Did I create my own prison of depression?

You know,  that’s a  great question for us who have been , or who are presently depressed.  My own reflections about my own experience with depression wasn’t a question that I  asked myself. Actually, that came later in my recovery.  I  really didn’t care who or what  created it – all I knew was I had to get rid of it.  In fact, the experience was much like Noah’s  in the belly of the whale.  I was just walking along one day minding my own business, and suddenly bam! physically feeling swallowed  up by some  invisible  creature who  was devouring me. And that was that. From that  moment on, the feeling continued to overwhelm  me for the next year and half.

Because I had no label to pin on this “whatever it was,”  and I thought nothing important to talk to  anyone  about, but only that the  feeling of helplessness had me locked down.  Oh, I still went to work, trudged through Graduate studies and continued my relationship with others, never revealing my interior mysterious  sense of isolation and despair.

My only distraction was to get up early every morning( biggest challenge of the day) and walk for miles, round and round,  thankful I was still able to function.

Long story short, during this period,  I gradually felt   small lift’s in my spirit but they never lasted. So I continued walking until I managed to walk out of the fog. I was feeling hopeful again,  able to face life with hope. Finally feeling fully freed from the  hopelessness that had isolated me from my world, disconnecting  me from everything, everybody, even myself. That was then.

Now reaching back into the past, looking at my life before ”  whatever it was” that had me,  I began  discovering that I’d unconsciously constructed my own prison and confinement. My ruminating on fearful scenarios of losing my job, not able to handle     negative life issues and constant  frightful thinking plus the  continuous feeling deep painful moods, all grinding my body, mind and spirit into the ground. The feeling, best described this  is  like  someone scraping  their  fingernails on  a blackboard all day  without end.  If you are old enough to remember this particular feeling, (or even a blackboard)  then you know it was that painful knife-like  feeling thrust through your stomach that echoed throughout your whole body. Well, that was the way I felt all the time, particularly in the morning each day.  I wanted never to get up. Here is where motivation  follows action . Move the body and the mind will follow.

When I speak of the pain that threw me to the ground and ended the familiar  life that I knew,  the members of the Depressed Anonymous group know exactly what I am talking about. Depression is physically  painful.  Usually when I tell someone I was depressed, they normally  don’t understand, unless of course, they have been depressed themselves.

In my case, I unconsciously  caused and created  my depression, and allowed the symptoms to grind me down until I took steps to feel differently.  The steps that I took   was to attend the “miracle of the Depressed Anonymous group ” where  I could share my own experiences, strength and hope, make the 12 Steps a daily part of my life, and to share this message of hope with all who feel the same way as I did.

Believing in a Higher Power greater than myself  continues to keep me sane and living one day at a time. It works. It can work for you as well.

For more information contact us @

Depanon@netpenny.net and read  what we are about @ depressedanon.com.

Resources:

Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publicatiuons. Louisville, KY 40241.

Home Study Program of Recovery  (See DA literature here at The Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore).

 

If God is for us who can be against us?

 

Is this not a strange way to open up our blog today? Depends. It centers around what our topic might be. Today our topic is centered on spirituality and depression.  As a member of a 12 Step fellowship, Depressed Anonymous,  we talk and reflect  upon the fact that  we believe in a Power greater than ourselves.  We also commit ourselves to the belief in Step two  that “a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity.” Following this  we reflect on Step Three which states  that we “Made a decision  to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand God to be.”

It was here at this point that Bill W., and Dr. Bob made a very important decision in how God would be presented  to the alcoholic, who  for many different reasons would reject the idea that the God of their understanding had their best interests at heart.  Their idea of what the “preachers” had to say about God was not what they were looking for. In fact, there were the “preachers” in New York’s Bowery, during the Great Depression of the 1930’s who set up store-front churches where the practicing  alcoholics come, get off the street, get a free meal, and hear a Christian message about salvation, redemption and  freedom from drink. But it appeared that some of the preachers emphasized hellfire  and fear instead of giving the alcoholic a way out that included a plan – a simple process of surrender and how “to turn over our will  and life over to  God as we understood God to be.”

I believe with  poet Robert Frost, who wrote that memorable poem, The road less traveled, where he was faced with a fork in the road, one road  went one way and one the other.  The one he eventually took was “the road less traveled.”

This poem speaks to me when I think of Bill W., the cofounder of Alcoholics Anonymous, who by his personal experience with the God as he understood God, provided him with a way to understand God, not just a Christian God, a Buddhist God, a Muslim God, but a God as we understand God.  It was only when he had his own epiphany with God, did it prepare him to share this understanding with other alcoholics so  all could choose the God of their own understanding–not just the God of the Christian “preachers.”

