Did I build my own prison of depression?

How could that possibly be? Build my own prison of depression?  Impossible. Wait. There might be a possibility if I go back to my childhood and think about some of the things that happened to me growing up.

The following are some of the examples that others (my clients)  might have experienced   unconsciously or consciously influencing their thinking, feelings and behaviors in their later teens and adult life.

EXAMPLES

*My  parents fought all the time and made me scared. (They added   a few   bricks to the structure of your prison).  I would go in my room and hide in the closet.  ( The foundation for our prison is being built).

*Because my Dad was a town drunk he would show up at my school and make a fool of himself…I felt shame and anger at these   times . (Put a few more bricks on that foundation.).

* I was bullied at school and I just wanted to die. I felt worthless. I felt no one liked me… (Bullies added more bricks   to my  prison. The walls are getting higher and higher).

*I was told that I was not allowed to get angry. I was not allowed to cry. I was not allowed to tell my parents how much I hated their drinking.  No expression  of feelings were allowed in my family.  I wasn’t able to trust anyone with my feelings.

*Another message that I always got was  “You’ll never amount to anything,” or “you’ll never be like your older brother.”  (An especially large row of bricks is laid here  when a Third grade teacher tells you this in front  of the whole class and your face  always turns crimson when you think about this shaming event).

*I was given the message that the world beyond  my family was dangerous and threatening. ”

*It was at this  point that my teenage years were spent behind the walls of a nearly finished prison. I was locked down and there was no way out of my prison. No one gave me a key.

*All these  building blocks that produced a prison  for myself all came with  early life relationships.  The messages that I got growing up gradually and effectively locked me down. I was   growing up with out hope. All the messages were  like  building blocks  which further imprisoned me.

Now that I am an adult, I have  begun to take  bricks away, one by one and the structure  is being dismantled,  one brick  at a time. And how did this happen?

It all happened when I became sick and tired of being sick and tired.   I needed help. I needed someone, something, other than the alcohol and opioids that I was abusing  to turn my life around.

Yes, I built my prison and I was not even aware that  each block carried to my structure was imprisoning  me. So many of my toxic relationships, growing up,   all came with another brick to put into my prison.

Taking the wall down, brick by brick we have to have a plan. We have to find ways to remove the bricks and free ourselves from those deadly feelings  of personal worthlessness and feelings that we  are unacceptable  to ourselves and to others. I know now that   I was not to blame for being in a prison and that  I had no idea that all those messages given to me when I was growing up,  influencing my life so directly,  they all were only  other people’s opinions of me. These opinions determined my future. They were responsible for building  my prison. No child or young person wants to live their life in a prison–especially which is not of their own making.  The tragic point here is that their imprisonment is not their fault.  For some youngsters and even older adults the tragedy is that they believed what was told them so that their pain is so great they take their own life.  They wanted  to be free, be  happy and have people around them who love them  and support them in every way possible. The real problem is that none of us  had  a choice when we got our parents,  teachers and relatives.

I think Bill W., the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous says it best when  gives us hope when he   wrote the following:

“We must never be blinded by the futile philosophy that we are just the hapless victim of our inheritance, of our life experiences, and of our surroundings –  that these are the forces that make our decisions for us. This is not the road to freedom. We have to believe that we can really choose.”  (c) As Bill Sees it. A.A. World Services. NY. 1967.

Now the plan that is working for many of us  is  to discover   that when we live out the solution in our lives,  that we focus on the solutions for removing those bricks from   the walls of our depression, that  it wasn’t our doing that the prison was built.  We didn’t choose to have the wall built. Who chooses to live in a prison  anyway? We didn’t know when we were young that these messages were never true but we believed them.   We do not take the blame today for our depression and feeling worthless and unacceptable. We know that blaming others doesn’t do us any good either.

What works for us is a well thought out plan of recovery.   We can begin to learn how to   prize  ourselves and  realize and celebrate who we really are and  the person whom we desire to become. The 12 Steps will get you there!  You will have the tools to rebuild and you will see results. That is a Promise. (See page 109 in Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition where it lays out the PROMISES of the Steps  for those who choose to use them).

By using the spiritual principles of the  12 Steps we have begun to choose to dismantle all those negative and hurtful messages from others  that were never true in the first place.

If you want to write your own story as how the 12 Steps helped you remove the blocks from your own prison, please let us know by writing to depanon@netpenny.net., as we would love to hear from you.

Also, please read the   personal stories of those who have chosen to  free themselves from the prison of their own depression in our Big Book:

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

Click onto The Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore at our website www.depressedanon.com. Online purchases of our literature is  available.

Change always involves uncertainty.

