“Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” Step 5 of Depressed Anonymous

“I haven’t done anything wrong, so why do I have to admit anything? And anyway, what does this have to do with my depression?”

In the Depressed Anonymous Workbook these questions there are provided answers for those who are struggling to free themselves from depression. In fact, the more we work through each of the questions posed in the Workbook, we can also go to the Depressed Anonymous Manual, 3rd edition., and find six pages  (pgs. 59-64) of thoughts from members of the fellowship on Step 5.  We discover that the Depressed Anonymous Manual is written by people like you and me. We have been where you are and we came to believe after admitting that we were powerless over our depression and that life was unmanageable we had to make a decision.

In Step 3 we made a decision –that is what life is all about –namely, making decisions. Our decisions are the product of the meaning that we give to those persons, events and circumstances that fill our lives every day.  We make the decisions based on those meanings that we give to those situations and experiences. We are making a decision to day to share part of our dark side with another human being.

In Alcoholics Anonymous it describes the way to make a good 5th Step:

” We pocket our pride and go to it, illuminating every twist of character, every dark cranny of the past. Once we have taken this Step, withholding nothing, we are delighted. We can look the world in the eye.  We can be alone at perfect peace and ease.  Our fear fall from us. We begin to feel the nearness of our creator. We may have had certain beliefs, but now we begin to have a spiritual experience…”

Telling someone else seems to be the key to our freedom: When we decided who is to hear our story, we waste no time. We have a written inventory and we are prepared for a long talk. We explain to our partner what we are about and why we have to do it.” (This is why it is so important to write down in a  separate notebook the answers to all the questions in the Workbook which now bring us to the point of sharing our answers with a person we can trust, such as a clergy person or our sponsor. ED).

Steps 1 and 5 are the two Steps where the word “admitted” is used.  When we hear the word “wrongs” such as in this Step 5 – we may induce in ourselves a feeling of guilt. This is NOT the intention of Step 5 at all.

To be depressed is not to be wrong. We are not accusing ourselves of being bad. We are only pointing out the ways that I need to act, think and behave as a non-depressed person.”

SOURCES:  The Depressed Anonymous Workbook (2001) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 49-50.

Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 59-64.

My depression just came out of the blue

A question from the Depressed Anonymous Workbook (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Step Eleven. Page  79.

Question: How do you see your depression as a compulsion?  What are the triggers that cause you to spiral downward back into the dark prison of depression?

When you think of depression do you think of it like one big thing or do you see it for the many parts  that make up a depression experience, namely, the way that we think, behave, or feel.  In other words when we make it to be a thing, that is when we reify it  — it holds power over us — like it came out of the blue  –we talk about depression in medical terms such as I just had a bout of depression — like it came from outside of us like an infectious germ or virus.  In reality, our depression is made up of many parts,  such as particular depression oriented  ways of thinking, behaving and feeling.

Question #11.1   Write down the way that you perceive your depression? Can you distinguish the various parts that go to form what we call the depression experience?

Which of the following illustrations can you best relate to?

11.2  A need to be perfect!

11.3   A need to be successful!

11.4   A need never to get angry!

11.5   A  need to have someone in my life before I feel I am somebody!

11.6    Please write down how one or more of the above keeps you down,  despairing and hopeless? Also, write about where these attitudes come from?

Sources:  Depressed Anonymous Workbook (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

Note: Both these books make up the Home Study Program combo. See Visit the Store for more literature that  is recommended for our 12 step fellowship.

People have the seeds of their own revival within them…

” What I learned from my  own depression  and recovery and try to practice when working with clients is that people  have the seeds of their own revival within them.  I want to ask the right questions so that people can hear what they say, recognize what  changes they want to make, and how they can choose to make them. Specific time limits are set, and I prefer to focus initially on people making changes  in their behavior, rather than mood.  I explain that although the depressed mood colors the whole world, it has not been shown to be  causally   related to improvement, where  as  behavior has.

When clients know that there are specific and tangible things they can do, they often begin to experience an immediate uprising. A specific time limit is often  motivating.  People begin to see themselves making positive changes in their behavior, and can begin to change attitudes about themselves.  They begin to see themselves controlling aspects of their environment, and as this happens, helplessness and hopelessness begin to dissipate and self-esteem levels rise  proportionally. People see themselves to be improving as a result of their own efforts.  Nothing can be more rewarding to a depressed person.

SOURCE: Wounded Healers. Pgs. 86-87.

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I think what the author states here   is so true.  Once a person depressed begins to see themselves making  some positive changes in themselves,  their own sense of helplessness and hopelessness is  diminished.  I see this all the time when those persons who continue to return to the mutual aid group Depressed Anonymous  week after week. They are given a “toolbox” by which they choose various areas of their life to work on. They have a Depressed Anonymous Workbook, with a Step by Step format that can open up answers to questions that they have about their own sense of personhood and their depression experience. They also have a member of the fellowship to walk with them week after week between meetings, sometimes called a sponsor or coach. And with help from the program persons depressed now have courage to begin this journey of hope. Our program of recovery can and does increase one’s sense of empowerment.

PRIZING YOURSELF

 

One of the activities that you might think about is something that you found fun or pleasurable before your present depression.  You might  give this activity some thought and then  write down this activity with any other fun things that comes to your attention. After a while, I think you will find that there are many  things that you could do when you are feeling especially low. At a time when I was especially feeling a total lack of energy I would go and lie down –why fight the fatigue?  But then I learned that if I would reject the thought of lying down  and instead interest my attention in an activity such as typing on my computer that I found my energy coming back.  The thought that I was too tired to do anything disappeared in a short while.  Weird, but it works!

Also, as for planning pleasurable  activities, you might want to start listening to the way you talk to yourself. Try to speak words to yourself as if you were talking to a guest in your home. Talk out loud if you wish – hear yourself say kind things to yourself. For once, say something good about yourself instead of listening to all those old negative tapes that always made you feel you’d be better off dead. Or else be someone else. You get the idea.

When  you start listing your strengths  as part of your Fourth Step Inventory, list all  the good things  that you like about yourself. (See the Depressed Anonymous Workbook). With every negative statement about yourself don’t allow yourself another statement about yourself until you are able to replace it with three positive statements. I mean. let’s be fair and balance this thing out.  I know that you might feel a bit uncomfortable about prizing yourself, but give it a try anyway.  One of the best ways to make sure you will have a pleasurable activity today is to plan for it the day before and then placing it on your calendar for the next day.  Don’t say you will do it “when I feel  better,” as you and I both know, we don’t usually do anything, no matter what we tell ourselves. I think we have all heard the saying “have a nice day unless you have made other plans.”  A lot depends on our attitude. If this isn’t enough, just know that Abraham Lincoln said that we are all about as happy as we make up  our minds to be. What do you think?

SOURCE: Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression. (2015) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.   Pages 43-45.

MAKEOVER TIME: THE NEW ME.

Helen’s before and after–

“Now that I look back and see the way I was and see how I am now, I can’t believe that I ever knew that other person. This person is different altogether. I like the person now very much.  I am so thankful to the group. They are just wonderful. They are my family. They are my Depressed Anonymous family.  I also have my church family. It is a wonderful feeling to know that there is a Higher Power that can help you through these things.  At first, I thought: “I doubt that very much” when everyone is talking about the Higher Power and peace in my life.  Then it happened to me. Every few days, the world dumps down on you and beats you down. That’s just life. I always think to myself that there is that extra strength that I didn’t have before. I feel that everything is going to be OK with me. I have that peace now myself.”

Read all of Helen’s story in the Personal Stories in Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.  Page 148.

DEPRESSION ALMOST COST ME MY LIFE

A HIGHER THOUGHT  FOR TODAY

I am able to beat loneliness by repeatedly being with other people in recovery.

“I’m sure many sufferer’s could find a lot of comfort and support by coming into a group as I have done, to help beat the terrible loneliness which is felt by many of us and who find lasting friendship with lovely people.”

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

In the group, I established myself and I got some positive feedback from others who watched me grow and who have seen the genuine changes I make personally. I am gradually throwing off my personal war with sadness. The real support comes when I begin to learn that members of the group have the same problems that I have.  That helps me trust others with the story of my life.  These people are the ones who want to hear my story of how depression almost cost me my life. Now, my life is freeing me from my need to sad myself.

I feel I am  able to attach myself to the group now that I know that they are struggling with the same depression that I struggle with.  I no longer have to fight this battle on my own.

MEDITATION

God, you are our rock and our refuge, on you I place all my trust. We know and believe, easier now than before, that God has something good in store for us today.”

SOURCE: Copyright(c) Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 Daily Thoughts and Meditations for 12 Step Fellowship Groups. (1993, 1999) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville  Pages 84-85.

PROMISE #11 OF DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS: INTUITIVELY KNOW HOW TO HANDLE SITUATIONS WHICH USED TO BAFFLE US.

“As my mind began to heal and my thoughts became more lucid it became apparent that something inside me is 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 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 lost love, that we mourn the death of part of us. The love object  and ourselves has become one. I believe we use the word codependence 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 of prayer and meditation and a feeling that my life has purpose and meaning. The more I am physically active, that is,  going to meetings even when I don’t feel like it. Working in my Depressed Anonymous Workbook, reading my 12 Step literature.

This behavior is where my freedom begins. And yes, I do feel lousy at times but I 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 my depression was not so powerful as to prevent me from even thinking that I could choose to feel differently.”

SOURCE: (C) I’LL DO IT WHEN I FEEL BETTER. (1986, 2013) 2nd Edition  DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS PUBLICATIONS LOUISVILLE,  KENTUCKY   Pages 50-51.

