The 12 Steps are my North Star.

 

   “Depressed Anonymous means hope -as long as you want to get out of the pit of depression just start to believe that little voice which says “Yes,  I am hopeful. I will feel better too.”  The other members of Depressed Anonymous give me hope. Others have made it  out of the deep lonely pit of depression and so can I.  I choose to be happy even if I don’t feel happy right away. I am going to risk feeling different from this wretched sadness that I feel all the time.   I have nothing to lose – except my fear of the future.

But with OUR new way of living and thinking,  we are going to stay in the NOW. We know tomorrow produces anxiety and fear. Yesterday is there with all the old hurts and anger.  All I have is the now!  If I live in the now, I can begin to stay out of yesterday with all its old wounds and hurts   and resist living in tomorrow  with its unknown problems. Negative thoughts about our past or those tomorrow can numb our feelings so that we don’t have to feel the pain of whatever it is that isolates us from the world around us. We also admit, like any one person addicted to a person, place, thing, chemical or drug, that our lives are out of control. We have to admit that by depressing ourselves, we have chosen saddening ourselves as our drug of choice. We medicate ourselves with sadness any time we might have to change the way we live our lives. Sometimes, our depression over sadness arises out of guilt as we continue to turn our personal  mistakes into giant catastrophes -this continues to make us feel as if we are nothing and valueless. This all adds to our frustration and the feeling of our being out of control. We know that if we just give up our struggles against depression and admit our powerlessness over it we can begin to surrender to our Higher Power and practice letting go of it.  I can decide that I want to feel good again. I can decide that I want to feel happy and put this constant sadness and hollowness behind me once and for all. I know that no longer will I  have to retreat or flee from these sad feelings and escape with sleep, over activity or drugs. I know that whenever my sadness seems unending, I then just admit that I am not helpless and that I can do something about it because I have the tools (see Tools of Recovery at Menu)  and I can learn the skills that I didn’t know were available to me before. Now I am deciding to think, act and behave differently much to my personal credit and new found trust in the Higher Power.  I am a sailor who sees the land, knows the right direction and does the rowing to get where I want to get. The Twelve Steps are my compass…”

SOURCE: Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (1998, 2008, 2011). Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.KY. Pages. 34-35.

The “before” and “after” stories of those who freed themselves from the tyranny of depression.

I just want to write a few thoughts this morning about the “before” and “after” experiences of group members  battles  with depression.  Before there was a Depressed Anonymous group for me to attend, where I could address my problems, I joined another 12 step program of recovery. It was at this meeting that I heard and saw people who shared their stories how it was “before”  they got into recovery and  the  “after”  now that they are living the recovery program.

The difference was like night and day. I could listen all day to a lecture on depression, alcoholism, overeating or any other addiction  and not be as moved as I am when I hear the actual person telling  their story of how life is  now by  actively participating in their own recovery. To hear the changes that have taken place in those many people whose lives had spiraled down into the darkness of isolation and hopelessness is a phenomenal  experience in itself.

Most of the books which serve as the basic text of 12 step groups such as Depressed Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous, to name a few, all include many “before” and “after” stories of those who have suffered the loss of their self only to find that with the help of the spiritual principles of the Steps were they able eventually to share how  their lives had changed dramatically.   Their stories are simple, direct and filled with powerful accounts of  human beings who once were lost in the chaos of addiction,  but now have been freed,  living with hope and serenity.

Depressed Anonymous’ basic text  has its own “before” and  “after ” stories as well. All the stories, the “before” and “after” accounts,   give credit to the program of recovery which  has changed the thinking and lives of thousands of persons throughout the world.  I see  these stories manifesting  the miracle of the Higher Power, at work in those persons who made a decision to choose to walk that different pathway out of their addictions.  They then  tell those others “still suffering from depression” about the power  they have received.

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 of our affairs.” Step Twelve of Depressed Anonymous.”

Sources:

Depressed Anonymous, recommends its basic text, Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition for the many inspiring accounts of those persons who came to a meeting, like myself, heard what others had experienced and decided that to see how it worked for them.

Also another excellent publication with many “before” and “after”  stories is A MEDLEY OF DEPRSSION STORIES, by the founder of two Depressed Anonymous groups in North Carolina, Debra Sanford.  Her work is available at Amazon.com.

