Freddy’s first day of school. A day to remember.

Today is the beginning of a new   school year. The yellow buses are out in force.  In our metro area we have at least 600 yellow buses  on the road today and for the rest of the academic year.  A family member of mine, who lives in a county school district,  has four children starting school today. Each  child climbing onto a different bus. At his home the four buses come to his home (not at the same time) and there  pick up a High School student, a middle school child,  a special needs child and  an elementary child. Each child will have an  unique story to tell their Mother when they get off their bus today.

I remember my  first day at school. It is etched in my mind. Another new first grader, Freddy, refused to walk into the classroom where he was to be joined by 45 other kids. All newbies. His Mother, having lost her patience, had junior   by the scruff of the neck,  carrying him into the classroom, with him screaming and crying. “I ain’t comin’ in.”  That is all I remember of my first day of school. Or, should I say, Freddy’s  first day of school.

Many of us have memories of that first day of school and I hope that yours was more pleasant than Freddy’s or mine.

Now fast-forward the tape thirty years later. I was being forced to go to another type of school. I had to attend a 12 Step meeting because of an addiction.  I used the same words that Freddy used, and whispered to my self that “I ain’t goin’ in.”  Actually I did go in.  I took a seat and forced myself to listen to people talking about their addictions. I found everyone friendly and supportive. They welcomed me like a long LOST brother. Let’s put the emphasis on the word LOST. I definitely was down with my face in the dirt.

That was 32 years ago this coming December. Do  you know what I learned that first day of life’s schooling? I learned to take  one day at a time. Keep life simple. Be honest always. Admit I needed help. Have faith in a power greater than yourself.  Stick close to your classmates (group members). Help others who like myself, are still suffering. Tell your story.

Hugh

 

Hey, that’s my story. She is talking about me.

 

Do you want share your story with someone? Yes or no. (Circle one)

Do you want them to understand you? Yes or no. (Circle one)

Do you want some feedback? Yes or no. (Circle one).

Do you want them to listen to you?   Yes or no. ( Circle one)

When I walked into my first 12 Step meeting and listened to what everyone was saying, it dawned on me that they were  telling my story.

I couldn’t believe it. It was surreal.  How did the speaker know that she was talking about me?  And then suddenly it hit me: they were talking about themselves , their  addiction to drugs, just  like my own addiction to drugs.  We were on the same page.  We were kin to each other.

Just then, this stunning news that I was not alone. I felt like a snake shedding its skin.   What I thought was impossible happened. It was a spontaneous reaction to my feeling at home with this group of people. I raised my hand. I got recognized by the group chair. I stumbled around for a second or two and then I plunged into my own story. It was true that my story was basically every one’s story.  What guilt  and shame that I felt  at that moment melted away.  No longer did I want to hide. It was now out in the open. My image,  the good time Charley,  the always happy,  smiling dude,was shattered.  Now here  I was,  broadcasting to these total strangers that  I was an empty shell–living a lie on the outside and afraid to face the truth   on the inside.

I got my 24 hour token that  day.  And ever since the day I heard someone else tell my story-36 years of 24 hour days– I am now telling my story to you, the reader.

We know that if you attend a meeting of Depressed Anonymous, and listen to everyone’s story, you too will feel they are telling your story.That’s the “miracle“of our group.

For more information click onto www.depressedanon.com and discover how you too can find a way out of your depression. We are waiting to hear your story.

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

Live for today–yesterday is gone forever and tomorrow isn’t here yet.

AFFIRMATION

I am going to begin a program today that includes daily exercise, proper nutrition and the right amount of sleep.

“When we are under stress, our auto-immune system, which fights off all the noxious agents which makes us ill, ceases to operate efficiently. This is why people who are depressed get so many bouts of colds, flu and worse.  What makes any illness   worse is that, because you don’t value yourself, you don’t look after yourself properly and you don’t seek the help that you need.”

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

I want to believe that the more I take care of myself, the less likely I am going to be a victim of my own negative stress. I do want to take good care of myself and be healthy. So often in the past, I would worry, be tense, and continually fret about what happened yesterday. I would try to live in tomorrow with all  its own trials and tribulations as well. I never had much luck just trying to live in the present moment. If I want to start feeling better, then I have to live in today.

There is good stress and bad stress. Good stress challenges us to live each day with enthusiasm and hope as we go about our daily routine. Bad stress is  that which causes us to worry, be concerned about things that we have no control over and generally causes us to feel tired. By following our Twelve Step program of recovery, we discover that our life can have hope and purpose.

MEDITATION

We believe that the God of our understanding make it possible for us to gradually eradicate our need to worry and distress ourselves. I am like an  addict who continually needs to medicate those feelings of helplessness and hopelessness by saddening myself when things look bleak and out of control. With the help of my Higher Power, I believe that I can begin to feel better as I take the proper means to take care of my physical health.

