“The world breaks everyone, then some become strong at the broken places.” Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway got it right! I believe that if you were ever depressed and began to find yourself gradually finding hope, is it because  you  have become strong at the broken places  of hopelessness and worthlessness.  It seems like a paradox doesn’t it? How can I become strong at the places which nearly destroyed my life, my purpose, and my peace?

In Depressed Anonymous, the author speaks about how “we had given ourselves to the belief that this growing feeling  of helplessness is what must govern our lives, mood and behavior. We have given it license to run roughshod over every part of our life and over our relationships. Most people can’t see inside us and discover the pain that make up our every waking lives.  For the most we are able to hide how miserable we feel. ” (Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition).

This book, written by those of us who were depressed, using the 12 Steps of recovery, discovered a way out of those places where we were broken. We have become stronger because of what we have learned about  HOW our lives had became broken.

” As soon as we admitted the possible existence of a creative intelligence, a Spirit of the universe  underlying the totality of things, we began to be possessed of  a new sense of power and direction, provided we took other simple steps. We found that God does not make too hard terms for those who seek him. To us, the realm of the spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive; never exclusive or forbidding to those who earnestly seek. It is open, we believe to all men (sic) …We needed to ask ourselves but one short question. Do I now believe, or am I even willing to believe, that there is a Power greater than myself?”  As soon as a man can say that he does believe, or is willing to believe, we emphatically assure him that he  is on his way. It has been repeatedly proven among us that upon this simple cornerstone a wonderfully effective spiritual structure can be built.” AA, Pages 46-47.

As Bill W., (co-founder of AA) tells us, “our seeking always brings a finding.”

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

“Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” Step 5 of Depressed Anonymous

“I haven’t done anything wrong, so why do I have to admit anything? And anyway, what does this have to do with my depression?”

In the Depressed Anonymous Workbook these questions there are provided answers for those who are struggling to free themselves from depression. In fact, the more we work through each of the questions posed in the Workbook, we can also go to the Depressed Anonymous Manual, 3rd edition., and find six pages  (pgs. 59-64) of thoughts from members of the fellowship on Step 5.  We discover that the Depressed Anonymous Manual is written by people like you and me. We have been where you are and we came to believe after admitting that we were powerless over our depression and that life was unmanageable we had to make a decision.

In Step 3 we made a decision –that is what life is all about –namely, making decisions. Our decisions are the product of the meaning that we give to those persons, events and circumstances that fill our lives every day.  We make the decisions based on those meanings that we give to those situations and experiences. We are making a decision to day to share part of our dark side with another human being.

In Alcoholics Anonymous it describes the way to make a good 5th Step:

” We pocket our pride and go to it, illuminating every twist of character, every dark cranny of the past. Once we have taken this Step, withholding nothing, we are delighted. We can look the world in the eye.  We can be alone at perfect peace and ease.  Our fear fall from us. We begin to feel the nearness of our creator. We may have had certain beliefs, but now we begin to have a spiritual experience…”

Telling someone else seems to be the key to our freedom: When we decided who is to hear our story, we waste no time. We have a written inventory and we are prepared for a long talk. We explain to our partner what we are about and why we have to do it.” (This is why it is so important to write down in a  separate notebook the answers to all the questions in the Workbook which now bring us to the point of sharing our answers with a person we can trust, such as a clergy person or our sponsor. ED).

Steps 1 and 5 are the two Steps where the word “admitted” is used.  When we hear the word “wrongs” such as in this Step 5 – we may induce in ourselves a feeling of guilt. This is NOT the intention of Step 5 at all.

To be depressed is not to be wrong. We are not accusing ourselves of being bad. We are only pointing out the ways that I need to act, think and behave as a non-depressed person.”

SOURCES:  The Depressed Anonymous Workbook (2001) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 49-50.

Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 59-64.

I needed to lay all my cards out on the table…

Affirmation

First I need to forgive myself for not being perfect. I want to accept the fact that I am human and fallible.

” Made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.” Step Nine of Depressed Anonymous

Clarification of thought

When I made up my mind to attend my first Twelve Step meeting that was the beginning of making amends to myself and to others.  It was this taking the step and coming to a meeting that I made my statement that I needed help and that I might change the way that I lived my life.  I need to  lay all my cards on the table and get straight with anyone from my past who I feel that I hurt by my continual withdrawal  from living a full life.  I need to make amends to those who I passively watched when I would have been a support or a partner.  For the readiness to take the full consequences of our past acts, and to take responsibility for the well being of others at the same time, is the very spirit of Step Nine.