Depressed Anonymous Publications also has books available at depressedanon.com. VISIT THE STORE

Drinking Depression: One man’s story of recovery from alcoholism and depression.

 

DRINKING DEPRESSION:  One man’s story of recovery from alcoholism and depression and the parallels between the two. 

By Steve P.

“I have had experiences with alcohol abuse since childhood. I have also struggled since childhood with depression. I quickly learned to rely on both.

I call  this paper “drinking depression” because that’s exactly what I did when I no longer had the alcohol. The following thoughts will express my feelings and the parallels that I have seen between these two addictions.

RELIANCE

There was always an excuse to drink, mostly I was upset with something –I should say angry, for it was anger at the root of my depression that I was trying to suppress in medicating myself with alcohol. Later, I learned to do the same thing with my depression except to be in a depressive state high.  I didn’t even have to leave the house and after awhile I didn’t want to break the cycle of reliance that dependency had begun. Where I was absorbing alcohol into my blood stream  I was now   injecting the depression into my soul and absorbing it like a sponge

FAMILIARITY AND COMFORT

As a recovering alcoholic, I can look back on my drinking and see where I took comfort in being drunk because   eventually   the numbness became the only way I could feel better.  When I was drunk I could retreat into myself and not have to deal with everyday life.

The same escape tool was used in the form of depression. I could ball up like a wooly worm and the outside world was not going to hurt me. However, the more I wallowed in the darkness of my depression the deeper I got stuck  in the mud of despair and hopelessness.

DESPERATION

In order to deal with alcoholism and depression I had to hit rock bottom. I had reached a point in both that I had to call out for help or drown in my addiction.  I called on my Higher Power to help  deliver me from alcohol and he led me to a counselor  to  also help me with my depression. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit I am harnessing my talents now and I am seeing incredible results. My recovery has not been overnight but it is a day by day and step by step recovery process.

THE PHYSICAL

After some time had passed,  the drinking affects the physical body breaking it down. Once I saw a film in which the brain of an alcoholic was compared to the brain of a heroin addict and they were very similar. The depression I  experienced also had physical implications. For over twenty years the way my body would respond from too much emotional stress was to pass out. Instead of blacking out from alcohol I was using depression to numb myself and my brain.

THE SPIRITUAL

When I was drinking I felt alienation and guilt. I felt professing Christians did not drink. The more I drank the more guilty I became. I felt  much more distant from God the more I drank and spiraled further down into a cycle of despair.

In my depression,  I felt God had no time for  me and that I was unworthy of his love. Again,  it was a carousal filled with guilt and anger going round and round so that I couldn’t get off the merry-go-round.

SELF-ESTEEM

When I was drinking,  I was sure that no one cared or could understand what I was going through, so I had many pity parties and I was the guest of honor. Why should I care if no one else cared? This was my way of thinking.

From painful experiences in my childhood I felt  I was of no worth and just taking up space. It has taken therapy and the support of family and friends to finally look in the mirror and begin to like what I saw.

HOPE

I have been sober over two years although I often have the desire to drink I daily call  on my Higher Power to help me and march on one day at a time experiencing serenity and a release from my need to take that first drink.

I have been in therapy for almost a year off and on, although in order to recover one has to stay with it. I have to take my emotional and spiritual healing, like my drinking —one day at a time knowing   I can make it.  It is only by opening the door of the past that   the light of the present can get rid of the darkness  today,  providing  hope for the future.

It is my hope and prayer that this has helped you,  in some small way.  It has helped me by writing about my experiences. May God put walls of protection around you so that the way ahead for you may be crystal clear so that today may be your first step towards recovery.”

God bless.

Steve P.

+This article first appeared in THE ANTIDEPRESSANT TABLET, Spring 1994.

 

 

“We can feel a change happening…”

THE FIFTH WAY OUT OF THE PRISON OF DEPRESSION: AN EXCERPT

“Remember that an oak tree was once an acorn –recovery begins by taking one step at a time as well as reading DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS literature and regularly participating in the meetings.”

