“You can learn a new way of escaping sadness.”

In an earlier edition of our Antidepressant Tablet Newsletter  there was a piece about depression being a comfort to some depressed persons. When talking about getting in touch with our feelings and regaining our equilibrium, this is what might be said:

“How many times have we heard this from those who are depressed. h Our future blogs will talk about the “comfort of depression.

Many  depressed people say tat this feeling of worthlessness and hollowness is all that they have ever known. In fact, add, “Since it is all that I have ever known I’m too scared to feel something different.” In other words, their feelings of sadness is like a lifelong friend and to change now is asking the impossible. Their whole identity has been centered on how bad they always feel. Even though they are sick and tired of being sick and tired, they cling onto their  familiar and secure sadness. This is all they know and can’t trust themselves to surrender this debilitating sadness and attempt to feel something different. It is a risk to try and feel cheerful. Being sad all the time is predictable – at least they know what they have. Getting oneself undepressed is almost too frightening for them to think about, much less spending a lot of time and energy trying to figure out how to escape it.

How can I help myself out of this pit if I believe that what I have is better than what I might get. I recommend  first of all that a person afraid that their life is unmanageable and out  of control because of their depression. Your compulsion to depress yourself might make you feel secure but it does make for a life lived in misery and fear. You have to admit that you no longer want to live this way. You have to say that you are now wiling to listen to other people and find out how they are able to risk feeling something other than sadness. You have to want to quit saddening yourself. If you have felt this sadness all or most of your life, you without doubt can learn a new way of escaping the personal sadness and constant fatigue that feeling disconnected from yourself and your world  makes you feel.

We all have a lesson plan and it is right in front of us in plain sight. We call it the 12 principles of Depressed Anonymous. Believing is seeing.

Hugh

My beliefs make my world one of opportunities or danger!

AFFIRMATION

I CAN DO WITH MY LIFE AS I WILL.

“Each of us structures and so creates our own world.  Because we are free to create  our world  and ourselves, we are free to change our world and ourselves. We can choose to see ourselves as capable of change, and doing so, the future opens up before us as an infinite array of possibilities, or we can choose to see ourselves as unable to change. Forced to live our lives as we have always lived them.”

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

So often my belief is what makes my world one of opportunity or one of danger. It’s how I look at my world through the lenses of my life experiences. These condition me to see the world as I see it and understand it.  If I think that I am always going to be depressed, I most likely will stay depressed because that is what I believe to be true. We hold these beliefs as unchangeable. Fixed.  I believe that I can’t change because that is not possible. I become a believer when   I see other people slowly taking mastery over their lives and starting to feel better. (See personal stories in  DA “big Book”)

MEDITATION

We make decisions how to love ourselves, to know that the God as we understood him is leading us into those realms of positive changes that will gradually help us walk out of my darkness into the light of God’s presence. Daily will we make that conscious contact with our God and pray that we might do it’s will.

RESOURCES:

(C) Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 Step Fellowship groups. Hugh Smith. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY  Pg. 11. January 17th.

(C) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.   ( See Personal Stories )

Books can be ordered online from Publications Bookstore at depressedanon.com.

“That which doesn’t kill you will probably make you stronger.” Nietzsche

 

Stress  put me in the hospital two years ago. First, pneumonia  put me in the hospital for a week.   Then, following  a diagnosis of clogged arteries with other assorted problems,  open  heart surgery.  Cardio/rehab for 24 straight weeks gave me my life back. But this was not my first experience with stress and /or depression.

Nietzsche had it right. In my case at least.  What made me stronger and saved my life was not only heart surgery but my new way of  dealing with stress. I now see stress for the trouble maker that it really is. The  stress in anyone’s,  continues to impress me how dangerous living under stress, of any kind, can be.

I know that the daily stress that I  had put my mind and body through every day,  every month, gradually destroyed my immune system’s ability to defend against  constant fear, worry and anxiety. Because of the environment  with which I was living in, day after day, finally caught up with me: pneumonia and then open heart surgery. So you might wonder  how can stress do all this damage to your mind and body?

