What happened?

+++   Recollections from the founder of Depressed Anonymous +++

“There was nothing I could do to shake those horrible and painful feelings. My mind was unable to focus on or to concentrate on anything. My memory was affected and it was impossible to retain anything I tried to read. With each new day, I felt my strength ebbing away. I was physically and emotionally drained. I knew that something was wrong – what was it?

The answer to those  question seemed to lie within all the losses that I had acquired over the past months.  I had slipped down into the slippery and dark world known only to someone who has ben depressed. I had to do something besides talking to break out of depression. I had to change the way that I had lived my life. First I had to admit that my life was out of control. I was powerless to overcome my symptoms of depression by will power alone. I needed to believe in a power greater than myself. I had to have a spiritual experience. Having been in the ministry for may years, I thought I had a deep spiritual experience, but I seemed to have lost it along the way.

I began to walk five miles a day inside a mall near my home to shake this awful feeling of emptiness that had taken over my life. I set myself this goal to force myself to walk until  I starter to feel better. This was about a year following that day in August when I felt myself slipping into  the abyss. After doing this exercise of walking day after day,   I began to feel a little better. But then the old message came back and said “yes, but this good feeling won’t last.”  Then I knew that since I had good days before that depression, I could have a good day again. I went on walking, and within time, I walked my way through the fog that had imprisoned me.

But I had to do the work!   Did my symptoms have me imprisoned or did the meaning that I had created in my mind about my life have me imprisoned? I believe it was the meaning I had given to those losses in my life  that gradually threw me to the ground, hog tied  me, and wouldn’t let me go. I had to believe that somehow my walking gave meaning to the belief that I wasn’t going to let these feelings of helplessness beat me down. I just believed that I was going to beat this thing! I learned a great lesson here in that “motivation follows action.”

SOURCE :Copyright(c)  Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (1998, 2008, 2011). Depressed Anonymous Publications, Louisville. KY  Pg. 21.  (Autobiographical sketch of the founder of Depressed Anonymous, Hugh S., in Evansville, Indiana in 1985.)

“Just get on base!”

These few words are ones that all base ball players hear when they go to bat. “Just get on base.” If a team is to win the game they must get on base. They have to be able to score at home plate and rack up points needed to win the game.

In our world, we know that to recover from any problem, disaster or misfortune, we have to get back on our feet and get to work. The longer we wait to get the help we need the longer will we suffer with whatever ails us. In my own life, I know that this to be true. When I started to slide slowly down that slippery slope of sadness, I could feel, in an analogous way, my feet slipping out from under me. I was losing control. It was when I finally lost all control and could no longer get up the energy to do anything-except force myself to go to work- that I got on base. If I was to win this battle then I had to do something. It was when I admitted to myself that I was losing  it that I did something to help myself.

Because of my involvement in another 12 Step program of recovery I now knew that I had to admit that I was in trouble, physically, emotionally and every other  way. So, with the urgency that my situation demanded,  I got on base and started to walk miles every  day  I had to shake off this inner hollowness and jitteriness  that had my whole existence in its teeth. By remembering the 1st Step of the program, that “We admitted   that we were powerless over depression and that our lives had become unmanageable.” Yes, my life was more than just unmanageable-I was  totally frozen in place. I could only think about me-what was happening to me? It was a brand new experience and totally foreign to me.   I always was “in control”   and now I was totally “out of control.” Something else was running my life. I felt like the proverbial prisoner locked down in the small confining cell of my despair.

To cut to the chase here, I finally got back to a feeling of lightness in my spirit, after having  walked miles for weeks. By admitting that I couldn’t go on the way I was, I made the  choice to do something.- get on  base (work the Steps of the program of recovery). With the help of my belief in a  Higher Power, God as I understand God, I finally got moving and got better. It was slow process of recovery but it worked.

I want everyone to know who is reading this now and feeling alone that there is hope for you too. It does take time and it takes work-there  are no magic wands waved over our head and presto! we are back on the playing field of life again. No, it takes time, work and a day by day, Step by Step  program of taking care of ourselves coupled with the belief that I too can get better. With that attitude you will not only get on base but you can win the game.

