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.

I can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“I believe that by working the 12 Steps of Depressed Anonymous, the more my Higher Power can release in me the serenity that I seek.  While not giving up hope – I can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”  The FOURTEENTH WAY out of the prison of depression.

The following is an excerpt from Believing is  seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression. (2015) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

 

“As long as I have a belief that somehow, someway, I will begin to feel differently and I can believe that Depressed Anonymous was developed to bring the ‘sufferer’s  of depression together. By this gathering of like-minded folks, it resulted in individuals being empowered to find a support which slowly leads them out of the hole.  I have always believed in the power and the uinfluence of the group — either serving as a power for good or a power designed for destructive ends. But as for our group Depressed Anonynmous, I know that it truly builds, enhances and strengthens anyone who gets involved with it on a regular and consistent basis.  Those who do interact with our fellowship eventually come out of the pit of their depression and start feeling hopeful about their lives.  They are feeling hope instead of despair. This is actually happening all the time as those involved in the fellowship begin to see personal changes occurring in their lives.”   Pages 65-66.

“..we became interested in seeing what we could contribute to life.”

Promise #4: We comprehend the word serenity and we know peace of mind.

Agitation, anxiety and jitteriness were all part of my life as I muddled through day after day, one foot in front of the other.  Serenity was definitely not a part of my life.

As with any attachment to a negative behavior, serenity and peace was the farthest thing from my life. The new beliefs and thoughts which I heard expressed at Depressed Anonymous meetings started to help me change the way I thought about myself, my world and my future.

I believe that it takes work, time and prayer and quiet periods of meditation to achieve the peace and serenity that we are talking about here.

  PEACE OF MIND IS THE RESULT OF:

  1. A clear conscience
  2. Living in the present
  3. Gratitude everyday
  4. Belief that the God of my understanding will get me through the problems of my life
  5. Forgiveness of myself and amends to all person I have harmed
  6. Doing God’s will means letting go

I am firmly convinced that in order to continue any semblance of peace and serenity I will have to structure a daily quiet period into my life. This is an essential part of the prescription for getting well and staying well. Also, I believe that when I am quiet, God can give to me all that is mine to have. My will and my life  have to be attuned to God’s presence and love.  We will know that in order for God to make itself present to us and demonstrate its love we have to sit still, be quiet and listen with purity of heart. This is an essential part of the formula where we will find our sobriety and serenity.

It is my belief that God does speak to those who remain quiet and have a design to listen. Peace is defined as “an undisturbed state of mind, absence of mental conflict.”   Serenity is defined as “a quality or state of being serene; calmness, tranquility.”

The quality or state of being serene all takes time, work and discipline. I believe that  the big book of AA says it best: ” When we sincerely took such a position, all sorts   of remarkable things followed.  We had a new employer; being all powerful he provided what we needed, if we kept close to him and performed his work well.

Established on such a footing we became less and less interested in plans, our little designs  and ourselves.  More and more we became interested in seeing what we could contribute to life. As we felt new power flow in, as we enjoyed peace of mind, as we discovered we could face life successfully, as we became conscious of his presence, we began to lose our fear of today, tomorrow or hereafter.. We’re reborn.” ( Page 63, AA).

————-

SOURCE: Copyright(c) I’ll do it when I feel better. (2014) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 36-38. The Promises of Depressed Anonymous.

 

“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.”

__________________________________________

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

I WAS ALWAYS THE ONE WHO HELPED OTHERS. NOW I WAS TOLD I NEEDED HELP!

“My life is joyful. The blackness –  the despair – withdrawing more and more into myself – the hopelessness – there was NO joy and I could no longer pretend. My husband said, “You need to get some help.”  I knew that he was right but I was always the one who helped others.  Our newspaper carried a listing of all the support groups in the community and I found the notice for a 12 Step Depressed Anonymous group.  I had never heard of it before but I knew it fit.  The group was just forming and was there when I needed it. I had knowledge of 12 Step programs and actually believed that I lived that life. Today I know that I had a head-knowledge but today I live the 12 – Step life…”   Lois, in her Personal Story in Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition.  (2011) Pages 110-111. (More from Lois tomorrow)

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

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.

VICTIM? NO! SURVIVOR? YES!

AFFIRMATION

I want to believe that my God, as I understand Him, will continually make a path for me through life.  I want today to listen to its leading.

“Our patterns are more successful than the fortune – telling arts since we expect our patterns to prove true, and expecting this, we usually find that they do. Edmund Carpenter once wrote, ‘We say, if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it, ‘  but the phrase should be, ‘If I hadn’t believed it with all my heart, I wouldn’t have seen it.”

REFLECTION

I usually expected bad things to happen to me because bad things usually did happen to me, as Dorothy Rowe points out in her six immutable beliefs that make up the prison of our depression. I used to believe that God punished me for all the bad things I did in my life and for my being the bad person that I believe that I am. But now, I am changing my belief  about my depression and that I am only  a passive victim.

It’s as if they believe that my depression is like a rotted tooth, a thing, that can be extracted  I am slowly believing that it is important what I believe about myself and how I have a responsibility to extract myself from my own lifestyle of sadness. I do know this, that if I continue to think the way I have over the last couple of years, I will stay stuck in the deep pit of depression.

I am now believing with all my heart that I will get better with the help of my own resources and through the help of others and the Twelve Step programs.

MEDITATION

God, you can make all things new but you never infringe your  will upon any of us. But the more  peace  that we receive from turning our will over to yours, the more I can predict that my future will be more according to your design.

SOURCE: Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. (1993, 1999).  Louisville, Ky 40217.(pgs. 35-36). February 16.

Please Visit the Store for more information on available 12 step literature.

I AM FILLED WITH HOPE FOR MY OWN RECOVERY TODAY!

AFFIRMATION

“…The more we want to experience the temporary comfort of the addiction the more that experience dictates the course of life’s focus.”

Our lives are not lived in  straight lines but in the cycle of a twenty-four hour period. My life used to be filled with pain and hurt. Now my days are beginning to be more hopeful and cheerful as I declare my dependence on my Higher Power rather on my depression. I am conscious of the fact that I have been habituated to thinking only one way about myself all this time, but now with my new recovery experience operating consciously in my life, this has helped me learn to go down new avenues filled with hope instead of the hopelessness and despair of the past.

My focus is on getting myself free from depression. One of the best ways is to take an inventory of my life for me to check out which of my beliefs and attitudes keep me stuck in my depression. I need to ask myself what is my strength that gets me through another day?  Not much will change in my life until I grapple with these areas of my life.

MEDITATION

God fill up the holes in our soul which keeps us from thirsting after your justice, your peace, and your will.”

WHAT DO I BELIEVE ABOUT MYSELF?

Yes, what we believe about ourselves can and does make all the difference in the world. Yesterday we were sharing how certain people, places, situations and things have had power over our lives. Even those earlier and long forgotten relationships with significant others are still kicking around in our psyche’s.
As we continue to work through these relationships and attitudes about ourselves (less than) the following quote from our Depressed Anonymous Workbook says it best:
” We have given ourselves over to the belief that this growing feeling of helplessness is what must govern our lives, moods 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 makes up every waking moment. For the most part we are able to hide how miserable we feel.” Depressed Anonymous Workbook, Step 2/ Page 12.
What power have you given over to others that you are willing to reclaim? And speaking of power–what Power greater than yourself are you able to turn to when you feel hopeless and helpless? And this power, has it been able to help you feel more in control of your life? Just some things to ponder today.