THEN

This takes me back to my first  experience with sadness. It didn’t kill me, but it did force me to look  at my lifestyle, staying in a bad  situation and the ongoing ruminating which poured adrenaline into my veins, hyping up fear   and anxiety day after day.  Finally, all this  weakened not only my body but my mind  as well. My thinking started circling  around  and around as I tried to figure out exactly what the problem was  knocking me off my feet.  Not only that, I couldn’t concentrate. I would read a sentence or so  and then would forget what I had just read. I was always tired.  I always wanted to sleep. I never laughed anymore. My sense of humor went out the door. I started to isolate. I pushed friends away. I always had an excuse for cancelling meetings and appointments. Every morning I woke up, dead on arrival.  No energy. No purpose and nothing to look  forward to. I was losing all spontaneity and replacing it with boredom. I gradually was being sucked down intro the quicksand of futility and hopelessness.

After a year and half of this    pain filled  life I gradually walked out of the fog. I walked at least five miles a day-like a forced march looking forward to regaining my life. That was 1985.

NOW

Now,  I am stronger because I know all the red flags that pop up in my mind, wanting to  suck me back down into that environment which almost killed me in the first place.  I am definitely stronger now that I have a sponsor, a  12 Step   program (Depressed Anonymous) and  a daily plan   for my ongoing recovery.

My heart is stronger now. My commitment to taking good care of myself with proper rest, good healthy food, and physical activity at least three times a week or more. I also know that keeping in touch with those “still suffering from depression” by email, Home Study, website BLOG (depressedanon.com), phone and reading Depressed Anonymous literature.  What we give away comes back in countless ways. For me, continued sobriety and hope!

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

Online Depressed Anonymous International Skype meetings ( Check website Menu for listing and links).

Order online :The Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore.

 

Can depression be a defense?

“Shutting out all uncertainties, disturbance and uncomfortable threats is the essence of the defense of depression. You cut yourself off, you throw up a wall, surround yourself with a barrier and you are, you hope, safe and certain. Of course the prison  walls are not impenetrable, some things do break through to disturb you and there are things inside yourself which you cannot shut out, and they will plague you, just as the continuing isolation will bring increasing pain. But the defense of depression will shut out the great uncertainties, and, though you feel miserable, you feel secure…

Inside the safety of depression you can refuse to confront all the situations that you find difficult. You can  avoid seeing people, going to places, as a symptom of an illness, when really it is a reasonably effective defense.

If you are trying to shut out all those matters which you find uncontrollable, threatening and confusing, you cannot give those matters the careful scrutiny they need if you are to make a decision about them. They create such turmoil in your mind that you decide that it is best not to decide. You can say, ‘I am depressed. I cannot make any decisions.’

By deciding not to decide we can feel that everything that is bothersome will vanish and everything else will remain the same. But, of course, things do not disappear just because we ignore them, and nothing does remain the same. Everything is changing all the time, and we are always part of that change…

Decisions are much easier to make when you know what the consequences will be. The consequences of spending the day in bed with the blankets over your head are fairly easy to predict – you’ll miss a day’s work, your home won’t be cleaned, your family will complain, there be nothing in the fridge for you to eat, and so on -while the consequences of going out and facing the world are much harder to predict.”

COMMENT: I think that most of us, having been depressed at one time or other, have experienced our depression as a defense. I have used it as a defense to keep family and friends away  when I was depressed.  I also found it a  helpful  defense to prevent me from taking a positive action in  my own recovery.

The harder friends and family tried to unlock my prison –(I had  the key) the more difficult was it for them to enter.

What has been your experience with depression? Did you see it as a defense?

 

 

Dorothy Rowe. The Depression Handbook (1991) Collins. London. England. Excerpts from Pages 108-109.

Published also in 1991 as Breaking the Bonds, Fontana, London. England.

Anxious? Please read this.

“Sometimes persons tell us that they get sad for no reason at all. All of a sudden they just feel down and don’t know why. Many times after reflecting upon this sudden rush of sadness, they realize that it has come from somewhere and they might as well take responsibility for it and deal with it.  One of the best ways to deal with a feeling, especially the unpleasant ones, is to stay with it, feel it, and  see what it is trying to tell you. When we run from it we lose. Granted, this won’t be easy and you might not find the source of the sudden sadness at the first glance, but in time you can feel it, deal with it and then discard it. The more you ruminate about how sad you are and then how bad you are for being so sad, the more you have begun the downward spiral into physically feeling weak and hopeless. This is the time to call a friend or a member of the group. Just say: “Hey, I’m feeling sad and there is no reason why I think I am feeling sad –what do you think?” More times than not, your sad feelings will melt away.

