Spirituality requires risk.

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

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

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

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

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SOURCE: The Spirituality of Imperfection. (1992) Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketchum. Bantam, NY. , Page 173.

 

Rugged individualism

” Trapped in our traditional rugged individualism, we are an extraordinarily lonely people.  So lonely, in fact, that many cannot even acknowledge their loneliness  to themselves, much less to others. Look at the sad, frozen faces all around you and search in vain for the souls hidden behind masks of makeup, masks of pretense, masks of composure. It does not have to be that way.  Yet many  — most — know no other way. We are desperately in need of a new ethic of “soft individualism” an understanding of individualism which teaches that we cannot be truly ourselves until we are able to share freely the things we most have in common: our weakness, our incompleteness our imperfection, our inadequacy, our sins, our lack of wholeness and self sufficiency. It is the understanding expressed by those in the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous when they say ” I’m not OK and your not OK, but that’s OK.”  It is a kind of softness that allows those necessary barriers, our outlines of our individual selves to be permeable membranes, permitting ourselves to seep out and the selves of others to seep in. It is the kind of individualism that acknowledges our interdependence not merely in the intellectual catchwords of the day but in the very depths of our hearts. It is the kind of individualism that makes real community possible.”

Source: M. Scott Peck.The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace. Touchstone. Page 58.

6 ways to help you through depression.

1) Don’t bottle things up: if you’ve recently had some bad news, or a  major upset in your life, try to tell people close to you about it and how it feels.  It helps re-live the painful experience several times, to have a good cry, and talk things through. This is part of the mind’s natural healing mechanism.

2)  Do something: get out of doors for some exercise, if even for only a long walk. This will enable you to keep physically fit, and you may sleep better…This will help you take your mind off those painful feelings which only make you  more depressed when allowed to sweep over you.

3) Eat a good balanced diet: even though you may not feel like eating. Fresh fruits and vegetables are especially recommended. People with severe depression can lose weight and run low in vitamins, which only makes matters worse.

4) Resist the temptation to drown your sorrows. Alcohol, actually depresses mood, so while it may give you immediate relief, this is very temporary and you may end up more depressed that ever.

5) Don’t get into a state of not sleeping. Listening to the radio or watching TV (it’s on all night now!) while you’re resting your body will still help, even if you are not actually asleep, and you may find that you drop off because you’re no longer worrying about not doing so!

6) Remind yourself that you are suffering from depression –something which many other people have gone through — and that you will eventually come out of it, as they did, even though it does not feel like it at the time. Depression can even be a useful experience, in that some people emerge stronger and better able to cope than before.  Situations and relationships may be seen more clearly, and you may now have the strength and the  wisdom to make important decisions and changes in your life which you were unable to do before.”

Source:  Depression: P.9. Pamphlet published as a service to the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

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I find these 6 ways as very helpful for anyone making a choice to change their behavior, the way they  feel and the way they think. With a fellowship of like minded persons, such as Depressed Anonymous,  there is a greater capacity to make better choices as well as to learn ways to gradually move out of the bondage of depression.

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

  The Depressed Anonymous Workbook (2001) 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 AM NO LONGER ASHAMED TO TALK ABOUT MY BEING DEPRESSED…

AFFIRMATION

I am no longer ashamed to talk about my being depressed; when I talk with other depressed persons I feel better.

” I used to be ashamed of my condition and didn’t talk about it. But nowadays I freely confess I am a depressive , and this has attracted other depressed people to me. Working with them has helped a great deal.”

(2) Bill W.,  Co-founder of AA.

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

I  know that the more I read the literature about the Twelve Steps and daily work my program, the more I am able to help myself grow out of this depression as Bill W.,  did shortly after he wrote the above piece.  So often alcoholism covers up depression so that the original cause of  the depression needs to be looked at.

MEDITATION

God, please help us through this day and help us work through these memories of shame that keep us depressed.  Let us truly believe that we can be free of our shame and live as a free person today.

COPYRIGHT(C) Higher Thoughts for Down days: 365 Daily Thoughts and Meditations for Twelve Step fellowship groups. (1999) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.  Higher thought for  June 24. Pages 126-127.

NOTE:   Because I had experienced depression myself,  this added a  healing assistance  to my encounters with clients who were depressed.  We could speak and understand each other.

DRINKING AND DEPRESSION DON’T MIX!

