WE HUMANS ARE ABOUT CREATING MEANING! IS IT TRUE THAT WHAT YOU THINK IS WHAT YOU GET?

One of the main paths that leads out of the prison of depression is for those of us who are depressed is to begin  to believe that a power greater than themselves is what is going to set us free. Bill W., a cofounder of Alcoholics Anonymous reminds us of the reality of that power greater than ourselves.

“I had always believed in a  power greater than myself. I had often pondered these things. I was not an atheist. Few people really are, for that means that blind faith in the strange proposition that this universe originated as a cipher and aimlessly rushes nowhere. My intellectual heroes, the chemists, the  astronomers, even the evolutionists, suggested vast laws and forces at work..Despite contrary indications, I had little doubt that a mighty purpose and rhythm  underlie  all. How could there be so much of precise and immutable law, and no intelligence? I simply had to believe in a Spirit of the Universe, who neither knew time nor limitation. But that was as  far as I had gone. ” Bill W., AA. p10)

Like any person addicted to a chemical substance, a relationship or a behavior, we know that our will power doesn’t get us free. Our disabling attachments are more forceful than the power of our wills. Our will is essentially like an alcoholic’s first  drink or that first dip of ice cream. (I have an attachment to ice cream!)

All of what I have written down so far (Depressed Once-Not Twice) has to do with creating meaning. Humans have as their occupation to constantly create meaning for their lives. Whatever we do has to have meaning for their lives. Whatever we do has to have meaning. I saw that my Dad was gone, my girlfriend was gone, a ministry of 20 years was gone, friends of many years were now gone, and my role as a Christian minister were gone, and most important of all, I had felt that I had lost myself. I lost touch with my real self. I felt alone and worthless. I even had the thought that if someone were seen laughing or having a good time  –this made me angry. How dare anyone could smile while I felt so miserable, This feeling made me think that my brain felt as if it were made out of cotton. I couldn’t shove another thought into my head –not even with a jackhammer. It was as if the cells of my brain were filled to the brim.

There was nothing that I could do to shake these horrible and painful feelings. My mind like wise  was unable to focus or concentrate on anything. My memory was affected and it was impossible to retain a passage from whatever I happened to be reading. I no longer could keep my mind on anything and to read even a paragraph from a book wore me out.

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A DESIGN FOR LIVING THAT REALLY WORKS.

A DESIGN FOR LIVING

“There Is a solution. Almost none of us liked the self searching, the leveling of our pride, the confession of shortcomings which the process requires for its successful consummation. But we saw that it really worked in others, and we had come to believe in the hopelessness and futility of life as we had been living it. When, therefore, we were approached by those in whom the problem had been solved, there was nothing left for us but to pick up the simple kit of spiritual tools laid at our feet. We have found much of heaven and we have been rocketed in to fourth dimension of existence of which we had not even dreamed

“…The central fact of our lives today is the absolute certainty that our creator has entered into our hearts and lives in a way which is indeed miraculous. He has commenced to accomplish those things for us which we could never do by ourselves.”

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Speaking about the alcoholic, Bill W.,  tells us  “If you are as seriously alcoholic as we were, we believe there is no middle of the road solution.that the alcoholic, who was in a, position where life was becoming impossible, and if we had passed into the region from which there is no return through human aid, we had but two alternatives:One was to go on  to the bitter end, blotting out the consciousness of our intolerable situation as best we could and the other, to accept spiritual help.”

“Both you and the new man/woman must walk day by day in the path of spiritual progress. If you persist, remarkable things will happen, When we look back, we realize that the things which came to us when we put ourselves in God’s hands were better than anything we could have planned.  Follow the dictates of the Higher Power and you will presently live in a new and wonderful world, no matter what your present circumstances.”  Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition.  2013. Depressed Anonymous Publications, Louisville, kY.

FREE OF DEPENDENCE

” ‘ I asked myself  “Why can’t the Twelve Steps work to release me from this unbearable depression? ”  By the hour, I stared at the St. Francis Prayer:”  ” It is better to comfort than to be comforted.”