How often do we meet people in the program who want the quick fix, the easy way out, the feeling getter -now! But just as it might have taken years for the person to learn how to get themselves  depressed, it will take time and work to start to feel better. I do believe that all good growth in nature is gradual and that if we want the good growth to continue, we need to follow certain steps  to make sure this growth will continue. One of the first things that we want to do is to admit, like any  thing, person or substance to which we are attached/addicted to,  which we cannot free ourselves from the attachment by will power alone. We ask our Higher Power, this  power greater than ourselves, to free  us. We begin our recovery by meeting with our local Depressed Anonymous group and admit by our presence that we want to change.  We are dissatisfied where we are now and decide to work on ourselves so that we will feel better. By our taking one step at a time we can feel a change happening. Many people have  been depressed for years-they are in so much pain that they want relief now. The members of the group are taking full responsibility for their feelings, moods and behavior.

If you want some inspiring stories of persons who have freed themselves from the deadly grip of depression and isolation, please read their stories  in DEPRESSED ANONYNMOUS, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 110-152.

THE  HOME STUDY PROGRAM: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition is combined with another publication The Depressed Anonymous Workbook (2002). These two separate publications provide an individual with an opportunity to further their recovery on their own, with the possibility of getting a Depressed Anonymous  mutual aid group started in their own community. The best help for ourselves is in helping others.

Please VISIT THE STORE to discover  a plentiful resource for books dealing with depression and our 12 Step recovery program, Depressed Anonymous.

 

 

I am responsible for me!

Higher Thoughts for Down Days

I am responsible for me!

” Responsibility is the name of the game in recovery…people who want to change begin to swallow their pride and ask for help.”

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

The ability to respond to the truth of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous comes particularly forceful when we have hit bottom in our lives and there seems to be no way out of what troubles us. This is where I begin to take responsibility for myself and ask others for help. Who is the best person to ask for help when you are depressed? Obviously, it’s that person who ha been where you are now. I believe that one of the biggest assets of being a member of Depressed Anonymous is the fact that so many people begin to live with happiness, peace, and hope after they have given up control of their lives to the Higher Power.  They indeed have hit bottom and there is no way for them  but up.

To say that my life is out of control is usually hard for any of us to have to admit. The pride that said that I had to please everyone to be happy, or in order to get other’s approval, had to do everything perfect, has resulted  in my depressing myself until I can hardly stand it. Now that I am telling it like it is and I begin to accept myself as I am and refuse to  let other’s opinions of myself overwhelm or dictate life to me, I begin to feel better.

MEDITATION

God, put your love into our hearts and your guidance into our minds as we struggle, day after day, to live with the understanding that we can only do your will by beginning to be responsible for ourselves.

 

SOURCE: Copyright(c) Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 Step Fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Page 244.

 

I WILL TRUST MYSELF…

A HIGHER THOUGHT FOR TODAY

AFFIRMATION

I will trust myself to risk getting better by way of the Twelve Step program.  The first step is to admit that I will beat my depression in a group rather than trying to do it all by myself.

“Many  of us can’t allow ourselves to trust anyone. We are so distrustful of ourselves that we can’t trust ourselves to feel.  The painful and terrible hollowness of depression is such that we cannot allow it to be felt…When we hear other members share their stories of hurt and isolation we become more at ease within ourselves and we gradually allow/trust ourselves to touch the nerves of the past pain and hurts. ”   (9)

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

One of the better ways I have found to get out of the prison of my depression is to trust my story with someone who has experienced  the pain and the hurt.  To know that I am not alone in my misery is quite a relief.  To know that there is someone out there who understands where I am coming from does much for raising self-esteem. I know that it is only when I begin, today, to start taking care of myself that my life will improve and so will my thoughts.  I also believe that there is no problem too great to be lessened.

I know that wanting control, wanting things my way, has made my life unmanageable!  I want to trust my Higher Power and give my program and my friends who are in  it my  very best. I trust that I can be as honest with them as I am with my Higher Power.

MEDITATION

God, we  turn our will and our lives over to you and we know things are getting better because of that surrender.

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SOURCE:, Higher thoughts  for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 Step fellowships. (1993, 1999) Louisville. June 1.  Depressed Anonymous Publications.