The following account is to be found in the PERSONAL STORIES section of DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS, 3rd Edition (2011). Pages 124-125. DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS PUBLICATIONS. Louisville, KY.

It wasn’t until 1993 that I joined Alcoholics Anonymous and got into therapy, which has been amazingly helpful. I’m growing and dealing with the death of my Mother and with alcohol. My hobbies, like gardening and my writing give me joy and are therapeutic.  I’ve been working the Twelve Steps with an open mind that every day things will get better. If a problem does occur the Higher Power will give me the answer and the strength to deal with it, and not to run away or shut it away like before.

Depression is something that’s so overwhelming. For me, it’s like crawling from beneath the earth and facing the light with fear that no one would understand how I feel. When in depression, isolation would follow as my only friend, but actually, it was my own worst enemy. I should have been opening up to someone. Instead I shut myself off from the world.

Through therapy, a belief in my self, and encouragement, facing each day doesn’t seem  as difficult.

Working my Twelve Steps of DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS and reading  HIGHER THOUGHTS FOR DOWN DAYS gives me reassurance that we are not alone. I now appreciate what I do have when I work through the program.

Through prayer and appreciation, I realize that there’s more to life than alcohol and that I kissed a chunk of my life away because of it.

Now I’m gaining much more through life than ever. Being sober, I see my life as a gift and not as a heavy burden.

by Rheatha

WE FEEL A CHANGE OCCURING

“Our continual saddening ourselves pushes away from any form of pleasant interaction with others and continually builds the  wall higher for our depression.  This is the purpose of our continually making conscious contact with the God of our understanding.  I do believe, and I speak from my own experience that the Higher Power respects our surrender and our letting it take charge of our lives.  It is amazing how in our recovery, our feelings start to thaw out.  We feel some emotions, and the healing begins.  For us who are depressing ourselves, we can learn that the best  way to break free from this chronic sadness is just to admit that we are responsible for our sadness and then pray to God that we want to be serene and happy. We just pray to be free, and gradually with small steps and subtle changes taking place inside ourselves, we feel a change occurring.

Every so often, we come in contact with a person, place or circumstance that causes us some uncomfortableness and we start to withdraw into the comfort of our depression. It is here that we have dumped our trust of the Higher Power and choose the comfort of our sadness instead.

After falling back into our old comfortable habit of depressing ourselves, we then realize we have gotten ourselves right back where we started –depressed and feeing isolated. We realize  that all we have  is today. As Alcoholics Anonymous points out:  “The poorest person has no less and the wealthiest ha no more  –each of us has but one day.  What we do with it is our own business, and how we use it is up to us individually. ”

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Source: Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd Edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. (1998, 2008, 2011)Louisville KY.  Page 96/Step Eleven of the Twelve Steps.

A WAY OUT OF DEPRESSION

” During  acute depression, avoid trying to set your whole life in order all at once.  If you take on assignments so heavy that you are sure to fail in them at the moment, then you are allowing yourself to be tricked by your unconscious. Thus you will continue to make sure of your failure, and when it comes you will have another alibi for still more retreat into depression.

“In short,  the ‘all or nothing’ attitude is a most destructive one. It is best to begin with whatever the irreducible minimums of activity are. Then work for an enlargement of these –day by day- Don’t be disconcerted by setbacks –just start over.”

Source: Bill W., in Letter, 1960.

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CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

Here is my take on the  statement above by Bill W., co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous.

When I first got involved with the Twelve Steps, I couldn’t wait to read all the steps and get busy reading as much as I could about them. But as I continued to stay in the program and get more involved in the Fellowship I discovered that I could not read ahead and think that now that I have read all the literature about the addiction I was done.  I graduated.  Instead, after thirty years plus, I am still working through these Steps and finding material that I need to look at in my life. The Twelve Steps and the study thereof, alone using the Home Study Kit,  and in the context of a fellowship  group, I have continued my quest to live one day at a time. Step Eleven is one of my constant companions which states that I “sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry it out.”

Our guide, Depressed Anonymous 3rd edition,  written by those of us who were depressed, contains an excellent commentary on Step Eleven (Pages 94-103). The Steps provide you and me with a lifetime of hope and help. The Steps continue to provide me  with a lifeline that is available to me, today, every day and every time.  It works for me!

-Hugh

BILL W. & DOROTHY ROWE & MARGIE W.

