Is depression an addiction?

At the weekly Depressed Anonymous meetings there stirs a glimmer of hope for the saddict  as he/she begins to encounter others like themselves at group meetings.  It is a bigger payoff for the saddict  to gradually believe that  the recovering members  of the Depressed Anonymous group are holding out a hope that can be theirs if only they would depend on the serenity of the members of the group rather than depend on the long time comfort of their addiction.

“Whether it is therapy or not, addicts improve when their relationships to work, family, and other aspects of their environment improve. Addicts  have come to count on the regular reward they get from their addictive involvement.  They can give up these rewards when they believe they will find superior gratifications from other activities such as  the DA meetings  in the regular fiber of their lives. Therapy helps this process by focusing on external rewards and assisting addicts in conceptualizing these rewards and obtaining them. What any rewards therapy itself produces must be regarded as intermediate and time limited, as a passage to the stable, environmental rewards that are necessary to create  a non addictive equilibrium in people’s lives. Only when such everyday but potent  reinforcements are firmly in place is an addiction cured. ”  Source: The Meaning of Addiction: Experience and its interpretation. Stanton Peale. Lexington Books. Lexington,  MA, 1988. p,55.

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SOURCE: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. (2011) Louisville. Appendix  Is depression an addiction?

You can let your thoughts come into your mind, just don’t invite them to stay for tea.

The Promises of Depressed Anonymous: Promise #10 of 15.

Fear of people and economic insecurity will leave us.

Losses may produce a variety of very intense and painful feelings. Fear can cripple the best of us. Why fear people and economic insecurity? In Steps 4,5,6,7,8,9 we have examined our lives piece by piece, ending up with a good conscience, while feeling neither guilt or shame for things of the past. We have thrown off the shackles of the past.

Bill, in his personal testimony in the DA book relates that you don’t get better overnight, but you do get better. “I was down in the muck  as far as I could go.  I had to go and open  the door for the first time  because there was no other place to go. I had already used up all the hiding places in my life. I still have many problems like anyone else, but when I need sleep very badly, I turn the problem over to the Higher Power and go to sleep. I can always pick  life up in the morning. Somehow it all gets done. Every few days the world dumps on you and beats you down. That’s just life..” (Source: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition.)

I believe this man definitely “got it.” when he began attending the  group, spending some quiet time every day and learn that people like himself were able together to form a new environment, a surrogate  family if you will, where there exists healing and hope.

Granted the group cannot find you a job or take away fear of people, but it can provide you with a map where you can discover a way out of the prison of one’s depression. How can you learn that?

Kim, a member of DA in her personal story says that “the moment I read that I had a choice to stay in depression I undoubtedly knew that I could make the choice to get out of my depression. Bingo! It wasn’t an illness. This did not have control over me. And another tool I use frequently through the DA manual is  that “thoughts produce feelings, feelings produce moods and moods produce behavior.” (Source: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition.)

In the tradition of one major religion, there exist the three poisons, greed, anger and delusion. And as the saying goes “You can let your thoughts come into your mind, just don’t invite them to stay for tea.”

And as it says in the Bible; “Fear not, for I am with you. Let not your heart be troubled.”

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If you have ever experienced the pain and hurt of depression you know what the thoughts expressed here are all about.

I remember Bill very well from the time he came into our group for the first time. And  with time passing I saw him change right before my eyes and live out what he shares with us in his personal story in Depressed Anonymous. I do know that it is just in the sharing of who we are that life can begin for us once again. It truly is like a rebirth. I also know how our feelings produce our moods and the moods produce our behavior. My behavior shifted dramatically from the extrovert that I normally was to the reclusive and isolated person trying to figure out the “why” of my depression. It was only until I got moving did my  feelings begin to change and I became more positive in my thinking so that gradually I began to climb out of the deadness of my  inactive behavior. “If you want something that you never had before,  you must do something that you never did before.”  Doing that something will be the thing that will change your life!

SOURCES:    I’ll do it when I feel better. (2014). DAP. Louisville.

Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011)  DAP. Louisville.

Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression (2015) DAP. Louisville.

Choice, not chance, determines destiny

“We must never be blinded by the futile philosophy that we are just the hapless victims of our inheritance, of our life experiences, and of our surroundings  — that these are the sole forces that make our decisions for us. This is not the road to freedom. We have to believe that we can freely choose.”  Source: As Bill sees it.

If we leave to chance what happens to us, we soon discover we are like the ship without a rudder. We  can continue to go in circles and get caught up in the deadly  downward spiral of helplessness or we can make a decision to choose, finding  a way out of our despair.  We discover that we can choose–we can admit that what we have been doing is not working. The staying in bed with the sheets pulled up over our head; the continued beating up of ourselves with the “what if’s, the “I should have done this or that,” and all the other negative self-talk that has me immobilized.

