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).

 

When will I feel better?

Often I ask myself about the length of the depression experience and what makes it end.  One author quotes  someone who  asks “When will I feel better?”   I asked myself the very same question, with never getting a  satisfactory answer.  That is, until I read Jonathon Rottenberg’s book The Depths. His work, is my “go to ” guy when I want to learn more about moods and how they affect our daily lives.

Rottenberg, whom I have just finished reading gives us some pertinent information on the subject.  He tells us that ” Martin Keller and his colleagues followed a cohort of 431 patients diagnosed with depression – many of them so debilitated that they had been hospitalized over a five year period. Two months into the observation, nearly one in three had recovered from the episode. By six months, over half the patients had recovered ….

Likewise, data from samples that are more representative of the average depressed person  in the community, suggest that depression will last a year or less 90% of the time.”

The author,Jonathon Rottenberg, in his insightful and helpful account,  Out of the Depths: The Evolutionary Origins of the Depression Epidemic,  tells us that the experts have referred to depression as a self-limiting condition, a problem that ends in by itself.

“…But as depression grinds on, vague bromides don’t work so well. For someone at the end of her rope, whose patience is measured in days or hours, it’s the pace of improvement that is critical. Someone who  has already the best years of life torn up by depression wants to know, “When will I be better?” Hearing that most people recover eventually, even if it’s true, is not good enough.” We all want to know what can make this recovery possible? With my own personal battle with depression and a feeling that I might never escape that tight hold that it had on my thinking and feelings, I   wanted to know how long this journey in “death valley  was to continue. As I never got an answer to my question,I continued the trek through the fog.  It was  about a year and half later that I began to have a rise in my mood. I felt just a tad of cheer and hope as I continued my long walks in the mall where I spent all of my daily mornings before work.  Even though I never had a  clue as to when I would feel better, I kept  waiting for the moment when the gut wrenching  pain would be over. When the mood changed for me, from sad to hopeful, my life and moods began to spiral upwards instead of following  their usual negative trajectory downwards.

I do know this, that I  have lived my life without depression for at least three decades now. I attribute the fact of my recovery to a continued use of a resource, the Depressed Anonymous meeting, plus putting  the Twelve Principles of the 12 Steps in action in my everyday life.

Back to the question: “When will I feel better?” When will anybody feel better? I can’t answer that. I wish that I could. I did not know that 90% of persons depressed, do get better in time.  That is good news. That is something to share with depressed persons, and sometimes various treatments do  help in ending the torment of the depression experience. Even though the experts tell us that  the depression experience is self-limiting, this in a small way can provide some hope for the  one who has suffered  depression all of their life.

Jonathon’s,The Depths, is a work that  has a permanent  place in my reference  library.

RESOURCES:

Jonathon Rottenberg. The Depths: The Evolutionary Origins of the Depression Epidemic. Basic  Books.  A Member of the Perseus  Books Group. New York.  NY.

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

 

I can’t do anything to remove my compulsive behavior until I choose to live without it!

REFLECTION

I know that I have to continue to work on myself and the way that I speak to myself on an ongoing and daily basis. My letting go and let God take over my life doesn’t mean that I’ll just sit back and let God do all the work. No, it means that I will work on myself and leave the outcome up to my Higher Power. I know that my life can be lived differently if I make the effort to choose to become conscious of the thoughts that I let myself ruminate and think about during my day. The more I monitor my thoughts, the more I  am able to filter out the negative thoughts and have them replaced with positive and constructive thoughts.

So often, when I am depressed I continue a thinking style that was learned as a small child. I am not even counscious as to how I would always select the negative attribute about myself to reflect upon, instead of   thinking  positive and hopeful thoughts about myself and my relationships. The more I believe that I have a choice as to how I am to  feel, the more I become conscious of the thoughts that influence the way I feel.

BECOMING MINDFUL

God, let me just for today, dwell on your mercy and kindness that you desire to bestow on us. We pray that our awareness of your love for us will free us from our sadness.

Resources:

(c) Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 Step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous  Publications. Louisville, KY  December 14th.

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

(c) The Depressed Anonymous Workbook (2002)  Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.

Put a HIGHER THOUGHT in your life every day. A spiritual vitamin will increase your spiritual metabolism so that you  begin to replace negative thinking with thoughts of hope and serenity.

You may order online from the Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore at www.depressedanon.com

People have the seeds of their own recovery within themselves.”

 

” Having spent time researching causes of, and vulnerability to depression, I know that I was a prime candidate for the disorder.  The person typically diagnosed as depressed is likely to be a married woman who is also  a mother, and beset with practical problems.: Children, interpersonal relationships, and spouse concerns. What I learned from my own depression and recovery and try to practice when working with clients, is that people have the seeds of their own revival within them. I want to ask the right questions so that people can hear what they say, recognize what changes they want to make, and how they can choose to make them. Specific time limits are met, and I prefer to focus initially on people making changes in their behavior, rather than mood. I explain that although  the depressed mood colors the whole world, it  has not been shown to be causally related to improvement, whereas behavior has.

When clients know that there are specific and tangible things they can do, they begin to experience an immediate upswing.  A specific time limit is often motivating.  People begin to see themselves making positive changes in their behavior,  and can begin to change attitudes about themselves.  They begin to see themselves controlling aspects  of their environment, and as this happens, helplessness and hopelessness begin to dissipate and self- esteem level rises proportionally. People see themselves to be improving as a result of their own efforts. Nothing can  be more rewarding to a depressed person.”

Sources:  Wounded Healers. V. Rippere. Pages 86-87.

The Antidepressant Tablet  Vol. 2:3  Spring 1991.

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

Change always involves uncertainty.

“…Terrible though the prison of depression is, it seems to be a refuge from still greater horrors. You are afraid that you could plunge further into bottomless depths of complete destruction, madness and death…”

“Dangers, perhaps even great dangers, threaten you if you leave your prison of depression for the ordinary world. There you might have to change, and change is always involves uncertainty. The good thing about being depressed is that you can make every day the same. You can be sure of what is going to happen. You can ward off all those people and events that expect a response from you. Your prison life has a regular routine, and like any long term prisoner, you grow accustomed to the prison’s security and predictability. The prison of depression may not be  comfortable, but at least it is safe.”

Note: The two books referenced below will present to you the  many ways to overcome depression.

Depression: The Way out of your prison. Dorothy Rowe. 1983. Routledge and Kegan Paul. London. Page 127.

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

VISIT THE STORE AT THE DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS BOOKSTORE FOR BOOKS DEALING DEPRESSION AND SPIRITUALITY.

“I never had a birthday party as a child.”

I think that it is hard to believe that any small child never had his or her birthday celebrated with candles, songs, friends and cake. In most cultures (if not all?) all children have  parties to celebrate the fact that  they are loved and prized.  Some of my own birthday parties stand out as somehow more remembered  than others. A lot had to do with  the fact that I was remembered as someone special to my family and friends.  Much of the talk at those  parties,   centered around our birth day itself, with Mom telling  about her experiences  on that day.   I also love pictures of those childhood  parties–showing candles being blown out and the receiving gifts from family and friends.

I want to quote  from our manual Depressed Anonymous (pages 90)  which relates how  not receiving love and acceptance for who we are has for some  led to those sad feelings  of anger, and rejection when mention of children celebrating their own birthdays is   illustated.

“Many times persons depressed find that the more they get in touch with their  feelings, painful as they might be, the more they  need to remain with the feelings and feel them. This is the beginning of getting free from their tyranny. We have to get in touch with our feelings of anger, sadness, and the fact of our denial that we have even experienced  the fierce feelings of rejection so early in life. There may be some covered-over rage resulting from these  unpleasant childhood experiences. It’s amazing to hear people say that as children they never had a birthday party. We  know that  sadness, guilt, shame and a few other losses coming at one time in our life, can slowly push us over the line as we find ourselves overwhelmed with stress and feelings of defeat. It’s this subtle feeling of being out of control that brings   a  deepening sadness  we feel totally    immobilized.

