The prescription for sanity in one’s life.

This idea of choosing sanity  is   what we desire.  Who would ever choose insanity? But, believe it or not,  people choose insanity all the time. You  remember the saying, “doing the same thing over and over again is insanity.” If you are honest with yourself, I think you might   remember a time when you yourself  kept doing something that was assuredly insane. Today, if you   can honestly say that  you  always choose sanity,  then my response to you  is that   is a good thing.  I am happy for you.

In our 12 Step program of recovery we  learn about the   2nd Step, “Came to believe that a power greater than myself can restore  me to sanity.” Now for most of us, like it says in the 12 &12 and 12 Traditions, written by Bill W., co-founder of AA,  sanity “means soundness of mind.”  Now here is the point, when I was in the throes of depression, I was scared and I really did think that I was losing my mind. I could not concentrate. My feelings and emotions were flowing through me like a river overflowing its banks. My thoughts always circled back on themselves, making a tight grip-like  on every thought that flowed from   my mind. I was in a circular round dance – without a partner.  I would   try to think my way  out of my depression. What was happening to me I thought? The more I thought,  the more I got tangled up in my own mental fog.  After the mental wrestling which  went on in my mind, hour after hour and day after day, I begin to wonder if there was any  way out of this  labyrinth. The paths led to places which indicated that there was no exit. I began to believe   there was no way out and so my daily recourse/solution was to sleep. Sleep was the only thing that would deaden the assault on my mind.

Many times my own mind goes back to the time when as a therapist I tried to help others break down their life choices into  small pieces. When I was depressed,  all I could think of was a wall, a huge wall that would show up,  every time I wanted to go  and try to figure out a solution for my problem. And it was here that I would continue the insane banging my head against a wall that would not let me gain entrance. But when I began to break the  symptoms of my depression into smaller parts and take a closer look at where the solutions might lie.  I discovered a way out of my own prison by  this method and   it  gradually provided  hope for me. I  discovered that what I needed  to do was to utilize some of these ” tools ” as a way out of the prison of depression and gave me a gradual  exit out of my prison. Instead of going over and over in my mind on how bad or worthless I was, I began to cut off these self-bashing thoughts with hopeful designs on making a new me. No more was I engaged in that insane circular thinking that provided no solutions, but instead, always sent me right back to square one from where I started. Insanity! It was like a dog chasing its tail.  Doing the  same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Sorry, it doesn’t happen that way when we are with a group of people at a Depressed Anonymous meeting.  We all have experienced the type of thinking that puts us deeper in the lowest mood possible. It is the group experience and the spiritual principles of the Steps that help us to spiral upwards into wholeness and sanity.

One of the great lessons that I have learned over the years is listening to those persons who share their stories of hope. They tell the stories of their own recovery sharing with us how they used all the “tools” at their disposal for their own recovery

.(See Tools of Recovery at our website Menu where you will find a list of many of the effective tools for extricating oneself from depression. You will be able to use  ” sane” tools as a means of rejecting the insanity of our own lives and making sense out of how to live a life without depression. A life with hope. It happens.)

Also read the many stories in our Depressed Anonymous “Big Book”   Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.KY). Personal testimonies section.

More information at the Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore.

Order are accepted online.

 

 

 

Withdrawal from friends is the first clue…

  Withdrawing from friends  and other social contacts is the first clue that you’re slipping back into the isolation and pain of depression.   Move toward a friend, get a sponsor, and go to a 12 step meeting. Ask your higher power for that knowledge that can guide you onto the appropriate path. 

There are two times that we need to go to a 12 step meeting. 1) One, when we don’t want to go to a meeting and 2) secondly when we do want to go to a meeting.  From my personal experiences I can share with you that is when I go to my meeting that I’m able to come away from it with something positive to think about. I can honestly say that I feel better after a Depressed Anonymous meeting. I know in my heart that when I just want to sit at home by myself, isolating and ruminating within my head about all the horrible things that have happened to me, or are about to happen to me, that is when I depressed myself even more. Get connected!

CHOICE,  NOT CHANCE  DETERMINES DESTINY!