This really means that I will take an active role in changing my life. Amends doesn’t mean that we just shift the furniture around the room of our life. I might have to rip out the plumbing, knock out a wall, that is, face a major overhaul on the way I look at myself.

Meditation

Our  God will help us locate the truth about whom we need to make amends; that is, how God  wishes us to be changed and whom we need to have forgiveness from so that we will be God’s  worthy vessels to carry  hope to others still suffering from  the despair of their sadness.”

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Source: (c) Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of Twelve Step Fellowship groups. Louisville. Page 166.

Other sources of interest:

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

  I’ll do it when I feel better (2014) Depressed Anonymous  Publications. Louisville.

    Believing is seeing (2015) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

Choice, not chance, determines destiny

“We must never be blinded by the futile philosophy that we are just the hapless victims of our inheritance, of our life experiences, and of our surroundings  — that these are the sole forces that make our decisions for us. This is not the road to freedom. We have to believe that we can freely choose.”  Source: As Bill sees it.

If we leave to chance what happens to us, we soon discover we are like the ship without a rudder. We  can continue to go in circles and get caught up in the deadly  downward spiral of helplessness or we can make a decision to choose, finding  a way out of our despair.  We discover that we can choose–we can admit that what we have been doing is not working. The staying in bed with the sheets pulled up over our head; the continued beating up of ourselves with the “what if’s, the “I should have done this or that,” and all the other negative self-talk that has me immobilized.

When I made the decision, when I chose to do something about my desperation, I found a group of people just like myself. We all chose that group because we had lost all hope. The group gave me hope. I too could get better. And we had to face the fact that if we didn’t deal with our depression now and make  the choice to feel differently, we would continue to go down that slippery slope that would lead us to who knows where.

Today, take a look at the Twelve Steps (see site menu) , go down the list, one step after another and see how this climbing out of the pit of despair works. And then, if you have a copy of Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition, you can read the real life stories of persons like you and me who made a choice to live — made the choice to use the same program of recovery that has freed a world of  people from their prisons of depression. Don’t take a chance–make a choice –save your life. Choose freedom!

THE BEGINNING OF MY HEALING IS WITHIN MY GRASP.

“This is the biggest challenge for those of us who are depressd.  I need to get busy with whatever is in front of me. I can panic about the fears that cross my mind and throughout the day. I also know that just as I have had some good days in the past, these are going to be there for me again. I know its irrational to think that this sadness will last forever. When I start to spiral  downward in my own sadness and self-pity I need to reach out and try to call a member of the group or my sponsor. Help is there if I want it.  (Help for most of us is located in Depressed Anonymous, 3rd ed., (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.)

Do I really want to get well?  I will do more for myself by facing the fears that scare and panic  my mind, than to run from them and hide in the comfort of not having to change the way I think, feel and live out my life. Today, I am choosing to accept the fact that I am depressed and my admission of this fact may be the beginning of my healing.”

MEDITATION

God, today let us accept the fact that we have usd our depression to keep from facing our own insecurity and that now, with your help, we will discover new ways to free ourselves from all those bars that imprison us in our depression.”

source: Copyright(c) Higher Thoughts for Down Days/June 11.

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One of the best ways to overcome a difficulty is to be part of a group where others like ourselves are facing the pain and sharing ways to escape the prison of depression.   Read the book (Depressed Anonymous) that is being used by many to help release themselves and others from  feeling worthless and unacceptable. By going one step at a time you will learn, what many of us have learned and have utilized, that life only gets better. You have an opportunity to use the Home Study Program if there is no group in your locale. Who knows, you might want to start your own group.

I THINK THAT I AM DEPRESSED!

In the mutual aid group, Depressed Anonymous, we make it OK to say “I think I am depressed.”

In Believing is seeing, an effort is made to help  persons depressed as well as the  friends and families of the depressed to know that there is a group that is there for them. In fact, once people come to the group and experience a meeting focused on the power of the Steps working in the lives of the fellowship, they soon come to  believe and know the group members are speaking their language. It’s much like going to a foreign country and finding someone who can speak your language.

