What does God have to do with my depression?

 

I have heard this same question many times over the years. It is a very good question I might add. In fact, when I was going through my own valley of despair,  God wasn’t on my radar.  All I did know was that I was feeling  hopeless. I was at the bottom of a deep dark pit. Isolated and scared.

Fear was at the center of my thoughts, 24/7. I thought that I was losing my mind.   I wasn’t able to formulate anything that made any sense. It was beyond my state of mind to envision the light of a possible escape from the prison,   taking away all hope  of ever recapturing the person that I once was. Basically I lost all hope  as my helplessness swallowed up everything that I felt was me.

Still unknowing the reason for my complete emotional and physical collapse I begged God, the God of my understanding to do something–anything,  that would free me from the day in and day out grip  of this unseen demon.  Because of what I felt was happening to me, like feeling I was in the power of this demon who was cutting off any bit of strength that I had left. I also knew that Alcoholics Anonymous was built upon spiritual principles which Bill W., and Dr. Bob called the Twelve Steps of recovery. In fact, they wrote that it is our belief in a Power greater than ourselves that would restore us to sanity. And this belief is my belief.

So, to many of us, we had a hard time to see how God could do anything about our depression.  Some of us really didn’t believe in God or if we did we weren’t so sure if possibly God was just a figment of our imagination. But after we admitted that we needed help for this sadness, which was taking us, like a circling watery whirlpool deeper into the depths of blackness and despair to our utter destruction.

The God of my understanding took me seriously when I asked for help and I admitted I couldn’t do what I need to do  alone without some godly help. So for me, my belief in this Power greater than myself  began to free me from my depression experience. And yes, this belief brought God into my life in a very powerful and healing way. In fact, Bill W., who was an agnostic (didn’t know if there was a God or not) had a spiritual  awakening in his hospital room where he said that he met the God of the preachers. And it was this singular spiritual event that gave him an infusion of hope and  power to let the God of his understanding lead him on that daily path of sobriety and recovery. For the millions who use these spiritual principles of recovery in their daily lives, they each and every one find a new beginning and a sane and sober way to live out their lives. And in turn,  as a result of their recovery, they turn and help others, who like themselves, had chosen  to do it ” their way.” As most of us are so painfully aware, our way was  to  keep on digging a deeper hole. And so, the first spiritual principle, namely Step One tells us that “We admitted that we were powerless over depression , and that our lives had become unmanageable.”

Now it is at this next Step that God enters the picture. Actually, we call God, this Power, who is greater than ourselves, who we let come into our life, where “we made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.”

And whatever notions you may have about God, you can be assured that there is something that happens to people when they start the journey of working the 12 Steps of Depressed Anonymous. It is here that we learn how God has everything to do with our battling  depression in our life. If you read any of the more that 30 stories of people who worked the 12 Steps (Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition) and who testify to the truth that God does respond to their plea for help.  God   helps turn our life around and brings us a peace that a clear conscience and a faith in something bigger and more powerful can make happen in anyone’s life who believe.

A sociologist by the name of David Karp interviewed 50 people who indicated that they had received a diagnosis of being depressed from a physician. And by spending time with these many people of all ages and professions he learned about their beliefs about their own depression experiences. and which he wrote about in his book Speaking of Sadness. It is a very interesting and captivating account of how persons respond to the pain and despair that comes with being depressed. But the thing that amazed me the most is what he said about  spirituality as playing an important  role in the coping and living with depression of those whom he interviewed.

“At the same time that my conceptual consciousness was being raised about the connection between depression and spirituality, I would leave  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 would not relate  emotionally or intellectually with visions of incarnation or explanations of depression as central to a god given life mission. I left many interviews with a sense that spirituality engaged individuals were in touch with something important.  The issue was not a matter of evaluating the truth of their particular  brand of spirituality. What I felt was a measure of envy of those who displayed an acceptance that seemed to me incongruous with accounts of exceptional pain. These people possessed  or knew something that I didn’t.”  David A. Karp. 1996. Speaking of sadness: Depression, Disconnection, and the meanings of Illness.  Oxford University Press. Oxford. Pgs 190-191.

 

 

 

I am able to beat loneliness by repeatedly being with other people in recovery or by doing the Home Study* program with my sponsor.

A HIGHER THOUGHT FOR YOUR DAY

AFFIRMATION

“I’m sure many sufferer’s could find a lot of comfort and support by coming into a group as I’ve done, to help beat the terrible loneliness which is felt by many and who find lasting friendship with lovely people.”

