Faith appears to be good for one’s health.

Joyce  was a client of mine a few years back. She was in her early sixties and just recuperating from   a successful  open heart surgery. She also was very  depressed.  That’s where I come in. I was asked by my clinical supervisor  if I would spend some time with her and see  how I might be of help to her.  I agreed to do what I could do.

In the midst of counseling and listening to Joyce’s  story, I discovered her  strong faith,  which included her personal faith in God which gave her the belief that she was going to get through whatever  that had her  in lockdown.

She wasn’t aware of our Depressed Anonymous group and so I shared my story with her and the fact that I too  was once depressed. I told her how I became a  believer in the spirituality of the Twelve Steps and how my belief in God  delivered me from my symptoms of depression. Now don’t get me wrong -my own story is that it took me over a year to finally  get free of this noose around my neck.  Also, because of my faith in a program and the  recovered  people who lived it out in their daily lives,  I started on the road to recovery.

My faith told me if I would follow some of the simple steps outlined in this recovery program I would get better. My faith got me off of my seat,  out of bed and out my door to begin walking.  I believed  walking might be the key that unlocked my prison of depression. I read  that some Doctors in England were writing out   prescriptions for exercise for their depressed patients. I figured that it worked for them and so why wouldn’t exercise work for me.  After a year of walking everyday I finally walked out of the mental fog, lost the jitters and became free of depression. My faith in a Higher Power and my getting my body moving on a daily basis produced the healing effect that I had hoped for.

Back to Joyce. She and I had ten sessions together and I suggested to her that she start to think about the things that she did before her depression. What provided the satisfaction  and those pleasant events previously in her life. She talked about how she at one time was a cartoonist as well as a lover of writing poetry. So, that is what I suggested — that she involve herself with these pleasant activities again.  She said that she believed that she could do it–even though her mind and body rebelled at moving out of her comfort zone of doing absolutely nothing. The main defense for doing nothing is the oft repeated mantra from all of us when  we are depressed which  is “I’ll do it when I feel better.”

With each new session she would share with me a cartoon or a poem which she had created the previous  week. As she continued doing what she liked, I  noticed more energy in her voice as she shared her feelings about her new  creations.  All the while, she was compliant with her own physical recovery from heart surgery. Her pleasant moods  gave her a feeling of being in control of her life and her future.  She came to believe that a power greater than herself would restore not only her sanity but her health as well. Her faith was renewed in the God of her understanding while restoring  her belief that her  health was going to get better. Not only did  she have a plan to follow but she made the spiritual principles of the Twelve Steps her way out of depression. She continues to follow this map to this very day.

The following quote is from a work  titled,  The Secret Strength of Depression written by Frederic Flach, M.D., K.H.S.

Faith appears to be good for one’s overall health. Cardiovascular illnesses are more frequently seen in depressed individuals, in patients with coronary ischemia, depression worsens the outcome, possibly due to alterations in platelet function and changes in autonomic tone. Depression is also associated with a higher mortality rate following acute myocardial infarction; for those patients who survive, the recovery process is often a more complicated  one. Studies suggest that the recovery rate from medical and surgical procedures, from the repair of hip  fractures to coronary bypass surgery, is faster among believers. Moreover, patients undergoing such treatment appear less likely to have serious complications or die.” Page 239.

SOURCES:  Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications.  Louisville. Ky.

Copyright(c)  I’ll do it when I feel better. 2nd  Edition 1986,  2013.  Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.

Copyright)(c)  Believing is seeing:15 Ways to leave the prison of depression. (2017)  Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky.

I am learning how to reinforce my own worth!

AFFIRMATION

I am getting healthier the more I realize that I don’t have to feel the way I feel and I have the option to feel content and even smile today if I so desire. I will act like I want.  I will  smile even though I don’t feel like smiling.

If you have made yourself a martyr to your unappreciative family, remember the principle of partial reinforcement and apply it to your family. If you are always at their beck and call trying to meet their every demand, they will not appreciate you, but once they find that they cannot rely on you to meet ther demands, they will appreciate what you do for them.” (7)

RELECTION/CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

I know that so often those who are codependent and live all the time in everyone else’s feelings need remember that the real maturity and happiness lies in being there for me not for  everyone else. I think that this reflection points out the fact that I need to reinforce my own worth by going to meetings, actively getting involved with my own recovery and putting this recovery over anything or anyone else. If I am going to begin to be a pleasant person, I will want to learn how to be pleasant to myself.

Now is the time and this is the program where I want to detach from other people’s opinions of myself and start to reflect on my own opinions about myself.  When I am depressed, I know that I haven’t been able to get angry, nor able to forgive anyone, much less to forgive myself. I feel totally cheerless. I meet my own demands and continue to work the Steps so as to get in  touch with what I need to do  to reinforce positive concepts that I am forming about myself. I need to get prepared for a new day today.

