What does God have to do with my depression?

 

I have heard this same question many times over the years. It is a very good question I might add. In fact, when I was going through my own valley of despair,  God wasn’t on my radar.  All I did know was that I was feeling  hopeless. I was at the bottom of a deep dark pit. Isolated and scared.

Fear was at the center of my thoughts, 24/7. I thought that I was losing my mind.   I wasn’t able to formulate anything that made any sense. It was beyond my state of mind to envision the light of a possible escape from the prison,   taking away all hope  of ever recapturing the person that I once was. Basically I lost all hope  as my helplessness swallowed up everything that I felt was me.

Still unknowing the reason for my complete emotional and physical collapse I begged God, the God of my understanding to do something–anything,  that would free me from the day in and day out grip  of this unseen demon.  Because of what I felt was happening to me, like feeling I was in the power of this demon who was cutting off any bit of strength that I had left. I also knew that Alcoholics Anonymous was built upon spiritual principles which Bill W., and Dr. Bob called the Twelve Steps of recovery. In fact, they wrote that it is our belief in a Power greater than ourselves that would restore us to sanity. And this belief is my belief.

So, to many of us, we had a hard time to see how God could do anything about our depression.  Some of us really didn’t believe in God or if we did we weren’t so sure if possibly God was just a figment of our imagination. But after we admitted that we needed help for this sadness, which was taking us, like a circling watery whirlpool deeper into the depths of blackness and despair to our utter destruction.

The God of my understanding took me seriously when I asked for help and I admitted I couldn’t do what I need to do  alone without some godly help. So for me, my belief in this Power greater than myself  began to free me from my depression experience. And yes, this belief brought God into my life in a very powerful and healing way. In fact, Bill W., who was an agnostic (didn’t know if there was a God or not) had a spiritual  awakening in his hospital room where he said that he met the God of the preachers. And it was this singular spiritual event that gave him an infusion of hope and  power to let the God of his understanding lead him on that daily path of sobriety and recovery. For the millions who use these spiritual principles of recovery in their daily lives, they each and every one find a new beginning and a sane and sober way to live out their lives. And in turn,  as a result of their recovery, they turn and help others, who like themselves, had chosen  to do it ” their way.” As most of us are so painfully aware, our way was  to  keep on digging a deeper hole. And so, the first spiritual principle, namely Step One tells us that “We admitted that we were powerless over depression , and that our lives had become unmanageable.”

Now it is at this next Step that God enters the picture. Actually, we call God, this Power, who is greater than ourselves, who we let come into our life, where “we made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.”

And whatever notions you may have about God, you can be assured that there is something that happens to people when they start the journey of working the 12 Steps of Depressed Anonymous. It is here that we learn how God has everything to do with our battling  depression in our life. If you read any of the more that 30 stories of people who worked the 12 Steps (Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition) and who testify to the truth that God does respond to their plea for help.  God   helps turn our life around and brings us a peace that a clear conscience and a faith in something bigger and more powerful can make happen in anyone’s life who believe.

A sociologist by the name of David Karp interviewed 50 people who indicated that they had received a diagnosis of being depressed from a physician. And by spending time with these many people of all ages and professions he learned about their beliefs about their own depression experiences. and which he wrote about in his book Speaking of Sadness. It is a very interesting and captivating account of how persons respond to the pain and despair that comes with being depressed. But the thing that amazed me the most is what he said about  spirituality as playing an important  role in the coping and living with depression of those whom he interviewed.

“At the same time that my conceptual consciousness was being raised about the connection between depression and spirituality, I would leave  many of my interviews awed by the courage and grace with which certain people faced unimaginable pain and loss. I was especially impressed with those  who spoke of their depression as a gift from which they had learned valuable lessons. While I would not relate  emotionally or intellectually with visions of incarnation or explanations of depression as central to a god given life mission. I left many interviews with a sense that spirituality engaged individuals were in touch with something important.  The issue was not a matter of evaluating the truth of their particular  brand of spirituality. What I felt was a measure of envy of those who displayed an acceptance that seemed to me incongruous with accounts of exceptional pain. These people possessed  or knew something that I didn’t.”  David A. Karp. 1996. Speaking of sadness: Depression, Disconnection, and the meanings of Illness.  Oxford University Press. Oxford. Pgs 190-191.

 

 

 

Get connected! Learn how to get connected and begin feeling better!!

#NINE BELIEF

Excerpts from Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression. (2017) DAP. Louisville. pgs 47-50.

“Withdrawing from friends and other social contacts is the first clue that you are 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  nudge that can guide you into the appropriate path.”

