As my mind began to heal and my thoughts became more lucid it became apparent that something inside of myself was changing. Depression, when you begin to examine the various symptoms up close and deal with them, the experience becomes less threatening. Some say that depression is a collection of behaviors that are brought into play to defend us against things that are too painful to face. Also, depression results when a love object is lost through death or that one feels abandoned. We have become so at one with our love object, that we mourn the death of part of us. The love object and ourselves has become one. I believe we use the word co-dependence today.
At first I was frightened by my various symptoms of depression. The symptoms proved to be baffling. I was not able to get out of bed as well as being unable to concentrate or manage a complex thought. I began to worry that I was losing my mind and I often asked myself if I was going to survive. But now my ability to handle situations in a meaningful way is due to my frequent attendance at meetings, and by making a daily time for prayer and meditation and feeling that my life has purpose and meaning. The more I am physically active and going to meetings even when I don’t feel like it. Working on my Depressed Anonymous Workbook, reading my Twelve Step literature. The behavior is where my freedom begins. And yes, I do feel lousy at times, but I also know that nothing can stand in my way to make choices in my own behalf. Previous to my involvement with the group I had no idea that depression was not so powerful now as to prevent me from even thinking that I could choose to feel differently.” (Read more tomorrow on Promise # 11.
SOURCE: Copyright(c) I’LL DO IT WHEN I FEEL BETTER. (2014) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 50-51.
Why do I continue the work of bringing hope to those still suffering? What motivates me to continue to try and help others? What has made the change in my life where now I want to share what I know and how I feel? Basically, I know that the program of recovery works. I no longer feel powerless over my depression. In Depressed Anonymous group meetings members speak my language. We see how useless it is to waste time to look back over our shoulder to see if the dark shadow of my own inner fears are going to overtake me. I now have attained small amounts of hope and strength as I go from day to day. I am prepared for those moments of despair that at times overtake me and cause me to feel paralyzed and out of control.
In the First Step “we admitted we were powerless over depression and that our lives had become unmanageable.” It is a paradox that it is in the admission that our lives are out of control that we begin to take control of our lives.”
Source: I’ll do it when I feel better. Depressed Anonymous Publications.(2013) Louisville. Pages 42-43. Promise # 6.The feelings of uselessness and self-pity disappear.
Yes, learn your ABC’s of Depressed Anonymous and you are on your way to discovering how to live with freedom and with purpose. I learned my ABC’s back in 1982 in another 12 step fellowship. It did take me a little while to get used to them but in due time everything all came together. Once I got serious about learning my ABC’s things started to happen. I not only found the key that opened a new world of serenity and a fellowship to me, I also have a daily plan for my life that gives me purpose and serenity to this very day. Just as day follows night I am helping others learn their ABC’s.
First of all, you might be wondering what are the ABC’s of Depressed Anonymous? And how can I learn them? Well, let me tell you about them.
Simply put, the ABC’s stand for three realities which anyone can learn. The first reality is to 1) admit that I have a problem. That is fairly easy to understand. Having a problem is what usually brings a person into our 12 Step fellowship in the first place. We know something is happening and we know we can’t go on feeling as bad as we do. “We admitted that we were powerless over depression and that our lives had become unmanageable.” There you got it. You just learned a bit about the A of the ABC’s — to admit. OK, I know that to admit something is out of kilter in our lives is not easy but to also know that the pain is so great we have to take the bull by the horn and find help. We also know how scary life becomes when we feel we have no control over the way we feel and think. I know. When I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning and had this awful feeling of hollowness in my body which was unbearable I knew then that something serious, possibly deadly serious was going on. Yes,deadly serious.
It was then that I believed that I had to take action. I had to seek help and find out what was causing my life to take a nose dive or extreme proportions. For me to feel that I had no control over the way I felt and even to the point that I could not get myself out of bed in the morning with will power alone, it was then that I knew what I had was serious. I ” came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” I didn’t know what this Power was that was going to restore me but I had to find out. I sought help and finally got the help I needed. I moved the body and my mind followed. I was forcing myself out of bed a morning and started walking. For awhile I felt I was an incarnation of the movie hero, Forrest Gump. But over time I found the key to my recovery and learned how to use the C of my ABC’s. I learned how to commit myself to this Power that was greater than myself. Actually, it was my decision to commit myself to going to as many 12 Step meetings as I possibly could. It was there that I learned to live my life. I now had a plan. I had a purpose and I made sure I was about doing the next right thing for my recovery. It has been 30 years since that day when I had to admit that I had serious problem on my hands. I am still doing my ABC’s every day and helping others learn their ABC’s of recovery. I know the program of recovery takes time and work–but it is worth a life. Your life!
If you want to learn the ABC’s of Depressed Anonymous, it would do you well to get to a meeting or get the BIg Book, DEPRESED ANONYMOUS, 3rd Edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. ( By the way, this book was written by a group of depressed persons who learned their ABC.s and wanted to show others a plan that worked for them. They found HOPE. Their Personal Stories are in the book).
“Depressed Anonymous bases its healing and recovery on the premise that once depressed persons admit that they are out of control, even for some to the point of having attempted suicide, they then come to believe that a Power greater than themselves can restore them to sanity, while at the same time making a decision to turn their minds over to the care of God, as they understand God.
The important thing is not so much whether depression is or is not an illness or a mental disorder, but that people have to take responsibility for themselves and their feelings. So many people think that since they are patients of a doctor, they must just sit back and wait for the medicine to kick in. The doctor will be doing these people a great favor to ask them what has been going on in their families, their work, or with those whom they love. The depressed consumer of medical and mental health services might then get it that maybe they have a choice on whether they stay depressed or not. The consumer might also begin to work on themselves, knowing that everything they can do to take care of themselves will gradually eliminate the symptoms that we call depression.
