6 ways to help you through depression.

1) 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 re-live the painful experience several times, to have a good cry, and talk things through. This is part of the mind’s natural healing mechanism.

2)  Do something: get out of doors for some exercise, if even for only a long walk. This will enable 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.

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

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

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

6) 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 the  wisdom to make important decisions and changes in your life which you were unable to do before.”

Source:  Depression: P.9. Pamphlet published as a service to the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

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I find these 6 ways as very helpful for anyone making a choice to change their behavior, the way they  feel and the way they think. With a fellowship of like minded persons, such as Depressed Anonymous,  there is a greater capacity to make better choices as well as to learn ways to gradually move out of the bondage of depression.

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

  The Depressed Anonymous Workbook (2001) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

Is depression an addiction?

At the weekly Depressed Anonymous meetings there stirs a glimmer of hope for the saddict  as he/she begins to encounter others like themselves at group meetings.  It is a bigger payoff for the saddict  to gradually believe that  the recovering members  of the Depressed Anonymous group are holding out a hope that can be theirs if only they would depend on the serenity of the members of the group rather than depend on the long time comfort of their addiction.

“Whether it is therapy or not, addicts improve when their relationships to work, family, and other aspects of their environment improve. Addicts  have come to count on the regular reward they get from their addictive involvement.  They can give up these rewards when they believe they will find superior gratifications from other activities such as  the DA meetings  in the regular fiber of their lives. Therapy helps this process by focusing on external rewards and assisting addicts in conceptualizing these rewards and obtaining them. What any rewards therapy itself produces must be regarded as intermediate and time limited, as a passage to the stable, environmental rewards that are necessary to create  a non addictive equilibrium in people’s lives. Only when such everyday but potent  reinforcements are firmly in place is an addiction cured. ”  Source: The Meaning of Addiction: Experience and its interpretation. Stanton Peale. Lexington Books. Lexington,  MA, 1988. p,55.

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SOURCE: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. (2011) Louisville. Appendix  Is depression an addiction?

I am more than my addiction!

“…Because addicted individuals generally  possess such strong feelings of shame, embarrassment and self-loathing, it is extremely curative when they learn that they can be viewed by others in a positive manner.

…Shame, a more profound feeling all alcoholics and addicts (saddicts)  struggle with implies “I feel bad because of what I am.”  Addiction from this view implies that group therapy must enhance the self understanding and the acceptance that one is worthwhile despite their strong feelings of self loathing and self-hatred.  (The Depressed Anonymous Fellowship Group. ED)   ….before a person can  be healed, they have to know they can heal another. …It is this opportunity to learn that one has the ability to help another in being a healer which supports the use of  group psychotherapy. In  fact, this is the very same principle which AA  (DA) applies within the Twelfth Step of its Twelve Step program for recovery. The alcoholic and the addict (saddict)  maintains their own sobriety by helping another alcoholic get sober.” Source excerpts: Group Psychotherapy with Addicted Populations.  , (1988)  Flores, Phillip J., The Haworth Press. NY

Likewise, the person depressed has a better chance of  overcoming depression when they hear someone else,  with the same situation, feeling better and overcoming their depression.

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

“Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” Step 5 of Depressed Anonymous

“I haven’t done anything wrong, so why do I have to admit anything? And anyway, what does this have to do with my depression?”

In the Depressed Anonymous Workbook these questions there are provided answers for those who are struggling to free themselves from depression. In fact, the more we work through each of the questions posed in the Workbook, we can also go to the Depressed Anonymous Manual, 3rd edition., and find six pages  (pgs. 59-64) of thoughts from members of the fellowship on Step 5.  We discover that the Depressed Anonymous Manual is written by people like you and me. We have been where you are and we came to believe after admitting that we were powerless over our depression and that life was unmanageable we had to make a decision.

In Step 3 we made a decision –that is what life is all about –namely, making decisions. Our decisions are the product of the meaning that we give to those persons, events and circumstances that fill our lives every day.  We make the decisions based on those meanings that we give to those situations and experiences. We are making a decision to day to share part of our dark side with another human being.

In Alcoholics Anonymous it describes the way to make a good 5th Step:

” We pocket our pride and go to it, illuminating every twist of character, every dark cranny of the past. Once we have taken this Step, withholding nothing, we are delighted. We can look the world in the eye.  We can be alone at perfect peace and ease.  Our fear fall from us. We begin to feel the nearness of our creator. We may have had certain beliefs, but now we begin to have a spiritual experience…”

Telling someone else seems to be the key to our freedom: When we decided who is to hear our story, we waste no time. We have a written inventory and we are prepared for a long talk. We explain to our partner what we are about and why we have to do it.” (This is why it is so important to write down in a  separate notebook the answers to all the questions in the Workbook which now bring us to the point of sharing our answers with a person we can trust, such as a clergy person or our sponsor. ED).

