What happened?

+++   Recollections from the founder of Depressed Anonymous +++

“There was nothing I could do to shake those horrible and painful feelings. My mind was unable to focus on or to concentrate on anything. My memory was affected and it was impossible to retain anything I tried to read. With each new day, I felt my strength ebbing away. I was physically and emotionally drained. I knew that something was wrong – what was it?

The answer to those  question seemed to lie within all the losses that I had acquired over the past months.  I had slipped down into the slippery and dark world known only to someone who has ben depressed. I had to do something besides talking to break out of depression. I had to change the way that I had lived my life. First I had to admit that my life was out of control. I was powerless to overcome my symptoms of depression by will power alone. I needed to believe in a power greater than myself. I had to have a spiritual experience. Having been in the ministry for may years, I thought I had a deep spiritual experience, but I seemed to have lost it along the way.

I began to walk five miles a day inside a mall near my home to shake this awful feeling of emptiness that had taken over my life. I set myself this goal to force myself to walk until  I starter to feel better. This was about a year following that day in August when I felt myself slipping into  the abyss. After doing this exercise of walking day after day,   I began to feel a little better. But then the old message came back and said “yes, but this good feeling won’t last.”  Then I knew that since I had good days before that depression, I could have a good day again. I went on walking, and within time, I walked my way through the fog that had imprisoned me.

But I had to do the work!   Did my symptoms have me imprisoned or did the meaning that I had created in my mind about my life have me imprisoned? I believe it was the meaning I had given to those losses in my life  that gradually threw me to the ground, hog tied  me, and wouldn’t let me go. I had to believe that somehow my walking gave meaning to the belief that I wasn’t going to let these feelings of helplessness beat me down. I just believed that I was going to beat this thing! I learned a great lesson here in that “motivation follows action.”

SOURCE :Copyright(c)  Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (1998, 2008, 2011). Depressed Anonymous Publications, Louisville. KY  Pg. 21.  (Autobiographical sketch of the founder of Depressed Anonymous, Hugh S., in Evansville, Indiana in 1985.)

Women aware of their abilities and rights as human beings

“In our depression groups you can come and begin to get out some of those feelings accumulated over the years which have taken their toll on our lives by making us feel helpless and alone. Many women in our culture seemed to have imbibed a helpless feeling with their mother’s milk. As women become aware of their abilities and rights as human beings, they begin to experience the freedom that comes from being themselves and throwing aside rules and roles fashioned  by men and male mindsRecovery is being able to trust ourselves in exploring ways to feel emotions.

In most cultures, when males begin to depress themselves, they “numb out” and stuff their feelings of shame, hurt, or anger. Males are conditioned to not express in any intimate fashion these unpleasant feelings. One of the positive aspects of our support group is that men can come to our fellowship, share their tears, and know that this is acceptable behavior for any member of the group. What most males really want to do but don’t know how,  is to be intimate with others, sharing those deep feelings. From just an anecdotal account, normally at most Depressed Anonymous meetings there are as many men in attendance as there are women, even though the statistics tell us that women are more depressed than men. I too  believe that accounting is based on cultural conditioning as well. Women have learned how to talk about feelings more than men. Depressed Anonymous is an excellent group for men to not only learn new skills in intimacy, but helps them outgrow old patterns of negative thinking and behavior.”

SOURCE: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (1998, 2008, 2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications.Louisville. Ky.  P. 82-83.

 

Britain’s MD’s prescription for depression? Exercise.

Patients in Britain are receiving  “prescriptions” for exercise.

“A  “prescriptionfor exercise typically provides the patient with twenty – four weeks of treatment. An exercise professional assesses the patient’s fitness and develops an appropriate “activity plan,” with the patient then given discounted or free access to the collaborativeing YMCA or gym. Patients work out on exercise machines, swim. and take various exercises classes. In addition , many exercise referral schemes provide access to “green gyms.” The outdoor programs may involve group walks, outdoor stretching classes, and volunteer environmental work (managing local woodlands, improving footpaths, creating community gardens, etc). Throughout the six months of treatment, the exercise professional monitors the patient’s health and progress.

As might be expected, patients have found exercise on-prescription- treatment to be quite helpful. They told the Mental Health Foundation that exercise allowed them to “take control of their recovery” and stop thinking of themselves as “victims” of a disease. Their confidence and self esteem increased, they felt calmer and more energetic. Treatment was now focused on their ” health,” rather than on their ” illness.”

“The fathers of medicine wouldn’t be surprised about what we are doing, ” McCulloch  said.  They would say, “Hasn’t science gone any further? Diet and exercise? This is what is new? If they could travel in a time machine, they would think we were mad, because people have been saying these things for thousands of years..”

SOURCES:   Whitaker R.  (2010, 2015) Anatomy of An Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America.. New York. Crown. pg.347.

Smith H. (2017) Believing is Seeing: 15 Ways to Leave the Prison of Depression. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.  (Ch.6: Keep physically  fit.)

Smith, H. (2018) I’ll Do It When I Feel Better. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky.

” I have found that the Depressed Anonymous fellowship is a good place to share my story!”

