Joyce was a client of mine a few years back. She was in her early sixties and just recuperating from a successful open heart surgery. She also was very depressed. That’s where I come in. I was asked by my clinical supervisor if I would spend some time with her and see how I might be of help to her. I agreed to do what I could do.
In the midst of counseling and listening to Joyce’s story, I discovered her strong faith, which included her personal faith in God which gave her the belief that she was going to get through whatever that had her in lockdown.
She wasn’t aware of our Depressed Anonymous group and so I shared my story with her and the fact that I too was once depressed. I told her how I became a believer in the spirituality of the Twelve Steps and how my belief in God delivered me from my symptoms of depression. Now don’t get me wrong -my own story is that it took me over a year to finally get free of this noose around my neck. Also, because of my faith in a program and the recovered people who lived it out in their daily lives, I started on the road to recovery.
My faith told me if I would follow some of the simple steps outlined in this recovery program I would get better. My faith got me off of my seat, out of bed and out my door to begin walking. I believed walking might be the key that unlocked my prison of depression. I read that some Doctors in England were writing out prescriptions for exercise for their depressed patients. I figured that it worked for them and so why wouldn’t exercise work for me. After a year of walking everyday I finally walked out of the mental fog, lost the jitters and became free of depression. My faith in a Higher Power and my getting my body moving on a daily basis produced the healing effect that I had hoped for.
Back to Joyce. She and I had ten sessions together and I suggested to her that she start to think about the things that she did before her depression. What provided the satisfaction and those pleasant events previously in her life. She talked about how she at one time was a cartoonist as well as a lover of writing poetry. So, that is what I suggested — that she involve herself with these pleasant activities again. She said that she believed that she could do it–even though her mind and body rebelled at moving out of her comfort zone of doing absolutely nothing. The main defense for doing nothing is the oft repeated mantra from all of us when we are depressed which is “I’ll do it when I feel better.”
With each new session she would share with me a cartoon or a poem which she had created the previous week. As she continued doing what she liked, I noticed more energy in her voice as she shared her feelings about her new creations. All the while, she was compliant with her own physical recovery from heart surgery. Her pleasant moods gave her a feeling of being in control of her life and her future. She came to believe that a power greater than herself would restore not only her sanity but her health as well. Her faith was renewed in the God of her understanding while restoring her belief that her health was going to get better. Not only did she have a plan to follow but she made the spiritual principles of the Twelve Steps her way out of depression. She continues to follow this map to this very day.
The following quote is from a work titled, The Secret Strength of Depression written by Frederic Flach, M.D., K.H.S.
“Faith appears to be good for one’s overall health. Cardiovascular illnesses are more frequently seen in depressed individuals, in patients with coronary ischemia, depression worsens the outcome, possibly due to alterations in platelet function and changes in autonomic tone. Depression is also associated with a higher mortality rate following acute myocardial infarction; for those patients who survive, the recovery process is often a more complicated one. Studies suggest that the recovery rate from medical and surgical procedures, from the repair of hip fractures to coronary bypass surgery, is faster among believers. Moreover, patients undergoing such treatment appear less likely to have serious complications or die.” Page 239.
SOURCES: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky.
Copyright(c) I’ll do it when I feel better. 2nd Edition 1986, 2013. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.
Copyright)(c) Believing is seeing:15 Ways to leave the prison of depression. (2017) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky.