THINK OUTSIDE YOUR BOX!
When I sat at home depressing myself weekend after weekend and making myself feel worse by isolating myself from my environment, I decided to make a change. I decided to move off of square one and do something — plan an activity. Plan an activity for those two days ahead ( the weekend) when I could already pretty much predict my activities for that time period. I just knew I would end up staring at the wall or counting the holes in the ceiling tile above my head. So what could I do? I did remember that someone at a Depressed Anonymous meeting told us what she did to overcome this deadening and unhealthy isolation. On Friday evening (hey today is Friday –wow! What coincidence) she started to fill in the hourly time slots for Saturday with an activity or activities that she committed herself to for that day. For example, on the 7AM hourly slot she wrote in that she would have her coffee and read a portion of her DA Literature–Higher Thoughts for Down days was a good place to start (as it offers a daily meditation for each day of the year). At 8AM she commits to taking a walk outside for 1/2 hour. At 8:30 AM she commits to go to the grocery shopping an then to the mall to window shop and then sit and enjoy of coffee at the food court. At 11AM she will come home and call a member of her depression mutual aid group or a friend. By this time it’s 12 Noon, and she and her significant other will share a lunch together, and If one lives alone then a meal will be prepared at this time.
I think you see the importance of planning something for every hour increment during your day. By the time Saturday evening approaches you will have done a great number of activities, fulfilled your scheduled activities for that day and you will feel that you were too busy to spend time isolating and thinking negative and unproductive thoughts.
Plan the next day as well as for Sunday. Do the same planning procedure for each hour of Sunday and commit yourself to the plan. STICK TO THE PLAN! How about writing in going to a movie, even if you go by yourself. But go! Maybe visit a friend in the Nursing home –or a resident whom the staff knows could use a friendly visitor for what may be a very lonesome day.
Don’t allow yourself to say “We’ll not this weekend but maybe next weekend I’ll try this planning thing.” Nope, that won’t get it. It’s a trap. You and I know we have to MAKE A DECISION. With pencil in hand (tonight) we have to sit down and write down an hourly plan for our weekend.
Have a great and productive weekend! I know you can if you plan it!
“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)
My name is Linda and the first time I read Depressed Anonymous, I did not like it and got angry. The first part of the book about turning over our minds and life to a Higher Power sounded good. I was ready to do that. ” Hey, here it is God! You take it! No more depression.” But then came the part about a moral inventory, shortcomings, and the big one is that I depress myself.
“What’s he talking about?” I said to myself as I read the book. I had tried to un-depress myself many times. I put the book down, and went to work . But as I was walking around at work that night feeling very depressed, bits and pieces of the book kept popping into my head and I started to think of the word “stop” just like the book suggested to do. “I depressed myself, I can un-depress myself” I said to myself.
Look for “SUNSPOTS”, memories from the past that were happy times and ones which bring back happy feelings from years gone by. I tried, but none came to mind. But I did find that just by thinking about the book and what it said made me feel a little bit better. Then a piece of a song popped into my mind: “Seek you first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness , and all the others will be added to you.” “Hey! A SUNSPOT!” I said to myself.
Then I felt a warm glow and then I did feel better –I did it! I made myself feel better. I can un-depress myself! I had mixed feelings. I wanted to feel better, but admitting I depressed myself was not an easy thing to do. I went back and reread the book, but now with an open mind. I have started to follow the Twelve Steps and with the help of the Higher Power, I can have a brighter future. I am making and putting in my memory a lot of SUNSPOTS for those times when I am feeling depressed and which I can choose to draw upon when I feel that I need them.
I put up a “stop” sign and bring out a SUNSPOT to carry me though.”
SOURCE: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Page 114. Personal Stories section.
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).
A HIGHER THOUGHT FOR TODAY
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.
God, we turn our will and our lives over to you and we know things are getting better because of that surrender.
SOURCE:, Higher thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 Step fellowships. (1993, 1999) Louisville. June 1. Depressed Anonymous Publications.
“We do know that depression, like any other long standing emotion, can and does cause a physiological change in the body. Many scientists also know that positive emotions over time can produce a change in the immunological makeup of our human body and so protect it from illness.”
CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT
Depression can be eliminated from my life after I take a closer look at my lifestyle. If I want to conquer depression, I have to take a closer look at the way I think, behave and live out my life. Of course, to have a belief in some power greater than myself produces the hopeful vision that, in time, I can begin the healing process. My brokenness and fear of risking change is at the core of my depression. I know that once I begin to get moving in a positive physical and mental way, the healthier I can become.
