“…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.

FRED DIDN’T HAVE THE FOGGIEST NOTION OF WHAT GOD HAD TO DO WITH HIS SADNESS.

“I remember Fred on his first visit to Depressed Anonymous. He said that he had been depressed all his life. The group listened to Fred, and of course for the most part Fred said he didn’t have the foggiest notion what all this talk of God had to do with his sadness and how it was supposed to help him,. But it was the pain of Fred’s depression that brought him back time after time to the meetings and he started not only to feel better, but he began to look better.  Then as he heard about the Twelve Steps, he saw that he could trust this Higher Power, and that maybe the depression that had been such a lifetime companion was not for him anymore. Fred took the plunge, came to believe that a Power greater than himself could restore him to sanity — and it did just that.  Fred said he didn’t need his depression any more, got busy making amends to family, friends and co-workers for being such a negative person, and began to take inventory where he needed to Spring clean his house. In time, Fred began to reach  out to others in the group and he began to understand how he had  become like many others in the group – a saddict.   Depression for many was an addiction to sadness. The only way out of Fred’s addiction was to let go of it, admit his life was unmanageable and start to work on himself and his character defects. Fred still keeps coming back to the meetings to share his story with others on the how of his recovery. He talks about the way it was before Depressed Anonymous, and the way  it is now since he has been working the steps and handed his life over to the Higher Power.”

Source: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Ky. (pgs.96-97).

I can relate to Fred in such  a personal way when I too came into the Twelve Step program of recovery. I belonged to a Church that professed certain dogmas and doctrines –not some vague, impersonal Higher Power that the group say they espoused.. I came back week after week to the meetings, and when  I  gradually weaned myself  from all my negative thoughts about the Twelve Step program,  I finally “got it” as they say. I,  too, after all these thirty years as a member of Depressed Anonymous have the deepest confidence that the “God of my understanding” has everything to do with my own  recovery from depression. And by the way, I still belong to my Church with its dogma’s and doctrines, while having a “spiritual awakening ” along the way, thanks to the spirituality of Depressed Anonymous. Now the God of my understanding is my Higher Power.  Please go to our website here at the Menu if you are interested in finding hope and information  on the way out of your own sadness. Please join us on this journey! You’ll be glad you did.

Late UN-breaking news!

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!

A POWER GREATER THAN OURSELVES: OUR GO TO PERSON.

A POWER GREATER THAN OURSELVES: OUR GO TO PERSON

The more time that I spend in daily prayer and meditation the closer I feel to this Power greater than myself. Now, let’s be honest, it isn’t everyday that I feel this or think this way, but for most days I feel energized by my time in quiet listening. It was when I first joined a Twelve Step recovery program that I I knew that I was truly home. I had always been looking for a home where I could feel acceptance, nurturing and fellowship. It was at my first meeting, 32 years ago, that in all my brokenness, guilt and shame, that I felt I had made it home. It was here that I could reveal who I was, who I thought I was and get a plan for my life, just one 24 hour period at a time. My own feelings of being totally accepted in this new fellowship created in me the belief, without  doubt, that  sanity would be restored to me. How did I know this? What made me a believer? Simply the fact that the members of the group had pretty much the same story as my own. But for all of this, what stood out was the basic belief among all of the members, that there is a Power, and it is greater than me. And that this Power, whom we understand as God, is my GO TO person every day of my life. And the two things this group taught me early on,  is that THERE IS A GOD, AND IT IS NOT ME!

If today you are feeling alone, lost and frightened, please join me here everyday, as I speak about spirituality and the Power greater than myself,  and what it has to do with my recovery, and how it impacts  on our search for  that serenity that we are all seeking. Remember what you seek, seeks you!

THE MYSTIC EXPERIENCE OF BILL W., CO-FOUNDER OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS.