…(Many)  times when we describe what we feel we begin to release in ourselves the feeling  “stuck ” that keeps us  in a mood of hopelessness.”

I can understand what a party which celebrates the fact that we are special and loved by others can do to our self-esteem.   It just might cause us to prize ourselves  and then to share who we are with others.  I’m not saying that to have or not have a birthday party as we grow up makes all the difference in our lives. It’s just  that it may  give us the message that we are loved just as we are. To be prized and made to feel special can  add a wonderful dimension to young lives.

The date of your birthday and how it is remembered is   more than just another day on the calendar. It’s your day! You can ask your self  “how was my last birthday”  and how will it  be different this year? Will my birthday be a day where I will reflect on all those persons in my life who I feel prized me for who I am? And are  there certain persons who you will always feel a gratitude for their presence and love  for you in good times and bad? Write down in your journal who these people are and what they mean to you today.

 

It takes hard work and faith to free oneself from depression.

MY AFFIRMATION FOR TODAY

I believe that with time and work I can feel better about myself.

“But don’t expect that one psychologist can tell you just what the trick is to get out of being depressed. There  is no trick, just hard work.” Dorothy Rowe. The way out of your prison. 2nd ed. (1983, 1996). Routledge. London.

The first three Steps of the Twelve  Steps are about faith and the remaining nine Steps are about action. One has to have faith that there is truly something bigger in this world than  one’s own depression and one’s perspective. I formerly used to believe  that I was stuck forever in these moods where I just didn’t want to live anymore. I was sick and tired of being sick  and tired with the feelings of despair. But now my program is a spiritual one and the spiritual way is the way out of my depression.

If I truly want to be free of my fears and anxieties, I will have to have faith that the God of my understanding is not going to  let me down.

My energies and commitment used to be directed toward finding ways to live always with the predictable and secure feelings that my sadness provided. I am working another program, one which will help me find a way to live a lifer filled with serenity and hope.

MEDITATION

God, help us know your will so that we may start today filled with hope. (Personal comments).

SOURCE: (c) Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of Twelve Step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

Moods produce feelings and feelings produce behavior

AFFIRMATION

I am going to believe that today is all I have and when I begin to feel better, I will not kill this feeling by telling myself that it won’t last. I will refrain from criticizing myself now.  I do have a choice. All of the Twelve Steps ask us to go contrary to our natural desires…they all deflate our egos. When it comes to ego deflation, few steps are harder to take than Step Five. (10).

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

The other night at a Step meeting one of the participants suggested that the reason she continued to stay depressed was the fact that she was still  living a life that came natural to her. In other words, she was still continuing to think the what she always thought in the past.  Now that she is living and working a program that is spiritual, her natural inclinations are not the driving force in her life. Her natural way of living kept her depressed. Her recovery program of living  in the Twelve Steps is providing her with some serenity.

Hugh’s comment

I want to add my comments here in response to the Depressed Anonymous participant quoted above. When she started to feel better she would put herself down–much like I did when I was beginning to feel better.  When my sad mood was beginning   to lift, my  first reaction was to tell myself “it’s not going to last,” which shot that good feeling  down almost immediately. I got hooked back  onto my old natural self of negativity and hopelessness.  It took me a while to get back on  track.  I realized that I scuttled myself. I had always scuttled myself with a running diatribe  against my self. And when I finally got free of my natural inclinations to beat myself up, primarily by living out in my daily life  the spiritual recovery program of the Steps. I also began   participating in the fellowship of Depressed Anonymous. I began to listen, not to my natural self, but to the  Steps of recovery,  now armed with the  spiritual armor provided to me,  I began the reconstruction of my life–one day at a time.

