Time on the shelf.

If any of our readers here have ever been in prison, the phrase “time on the shelf” refers to the days or years one has left in their sentence to complete before they are released. Good behavior while incarcerated  is one of the  ways the prisoner can reduce some of that time on the shelf.

A few years ago, a prison staff member and myself  spent  time setting up Depressed Anonymous meetings in a prison setting.  To say the least, it was a sobering experience for myself. It was also a very rewarding experience as well. Rewarding in the sense that there were men wanting to talk about their experience with depression  with other fellow prisoners.  We had permission from prison Psychiatrist and the Warden. We were given permission to talk and visit with prisoners who wanted to come to the meetings.

Altogether we had three groups of Depressed Anonymous. The groups were facilitated by the staff member, myself and prisoners  who already were  part of the fellowship, and attended other 12 Step meetings in the prison. AA and NA were an important part of the daily life of any of those who chose to attend this or that  fellowship. My point is that they already were working the Steps and attending recovery meetings. They never had been to a DA meeting, sharng their own experiences with depression, until now. Not many of the men had heard of the Depressed Anonymous fellowship till  we brought it into their lives.

One of the three groups met in the mess hall. Another on a stair well. And one met in a conference room. Space was limited. With all of this the men came faithfully  to the meetings. What impressed  me the most was the honesty of those participating.  What they were  sharing was held in  confidence  by each group member.  It was a sacred trust for the members to keep confidential anything and everything that was shared in the group.

For a DA member to share anything  in the prison yard that was shared inside  the group would defiitely  not bode well for the person talking outside the group. Every man knew this rule had no exceptions.

One of the most discussed issues among the men was how sad they were and how their past was  not only locking themselves in  prison — it also locked some men  out of seeing their children grow  up without them.  Many times their girlfriends would drop the man for someone else on the outside.  Some were saddened by the fact that  no one contacted them from home. No one from home came to visit them. This was the greatest pain.

Feelings of anger and despair continued to eat them up.  It was here in the group  that  this emotion  poured out of their hearts and souls like   molten rivers of despair.

Women with small children, mothers of sons incarcerated, women with boyfriends and husbands managed to meet on any occasion that was permissible.

For myself, this whole prison experience was bitter sweet in that 1)   the prison authorities allowed us in two times a week for our meetings, and secondly 2) the therapeutic salve of free sharing about hurts and loss of control, gave each man a sense that he was not alone. The actions that brought him to prison in the first place,   gave him   time to get some help with all the pain and loss of control over his life that was in his face on a daily basis. I could feel in each group an invisible bonding between  each other who were   gradually coming  to “believe that a power greater than themselves could restore them to sanity.” (Step Two)

Some of the best expressions of freedom I found in a prison at  Depressed Anonymous meetings. The freedom experienced by these men, by their group meetings  happened in spite of steel bars, locked wards,  locked cells and prison  guards. Twice a week, for an hour and a half,  these men talked of personal  remorse, he darkness in their own lives  and  how the Steps and the spiritual principles continued to provide hope and  way out of their own feelings of despair and hopelessness.

Because of what I experienced with prisoners personally over a  three  year period  I know the change that resulted in my own life and the life of those incarcerated,   the same positive  results, can be replicated with any and all those incarcerated.

***Submitted by Hugh S, a member of Depressed Anonymous in Louisville, KY. 

If you, the reader, have knowledge of any man or women incarcerated and facing time on the shelf, please let me know.  We will send them a copy of the Depressed Anonymous Manual and Workbook.

Anytime I get a call for material it   comes from the prisoners themselves. We will write to whomever you choose, and send our 12 Step literature. Free of charge.

Our email is depanon@netpenny.net  or you can write to us as a comment at our website www.depressedanon.com. We want to hear from you.


God is truly walking with me.

“One of the Steps that I decided to take to get out of my depression was to get myself involved in my Twelve Step spiritual program. It was hard at first to get involved with the program because I didn’t and wasn’t able to have immediate relief from my sadness. I wanted this program to work right now. I wanted someone to say, hang on and in a day or two it will start to work. Instead, I hear that the more meetings I attend, the more I listen and share at my meetings, the more my  attitudes about God will start to change and I will understand how God is truly walking wih me out of this prison of sadness, one day at a time.”


(C) Higher Thoughts for down days:365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 Step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. Page 157. An excerpt from the meditation for  September 23.

Can I think my way out of depression?

 That very question is one which I myself have asked. It would have been neat if I could have just  set my mind to it and   deciding not to pay any attention to  those never ending  ruminations about my life and all those  crazy thoughts and  painful feelings that came to roost in my mind.  They were unending.  You know, sort of dig a hole and bury your head in it. Hoping against hope that all the noise would just stop. It got worse. I told myself–it’s only going to get worse. It did!