“Thank goodness, people can now go  and find help –namely, the Depressed Anonymous group.  Persons need to be educated about depression and that one is  not losing their minds when the symptoms of depression begin to take over their lives.  Their own depression experience and the symptoms that comprise it may enable them to seek help faster. They may be relieved to know what it is that is happening to them. I believe that a doctor or nurse practitioner would be more than happy to help de-stigmatize such a common and universal problem as depression or as some have called it in an earlier time, melancholia. In time and with our own advocacy as a mutual aid fellowship we will help make it OK to say “I am depressed.” We hope by that fact to help de-stigmatize this common and natural response to loss. Remember, to admit you’re depressed is the first step in recovery and the first step in getting yourself undepressed.”

Copyright (c)Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression. (2013) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 17-18.

I WILL TRUST MYSELF…

A HIGHER THOUGHT FOR TODAY

AFFIRMATION

I will trust myself to risk getting better by way of the Twelve Step program.  The first step is to admit that I will beat my depression in a group rather than trying to do it all by myself.

“Many  of us can’t allow ourselves to trust anyone. We are so distrustful of ourselves that we can’t trust ourselves to feel.  The painful and terrible hollowness of depression is such that we cannot allow it to be felt…When we hear other members share their stories of hurt and isolation we become more at ease within ourselves and we gradually allow/trust ourselves to touch the nerves of the past pain and hurts. ”   (9)

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

One of the better ways I have found to get out of the prison of my depression is to trust my story with someone who has experienced  the pain and the hurt.  To know that I am not alone in my misery is quite a relief.  To know that there is someone out there who understands where I am coming from does much for raising self-esteem. I know that it is only when I begin, today, to start taking care of myself that my life will improve and so will my thoughts.  I also believe that there is no problem too great to be lessened.

I know that wanting control, wanting things my way, has made my life unmanageable!  I want to trust my Higher Power and give my program and my friends who are in  it my  very best. I trust that I can be as honest with them as I am with my Higher Power.

MEDITATION

God, we  turn our will and our lives over to you and we know things are getting better because of that surrender.

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SOURCE:, Higher thoughts  for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 Step fellowships. (1993, 1999) Louisville. June 1.  Depressed Anonymous Publications.

I THINK I HIT A HOME RUN!

“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 has   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 when  two members of the group took me in for my road test. A new sunnier life had begun for me. The worst was finally over.”

–Lena

SOURCE: Depressed Anonymous (3rd.Edition) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Ky.  “We never talked about our feelings.” Page 112-113.

KEEPING OUR DARK THOUGHTS OUT INTO THE OPEN

” Most of us need the fellowship of the group to keep ourselves honest and in recovery and our dark thoughts out in the open.”

I believe that keeping our dark thoughts in the open  is a must for those of us who are depressed. How often when I was feeling sad and without motivation to just go to my bed and sleep.  I couldn’t continue with  the dark thoughts that kept cycling around in my head. They each would take me right back to  where they started. I always ended up back at hopelessness and despair.

This being open, willing and honest with others  in the group is the beginning of a new adventure. The fellowship provides us with that opportunity to get out in the open those very same dark thoughts that forced us down and into the pit. Were they thoughts of guilt, shame or despair? Where they the hopeless thoughts of killing ourselves? Whatever the dark thoughts, I know from my own experiences in recovery that by bringing them (dark thoughts) into the light — the shame that they once made us feel begins to be diminished. When I tell members of our group that I once tried to kill myself, no one falls out of their chair. No one looks down on me–because, just possibly, there are other members of the group who have had the same experiences as have I.

By coming week after week to the group and feeling that those gathered in the group are in the same boat or have the same experiences, does make it easier for me to  trust them with my story–no matter how dark and shameful.   And as it says in our Depressed Anonymous (3rd edition)  big book, “Remarkable things happen to us when we are willing to admit defeat and talk about our powerlessness over our depression and how our lives had become unmanageable. This first step is the beginning of the flight of steps that takes us up and into our new way of living. At our fellowship of Depressed Anonymous, we talk hope, we act hopeful, and we think hope..” Pages 106-107. Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications, Louisville.

I AM A SAILOR WHO SEES THE LAND

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

“I know that,whenever my sadness seems unending, I then just admit  that I am not helpless and that I can do something about it because I have the tools and I can learn the skills that I didn’t know were available to me before.  Now I am deciding to think, act and behave differently, much to my personal credit and a new found trust in the Higher PowerI am a sailor who sees the land, knows the right direction and does the rowing to get where I want to get. The Twelve Steps are my compass. I also know that the group of people which we call Depressed Anonymous will help me assume a sense of no longer feeling out of control.”

Depressed Anonymous, 3rd Edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications.  Louisville  Page 35.