Faith appears to be good for one’s health.

Joyce  was a client of mine a few years back. She was in her early sixties and just recuperating from   a successful  open heart surgery. She also was very  depressed.  That’s where I come in. I was asked by my clinical supervisor  if I would spend some time with her and see  how I might be of help to her.  I agreed to do what I could do.

In the midst of counseling and listening to Joyce’s  story, I discovered her  strong faith,  which included her personal faith in God which gave her the belief that she was going to get through whatever  that had her  in lockdown.

She wasn’t aware of our Depressed Anonymous group and so I shared my story with her and the fact that I too  was once depressed. I told her how I became a  believer in the spirituality of the Twelve Steps and how my belief in God  delivered me from my symptoms of depression. Now don’t get me wrong -my own story is that it took me over a year to finally  get free of this noose around my neck.  Also, because of my faith in a program and the  recovered  people who lived it out in their daily lives,  I started on the road to recovery.

My faith told me if I would follow some of the simple steps outlined in this recovery program I would get better. My faith got me off of my seat,  out of bed and out my door to begin walking.  I believed  walking might be the key that unlocked my prison of depression. I read  that some Doctors in England were writing out   prescriptions for exercise for their depressed patients. I figured that it worked for them and so why wouldn’t exercise work for me.  After a year of walking everyday I finally walked out of the mental fog, lost the jitters and became free of depression. My faith in a Higher Power and my getting my body moving on a daily basis produced the healing effect that I had hoped for.

Back to Joyce. She and I had ten sessions together and I suggested to her that she start to think about the things that she did before her depression. What provided the satisfaction  and those pleasant events previously in her life. She talked about how she at one time was a cartoonist as well as a lover of writing poetry. So, that is what I suggested — that she involve herself with these pleasant activities again.  She said that she believed that she could do it–even though her mind and body rebelled at moving out of her comfort zone of doing absolutely nothing. The main defense for doing nothing is the oft repeated mantra from all of us when  we are depressed which  is “I’ll do it when I feel better.”

With each new session she would share with me a cartoon or a poem which she had created the previous  week. As she continued doing what she liked, I  noticed more energy in her voice as she shared her feelings about her new  creations.  All the while, she was compliant with her own physical recovery from heart surgery. Her pleasant moods  gave her a feeling of being in control of her life and her future.  She came to believe that a power greater than herself would restore not only her sanity but her health as well. Her faith was renewed in the God of her understanding while restoring  her belief that her  health was going to get better. Not only did  she have a plan to follow but she made the spiritual principles of the Twelve Steps her way out of depression. She continues to follow this map to this very day.

The following quote is from a work  titled,  The Secret Strength of Depression written by Frederic Flach, M.D., K.H.S.

Faith appears to be good for one’s overall health. Cardiovascular illnesses are more frequently seen in depressed individuals, in patients with coronary ischemia, depression worsens the outcome, possibly due to alterations in platelet function and changes in autonomic tone. Depression is also associated with a higher mortality rate following acute myocardial infarction; for those patients who survive, the recovery process is often a more complicated  one. Studies suggest that the recovery rate from medical and surgical procedures, from the repair of hip  fractures to coronary bypass surgery, is faster among believers. Moreover, patients undergoing such treatment appear less likely to have serious complications or die.” Page 239.

SOURCES:  Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications.  Louisville. Ky.

Copyright(c)  I’ll do it when I feel better. 2nd  Edition 1986,  2013.  Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.

Copyright)(c)  Believing is seeing:15 Ways to leave the prison of depression. (2017)  Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky.

Why does the dog chase it’s tail?

Good question. It could be for many reasons. It might have fleas. It might have gotten hurt in some way. It itches. The reasons can go on and on.

I  suggest that one of the reasons may be that the dog is unaware that its  tail is part of the dog. It is an attachment which comes with the dog. However, no matter how fast and furious the dog chases its tail the dog will never get hold of it. I gather it soon discovers this important fact!Anyway, why think about this fact here?  What has this to do with the information we normally share here at our Depressed Anonymous website.

So often as a   therapist  I have  heard  how some persons believe that their depression just came out of the blue.  You know, like the rain, snow, and stormy weather.  And ironically, I felt the same way. I just couldn’t understand how  it was that I felt so bad with no prior  warning.

In our manual Depressed Anonymous I give the reader a brief account of my own experiences with depression and how I always felt that this plague of the spirit just happened. I too felt that It just came out of the blue for no apparent reason.

Here is a little bit of what I wrote in the introduction to Depressed Anonymous and I want to share this with you now.

What it was like. More than ten years ago, I began to notice that something was very wrong with the way I was feeling. I can tell you exactly the place and the time when this terrible sadness began to swallow me up;. I felt myself, without warning, sliding down and into the dark pit from which I was not able to climb out for a year of painful months. Feelings of inner pain and numbness descended upon me, and began to rule my life.