It was strange  how the more I didn’t want to have these thoughts  live in my head, day after day, the more my mood continued spiraling  down into that abyss where no kind word, no positive thinking, nor pleasant future for myself   dwelt.  My thoughts turned angry and my mood was  at a   ground zero. 

Now what do I do I thought to myself? What can I do? All these thoughts were accompanied with an anxiety that seemed to envelop my whole body and turned  my insides into  to what felt like a shaking bowl of jelly. At this point,  my mind was  not thinking of anything, but being  fixated on how rotten I was feeling. Again, what can I do? How to get this constant agitation  and jitteriness  removed? And how did it get this way in the first place. No answers.

  I told myself. Nothing can help me. I might as well give up– throw in the towel. Even my thinking was changing. I couldn’t read with any comprehension or even   wanting  to do the most common of my normal  daily activities.  All my thoughts seemed   like sand slipping through my fingers. I was losing my grip on reality. Was I losing my mind?

I knew that I couldn’t lie in bed all day and do nothing. I knew that my mind was not coming up with any solutions that would ignite my motivation to move. “That’s it”  I said to myself. I got to get moving. And so that is what I did. I started to move the body–and gradually my mind began to work, but I had to prime the mental machinery to get it operative once again. I made up my mind that I must walk myself out  of the  mental and physical mess that I was in. I knew that if I just moved the body my mind would follow–at least that is what I was hoping would happen. And after a year or so, my mind did began to work. My thoughts gradually became clearer  and by taking care of my body’s physical needs (exercise) my mind welcomed this healthy change. I also had my support group Depressed Anonymous help me at our meetings. I could call them anytime and get some help. I WAS NOT ALONE.

I noticed that gradually my low mood was spiraling upwards and my mood  began lifting  the fog that had me confused and dazed and immobile. 

Did I think my way out of depression? I don’t think so. What did happen  is that over time I learned how to create my own  “red flags”  alerting  me when I discovered   my thinking was getting off track. Now these “red flags ” pop up in my mind when old negative thoughts, negative behaviors and irrational thoughts want to start their cycling around in my head.  The old habits that create depression die hard. Now I  use  my many tools (see Tools for Recovery at site menu)  that defend me against  relapsing and spiraling out of control. In other words, I have brought a new and sane balance into my life and my thinking.

Before, when I was depressed, my mind was filled with horrible  thoughts,  suicidal thoughts and  my thinking was getting more and more erratic. In fact, the mind was telling me all sort of negative lies about myself–which I believed. I felt worthless and helpless in the midst of this  negativity,  an unyielding, relentless, and pounding me down tsunami-like, till   I was flat on my back.

My mind has learned a lot since those days when I was a prisoner of my own fears. My thinking no longer focuses on what is negative  about myself. Now I am  focused on what I like about myself and ways that will help me grow and be of help  to others just like me.  Now it’s all about the progress I am making on a daily basis and not worrying about  being perfect.

One of our best tools is to use the Depressed Anonymous Workbook where I can go through each of the 12 Steps and relate my own depression experience to myself, my past and discover reasons  how I got depressed in the first place. Questions in this book prepare us to make discoveries about ourselves and our lives which we never gave much thought previous to our getting into reovery.

I cannot think myself out of depression. I know that now. I tried that route. Funny thing though, is that I always came back to where I started with no more answers than when I started. It’s like a dog chasing its tail.

  (c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.
(c) The Depressed Anonymous Workbook, (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.
(c) Home Study Program of Recovery. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.

          For more information on  Depressed Anonymous Fellowship publications, please check out the Depressed Anonymous Publications  Bookstore. Ordering online is available.





I need to keep the focus on HOPE!

“Making direct amends and taking a personal inventory continues our progress in the program and helps free us from all the hurts of the past. We know now that we can’t afford to think long about real or imagined hurts, or we will throw ourselves back into saddening ourselves once again.”

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT                                                       

 One of the things that is toxic to the depressed person is a negative thought. This  thought continues to grow, once nurtured by my attention and rumination, into a large and uncontrolled wild weed taking all the attention from the good things happening in my life. I know that I can no longer give into that first thought that I keep allowing to pound me into the ground.  My negative thinking is very much akin to drinking for the alcoholic. Once I give into that first moment of self-bashing, the depression spiral begins.

     Hurts form my past continue to grow  stronger the more I  allow them to dominate my thinking and my behavior. Hurts are best eradicated when I deal with them openly and honestly.


