One picture is worth a thousand words!

 

The reason I started a Depressed Anonymous meeting in 1985 is because I knew that getting a meeting organized would be a help to those suffering from depression. I also know  just like in any other 12 step fellowship group,   power is in the group. Whatever the serious nature of the problem we face, a group of people who are on the same page, mentally, spiritually and physically, provides  a healing atmosphere   for the participant.

Since I was also a member of another 12 step fellowship, I instinctively knew that getting the depressed out of their isolation and into relationships with people like themselves would be therapeutic. We all had the same story to tell. It was not only a story of  our struggles with our own depression but it  was a story that brought   a fresh  new hope for ourselves and  for all those with whom we shared out lives.

I mentioned the song sung by Ane Brun, the Norwegian singer,  in a recent blog(10/13) and now today I would like to give you the lyrics to the song. I dedicate it to those   who bring to life something new. We bring a new life not just for ourselves but for others like ourselves. In this case, here is the last stanza of her powerful message.

“It all starts somewhere

It all starts with one

Everything comes from something

It all starts with one

Starts with one.”

Copyright(c) Ane  Brun

(You can hear her whole song on YouTube.)

I have found this song’s  lyrics so powerful that I was motivated to  share a small part of this song with each of you.  As you and I know, ideas and movements have to start somewhere with somebody. They don’t just happen. Movements, great ideas, they   always “start with one, and then two and then three and more. ”  Truly a song about the power of ONE.  We all know about the power of social media and how experiences of others  become viral so that  millions of people may see the same picture and get the same message. As the saying goes, “one  picture is worth a thousand words.”

I remember well the reaction that I got when I asked my Dean of the Psychology Department if I could start a group for persons depressed. I felt that we had possibly found a way out of depression, using the 12 spiritual principles of Alcoholics Anonymous and modeling this program of recovery for persons  depressed, The Dean’s response  was doubtful. He gave me  the  “go ahead”  but remarked that  “since the depressed normally can’t get themselves out of bed because of their depression, don’t be disappointed if they don’t show up for this project.” I’m glad that we went ahead. We  had a very successful outcome where most of the depressed in our program  felt their depressed mood lighten. What happened after that is history. In May of 1985, with the help of members from our initial group, Depressed Anonymous was started. It is now is spreading around the world. Our literature is now in English, Farsi language, Russian, and presently being translated into Spanish (2019) and Dutch. The Internet has brought our message of hope  into lives and  homes around the globe.   Our message  of hope is just a click away.

Remember, it all starts with one, and two, three and more….

Hugh

“It all starts with one.”

A popular singer from Norway (Ane Brun)  penned the lyrics of a song which I found to be a powerful testament to the “power of one.” If you type in the words “It all starts with one ” at You Tube you can hear the song and read the lyrics as well.

Over these many years with our fellowship Depressed Anonymous I have found that the song “It all starts with one ” to be a powerful reminder of the power individuals have when they have a passion for service. I am referring to those persons who start Depressed Anonymous meetings in their communities.  They are the living proof  that it only takes one person to share their passion and set up a meeting for those “still suffering” from depression.  Most DA group  founders who  have started groups I know personally . Some are still at it after a decade or so of service.

Yes, it’s true. “It all starts with one” . Are you that one?  Let us know  at Depressed Anonymous if you are interested in helping others like yourself who are depressed. Depressed persons are looking to you for help.

Contact us here at info@depressedanonymous or email us   at depanon@netpenny.net.

Hugh

Do you want a new way of living?

 

AFFIRMATION

I now  have a new way of living!

“But with OUR new way of living and thinking we are going to stay in the now. We know tomorrow produces anxiety and fear. Yesterday is there with all the past hurts and anger. All I have is the now!  If I live in the now I can begin to  try to stay out of yesterday  with all its old wounds  and hurts and resist living in tomorrow with its unknown problems.  Negative thoughts about our past or those about tomorrow can numb our feelings so that we don’t have to feel the pain of whatever it is that isolates us from the world around us. We also admit,  like any one person addicted to a person, thing,  place,  chemical or drug, that our lives are out of control. We have to admit, that by depressing ourselves, we have chosen saddening ourselves as our drug of choice. We medicate ourselves with sadness any time we might have to change the way we live our lives. Sometimes, our depression or sadness arises out of guilt as we continue to turn our personal mistakes into giant catastrophes – this continues to make us feel as if we are nothing and valueless. This all adds to our frustration and the feeling of our being out of control. We know that if we just give up our struggle against depression and admit our powerlessness over it, we can begin to surrender it to our Higher Power and practice letting go of it. I can decide that I want to feel happy and put this constant sadness and hollowness behind me once and for all. I know that no longer will I have to retreat or flee from   those sad feelings and escape with sleep, over activity or drugs.  I know that, whenever my sadness seems unending, I then just admit that I am not helpless and that I can do something about it because I have the tools and I can learn the skills that I didn’t know were available to me before.  Now I am deciding to think, act and behave differently, much to my personal credit and a new-found trust in the Higher Power.  I am a sailor who sees the land, knows the right direction and does the rowing to get where I want to go.  The Twelve Steps are my compass. I also   know that this group of people which we call Depressed Anonymous will help me assume a sense of no longer feeling out of control.”