Steps 1 and 5 are the two Steps where the word “admitted” is used.  When we hear the word “wrongs” such as in this Step 5 – we may induce in ourselves a feeling of guilt. This is NOT the intention of Step 5 at all.

To be depressed is not to be wrong. We are not accusing ourselves of being bad. We are only pointing out the ways that I need to act, think and behave as a non-depressed person.”

SOURCES:  The Depressed Anonymous Workbook (2001) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 49-50.

Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 59-64.

IT TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE!

It takes one to know one is  true. Following my own depression experience and the setting up of Depressed Anonymous groups did I realize that I had an experience which could be used to help others. I knew what it felt like to suffer  the physical symptoms of depression.  Following the attainment of my Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology, I discovered many in my practice  came  seeking help to overcome their  depression. Gradually it dawned on me that I could  be a source of support  to others — just by sharing my own struggle with depression.  Once I shared with my clients my own battles with the dark monster, it became clear by sharing my own  story that they began to open up about their own battle with the dark monster. My clients found someone who could not only relate to their own story about isolation, shame and the continual physical pain caused by depression–but they heard how helplessness and despair had given way to hope! My own story validated their story.  That it takes one to know one is so true.

This is where Bill W., (co-founder of AA) learned the greatest lesson, namely that an addict will be more open to listen to some one who has or is fighting the  same battles that you are fighting. And the best is that by using the program of recovery that we have used and still use  today, might find  life starting to be lived with serenity and hope.

It is not complicated. Here it is, laid out simply and to the point. I was once severely depressed and now I am not. How did this happen one will ask? It happened by believing that by being part of a fellowship of people just like myself  and following a way of life, marked out step by step, that I, like Bill W., and all other addicts will see how with  our belief that I  can get better,  get better. It does take work and time. We learn to not live in our past -it’s gone forever- and not to live in the future–but to live in the now, today. All we have is this 24 hour period.  As the Yiddish saying goes, “to share my story is to save my life.” It’s so true. When I discovered the 12 Steps, shared my story and made prayer and meditation a  part of  my daily routine,  I began to taste the freedom  that comes with that ‘spiritual awakening’ which occurs when we are able to share our story with those still suffering. The depressed newcomer will know that you are the “real deal.”  And if you are fortunate enough to find a group in your locale you then will find out what we all have all discovered–it takes one to know one.

Therapists Views on Depressed Anonymous

The “Birth” of a Depressed Anonymous Group. Judith Bouffiou, Ph.D. (Cand.), Olympia, Washington

Isn’t life just full of expected and unexpected challenges, synchronous happenings, joys and griefs. Your life and mine. Following is a synopsis of a time in my life when I experienced all of the above. The summer of 1991 saw the dissolving of a business partnership for me; a painful, but healthy decision. The counseling center my ex-partner and I operated had provided the community with a Domestic Violence/Anger
Management (DV/A M ) Program for court and self referred clients, plus each of us had a private practice. M y decision to dissolve the partnership was motivated by a number of reasons, among them a desire to go back to school, and to spend more time and energy in my private practice. Over time my private practice had evolved into a growth and development type of practice, which I loved doing. A long with the dissolution of the partnership came the decision to no longer do the DV/A M work. I had a desire to still give the community some type of community service, but what?

Then I remembered reading some time earlier in one of my professional journals about a man who had developed a Twelve-step program, Depressed Anonymous for individuals who suffered from depression. Like most therapists, a significant number of the people I saw (and still see) in my practice were experiencing depression to one degree or other.

The more I thought about the concept of Depressed Anonymous, the more intrigued I was, so I contacted the founder of Depressed Anonymous for information and details. Information was sent to me and that was the start of the first Depressed Anonymous group in Washington State.

From the Depressed Anonymous material I received, I photocopied, organized, prepared and prepared and advertized. I decided on a start time and date, sent notices to our local paper, our Crisis Clinic, therapists and physicians in this area, tacked up flyers all over town, and of course, lots of word of mouth advertizing. The Depressed
Anonymous group originally met in a group room at my office, and eventually moved to a local church when I moved into a smaller office space.

A s a therapist I organized, started, sponsored, and “mothered” the Depressed
Anonymous group for a time, before withdrawing to just being the phone contact person that people can call in for information. From the very first meetings, which had 8-10 people, a “home” group evolved; fine people, some of whom had previous Twelve-step experiences. One of fine traditions and legacies of Twelve-step groups is the willingeness of folks to be and do the supportive and necessary work (the glue) that holds the Twelve-step groups together. The Twelve-step tradition and service continues on.