Granted that this site is not about alcoholism but about depression. But let’s face it, many of those addicted to alcohol are also depressed. I think many depressed try and medicate the pain with alcohol and then end up with two conditions that they need help with. We call this a co-morbid addictive illness.
A few days ago I wrote about the “spiritual awakening” that gave Bill the jump start that he had to have in order to quit his drinking. For Bill it came down to either lose (surrender) his life to this mystic power or to the disease of alcoholism. After this special illumination of the hospital room and to his mind, he knew he could not continue his drinking.
Bill describes his thoughts about this epiphany in the following light:
I was the recipient of a tremendous mystic experience or “illumination” and at first it was very natural for me to feel that this experience staked me out as somebody very special.
But as I now look back upon this tremendous event, I can only feel very grateful. It now seems clear that the only special features of my experience were its suddenness and the overwhelming and immediate conviction that it carried.
In all other respects, however, I am sure that my own experience was essentially like that received by any A.A. member who has strenuously practiced our recovery program. Surely, the grace he received is also of God; the only difference is that he becomes aware of his gift more gradually. Source: AS Bill sees it.

DEPRESSION: Only the concern of the lone sufferer or is it a harbinger of a societal (community) problem?

Remember the canary in the coal mine? The canary, carried by miners into the mine was the first one to smell potential disaster, alerting miners to get out of that mine. Today, with so much emphasis on medical treatments, David Karp, a sociologist, in “Speaking of Sadness” comments in his chapter Sociology, Spirituality and Suffering that “once individuals realize that medical treatment is unlikely to fix their problems, their thinking moves away from the medical language of cure toward the spiritual language of transformation.” He also tells us that “…(T)he Iroquois Indians, for example, believed that when any single person suffered, it reflected the suffering of nature, of the whole world, in fact.” The reality is that all life is interconnected with other living organisms. We see this illustrated best when a culture becomes narcissistic and centered primarily on the individual. Karp maintains that “the social disconnection generated by an ethic of individualism is an important element in the proliferation of affective disorders in America.”
While I believe that medications can alleviate the pain of some of those who are depressed and seek clinical help, the meds in themselves cannot remove whatever caused the pain, or the initial hurt. But the depression itself will allow us to take a deeper look at how we live out our lives. And for this reason that is why I am an advocate for mutual-aid groups where persons can come together, form community/fellowships and follow a procedure for healing ourselves while assisting in the healing of other members of the community.
The first step of Depressed Anonymous states that “We admitted…” and in Steps three, eight, ten, eleven, twelve again the word “we” is used. If anyone wants to find a community and a spiritual antidote to individualism, the 12 step fellowships provide a solution focused recovery program. I am an advocate for 12 step programs based on helping each other out of isolation into a fellowship of hope and healing. No longer is it just about me, me alone, but about something bigger than just me .It is a “we” program.
We are all connected!

I MADE A DECISION-

Back in the last century I made a decision that continues to direct my life today and everyday. That decision was that I needed help. I needed to know how to free myself from an addiction to a substance that was gradually killing me. The only place that I knew that might offer me some help would be a local AA group. Frightfully, but expectantly, I walked through the door of my first 12 step meeting. The power that was greater than me–was the group of men and women who were meeting to talk about a solution–namely, to their addiction to alcohol. I felt at home. Well, not totally at home–but I did find acceptance for me and my particular addiction. They presented me with a toolbox–not material tools–but spiritual tools that I use to keep myself free of my desire and craving for alcohol. We call them the 12 steps.
That was in 1982, December 7th. And then three years later I became depressed and I applied the steps to my depression experience, which likewise was killing me. I got out my tool box and began applying the same tools as I had applied to my other addiction and found I again had a solution to my twisted and distorted thinking. It was only after I admitted that I had a problem, and my life was unmanageable, did I find a way out. My Higher Power leads the way, day after day, month after month and year after year. If you want to learn more about how YOU can make a decision, find the tools and keep your attention focused on the solution oriented 12 steps, then you let us know. We want to share with you our story and how it was before in our life and how it is now.
Looking to find that toolbox? We can help. Don’t give up. Look us up and give us a call.