Our feelings are like messengers. They come to tell us something important. They can tell us , as was the case with our ancestors of primitive times,  that either it was time to run or to stand and fight. Flight or fight.   Today, in these modern times, we don’t have to run or even fight when the unpleasant feelings rise up inside of us. The only activity that most of us engage in when faced with an unpleasant thought/feeling  is to put our mind in overdrive, stomping on the accelerator, and shooting adrenalin into our blood stream.  Even though there is no lion nipping at our heels we begin to flee those feelings of fright and find our selves swimming in a sea of fear and anxiety. Our palms begin to feel clammy, our forehead breaks out in beads of sweat and our heart rate is going trough the roof.

The more we “listen into” these frenzied feelings   the more frenzied and frazzled  we become  physically. Now, totally worn out with all this adrenalin pumped through our arteries, and all physical  systems  on high alert, we become exhausted. After all this, my drug of choice was to  hit the bed and sleep it off. Some folks medicate themselves with alcohol or other mind altering drugs.

Our other stance is to stay and fight the lion. No lion? We fight in our mind whatever it might be that is  ready to devour us and spit us out. We might be sitting at our desk at work and this negative ruminating will be  having the same effect on our body as it did with the native faced with fighting a lion. It was the lion or himself that had to win this fight.

So, for us, as we continue to put emotional energy into the negativity of the thought that affects our moods, we  find ourselves spiraling downward into that depressed mood  and  isolation.  Instead we need to  listen to the feeling, face the feeling, and tell ourselves that the feeling is  uncomfortable, but not life threatening. This becomes sort of a mantra at the time of our  panicky thoughts where by gradually and slowly repeating this phrase over and over again to ourselves,  our breathing gets slower, our heart rate slides back to normal and the  sweating stops. No running and no fighting. No foot on the accelerator  resulting  in no more adrenaline  pumping  through our arteries.

This technique of talking ourselves down when our body and reasoning is  about to be taken over by unpleasant emotions,  really works.

RESOURCES

(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.KY. Pg.91.

(c) Claire Weekes, Hope and Help for your Nerves. (1969) Berkley. NY.

NOTE: All Depressed Anonymous publications can be ordered online from the Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore. Al www.depressedanon.com.

What is a sponsor?

SPONSORSHIP IN 12 STEP PROGRAMS OF RECOVERY 

A sponsor, when speaking about 12 Step programs of recovery is a mutual and confidential sharing between  two members.   A sponsor is a person with whom a member can discuss  personal problems or questions, and who will share their experience, strength,  and hope in working the program. It is strongly recommended that the person you choose as a sponsor has completed a Fourth and Fifth Step.

Is having a sponsor required? No. Although it is strongly recommended.

Sponsorship is not  a relationship to be undertaken lightly. It is good to give it some thought before making the commitment. No one is a perfect sponsor, but avoiding sponsorship denies us a valuable experience for growth. Sponsorship is a form of Twelfth Step service and a way of expressing gratitude for what we have gained in the program.

In finding a Sponsor look for one who:

1.Has what we want.

2, Lives in the solution.

3. Walks the walk.

4. Has a sponsor.

5. Emphasizes the Steps.

6. Has more time in recovery that I do.

7. Frequency of contact.

8. Has worked more Steps than we have.

9. Is available for telephone calls and meetings.

10. Emphasizes spiritual aspect of the program.

11,Gender is the same  as ours.

Sponsorship is not a permanent relationship. It is okay to change sponsors when felt that the relationship no longer meets our needs. Sponsees  deserve to know that they are welcome to change Sponsors whenever they want. Sponsors and sponsees  make this point clear at the initial onset of the relationship. Terminate any relationship that is endangering your own recovery. If after thoughtful consideration one person decides to end a   sponsorship relationship, it is recommended that the situation be approached with honesty and love.

Benefits of Sponsorship.

Sponsors can learn too. The newest member can give insights to those who have been in the program for months or years. The exchange between sponsor and sponsee  is a form of communication, which will instruct and nourish both persons.

We are all seeking peace of mind. Having and being a sponsor are important steps towards that goal and becoming what our Higher Power wants us to be –loving and   serene  people comfortable with ourselves and the world.

Interview the potential sponsor

Discuss mutual expectations. If we discuss our mutual expectations at the beginning, the Sponsorship will go more smoothly. Our goal in interviewing a potential sponsor is to determine how well we will work together. It is possible to have more than one sponsor.