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SOURCE:  Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd ed., Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky. Pages 34-35.

 

 

It takes hard work and faith to free oneself from depression.

MY AFFIRMATION FOR TODAY

I believe that with time and work I can feel better about myself.

“But don’t expect that one psychologist can tell you just what the trick is to get out of being depressed. There  is no trick, just hard work.” Dorothy Rowe. The way out of your prison. 2nd ed. (1983, 1996). Routledge. London.

The first three Steps of the Twelve  Steps are about faith and the remaining nine Steps are about action. One has to have faith that there is truly something bigger in this world than  one’s own depression and one’s perspective. I formerly used to believe  that I was stuck forever in these moods where I just didn’t want to live anymore. I was sick and tired of being sick  and tired with the feelings of despair. But now my program is a spiritual one and the spiritual way is the way out of my depression.

If I truly want to be free of my fears and anxieties, I will have to have faith that the God of my understanding is not going to  let me down.

My energies and commitment used to be directed toward finding ways to live always with the predictable and secure feelings that my sadness provided. I am working another program, one which will help me find a way to live a lifer filled with serenity and hope.

MEDITATION

God, help us know your will so that we may start today filled with hope. (Personal comments).

SOURCE: (c) Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of Twelve Step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

Moods produce feelings and feelings produce behavior

AFFIRMATION

I am going to believe that today is all I have and when I begin to feel better, I will not kill this feeling by telling myself that it won’t last. I will refrain from criticizing myself now.  I do have a choice. All of the Twelve Steps ask us to go contrary to our natural desires…they all deflate our egos. When it comes to ego deflation, few steps are harder to take than Step Five. (10).

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

The other night at a Step meeting one of the participants suggested that the reason she continued to stay depressed was the fact that she was still  living a life that came natural to her. In other words, she was still continuing to think the what she always thought in the past.  Now that she is living and working a program that is spiritual, her natural inclinations are not the driving force in her life. Her natural way of living kept her depressed. Her recovery program of living  in the Twelve Steps is providing her with some serenity.

Hugh’s comment

I want to add my comments here in response to the Depressed Anonymous participant quoted above. When she started to feel better she would put herself down–much like I did when I was beginning to feel better.  When my sad mood was beginning   to lift, my  first reaction was to tell myself “it’s not going to last,” which shot that good feeling  down almost immediately. I got hooked back  onto my old natural self of negativity and hopelessness.  It took me a while to get back on  track.  I realized that I scuttled myself. I had always scuttled myself with a running diatribe  against my self. And when I finally got free of my natural inclinations to beat myself up, primarily by living out in my daily life  the spiritual recovery program of the Steps. I also began   participating in the fellowship of Depressed Anonymous. I began to listen, not to my natural self, but to the  Steps of recovery,  now armed with the  spiritual armor provided to me,  I began the reconstruction of my life–one day at a time.

In a helpful look at depression and mood, Jonathon Rottenberg  tells us that

“Our perspective here is that, although depression’s pain is never entirely welcome, moods offer meaningful information about our status and prospects in the world. Without trivializing  how difficult it would be to “listen to depression” to extract evolution’s warnings, to find the signal amid the pain, this listening particularly in its aftermath, can be a vehicle to foster rebirth and transformative life change. Certainly it will be difficult to learn from depression if we don’t listen at all.”  (The Depths: The Evolutionary Origins of the Depression Epidemic. Basic Books. NY.2014. Page 195.)

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It is intended that my life be filled with hope and commitment to myself so that I can live out my life with a peace that overcomes fear. “To admit to  God, to ourselves, and to another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs.” (Step Five).

This is not the natural way to live. The naturel way to live is to deny that we have a problem. The more I work and live out my program, the better I am beginning to feel.

MINDFULNESS

We believe that the God of our understanding will help us visualize ourselves as happy and free persons. We will visualize in our mind all the good things that can happen to us if we believe that they can.  If God is with us and cares for us, why worry? (Personal  comments).

SOURCES: Copyright(c)  Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for Twelve Step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Kentucky. Pages 169-170.

Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. (1998,2008, 2011). Depressed ANONYMOUS  Publications. Louisville. Ky.

 

The total surprise of living.

