Sharing your story is to save your life!

 

Everyone has a story to tell. Everyone has at least one book inside of them that needs to be written.  In her award winning book, Depression: The way out of your prison, Dr. Dorothy Rowe tells us how getting our story told can be  life- changing, and for some life-saving. Below are  her thoughts on the importance of sharing one’s story with that person who is willing to listen.

Help comes in two ways -from yourself and from other people. But help cannot come from other people unless you are prepared to find it and accept it. You have to find the people to confide in and you have to overcome your habit of keeping things to yourself. Perhaps you are ready to confide in someone, but there is no one available. Your family will not listen, and your doctor prefers to write you a prescription rather than give you his listening attention.

So you need to find someone who will listen. Someone outside the family and, possibly, outside work, is usually best—someone who has no vested interest in keeping you as you are or who has no reason to feel guilty about what you might disclose. It need not necessarily be just one person. On your journey out of your prison of depression you will meet many different gurus, people who throw light on your darkness. A nurse might listen to your fears about your health and the drugs you take, and may find the words to calm your fears. A friend may share with you the burden of family responsibilities. A pastor  or priest might listen and acknowledge your religious doubts and fears and impart the courage and trust which enables you to deal with these. Of course, not everyone you hope to confide in will respond in a  helpful way. ..”

And then Rowe continues to say that “you might like to consult a professional listener of some sort. You may find someone in the Health Service, or you might go to a private therapist. Talking to people who have been depressed and are now coping is tremendously helpful.”   Pages 199-200.  (Copyright)  Depression:The Way out of your prison.  (1996) Routledge. 2nd ed. London.

Our Twelve Step program  tries to ensure that everyone who attends our program of recovery and who shares their story will be given a sponsor, a listener if you will, who too has experienced the pain and anxiety of depression. They are sponsors because they too have been able to share their stories. They know that  powerful freedom that comes when someone really listens to us and our story. People  often say to me “Doesn’t listening to all these depressed people get you depressed? ” And I can honestly say that it does not  get me depressed.  In fact, I know that by listening to someone else’s story, I  find many areas which are  similar to my own. Besides the fact that I myself experienced the chaos and pain of depression,  I know how difficult  it is to come out and share one’s own struggle. But it can be done!

If you are looking for someone or others to listen to your story with compassion and without a judgmental attitude, our group Depressed Anonymous is the right place to come. We are all storytellers. We all have been heard. We all continue to tell our story. Not only the personal account of our  own depression but also the story of how we have recovered from depression. In our program there is always the “before ” and “after” story that we share.  The ” after’  story of all of us is that important account of what we did to recover, how we did it  and with whom we did it,  made all the difference in the world. Out of the darkness into the light.

You  can read the stories in Depressed Anonymous, which contain heart warming  stories of how persons young and old, have come to our fellowship, shared their story and   who now listen to  those new members who share their own story. They want to share that hope, so that others depressed may know that there is a way out and a life to be lived without depression. They are no longer alone!

It takes trust to share our story. Finding the right person or the right group of persons is what we are looking for. There are persons waiting to hear your story. There are    those persons  who have recovered from depression and who are now sponsoring other people and forming other groups. If there is no group in your area, know that we have a long distance group learning program, called the Home Study Recovery program.  This program can be done at home and all it requires is the willingness  to work the Steps with a sponsor through emails.  All one needs is   the Depressed Anonymous manual and The Depressed Anonymous Workbook. There are no fees or dues for this Home Study Program.   As in all our groups, sponsors can accompany new members as long as they like. In time, attending the DA groups our new member can choose their own sponsor.

Please go to The Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore at this site and examine the material that is used for this program.  Again, in the event that you would yourself want to start a Depressed Anonymous group in your locality, these two books are our main resources used in all groups, here   in the USA and internationally. If the purchase of the books is a hardship, contact the DA Publisher and they will make it possible for you to receive the books regardless of payment.

Depressed Anonymous, 3rd ed., Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

The Depressed Anonymous Email address is Depanon @Netpenny.net.

“I am not broken.”