Someone once said that an emotion is energy in motion. A good description I would say. My ability to maintain an emotional balance depends heavily on my belief that I can change the way I feel. I know with the help of my conscious contact with my Higher Power that I can find the peace that I am searching for.
We know that good things start to happen when we give up our will to the one who wills nothing but our personal good. The power which is greater than the power of our depression is desirous of eradicating its dominion of our lives. Let go now your fear to let go and let God.
Source: Copyright(c)Higher Thoughts for down days:365 daily thoughts and meditations for Twelve Step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Page 106. Higher Thought for May 25.
Source: Depressed Anonymous (3rd Edition) 2011. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Kentucky.
I can change the way I think about myself –just for this day.
“The Twelve Steps spirituality works well for those who have been depressed most of their lives because it asks them to admit that they are powerless over their depression and that their lives have become unmanageable. With this admission that their lives are out of control they now can begin to rebuild their lives as they begin to work each of the Twelve Steps.”
CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT
I admit that since I have begun working the Twelve Steps –starting with Step One— that “We admitted we were powerless over depression –that our lives had become unmanageable” that I have begin to feel differently about myself. I have discovered in my group and by reading Depressed Anonymous that I can no longer be alone in my depression. I feel lifted out of my sadness whenever I hear others talk about their depression and the hope that they have now because of their belief that they are getting better. To admit that we are depressed is over half the battle.
I admit that I am out of control. I also admit it’s alright to admit the fact that I am powerless because now my Higher Power can start to work in me and free from those things that imprison me in depression.
We know that our choice is to get better. We also know that now that we admit are not God that our Higher Power can begin its hopeful work in us. With God all things are possible!
Copyright (c) HIGHER THOUGHTS FOR DOWN DAYS: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for !2 Step Fellowship Groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications Louisville. Page 104.
Yes, people do have to want to change as Helen attests so succinctly in her PERSONAL STORY in DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS (3rd edition). And yes, people do have to want it so badly that they will go to any lengths to find help. Let’s continue to read Helen’s words and how by being an active member of the Depressed Anonymous 12 Step Fellowship group she found where she was no longer alone. She says “Then I finally knew after two years or more of sleepless nights that someone had to help me. I found a card saying “Depressed Center” in the back of the phone book. It had a phone number and that was all. I talked to the man on the other end of the phone. I said to myself. “This man is too busy to talk with me,” but anyway, I made the first appointment myself. I made myself go. I thank God that I did. I thank God that I went for help. It was a whole new beginning for me. I wanted to get well so badly. I think people do have to want to change. I went in with the attitude that I have to get well. I heard things about counselors that scared me, but this was just all the old negative feelings that caught up with me and boxed me in. I got better and started to think differently. I started to get rid of some of my negative thoughts. I began to feel better and I continued to see my counselor. I started in Depressed Anonymous some weeks later.” Page 146.
You know, sometimes it takes just that one person, with their own liberating story of being freed from the isolation and pain of depression that we feel that there is hope for me. If it worked for Helen, it surely can work for me as well.
If you would like to read Helen’s working free of depression, see the full account in Depressed Anonymous, 3rd Edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.
I am making a choice now to like myself and focus in on only the good things that I see in myself. I am imagining happy situations from my past and putting myself in the happy picture so that now I can feel happy.
“Proving yourself to be a man or woman can be a positive activity of learning, exploring and discovering who you are, or it can be the meager, self-destroying activity of trying to hide what is experienced as essential worthlessness.” (4)
CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT
When I attempt to avoid my feelings and to dig in deeper to what I am experiencing in the here and now, I pass up a golden opportunity for growing and for being more human. It is only in the here and now that I live and breathe. When I try to avoid what I am feeling and continue my frenzied feeding on all the bad things that I accuse myself of, I find that my feelings of sadness get even worse.
Now, today, I am taking the risk of being responsible for my own recovery. I know that it is difficult to change my way of thinking negative thoughts. If I change it often, in time I will cling not to the awful things I say about myself but I will hang onto the positive statements I am now making about myself.
I need today to engage in activity of the positive type. I want to start a daily exercise program. I want to write down a list of five positive qualities that I would like to have and then imagine myself possessing these qualities. (By this same time tomorrow on May 20, we will have our five positive qualities written down and we will reflect on what we have written down. We will have more discussion on choices and feelings tomorrow here at this BLOG).
God, come to our assistance and help us discover your way out of this darkness. We trust that you will there for sure right at this moment. We will have courage!
SOURCE: Copyright(c) Higher thoughts for down days:365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. May 19. Page 102. (See website VISIT THE STORE for more DA literature.)