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 GOTTA BE ME! I AM RESPONSIBLE FOR ME.

” The sanity of the Twelve Step program is what will eventually help you change how you look at yourself and your experience of depression. The program shows that just because you have always felt miserable is no reason to remain miserable for the rest of your life. The sanity of placing your trust in a Power greater than yourself opens up great possibilities for your personal happiness  and success. If you have felt that you have  to be in total control of every situation in your life, then coming to believe in a power greater than yourself might be a frightening experience.    What would happen if suddenly you couldn’t control your unhappy situation with the comfort of sadness or self-pity?  Haven’t our sadness and thoughts of unworthiness been our last refuge from having to face ourselves, take charge and accept responsibility for  our own lives?

The escape into feelings of worthlessness and resignation over my depressing feelings is no longer an acceptable way for me to delay the hard choice of being responsible for me.  This statement is not made to make you feel guilty but only to help you see that, with time and by working the Twelve Steps on a daily basis and having the ongoing fellowship and support of the Depressed Anonymous group, you can begin to choose a way out!”

SOURCE: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Page 42-43.

SPEED BUMPS

What is a speed bump?  A speed bump  is simply a slight rise in the pavement to alert car drivers to slow down. Most of the speed bumps can be found  in residential areas/ neighborhood streets.  In some areas they are marked with yellow stripes .Depending on the necessity for motorists to drastically cut their speed, these bumps  are built with more height and force the motorist to come to almost a stop  to prevent  damage being done  to one’s vehicle.

I find the speed bump to be a metaphor for my own experience with  symptoms of depression. I do know that as my symptoms grew more in kind and strength I gradually reduced my activities.  My mind  was filled with obstacles which grew larger and more formidable as time went on. I found myself sitting alone and stalled. I found my personal speedometer registering 10mph instead of the normal 50mph.  The more I perceived  the speed bump ahead, rising out of the ground like a brick wall, I knew that I couldn’t  go any further. I was like the sail boater on the lookout for any breeze to get me moving again.

No matter how hard I tried to get over the bump,  I kept telling myself it was a  hopeless task. There was no way to get over  it.  I felt helpless. I kept telling myself that I might as well just stay where I was and so I shut off the engine. It was like I was terrified with fright. I thought of a thousand options but none of them appeared manageable.  I just believed my situation  was useless.

Well, this metaphor doesn’t end there because I am no longer helpless. In my real world I thought, I’ve got a serious problem here ( symptoms of depression: fatigue, anger, feeling worthless ) all of which I have to deal with. So, I admitted that I was powerless over my depression and that my life was unmanageable. (Step One of Depressed Anonymous). And then “came to believe that a power greater than ourselves  could restore us to sanity.” (Step Two of Depressed Anonymous) Then I made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of the God as I understand God. (Step Three of Depressed Anonymous).

If your speed bump keeps you from moving in life know that many of us have been there like you. There is a solution, and    just begin to believe that you are NOT l alone. It really helps to know that you  can join our fellowship and find hope. Been there, done that!

INSANITY IS DOING THE SAME THING OVER AND OVER AGAIN AND EXPECTING DIFFERENT RESULTS.

How true. It’s like being around persons who are continually toxic (negative) and for us to try and make them happy. Or someone in the family smokes and we  tell them they need to quit smoking. And how has that worked for you?   Or someone who continues to pig out on junk food day after day and who is obese and you try to have them change their eating habits. How  has that worked out for you?  But you say, we have our own problems.

Today I tell myself, like all the days past, I am going to make a change in the way I  talk to myself. You know, all those thoughts which keep circling in our minds, like the proverbial  merry-go-round, riding  our horse, bobbing up and down,  going nowhere, and telling ourselves we must get off before we fall off.   And….what do we do? Yep, we  keep riding this bobbing up and down horse. Again, we tell ourselves, I’ll do it when I feel better;  When I have the time, the money for counseling, the friend who will listen to me forever and not run away like all the rest of those who said  they were my friends. Where do you go after the continual self speak which pounds in to our heads thoughts voicing how  I am unacceptable to myself and everyone else. Another horse (thought)  that I ride that bobs me up and down is the one that tells me how bad and unacceptable that I am.

How do I keep from riding a dead horse? Get off!

In Step Two, and the commentary which tells us all about this Step Two in our DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS BOOK — “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity,” we learn some things about the compulsivity of sadness that has gripped our minds and our whole physical self. The insanity of our thinking continues to make us feel helpless and hopeless. I got off the merry-go-round years ago. At times I almost bought a ticket and got back on but then I remembered I had a “toolbox” which continues to provide me with a spiritual and Step by Step  program  to NOT get trapped into the maddening, insane way that caused so much pain in the past.  DO YOU WANT TO GET OFF THE MERRY-GO-ROUND OF INSANITY?

