The following is an inventory designed to enable you to evaluate your present level of depression as well as your level of self-esteem. The painful experiences of depression has a profound and devastating effect on your self-esteem and self-concept. If you have a few moments, please take some time out to find out how you stand in these areas. And remember, this is only an inventory – how you score may be due more to your mood today and what you had for dinner more than anything else. No paper and pencil test is that all knowing. We are merely providing this tool to allow you to evaluate where you may stand in your own feelings of yourself.
While some people seem to have been born with a melancholy temperament and have therefore attained the state of depression quite naturally — others have been awakened to bad feelings only after experiencing certain life events. Loss of a loved one, a prized possession, one’s health or job, for instance, will often result in depression and low self-esteem and how we feel about ourselves. Still others may need to study the following principles of thinking and behaving to reach their desired levels of lost self-esteem and despair.
Although the following suggestions will not necessarily result in a full blown “clinical” depression ( that is, a depression observed in a counselling session or with a physician), they can be of great help to you if you have a desire to commit yourself to continue to make yourself feel bad. These principles are widely promulgated and are guaraneteed to lower or destroy your self esteem in short order.
Circle the answers below that best describe your own thinking, feelings and behavior. And in order to get yourself undepressed it would be smart to do just the opposite of each of the items listed below. The more we do the opposite the better you are going to feel.
- Avoid vacations or other pleasurable acitivities plus staying away from things your apt to look forward to.
- Work should be approached in one of two ways: Work without ceasing or never work at all. Draw the shades and stay in bed.
- Seek not to find a sense of meaning or purpose in your life.
- Cultivate negative thinking.
- Indulge on a regular basis, in self-blame, guilt and remorse.
- Pity yourself. Do it convincingly and for sustained periods of time.
- Pity others in the same way.
- Hinge your happiness on the achievement of a major life goal and watch it turn to ashes in your mouth.
- Do not make effective use of leisure time by planning too many activities, none at all, are only those you consider a worthless waste of time.
- Practice ongoing self physical and emotional abuse and dehumanization techniques. Beat your self up with punishing shame and guilty mind talk .
- Attempt to do the impossible, striving always to meet expectations and standards you cannot possibly meet.
- Habitually subordinate your own needs and wants to the needs and wants of others.
- Always believe that yo must repay every good thing that happens to you because you are uniquivically unworthy.
- Vizualize a supreme being who is meddling, controlling and heavy handed rather than one who is sustaining, guiding and encouraging.
- Never infringe upon understanding persons by asking them to sit and listen to your story.
- Avoid cultivating any sort of intellectual or creative potential you may have.
- Live vicariously through others, never attempt to create a life of your own.
- Refuse to accept any notion that there may be meaning and purpose in your life whether you see it or not.
- Squarely face the fact that in whatever pain and misery you may have experienced and or experiencing now, there is no purpose or meaning whatever .
- Take hold of the conviction that others opinions of you have far greater validity and significance than any opinions you may have of yourself.
- Believe it is more important to have someone else approve of you than any opinions you may have of yourself.
- Accpt and practice the widespread belief that the proper response to your failures, mistakes and hurtful behavior is self-condemnation, guilt and remorse.
- Remain convinced that you have something to prove to someome, whether you can identify that “someone” or not. Accept that there are things abut yourself which you will constantly need to erxplain or defend.
- Realize that it is selfish, egotistical and unacceptable to treat yourself kindly and lovingly.
- Accept as immutable truth that you are by nature a miserable and unclean wretch, deserving only condemnation, guilt and punishment.
- Refuse to see yourself as worthy and acceptable on the basis of your failures, mistake and shortcomings.
- Make it a practice to defer to others because of their education, wealth, power or position.
- Believe that you deserve and (accept with passivity) all insults, put downs, destructive criticism and other abuse from others.
- Accept the proposition that your personal worth and importance depend on what you have and what you achieve, rather what you are.
- Get comfortable with the belief that acting bad makes you a bad person.
- Try always to coerce others into making decisions for you in the vain hope of avoiding responsibilities for their consequneces.
- Learn to identify with your actions, realizing that what you are is wholly determined by what you do,
- Adopt the popular belief that you could be better if you only tried harder.