 

I’ve finally found how to live.  I guess you could say it was pretty much a round -about- way.   Surprisingly, it all came about with my face to face struggle with the dark forces of depression.  Included in these  waves of darkness appeared  the demons of shame, guilt, fear and isolation.  All these foes of serenity and happiness entered through the  door of my life and settled in. I was imprisoned.  It took all my energies to mobilize my will to even get out of bed in the morning.

I reached down deep into my soul and made a commitment to myself and to my wanting to live.  I discovered a “power greater than myself” in a belief that told me that I could free myself from this strong attachment to sadness and despair. I moved my body. I began to force myself to get up and walk. Almost like Jesus telling the man paralyzed from birth to get up, take up his mat and walk.  And that is what I did. I got out of bed and started walking.

Later I realized that I had put a goal into my life. I had a purpose. It wasn’t some grandiose plan to free myself from the demons of fear–it was  a simple action that put meaning in my life. I lived every day  with a purpose to survive whatever had me by the throat.

“I came to believe that a power greater than myself could restore  me to sanity.” That was Step Two of the Twelve Steps of Depressed Anonymous. That was the moment I made a decision to trust that the God of my understanding would give me back my life. This is indeed what happened.

As it states in our  Manual, ” We found God does not make too hard terms with those who speak seek its guidance. To us, the realm of the spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive, and never exclusive or forbidding to those who earnestly seek it. It is open, we believe to all men and women.

We believe that to be conscious is to have been able first of all to listen to someone or something that expresses God’s desire to free us from the misery as soon as  we are willing to turn our minds and our wills over to it.  Somewhere  along the way, we were convinced that that the only safe way to  make this life bearable and predictable was to  continually sadden ourselves, withdraw into our little shell and make sure that our own small world was completely under our control. It was a perfect little world, this world of ours. It was dark, gloomy and painful, but at least we knew what we had. It is this predictableness that makes life inescapably  hell for all of us, even though we’d rather have this than the total surprise of living.”

Scott Peck, in his best selling book, The Road Less Traveled makes the statement in the first sentence of his book  “That life is unpredictable.”  Yes, life is definitely unpredictable. That is what can make it an adventure of discovery instead of  completely removing all spontaneity  and joy because of our being imprisoned in that small, painful, and ongoing total isolation of depression.

Break free! Push on!  In time you too will live and enjoy the daily adventure of living life.  Be surprised by the daily joys of living life!

SOURCES: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY. Pg. 97.

Please VISIT THE DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS PUBLICATIONS  BOOKSTORE FOR MORE INFORMATION.

 

The 12 Steps are my North Star.

 

   “Depressed Anonymous means hope -as long as you want to get out of the pit of depression just start to believe that little voice which says “Yes,  I am hopeful. I will feel better too.”  The other members of Depressed Anonymous give me hope. Others have made it  out of the deep lonely pit of depression and so can I.  I choose to be happy even if I don’t feel happy right away. I am going to risk feeling different from this wretched sadness that I feel all the time.   I have nothing to lose – except my fear of the future.

But with OUR new way of living and thinking,  we are going to stay in the NOW. We know tomorrow produces anxiety and fear. Yesterday is there with all the old hurts and anger.  All I have is the now!  If I live in the now, I can begin to stay out of yesterday with all its old wounds and hurts   and resist living in tomorrow  with its unknown problems. Negative thoughts about our past or those tomorrow can numb our feelings so that we don’t have to feel the pain of whatever it is that isolates us from the world around us. We also admit, like any one person addicted to a person, place, thing, chemical or drug, that our lives are out of control. We have to admit that by depressing ourselves, we have chosen saddening ourselves as our drug of choice. We medicate ourselves with sadness any time we might have to change the way we live our lives. Sometimes, our depression over sadness arises out of guilt as we continue to turn our personal  mistakes into giant catastrophes -this continues to make us feel as if we are nothing and valueless. This all adds to our frustration and the feeling of our being out of control. We know that if we just give up our struggles against depression and admit our powerlessness over it we can begin to surrender to our Higher Power and practice letting go of it.  I can decide that I want to feel good again. I can decide that I want to feel happy and put this constant sadness and hollowness behind me once and for all. I know that no longer will I  have to retreat or flee from these sad feelings and escape with sleep, over activity or drugs. I know that whenever my sadness seems unending, I then just admit that I am not helpless and that I can do something about it because I have the tools (see Tools of Recovery at Menu)  and I can learn the skills that I didn’t know were available to me before. Now I am deciding to think, act and behave differently much to my personal credit and new found trust in the Higher Power.  I am a sailor who sees the land, knows the right direction and does the rowing to get where I want to get. The Twelve Steps are my compass…”

SOURCE: Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (1998, 2008, 2011). Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.KY. Pages. 34-35.

