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.

WHAT DO I NEED TO BE HAPPY?

Sigmund Freud was once asked what people needed to be happy? The questioner no doubt expected a long, complicated answer reflecting Freud’s years of deep reflection on the matter. His simple response, however, was “arbeiten und lieben,” –work and love. Happy people feel connected to others at work and through their intimate relationships. When those connections are threatened, diminished, or broken, people suffer. Today, millions of Americans are suffering from what my colleague Charles Derber calls “double trouble.” Those in double trouble have neither meaningful work nor sustaining intimate ties. The withering of community life in both domains fosters a rootless and social disintegration that unquestionably contributes to the growth of emotional disorders.” Speaking of Sadness. David Karp. Page 178.

Reflection
I believe that in the midst of the pain of depression I just wanted to pull the plug on life. I wanted to be alone. I just wanted people to keep their distance. I was not happy. I was unhappy at a job I began to hate. I do remember how hard it was even to lift up the phone to talk to a family member, an old friend or whoever intruded into my isolation. Truly I was suffering from “double trouble.”
But as the pain deepened I began to look for solutions–where was the key to unlock my depression. I found it in a fellowship, a 12 Step Recovery group. I was able to form intimate relations, work a program which was solution focused and then gradually get back into the light, into meaningful relationships. I also recovered the energy I needed to find a career that today (30 years later) still gives me joy and sustains my hope.

MY COMFORT ZONE

IF YOU WANT SOMETHING THAT YOU NEVER HAD BEFORE, YOU HAVE TO DO SOMETHING THAT YOU NEVER DID BEFORE.

Well, that pretty much says it all. We all have our comfort zones–that is for sure. About two weeks ago, a friend of mine wanted to know if I would join him in getting out the vote here in the USA. I told him I would. All it entailed was going to certain neighborhoods and knocking on people’s doors and asking them if they were going to vote in the Midterm elections. If they said yes, then I would tell them where the polling place was located. I spent two days of this–knocking on doors and asking them to get out and vote for their candidates. I had never, in my whole life done this before–going and knocking on strangers doors and asking them to vote. (Only time before was when I was a kid and went “trick or treating” on Halloween.) Anyway, the whole point here is that I was very uncomfortable knocking on doors and talking to total strangers. It was way out of my “comfort zone.”
When I was depressed I entered into another type of “comfort zone” namely an isolation zone–where all I wanted to do was just do nothing. Just absolutely nothing. Except sleep. My comfort zone was like I was living in a glass house–I could see everything around me but I had no interest in or connection to what happened outside my walls. I had no desire to get involved with former activities that provided me with a sense of purpose or happiness. My mantra was “I’ll do it when I feel better.” Finally I made up my mind, crawled out of my comfort zone and walked through the doors of my first 12 Step meeting. This was a very un-comfortable move for me as I forced myself to go and get help for what could possibly kill me.
Reader, just know that if you want help for yourself or a loved one–knock on our door–come on in– know that if you are depressed, or a friend is depressed, we have the tools to help you find your way out of your prison of depression. You’ll be taking a step into a new way of living.

SPIRITUAL LIBERATION

“The Wright brothers almost childish faith that they could build a machine which would fly was the mainspring of their accomplishment. Without that, nothing could have happened.
We agnostics and atheists were sticking to the idea that self-sufficiency would solve our problems. When others showed us that God-sufficiency worked with them, we began to feel like those who insisted the Wrights would never fly. We were seeing another kind of flight, a spiritual liberation from this world, people who rose above their problems.” Bill W.
Somehow each of us, in our way and in our own time, may come to the fork in the road. We have to decide whether to take the well trod road or take the “road less traveled.” The Wright brothers chose the road less traveled. They believed that they could fly with a machine that looked like a bird. Kittyhawk will always remind us of the childish faith of two brothers who put wings on their dreams. Because of their faith in their dreams, they experienced a spiritual liberation, a spiritual flight if you will. Believing in a Power greater than themselves that places no barrier in the minds and hearts of those who believe, they achieved in their dream that humans can fly.Step Two of Depressed Anonymous tells us that we “came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” In my experience with depression I felt that I was going crazy. My mind was a fog. I couldn’t remember a thing. No retention of words I had just read. No memory power at all. I was always feeling that deadly jitteriness in my gut. Sleeping all the time. Feeling so worthless and lacking any self-confidence. Feelings of guilt and shame. Thinking only of what I didn’t like about myself. Beating myself up for past mistakes. All of these gradually squeezed out any hope of feeling different. I felt that I was in a prison –locked into a solitary isolation.
Then came the “spiritual liberation of “believing in a power greater than myself.” Instead of relying solely on self-sufficiency I relied on God-sufficiency. I joined a group of and women who came to the belief that whatever they tried to give them life (addictions to substance, behaviors) and these didn’t work–they came into the fellowship of the Twelve Steps of recovery. For me, I believed that Depressed Anonymous, a Twelve Step program of recovery might help me. In time and with work, and prayer, I found myself gradually breaking out of my prison–brick by brick. People, like myself in the group which I attended, gave me a new map, a map of hope, based on a promise of spiritual liberation. Because of regular attendance at my meetings I saw the light. Others believed in this Power greater than themselves and so did I. I was no longer alone. I believed! The Wright brothers were right!

Expression-not depression.

Expressing oneself and sharing personal feelings can liberate ourselves from thoughts that imprison us and isolate us. They isolate us from others and the world around us.
I have found that it is in the milieu of an accepting and understanding group of people that I can grow and share my feelings. I have witnessed these many years (30 ) how all of us, including myself, can gradually come to trust others with feelings of shame, hurt and pain. In fact, it is in the context of my 12 step group program of recovery that I became a different person. I was able to come out of the shadows of my isolating depression and found people just like myself. They taught me and proved to me that just by coming back to meeting after meeting and sharing their own feelings that something, a power if you will, enabled them to move forward. No longer was I isolated in my own prison of depression but now I became liberated to talk freely, share freely, and join with others on this road to sanity and serenity. I AM NO LONGER ALONE!
Just by hearing myself share my feelings of how depressed I was–and listened to with respect–no “SNAP OUT OF IT HERE–I now found that toolbox of hope and freedom. I call this the fellowship of Depressed Anonymous.
Comments are always welcome here and a place where you too can share