“I never had a birthday party as a child.”

I think that it is hard to believe that any small child never had his or her birthday celebrated with candles, songs, friends and cake. In most cultures (if not all?) all children have  parties to celebrate the fact that  they are loved and prized.  Some of my own birthday parties stand out as somehow more remembered  than others. A lot had to do with  the fact that I was remembered as someone special to my family and friends.  Much of the talk at those  parties,   centered around our birth day itself, with Mom telling  about her experiences  on that day.   I also love pictures of those childhood  parties–showing candles being blown out and the receiving gifts from family and friends.

I want to quote  from our manual Depressed Anonymous (pages 90)  which relates how  not receiving love and acceptance for who we are has for some  led to those sad feelings  of anger, and rejection when mention of children celebrating their own birthdays is   illustated.

“Many times persons depressed find that the more they get in touch with their  feelings, painful as they might be, the more they  need to remain with the feelings and feel them. This is the beginning of getting free from their tyranny. We have to get in touch with our feelings of anger, sadness, and the fact of our denial that we have even experienced  the fierce feelings of rejection so early in life. There may be some covered-over rage resulting from these  unpleasant childhood experiences. It’s amazing to hear people say that as children they never had a birthday party. We  know that  sadness, guilt, shame and a few other losses coming at one time in our life, can slowly push us over the line as we find ourselves overwhelmed with stress and feelings of defeat. It’s this subtle feeling of being out of control that brings   a  deepening sadness  we feel totally    immobilized.

…(Many)  times when we describe what we feel we begin to release in ourselves the feeling  “stuck ” that keeps us  in a mood of hopelessness.”

I can understand what a party which celebrates the fact that we are special and loved by others can do to our self-esteem.   It just might cause us to prize ourselves  and then to share who we are with others.  I’m not saying that to have or not have a birthday party as we grow up makes all the difference in our lives. It’s just  that it may  give us the message that we are loved just as we are. To be prized and made to feel special can  add a wonderful dimension to young lives.

The date of your birthday and how it is remembered is   more than just another day on the calendar. It’s your day! You can ask your self  “how was my last birthday”  and how will it  be different this year? Will my birthday be a day where I will reflect on all those persons in my life who I feel prized me for who I am? And are  there certain persons who you will always feel a gratitude for their presence and love  for you in good times and bad? Write down in your journal who these people are and what they mean to you today.

 

How come I couldn’t get out of bed when I was depressed?

 

In his recent book The Depths: The Evolutionary Origins of the Depression Epidemic, Jonathon Rottenberg shares with us what he thinks might give an answer.

“Why do depressed people lie in bed? It’s not because it’s great to snuggle under the blankets; it’s because they can’t bring themselves to get out of bed. Almost any other activity or task becomes a painful ordeal, even activities as simple as taking a shower or getting dressed. This seems strange. A perfectly able-bodied  person can’t bring herself to rise out of bed. How does this happen?

The intuitive answer is that this reflects a lack of motivation. Depressed people are directionless because they are undercommitted to goals. Without goals to drive future behavior, current behavior becomes frozen for long periods. Bed is the most natural location for a behavioral pause, as the place in the house most associated with inactivity.”

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Comment from the Blog author.

I agree with the above reasons for a depressed person seeking their pillow when depressed. Further on he  tells us that when depressed we seek a pause because our goals are failing us and that “depression results from an inability to disengage efforts from a failing goal is relatively new. Could  it be a  plausible pathway into depression?”

This view surely strikes  a chord with me. I also couldn’t get out of bed in the morning because my  lack of motivation  was immobilized.  It was get up or don’t get up and then lose my job. Everyday my goal was to get up and walk. Everyday. My goal was to save my job. Motivation came with forcing my body to roll out of the sack.

Constant rumination about my goals in life, at that time, were being frustrated or about to be frustrated, till my brain felt like it was filled with cotton.

It was the continued rumination about a personal loss which  gradually and methodically pushed me over the edge. The more I tried to figure out what was going on in my body, continued fatigue with hopelessness,  the more I dug the hole deeper.    I  was in the dark abyss with no way out.  Eventually the walking paid off, my dark mood lifted, the fog cleared and the horizon looked brighter. In time I dealt with the personal loss , plus the help of the supportive group Depressed Anonymous. Life got better.

