THE NEAR-LIFE EXPERIENCE
I was in the middle of working my way out of the fog of my melancholia(depression) when suddenly I felt a lift in my spirit. It felt so strange, this feeling of deliverance. It was the way I was before my disabling sadness imprisoned me. I was always a cheerful and upbeat sort of guy and in the blink of an eye, I was thinking the pain was over. Not so quick I thought–“this won’t last”. Right on. It didn’t. So, I continued my 5 mile walk through the mall and wondered about this near-life experience that I just had. It was back to that deadly hollow feeling in my gut with thoughts that traveled through my brain like cold molasses.
Because I didn’t have a clue what was happening to me physically, mentally and even spiritually, I knew something, whatever that something was had almost completely disabled me. It was torture to even force myself out of bed. I resented folks who were laughing and having a good time. And this intolerable hollow feeling inside of me continued eating away at me until I thought I would die. I knew I had to keep my job and keep on keeping on. My face became a mask. Inside I was dying. On the outside my persona continued as the nice guy, the upbeat and positive guy. My face turned me into a liar.
Gradually though, my very brief brush with a light feeling, a near-life feeling, became a life once known as a very welcome old friend. The hollowness disappeared. My inside feelings were the same that was on my face.
People talk about having a near- death experience. You know, the light at the end of the tunnel –being in another dimension and then suddenly coming back to the fact that you are not dead–and that you are alive. Most times this experience–this out of body experience makes you appreciate the time that you do have left to live and love others. You now have a full life.
Basically, this is what happened to me when I was so depressed I thought I was losing my mind, everything. I was living life but not on all six cylinders. Now, after coming out of my prison of depression and using the spiritual principles of the Twelve Steps for my own recovery my life is no longer just a near-life experience-it is a full life filled with fellowship friends and hope.
Are you wishing for a full life, filled with hope and serenity? You can have it. As it says in the PROMISES OF DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS, #7 “We now have less concern about self and gain interest in others.”
Read about the full life that is available for you @ DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS, 3RD EDITION (2013) .DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS PUBLICATIONS. LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY.
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.
“To thine own self be true.” is an old axiom that has much merit for those of us who work the spiritual program of the Twelve Steps. Often in therapy I ask people to list as many strengths as they can, and for some this is a difficult task when they are depressed and the world appears to be a grey and fearsome dark place. But this is a n inventory that we must make– we must begin to look at our strengths and stop wallowing in the self-pity which denies the new directions and progress occurring in our lives through the life of our depression, namely that we can’t seem to see the gracious goodness in ourselves that has been placed there for all time by the Higher Power. This in itself is the attitude that keeps alive our depression, sadness and self-deprecating attitudes. We need to look at our assets and list our strengths as we gather together time after time in our Depressed Anonymous group or our individual working ( HOME STUDY PROGRAM) of the Twelve Step program in our lives. We need to remove as quickly as possible all the old excuses and reasons that we cling to which keep us depressed and out of healthful recovery. Let’s be objective about ourselves and admit that just as we possibly have caused ourselves to be depressed, we likewise can un-depress ourselves in the same way.”
SOURCE: DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS, (3rd Edition, 2011).. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Ky 40217. (p. 56)
Only when I had taken a complete inventory of my own life (Step Four) did I realize that certain ways of personal thinking, feeling and behaviors gradually spiraled me physically into the painful pit of my own personally manufactured melancholia. (Some depression experiences can also be the result of physical illness/diseases. That is why it is best to talk to a medical professional before we diagnose ourselves. ) Now here is the part that people can’t quite understand –that we caused ourselves to be depressed. How could that be? Why would I want to cause myself so much pain? Good question. The real issue here is that I discovered over time that because of emotional issues that were mine, mostly unpleasant to reflect upon, such as guilt, shame producing isolation from family, friends and the world, plus the grief over lost employment and relationships. And then, because of this continued mental and emotional beating myself up it all came crashing down as no longer could I think of anything but disaster, grief and gloom. I became paralyzed emotionally, physically and spiritually and mentally. My body responded by not responding so that in time it was a battle just to get out of bed. So, there you have it. I caused all this by the way I thought about myself. In Step Four I was able to take each issue by itself and then to see how I might restore myself before my experience with depression. I learned how to un-depress myself. Remember, most of the things that come “out of the blue” are the rain, snow and lightening. And now that I know where my melancholia originated and why, I am un-depressed today.
