Freddy’s first day of school. A day to remember.

Today is the beginning of a new   school year. The yellow buses are out in force.  In our metro area we have at least 600 yellow buses  on the road today and for the rest of the academic year.  A family member of mine, who lives in a county school district,  has four children starting school today. Each  child climbing onto a different bus. At his home the four buses come to his home (not at the same time) and there  pick up a High School student, a middle school child,  a special needs child and  an elementary child. Each child will have an  unique story to tell their Mother when they get off their bus today.

I remember my  first day at school. It is etched in my mind. Another new first grader, Freddy, refused to walk into the classroom where he was to be joined by 45 other kids. All newbies. His Mother, having lost her patience, had junior   by the scruff of the neck,  carrying him into the classroom, with him screaming and crying. “I ain’t comin’ in.”  That is all I remember of my first day of school. Or, should I say, Freddy’s  first day of school.

Many of us have memories of that first day of school and I hope that yours was more pleasant than Freddy’s or mine.

Now fast-forward the tape thirty years later. I was being forced to go to another type of school. I had to attend a 12 Step meeting because of an addiction.  I used the same words that Freddy used, and whispered to my self that “I ain’t goin’ in.”  Actually I did go in.  I took a seat and forced myself to listen to people talking about their addictions. I found everyone friendly and supportive. They welcomed me like a long LOST brother. Let’s put the emphasis on the word LOST. I definitely was down with my face in the dirt.

That was 32 years ago this coming December. Do  you know what I learned that first day of life’s schooling? I learned to take  one day at a time. Keep life simple. Be honest always. Admit I needed help. Have faith in a power greater than yourself.  Stick close to your classmates (group members). Help others who like myself, are still suffering. Tell your story.

Hugh

 

Hey, that’s my story. She is talking about me.

 

Do you want share your story with someone? Yes or no. (Circle one)

Do you want them to understand you? Yes or no. (Circle one)

Do you want some feedback? Yes or no. (Circle one).

Do you want them to listen to you?   Yes or no. ( Circle one)

When I walked into my first 12 Step meeting and listened to what everyone was saying, it dawned on me that they were  telling my story.

I couldn’t believe it. It was surreal.  How did the speaker know that she was talking about me?  And then suddenly it hit me: they were talking about themselves , their  addiction to drugs, just  like my own addiction to drugs.  We were on the same page.  We were kin to each other.

Just then, this stunning news that I was not alone. I felt like a snake shedding its skin.   What I thought was impossible happened. It was a spontaneous reaction to my feeling at home with this group of people. I raised my hand. I got recognized by the group chair. I stumbled around for a second or two and then I plunged into my own story. It was true that my story was basically every one’s story.  What guilt  and shame that I felt  at that moment melted away.  No longer did I want to hide. It was now out in the open. My image,  the good time Charley,  the always happy,  smiling dude,was shattered.  Now here  I was,  broadcasting to these total strangers that  I was an empty shell–living a lie on the outside and afraid to face the truth   on the inside.

I got my 24 hour token that  day.  And ever since the day I heard someone else tell my story-36 years of 24 hour days– I am now telling my story to you, the reader.

We know that if you attend a meeting of Depressed Anonymous, and listen to everyone’s story, you too will feel they are telling your story.That’s the “miracle“of our group.

For more information click onto www.depressedanon.com and discover how you too can find a way out of your depression. We are waiting to hear your story.

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

Setting a force in motion.

 

“I personally believe that once I have made the first step, and admitted my powerlessness, I set in motion a force – the loving force of the creator in my personal life. In time I am filled with energy and find that this power can change me – restore my life with purpose and meaning. It can prepare me to meet those  who are ready to risk leaving behind the prison of their depression. By my own interest in getting in touch with the Higher Power and getting its direction to “do the next right thing” I find that my own life is gradually more filled with  purpose and energy.

There is a saying that to gain energy you must give energy. I have found this to be true for my own life.

