“…spiritually engaged individuals (depressed)were in touch with something important…” David Karp

As a professor of Sociology at Boston University, David Karp  describes in his book SPEAKING OF SADNESS his spending  time interviewing 50 men and women about their own personal depression experiences. The following are some of his thoughts about  those persons whom he interviewed and who saw a connection between spirituality and depression.

I too found that  this connection  also  provided  me  with  a solid and healing plan for leaving my own depression.

I found a spirituality that produced my own personal transformation  by using the 12 Steps of Depressed Anonymous. These steps are based on the spiritual principles of the 12 Steps and take the depressed person through a process of incremental  healing actions  which gradually can loosen the bonds of their sadness.

Here are some of the findings  Karp shares with the reader of  his own feelings about  those who spoke about the power of  a spirituality   which provided them hope during their depression experience.

” I was leaving many of my interviews awed by the courage and grace with which certain people faced unimaginable   pain and loss. I was especially impressed with those who spoke of their depression as a gift from which they had learned valuable lessons. While I could not relate emotionally or intellectually with visions of reincarnation or explanations of depression as central to a God -given  life mission. I left many interviews with a sense that spiritually engaged individuals were in touch with something importantThe issue was not a matter of evaluating the truth of their particular brand of a spirituality. What I felt was a measure of envy of those who displayed an acceptance that seemed to me incongruence with accounts of exceptional pain.  The people possessed or knew something that I didn’t.”

SPEAKING OF SADNESS by David Karp. (1996), Oxford University Press, Inc. pg. 191..”

And K. Duff shares with us that

“…illness is an opportunity for enlightenment, that, seen the right way, we do not cure illnesses –instead, they have the potential to cure us. This happens when we realize that illness is “not so much a state of being as a process of transformation.”  In K. Duff, The Alchemy of illness(New York):Simon and Shuster, (1993). pg. 191.

In  our  Step Manual , Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition,( 2011)Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville., a work which includes many stories shared by those who use the spiritual principles of the 12 Steps for their own recovery and transformation.  Also, this book is written by those who were depressed and graciously share their stories on how Depressed Anonymous transformed their lives.

Like Karp states in the  section quoted above how I too see my depression as a gift, as for the last 30 or more years my life mission has been to bring hope to those still suffering from depression. Almost every day I speak, write to someone , or continue to get the message out with  our DA publications how  I have been and continue to be transformed  by putting  to use in my own life  the spiritual principles of these Steps. For this  reason we continue to   establish   mutual aid groups for persons depressed.

In some of our next  blogs I will continue this most important discussion about depression and its connection to the power spirituality.

VISIT THE STORE for more information about our DA literature.

“There will be no mountain I cannot climb.”

Ralph’s story continued…

“I have come a long way since that first day  I walked through those doors (Depressed Anonymous Fellowship) and into all of your open arms.  It was good to know that other people had the same feelings that I had experienced. I had feelings  of loneliness and despair, and felt that  there was no way  out of the living hell that was going through me inside. At that time, it was like my heart and my soul had been ripped out of my body.

I felt that my own mind was my worst enemy and its mission was to destroy me. I had many sleepless nights and my mind was forever racing with negative thoughts of gloom and doom. I did not think that I would ever function like a normal being again. I felt my negative thoughts would win the battle and that I would forever be condemned to the eternal hell.

The Depressed Anonymous Group has proven me all wrong( thank God). The group has been my guardian angel who was speaking to me all the time. I learned that there was hope for me after all. There is a new rebirth in me spiritually, emotionally, and physically. I believe now that I can go on with my life  without all the fears that I bottled up inside of me. As long as I have faith in my Higher Power and the Depressed Anonymous Group, there will be no mountain that I cannot climb. I am forever grateful.”

Ralph

Read more of Ralph’s story in   Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.KY. Pages 117-118.

Shame, Shame, Shame

On deciding what “go to guy” to help me, when setting up the 12 Step Depressed Anonymous mutual aid group, I went to Aaron Beck’s book, Cognitive Therapy of Depression.  It was there that I found out the why’s and how’s we shame ourselves.  Many times we feel shame to tell another that we are depressed.  I have felt this myself. So, when it came time to form a group for the depressed, it was there that at many of the group sessions the fact of shame came up in the fellowship. I saw that what  was   needed was a therapeutic way to deal with the fact of how to overcome the “shaming” of ourselves.

Beck advises the following to a person saddled with shame:

The patient can be told that if he adopts an “antishame”  philosophy, a great deal of pain and discomfort can be avoided. When, for example, the patient makes a mistake that he believes is shameful, he can turn this experience into an antishame exercise by openly acknowledging it instead of hiding it. If he pursues this open policy long enough, his proneness to experience counterproductive shame will diminish. Moreover, he will be less inhibited and more flexible and spontaneous in his range of responses..

One way a therapist can help a patient to resolve feelings of shame over being depressed is illustrated in the following excerpt.

Patient: If the people at work found out I was depressed they would think badly of me.

Therapist: Over 10% of the population is depressed at one time or another. Why is this shameful?

Patient: Other people think people who become depressed are inferior.

Therapist: You are confusing a psychological condition with a social problem. This is a version of blaming the victim. Even if they did think badly of  you –either out of their own ignorance or adolescent way of rating people –you do not have to accept their evaluation. You feel ashamed only if you apply their value system to yourself, that is, if you really believe it is shameful.

Beck then goes on to say that “Other standard procedures, such as having patients list  advantages and disadvantages of expressing shame, can be used to deal with this response.”

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Sources: (c) Aaron Beck . Cognitive Therapy of Depression (1979). The Guilford Press, NY. Page 179.

(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

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

“HOPE IS A HARD HABIT TO BREAK”

Brad Cohen, the main character in the powerfully moving film FRONT OF THE CLASS, makes this  statement about his own efforts to change his life.

The following instructions, HOW DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS WORKS, is read at every Depressed Anonymous meeting.

“You are about to witness the miracle of the group. You are joining a group of people who are on a journey of hope and who mutually care for each other. You will hear how hope, light and energy have been regained by those who were hopeless and in a black hole and tired of living.

By our involvement in the group we are feeling that there is hope –there is a chance for me too–I can get better. But we are not the people with the magic pills and the easy formula for success. We believe that to get out of the prison of our depression takes time and work.

And so at every   Depressed Anonymous meeting the group listens as we hear what it will take to escape from the prison of depression.

Also at every meeting of the fellowship we hear how by using the spiritual tools, our Twelve Steps, we can gradually find the path that will and can lead us out into the light of freedom. We come to believe that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity…”

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SOURCE: (c) I’ll do it when I feel better. (2011) Hugh Smith. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Page 65.