   Our spirit hopes in God as we begin today with a prayer and a belief that this day can be a good one  like all the good days that I have had in my past.   (Personal comment).


(C) Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 Step fellowship groups.   Depressed Anonymous, Hugh Smith. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. Page 154. September 17.

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

(c) The Depressed Anonymous Workbook (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.

Putting power into my life.

Yesterday’s blog spoke about the “lack of power” in one’s life.  Most persons are looking for getting some power in their lives. Power to get out of bed. The power to feel better. The power to overcome the feeling of powerlessness. The power to break out of our  prison of depression.  The power to find a way to have some peace and happiness in my life.

In the beginning of the book, titled Depressed Anonymous, there  are  articles  written by two different therapists who share their views on how the Twelve Steps have helped their counselees work their way out of depression.  They are sharing how a   program of recovery, with the spiritual principles of Depressed Anonymous, modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous Twelve Steps, are the basis of recovery from depression for the counselee.

As a therapist myself  I have found that the Depressed Anonymous Fellowship is a power that  gradually can pivot the counselee from sadness to hope. The group provides individuals with  new tools, giving power to their search for freedom and serenity.  No longer do they  feel alone and isolated.  We know that a sure-fire way to remain in a state of depression  lockdown is to isolate oneself from loved ones and life in general. By using the “Big Book” of Depressed  Anonymous  in the group  and with a therapist we discover a powerful truth that provides the impetus   for  continuing  on with our search for hope, recovery for  our own mental wellness.

 We begin to live in the present,   believing  that yesterday is gone forever and tomorrow  hasn’t yet arrived. All we have is the now. No one can promise us a tomorrow – so let’s live for today–one day at a time.

 Denise shares how  her client , “spent his time alone and many countless hours thinking of all the disappointments in his life, which continually reinforced his depression. Then he started going to DA and found that through being with other people like himself, he didn’t feel as  alone as he did before.  He started sharing his pain, and found understanding and support. Then I noticed his face began to soften, and he started smiling more. He also found help spiritually from DA, for he started working the Twelve Steps, and as a result, he started trusting God more for his healing. He is one of the many persons I’ve worked with who have found  help and encouragement through  attending Depressed Anonymous.”  Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. Page 29/ Therapists views on Depressed Anonymous, pages 26-29.

 Denise, as one of the therapists who has shared her views on Depressed Anonymous and who makes good use of the Depressed Anonymous group structure  discovers  how  a group program  can position a counselee into a fellowship with  people who are having the same experiences.  They no longer feel alone and isolated,  knowing  that they are  being provided with a program recommended by their therapist that works. By working with the therapist and the DA fellowship in tandem with each other, they find everyone is on the same page.  Not only does the powerful message that the counselee receives validate his/her recovery   experience with depression, but it will tie  in   with the  counselor’s treatment plan of recovery. It’s a win-win situation all the way!

If a therapist wants to give their clients another source of help, they might think about referring them to a mutual aid group such as Depressed Anonymous. And if the person reading this does have a therapist they would do well to advise their therapist  how much more the therapy experience would be enriched for the counselee.

Not only do we see how depression is becoming a  problem of epidemic proportions in all societies around the world, we believe that we have a positive approach to helping those who are still suffering  from depression.

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

The Depressed Anonymous Workbook, 2nd edition (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky.

All books can be ordered  online.



Lack of power was our dilemma.


 “We have emphasized  willingness as being indispensable. Are we now ready to let God remove from us all the things  which we have admitted are objectionable? Can God  take them all –every one? Do  we still cling to something of which we will not let go. We ask God to help us to be willing. When ready we say something like this: “My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad.  I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen!”

  We know that our willpower alone can’t get us out of this prison of depression, but only a belief in a force or power greater than ourselves. So by working Step Six ( “We’re entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character),  we continue to be in God’s will and let God help us discover and root out those defects of character that keep us prisoner.

‘So many people choose the predictableness of misery to the risky feeling of being unsure and scared over the new and faint feelings of lightness and cheer. As the depressed person gradually begins to knock down the wall of his/her denial that he/she is addicted to sadness whenever life gets stressful, this is in itself is  the starting point in the recovery process…”

The Depressed Anonymous Workbook. Page 55.

  Lack of power that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live and it had to be  a Power greater than ourselves.”


(c)Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. Page 65.

(c) The Depressed Anonymous Workbook. (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville,  KY.

It seemed that I was living in another world.

“it seemed that I was living in another world until one of my parents gave me a phone number of Depressed Anonymous. The 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 got me 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 let it handle my depression.”