This was the freedom that the early A.A., pioneers brought into the discussion where anyone could believe whatever they wanted about a Higher Power. In today’s modern world, you can find AA, NA, DA, Al-Anon in almost every nation on the planet.  If he had not traveled down a road that only God knew where it led, would we have the Twelve Steps be open to all, regardless of their own spiritual beliefs or religious dogmas.

The following is an autobiographical  account of Bill W.,s  own encounter with God.

“My depression deepened unbearably, and  it seemed to me as though I was at the very bottom of the pit. For the moment, the last vestige of my proud obstinacy was crushed. All at once, I found myself crying out,  “If there is God, let Him show Himself! I am ready to do anything, anything!

Suddenly the room lit up with a great light. It seemed to me, in my mind’s eye, that I was on a mountain and that a wind not of air but of spirit was blowing. And then it burst upon me  that I was a free  man. Slowly the ecstasy subsided. I lay on the bed, but now for a time I was in another world, a new world of consciousness. All about me and through me there was a wonderful presence, and I thought to myself, so this is the God  of the preachers!” A.A. Comes of Age. p.63.

And finally, there was another road that Bill W., and others traveled and that was how one alcoholic talking with another alcoholic, sharing their story, would make all  the difference in the world.  It’s a simple story, one recovering alcoholic being open, honest and willing  to share their own painful story with another alcoholic, one person at a time. One day at a time.

I am one of those persons with whom a recovered  alcoholic shared his story. Today, I am celebrating  my 32nd year recovery birthday. I am a friend of Bill W.

Hugh

 

“A rock in a rocky sea which we all hold onto.

“Remarkable things happen to us when we are willing to admit defeat and talk about our powerlessness over our depression and how our lives had become unmanageable. This first step is the beginning of the flight of steps that takes us up and into our new way of living.  At our fellowship of Depressed Anonymous we talk hope, we act hopeful, and we think hope. We learn that our thinking depressed and negative  thoughts might have gotten us in the shape that we are in today.  What you think is what you become. For us who find sadness our second nature, we at times continue to revert to the comfort of old familiar negative thinking and are in  actuality returning to self destructive activity. Hope is overcome by  sadness.

When we become convinced that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity, we found ourselves turning many times during a twenty four hour period to that power.  It is a rock in a rocky sea that we all hold onto when we find it easier to just give up and sadden ourselves instead of facing the storm and living through the fear. What Bill W., said about the alcoholic applies equally to the saddict: “He or she can settle for mediocrity and self-satisfaction even though this may indeed prove to be a precarious perch. Or he/she can choose to go on growing in greatness of spirit and action.”

You never stop using and following the steps of the program. We are  in recovery all our lives. You don’t graduate. When we return to saddening ourselves, we return to the old compulsion that can again reduce us to that bankrupt individual who is bereft of peace and hope. We want to grow in the conviction that the Higher Power will restore us to sanity. One of the best ways to grow out of our  saddiction  is to start acting the healer instead of being the passive victim.  We are under the care of no one except our God.

This spiritual awakening is enhanced even further when we make a decision to turn our wills and our minds over to the care of God. Without a doubt this is a very big step for many people to trust anybody – and now especially to trust a God who they have spent a lifetime fearing. It is this decision which allows us to feel freedom when  we start to practice the daily turning over of our will to God. It frees us up and as we pray and listen in our meditation times, we find that our spiritual capacity to connect with the Higher Power is greatly magnified.”

SOURCE:  Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition.(2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. Page 107.

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” It has to be that what one believes is what one can become. Actually it is a self fulfilling prophecy  that how we conceive of our self is what we can become. This having a dream and setting out some life goals can lead to a life filled with hope and promises.  And for those of us who take our 12 Step fellowship seriously and stay actively involved one day at a time, soon discover the joy and serenity that this spiritually rich recovery program provides.”

SOURCE: I’ll do it when I feel better. (2016) Hugh Smith. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.KY. Page 85.

 

Does mid-life = half-life?

I accepted that God, as the God of my understanding is loving and forgiving. The 12 Step group and our God is the pillar of our strength and healing. The #2 STATEMENT OF BELIEF  of Depressed Anonymous.

