, comes from our active participation in the Dep-Anon Family Group where we are no longer alone, but instead find ourselves in touch with a healing  process of those much like ourselves. Instead of casting any blame at the depressed significant other we now are in the active process of discovering areas in our own  lives that need work. (The Dep-Anon Family Group, pages AR-AS.)

SOURCES:  Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.

Copyright(c) The Dep-Anon Family Group, Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.

 

I have a gratitude attitude.

THANKSGIVING   DAY

“I saw that I had been living too much alone, too much aloof from my fellows, and too deaf that voice within. Instead of seeing myself as a simple agent bearing the message of experience, I had thought of myself as a founder of A.A.

How much better it would have been had I felt gratitude rather than self-satisfaction – gratitude that I had once suffered the pains of alcoholism, gratitude that a miracle of recovery had been worked upon me from above, gratitude for the privilege of serving my fellow alcoholics, and gratitude for those  in the fellowship   which bound me ever closer to them in a comradeship, such as few societies of men have ever known.

Truly, did  a clergyman say to me, “Your misfortune has become your good fortune. You A.A.’s are a privileged people.”

Bill W., co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous.

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”  I TOO AM GRATEFUL FOR  THE TWELVE STEPS OF  DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS   OF RECOVERY  FROM  DEPRESSION.  THE FACT THAT I ONCE SUFFERED THE PAIN OF DEPRESSION AND NOW I AM FREE  PROVIDES ME WITH A GRATITUDE ATRTITUDE,  DAY IN AND DAY OUT!

Hugh S.