As is often the case, I have received more than I’ve given as the person who organized and started this Olympia, Washington Depressed Anonymous group. Now that I’m not a person who suffers from depression, other than short term appropriate situational depression; nothing ever deep or prolonged. A s I organized and started this Depressed Anonymous group little did I know that I would benefit from the Depressed Anonymous process and group in such a personal way.

The Depressed Anonymous group had only met two or three times when my middle son unexpectedly died from a type of cancer that years before had taken his father. So, in a synchronous manner, for a time and in a different way, the Depressed Anonymous group supported me as much as I supported them. In my prior work as a nurse, I had often been witness to dying and death, also in my personal life. However, the death of one son and then a year and half later, the death of my oldest son (two out of three) have been devastating experiences for me.

So in many, many ways being the organizer and sponsor of the first Depressed Anonymous group have been an exceedingly enriching experience for me. A s mentioned before, because of the wonderful people in the group, and with great confidence on my part, I turned the operation of the Depressed Anonymous group over to the capable hands of the home group people. I remain the telephone contact. The Depressed Anonymous group continues to thrive and grow. Just recently I talked with a man from Portland, Oregon, who is thinking about starting a group in the Portland area

MY VIEWS ON DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS

Denise L ., Louisville, Kentucky

One of the greatest resources I’ve used in working with many depressed persons has been Depressed Anonymous. The transformation it causes in an individual’s life is truly miraculous. This stems from it being primarily a spiritual program of healing and recovery. It encourages a person to seek a personal relationship with God, whoever they understand him to be. In doing this it helps a person to look inside for healing, rather than in a pill or some quick “cure”. M any persons who suffer with depression look on God as a being who judges them harshly. This thinking usually leads to much anger towards God, which results in more negative thinking. I know this from my own
experiences with depression, and the angry relationship with God I had during those times. This is where Depressed Anonymous offers hope by getting a person connected to a group who also suffer with depression, and are working the twelve steps. In doing this, it helps a person come to a realization that it will only be through a power greater than themselves, that they will find sanity in their life. Depressed people cannot do this alone because of the compulsion to ruminate endlessly over negative thoughts. It is only through coming together with a group of people like Depressed Anonymous, that they are able to break the cycle of negative thinking.

A client I was working with is a good example of the above. H e spent his time alone and many countless hours thinking of all the disappointments in his life, which continually reinforced his depression. Then he started going to DA, and found that through being with other people like himself, he didn’t feel as alone as he did before. H e started sharing his pain, and found understanding and support. I noticed his face began to soften, and he started smiling more. Then I noticed his face began to soften, and he started smiling more. H e also found help spiritually from DA, for he started
working the twelve steps, and as a result he started trusting God more for his healing. H e is one of many persons I’ve worked with who have found help and encouragement through attending DA .

The spiritual emphasis of DA is it’s greatest strength. People come together and hear from one another how their higher power is healing and guiding their lives. They realize that in being part of the group they are not alone, and also encourage true healing. DA has been a wonderful healing tool in the lives of many depressed persons I’ve worked with. It will always be one of the greatest resources I use in my work. It is true that “it works if you work it.”

Dep-Anon: Support Group for Family and Friends of the Depressed

The family and friends of persons depressed now have their own support group ­ much like family and friends of those suffering from other problems. We all know that a family member with a serious problem affects the entire family or system and throw s it out of balance.

The idea of having a special group just for family members is to help each other understand the nature of depres­sion and learn how in the meantime to take care of their own needs. The group helps the focus stay on their own issues and not that of the depressed.

“Family members and friends of the depressed often feel they have nowhere to turn for help . They may find themselves reading books on depression and other resources, but still feel lost as to what to do. This is where Dep-Anon can offer assistance. It is a fellowship of persons who come together to share their stories, and offer support to one another in the process. Their issues may be different from those suffering with depression, but are just as valid. By joining a fellowship such as Dep-Anon, the families and friends of the de­ pressed are displaying a willingness to work their own program of recovery. In doing this, they are moving towards positive life changes, which promote the spiritual principles Dep-Anon is based upon. We simply can’t experience the healing we desire by being isolated, and trying to do it alone. We need the fellowship of others, who are on similar paths, and are seeking to implement the spiritual principles of Dep-Anon into their lives. This kind of fellowship is valuable beyond measure.

A group such as Dep-Anon would have been very helpful in my own last depressive episode. There wasn ‘t a group like this at the time. My husband felt lost and helpless in trying to care for me. He could have benefited from coming together with others like him­ self, who he could share with, and receive support in the process. Instead, he began to isolate as he felt increasingly overwhelmed, and became depressed as a result. This is the danger for family members of the depressed, when they don’t have resources for help and en­couragement like Dep-Anon.It is a wonderful resource that can make a tremendous difference in the lives of persons connected to the depressed. Please spread the word that help is available through Dep- Anon Family Group. It can make a difference.