At the time, I thought that this descent into hell came from “out of the blue” but, like all feelings we experience, I knew that because of situations in my personal past, my emotional reservoir was overdrawn. My reactions to these situations had allowed thoughts and feelings to accumulate a wealth of debt whose note had come due.

“…Looking back over my life and experiences, I discovered that my thoughts produced the feelings, the feelings produced moods and the moods produced my behaviors. The mind-body connection is never as much in evidence as it is in the human experience that we label  depression.”

In another chapter of the Depressed Anonymous book we hear Mary tell us how  she felt about her own depression experience:

“…Because of shame, Mary was never able to share her story with any of  her friends. In time, she began to think that  her feelings were disloyal to her parents, whom she felt she had to love because they were her parents.  She said she got confused because they seemed to want her around sometimes but at other times they told her what a worthless and lazy girl she was. The thing that hurt most, she said, is that she believed them. So now she wonders how this Fifth Step  applies to her when it’s her parents who need to admit their wrongs to her. Mary was puzzled. All she wants to do is to get over some of the anger that she still holds for the way her parents neglected her when she was growing up. She says that every time  she goes back home a sadness just seems to come over her -as though out of the blue -and for no apparent reason. She also says that her stomach gets all  knotted up.”

And now, why do we seem to have a mental disconnect between our  life losses and the depth of pain that we are presently suffering?

The author gives an explanation here:

“To have lost a parent  early in life, either through death or divorce can have a serious effect on the life of  a young child. Early losses in life cause a lot of hurt later on in life and many people  think that their depression just happens, out of the blue without rhyme or reason, but usually there IS  a reason and most probably it is buried deep in the unconscious because it has been too painful to look at.  It is in sharing with a trusted friend, group member or therapist that you can gradually let out the bits of the secret that has been under lock and key for years. It is also when we can be in contact with persons we trust that the hurts of the past can be revealed.”

And finally to answer our questions: why does the dog chase his tail? I honestly don’t have a clue. But what I do know that when I was depressed   I could sit and think for hours about why I   felt so miserable –but   never coming up  with the reason. No matter what avenue I went down trying to understand my present pain, I really  couldn’t stop chasing false leads and dead ends of why I was so despairing of relief.

Later, with a mind cleared of the fog of sadness, and with a new ability to process where I had been in my life, I finally began to see that nothing just  comes out of the blue. There is always a reason.

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If you would like to read more of how other members of Depressed Anonymous share their stories of recovery  in our Depressed Anonymous manual  and how they found their way out of depression.  They all discovered how their symptoms of depression didn’t just  come out of the blue.

SOURCE: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 20,67, 79.

Visit The Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore here at this site depressedanon.comOne may order online.

“…you always expect the worst.”

 

AFFIRMATION

I will use a notebook to chart my course, list how ech day goes, so that I can repeat the feelings or thoughts that have allowed me to feel I am becoming responsible for my activities.

“…there is one great advantage  about seeing yourself as helpless and in the power of others. You don’t have to be responsible for yourself.  Other people make all the decisions and when things turn out badly you can blame other people. And things always turn out badly.  You know this. That’s why you always expect the worst.”

 CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

Truly, I know this is where the great scrutiny lies, being  responsible for myself.  If all I did was sit around and say poor me, and woe is me, I am not only making life tough on myself but I am also making life miserable for those around me. This is why I, as a writer and therapist, and one who has been depressed, knows that it is only when I get moving, even though I felt like death, that I began to feel better. No one will make me feel better. I will now make myself feel better.  I want to enjoy this world. I am tired of the pain of feeling worthless. I don’t want to blame anyone for my problems because no one is making me live in the problem. I will live in the solution from now on. The solution for me is working my Twelve Step program of recovery.

Blame helps  me to never have to look inside myself and ask myself how much  of my present state of depression is due to the way I have learned to think about myself and my life?  I am not in the blame game and so now I am  willing to face the enemy and start the changing process.

MEDITATION

Faith can move mountains. Ask and you shall receive. Knock and the door shall be opened unto you. I believe this. Personal comment?

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SOURCE:  Copyright(c) Higher thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 Step fellowship groups. (1993, 1999). Depressed Anonymous Publications.  Louisville. Thought for February 6th. Pages 28-29.

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How to live outside the box? The depression box!

If you really want to begin to “live outside the box“, a description of what the box feels like and looks like might be helpful to you.  First of all, a box has an identifiable shape. It is a box mainly because it contains something–whatever that might be. And when we speak of the subject of depression, we talk about depression having us boxed in. The box as it is used here, in this context is a metaphor for feeling enclosed and which there is no exit. It is like being trapped or like in a prison.

Now, in order to live outside the box we want to live creatively, which means  that we are having to learn  how to live outside the box. Now, if you  find  this hard to believe -stick with me now  as I will explain what I mean.

