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.

A WAY OUT OF DEPRESSION

” During  acute depression, avoid trying to set your whole life in order all at once.  If you take on assignments so heavy that you are sure to fail in them at the moment, then you are allowing yourself to be tricked by your unconscious. Thus you will continue to make sure of your failure, and when it comes you will have another alibi for still more retreat into depression.

“In short,  the ‘all or nothing’ attitude is a most destructive one. It is best to begin with whatever the irreducible minimums of activity are. Then work for an enlargement of these –day by day- Don’t be disconcerted by setbacks –just start over.”

Source: Bill W., in Letter, 1960.

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CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

Here is my take on the  statement above by Bill W., co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous.

When I first got involved with the Twelve Steps, I couldn’t wait to read all the steps and get busy reading as much as I could about them. But as I continued to stay in the program and get more involved in the Fellowship I discovered that I could not read ahead and think that now that I have read all the literature about the addiction I was done.  I graduated.  Instead, after thirty years plus, I am still working through these Steps and finding material that I need to look at in my life. The Twelve Steps and the study thereof, alone using the Home Study Kit,  and in the context of a fellowship  group, I have continued my quest to live one day at a time. Step Eleven is one of my constant companions which states that I “sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry it out.”

Our guide, Depressed Anonymous 3rd edition,  written by those of us who were depressed, contains an excellent commentary on Step Eleven (Pages 94-103). The Steps provide you and me with a lifetime of hope and help. The Steps continue to provide me  with a lifeline that is available to me, today, every day and every time.  It works for me!

-Hugh