What appears to deplete our energy is when our thoughts implode and collide with each other as they are kept focused on the problem. Actually, a person who is depressed is much like a community which is divided and at war with itself.

If you nurture yourself, you will find that just as in the natural world, the growth will be good and  the growth will be gradual. There are no quick fixes in life –only slow solutions.

We have a competency, an identity, an autonomy and an interrelatedness to everything alive around us. We are truly a part of every living community on the planet and in the entire universe. We are all one – and the more we see ourselves as part and parcel of this universe, we discover that we are a part of creating a wonderful garden of diversity and plurality where everyone feels a part.

We realize again that by my willingness to live in the will of God that I can live in the peace of my own consciousness of being one with all. What I mean by this is that God acts in and through us the more we let go and let God.

We believe that as we can become aware that God dwells in each of us and demonstrates its power in us the more we remain   open to God’s personal presence.

We humans are so grounded in the material and the spatial that it is veritably impossible to be conscious of a Higher Power in and around us. We are so mired in the muck. We can begin to believe that we can tap into this consciousness and let it unfold its plan, its purpose and plot for our life. It will not plan something small and insignificant but will, by small steps, lead us, cause to unfold in our lives that which it has for us to accomplish while we are here on this earth. And I believe the spiritual nature and the fellowship of Depressed Anonymous is what God uses to get us aware and conscious of its love and presence.”

SOURCE:  Copyright(c) The Promises of  Depressed  Anonymous (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky. Pages 15-17.

A depressed person needs a supportive presence–not a sermon or critical lecture.

 

We have learned as it says in Appendix B of Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition, how “Many times the desire  to help the depressed pushes the helper deeper into the isolation of the depressed  – mirroring the reality of the depressed person.”

“One thing I’ve learned is that of all the horrendous problems we face in the world, what strikes me as the root cause of them all, and it is  a myth: “I don’t have any power.” Mark DuBois.

Sometimes in our efforts to help the family member or friend we often forget that it is our recovery that needs to be first considered. We need a fresh approach and we need a plan.  We can now admit that we became angry because of depressed friend didn’t recovery according to our schedule of events for their lives, We might  have berated our family member that all they had to do was pick themselves up by their bootstraps and all would be well. Now that our  eyes have been opened and our minds have been enlightened we realize that we are learning new ways to take care of ourselves.”

Dep-Anon Family Group. Pg.19.

It is true that what a loved one needs who is depressed is not a lot of lecturing on why he or she needs to get out of bed and to take care of themselves.  They also don’t need  pity.

I like to go to the family and friend guide for those who have a depressed loved one in their lives. This group, the Dep-Anon family group has some valuable thoughts on how to deal or not deal with the depressed person. In fact they wrote the program of recovery for those on the other side of the fence–namely the family member or friends of the depressed.

Let’s take a look at some of their thoughts on this subject, namely, how to help the depressed in the best possible way.

It is beginning to dawn on us that just as there are sure things the depressed needs to get them back on track  –so now our focus continues to be inside our selves, We begin to  admit that my own  need to control my depressed friend or family member provides me with a  sense of power and purpose for my life. The more I was willing to give and pity them –the more they were willing to be passive and receive.

We are learning that our individual strength, our sanity if you will, comes from our active participation in Dep-Anon where we are no longer alone but instead find ourselves in touch with the healing of those much like ourselves. Instead of casting any blame at them we now are in the active process of discovering  areas  in our lives that need work.

One of the issues that I might want to focus is that of self-pity. I need to quit feeling sorry for myself because all that I have tried in getting my family member back on their feet has seemingly been a failure.  At first we might have been encouraged by the fact that this or that new drug was supposed to do the trick —the miracle pill–that was supposed to remove all the darkness and provide the light for that loved one. And when that didn’t happen we began to feel a panicky feeling –we began to feel helpless and disappointed because then it came back on us again to make them well –to do something-anything. Also, I felt angry at times when things didn’t go good for my loved one. I  wanted so bad for them to begin the way that they once were. The way they are now is hard to accept. At times I am even angry at God for allowing all this sadness to be such a big part of our life. I find that any family group is a good place to share all those hurts with my newfound  fellowship group.