Suddenly I realized what the answer might be. My basic flaw  had always been dependence on people or circumstances to supply me with prestige, security and  confidence.  Failing to get these things according to my perfectionist dreams and speculations, I fought for them. And when defeat came, so did my depression.

Reinforced by what grace I could find in prayer, I had to exert every ounce of will and action to cut off these faulty emotional dependencies upon people and circumstances.  Then only could I be free to love as Francis had loved.

SOURCE: Bill W., co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous

BILL’S WAKE UP CALL! GOD TURNED ON THE LIGHT!

It was 80 years yesterday (12/11), an alcoholic named Bill Wilson was admitted to a New York hospital.

He had just celebrated his 39th birthday.

Alone in his room he cried out, “I’ll do anything, anything at all!” He described what happened next:

Suddenly, my room blazed with an indescribably white light …Then, seen in my minds eye, there was a mountain. I stood upon its summit, where a great wind blew. A wind, not of air, but of spirit. In great clean strength, it blew right through . Then came the blazing thought, “You are a free man.”

   I became acutely conscious of a presence which seemed like a sea of living spirit.  I lay on the shore  of a new world.

Wilson said that after this experience, he never again doubted the existence of God. And he never  took another drink.

Bill Wilson is the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. (C) Diocese of Saginaw Advent Book for 2014

IT TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE!

It takes one to know one is  true. Following my own depression experience and the setting up of Depressed Anonymous groups did I realize that I had an experience which could be used to help others. I knew what it felt like to suffer  the physical symptoms of depression.  Following the attainment of my Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology, I discovered many in my practice  came  seeking help to overcome their  depression. Gradually it dawned on me that I could  be a source of support  to others — just by sharing my own struggle with depression.  Once I shared with my clients my own battles with the dark monster, it became clear by sharing my own  story that they began to open up about their own battle with the dark monster. My clients found someone who could not only relate to their own story about isolation, shame and the continual physical pain caused by depression–but they heard how helplessness and despair had given way to hope! My own story validated their story.  That it takes one to know one is so true.

This is where Bill W., (co-founder of AA) learned the greatest lesson, namely that an addict will be more open to listen to some one who has or is fighting the  same battles that you are fighting. And the best is that by using the program of recovery that we have used and still use  today, might find  life starting to be lived with serenity and hope.

It is not complicated. Here it is, laid out simply and to the point. I was once severely depressed and now I am not. How did this happen one will ask? It happened by believing that by being part of a fellowship of people just like myself  and following a way of life, marked out step by step, that I, like Bill W., and all other addicts will see how with  our belief that I  can get better,  get better. It does take work and time. We learn to not live in our past -it’s gone forever- and not to live in the future–but to live in the now, today. All we have is this 24 hour period.  As the Yiddish saying goes, “to share my story is to save my life.” It’s so true. When I discovered the 12 Steps, shared my story and made prayer and meditation a  part of  my daily routine,  I began to taste the freedom  that comes with that ‘spiritual awakening’ which occurs when we are able to share our story with those still suffering. The depressed newcomer will know that you are the “real deal.”  And if you are fortunate enough to find a group in your locale you then will find out what we all have all discovered–it takes one to know one.

THE GOOD AND BAD IMPLICATIONS OF DEPRESSION.

If you believe that you had nothing to do with your depression,  then the good implication is that you didn’t cause it.  The bad implication is if you didn’t cause it then you could get it again, like the flu or the cold.  But since depression isn’t a cold or a flu virus or germ we will try taking responsibility for our depression and its symptoms and go from there.  The quickest answer to that is that it may lead me to take full responsibility for anyway that I can to overcome depression –this may mean taking the medication to reduce the negative symptoms, seek talk therapy, and then be part of a beloved community –a self help group where they know us by name. It is here that people like us will take the time to guide us toward the light where we can find safety, security and people like ourselves who will not tell us to “snap out of it.”