NOTE. I found this work to be an excellent guide for one’s personal growth and understanding of the experience of depression.  Hugh S.

SOURCES: Jonathan  Rottenberg. The Depths: The Evolutionary Origins of the Depression Epidemic.  (2014) Basic Books, NY.

Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (1998, 2008, 2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.

 

I have more good days than bad days!

AFFIRMATION

I will go to any length to learn the various ways to escape from my addictions. I intend to be  a free person today, just for today. Tomorrow  isn’t here yet.

Bill W., co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous tells us ” Remember, it was agreed at the beginning we would go to any lengths for victory over depression (Editor substituted depression for alcohol). (1)

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

I believe that I am well equipped do all in my power to free myself from sadness. In fact, I know that the more I begin to really feel and not run away from my sadness, or my anxiety, that my self esteem begins to rise and I begin to feel better  and more hopeful. I am in touch that  the more I follow my program, the more my days are getting better  and filled with happiness. My bad days are diminishing. I am having more good days than bad days. I am doing all in my power, today, to take all the avenues open to me for my own recovery.

MY victory over depression is not an end in itself. I am beginning to believe that I am no longer a slave of this interminable feeling of helplessness. The more I feel I have mastery over the feelings of helplessness, the more hope I have.”

MEDITATION

God, of our understanding, help us discover all the ways we can use to be a suitable instrument for helping our fellow sufferer’s of depression begin to feel better.” (Personal comments)

SOURCE: Copyright (c) Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 Step fellowship groups. (Hugh Smith Depressed Anonymous  Publications. Louisville. KY. Pages 134-135.)

I said to myself, “if I ignore it maybe it(depression)will go away.”

“There was a time when we ignored trouble, hoping it would go away. Or, in fear and in depression, we ran from it, but found it was still with us. Often, full of unreason, bitterness, and blame, we fought back. These mistaken attitudes, powered by alcohol, guaranteed our destruction, unless they were altered.

Then came AA (and DA. OA, NA,  Al-Anon etc). Here we learned that trouble was really a fact of life for everybody – a fact that had to be understood and dealt with. Surprisingly, we found that our troubles could, under God’s grace, be converted into unimagined blessings.

“Indeed, that was the essence of A.A. itself: trouble accepted, trouble squarely faced with calm courage, trouble lessened and often transcended. This was the A.A. story, and we became a part of it.  Such demonstrations became our stock in trade for the next sufferer.”

COMMENT: It was with my own experience with depression that I tried to deny that it was anything that could keep me from a life lived with hope and joy. I thought that if I just ignored it, like Bill W., stated so well above, it would just evaporate like the morning midst. Of course this just didn’t happen.

As I commented on this denial factor which is a big part of all addictions, I also came to believe that,  “well, what I am going through will surely pass. It isn’t so bad, really. I can put up with a little discomfort.”  Sorry. It didn’t work that way. And as I pointed out in   I’ll Do It when I feel Better  I said  ” we also learn that our depression is a defense and predictable and for some, depression is even come to be a comfort and as has been said before, at least one knows what they have with depression. And to change and risk removing this numbness is better not to be undertaken  because it’s better to know what one has than to risk getting something worse. Much like the example cited before of the debate within ourselves to go to the dentist for the toothache or just tough  it out and hope for the best.  We call this denial.” Page 17.

To examine more literature about depression and using the Twelve Steps in your personal recovery , please taker a look  at VISIT THE STORE here at our website.

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SOURCES:

1) As Bill sees it. Page 110.

2)  I’ll do it when I feel better. (2014)  Depressed  Anonymous Publications.                                  Louisville.

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

 

I’ve had it living with feeling out of control.

If you really want to leave behind your painful sadness, the daily fears, and the feelings of worthlessness, then begin now to admit the unmanageability   of your depression. You have had it with feeling out of control.