This Promise really does work. I know from my own personal experience that once I had begun my recovery and began to deal with those things I refused to face that things lightened up. When I was in the pit of my own melancholia I couldn’t even begin to think that there was a way out — I just didn’t consider  that as a possibility. But the more I read–the more I listened to others who had or were presently climbing out of their own pit of melancholia I felt hopeful  that I too could choose to think differently and so feel different.  With time, work and prayer plus having a sponsor I intuitively knew how to handle situations that at one time confused me. Things in my life became clearer and I began to examine those past patterns of behavior and thinking that put me in the pit.  It was by living out the Twelve Steps and practicing these principles in all of my affairs that eventually gave me the freedom of making the choice to either choose to stay depressed or to choose to live life  and find the path to free me from the bonds of my own depression.

Hugh

WRITING IN MY JOURNAL OR DA WORKBOOK HELPS CLARIFY MY THINKING, FEELINGS, AND BEHAVIORS ONE DAY AT A TIME!

AFFIRMATION

I  see myself better when I write down who I feel I am today.

“The simple act of writing something down is tremendously helpful because to do so we have to bring something clearly to mind. Instead of  having half-formed thoughts and confused emotions crashing and fumbling around inside of us, we crystalize these thoughts and feelings into sentences. Once we put these sentences down on paper we have taken something from inside and put it outside. Now we can look at it, judge it, and master it.

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

I am making every effort to get in touch with who I am and I am taking the opportunity now to focus on what gets me down and what keeps me up. I am seeing too, that the more I associate with people like myself who are following and working their program, the better I feel.  I intend to journal and keep a diary of my good progress.

I know that the more I stay in my head the greater the confusion. It is only when I begin to see on paper my expressions of hope and confusion that I can begin to change some of my thoughts which I find I am compulsively repeating to myself, day after day.  I now can write down a new positive thought about myself.  I can choose to feel  whatever I choose.”

MEDITATION

Our guiding love, our God as we understand God, is dong for us all that it desires to lavish on us today.  I am hopeful that I can find my new path and grow stronger in learning the various ways to hear our Higher Power’s promptings.

SOURCE: (c) HIGHER THOUGHTS FOR DOWN DAYS: 365 DAILY THOUGHTS AND MEDITATIONS FOR 12 STEP FELLOWSHIP GROUPS. (1993, 1999) DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS PUBLICATIONS, LOUISVILLE. Pages 78-79.

ALL OR NOTHING.

ALL OR NOTHING

“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.”  Bill W., As Bill Sees it. (p.308)

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I know  about this “all or nothing ” experience. It was really made manifest in my daily study of the Twelve Steps and writing down my thoughts in my journal. Now I use the HOME STUDY PROGRAM, which lets me go at my own speed and examine my own life in relationship to the Steps as spelled out in the Depressed Anonymous Manual and  with questions asked in the Depressed Anonymous Workbook. Together,  these really have helped me focus on one piece of the puzzle at a time. When I first entered the Twelve Step fellowship I wanted to devour everything there was to know about addictions in one big gulp.  Gradually I learned that if I took my time, read the literature and continued to use Workbook and Manual one day at a time, that my life began to have that promised serenity and a hope that continues to this day.

“I find the insights of Bill W., to be at the cutting edge of whether or not a person depressed gets better or just simply gets., that is,  gets more isolated and disconnected from life.  Many hurting folks come to  Depressed Anonymous with the mistaken belief that they are coming to a class; while there, someone will teach them about how to quickly get out of their depression. They want a quick fix and then get right back to living the way they used to – never realizing that they have to do some work on themselves if they indeed want to stay free of depression…” DEPRESSED ONCE – NOT TWICE.

PRAY, BUT KEEP ROWING TO SHORE! GRAB AN OAR!

Some days I feel like my life is like that small boat on the ocean. I watch as the swirling waves and the thunderous noise of waves and wind wash over me. I watch as my small boat takes on water. No land is in sight. What to do? I pray. Have you ever had these feelings of helplessness? Well, let me tell you, I have had this experience more than I would like to admit.
One time in my life, one very difficult time for sure, I thought that my boat was sinking and that there was no recourse –no land in sight. This is when that deadening feeling of melancholia (depression) –like the Pac Man arcade game – began to chew me up. I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know what exactly. The time to row, so to speak, was when I couldn’t get myself out of bed and knew that I had to get to land, get my body moving, the best way that I could. I had to keep rowing.
Gradually, by walking everyday, and forcing myself to do what I didn’t want to do, like exercise, I gradually regained my balance. And after a year of this activity (rowing) I began to notice that the wind howling around me gradually subsided. My boat was still afloat and I could see land. Safety. This all happened almost thirty years ago.
It was then that my 12 Step life began. Now, with each new day, before the sun pops up over the horizon, my day begins with prayer and the centering of my thoughts. In our program of recovery we call this a meditation experience. I then read the Higher Thoughts for this day. I also read the Depressed Anonymous book, plus entering thoughts in the Depressed Anonymous Workbook. All this is accomplished in that first hour of the day. I feel like I truly am now on solid rock. And it’s like I take these morning thoughts and with them begin my day. With Step Two … I “came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” So this morning, I continue to “make a decision to turn my life and my will over to the care of God as we understand God to be.”
Turning my life over to to the care of God doesn’t mean I lay back and see what God is going to do…no, it means that I do my work and God will do his. And so I keep on rowing. Grab an oar!