 

More than 30 years ago  I felt that I was a broken human being. We all have heard the old saying that  “what  doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.” Looking back over the time I spent dealing with the darkness within,  I now can see my recovery time  did  make me stronger. That recovery forced me to use tools that I had never realized existed and fit for what I needed to raise myself up. These tools   gave me strength for  survival. The  saying was true: move the body and the mind will follow. Instead of my mind and life spiraling further down into the pit of hopelessness I began  spiraling upward with hope.    In the beginning of my descent into nothingness I  believed  that  the inner war that was  going on in my body  was going  to kill me. I did believe that I was coming apart, unglued and a danger to myself.  I was like a nomad in a  wasteland where all the guideposts for directions  had disappeared.  My life had lost all meaning. My mind resisted thinking about hope and the  future.  I felt that I was in a state of limbo–no moving forward–only backward and down. My personal pain and anxiety kept me tied down in my own desperation.

Many have found my own  story to be  a positive  statement  in which almost on a daily basis I am able to share some of my thoughts about this journey which I am on and which you too  can be on. Our own story of recovery is really a tool that others can put to use for their own lives,

My depression experience has  provided me with a life purpose and given me meaning which I never dreamt would be my own recovery gift  for others “still suffering” to use for their own recovery;  the repair of their own personal brokenness. My own life and the Twelve Steps has provided a key which helped me unlock the prison of my depression.  The Steps provide ample guidance and direction for those of us who continue the spiral upward, living out in our own lives the hope and   purpose which have been promised to those of us who desire a life after depression.

Hugh

Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd ed. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky.

You can read the author’s story  in the Depressed Anonymous book, plus 30 more personal  accounts of those  who have also  used the recovery tools for their own freedom from depression.

Click on to The Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore for more literature which deals effectively with depression and recovery. Orders can be made online.

 

CODE BLUE! CODE BLUE!

If you have spent anytime at all in a hospital or nursing home you know what these two words mean. Basically they mean, drop everything your doing and go immediately to the area (patient)  that needs immediate assistance. There is no waiting around. You go!

I personally believe that our country’s mental health system is in a state of Code Blue. I also believe that  with all the old and new antidepressant  drugs now available  to resolve this epidemic, (yes, an epidemic) there are more depressed people now than ever before. It would appear that  there would be less depressed persons because of all the medications available, specifically  designed to deal with this national mental   health emergency of depression.

In 1985 I was able to do something about the emergency when I founded a mutual aid group called Depressed Anonymous. The group is modeled after the successful Alcoholics Anonymous program of recovery. The emphasis was on mutual aid and a group  focused solution for those depressed.  Persons who came to the group were many times in a Code Blue situation and needed immediate help. Most times they needed the help of other persons depressed who were speaking the same language as they were.  In fact, when they  did attend meetings they gradually knew that they were not alone and that others were  going through the same things as they had experienced. And  by attending meetings week after week they felt the strength  of hope  and began living their life  with a renewed sense of purpose and meaning.

The following is Lena’s story and how she began to live a life filled with hope and purpose.

“During my first night in the hospital, a member informed me of a support group known as Depressed Anonymous. I decided to give it a try. By telling me about this wonderful, miraculous, and very spiritual program, this person had not only worked the TWELFTH STEP, but had also given me a key, a key which would open many doors  for me. Walking through these doors was like admitting defeat.  I was playing first base in a ball game in which I would eventually win.  If I struck out, I was back on Step One. By playing ball with a positive attitude, I was allowing my Higher Power to walk the Steps to recovery with me.  With the help and the positive sense of fellowship that I enjoyed in the group, I began to understand God’s will for me. With the love, support and true friendship of three faithful members in the group, I began working on my driver’s license, which had been another step toward independence for  me. Within a year, I earned my license when two members of the group took me for my road test. A new sunnier life had begun for me. The worst was finally over.”

The account of her recovery is just one of many stories that one can read in the Depressed Anonymous manual (Depressed Anonymous, (3rd ed.) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky. Page 113.  )

A total of 31 stories, in the Personal Stories section of the book,   are powerful testimonies of how  members of the DA   group who are living out the Steps in their individual and  group life.  No more Code Blues

 

For more information about the Personal Stories and Depressed  Anonymous literature click into THE DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS PUBLICATIONS  BOOKSTORE

 

 

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