That’s the way it is with depression –over the years you get comfortable with feeling miserable which doesn’t mean that you like it, but that you’re just too afraid to risk something different. When you want to change and leave your depression behind, the choice that you want to make is immediately dashed to the ground because you just feel that there is no hope for you. “I can’t pull myself up by my bootstraps and start to feel better,” you tell yourself. Most of the time, we tell ourselves that we’ll do it when we feel better. Folks, let me tell you something – you’ll never feel better until you begin by physically get moving. We all know that we feel better only when we get in gear and get busy – distracting ourselves from those ever present miserable thoughts whispering how bad we are  and how hopeless life seems to be.”

____________________HELP IS ON THE WAY! ___________________________

SOURCE:         Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Page 32.

Frozen feelings

My feelings get frozen for me when I am depressed.  My face sometimes masks the feelings  of despair that lurks in my whole being. I feel only the pain and hurt of yesterday. I say “I’ll do it  when I feel better.” I never do it because that day never comes. I need to have a list of feeling words that will help me best get in touch  with what I feel and desire. The words that describe the feelings are just that – words- but the words that I describe myself with are the same words that I have allowed to imprison me throughout my life.

The major feelings  are mad, sad, glad and fearful.  It is when I can name  my feelings, feel them, that I can make  some headway accepting that they are there and then deal with them. In the past, I fled from what was new and uncomfortable.

Meditation

In the spiritual life, I find that God is there whether I feel its presence or not. What I  know is that there is some grand design for this universe and for myself. I am in debt to its plan and to its process.  Right now, as I yield to its desire for my life (it’s desire is my desire). I will and I can find a way out of my depression. Even though I fear that I might lose something of myself, my very self,  if I trust, just the opposite can happen.  I will gain a new life filled with hope and a new way of feeling alive.”

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SOURCES:   Copyright(c) Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 Step fellowship groups. (1999) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. January 11.

Copyright(c) I’ll do it when I feel better. (2014) Depressed  Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

Copyright(c)   Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

Depression is different from normal sadness.

Depression cannot be reduced to a single factor. It is the result of the coinciding of different factors. Biological, historical, environmental and psychological factors play a certain role in the beginning and its evolution.

Many people never reach a state of clinical depression .  Such depression, with the feeling of paralysis that it involves, is different from normal sadness. People with clinical depression, in general, demonstrate physical and psychic alterations; people who are  not depressed manifest certain mental signs of sadness.

In addition, people often confuse depression with unhappiness. often one can hear the phrase “I feel depressed’, even though the person concerned only wants to say that he or she is not happy. Until, one has really experienced depression one cannot realize the enormous, difference that exists between being depressed and being unhappy. When we are unhappy, despite the scale of the tragedy that has afflicted us, we remain in contact with reality. When other people offer us consolation and love we can still feel gratitude for their warmth and support. But when we are depressed we feel like people who are excluded from the rest of the world. The comfort and love offered by other people do not penetrate our barrier and we feel neither consoled or loved. To experience real depression means to feel entrapped in pitch or suffocated by some dense, heavy material or buried alive in a dark tunnel. The depressed person   is interested in nothing and nobody, and does not feel any hope.”

SOURCE: Jose Saraiva Martins

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Comment: If you are  a depressed person and are reading this you know the guy who is writing the above material  knows what he is talking about. But, if you are  a person who has been unhappy but never depressed, it is  impossible for you to even begin to fathom what he is talking about.  ” Yes”, you might say, “but I don’t see any plaster casts, no sign of physical brokenness and the guy or gal is always happy. You know, the life of the party.”

There is a night and day difference between being depressed and being unhappy. I know,  as I have been depressed. I also  have been very unhappy as well. Being depressed is  a life threatening illness and for many the trajectory can lead to suicide  preceded by thinking that is hopeless and suicidal.

The person who has experienced depression themselves and who seeks  help to climb out of the dark pit now has friends in the  Depressed Anonymous fellowship of the 12 steps.  The new person coming into our group soon learns that the members know about the depression experience. Some have talked about trying to commit  suicide.

My point is that  persons depressed live in a world that they cannot touch, a world which they are viewing from the insides of an  enclosed soundproof glass room. They are completely isolated and adrift —  floating alone in a river of turbulence and dangerous currents. And when the time comes to flee this pain and isolation they run to the people who say they know what depression is. They also have a “toolkit” which they continue to use in their daily lives which helps them to forever stay out of that glass enclosed room.  I am one  of those persons who never  returned to that past time in my life when I felt totally alone, without friends, purpose or meaning in my life. I owe my life to Depressed Anonymous and its powerful focus on hope instead of hopelessness.