“…Terrible though the prison of depression is, it seems to be a refuge from still greater horrors. You are afraid that you could plunge further into bottomless depths of complete destruction, madness and death…”

“Dangers, perhaps even great dangers, threaten you if you leave your prison of depression for the ordinary world. There you might have to change, and change is always involves uncertainty. The good thing about being depressed is that you can make every day the same. You can be sure of what is going to happen. You can ward off all those people and events that expect a response from you. Your prison life has a regular routine, and like any long term prisoner, you grow accustomed to the prison’s security and predictability. The prison of depression may not be  comfortable, but at least it is safe.”

Note: The two books referenced below will present to you the  many ways to overcome depression.

Depression: The Way out of your prison. Dorothy Rowe. 1983. Routledge and Kegan Paul. London. Page 127.

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

VISIT THE STORE AT THE DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS BOOKSTORE FOR BOOKS DEALING DEPRESSION AND SPIRITUALITY.

To be depressed or not be depressed. I had a choice!

To be depressed or not be depressed?  That  was my choice.

“I believe that I’ve been a depressed person all of my life. I’ve had a lot of lows but never as low as this past year.  My husband of   years left me and my three children for another woman. I lost my job. Depression  hit me and I couldn’t snap out of it. My life started to spiral down. I was in and out of mental hospitals and on different medications. I was diagnosed as having a chemical imbalance. In my mind, this seemed to tell me that I had a sickness that I had no control over and which only drugs could cure. Then one night, I began to have a horrible reaction to the last drug.  I was rushed to the emergency room and almost died. After that, I refused to take drugs again. Then life really started going down for me. I started sleeping more, stayed in bed mostly, and let the house and the children go. I felt empty inside.  No one or anyone could help me. If I hadn’t thought suicide was the cardinal sin, I would be dead today.  So one night, I lay on the floor crying and praying from my heart. In the past when I prayed, I wanted God to do all the work. While deep down, I still didn’t want to let go of my miserable yet safe ways of life.  And as long as I wouldn’t really let go, God seemed to have no answers for me. This time though, I was at his mercy. Life for me could no longer go on this way. I prayed the most releasing prayer. I offered up my entire self to him. Nothing magical happened after that except the sudden urge  to call my church for Christian  counseling. They referred me to this affordable, warm lady counselor who I had seen in the past. She suggested that I start attending Depressed Anonymous Twelve Step meetings and reading Depressed? Here is a way out!  This was a great effort for me. I was scared and skeptical. Since   that  first night, I’ve been attending weekly Depressed Anonymous meetings. I also attend drug  free therapy, attend church and church activities regularly and continue to pray and walk regularly. I know that my life is richly blessed. I’m also using the Depressed Anonymous literature and listening to people in the Depressed Anonymous meetings where I receive valuable tools which I put to use daily.

The moment that I read that I had a choice to stay in depression, I immediately knew that I could make the choice to get out of my depression. Bingo! It wasn’t an illness. This did not have control over me. And another tool I use frequently through the Depressed Anonymous manual is that “thoughts produce moods, moods  produce feelings and feelings produce behavior. ”

So I began to realize that if I thought about bad or disturbing thoughts, I could stop myself and produce positive thoughts automatically. I had control. This is priceless to me. Staying out of depression takes work on my part, as well as God’s. Thank you Lord above for using people through my church, my therapy and the wonderful members of Depressed Anonymous    who give of themselves  unconditionally. Thank you for answering my prayer.”

–KIm

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SOURCE: Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. ( Kim’s Personal story included to day!)

IF MY LIFE IS JOYFUL, THEN WHY DO I CONTINUE TO GO TO DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS MEETINGS?

Today, as promised yesterday (7/22) in our BLOG, we shared how Lois declared that she  “no longer experiences those black, bleak, hopeless periods”. She says that “her life is joyful.”

If her life is so joyful  Lois needs to explain why she continues to go to Depressed Anonymous meetings five years later. The Twelfth Step of this program: “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry the message to the depressed, and to practice these principles in all of our affairs.”  ” I am so grateful to Depressed Anonymous that I want it to be there for those who are still suffering.”

See pages 110-111 for a full account of Lois’ testimony in THE PERSONAL STORIES section of Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

Also read the remaining thirty stories of the other members of Depressed Anonymous who found serenity and joy using the Twelve Step program of recovery.

Like Lois, there are many of us who today continue to carry the message of hope to those still suffering from depression. Like myself, they all want to share with others that there is hope — there is a day coming that a light may shine and give them a way out of the darkness of their depression. This website and BLOG is just one way that I am taking the message of HOPE to others. Just yesterday a Depressed Anonymous group leader tells of how she is sharing her story OF HOPE to a man who intends to take his life, Another man in the group who worked his way out of despair using the Twelve Steps of recovery is also sharing his own story of despair and hopelessness with the man. That is what Lois is doing–bringing hope to others even though her whole life took a dramatic change.  Even though she is no longer imprisoned in depression she still sees it her mission to continue telling people her story. I told my story tonight at one of our local Depressed Anonymous meetings. At each meeting that I attend,  gradually, as Lois puts it, I  unscramble a part of the mess that brought me to my knees in the first place.