 

AFFIRMATION

I am involved in something bigger than myself and this is providing me with a sense of mission for all those persons who  are suffering from sadness.

 

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

I know that there are many like me out there in this ever changing world. My message of hope is always available to those who will listen  to my message. I know that there is hope because I have more hope when I realize that there is something that I can do in order to help myself. I know that by experiencing my God in such  a special and life giving way, my life  will straighten out in time and with the help of God.

The more I use the Twelve Step program of recovery, the more I am able to take care of myself and keep the focus of my growth on myself. I am no longer blaming someone else for my depression. Nobody has the power to depress me. I might get a feeling of sadness when around certain people but they don’t depress me. It’s the way I look at the world, people or situations that I depress myself. I am confiding my thoughts about my recovery to those new friends that I am making in the program.

MEDITATION

God makes himself available to anyone who make themselves available to God. So God, we believe  you are right here with us in our deepest moments of despair. We will see the light with your help. (Personal comments).

SOURCES:  Copyright(c) Higher thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and  meditations for members of Twelve Step fellowship groups. Hugh Smith  (1999, 2018) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.KY . Page 120.

Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition  (1998, 2011, 2014  )Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.

Healthy Adulthood? What is it?

 

Saint-Exupery said that to “be a man, a woman, an adult, is to accept responsibility.” And during those years that are bracketed by the dawning of conscience and end of adolescence (seven to ten) we  must –by slowly expanding the dominion of what we can be responsible for –become our own grownup.

We must start claiming as ours the welter of hungers and angers and conflicts that dwell inside of us. We must also start learning to tie our own shoes. And as we extend the realm and the reign of our consciousness and competence we will find ourselves moving farther and farther from home. In the phase that Freud labeled “latency” …we leave the benevolent fortress of family life. Our job as a latency kid is to acquire the social and psychological know how without which we cannot manage this new separation, these new necessary losses.

As healthy adults we feel our self to be lovable, valuable, genuine. We feel our self’s “selfsameness.” We feel unique. And instead of seeing our self as the passive victim of our inner and outer world, as acted upon as helpless and as weak, we acknowledge our self to be the  responsible agent and determining force of our life….

Because as healthy adults we know that reality cannot offer us perfect safety or unconditional  love.

We many be a long time learning that life is, at best, “a dream controlled” –that reality is built of perfect   connections. ”

SOURCES:  Necessary Losses, Judith Viorst.  SImon  and Schuster, NY. 1986. p. 142-143; 168-169.  ( Quoted in The Antidepressant Tablet,   Volume 3:2. Page 6. 1991.

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

The “before” and “after” stories of those who freed themselves from the tyranny of depression.

I just want to write a few thoughts this morning about the “before” and “after” experiences of group members  battles  with depression.  Before there was a Depressed Anonymous group for me to attend, where I could address my problems, I joined another 12 step program of recovery. It was at this meeting that I heard and saw people who shared their stories how it was “before”  they got into recovery and  the  “after”  now that they are living the recovery program.

The difference was like night and day. I could listen all day to a lecture on depression, alcoholism, overeating or any other addiction  and not be as moved as I am when I hear the actual person telling  their story of how life is  now by  actively participating in their own recovery. To hear the changes that have taken place in those many people whose lives had spiraled down into the darkness of isolation and hopelessness is a phenomenal  experience in itself.

Most of the books which serve as the basic text of 12 step groups such as Depressed Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous, to name a few, all include many “before” and “after” stories of those who have suffered the loss of their self only to find that with the help of the spiritual principles of the Steps were they able eventually to share how  their lives had changed dramatically.   Their stories are simple, direct and filled with powerful accounts of  human beings who once were lost in the chaos of addiction,  but now have been freed,  living with hope and serenity.

Depressed Anonymous’ basic text  has its own “before” and  “after ” stories as well. All the stories, the “before” and “after” accounts,   give credit to the program of recovery which  has changed the thinking and lives of thousands of persons throughout the world.  I see  these stories manifesting  the miracle of the Higher Power, at work in those persons who made a decision to choose to walk that different pathway out of their addictions.  They then  tell those others “still suffering from depression” about the power  they have received.

Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to the depressed, and to practice these principles in all of our affairs.” Step Twelve of Depressed Anonymous.”

Sources:

Depressed Anonymous, recommends its basic text, Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition for the many inspiring accounts of those persons who came to a meeting, like myself, heard what others had experienced and decided that to see how it worked for them.

Also another excellent publication with many “before” and “after”  stories is A MEDLEY OF DEPRSSION STORIES, by the founder of two Depressed Anonymous groups in North Carolina, Debra Sanford.  Her work is available at Amazon.com.

Depressed Anonymous Publications also has books available at depressedanon.com. VISIT THE STORE

12 self-help ways to get undepressed

 

 

+ Attribute the depression to a cause, e.g., loss of a loved one, loss of a childhood, loss of a pet, loss of a job.

+Attempt to rectify the problems considered responsible for evoking the feelings of depression.

+Finding moral and social support (Depressed Anonymous mutual aid group).

+Engaging in diverting and distracting recreations.