- Embrace the maxim that you always have compete freedom of will and choice.
EXPLANATION OF THE INVETORY
All the items contained in the inventory are very negative and that is the issue at stake here, namely when we are depressed we can’t find anything positive to say about ourselves, our future or our present life. But our attitudes have more to do than how we talk to ourselves. It has more with the way we have perceived ourselves in relation to the world outside ourselves. it also many times has much to do with the way we related in childhood to those adults who were responsible for our safety, love and nurturance.
PRACTICE THE OPPOSITE
In order for you to gradually begin the process of un-depressing yourself it is best that you start right now—today. Whatever items on the inventory that you circled you can start chipping away at your negative lifestyle and do the opposite of the behaviors of those circled items. For example, if you circled item #21 you would want to start approving of yourself in small ways instead of always depending on others approval. This is the way to greater self-esteem and the way out of the prison of depression –namely, turning the negative behavior into something positive and life giving. If you have a sponsor it would do well for you to go through each of the list on the inventory and work to commit yourself to positive behaviors for the items selected. Good luck! And God speed!
Inventory by Bob P.(c)Depressed Anonymous Publications
“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.
” 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.
If you really want to begin to “live outside the box“, a description of what the box feels like and looks like might be helpful to you. First of all, a box has an identifiable shape. It is a box mainly because it contains something–whatever that might be. And when we speak of the subject of depression, we talk about depression having us boxed in. The box as it is used here, in this context is a metaphor for feeling enclosed and which there is no exit. It is like being trapped or like in a prison.
Now, in order to live outside the box we want to live creatively, which means that we are having to learn how to live outside the box. Now, if you find this hard to believe -stick with me now as I will explain what I mean.
Just briefly, my own experience with depression can be used as an example. First of all, when I was depressed I thought that I was losing my mind. The box that I put myself in was getting more restricting by the day and making my life hell. I could see no way out. I was trapped. What could I do I asked myself? As hard as I tried, I couldn’t just will these feelings and scary thoughts away–like taking a broom and brushing them out of my life. No matter which way I turned I hit a wall. With no answers forthcoming on how to keep my head above water, my body slowly was being sucked down into the quicksand of despair. The thought came to me, much like that small glimmer, a tiny light so far away, but nevertheless a light. It was like the lighthouse which with its intense brightness warns seafarers that rocks were nearby and to be watchful before approaching. My mind began to race here and there for a way out of the box and then it hit me — get moving. Move the body. Get busy. The key out of this prison was already in my hand. And now, those of us here in the Depressed program of recovery,who have been putting “out of the box” ideas to work in our daily lives, we want to share what has worked for us and we know, if you actually use them for your own recovery, they are bound to ultimately free you. That is the promise I share with you today.
The following activities, listed below are some of the tools that will get you “out of the box” when you get serious about using them.
I think taking a close and personal look at the following tools will not only help you get “out of the box” but can be tools that you will be able to utilize, day after day as you continue your recovery.
- Exercise is a great tool if you happen to be depressed.
- Getting out into nature will also help put your mind on beauty and your surroundings.
- Overcoming fear is also a great place to learn how to get out of the box. Learn about “first fear” and “second fear.” Fear doe seem to be at the center of our life when depressed.
- Recite the “SERENITY PRAYER” as often as you need it.
- The present. Staying in the now.
- Making use of the God box. This is an exercise, a simple one at that, which helps us learn the discipline of “letting go.”
- Feelings need to be examined and expressed. We will look at why expressing feeling is so important, instead of having them bottled up and causing all sorts of physical and emotional problems.
- Disable negative thinking: learn how to short circuit negative thoughts when they pop into our minds.
- Reading Depressed Anonymous literature and all material on the subject of depression.
- Learn how we all have choices. We make those decisions that bring us closer to freedom–not those that continue to imprison and box us.
- Journaling is a great tool for writing down what has been our experience for the day. It helps to clarify our thinking and puts things into perspective.
In the next post, I will begin placing attention on each of the eleven ideas listed above. Gradually we can take time to evaluate our response to each individually and make our own notes as how to use these recommended ideas for our own recovery.