SOURCE: Copyright(c) Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 Daily Thoughts and Meditations for 12 Step Fellowships. (1998) Depressed Anonymous Publications.  Louisville.KY. August 8th.

Setting a force in motion.

 

“I personally believe that once I have made the first step, and admitted my powerlessness, I set in motion a force – the loving force of the creator in my personal life. In time I am filled with energy and find that this power can change me – restore my life with purpose and meaning. It can prepare me to meet those  who are ready to risk leaving behind the prison of their depression. By my own interest in getting in touch with the Higher Power and getting its direction to “do the next right thing” I find that my own life is gradually more filled with  purpose and energy.

There is a saying that to gain energy you must give energy. I have found this to be true for my own life.

What appears to deplete our energy is when our thoughts implode and collide with each other as they are kept focused on the problem. Actually, a person who is depressed is much like a community which is divided and at war with itself.

If you nurture yourself, you will find that just as in the natural world, the growth will be good and  the growth will be gradual. There are no quick fixes in life –only slow solutions.

We have a competency, an identity, an autonomy and an interrelatedness to everything alive around us. We are truly a part of every living community on the planet and in the entire universe. We are all one – and the more we see ourselves as part and parcel of this universe, we discover that we are a part of creating a wonderful garden of diversity and plurality where everyone feels a part.

We realize again that by my willingness to live in the will of God that I can live in the peace of my own consciousness of being one with all. What I mean by this is that God acts in and through us the more we let go and let God.

We believe that as we can become aware that God dwells in each of us and demonstrates its power in us the more we remain   open to God’s personal presence.

We humans are so grounded in the material and the spatial that it is veritably impossible to be conscious of a Higher Power in and around us. We are so mired in the muck. We can begin to believe that we can tap into this consciousness and let it unfold its plan, its purpose and plot for our life. It will not plan something small and insignificant but will, by small steps, lead us, cause to unfold in our lives that which it has for us to accomplish while we are here on this earth. And I believe the spiritual nature and the fellowship of Depressed Anonymous is what God uses to get us aware and conscious of its love and presence.”

SOURCE:  Copyright(c) The Promises of  Depressed  Anonymous (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky. Pages 15-17.

I accept and value myself today!

 

“Every decision that we make alters the world of meaning which we have created. Deciding to eat Wheat Puffs instead of Corn Flakes  for breakfast may not be a major change, but abandoning  thinking  ‘ I am bad and unacceptable’ and replacing it with ‘I accept and value myself’ is.  Every decision you have made since you decided that you were bad and valueless was based on that decision. Now, all these conclusions need reviewing and changing. ” Dorothy Rowe, Breaking the Bonds. Fontana. 1991.

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

Making  a decision is the first step in getting free and being liberated from my depression. From this step follows the  many other steps that are to be taken that will allow me to begin to see how the thoughts I think,  definitely affect the way I feel. My next step is to review the different ways in which I can value myself.  My first new response to my own negative thinking about myself is to believe that today I will  begin my exit from the prison of  my own negativity and pessimism.

My struggle to wrest myself free from depression means that I am to make some initial steps in my own health. I want to believe that it is the fact  that I want to value myself and my life that I will no longer allow myself to wallow in self-pity, but decide to start to make an effort to take mastery again over the way I feel and think.

MINDFULLNESS/SELF REFELCTION

We will let go of our ignorance about how this universe is operated. I let the God of my understanding take charge. I continue to dip my oars into the water of life and risk letting   God be the rudder master.

I want to make a plan today, to decide how I can do one thing differently so that I might value who I am as a human being. I will write down how I will dip  my oars in the water in the next 24 hours and change what I need to change. 

(Check out The Depressed Anonymous Workbook at   THE DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS PUBLICATIONS  BOOKSTORE for that excellent tool for self reflection and personal recovery.)

 

A depressed person needs a supportive presence–not a sermon or critical lecture.

 

We have learned as it says in Appendix B of Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition, how “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.”

“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.

Sometimes in our efforts to help the family member or friend we often forget that it is our 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 of depressed friend didn’t recovery according to our schedule of events for their lives, We might  have berated our family member that all they had to do was pick themselves up by their bootstraps 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.”

Dep-Anon Family Group. Pg.19.

It is true that what a loved one needs who is depressed is not a lot of lecturing on why he or she needs to get out of bed and to take care of themselves.  They also don’t need  pity.

I like to go to the family and friend guide for those who have a depressed loved one in their lives. This group, the Dep-Anon family group has some valuable thoughts on how to deal or not deal with the depressed person. In fact they wrote the program of recovery for those on the other side of the fence–namely the family member or friends of the depressed.

Let’s take a look at some of their thoughts on this subject, namely, how to help the depressed in the best possible way.