In a helpful look at depression and mood, Jonathon Rottenberg  tells us that

“Our perspective here is that, although depression’s pain is never entirely welcome, moods offer meaningful information about our status and prospects in the world. Without trivializing  how difficult it would be to “listen to depression” to extract evolution’s warnings, to find the signal amid the pain, this listening particularly in its aftermath, can be a vehicle to foster rebirth and transformative life change. Certainly it will be difficult to learn from depression if we don’t listen at all.”  (The Depths: The Evolutionary Origins of the Depression Epidemic. Basic Books. NY.2014. Page 195.)

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It is intended that my life be filled with hope and commitment to myself so that I can live out my life with a peace that overcomes fear. “To admit to  God, to ourselves, and to another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs.” (Step Five).

This is not the natural way to live. The naturel way to live is to deny that we have a problem. The more I work and live out my program, the better I am beginning to feel.

MINDFULNESS

We believe that the God of our understanding will help us visualize ourselves as happy and free persons. We will visualize in our mind all the good things that can happen to us if we believe that they can.  If God is with us and cares for us, why worry? (Personal  comments).

SOURCES: Copyright(c)  Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for Twelve Step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Kentucky. Pages 169-170.

Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. (1998,2008, 2011). Depressed ANONYMOUS  Publications. Louisville. Ky.

 

You can let your thoughts come into your mind, just don’t invite them to stay for tea.

The Promises of Depressed Anonymous: Promise #10 of 15.

Fear of people and economic insecurity will leave us.

Losses may produce a variety of very intense and painful feelings. Fear can cripple the best of us. Why fear people and economic insecurity? In Steps 4,5,6,7,8,9 we have examined our lives piece by piece, ending up with a good conscience, while feeling neither guilt or shame for things of the past. We have thrown off the shackles of the past.

Bill, in his personal testimony in the DA book relates that you don’t get better overnight, but you do get better. “I was down in the muck  as far as I could go.  I had to go and open  the door for the first time  because there was no other place to go. I had already used up all the hiding places in my life. I still have many problems like anyone else, but when I need sleep very badly, I turn the problem over to the Higher Power and go to sleep. I can always pick  life up in the morning. Somehow it all gets done. Every few days the world dumps on you and beats you down. That’s just life..” (Source: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition.)

I believe this man definitely “got it.” when he began attending the  group, spending some quiet time every day and learn that people like himself were able together to form a new environment, a surrogate  family if you will, where there exists healing and hope.

Granted the group cannot find you a job or take away fear of people, but it can provide you with a map where you can discover a way out of the prison of one’s depression. How can you learn that?

Kim, a member of DA in her personal story says that “the moment I read that I had a choice to stay in depression I undoubtedly knew that I could make the choice to get out of my depression. Bingo! It wasn’t an illness. This did not have control over me. And another tool I use frequently through the DA manual is  that “thoughts produce feelings, feelings produce moods and moods produce behavior.” (Source: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition.)

In the tradition of one major religion, there exist the three poisons, greed, anger and delusion. And as the saying goes “You can let your thoughts come into your mind, just don’t invite them to stay for tea.”

And as it says in the Bible; “Fear not, for I am with you. Let not your heart be troubled.”

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If you have ever experienced the pain and hurt of depression you know what the thoughts expressed here are all about.

I remember Bill very well from the time he came into our group for the first time. And  with time passing I saw him change right before my eyes and live out what he shares with us in his personal story in Depressed Anonymous. I do know that it is just in the sharing of who we are that life can begin for us once again. It truly is like a rebirth. I also know how our feelings produce our moods and the moods produce our behavior. My behavior shifted dramatically from the extrovert that I normally was to the reclusive and isolated person trying to figure out the “why” of my depression. It was only until I got moving did my  feelings begin to change and I became more positive in my thinking so that gradually I began to climb out of the deadness of my  inactive behavior. “If you want something that you never had before,  you must do something that you never did before.”  Doing that something will be the thing that will change your life!

SOURCES:    I’ll do it when I feel better. (2014). DAP. Louisville.

Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011)  DAP. Louisville.

Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression (2015) DAP. Louisville.