Denise List, M.ED., writing in the FOREWORD to the DEP-ANON FAMILY GROUP MANUAL, 1999, Louisville, KY ,

Waiting for the Drugs to Kick In!

One of the realities of one’s life -especially if one has been depressed for a time -is that language creates reality. This is a tenet of our recovery program. How often as children have some of us have been told that “we’ll never be like our brother or our sister” all the time preparing us for a lived out prophecy from some early childhood significant other.

Since language can and does create our reality -especially if the language is that of someone who is an adult and many years our senior. It is this language that helps construct the meaning that we give to life and life’s events and circumstances – both pleasant and unpleasant. How often have we heard that we are patients or that “we are under the care of the doctor.” Get the feel of the language here –one, we are a patient, and secondly, we are under the care of and/or we are waiting for the drug to “kick in.” I don’t know about you, but the language just described can promote a self-understanding of someone who not only is powerless but is waiting for something to fall out of the sky and make things better. Don ‘t get me wrong, medication, doctors, therapists all may be very important as part and parcel of healing – but, let’s get this straight – we are responsible for our own health! I can’ t afford to sit and wait for something, someone to make me feel better – this is true especially for that painful reality that we call depression. I want to live in the solution, where I know there is hope the more I become proactive in my own recovery and start doing things for my­ self. I now believe that once I start making choices for my own health today the more I will speed up my recovery and release from the prison of depression .

Since language can create our reality and since humans are always constructing meaning for their lives it is essential that persons depressed he given the message from health-care professionals that they can do something now to start feeling different. In other words, people need to believe that there is hope for them. They can begin to believe that by starting a personal exercise program, watching what they put in their minds and mouths – in time things will start to come around. But if! am given a message that my problem is a chemical imbalance or that my problem is genetic-then that leaves me with little hope for now or the future. The only solution might appear to be no solution or at least a reliance on a chemical solution at best. And if the problem is essentially a chemical im­ balance then I’ll just have to wait til they find the right chemicals to stabilize those misbehaving chemicals in my brain.

For some reason, I don’t believe that we can just blame the brain – in fact, I don’t think it ever does any good to blame anybody or anything for the way we feel. Oh, sure, we can blame others and possibly that makes us feel a little better-but in the long run – it’s me, myself and I who has to take responsibility for me.

I caution you then, be careful the way you talk to yourself . At the mutual aid meetings of Depressed Anonymous, the whole point of our coming together is to believe that you and I together can begin to see our­ selves in a new light. In fact, we learn a new language at our meetings. We learn to take responsibility for our­ selves, We find people in the group who speak our language of hope and courage. You never hear “snap out of it” at our meetings. The message that a newcomer gets at our 12 step meetings are assurances that things will get better the more you come to meetings; expect to get better; start using the tools that have successfully led others out of the prison of depression. So, all in all, we need to get busy as soon as the doctor prescribes the medication, or we start therapy or both. Next, we need to find a depression mutual aid group like Depressed Anonymous which is a NOW program to help support you as you gradually begin to walk out of depression. No need to wait ­ wait out the weeks before the drugs begin to take effect, hopefully, and we start feeling better . We don’t have to wait for the drugs to “kick in” before we get busy and start working on ourselves. We can start today. We can join a group of people committed to change and recovery. We can start today as together we work the steps of our program of recovery. It speaks the language of hope!

Characteristics of a well functioning group

• Attraction to individual members of the group.
• Feelings of getting help by helping.
• Risk-taking by group members.
• Demystification of the members experience and consensual validation
• Strong leadership with a willingness to share on the part of the leader, along with rotation of leadership roles
• A focus on goals and resolution of discrepancies in individual and group goals
• Active participation by group members.
• Demand by the group for self-responsibility of members.
• Elaboration ofa substitute culture in which identity changes can occur.
• Expansion of alternative perceptions through continuous intervention.

Source: Richard J. Riordan and Marilyn S. Beggs. Counselors and Self-Help Groups. Journal of Counseling & Development. Volume 65, Issue 8, pages 427–429, April 1987

Working the Steps

“If we have ‘worked’ the Twelve Steps on a daily basis, I do believe we now re­alize the value of surrender and the power that releases in us. Just by making a decision in Step Three “to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand God” • is the beginning of reconnection with life and with our selves. Now, we are conscious how our own isolation paradoxically isolated family, friends, loved ones from us. The more our friends tried to help us the more we went deeper into the darkness. Our darkness and their inability to comfort us in turn pushed them deeper into their own feelings of helplessness and isolation. Many times the desire to help the de­ pressed pushes the helper deeper into the isolation of the depressed – mirroring the reality often depressed person.”

Source: DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS, Harmony House Publishers, Louisville, Ky, 1998, Page 186.