The courage to share with others that we didn’t have all the answers as to how and when a family member is to recover. We now admit that no matter how much we cajole, criticize and scold there still is no change.

AS Bill W., says “The  problem of resolving fear has two aspects. We shall have to try for all the freedom from fear that is possible for  us to attain. Then we shall need to find both the courage and the grace to deal constructively with whatever fear remains.” (ASBI,P. 61).

Finally, the words of Bill W., ring in our ears and hearts where he writes in the AA  Big Book, “We need not apologize to anyone for depending upon our creator. We have good reason to disbelieve those who think spirituality is the way of weakness. For us, it is the way of strength. In a letter Bill states that “we lose the fear of making decisions, great and small, as we realize that should our choice prove wrong we can, if we will, learn from the experience. Should our decision be the right one, we can thank God for giving us the courage and the grace that caused us so to act..

The verdict of the ages is that men of faith selfdom lack courage, They trust their God. So we never apologize for our belief in God. Instead we try to let him demonstrate, through us, what he can do.”

++++++

SOURCEDep-Anon Family Group Manual: A 12 Step Support Group for Families and Friends of the Depressed.  Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.

” I have found that the Depressed Anonymous fellowship is a good place to share my story!”

 

AFFIRMATION

I am involved in something bigger than myself and this is providing me with a sense of mission for all those persons who  are suffering from sadness.

 

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

I know that there are many like me out there in this ever changing world. My message of hope is always available to those who will listen  to my message. I know that there is hope because I have more hope when I realize that there is something that I can do in order to help myself. I know that by experiencing my God in such  a special and life giving way, my life  will straighten out in time and with the help of God.

The more I use the Twelve Step program of recovery, the more I am able to take care of myself and keep the focus of my growth on myself. I am no longer blaming someone else for my depression. Nobody has the power to depress me. I might get a feeling of sadness when around certain people but they don’t depress me. It’s the way I look at the world, people or situations that I depress myself. I am confiding my thoughts about my recovery to those new friends that I am making in the program.

MEDITATION

God makes himself available to anyone who make themselves available to God. So God, we believe  you are right here with us in our deepest moments of despair. We will see the light with your help. (Personal comments).

SOURCES:  Copyright(c) Higher thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and  meditations for members of Twelve Step fellowship groups. Hugh Smith  (1999, 2018) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.KY . Page 120.

Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition  (1998, 2011, 2014  )Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.

The “before” and “after” stories of those who freed themselves from the tyranny of depression.

I just want to write a few thoughts this morning about the “before” and “after” experiences of group members  battles  with depression.  Before there was a Depressed Anonymous group for me to attend, where I could address my problems, I joined another 12 step program of recovery. It was at this meeting that I heard and saw people who shared their stories how it was “before”  they got into recovery and  the  “after”  now that they are living the recovery program.

The difference was like night and day. I could listen all day to a lecture on depression, alcoholism, overeating or any other addiction  and not be as moved as I am when I hear the actual person telling  their story of how life is  now by  actively participating in their own recovery. To hear the changes that have taken place in those many people whose lives had spiraled down into the darkness of isolation and hopelessness is a phenomenal  experience in itself.

Most of the books which serve as the basic text of 12 step groups such as Depressed Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous, to name a few, all include many “before” and “after” stories of those who have suffered the loss of their self only to find that with the help of the spiritual principles of the Steps were they able eventually to share how  their lives had changed dramatically.   Their stories are simple, direct and filled with powerful accounts of  human beings who once were lost in the chaos of addiction,  but now have been freed,  living with hope and serenity.