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

In the group, I established myself and got some positive feednback from others who watched me grow and have seen the genuine changes I make personally. I am gradually throwing off my personal way with sadness. The real support comes when I begin to learn that members of the group have the same problem that I have. That helps me trust others with the story of my life. These people are the ones who want to hear my story of how depression cost me my life.  Now, my life is freeing me from my need to sad myself.

I feel more able to attach myself to the group now that I know that they are struggling with the same depression that I struggle with. I no longer have to fight this battle on my own.

MEDITATION AND BEING MINDFUL OF A HIGHER POWER

God, you are our rock and our refuge, on you I place my trust. We know and  believe, easier now than before, that God has something good in store for me today. (Personal comment).

SOURCE:  Higher thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 Step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.  April 26. Pages 84-85.

*HOME STUDY PROGRAM, is an individual approach to a STEP study  program when no  Depressed Anonymous group program is available in one’s community. The participant is helped in working the steps by utilizing the help of a sponsor. The sponsor leads the individual through all the steps using the Depressed Anonymous Manual, 3rd edition as well as coordinating this work with the Depressed Anonymous Workbook. By means of emails the sponsor and participant communicate with each other on  a regular basis.

For more information in how to set up this HOME STUDY program please click onto the Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore. Or contact us at depanon@netpenny.net for how you can be part of this individualized study.

The Home Study material  can be ordered online.

 

I have found persons who understand me and my problems.

#FOUR/ BELIEVING IS SEEING: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression.  (2017) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.
”  No longer am I alone in my depression. I can now see that it is up to me to form new friendships with others in the fellowship of the Depressed Anonymous Group. I have found persons who understand me  and my problems. I also learn coping skills and new positive behaviors from my fellow group members. ”

Below are listed some of  the advantages of belonging  to the Depressed Anonymous fellowship.

  • Receive acceptance  and support from the fellowship.
  • The fellowship of DA places no judgments  on those who join the group.
  • No longer isolated and alone.
  • No “snap out of it” comments from persons who have not experienced depression.
  • Learn how to gradually remove depression from our lives by utilizing the tools provided by the fellowship.
  • Gain new friends who actually “do know”  how we feel.
  • Learn  skills in taking full responsibility for their feelings, thoughts and behaviors.
  • Learning how to be with others in a mutual aid group while simultaneously  developing our interpersonal and social skills.
  • By being part of the group, with persons like oneself, have an overwhelming BELIEF that since they are all getting better, they tell themselves “so can I.”
  • Depression symptoms grow best in  isolation and the withdrawal from others. Healthy encounters with others like ourselves and by using the spiritual principles of the 12 steps, we begin to feel better and gain   hope for ourselves.

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Ray’s  personal testimony, #20. The Power of Depressed Anonymous  is found in DEPRESSED  ANONYMOUS, 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. pgs.133-134.

           “So what is the power of Depressed Anonymous?  For me, it’s just like attending the first meeting. I was a little scared and apprehensive at first, but then I found the Depressed Anonymous meeting was a place to go where there were other depressed persons just like me. They could relate to and understand what I was going through. They didn’t judge me or think of me as crazy. I WAS ACCEPTED.

Ray tells us how “the most important power of Depressed Anonymous is hope.”

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The fellowship makes available a HOME SELF STUDY KIT comprised of the Depressed Anonymous Manual and The Depressed Anonymous Workbook.  Both of these books can be purchased together.  For those who might desire some further support for issues in their recovery  that may arise from the Self Study KIT can contact us at depanon@netpenny.net.

For many, a Depressed Anonymous  group may not be available in your community and so the reason for the Home Study Kit. Depressed persons who feel isolated and with no group available can  profit  from this Home Study and gain insights into their own depression symptoms plus learn  how to deal with them.

I refuse to run from what I feel.

AFFIRMATION

I will be in touch with my feelings throughout the day. I refuse to run from what I feel.

“The ability to experience one’s  feelings without resisting or running from them, determines  to a large degree whether a person is healthy are not.”

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

I’m going to make a real effort today to do what I  see works for depressed persons like myself. They all say that the longer they are in the program (Depressed Anonymous) , the more feelings they are able to express and the  less the unpleasant feelings of fear dominates their life. I am finding that by  writing my feelings down, the less frightening they seem to be to me. I am now able to deal head on with my feelings.

My addiction was a way of walling off my pain. In time, I became addicted  to the pain and in doing so, I lost myself in the process. I find this experience to be a freeing  one.

My addiction was a way of walling off pain.  Now the pain is more important than what I am running away from.

What I experience in my life determines to a large extent what I predict life to become. My past experiences are predictors of a life not as yet lived. I am wanting to experience the fact that my good days are more frequent now and my bad days occurring not as often.