Hugh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

YOU CAN’T BECOME A BUTTERFLY UNTIL YOU LEAVE THE COMFORT OF YOUR COCOON.

The depressed, says Dorothy Rowe, can “give a thousand and one reasons why they should stay depressed. They can think up thousands of painful thoughts about how bad they are and how they don’t deserve the cheer and joy that most of us frequently experience in our daily lives. Some run over and over again in their minds the awful things that they have done, and become used to their continual ruminating over their own sense of worthlessness. They have fallen into the depressed persons morbid need to feel bad.  The sadness continues to eat away at the very heart of the person until there is no more hope and the light at the end of the tunnel has been snuffed out. In their hopelessness of ever feeling better, they throw away the only key that unlock the prison, and that is the key called hope. Getting to the hope is at the heart of getting our lives and feelings recognized. We begin to believe that maybe I too can overcome my depression like other members of the group. Not only am I consciously changing the way I think but likewise I am forcing myself to get involved with the  other members of the group and making friends.  I know that withdrawing from others is one of the first signs that we are depressing ourselves. But it is in the continual contact with others like myself that I can begin to find a way out of my depression.”

Source: Depressed Anonymous (3rd Edition)  2011. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. page 42.

WHO AM I? WHAT DO I WANT? WHO IS MY GOD?

AFFIRMATION

I am going to give up my narrow, judgmental and perfectionistic way of thinking and behaving. I will live in a spirit of hope today!

“Then we see that we cannot go on living like a child, expecting some parents, be it our own parents, or our lover…to save us and protect us, and crying in anguish and anger because this magical parent does not come.  Instead, at the bottom of the pit, we take charge of our lives.” (7)

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

My parents were who they were and they did what they did because of what their parents did or did not provide for them.  Alice Miller tells us that it is not so important what our parents did to us as what we do with the information as to how our parents treated us.  I am sure both are important and so today I am going to get in touch with the fact that my parents aren’t perfect, that some of what they did doesn’t deserve to be honored. I need to respect them because they are fellow  human beings. But today, I will begin to sort out my feelings for my parents, stepparents/guardians when I was young.

So often my life is filled with the anguish of trying to sort out who I am and what exactly is my role in the world.  I feel that I don’t have an identity and that I don’t know who I am. This is the worst feeling of all  – that I don’t know who I really am,.’

MEDITATION

God of all creation, respect our wish to discover who we are and what we are about while we are here on your earth. Give us hope that you will and can speak to us as you speak to others. Speak to us about  our truth and so help us find ourselves. We surrender to your will and we hear from others that this does work in getting on with a life filled with serenity and hope.”

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SOURCE: Copyright(c) Higher Thoughts for Down Days (1993, 1999) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. Pages 100-101.

Thoughts produce feelings, feelings produce moods and moods produce behavior.

I don’t know what I am feeling. When I was in my  ongoing perpetual melancholia I wasn’t able to describe what I was feeling.   The one description that I was able to offer was that I had this interminable hollowness in my gut that just wouldn’t go away. Allied with this feeling was that of a jitteriness which was always with me. Eventually, I discovered that by sharing these feelings with others that I was able to put a label on them and talk about them. Of course, all of this led me back to the source of those feelings — my thinking and my behaviors. I discovered that my thoughts  produce feelings, feelings produce moods and moods produce behavior.  I asked myself–why is isolating myself so important and needed? Why is beating myself up mentally so necessary? Why is always seeing the cup half full so necessary and needed? Why does thinking  that I am worthless and unacceptable press upon my mind?  In time and with some persistent work I discovered the answers to these pressing questions. Are any of these questions some of your own?

“One of the major areas of our lives that we have a difficult time with is getting in touch with our feelings. Many of us who are presently depressed know that one of our great defenses is the denial of our feelings  –our ability to feel is diminished as we continually choose numbness over vitality and spontaneity.”  Source; Depressed Anonymous. 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Kentucky  P. 50.