Depressed Anonymous’ basic text  has its own “before” and  “after ” stories as well. All the stories, the “before” and “after” accounts,   give credit to the program of recovery which  has changed the thinking and lives of thousands of persons throughout the world.  I see  these stories manifesting  the miracle of the Higher Power, at work in those persons who made a decision to choose to walk that different pathway out of their addictions.  They then  tell those others “still suffering from depression” about the power  they have received.

Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to the depressed, and to practice these principles in all of our affairs.” Step Twelve of Depressed Anonymous.”

Sources:

Depressed Anonymous, recommends its basic text, Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition for the many inspiring accounts of those persons who came to a meeting, like myself, heard what others had experienced and decided that to see how it worked for them.

Also another excellent publication with many “before” and “after”  stories is A MEDLEY OF DEPRSSION STORIES, by the founder of two Depressed Anonymous groups in North Carolina, Debra Sanford.  Her work is available at Amazon.com.

Depressed Anonymous Publications also has books available at depressedanon.com. VISIT THE STORE

The experience of surrender involves the ” letting in ” of reality.

                                                     ” Serenity is in the letting go!”

Alcoholism ( depression) and addiction, characterized as they are by the rigid clinging of obsession and compulsion, help us to understand  the experience of release. Perhaps the greatest paradox in the story of spirituality is the mystical insight that we are able to experience release only  if we ourselves let go, This is the paradox of surrender. Surrender begins with the acceptance that we are not in absolute control of the matter at hand – in fact, we are not in absolute control of anything. Thus the experience of surrender involves the “letting in” of reality that becomes possible only when we are ready to let go of our illusions and pretensions  (our “unreality“).

If surrender is the act of “letting go” the experience of conversion can be understood as the hinge on which the act swings – it is the turning point, the turning from “denial” as a way of seeing things,  to acceptance of the reality revealed in surrender. The self-centeredness that undermines spirituality is rooted in a self-deception that reflects a false relationship  with reality, and that false relationship begins  with distorted seeing, with some kind  of false understanding about the nature of reality and our relationship with it. Breaking through  that denial and confronting reality is what members of Alcoholic Anonymous mean by “hitting bottom.”

The experience of release most frequently comes at the point of exhaustion, at  the moment when we “give up” our efforts and this permits ourselves to just be…

“What blocks release more than anything else is the  refusal tolet go” that comes from the demand   for security, for certainty, for assured results.  Release, like spirituality itself, requires   risk.”

____________________________________________________________________________

SOURCE: The Spirituality of Imperfection. Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham. Bantam Books, 1992. pages 168-169.

NOTE: This excerpt was reprinted in the  Volume 8, Number #1 Issue of The Antidepressant Tablet. Louisville. KY.

My anti-depression tool kit: An arsenal of weapons to defeat depression.

The following is a personal story of how a member of Depressed Anonymous  used her anti-depression Tool Kit to disarm and dismantle symptoms of  depression in her daily life.

I am no longer alone

” I am writing this information with the hope  that it will help anyone who is suffering from depression that is brought on by stress, anxiety, loneliness, physical or mental emotions, death or insecurity.

I am a thirty-four year old single female, who has been suffering from depression for a long time. Most of my depression was brought on by feelings of insecurity, such as not being able to express my inner feelings, being controlled by a dominating parent, loneliness, stress, workaholic, anxiety attacks (related to work and everyday pressures of living), too much sleep, nervousness, lack of motivation, being tired all the time, sadness, weight gain, digestive problems, a feeling of being trapped, self-consciousness, not trusting myself, dreams of dying but yet managing to come back to life, withdrawal from family, or loss of interest in meeting with the opposite sex.

It seemed that I was living in another world until one of my parents gave me a phone number of Depressed Anonymous meetings, plus reading the Depressed Anonymous manual have provided  me with the tools to live without being depressed. Most important  of all, the Twelve Steps mentioned in the book have made me understand that God (my Higher Power) will give me strength to deal with my depression and get on with my life and be happy with myself.

The book with its Twelve Steps, has taught me that I am not alone. And that I am not the only one who is suffering from depression. It has taught me to believe more in my Higher Power and to let it handle my depression.