MEDITATION

God, the more I give up my need to be depressed the more I’m finding that I’m becoming more assertive and truly present to others in my life. I want you to help me feel my feelings and express them today. [ADD YOUR OWN PERSONAL THOUGHTS HERE]

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SOURCE: Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 step fellowships. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

Service gladly rendered…

Carrying the message of hope to those still suffering from depression.

“Service gladly rendered, obligations squarely met, troubles well accepted with God’s help, the knowledge that at home or in the world outside we are partners in a common effort, the fact that in God’s sight all human beings are important, the proof that love freely given brings a full return, the certainty that we are no longer isolated and alone in self constructed prisons, the surety that we can fit and belong in God’s scheme of things –these are the satisfactions of right living for which no pomp or circumstances, no heap of material possessions, could possibly substitute.” Twelve and Twelve, AA World services. Page 124.

 

Also, in The Depressed Anonymous Workbook (2002) we read

“The part about carrying the message is so important if we are to remain out of the clutches of depression. It is important to keep in touch with the newcomers and others in the program. It is in this carrying the message that reminds us that we once needed help and it was through the unselfishness of the older members of Depressed Anonymous that got us through our depression.” Page 85.

“We soon discover in the program that no compulsion can be controlled by will power alone. It must be surrendered to the Higher Power or to the care of God of our understanding. It alone can remove in time the burden from our backs. This is the spiritual awakening that keeps us free from sadness as we take the message of healing to others in the group who are new to the program. We admit that we make no promises to anyone and that there will be no magic answer and quick solutions to their saddiction.  No, it all takes time and this is the message of the group. Such slogans as: “Take it easy,” “Keep  it simple,” and “Easy does it” are all meant to help you and me to live one day at a time and continue to try and live with serenity. When we practice these steps on a daily basis, starting our day with asking the Higher Power for guidance for the rest of the day we can then be  assured of God’s presence and help in our lives.”

Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Page 106.

 

Stick to the plan!

Stick to the plan!  This is especially relevant for those of us who  try and live one day at a time.  I have found that by doing the same thing everyday, and in the same place everyday, that this in itself will provide the incentive to keep doing   the next right thing.  Doing the next right thing  will be the motivating power to get moving on our own recovery.  For many of us, we have found  that we have an established plan for our recovery in the HOME STUDY PROGRAM. Without a doubt, I have found that once we have felt a strong need to move out of the isolating deadness of depression, we no longer have to wait for something to happen, be that with  a prescribed medication or a twice a month or monthly therapy visit.  What do we do in the meantime with all this pain? What do we do til the medications kick in? Everyone knows that nothing happens over night. But something can happen  when we  do the same thing over and over again, every day,  Once we commit ourselves to the belief that something good can happen, especially with a concrete plan laid out before us, then change can happen. I know. Been there done that.

The Fellowship of Depressed Anonymous has developed an excellent toolkit for those of us who want a daily plan — a way to take our recovery a step at a time. We no longer have to wait to see if something happens, either with a medication or a therapy session. Don’t get me wrong, these are all possible routes to recovery, but why not do something that works in the meantime? There is a way out and the HOME STUDY PROGRAM provides just the right tools to give us insights as to how we got where we are today, namely depressed, and then provides ongoing insights for leaving our depression behind.

The two great resources in our “toolbox” is the Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition manual. This is the book written by those of us who were depressed and who wrote out our own reflections for each one of the 12 Steps. This exercise took 12 weeks of discussion by our  newly formed Depressed Anonymous group –no psychobabble here –just people like you and me sharing how the Steps had freed us from the bondage of isolation and despair.

Because not everyone was able to have a Depressed Anonymous fellowship in their community we saw a critical need for this Depressed Anonymous program of recovery to be used by any and all who were committed to leaving the prison of their depression. It was later that we developed The Depressed Anonymous Workbook that is used in conjunction with the DA Manual. So that is how the HOME STUDY kit  was developed. A person, possibly like yourself, can utilize a daily plan of action not only to help understand the nature of the depression process  but it likewise can help you answer questions about your own experiences. The two works, in combination, will enable you to clarify your own thoughts about how you got where you are today and then using the Steps to get where you want to be — depression free. Let’s be honest here, we all know that if we want to get out of the depression isolation it will take work and time.

To find out more about a program that works please visit the store and find out how to order this “toolkit” of recovery. You might also want to check our website to see if there is a group near you.

Stick to the plan! Do the next right thing. Get involved in your own recovery. You can do it. Just do it!

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

The Depressed Anonymous Workbook. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

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

Publications Louisville.