It absolutely  feels that we are living in another world when depression takes over our lives. We believed the our  immediate reality of  this fog that takes over our mind  is the only reality that we can ever know. It’s  like driving with one’s  car lights  on low beam. What lies ahead is hidden. Our driving becomes cautious until we are forced to stop. We are hesitant to move further. Fear and anxiety grip our every thought. What danger can lie ahead?  We believe there is no escape.

For me, this is my best analogy for  my own depression. I too, like the author of the above sentiment (see Depressed Anonymous manual /Personal Stories) who felt completely alone and helpless.

But that is not the end  of our stories. Our feeling alone, adrift and living in constant fear comes to an end.  By learning about the fellowship of a mutual-aid group that we call  Depressed Anonymous and becoming an active member   I found new ways to live with hope. 

“As these new tools have helped me and will continue  to help all those many others who are looking for help out of their own fog.  They have 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’m glad that these tools are available. Life can be good for a change. Please don’t give up.”

You are not alone.  I am not alone. Those who have shared their own stories of recovery in the Depressed Anonymous manual, (quoted here) all have the same story; I was depressed and now I am not. If you would like to know more about these persons who have shared their stories of hope and serenity, please check out  their stories of how they used the tools of recovery to live again with  hope.  They know that they do not  have to feel alone again. 

Besides the groups, there are those who may want  to use the Home Study Recovery Program kit, comprised of the Depressed Anonymous Manual  and The Depressed Anonymous Workbook.

These two books, written by those who were depressed and  now have  made these useful tools available  for others like themselves. Recovery means that we  can now   gain critical self knowledge   plus continuing to be  motivated  to devote  personal time and study for our own recovery.


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

(c) The Depressed Anonymous Workbook, 2nd edition  (2002)  Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Ky. 

I get depressed for no reason at all.


  “Sometimes persons  tell us that they get sad for no reason at all. All of a sudden they just feel down and don’t know why. Many times after reflecting upon this sudden rush of sadness, they realize that it has come from somewhere and they might as well take responsibility for it and deal with it. One of the best ways to deal with a feeling, especially the unpleasant ones, is to stay with it, and see what it is trying to say to you. When we run from it we lose.  Granted, this won’t be easy and you might not find the source of the sudden sadness at first glance, but in time you can feel  it and deal with it and then discard it.  The more you ruminate about how sad you are and then how bad you are for feeling so sad, the more you have begun the downward spiral into physically feeling weak and hopeless. This is the time to call a friend or member of the Depressed Anonymous group. Just say: “Hey, I’m feeling sad and  here is the reason why I am feeling sad — what do you think?”  More times than not, your sad feelings will melt away.”

   Low moods, if not faced promptly can sometimes spiral into deeper moods,  filling us with a sadness  that  slowly paralyzes our thinking and immobilizes our motivation to perform the most simplest of activities.   These low  moods carve out a beachhead in our psyche and have their own destructive  way with our thoughts and behavior.

In my own case, I would be thinking of nothing in particular when   suddenly, like a wave washing over me, I would be drowning in the darkness of these feelings, unaware of their source or able to predict  their duration. Seeking relief I would escape to taking to my bed and sleeping.

These feelings, as unpredictable as they are, come from somewhere.  Just like the rain, the snow and wind, they all come from somewhere. In truth, there is no mystery here as there source is contained in feelings connected to an event in our recent life and more probably have their origin in  an earlier period of our lives.

There is truth that our body remembers  situations from the past that we have not consciously thought about in years. It’s much like the deja vu experiences we have while at a certain place or life situation  and it feels like we have been there before. We might think that we have been there –done that

A client once shared with me how he always felt sad when the cold winter season rolled around and he would become begin to feel sad and  alone.  As he told his story of growing up he mentioned how every February his mother would hole up in her bedroom and tell  them  “I am  sick. I am afraid I am  going to die.”  Resultant from this personal experience  of his fear that  his mother  was dying, every February or around that same time, his body would connect him with the sadness and fear felt when he was a child alone with his  own fears, and  would repeat in his body the same fears he had felt then. It wasn’t about the cold of winter but it was about those sad feelings coming to life at this particular  season of his life. The body might remember everything while the mind and feelings remain submerged and hidden.  Like a plant which bloom year after year.

In The  Depressed Anonymous Workbook we read how early childhood memories  connected to our deepest feelings can resurface as we gain adulthood. Because of a painful  and  meaningful  loss of a loved one that was never discussed or talked about as we grew up, the feelings continue to remain and fester, like a wound that doesn’t heal.