It is beginning to dawn on us that just as there are sure things the depressed needs to get them back on track  –so now our focus continues to be inside our selves, We begin to  admit that my own  need to control my depressed friend or family member provides me with a  sense of power and purpose for my life. The more I was willing to give and pity them –the more they were willing to be passive and receive.

We are learning that our individual strength, our sanity if you will, comes from our active participation in Dep-Anon where we are no longer alone but instead find ourselves in touch with the healing of those much like ourselves. Instead of casting any blame at them we now are in the active process of discovering  areas  in our lives that need work.

One of the issues that I might want to focus is that of self-pity. I need to quit feeling sorry for myself because all that I have tried in getting my family member back on their feet has seemingly been a failure.  At first we might have been encouraged by the fact that this or that new drug was supposed to do the trick —the miracle pill–that was supposed to remove all the darkness and provide the light for that loved one. And when that didn’t happen we began to feel a panicky feeling –we began to feel helpless and disappointed because then it came back on us again to make them well –to do something-anything. Also, I felt angry at times when things didn’t go good for my loved one. I  wanted so bad for them to begin the way that they once were. The way they are now is hard to accept. At times I am even angry at God for allowing all this sadness to be such a big part of our life. I find that any family group is a good place to share all those hurts with my newfound  fellowship group.

The courage to share with others that we didn’t have all the answers as to how and when a family member is to recover. We now admit that no matter how much we cajole, criticize and scold there still is no change.

AS Bill W., says “The  problem of resolving fear has two aspects. We shall have to try for all the freedom from fear that is possible for  us to attain. Then we shall need to find both the courage and the grace to deal constructively with whatever fear remains.” (ASBI,P. 61).

Finally, the words of Bill W., ring in our ears and hearts where he writes in the AA  Big Book, “We need not apologize to anyone for depending upon our creator. We have good reason to disbelieve those who think spirituality is the way of weakness. For us, it is the way of strength. In a letter Bill states that “we lose the fear of making decisions, great and small, as we realize that should our choice prove wrong we can, if we will, learn from the experience. Should our decision be the right one, we can thank God for giving us the courage and the grace that caused us so to act..

The verdict of the ages is that men of faith selfdom lack courage, They trust their God. So we never apologize for our belief in God. Instead we try to let him demonstrate, through us, what he can do.”

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SOURCEDep-Anon Family Group Manual: A 12 Step Support Group for Families and Friends of the Depressed.  Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.

Most days we just want to go to our room, lie down and sleep.

 

“… listen to that small  voice,  folks – this is the voice that has been trying to be heard for years, only other negative voices and our own old negative mental tapes have had  more training in getting their message across. Now that small voice, that little part of you that wants to have light and some hope is getting up the  courage to ask more for itself. It tries to get stronger as  it attempts to outshine those other parts of ourselves; those parts that have been telling us how trapped we are in our feelings of worthlessness. How often do people say that part of them  wants to do this and yet another part of them wants to do that. I believe that is the best expression of the conflict that goes on in many of us when we are depressed. Usually the part that is hurting and sad speaks the loudest and so often gets the  most attention  – but why not? It’s hurting. When that part of us gets hurt , it wants to withdraw–to hide and cry. It’s like a small child who wants to run away from all the anguish and disappointment. But inside of us when the  parts are struggling with each other, it’s like two teams pulling in a tug of war, and that takes energy to keep alive. We get worn out as we continually ruminate about how sad we are feeling and how hopeless everything looks.  Most days we just  want to go to our room, lie down and sleep. Have you noticed that the more depressed you become, the more sleep you need or don’t need? There is that constant jittery feeling that won’t go away and whichever reminds us of the hollowness of our lives. The life we live is as bitter as ashes in our mouths.”

COMMENT: How often have I heard that small voice amplified by the many hopeful voices at our Depressed Anonymous meetings. In our literature you can read  and reflect  upon those  voices of hope as they express the new life that they are now  living because of their working the Steps–doing positive things for themselves and learning new ways to dig themselves  out of the pit of depression.

The experience of depression and ruminating about how awful our lives are, presents us with   a one way street.  It’s said that “whatever won’t kill you, will make you stronger.”  I get that.  I found that my year long struggle with depression, and my ultimate  recovery from its deadly grip, definitely made me stronger.  Now I have chosen multiple ways to live my life. I walk more, my exercise is steady – not just now and them. I read all the 12 Step  literature that I can. Go to meetings. I write a BLOG for this website and visit with the many persons who come here and seek our help. I also have a sponsor who walks with me in my recovery life. Tis is a strength that provides me hope for the journey. I am busy doing those things which now has become a passion for my life–helping all those who are still “suffering  from depression.”

As in the past, there was only one road to take. On that road all I could hear was the voice of despair and hopelessness ringing in my head. Now I have a myriad of roads that I can take, all of which continue to lead me to serenity and hope.