It’s our addictive thinking, our compulsive way of processing negative information, which describes how we habitually store the negative but continue to dump the positive information which 24/7 continually flows into our brain. These negative thoughts of feeling  persist  in  keeping us falling back into the old habit of staying isolated and avoiding others. We might fool  ourselves and say that people have nothing to offer me and that is why I distance myself from everyone.  Part of my nature when  depressed is to avoid and distance myself from whatever I feel is threatening me, like a child afraid of the dark.

I can only do what God wants me to do and I discover what this is by spending time alone with my God and meditation. Whatever we do, we need to know that our isolation and our withdrawing from friends and family, is an environment where depression grows strong.  Depression dies in the light of discussion.

Dorothy Rowe in  her award-winning book Depression: the way out of your prison, has an excellent section on isolation and depression. Let me quote it for you and then you can the draw your own conclusions

” Thus none of us can escape needing other people so that we can exist and not fear annihilation. But you who get depressed have decided to express your need for other people in ways which make it hard for you to live.

    Take the first form of existence – wanting to be part of a group and fearing isolation. If you see yourself as basically a good person and therefore with  something to offer other people, you have no fear of joining groups, of being part of the family, as much as you suffer loss, you know you’re able to find new friends and to help other people. But if you see yourself as basically a bad person, then the threat of expulsion from your group is expected and feared. Since  you do not value yourself, you cannot see people as wanting you to join them, either as a friend our helper. If disaster wrenched you away from your family you cannot see yourself surviving, and so no matter how much you come to hate your family you cannot let them go. They are your reference point of existence, and you fear that if you lose them, you will disappear…

     Seeing yourself as basically good reduces the need for other people’s approval. If you see yourself as basically good, you can set up a select group of people whose approval you desire and can be indifferent to the opinion of the multitude. But if you see yourself as basically bad then you need everybody’s approval…”   Dorothy Rowe. Depression: the way out of your prison. 1983. Harper Collins, London, UK. Page 111.

Source:  Copyright ( c)  Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression. (2002) D AP. Louisville. Kentucky. 40216. Pages 47-50.

I HAVE CHOICES

Depressed Anonymous bases its healing and recovery on the premise that once depressed persons admit that they are out of control, even for some to the point of having attempted suicide, they then come to believe that a Power greater than themselves can restore them to sanity, while  at the same time making a decision to turn their minds over to the care of God, as they understand God.

The important thing is not so much whether depression is or is not an illness or a mental disorder, but that people have to take responsibility for themselves and their feelings.  So many people think that since they are patients of a doctor, they must just sit back and wait for the medicine to kick in.  The doctor will be doing these people a great favor to ask them what has been going on in their families, their work, or with those whom they love.  The depressed consumer of medical and mental health services might then get it that maybe they have a choice on whether they stay depressed or not.  The consumer might also begin to work on themselves, knowing that everything they can do to take care of themselves will gradually eliminate the symptoms that we call depression.

So often, those depressed are living out of step with their own expectations or the expectations of others, sometimes stemming back to early childhood.  It would be great if the many people on antidepressant medication would start talking about why they depressed themselves in the first place. The pain might disappear with the medication, but the experience is still part of their lives and memories. Unless one talks about the experience then the depression symptoms will indeed re-appear.”:

SOURCE: Copyright (c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd Edition. (2011)  Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville Ky   Page 168.

I WILL NOT MAKE A NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION FOR 2015.

It is no wonder that after all these years that I have finally got smart. How many times have I made  a resolution to do this or do that and most often as not I couldn’t make it past the first week without falling on my face. So is NOT making a resolution, in fact making a resolution? Well, I think yes it is. I Can’t win!  But don’t you think not doing something is easier that trying to do something that could be challenging and even uncomfortable. And I say to myself, “myself, yes, right on!”

For instance let’s say that I make a resolution  to get up out of bed and do an exercise activity to get my day started. I am making a resolution to do this three times a week. So far so good. I just know from what I read and from other folks who exercise how helpful this is to  put some of our depression symptoms in the back seat. And then we decide that Monday is the day we start our program of exercise.  And Monday comes and we decide that today is too soon to start and we tell ourselves we’ll do it when we feel better. Right now,  we tell ourselves, I am just to tired to do any activity at all today. So there goes the resolution.  So, now we wait for Wednesday to get started.  And on and on the resistance to do anything to overcome our depression symptoms goes by the wayside.