     ” Is there someone who was close to you  as a child who died but whom you did  not grieve or shed  a tear for because you were still too young to say that you missed their love and their presence. All of a sudden they were gone and you got on with your life,  but your body remembered that this person  was once a meaningful part of your life. This might take some investigative work on your part,  but we would well to  talk to family and friends and see if there were deaths around the time that you were growing up and which you are now  unaware,  but might have effected your parents or guardians perceptions of life and so affected you.” 

To discover more effective ways to handle and deal with our feelings, please consider these two books written and published by members of the Depressed Anonymous Fellowship. Click onto The Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore for more details on ordering online.

These books can be a great source of help in dis-mantling our own depression and providing the tools to get our lives back on track. Please click onto www.depressedanon.com for more detailed information on ways to find the help you are seeking.

    (c)Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Ky  Step 10. Page 90.

   (c)The Depressed Anonymous Workbook (2001) Depressed Anonymous Workbook. Louisville, Ky Page 75. Step 10.1

Mary will do one activity today that can give her hope.

Today, Mary,  a member of the Depressed Anonymous fellowship shares some of her  personal thoughts about  her  recovery.  In one of the personal  stories from Depressed Anonymous (2011)  she  shares  

         “Today I can experience hope. I will believe I can live this day with pleasant thoughts. I will do one activity that will give me hope and light for today.”

  Mary continues to make her  remarkable recovery by  being part of a fellowship where all members have an opportunity for learning  how to use  the tools which will  deliver them from the pain and isolation of their depression.

     She continues  to tell us that “today I will not dwell on the past and the losses that have occurred.”

Of the many areas of her life that she   reflects on in her story, she shares   that instead of thinking about the past and the harm that her losses   have cost her personally, she now examines the possibilities which  her new program of hope is providing   for healing and a  new way of looking at life and her role in it. 

In the Depressed Anonymous fellowship Mary is learning to accept the fact that she doesn’t have to stay depressed. Now, today, her group is encouraging her to be part of a hopeful journey shared by all its members. One of its main messages is to live one day at a time; to live with the belief that   as other members of the group tell their stories of how they escaped the trauma and pain of depression, so too can she.  It is a fact that by following and incorporating the Twelve Spiritual principles  of the Steps in her own life — this is what has brought her to the point of recovery for herself and many others.

Mary now has a plan that works. She wants to tell others about how she has been willing,  open and honest about having that great need to believe in something so much  bigger than herself or her depression. She has had a spiritual   awakening,  releasing  in her a new peace and a new purpose,  not only for her own recovery but for those many others like herself who are seeking a solution,  focused on a new depression-free way to live.

She now believes that living out the 12 Steps of Depressed Anonymous in her own life is what has brought her to this place of freedom from fear and despair.


For more information on Depressed Anonymous and the Twelve Steps please click onto depressedanon.com and learn more about the program that has given Mary life. You can also order online.

(c)  Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. Personal Stories. Pgs.134-135.

Linda’s compulsive overeating took her to the edge.

Read Linda’s solution to her compulsive overeating as she explains  below in her Personal Story. 

At one point in her compulsive eating,  suicide  came to be a welcome thought. No more pain she thought. Eventually she realized that no amount of food could fill that hole in her soul. When she weighed more than  150 pounds in ten years,  she was terrified. She was  scared. But as she said, she really wanted to live. So what were her choices? What could she do?

          “Then a friend told me about Depressed Anonymous and I was so desperate that I went. To my surprise, these wonderful people accepted me, all of me, for myself. They  encouraged me right from the start. They were open and honest about their pain and consistently reassured me that I could make it. But I would have to work very hard, because you have to really fight depression – negative thoughts replaced by positive thoughts -action to create motivation. Most of all, I had to surrender to God, quit controlling everything and everyone, including God. Let go and let God. So I started reading the Twelve Steps. At first I was really rebellious, so much so that  I didn’t go back for two weeks. I was too depressed, but inside  I knew the Steps had the key to get me out of this prison. They pointed me to my Higher Power, which unashamedly  is Jesus Christ. Now I attend every meeting, sharing the things I learned and the times I fail (which are still quite a few) into depression. But it is working, and I could not be writing this right now if it was not for the love and the support of these very special people. As a matter of fact, I told them once a week was not enough for me. The leader suggested that I start another one, which is just what I have done. I now attend the meetings twice a week–twice is nice.”

To sum it up, Depressed Anonymous has pointed to the only hope there is – our Higher Power is the only way out. Our Higher Power is the key, the life, and the hope. And once I have been able to admit that, every one in the group has been very loving and supportive. After all, they have all been where I am today.” 



(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY. Personal Stories. Pages 116-117.