VISIT THE DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS PUBLICATIONS BOOKSTORE Where you too can find the roads which will lead you to hope and serenity. Also, there you will meet the many fellow travelers  who, like yourself, are making the journey.

 

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SOURCE: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (1998, 2008, 2011)  Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.  Page 33.

The 12 Steps are my North Star.

 

   “Depressed Anonymous means hope -as long as you want to get out of the pit of depression just start to believe that little voice which says “Yes,  I am hopeful. I will feel better too.”  The other members of Depressed Anonymous give me hope. Others have made it  out of the deep lonely pit of depression and so can I.  I choose to be happy even if I don’t feel happy right away. I am going to risk feeling different from this wretched sadness that I feel all the time.   I have nothing to lose – except my fear of the future.

But with OUR new way of living and thinking,  we are going to stay in the NOW. We know tomorrow produces anxiety and fear. Yesterday is there with all the old hurts and anger.  All I have is the now!  If I live in the now, I can begin to stay out of yesterday with all its old wounds and hurts   and resist living in tomorrow  with its unknown problems. Negative thoughts about our past or those tomorrow can numb our feelings so that we don’t have to feel the pain of whatever it is that isolates us from the world around us. We also admit, like any one person addicted to a person, place, thing, chemical or drug, that our lives are out of control. We have to admit that by depressing ourselves, we have chosen saddening ourselves as our drug of choice. We medicate ourselves with sadness any time we might have to change the way we live our lives. Sometimes, our depression over sadness arises out of guilt as we continue to turn our personal  mistakes into giant catastrophes -this continues to make us feel as if we are nothing and valueless. This all adds to our frustration and the feeling of our being out of control. We know that if we just give up our struggles against depression and admit our powerlessness over it we can begin to surrender to our Higher Power and practice letting go of it.  I can decide that I want to feel good again. I can decide that I want to feel happy and put this constant sadness and hollowness behind me once and for all. I know that no longer will I  have to retreat or flee from these sad feelings and escape with sleep, over activity or drugs. I know that whenever my sadness seems unending, I then just admit that I am not helpless and that I can do something about it because I have the tools (see Tools of Recovery at Menu)  and I can learn the skills that I didn’t know were available to me before. Now I am deciding to think, act and behave differently much to my personal credit and new found trust in the Higher Power.  I am a sailor who sees the land, knows the right direction and does the rowing to get where I want to get. The Twelve Steps are my compass…”

SOURCE: Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (1998, 2008, 2011). Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.KY. Pages. 34-35.

How come I couldn’t get out of bed when I was depressed?

 

In his recent book The Depths: The Evolutionary Origins of the Depression Epidemic, Jonathon Rottenberg shares with us what he thinks might give an answer.

“Why do depressed people lie in bed? It’s not because it’s great to snuggle under the blankets; it’s because they can’t bring themselves to get out of bed. Almost any other activity or task becomes a painful ordeal, even activities as simple as taking a shower or getting dressed. This seems strange. A perfectly able-bodied  person can’t bring herself to rise out of bed. How does this happen?

The intuitive answer is that this reflects a lack of motivation. Depressed people are directionless because they are undercommitted to goals. Without goals to drive future behavior, current behavior becomes frozen for long periods. Bed is the most natural location for a behavioral pause, as the place in the house most associated with inactivity.”

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Comment from the Blog author.

I agree with the above reasons for a depressed person seeking their pillow when depressed. Further on he  tells us that when depressed we seek a pause because our goals are failing us and that “depression results from an inability to disengage efforts from a failing goal is relatively new. Could  it be a  plausible pathway into depression?”

This view surely strikes  a chord with me. I also couldn’t get out of bed in the morning because my  lack of motivation  was immobilized.  It was get up or don’t get up and then lose my job. Everyday my goal was to get up and walk. Everyday. My goal was to save my job. Motivation came with forcing my body to roll out of the sack.

Constant rumination about my goals in life, at that time, were being frustrated or about to be frustrated, till my brain felt like it was filled with cotton.

It was the continued rumination about a personal loss which  gradually and methodically pushed me over the edge. The more I tried to figure out what was going on in my body, continued fatigue with hopelessness,  the more I dug the hole deeper.    I  was in the dark abyss with no way out.  Eventually the walking paid off, my dark mood lifted, the fog cleared and the horizon looked brighter. In time I dealt with the personal loss , plus the help of the supportive group Depressed Anonymous. Life got better.

NOTE. I found this work to be an excellent guide for one’s personal growth and understanding of the experience of depression.  Hugh S.

SOURCES: Jonathan  Rottenberg. The Depths: The Evolutionary Origins of the Depression Epidemic.  (2014) Basic Books, NY.

Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (1998, 2008, 2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.