I read the Depressed Anonymous manual, go to counseling, and attend the Depressed Anonymous meetings. The meetings are a must. I need them to survive. The support group’s members help each other by listening, talking, expressing their feelings, and give support on how to cope with depression.   By letting my Higher Power help me, I am beginning to feel free from depression. I am not so nervous and tensed up. My Christian inner faith is getting stronger. I am not so stressed out and I am beginning to get confidence  within  myself . I still have problems with sleep patterns and I am getting some motivation back.   I have learned how to handle anxiety by taking deep breaths when I am nervous or troubled. This was suggested by my therapist. I am also learning how to stand up for myself.

All these new tools have helped me and will continue to do so. They also taught me not to dwell on my past, to live one day at a time, and to look forward to the future, but not live there. It will take me a long time to deal with depression, but I am glad that these tools are available. Life can be good for a change. Please don’t give up.”

-Anonymous.

SOURCE:  Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (Louisville, KY, 2011. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Pages 148-149.

Please go to MENU and click onto TOOLS* FOR RECOVERY.    There you will discover those tools which can be used to dismantle those painful areas of your life which in the past have imprisoned you.

  • RECOVERY TOOLS: Exercise; Meditation; The Serenity Prayer; Cutting off negative thinking-The Law of the Threes; Being in Nature; Journaling; Managing stress; Music; Nutrition; Positive self-talk; Sleep; Social engagement; Stay in the Present.

Read more stories of persons who have dismantled their own depression. Check out the Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore and order online.

Dep-Anon Family Support Group

 

Dep-Anon Family Group

When family members of a depressed loved  one were asked to prioritize, describe, and list which feelings they experienced most often and most intensely, the following are those which they documented:

  1. Feeling overwhelmed and burdened by a family member’s depression. 2) Feeling restricted around the depressed, feeling of something similar to the expression of “walking on eggshells.” 3) Feelings of helplessness 4) Anxiety about the situation and not knowing what to do about the feelings they were experiencing 5) Feeling emotionally drained 6)Feeling inadequate faced with a love one’s immobility and lack of motivation 7) Feeling anger and frustration at the depressed 8) Being an enabler 9) Feeling that one was living an unproductive life as one was stymied by the depressed   unproductive depression 10)  Having feelings of irrationality and impatience 11)  Feeling inadequate 12) Unhappy 13) Feeling betrayed in retirement by spouse’s late-life depression 14) Indecisive 15) Lack of confidence in oneself.

With the publishing and production of the 3rd edition of Depressed Anonymous the loved ones of the depressed will  not only  have a book written by the depressed, a fount of valuable information about the way the depressed live out their lives, but now with the DEP-ANON FAMILY GROUP GUIDE will have their own guide  with its suggested ways on how to relate to the  depressed family   members or friend. This DEP-ANON guide will, chapter by chapter outline a process whereby family members can understand depression and the various ways to cope with those who suffer from it.

DEP-ANON is also about how family members and friends of the depressed can find help and support. I believe now is a good time in the history of our Twelve Step fellowship to spend time refining and detailing strategies for helping family members and friends of the depressed.  In fact, the name chosen for this companion to Depressed Anonymous is DEP-ANON.  The  name and philosophy is much like AL-ANON, the support group for family and friends of the alcoholic.

DEP-ANON places its focus on creating a relationship with the depressed that is not only supportive, but also  creates an environment where the whole family can find healing. Also, we want to spend some time speaking about how we can help our depressed family member find the necessary support so that any future relapse can be prevented. There are a number of routes that can be taken to ensure that this happens and we will discuss them in the following pages . We hope that what you read here will not only be a help to you, but will help your  loved one recover and stay out of the prison of depression.”

SOURCE:   Copyright(c) Dep-Anon Family Group Manual. Pages 1-3

NOTE: .Comments about the  DEP-ANON recovery program will continue in  future blogs  at depressedanon.com.