So often, those depressed are living out of step with their own expectations or the expectations of others, sometimes stemming back to early childhood. It would be great if the many people on antidepressant medication would start talking about why they depressed themselves in the first place. The pain might disappear with the medication, but the experience is still part of their lives and memories. Unless one talks about the experience then the depression symptoms will indeed re-appear.”:
SOURCE: Copyright (c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd Edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville Ky Page 168.
I don’t know what I am feeling. When I was in my ongoing perpetual melancholia I wasn’t able to describe what I was feeling. The one description that I was able to offer was that I had this interminable hollowness in my gut that just wouldn’t go away. Allied with this feeling was that of a jitteriness which was always with me. Eventually, I discovered that by sharing these feelings with others that I was able to put a label on them and talk about them. Of course, all of this led me back to the source of those feelings — my thinking and my behaviors. I discovered that my thoughts produce feelings, feelings produce moods and moods produce behavior. I asked myself–why is isolating myself so important and needed? Why is beating myself up mentally so necessary? Why is always seeing the cup half full so necessary and needed? Why does thinking that I am worthless and unacceptable press upon my mind? In time and with some persistent work I discovered the answers to these pressing questions. Are any of these questions some of your own?
“One of the major areas of our lives that we have a difficult time with is getting in touch with our feelings. Many of us who are presently depressed know that one of our great defenses is the denial of our feelings –our ability to feel is diminished as we continually choose numbness over vitality and spontaneity.” Source; Depressed Anonymous. 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Kentucky P. 50.
Again, today we want to show how by entering any one of the six portals into the closed system of depression and connecting with the other five entry points, can gradually produce positive results.
The physiological symptoms of depression are insomnia, decrease in sexual drive, low or non existent energy level, hard time concentrating, memory problems, tired all the time, weight loss, gain, continually irritable. By trying to understand and employ other portals of entry, such as getting ourselves motivated, we know that daily exercise of some sort, can in time help reduce one or the other of the physiological depression symptoms. This portal is connected powerfully with the behavior, thinking, feeling, motivation and spirituality portals. Starting to focus on just one of the closed system’s symptoms, will have a positive effect on all the rest of the system. We might even get motivated to go to a 12 Step meeting of persons like ourselves. For me personally, it was the behavior portal (going to meetings/ refusing to stay isolated ) plus motivating myself to believe In a God of my understanding (spirituality) that began the process of getting a ‘leg up’ on my sadness. My thinking was also changing. I began to feel and think that there was hope for me too.
As we continue to chip away at each area of depression symptoms, and clarify our thinking, we see that an improvement of mood in one area can effect all the others as well! Til next time, reflect on the physiological symptoms mentioned above and pick one or two symptoms and then choose a positive alternative to replace them. Tomorrow we will want to discuss some of the characteristics of the behavior portal. Hope to see you tomorrow. “God give me ‘the courage to change the things I can…’ “
Just what does it mean to “open up the closed system of depression symptoms? ” Basically, it means that we have determined that there are 6 major portals, with their own unique and negative characteristics. The strategy is to develop a number of positive and opposing procedures for the characteristics of each portal, which can in turn do just the opposite of those which continue to keep us in the pit of desolation and helplessness. In a sense we will be opening up that closed system, which like the bars of a prison cell, keep us locked down and isolated. By learning something about each of the six gateways to our personal lives, we will possess the tools that can open up and break down the walls of each of these portals.
Let’s talk a bit of what these portals look like. Together we are aware how they form a massive obstacle to our moving out of the closed and deadly system. But taken each alone, we have a chance to break down their individual negative components and replace them with small positive steps of motivating ourselves toward change.
QUESTION: How do you eat an elephant? ANSWER: One bit at a time. And the same holds true for what we are proposing to you today. Let’s consider the following categories which make up the essential attributes of the human person. By entering any one of them and making changes in their unique characteristics we are indirectly affecting for good all the other five categories. These portals with their unique identities are all inter related and what affects one affects all. By the same token, the symptoms of depression affect all the other portals and together promote a tightly closed system which is highly impregnable.
The six portals that open us to the closed system of depression are the following: (1)THINKING (2) FEELING (3) BEHAVIOR (4) MOTIVATIONAL (5) PHYSIOLOGICAL (6) SPIRITUALITY.
For today, let’s take a look at the first portal: the thinking gateway. Here are the characteristics of this portal: mistaken beliefs, worthless, guilt, self-accusations, self-dislike, failures, self -hatred, suicidal thinking, hopeless and helpless thinking. Now, with these characteristics staring us in the face, we can choose to look at each of the above and decide which one or ones can I muster up the energy to defeat and turn around? For starters, how can I change any beliefs about myself? I can give you one solution and that is to get into a fellowship of folks like yourself who will mirror to you the strengths that you really possess. In other words, by taking a more solution focused approach to oneself rather than concentrating on the negative, this continues that gradual diminution of all that keeps us imprisoned. And just to show connections between portals, the Behavior portal discusses social withdrawal. If I think that I am worthless and inferior I surely won’t want to move around in social environments. We gradually with time and work open the tight grip of the closed system of depression on our lives. We now have the toolkit whereby we can dismantle those old beliefs that undermined our best selves. We now are at the beginning of a new system filled with hope and the courage to let go of the past! More tomorrow.