  RESOURCE:

“SPONSORSHIP”  is a publication of Depressed Anonymous Program of Recovery. This brochure is readily available to all members of the Depressed Anonymous Fellowship as well as the Dep-Anon  family and friends fellowship.

“Sponsorship” is a publication of the Depressed Anonymous Publications office, based in Louisville, KY.

 

 

 

 

After 14 years, I have hope!

I had always known that I was hard on myself. I reamed myself out every time something bad happened. “Why can’t I find someone to love me?” “Why isn’t God looking after me?”  But for some reason, when I  realized that I was doing this to myself, it made me realize that maybe all I would have to do is stop doing it. All of a sudden, it made sense.

If I tell  myself negative thoughts, I feel negative. If I tell myself nothing, I feel nothing. So, if I tell myself positive thoughts, eventually I’ll have to feel positive.

Of course, I’m still testing it out, but I feel better and for the first time in 14 years, I have hope.  It’s not hard to find something positive about  myself or my life now. So I remind myself of something positive everyday and that’s what I’m going to do until I don’t have to remind myself anymore because I’ll know.”

(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY . Pages, 120 -121.

My feelings are becoming unfrozen.

AFFIRMATION

“I pray that God will give me the courage to live today with hope – hope that God’s leading will take me past the dead end of despair.

If we want to live life fully we must have freedom, love and hope. Life must be an uncertain business. This is what makes it worthwhile.”

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

I  know how the feelings of depression, and the deadness and greyness of my sadness keep me holed up in the narrow confines of my dark past. Today my  feelings are gradually becoming unfrozen as I attempt new things, new connections with other persons. These cause me to reconsider that a life lived in unpredictableness is a risky but nevertheless a healthy way to live my life.

Since I hold on to the  belief that since bad things happened to me in the past, bad things will happen to me in the future.  I need to live each new day with the belief that I can change the way I think, feel and act.   I know now that I am not mentally ill nor am I losing my mind when I am depressed.  I want to live just for today to try to learn how to face the uncertainties of today.  Life is unpredictable . To have any certainty that it will  be other  than that  is clearly an illusion, and for sure one is being set up for many a disappointment.

MEDITATION

We see that it is only in risking., that is, getting a different map, a map that shows a number of different routes instead of the one that leads us down the road to narrow isolation and despair. I ask the God of my understanding to lead me according to it’s guidance. Hopefully the road that leads to hope and serenity.

RESOURCES

(C) Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations  for members of  12  Step fellowship  groups.  Depressed Anonymous Publications . Louisville. KY. (January 5th).

(c) I’ll do it when I feel better. (2018) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.

(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition.(20ll). Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.

Check out VISIT THE STORE for more material that can be ordered online.

Keeping the dance going: A metaphor.

When I was depressed (for over a year) I got hooked up with a dance partner who  continually  stepped on my feet.  I knew that stopping the dance was  my only way out.  I imagined  if I could learn a little more about the dance and  the proper step sequence things would turn out better for me.

The more I tried to think things out, try different step sequences the worse things got. It’s like walking up a flight of stairs and  carefully watching   each foot as it lifts to go from  one level to the  next. It’s a strange feeling as our mind and body become frozen from  what is normally an automatic sequence.  We don’t even think about the fact that our feet are taking the steps up one at a time.

From my own experience with this circular dance I learned that the more I  thought about why I was doing what I was doing the more my partner (my physical  body) came to a standstill.  My mind went round and round over a  sequence,  which I was hoping would free me. Instead, the dance stopped. I left the dance floor (my world) and retreated into my own little life surroundings,  going over and over again , completely obsessed with trying to figure out  a dance sequence, with a  result,  like the  wrestler’s “body slam” which  flattened and pinned me to the floor.  No matter how hard I tried to figure out what went wrong, the more this circular dance tightened it’s grip on my thinking, my body and everything else that had made me  an active part of my world, friends and future. I am all alone.

In the Depressed Anonymous Publication,  I’ll do it when I feel better, we read

“We all know that any addictive /compulsive type of behavior gradually removes you from the regular activities of persons around you, including family, friends and coworkers, until you are established in the narrow confines of pain and isolation. We are always going to be just a little more isolated  the more we try to think our addiction through in the circle of our own thoughts. ”

Copyright(c) I’ll do it when I feel better., 2nd edition. Hugh M. Smith (2018)  Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY. Page 61.

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