In  depression the first thing that we must do is to take charge of our lives and incorporate a planned pleasant activity in our daily lives.  If  I don’t, I will continue to linger on alone and live a half-life. Nothing beyond my reach can absorb my pain of isolation and feeling worthless. This is especially true for many of us in mid-life where the dreams we once thought possible  remain stillborn. We seem to have lost the time to do something positive with our lives. We feel stuck. I want to get involved with  a  fellowship of persons who are learning new ways of living with a sense of purpose. We want to live our lives  with hope.  Step  Two of Depressed Anonymous states that “we came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. We will “let go and let God.”

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Comment: I am thinking this  morning and attempting to clarify some of my thinking about having a purpose for my life. I remember that it was at the  mid-life point of my life (45 years) where my life  gradually screeched to a   halt.  That is when my life, plummeted down to the   half-life point. My life’s meaning, instead of providing hope and purpose drew my resources down until the only purpose that I could envision was to try and get out of bed in the morning.  My concentration was focused–but only on my pain. Another way of looking at it is using  the   metaphor of looking at the gas gauge on your car’s dash and seeing that it reads empty.

When I discovered a group of people, just like myself, in the 12 Step recovery program  did my life began to happen. My experience with depression and living daily  the recovery process has provided me with a wealth of purposeful living and meaning. My half-life became a very full  life. Everyday I am blessed to be able to communicate with person depressed, be it locally or from the far corners of  the world. Whether it is with emails, SKYPE or to meet  face to face with fellow members sharing their  experiences and who are  desiring a  way out of their depression.

I know from personal experience that mid-life or really any part of one’s life  there may be a need for a reexamination of what our life is about and possibly for it to take a more purposeful direction. And no matter where our life stands today we are always poised on making it purposeful and filled with meaning. A full life is one filled with hope, service to others while embedded in a fellowship of persons like ourselves. For myself today, I know it is my fellowship group, Depressed Anonymous.

Take the plunge if you like and find out how you too can have a life filled with purpose, service to others like yourself, and part of a dynamic Depressed Anonymous 12 Step group.

SOURCES:  (c) Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression (2015) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

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

 

” For the first time in 14 years I have hope…”

”  I had always known that  I was hard on myself. I reamed myself every time something bad happened. “Why can’t I find someone to love me?” “Why isn’t God looking after me?”   But for some reason, when I realized that I was doing this to myself, it made me realize that maybe all that I  would have to do is to stop doing it.   All of a sudden it made sense.

If I tell myself negative thoughts, I feel negative. If I tell myself nothing, I feel nothing.  So if I tell myself positive thoughts, eventually I’ll have to feel positive.

Of course I’m still testing it out, but I feel better and for the first time in 14  years I have hope, It’s not that hard to find something positive about myself or my life now. So I remind  myself of something positive every day and that’s what I am going to do until I don’t have to remind myself anymore because I’ll know.”

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To read more by this member of Depressed Anonymous see #9, A VICTIM IN MY OWN MIND in the Personal Stories contained in Depressed Anonymous, pages 120-121.

Also, it’s good to remember as pointed out in the 1st Statement of Belief in Believing is Seeing,  that “I accept and believe that however  hopeless everything appears right now, I will make a decision to recover from depression.  I am not helpless.  I will make a choice  to get better.”

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

 (c)Believing is seeing: 15  ways to leave the prison of depression. (2014) Depressed Anonymous Publications.

Louisville.

Information for additional literature on Depression and the 12 Steps of recovery is available at   VISIT THE STORE. (See Menu)

“PROCRASTINATION IS REALLY SLOTH IN FIVE SYLLABLES.”

AFFIRMATION

‘I will do it now and not wait til I feel better.”

Procrastination is really sloth in five syllables.”

“The ones who get better are the ones who work their program, go to meetings, have a sponsor and have a faith that this program of recovery will work for them as it has for thousands of others who have suffered with depression. I used to tell myself that I would start serious work on myself when I had more time, felt a little more cheerful or whatever. I know that these are all good examples of sloth or procrastination. I think depressed people have to fight against this more than others because at the very core of depression is a desire to not make a decision but to stay parked in neutral. To move out of depression takes an act of will because I will never feel better til I get into action.

I want to get well. I do want to feel better. I know that to begin to feel better, I will have to get into motion..

MEDITATION

We are going to commit ourselves to you, God. We are going to trust in you, and we have the faith that you will act boldly in our lives today! ”

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RESOURCES: 1. (c) Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 step fellowship groups. (1993, 1999) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages129-130.

2.  (c)  I’ll do it when I feel better.” (2013) 2nd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

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