+ Keeping busy and working.

+ Focusing one’s attention elsewhere than on the depressing problems or depressed feelings.

+Restructuring one’s  thinking so as to minimize the significance of the depressing events.

+Engaging in in self-care and self maintenance activities.

+Venting one’s feelings.

+Taking prescribed medication as long as you and your doctor agree that the medication is working on your behalf.

+Finding compensations and boosting feelings of self esteem or self sufficiency through useful purposeful activity.

+Taking comfort in one’s religion.

SOURCE: Wounded Healers.  V. Rippere & W. Ruth.  John  WIley and Sons, Ltd, 1985. pgs. 86-87. (Reprinted and published in the ANTIDEPRESSANT TABLET.)

++ 6 Ways to help yourself through depression ++

    6 WAYS  TO  HELP YOURSELF THROUGH  DEPRESSION.

+ Don’t bottle things up. If you’ve recently  had some bad news, or a major upset in your life, try to tell people close to you about it and how it feels. It helps to re-live the painful experience several times, to have a good cry, and talk things through.  This is the mind’s healing  mechanism.

+Do something.  Get out of doors for some exercise, if only for a long walk. This will help you to keep physically fit, and you may sleep better. This will help you take your mind off those painful feelings which only make you more depressed when allowed to sweep over you.

+ Eat a good balanced diet,  even though you may not feel like eating. Fresh fruit and vegetables are especially recommended. People with severe depression can lose weight and run low on vitamins, which only makes matters worse.

+Resist the temptation to drown your sorrows. Alcohol actually depresses mood, so while it may give you immediate relief, this is very a temporary and you may end up more depressed than ever.

+Don’t get into a state of not sleeping.  Listening to the radio or watching TV  (it’s on all night) while you are resting your body will still help, even if you’re not actually asleep, and you may find that you drop off because you’re no longer worrying about not doing so!

+Remind yourself that you are suffering from depression–something which many other people have gone through –and that you will eventually come out of it, as they did, even though it does not feel like it at the time. Depression can even be a useful experience, in that some people emerge stronger and better able to cope than before. Situations and relationships may be seen more clearly, and you may now have the strength and wisdom to make important decisions and changes in your life which you were unable to do before.”

SOURCE: Depression. pg. 9. Pamphlet published as a service to the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Reprinted in THE ANTIDEPRESSANT TABLET,  Number 1  Number 4.

NOTE: This post was first published as a BLOG in September 30, 2015.

You can click onto the “tools of recovery”  listed on the  drop  down   menu at the Depressedanon.com website to discover more helpful tools for recovery from depression.

The experience of surrender involves the ” letting in ” of reality.

                                                     ” Serenity is in the letting go!”

Alcoholism ( depression) and addiction, characterized as they are by the rigid clinging of obsession and compulsion, help us to understand  the experience of release. Perhaps the greatest paradox in the story of spirituality is the mystical insight that we are able to experience release only  if we ourselves let go, This is the paradox of surrender. Surrender begins with the acceptance that we are not in absolute control of the matter at hand – in fact, we are not in absolute control of anything. Thus the experience of surrender involves the “letting in” of reality that becomes possible only when we are ready to let go of our illusions and pretensions  (our “unreality“).

If surrender is the act of “letting go” the experience of conversion can be understood as the hinge on which the act swings – it is the turning point, the turning from “denial” as a way of seeing things,  to acceptance of the reality revealed in surrender. The self-centeredness that undermines spirituality is rooted in a self-deception that reflects a false relationship  with reality, and that false relationship begins  with distorted seeing, with some kind  of false understanding about the nature of reality and our relationship with it. Breaking through  that denial and confronting reality is what members of Alcoholic Anonymous mean by “hitting bottom.”

The experience of release most frequently comes at the point of exhaustion, at  the moment when we “give up” our efforts and this permits ourselves to just be…

“What blocks release more than anything else is the  refusal tolet go” that comes from the demand   for security, for certainty, for assured results.  Release, like spirituality itself, requires   risk.”

____________________________________________________________________________

SOURCE: The Spirituality of Imperfection. Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham. Bantam Books, 1992. pages 168-169.

NOTE: This excerpt was reprinted in the  Volume 8, Number #1 Issue of The Antidepressant Tablet. Louisville. KY.

SAVOR LIFE

 

“If I had my life to live over I’d like to make more mistakes next time. I’d relax. I would limber up. I would be sillier than I have been this trip. I would take fewer things seriously. I would take more chances. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I perhaps would have more actual troubles, but I would have fewer imaginary ones.

You see, I’m one of those people who live sensibly and sanely, hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I’ve had my moments, and If I had  it to do over again, I’d have more of them. In fact, I’d try to have nothing else. Just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day. I’ve been  one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water  bottle, a raincoat and a parachute.  If I had to to do again , I would travel lighter than I have.

“If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the Spring and stay that way later in the Fall. I would go to more dances. I would ride more merry go rounds. I would pick more daisies.”

by Natalie Strain

(Natalie wrote this at age 85.  She died in a Louisville, KY nursing home at the age of 88.)