It is now the time to ask yourselves how you can best take responsibility for yourself.  Formulating a daily plan, an activity, a pleasant activity, a feeling of finally getting control over your life which you felt that you never had. Also, planning one or more pleasant activities everyday into your life is a good way to plan your day instead of your day planning you.

To examine the good and the bad implications of depression as outlined briefly above is just another way to continue clarifying our thoughts on how well we  are taking responsibility for our lives.

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Copyright(c) Shining a light on the dark night of the soul. DAP  Pages 16=-17(  Excerpts)

God grant us the serenity—

“God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

” We treasure the Serenity Prayer because it brings a new light to us that can dissipate our oldtime and nearly fatal habit of fooling ourselves.

In the radiance of this prayer we see that defeat, rightly accepted, need not be a disaster. We now know that we do not have to run away, nor ought we again try to overcome adversity by still another bulldozing power drive that can only push up obstacles  before us faster than they can be taken down.”

I think that Bill W., sure got it right on this one.  He tells us that defeat, rightly accepted, need not be a disaster. Well, initially when I felt totally defeated, I did not accept it. How could I? My life was falling apart and the pain so great that I did  want to  run away. Hide. Disappear. Anything but face what I knew I had to face.  But eventually when I did face up to my defeat,  my defeat didn’t turn out to be a disaster. Bill got it  right.  With time, work,and the 12 step fellowship my life started to straighten out.  Now, these many years later, I see how God made it possible to use my own defeat to help others overcome theirs. In other words, my Higher Power  gave me the necessary courage to change the things I could. One day at a time.

Therapists Views on Depressed Anonymous

The “Birth” of a Depressed Anonymous Group. Judith Bouffiou, Ph.D. (Cand.), Olympia, Washington

Isn’t life just full of expected and unexpected challenges, synchronous happenings, joys and griefs. Your life and mine. Following is a synopsis of a time in my life when I experienced all of the above. The summer of 1991 saw the dissolving of a business partnership for me; a painful, but healthy decision. The counseling center my ex-partner and I operated had provided the community with a Domestic Violence/Anger
Management (DV/A M ) Program for court and self referred clients, plus each of us had a private practice. M y decision to dissolve the partnership was motivated by a number of reasons, among them a desire to go back to school, and to spend more time and energy in my private practice. Over time my private practice had evolved into a growth and development type of practice, which I loved doing. A long with the dissolution of the partnership came the decision to no longer do the DV/A M work. I had a desire to still give the community some type of community service, but what?

Then I remembered reading some time earlier in one of my professional journals about a man who had developed a Twelve-step program, Depressed Anonymous for individuals who suffered from depression. Like most therapists, a significant number of the people I saw (and still see) in my practice were experiencing depression to one degree or other.

The more I thought about the concept of Depressed Anonymous, the more intrigued I was, so I contacted the founder of Depressed Anonymous for information and details. Information was sent to me and that was the start of the first Depressed Anonymous group in Washington State.

From the Depressed Anonymous material I received, I photocopied, organized, prepared and prepared and advertized. I decided on a start time and date, sent notices to our local paper, our Crisis Clinic, therapists and physicians in this area, tacked up flyers all over town, and of course, lots of word of mouth advertizing. The Depressed
Anonymous group originally met in a group room at my office, and eventually moved to a local church when I moved into a smaller office space.

A s a therapist I organized, started, sponsored, and “mothered” the Depressed
Anonymous group for a time, before withdrawing to just being the phone contact person that people can call in for information. From the very first meetings, which had 8-10 people, a “home” group evolved; fine people, some of whom had previous Twelve-step experiences. One of fine traditions and legacies of Twelve-step groups is the willingeness of folks to be and do the supportive and necessary work (the glue) that holds the Twelve-step groups together. The Twelve-step tradition and service continues on.