Women aware of their abilities and rights as human beings

“In our depression groups you can come and begin to get out some of those feelings accumulated over the years which have taken their toll on our lives by making us feel helpless and alone. Many women in our culture seemed to have imbibed a helpless feeling with their mother’s milk. As women become aware of their abilities and rights as human beings, they begin to experience the freedom that comes from being themselves and throwing aside rules and roles fashioned  by men and male mindsRecovery is being able to trust ourselves in exploring ways to feel emotions.

In most cultures, when males begin to depress themselves, they “numb out” and stuff their feelings of shame, hurt, or anger. Males are conditioned to not express in any intimate fashion these unpleasant feelings. One of the positive aspects of our support group is that men can come to our fellowship, share their tears, and know that this is acceptable behavior for any member of the group. What most males really want to do but don’t know how,  is to be intimate with others, sharing those deep feelings. From just an anecdotal account, normally at most Depressed Anonymous meetings there are as many men in attendance as there are women, even though the statistics tell us that women are more depressed than men. I too  believe that accounting is based on cultural conditioning as well. Women have learned how to talk about feelings more than men. Depressed Anonymous is an excellent group for men to not only learn new skills in intimacy, but helps them outgrow old patterns of negative thinking and behavior.”

SOURCE: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (1998, 2008, 2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications.Louisville. Ky.  P. 82-83.

 

The “before” and “after” stories of those who freed themselves from the tyranny of depression.

I just want to write a few thoughts this morning about the “before” and “after” experiences of group members  battles  with depression.  Before there was a Depressed Anonymous group for me to attend, where I could address my problems, I joined another 12 step program of recovery. It was at this meeting that I heard and saw people who shared their stories how it was “before”  they got into recovery and  the  “after”  now that they are living the recovery program.

The difference was like night and day. I could listen all day to a lecture on depression, alcoholism, overeating or any other addiction  and not be as moved as I am when I hear the actual person telling  their story of how life is  now by  actively participating in their own recovery. To hear the changes that have taken place in those many people whose lives had spiraled down into the darkness of isolation and hopelessness is a phenomenal  experience in itself.

Most of the books which serve as the basic text of 12 step groups such as Depressed Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous, to name a few, all include many “before” and “after” stories of those who have suffered the loss of their self only to find that with the help of the spiritual principles of the Steps were they able eventually to share how  their lives had changed dramatically.   Their stories are simple, direct and filled with powerful accounts of  human beings who once were lost in the chaos of addiction,  but now have been freed,  living with hope and serenity.

Depressed Anonymous’ basic text  has its own “before” and  “after ” stories as well. All the stories, the “before” and “after” accounts,   give credit to the program of recovery which  has changed the thinking and lives of thousands of persons throughout the world.  I see  these stories manifesting  the miracle of the Higher Power, at work in those persons who made a decision to choose to walk that different pathway out of their addictions.  They then  tell those others “still suffering from depression” about the power  they have received.

Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to the depressed, and to practice these principles in all of our affairs.” Step Twelve of Depressed Anonymous.”

Sources:

Depressed Anonymous, recommends its basic text, Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition for the many inspiring accounts of those persons who came to a meeting, like myself, heard what others had experienced and decided that to see how it worked for them.

Also another excellent publication with many “before” and “after”  stories is A MEDLEY OF DEPRSSION STORIES, by the founder of two Depressed Anonymous groups in North Carolina, Debra Sanford.  Her work is available at Amazon.com.

Depressed Anonymous Publications also has books available at depressedanon.com. VISIT THE STORE

Cleaning house: Steps 4 & 5.

AFFIRMATION

I know that I can be forgiven.

“Our moral inventory had persuaded us that all around forgiveness was desirable, but it  was only when we resolutely tackled Step Five that we inwardly knew we’d be able to receive  forgiveness and give it, too.”

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

In Step 5 we really get serious about our life and our thirst for freedom.  It is especially evident when we work this step that a new spirit of freedom penetrates the very fiber of our being. I know that it is when I look myself in the face, list and spell out each and every fault/defect that keeps me locked into my prison of depression. I can say with all truth and humility that I am more free now than I have  ever felt in my life because of my working the Fourth and Fifth Steps.  I am learning that what it takes to be set free from our painful past is the total honesty in speaking about it.

I gain forgiveness by giving it. When I release my anger or revenge toward another human being I am then free.

MEDITATION

God, please release in us our need to hang onto our guilt and anger. Cast your light on our pain and let us find peace. (Personal comments).

SOURCE:  (c) Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of Twelve Step fellowship  groups. (1999) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY. pg 129.

(c)  Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous    Publications. Louisville. KY

(c) The Depressed Anonymous Workbook. (2009) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.

To order ONLINE please VISIT THE STORE at this site.