Just briefly, my own experience with depression can be used as an example. First of all, when I was depressed I thought that I was losing my mind. The box that I put myself in was getting more restricting by the day and making my life hell. I could see no way out. I was trapped. What could I do I asked myself?  As hard as I tried, I couldn’t just will these feelings and scary  thoughts away–like taking a broom and brushing them out of my life. No matter which way I turned I hit a wall. With no answers forthcoming on how to keep my head above water, my body slowly  was being sucked down into  the quicksand of despair. The thought came to me, much like that small glimmer, a tiny light so far away, but nevertheless  a light. It was  like the lighthouse which with its  intense brightness warns seafarers that rocks were nearby and to be watchful before approaching. My mind began to race here and there for a way out of the box and then it hit me —   get moving. Move the body. Get busy.  The key out of this prison was already in my hand. And now, those of us here in the Depressed program of recovery,who have been putting “out of the box” ideas to work in our daily lives, we want to share what has worked for us and we know, if you actually use them for your own recovery, they are  bound to  ultimately free you. That is the promise I share with you today.

The following activities,  listed below  are some of  the tools that will get you “out of the box” when you get serious about using them.

I think taking a close and personal look at the following tools will not only help you get  “out of the box” but can be tools that you will be able to utilize, day after day as you continue your recovery.

  1. Exercise is a great tool if you happen to be depressed.
  2.  Getting out into nature will also help put your mind on beauty and your surroundings.
  3. Overcoming fear is also a great place to learn how to get out of the box. Learn about “first fear” and “second fear.” Fear doe seem to be at the center of our life when depressed.
  4. Recite the “SERENITY PRAYER” as often as you need it.
  5. The present. Staying in the now.
  6. Making use of the God box. This is an exercise, a simple one at that, which helps us learn the discipline of “letting go.”
  7. Feelings need to be examined and expressed. We will look at why expressing feeling is  so important,  instead of having them bottled up and causing all sorts of physical and emotional problems.
  8. Disable negative thinking: learn how to short circuit negative thoughts when they pop into our minds.
  9.  Reading Depressed Anonymous literature and all material on the subject of depression.
  10. Learn how we all have choices. We make those decisions that bring us closer to freedom–not those that continue to imprison and box us.
  11. Journaling is a great tool for writing down what has been our experience for the day.  It helps to clarify our thinking and puts things into perspective.

NOTE

In the next post, I will begin placing attention on each of the eleven ideas listed above.  Gradually we can take time to evaluate  our response to each individually and make our own notes as how to use these recommended ideas  for our own recovery.

Hugh

STEPPING UP TO HOPE

In Depressed Anonymous I have heard members of the group say what works for them is not to fight depression but instead do the dead man’s float — just let go and feel the sadness –don’t run away from it with lots of activity and doing — this can lead to mania — instead, admit our sadness, our despondency and face the feeling.
Don’t fight it and push it down but DISCUSS it –talk about it and see it for what it is. Since depression is a dependency issue it is only when we begin to surrender to the Higher Power or God as we understand him that we make it possible to recover from this experience. We choose to live, feel and think differently.
THE ANTIDEPRESSANT TABLET
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This approach to depression really works, as the many testimonies in our “Big Book” Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition illustrate. Yes, we know that running away from any difficulty or problem just digs the hole of our sadness deeper. Once we give up our shame or guilt for being depressed–basically our feelings powerless and being isolated –and start to share our story with others, we find our sense of mastery begins to return as our feelings of uselessness begin to evaporate. How often do members of the group, after coming to the group for some weeks, begin to look different–that is, they seem calmer and their faces become softer. The hardness disappears.
Hugh

WRITING IN MY JOURNAL OR DA WORKBOOK HELPS CLARIFY MY THINKING, FEELINGS, AND BEHAVIORS ONE DAY AT A TIME!

AFFIRMATION

I  see myself better when I write down who I feel I am today.

“The simple act of writing something down is tremendously helpful because to do so we have to bring something clearly to mind. Instead of  having half-formed thoughts and confused emotions crashing and fumbling around inside of us, we crystalize these thoughts and feelings into sentences. Once we put these sentences down on paper we have taken something from inside and put it outside. Now we can look at it, judge it, and master it.

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

I am making every effort to get in touch with who I am and I am taking the opportunity now to focus on what gets me down and what keeps me up. I am seeing too, that the more I associate with people like myself who are following and working their program, the better I feel.  I intend to journal and keep a diary of my good progress.

I know that the more I stay in my head the greater the confusion. It is only when I begin to see on paper my expressions of hope and confusion that I can begin to change some of my thoughts which I find I am compulsively repeating to myself, day after day.  I now can write down a new positive thought about myself.  I can choose to feel  whatever I choose.”

MEDITATION

Our guiding love, our God as we understand God, is dong for us all that it desires to lavish on us today.  I am hopeful that I can find my new path and grow stronger in learning the various ways to hear our Higher Power’s promptings.

SOURCE: (c) HIGHER THOUGHTS FOR DOWN DAYS: 365 DAILY THOUGHTS AND MEDITATIONS FOR 12 STEP FELLOWSHIP GROUPS. (1993, 1999) DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS PUBLICATIONS, LOUISVILLE. Pages 78-79.