Another scenario is from my own past. When I became depressed I really didn’t have a clue what was going inside of me but I knew something wasn’t right. I could hardly force myself out of the bed in the morning–couldn’t wait to get off work so that I could go to bed–before 5PM. Most unusual for me. I was gradually losing any purpose for my life.   Work.  Bed. Work. I was scared and thought that I was losing my mind. Could not retain a thought. Could not remember a paragraph that I had just finished reading.  What to do? No answer popped  in  my mind. But I knew one thing–I had to get out of bed and go to work or there would be no way to take care of my bills.  So I made a commitment to exercise. One day at a time. A resolution?

I just knew I MUST force myself out of bed…sneakers at my bedside — alarm clock across the room in which I had to get up to turn the awful sounding thing off. In time , by forcing myself to get up, go exercise, I gradually found the fog lift. I learned a great lesson.

Let’s put it this way if you will. I knew something worse would happen if I didn’t get moving. For me there was no “I’ll do it when I feel better,” and putting off taking care of myself. Nothing can happen unless you make the choice to do something today. Is your life at the same point as was mine?  If it is, then force yourself to do what you don’t want to do and watch as feelings, moods and behaviors all begin to change.  For the better you! Happy New Year! One day at a time. All we have is this 24 hour period. Treat yourself kindly!

HOW TO OPEN UP THE CLOSED SYSTEM OF DEPRESSION SYMPTOMS: SIX DIFFERENT PORTALS TO CHOOSE FROM.

Just what does it mean to “open up the closed system of depression symptoms? ”  Basically, it means that we have determined that there are 6 major  portals, with their own unique and negative characteristics. The strategy is to develop a number of positive  and opposing  procedures for the characteristics of each portal, which can  in turn do just the opposite of those which continue to keep us in the pit of desolation and helplessness. In a sense we will be opening up that closed system, which like the bars of a prison cell, keep us locked down and isolated. By learning something about each of the six gateways to our personal lives, we will possess the tools that can open up and break down the walls of each of these portals.

Let’s talk a bit of what these portals look like.  Together we are aware how they form a massive obstacle to our moving out of the closed and deadly system. But taken each alone, we have a chance to break down their individual  negative components and replace them with small positive steps of motivating ourselves toward change.

  QUESTION: How do you eat an elephant? ANSWER: One bit at a time. And the same holds true for what we are proposing to you today.  Let’s consider  the following categories which make up the essential attributes  of the human person. By entering any one of them and making changes in their unique characteristics we are indirectly affecting for good all the other five categories. These portals with their unique  identities are all inter related and what affects one affects all. By the same token, the symptoms of depression affect all the other portals and together promote a tightly closed system which is highly impregnable.

The six portals that open us to   the closed system of depression are the following: (1)THINKING (2) FEELING (3) BEHAVIOR (4) MOTIVATIONAL (5) PHYSIOLOGICAL (6) SPIRITUALITY.

For today, let’s take a look at the first portal: the thinking gateway. Here are the characteristics of this portal: mistaken beliefs, worthless, guilt, self-accusations, self-dislike, failures, self -hatred, suicidal thinking, hopeless and helpless thinking. Now, with these characteristics staring us in the face, we can choose to look at each of the above and decide which one or ones can I muster up the energy to defeat and turn around? For starters, how can I change any beliefs about myself? I can give you one solution   and that  is to get into a fellowship of folks like yourself who will mirror to you the strengths that you really possess.   In other words, by  taking  a more solution focused approach  to oneself rather than concentrating on the negative,  this continues that gradual diminution of all that keeps us imprisoned. And just to show connections between portals, the Behavior portal discusses social withdrawal. If I think that I am worthless and inferior I surely won’t want to move around in social environments. We gradually with time and work  open the tight grip of the closed system of depression on our lives. We now have the toolkit whereby we can dismantle those old beliefs that undermined our best selves. We now are at the beginning of  a new system filled with hope and the courage to let go of the past!      More tomorrow.