“I know in my heart that when I just sit at home by myself, isolating and ruminating within my head about all the terrible things that have happened to me, or are about to happen, that is when I depress  myself even more. Get connected!”

It’s our addictive thinking, our compulsive way of processing infor- mation, which describes how we habitually store the negative but continue to dump the positive information which continually  24/7 flows into our brain. These negative thoughts and feelings 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, like a child afraid of the dark.

We know that depression grows stronger when   isolating ourselves from others.

Dorothy Rowe,  tells us in her award winning book, DEPRESSION: THE WAY OUT OF YOUR PRISON, that

“Seeing yourself as  a basically  good person reduces the need  for other people’s approval. If you see yourself as 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….”

David Karp,   in  SPEAKING OF SADNESS  shares the following thought

” that depression is an illness of isolation, a dis-ease of disconnection. As with much of social life, and consequently with much compelling sociological analysis, it is irony that captures the complexity of things. The irony to be explained in Chapter 2 is that depressed persons greatly desire connection  while they are simultaneously deprived of the ability to realize it. Much of depression’s pain arises out of the recognition that what might make one feel better –human connection–seems impossible in the midst of a paralyzing episode of depression. It is rather like dying from thirst while looking at a glass of water just beyond one’s reach.”

For those who have no Depressed Anonymous mutual aid group to connect with in their own local community, our  Publisher, Depressed Anonymous Publications has made available the HOME SELF STUDY KIT. The HOME  SELF STUDY KIT program of recovery includes both the  Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition and The Depressed Anonymous Workbook.  These  two excellent guides provide us with a path out of depression.   By  answering the stimulating  questions  as provided by the WORKBOOK, one also is able to discover the nature of depression while learning how to apply the 12 spiritual principles of Depressed Anonymous to their own lives.

No longer do we have to be alone or feel disconnected in our depression. We provide the necessary resources to help an individual be connected with a community worldwide  who know what it means to be depressed. You don’t have to be alone any longer!

To see what literature is available from our Publisher,   visit the STORE here at our website  www.depressedanon.com. You can now order online.

BILL W. & DOROTHY ROWE & MARGIE W.

Three persons who made a big difference in my life and how they each  helped me deal with my own melancholia (depression).

First of all there is Bill W., the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, who by his own witness, presented to us the spiritual program of recovery that we know as the Twelve Steps. Not only have they given me personally  a daily step by step program of recovery to follow but helped me fashion a program of recovery for persons depressed using the same spiritual program of recovery. Bill W., makes available through the Steps to any and all who seek a way out of their attachments to whatever is slowly  destroying their lives.

And then there is Dr. Dorothy Rowe, PH.D., a psychologist who has written many great books on depression and how to live one’s life. In 1985, a member of our newly formed Depressed Anonymous group gave me a copy of her book Depression: The way out of your prison. (1983, 1996) Second Edition. Routledge, London and New York. It was this book that opened my eyes and my mind to beliefs about depression that has accompanied me through my encounters with persons with depression in my own clinical practice, as well as  in the formation of  all the Depressed Anonymous  groups  focused and centered on the Twelve Steps. Not only have she and Bill W., been my mentors in this life long effort of mine, but both have given me keys that not only have released me from my own prison of depression, but persons everywhere have their lives back, plus a belief in a Higher Power,  thanks to these two pioneers.

Then there is Margie W., a charter member of Depressed Anonymous (whose account  appears in Depressed Anonymous in the Personal Stories section of our book). She states  “I can’t really remember for sure how I became involved in Depressed Anonymous. I believe a co-worker told me about a professor at the University of Evansville who had students who were helping people in the psychology field and wanted to know if I would be a volunteer to help start this new self help group. And it was free! What did I have to lose? I had seen Doctors, took their prescribed drugs and still ended up on the same old merry-go-round of ups and downs  and “hangovers” from the drugs. I joined a small group at first. We talked, set weekly goals, took short walks, visited with friends or enjoyed a cup of coffee to relax. We had to do something for ourselves. I had to learn to be good to myself, instead of nurturing  everyone else. I found a good doctor who gave me a lot of good advice about “pampering ” myself more. It hadn’t been easy.  I’ve read self help books, positive thinking books and worked hard on my way of thinking for years. I’m a natural born worrier, so things always seemed worse than they really were.  “(I) feel like I have something to offer the group. Hope is the word. I finally got above the edge of the rut that I could barely peer over for years. I know others  can do it too. Don’t give up. It’s a lot of hard work, but it can be done. I know. I was there.” Depressed Anonymous, (2011)  Third Edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville Kentucky.