As is often the case, I have received more than I’ve given as the person who organized and started this Olympia, Washington Depressed Anonymous group. Now that I’m not a person who suffers from depression, other than short term appropriate situational depression; nothing ever deep or prolonged. A s I organized and started this Depressed Anonymous group little did I know that I would benefit from the Depressed Anonymous process and group in such a personal way.

The Depressed Anonymous group had only met two or three times when my middle son unexpectedly died from a type of cancer that years before had taken his father. So, in a synchronous manner, for a time and in a different way, the Depressed Anonymous group supported me as much as I supported them. In my prior work as a nurse, I had often been witness to dying and death, also in my personal life. However, the death of one son and then a year and half later, the death of my oldest son (two out of three) have been devastating experiences for me.

So in many, many ways being the organizer and sponsor of the first Depressed Anonymous group have been an exceedingly enriching experience for me. A s mentioned before, because of the wonderful people in the group, and with great confidence on my part, I turned the operation of the Depressed Anonymous group over to the capable hands of the home group people. I remain the telephone contact. The Depressed Anonymous group continues to thrive and grow. Just recently I talked with a man from Portland, Oregon, who is thinking about starting a group in the Portland area

MY VIEWS ON DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS

Denise L ., Louisville, Kentucky

One of the greatest resources I’ve used in working with many depressed persons has been Depressed Anonymous. The transformation it causes in an individual’s life is truly miraculous. This stems from it being primarily a spiritual program of healing and recovery. It encourages a person to seek a personal relationship with God, whoever they understand him to be. In doing this it helps a person to look inside for healing, rather than in a pill or some quick “cure”. M any persons who suffer with depression look on God as a being who judges them harshly. This thinking usually leads to much anger towards God, which results in more negative thinking. I know this from my own
experiences with depression, and the angry relationship with God I had during those times. This is where Depressed Anonymous offers hope by getting a person connected to a group who also suffer with depression, and are working the twelve steps. In doing this, it helps a person come to a realization that it will only be through a power greater than themselves, that they will find sanity in their life. Depressed people cannot do this alone because of the compulsion to ruminate endlessly over negative thoughts. It is only through coming together with a group of people like Depressed Anonymous, that they are able to break the cycle of negative thinking.

A client I was working with is a good example of the above. H e 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. H e started sharing his pain, and found understanding and support. I noticed his face began to soften, and he started smiling more. Then I noticed his face began to soften, and he started smiling more. H e 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. H e is one of many persons I’ve worked with who have found help and encouragement through attending DA .

The spiritual emphasis of DA is it’s greatest strength. People come together and hear from one another how their higher power is healing and guiding their lives. They realize that in being part of the group they are not alone, and also encourage true healing. DA has been a wonderful healing tool in the lives of many depressed persons I’ve worked with. It will always be one of the greatest resources I use in my work. It is true that “it works if you work it.”

Dep-Anon: Support Group for Family and Friends of the Depressed

The family and friends of persons depressed now have their own support group ­ much like family and friends of those suffering from other problems. We all know that a family member with a serious problem affects the entire family or system and throw s it out of balance.

The idea of having a special group just for family members is to help each other understand the nature of depres­sion and learn how in the meantime to take care of their own needs. The group helps the focus stay on their own issues and not that of the depressed.

“Family members and friends of the depressed often feel they have nowhere to turn for help . They may find themselves reading books on depression and other resources, but still feel lost as to what to do. This is where Dep-Anon can offer assistance. It is a fellowship of persons who come together to share their stories, and offer support to one another in the process. Their issues may be different from those suffering with depression, but are just as valid. By joining a fellowship such as Dep-Anon, the families and friends of the de­ pressed are displaying a willingness to work their own program of recovery. In doing this, they are moving towards positive life changes, which promote the spiritual principles Dep-Anon is based upon. We simply can’t experience the healing we desire by being isolated, and trying to do it alone. We need the fellowship of others, who are on similar paths, and are seeking to implement the spiritual principles of Dep-Anon into their lives. This kind of fellowship is valuable beyond measure.