_____________________________________

Books from Depressed Anonymous  Publications which can help: Depressed Anonymous, Third edition, 2011. Also, I’ll do it when I feel better.”

I EVEN TRIED TO CONTROL GOD!

I THINK I WAS A CONTROL FREAK!

“If surrender of our wills to the ‘care of God’ is of the essence of the spiritual life, for anyone who truly desires to free him or herself from a chronic and compulsive behavior such as depression, the Twelve Steps can be your stepping stones to the path of a hope-filled life.” (8)

REFLECTION

My thinking is what has been keeping me depressed these many years.  I haven’t thought of myself as being addicted to sadness or that I might even be a saddict. Now the truth is becoming clear to me as I work the Twelve Steps and attempt to change the way  I think and feel. I  no longer want to be  a victim of my past, but I am becoming a person filled with hope and a new found zest for living. I am finding that my expectations for myself have decreased as my need to be perfect is yielding to a greater acceptance of myself as I am. Being perfect is such a bore. By letting go of my need for perfection it seems that my self-acceptance is beginning to grow.
One of the great freedoms I am experiencing  in my life today is that I don’t have to be in control of everyone’s life or behavior. One of my character defects has been a need to always have everything and everybody under my control. I have even tried to control God until I learned that it is only when I surrender to God that my life can be filled with hope and peace.
MEDITATION
We will no longer allow ourselves to continue to obsess about hiow bad our lives are when all we need to do is learn how to find our peace by allowing God to guide our will and our life on a daily basis. We don’t have to choose to live a life of misery –we can  make different choices which restores my sanity.

SOURCE: Higher Thoughts for Down Days(c)

CAME TO BELIEVE THAT A POWER GREATER THAN OURSELVES COULD RESTORE US TO SANITY. STEP 2

What do you give your power to in your own  life today? What can help you to greater sanity?

Various powers  have played a critical role in our lives in the past. If you wish, please name and list the people, places, situations, and  things  that have exerted the greatest power over you and your life in the past. These places, persons, situations and things can have a positive or negative power over you and your life. Please list below.

Persons

Places

Situations

Things

Depressed anonymous Workbook/ Depressed Anonymous Publications/Page 11/ Step Two.

In tomorrow’s post we will list some of the thoughts about Step 2 and how our beliefs can produce sanity in our lives.

“Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

Isn’t this the way it is? It usually takes an awareness of something bigger than just me that propels us into life armed with a sense of purpose. This something bigger could be getting involved in a political campaign, working in a food kitchen serving the poor, helping migrants find a job, learn a language of their newly adopted homeland.
The experience of depression gradually whittled down my world and any interests that I considered worth my time. Then as I continued to spiral down into the dark abyss of inactivity and aloneness, I felt a great need to find something that would break my fall and so it all began–the search, the seeking the power that would help me get up and get going again. For me, (this is about me right now), I made a decision to find some power that was greater than the power of my need to sad myself. I found the power that was greater than myself–it was a group of persons journeying with a hope and a faith that manifested serenity and purpose in their words and deeds. My world began to get large again, it started to swell with possibility and hopefulness. It was sanity personified. It was a belief, coupled with a witness of those others who had achieved a continued saneness in their dealings with their world and most importantly within their selves. Now I am a witness to the truth of that power which I discovered or that which discovered me. You, the reader are now part of my world and I, for a bit of time, am part of your world. I am grateful.

Expression-not depression.

Expressing oneself and sharing personal feelings can liberate ourselves from thoughts that imprison us and isolate us. They isolate us from others and the world around us.
I have found that it is in the milieu of an accepting and understanding group of people that I can grow and share my feelings. I have witnessed these many years (30 ) how all of us, including myself, can gradually come to trust others with feelings of shame, hurt and pain. In fact, it is in the context of my 12 step group program of recovery that I became a different person. I was able to come out of the shadows of my isolating depression and found people just like myself. They taught me and proved to me that just by coming back to meeting after meeting and sharing their own feelings that something, a power if you will, enabled them to move forward. No longer was I isolated in my own prison of depression but now I became liberated to talk freely, share freely, and join with others on this road to sanity and serenity. I AM NO LONGER ALONE!
Just by hearing myself share my feelings of how depressed I was–and listened to with respect–no “SNAP OUT OF IT HERE–I now found that toolbox of hope and freedom. I call this the fellowship of Depressed Anonymous.
Comments are always welcome here and a place where you too can share