“We are now on a different basis: the basis of trusting and relying upon God. We trust God rather than on our finite selves, just to the extent that we do as we think God would have us do., and humbly rely on him, does he enable us to match calamity with serenity.” (As Bill sees it, p.265).

MEDIATION

When we gradually work our way to our real self we get closer to the God who made us.

SOURCE: Copyright(c) Higher thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of the 12 step fellowship groups. Depressed  Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 14, 15.

 

Good stress and bad stress

 

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

“There is good stress and bad stress. Good stress challenges us to live each day with enthusiasm and hope as we go  about our daily routine.  Bad stress  is that which causes us to worry, be concerned about  things which we have no control over and generally  causes us to feel tired.  By following our 12 step program  of recovery, we discover that our life can have hope and purpose.

We believe that the God of our understanding makes it possible for us to gradually eradicate our need to worry  and distress ourselves. I am like the addict who continually needs to medicate their feelings of helplessness and hopelessness by saddening  myself when things look bleak and out of control. With the help of my Higher Power, I believe I can begin to feel better as I take the proper means to take care of my physical health.”

SOURCE:  Copyright(c) Higher Thoughts for down days:365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pg. 159. August 8th.

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The following is an example of a member of Depressed Anonymous turning  their bad stress  into good stress:

At first I was frightened by my various symptoms of depression. The symptoms proved to be baffling. I was not able to get out of bed of a morning as well as being unable to concentrate or manage a complex thought.  I began to worry that I was losing my mind and I often asked myself if I was going to survive.  But now my ability to handle situations in a meaningful way is due to my frequent attendance at meetings, and by making a daily time for prayer and meditation and a feeling that my life has purpose and meaning. The more I am physically active, i.e., going to meetings even when I don’t feel like it. Working in my Depressed Anonymous Workbook, reading my 12 step literature.

This is where my freedom begins.  And yes, I do feel lousy at times but I also know that nothing can stand in my way to make choices in my own behalf. Previous to my involvement with the group I had no idea that my depression was not so powerful as to prevent me from even thinking that I could choose to feel differently.”

SOURCE: I’ll do it when I feel better. (2016) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 50-51.

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Depressed Anonymous. Pollyanna or the real deal ?

Is Depressed Anonymous the real deal or is it just too good to be true. Are we much like the novel character Pollyanna, over optimistic about everything or are we the realists who take life on lives terms and then deal with it the best way that we can. For all of us who are program people we know the answer to that question.

The best way to deal with any problem or life situation  is to face it squarely and deal with it.  Feelings and all have to be felt, looked at and then dealt with. Take it from me and the  many others who come into our program depressed and who discover that we are not the” pie in the sky “people,  the people with the magic potions or the magic wand wafted over  our heads. But, we are the solution focused folks who will help you build a program that will last a lifetime, giving hope, with a fellowship of hopeful people with whom one can always be in contact with.

One of the areas of life that the depressed has not much experience with is to be like  little  Pollyanna of Porter’s  novels.  Most times the gloom that settles in our minds and heart are those feelings of despair and darkness which we are unable to shake off. It’s that feeling of hopelessness, the feeling of being completely helpless as we gradually make our whole existence one of inner pain  and anxiousness. We can’t sleep–or we sleep too much. We eat too little or we overeat.   Our life is lived out in what feels like a prison cell. It’s a prison without bars, granted, but we cannot  leave it just because we will to.  Will power is initially useless. I know, I tried that route. The Depressed Anonymous fellowship is one of the means which provide  us with a key–a way to leave this prison of isolation.

And then here comes this group called Depressed Anonymous.  Why go to a  group of people who are depressed and listen to stories  about their sense of futility and oppression? That would be depressing! That is, unless they are using in their lives the 12 spiritual principles of Depressed Anonymous. This is the  blueprint which build one step at a time the rest of the structure  that, like the Alcoholic, overeater, all build a structure that can  last a life time. Once they are onboard and begin using Steps for their own personal recovery to build a new life of hope, no adversity can force them to go back to their old and addictive behaviors.

The depression experience is what brings them into our fellowship and it is here that hope is gradually restored. But please, we don ‘t have the easy answers or  magic pills, or the magic wand to make our pain go away.  What we do is provide a plan, a blueprint if you will, a daily dose of hope with a lively  fellowship, sponsors and literature.

There is no sugar coating here. No whitewashing the pain of an individual depression experience. But just like the alcoholic who makes a commitment to keep from alcohol one day at a time, we too have the same program. We come in and decide that yes, I have a problem,  and yes  I will do all in my power,  plus with the ever present  God of my understanding,  change what needs to be changed in my life, one  day at a time.  This is the real deal. And so won’t you join us in this program of recovery and make the effort to discover how you too can live a life of hope and happiness.

Hugh

 

 

“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.