Three persons who made a big difference in my life and how they each  helped me deal with my own melancholia (depression).

First of all there is Bill W., the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, who by his own witness, presented to us the spiritual program of recovery that we know as the Twelve Steps. Not only have they given me personally  a daily step by step program of recovery to follow but helped me fashion a program of recovery for persons depressed using the same spiritual program of recovery. Bill W., makes available through the Steps to any and all who seek a way out of their attachments to whatever is slowly  destroying their lives.

And then there is Dr. Dorothy Rowe, PH.D., a psychologist who has written many great books on depression and how to live one’s life. In 1985, a member of our newly formed Depressed Anonymous group gave me a copy of her book Depression: The way out of your prison. (1983, 1996) Second Edition. Routledge, London and New York. It was this book that opened my eyes and my mind to beliefs about depression that has accompanied me through my encounters with persons with depression in my own clinical practice, as well as  in the formation of  all the Depressed Anonymous  groups  focused and centered on the Twelve Steps. Not only have she and Bill W., been my mentors in this life long effort of mine, but both have given me keys that not only have released me from my own prison of depression, but persons everywhere have their lives back, plus a belief in a Higher Power,  thanks to these two pioneers.

Then there is Margie W., a charter member of Depressed Anonymous (whose account  appears in Depressed Anonymous in the Personal Stories section of our book). She states  “I can’t really remember for sure how I became involved in Depressed Anonymous. I believe a co-worker told me about a professor at the University of Evansville who had students who were helping people in the psychology field and wanted to know if I would be a volunteer to help start this new self help group. And it was free! What did I have to lose? I had seen Doctors, took their prescribed drugs and still ended up on the same old merry-go-round of ups and downs  and “hangovers” from the drugs. I joined a small group at first. We talked, set weekly goals, took short walks, visited with friends or enjoyed a cup of coffee to relax. We had to do something for ourselves. I had to learn to be good to myself, instead of nurturing  everyone else. I found a good doctor who gave me a lot of good advice about “pampering ” myself more. It hadn’t been easy.  I’ve read self help books, positive thinking books and worked hard on my way of thinking for years. I’m a natural born worrier, so things always seemed worse than they really were.  “(I) feel like I have something to offer the group. Hope is the word. I finally got above the edge of the rut that I could barely peer over for years. I know others  can do it too. Don’t give up. It’s a lot of hard work, but it can be done. I know. I was there.” Depressed Anonymous, (2011)  Third Edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville Kentucky.

I AM LIKE THE BUTTERFLY. I ONCE WAS AN EARTH CLINGER. NOW I CAN FLY. LIFE IS AN ADVENTURE!

“Now that small voice, that little part of you that wants to have light and some hope is getting  up the courage to ask for more of itself.” (8)

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

  I can no longer turn back and live in my old self. I am like the butterfly gradually becoming winged and ready to fly as soon as it throws off its old body.  — an earth clinger —  the body of the caterpillar. My metamorphosis is in process and nothing is going to turn me back to the way my life had been.   I want now for my life to continue to get better as I notice that the more I work on myself and trust in my Higher Power, the more  I am ready to live my life with courage and hope.  I am beginning to like the taste of living life and look forward to each new day as it comes.

Courage is to have heart and to believe that all things can work out if I just put my belief into gear  and work as if it all depended on myself and pray as if it all depended on God.

MEDITATION  God, we hear you speaking to us to grow and to trust.  We will count the ways that you have cleared the obstacles from our path so that our down days are less than before and we have more good days than before.”

SOURCE: Copyright(c) Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 step fellowship groups. Louisville, Kentucky. Ps.67-68.

Do you believe that you can fly –will fly —-want to fly? Is there that  small voice inside of you that keeps  telling you that you don’t have to stay an earth clinger, no, you can be a butterfly. Take a chance! Try and fly. Listen to that small voice inside of you who wants something more! Trust  all those other people who no longer just crawl along but are now flying hopefuls. Now, I am not talking fairy tale nonsense. I’m talking the way it could be. But there are certain things that you must do. One, admit that you are powerless and that your life is unmanageable. Then commit yourself to a power greater than yourself who will give you the wings to fly. And then getting a flight plan from this Higher Power(Butterfly) -or God as you understand God –you begin your flying. Simple, eh? Thanks to my Higher Power– the great Butterfly in the sky — you throw off the old body –and  join the many who are flying today. Hugh