I thought I was losing my mind. Why? Well, when I was depressed, when I tried to read something–anything, I found to my surprise that I couldn’t retain information that I just read. In fact I would have to go back and re-read what I had just read. After awhile it seemed futile trying to read anything and retain it. And here is the catch– this is where I got scared–no, not just a little bit worried–I was shaken. It was as if I lost my short term memory completely. I wondered what was going on in my brain? Was I suffering from some rare neurological disease or what? As it turned out I was also completely washed out. I couldn’t wait to get home after work and go to bed. And another thing is that if I saw someone laughing or having a good time — I hated it! What right did they have enjoying life when all I could feel was the pain of my melancholia. I was helpless and hopeless. I felt out of control plus unable to manage anything for myself that I would consider positive.
Quite a composite of symptoms all telling me that something was not right. But what was the answer? What could all this mean?
So, I decided to move my body and get out everyday and put some miles on my feet. Get some exercise. Get the blood flowing to my brain and wherever else it needed to go. Since these events were something new to me I didn’t really know what I had. I just knew I needed to do something–so, walking seemed my best bet. Over a year’s time it worked its healing and slowly my cognitive abilities returned. I began to feel more in control and a lightness came to me which had slowly evaporated a year previous. What I am trying to share with you here is that when and if these symptoms make up part of your living experience, just know that they won’t last forever.
One of the many treasures of the Depressed Anonymous group is that when I tell my story with all my crazy physical symptoms, and how over time they gradually left me, it is here that members of our fellowship knew they had come to the right place for help. They are no longer alone. And, they have a toolbox of skills, thanks to those who share their stories of recovery and how they too are no longer depressed. My story is their story!
Wow! How about that? Late UN-breaking news? Everywhere you go–it’s late breaking news. Come on folks.
I would be satisfied with more late UN-breaking news myself. Put a trailer at the bottom of the screen and just let the late breaking news pass us by–like a watching the #17 bus head down the street. Well, anyway, I have some late UN-breaking news for you. As you can tell from the title of my BLOG, what I share here is pretty much your regular UN-breaking news. You know, like hey, if you are depressed have you ever considered doing this or trying that or whatever for your melancholia. By the way, that is what they used to call it–melancholia. That is about as UN-breaking as you can get. If you feel depressed, paralyzed by fear, fatigue and purposeless in your life it might be the news for you to know there is hope. Maybe you know or don’t know that many times people who come into counseling for their symptoms of depression want relief–and they want it now. Not tomorrow–not next week–they want it now. Yes, that is what they want. So did I when my life was falling apart. I couldn’t even put a label on what was happening inside of me. I felt helpless. Hopeless. But the REAL BREAKING NEWS is that we have discovered, like millions before us, that once I began to believe in a Power greater than myself, my life gradually began to change. Don’t get me wrong, we don’t have the magic potion or the magic wand to all of a sudden remove feelings of pain, anxiety, fear and lack of a desire to want to live. Let me share with you what we do have to offer. We have a suggested solution. (This is really old news.)
In the coming days I would like to share with you my thoughts -solutions- about depression and its relationship to spirituality. What this means is there a Power greater than yourself that you believe in?
Stay tuned for more UN-breaking news to come. I think what we have to offer will provide you with HOPE!
I am growing in my faith in myself and believing that today is going to be a better day than was yesterday. That’s a promise!
“Remember that an oak tree once was an acorn, recovery begins by taking one step at a time and accepting responsibility for moving from depression into peace and serenity.”
How often must I learn not to get caught up in the mania of racing thoughts and flights of grandiosity as I flee from the depths of my sadness. I will not run from my sadness but, instead, will focus on the fact that that I have to stake my claim and say, this is it. I am going to get well, starting right now. When I was manic I feel panicky and very jittery, but when I am depressed or feel myself slipping down into the abyss of darkness. I run as fast as I can until I no longer can stop my racing thoughts nor find an end to the obsession of wanting complete perfection in everything that I do.
What this means is that I am going to believe that I am about to be released from a terminal illness. My sadness has dogged me throughout my life. I no longer am willing to give in to this Black Dog of sadness often labeled as “melancholia”. I have tried all the pills to rid myself from the anxiety of my soul until there were no more pills, no more solutions and no more avenues of escape. I could escape the pain from time to time, but not a lifetime of hurtful human experience. I am taking one step at a time — recovery is what my day is about today! The steps are my solution.
God, you call each of us by name. Give us the power to name anything that is blocking us from growing in the wisdom of your will for us today. Lead us in your peace, today.
SOURCE: Higher Thoughts for Down Days:365 Daily Thoughts and Meditations for Members of 12 step Fellowship Groups. Depressed Anonymous Groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Pgs. 230-231.