A group such as Dep-Anon would have been very helpful in my own last depressive episode. There wasn ‘t a group like this at the time. My husband felt lost and helpless in trying to care for me. He could have benefited from coming together with others like him­ self, who he could share with, and receive support in the process. Instead, he began to isolate as he felt increasingly overwhelmed, and became depressed as a result. This is the danger for family members of the depressed, when they don’t have resources for help and en­couragement like Dep-Anon.It is a wonderful resource that can make a tremendous difference in the lives of persons connected to the depressed. Please spread the word that help is available through Dep- Anon Family Group. It can make a difference.

Denise List, M.ED., writing in the FOREWORD to the DEP-ANON FAMILY GROUP MANUAL, 1999, Louisville, KY ,

Waiting for the Drugs to Kick In!

One of the realities of one’s life -especially if one has been depressed for a time -is that language creates reality. This is a tenet of our recovery program. How often as children have some of us have been told that “we’ll never be like our brother or our sister” all the time preparing us for a lived out prophecy from some early childhood significant other.

Since language can and does create our reality -especially if the language is that of someone who is an adult and many years our senior. It is this language that helps construct the meaning that we give to life and life’s events and circumstances – both pleasant and unpleasant. How often have we heard that we are patients or that “we are under the care of the doctor.” Get the feel of the language here –one, we are a patient, and secondly, we are under the care of and/or we are waiting for the drug to “kick in.” I don’t know about you, but the language just described can promote a self-understanding of someone who not only is powerless but is waiting for something to fall out of the sky and make things better. Don ‘t get me wrong, medication, doctors, therapists all may be very important as part and parcel of healing – but, let’s get this straight – we are responsible for our own health! I can’ t afford to sit and wait for something, someone to make me feel better – this is true especially for that painful reality that we call depression. I want to live in the solution, where I know there is hope the more I become proactive in my own recovery and start doing things for my­ self. I now believe that once I start making choices for my own health today the more I will speed up my recovery and release from the prison of depression .

Since language can create our reality and since humans are always constructing meaning for their lives it is essential that persons depressed he given the message from health-care professionals that they can do something now to start feeling different. In other words, people need to believe that there is hope for them. They can begin to believe that by starting a personal exercise program, watching what they put in their minds and mouths – in time things will start to come around. But if! am given a message that my problem is a chemical imbalance or that my problem is genetic-then that leaves me with little hope for now or the future. The only solution might appear to be no solution or at least a reliance on a chemical solution at best. And if the problem is essentially a chemical im­ balance then I’ll just have to wait til they find the right chemicals to stabilize those misbehaving chemicals in my brain.

For some reason, I don’t believe that we can just blame the brain – in fact, I don’t think it ever does any good to blame anybody or anything for the way we feel. Oh, sure, we can blame others and possibly that makes us feel a little better-but in the long run – it’s me, myself and I who has to take responsibility for me.

I caution you then, be careful the way you talk to yourself . At the mutual aid meetings of Depressed Anonymous, the whole point of our coming together is to believe that you and I together can begin to see our­ selves in a new light. In fact, we learn a new language at our meetings. We learn to take responsibility for our­ selves, We find people in the group who speak our language of hope and courage. You never hear “snap out of it” at our meetings. The message that a newcomer gets at our 12 step meetings are assurances that things will get better the more you come to meetings; expect to get better; start using the tools that have successfully led others out of the prison of depression. So, all in all, we need to get busy as soon as the doctor prescribes the medication, or we start therapy or both. Next, we need to find a depression mutual aid group like Depressed Anonymous which is a NOW program to help support you as you gradually begin to walk out of depression. No need to wait ­ wait out the weeks before the drugs begin to take effect, hopefully, and we start feeling better . We don’t have to wait for the drugs to “kick in” before we get busy and start working on ourselves. We can start today. We can join a group of people committed to change and recovery. We can start today as together we work the steps of our program of recovery. It speaks the language of hope!