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.

 

 

 

Depressed Anonymous had been the ultimate key to a successful life.

Depressed Anonymous had been the ultimate key to a largely successful life for me. Prior to entering the program, I had no money, no driver’s license, and had dropped out of college  due to poor grades and a personal breakdown for which I was hospitalized. I had not then worked Step One because I wasn’t aware that I was powerless over my depression, that my life was disorganized as the mess in my closet.

During the first night in the hospital,  a member informed me of a support group known as Depressed Anonymous. I decided to give it a try. By telling me about this wonderful, miraculous and very spiritual program, this person had not only worked the  Twelfth Step, (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 our affairs) but has also given me a key which would open many doors for me. Walking through these doors was like admitting defeat. I was playing first base in a  ball game in which I would eventually win. If I struck out, I was back on Step One. By playing ball with a positive attitude, I was allowing my Higher Power to walk the Steps to recovery with me. With the help and positive sense of fellowship that I enjoyed in the group, I began to understand God’s will for me.  With the love, support, and true friendship of three faithful members in the group, I began working on my driver’s license, which had been another step toward my independence  for me. Within a year, I earned my license when two members of the group took me in for a road test. A new sunnier life had begun for me. The worst was finally over.”

Lena, in  PERSONAL STORIES (#2): “We never talked about our feelings. ” Pages 112-113.

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

“I can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

“I believe that by working the 12 Steps of Depressed Anonymous, the more my Higher Power can release in me the serenity that I seek. While not giving up hope — I can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Fourteenth Statement of Belief.

This is the 14th of 15 Statements of Belief as laid out in our recent work , BELIEVING IS SEEING. 15 Ways to leave the prison of depression (2014) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.   KY

As long as I have the belief that somehow, sometime, I will begin to feel differently and by not giving up on that hope, I can begin to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

The reason Depressed Anonymous  was started in the first place is to bring  those suffering from depression together  so that an individual could be empowered to find the support that would lead each of them, with each other out of the pit of depression.

This 14th Statement of Belief produces a peace and serenity which assures me that together with the fellowship I will win and have victory over my depression. I am no longer alone!

The Higher Power, or God as we understand him, is at the core of our gaining success over our depression. It  is precisely here at this juncture that my belief is to carry the day. Carpe diem! Seize the moment.

I do have to go to meetings, read from the Big Book of Depressed Anonymous , talk to other members in the fellowship and set a time for daily prayer and meditation in my life . I also have to exercise and eat right. I have to remember that motivation follows action. Move the body and the mind will follow.

I have always believed in the power and influence of groups–either serving as a power for good or a power for destructive ends. But as for our group that we call Depressed Anonymous I see that it  builds up and enhances anyone who  gets involved with it.  Those who interact with the fellowship eventually come out of the pit of their depression and start  feeling  different. This is actually happening all of the time with those who work and live out the Steps in their daily life. (Read their personal stories in Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition(2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications, Louisville.)

I remember when I first proposed back in 1984 to a psychologist friend, and Dean of the University Psychology Department,  that we ought to   get depressed people together with each other. I was given a look that I was completely out of  my mind  to suggest that depressed people could even get motivated enough to roll out of bed in the morning, much less try and go to a meeting with other sad and depressed people.  With the Dean’s reluctant blessing we set up a pilot program for the depressed at the university. Because of the success of the people involved,  it became our impetus to  form the first Depressed Anonymous group which now has roots and groups around the world.

But just as many of us who were depressed got there by trying to juggle too many situations and circumstances that happened to be personally overwhelming I have found that  by listening to  the  stories of others in the group and sharing my own story my life has hope and meaning.

If you know that you will really find hope and a possible way out of depression by going to a Depressed Anonymous meeting,   there is nothing to stop you but your own fear of the uncertain.

My Higher Power has with time, work and using the “tools” of our recovery program,  released me from my depression. That recovery has continued now in my life for over 30 years.  Now I am trying to carry this message of hope to those who are still hurting. You don’t have to hurt any longer. If you are looking for help you   may find it with us.  We hope you join us!

Hugh

 

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF THE 12 STEP DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS PROGRAM OF RECOVERY?

Depressed Anonymous  

1) Educates and informs us about our experience of depression. 2) Nurtures us so that we can begin to share and to trust our unpleasant feelings with others.  3) Accepts us and does not make   judgements  about  our experiences with depression. In other words, we don’t hear “snap out of it” in the group. 4) Teaches coping skills by our frequent meetings and group  membership interaction.  It provides us with a  “toolbox” of new skills we can utilize in our overcoming of sadness. 5) Empowers us to believe that there is truly a way out of our depression. One of the major benefits of our group is you can hear how other persons depressed have made it out of depression. (Read the Personal Stories in Depressed Anonymous).   It is clear that the program works best for those who keep coming back to meetings.

There are multiple benefits that come to those of us  who  are committed to being  active participants in our fellowship of Depressed Anonymous. I should know, I am one of the active participants.