When I made the decision, when I chose to do something about my desperation, I found a group of people just like myself. We all chose that group because we had lost all hope. The group gave me hope. I too could get better. And we had to face the fact that if we didn’t deal with our depression now and make  the choice to feel differently, we would continue to go down that slippery slope that would lead us to who knows where.

Today, take a look at the Twelve Steps (see site menu) , go down the list, one step after another and see how this climbing out of the pit of despair works. And then, if you have a copy of Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition, you can read the real life stories of persons like you and me who made a choice to live — made the choice to use the same program of recovery that has freed a world of  people from their prisons of depression. Don’t take a chance–make a choice –save your life. Choose freedom!

A Zen byte

“It is possible to live life fully throughout life, and if that is accomplished, death need not be feared. An ancient anecdote of Zen literature is most illustrative here. A novice asked a Zen master, “What is death?” To this, the master responded, “I do not know.” “But you are a Zen master.”  To this, the master responded, “Yes, but I am not a dead Zen master.”

Source: Mind as Healer, Mind as Slayer, Kenneth R. Pelletier.

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So many times I hear people talking about how our modern world is basically absorbed in a “culture of death.” Sadly, so many persons, are occupied, almost phobic about growing older, looking older and being older. More thought is given to death than to life. So much time is spent on looking at the ” what if’s”, than seeing the “what is.”. We all are not automatons, going about life in a daze   We all  have the ability to look inside, take a deep breath and begin to take  responsibility  for our lives. Even though we might feel helpless and hopeless it doesn’t mean that we are. How often have I heard that language creates our reality and the language that we use in our self-talk, creates an illusion that there is no hope. And my self-talk tells me that all I have is today–yesterday is gone forever –tomorrow is not here yet, and so all I have is this 24 hour period of time. Do I make an investment in my today, so that what I do today, pays off in serenity and happiness for the 24 hours to come or do I stay frozen in my fears and isolation.

Frankly, what has worked for me and still works for me is to stay in today and say daily the Serenity Prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference…just for today!

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)

THE SIMPLE ABC’s of DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS: THE 12 STEP PROGRAM OF RECOVERY

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).

I WILL TRUST MYSELF…

A HIGHER THOUGHT FOR TODAY

AFFIRMATION

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.

MEDITATION

God, we  turn our will and our lives over to you and we know things are getting better because of that surrender.

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SOURCE:, Higher thoughts  for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 Step fellowships. (1993, 1999) Louisville. June 1.  Depressed Anonymous Publications.

I HAVE CHOICES

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.

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

THE RISKS OF FAITH ( Part 2)

Yesterday we talked about the various parts that make up one’s progress on the path to recovery. Now we will continue to see how the path of hope is formed.

1. The first item is choices and we discussed how our path is first formed with the choices that we make.

2.  Next come acceptance. Acceptance for how  we are and what we are, accepting our own ideas, values, feelings and emotions but even more important is accepting the  fact that these changes  can and will be made by ourselves and other people can’t do  that for us.  They can only add or detract from those changes. By accepting our choices and taking responsibility for those choices for our journey on the path of hope has begun.

3. The third item is trust. Trust in ourselves to make the right choices. Trust in ourselves to overcome any obstacle we face no matter how difficult it is. Also, trusting another person, especially when that person loves, cares or just  believes in us.   Trust is so important, as it tells us we are not alone and we can accept and trust in another to lead us down our chosen path as well as trusting in our self.

4. The last item is faith.  Faith in ourselves that things will be solved even when no answer or solution is in sight or seems impossible. Faith in others helps us when we need help and that they will be there for us.  Faith in God or our Higher Power and that thru him our anguish, our sorrow, our pain will be lifted. Faith in our path of hope.”

The path of hope for depression sufferers is not easy to build or to find sometimes.  That’s why I think it is so important to take your medications  if medications  are prescribed, see your Doctor, counselor or therapist and go to a Depressed Anonymous meeting as often as you are able. Remember –when all seems to be lost there is always hope.”

Source: Copyright(c) How to hope and let it blossom. 1999. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Ky 40217. Pages 12-13.

And more from How to Hope — “As I attend more meetings I sense growing within me a personal competency to meet head-on the challenges of what were formerly fearful feelings of just existing  –just going through  the motions of life.  Now I attempt not to run when I feel so miserable but instead I stand and feel what  I am feeling. It seems the more I gain a sense of personal competency about how to love life, the more I am able to be willing to express my feelings whenever I feel them, This seems to be the secret of my gaining more hope on an ongoing and daily basis  — namely,  that the more I am able to feel less insecurity in having to have everything nailed down in my life and a willingness to express my feelings whenever I need to express them and with whomever I choose to share them with.” Page 5.

This is empowerment!