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NOTE: If you would like to start your own program of recovery  having a roadmap out of your own prison of depression it would do you well to read the  Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition Manual and the Depressed Anonymous  Workbook. These two excellent sources of self help are published by Depressed Anonymous  Publications and titled the HOME STUDY KIT.

To learn more about the helpful publications offered please VISIT THE STORE at this website, DEPRESSEDANON.COM.  You will be glad that you did.

Living in the security of my hope

I am choosing to live in the security of my hope rather than in the fear of life’s possible pain.

“…Haven’t our sadness and thoughts of unworthiness been our last refuge from having to face ourselves, take charge and accept responsibility for our own lives? For many, just knowing that that they might have a choice and be able to choose to feel differently can be a startling revelation.  I can choose to be happy or I can choose to stay feeling miserable.”

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

Life is one that provides me with many areas of choice. I can choose to live with the uncertainty of hope or I can stay mired in the despair of having to always have everything predictable. The latter is the hell of my depression.

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SOURCE:    Copyright(c) Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 step fellowship groups.  Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

“…you always expect the worst.”

 

AFFIRMATION

I will use a notebook to chart my course, list how ech day goes, so that I can repeat the feelings or thoughts that have allowed me to feel I am becoming responsible for my activities.

“…there is one great advantage  about seeing yourself as helpless and in the power of others. You don’t have to be responsible for yourself.  Other people make all the decisions and when things turn out badly you can blame other people. And things always turn out badly.  You know this. That’s why you always expect the worst.”

 CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

Truly, I know this is where the great scrutiny lies, being  responsible for myself.  If all I did was sit around and say poor me, and woe is me, I am not only making life tough on myself but I am also making life miserable for those around me. This is why I, as a writer and therapist, and one who has been depressed, knows that it is only when I get moving, even though I felt like death, that I began to feel better. No one will make me feel better. I will now make myself feel better.  I want to enjoy this world. I am tired of the pain of feeling worthless. I don’t want to blame anyone for my problems because no one is making me live in the problem. I will live in the solution from now on. The solution for me is working my Twelve Step program of recovery.

Blame helps  me to never have to look inside myself and ask myself how much  of my present state of depression is due to the way I have learned to think about myself and my life?  I am not in the blame game and so now I am  willing to face the enemy and start the changing process.

MEDITATION

Faith can move mountains. Ask and you shall receive. Knock and the door shall be opened unto you. I believe this. Personal comment?

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SOURCE:  Copyright(c) Higher thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 Step fellowship groups. (1993, 1999). Depressed Anonymous Publications.  Louisville. Thought for February 6th. Pages 28-29.

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Service gladly rendered…

Carrying the message of hope to those still suffering from depression.

“Service gladly rendered, obligations squarely met, troubles well accepted with God’s help, the knowledge that at home or in the world outside we are partners in a common effort, the fact that in God’s sight all human beings are important, the proof that love freely given brings a full return, the certainty that we are no longer isolated and alone in self constructed prisons, the surety that we can fit and belong in God’s scheme of things –these are the satisfactions of right living for which no pomp or circumstances, no heap of material possessions, could possibly substitute.” Twelve and Twelve, AA World services. Page 124.

 

Also, in The Depressed Anonymous Workbook (2002) we read

“The part about carrying the message is so important if we are to remain out of the clutches of depression. It is important to keep in touch with the newcomers and others in the program. It is in this carrying the message that reminds us that we once needed help and it was through the unselfishness of the older members of Depressed Anonymous that got us through our depression.” Page 85.

“We soon discover in the program that no compulsion can be controlled by will power alone. It must be surrendered to the Higher Power or to the care of God of our understanding. It alone can remove in time the burden from our backs. This is the spiritual awakening that keeps us free from sadness as we take the message of healing to others in the group who are new to the program. We admit that we make no promises to anyone and that there will be no magic answer and quick solutions to their saddiction.  No, it all takes time and this is the message of the group. Such slogans as: “Take it easy,” “Keep  it simple,” and “Easy does it” are all meant to help you and me to live one day at a time and continue to try and live with serenity. When we practice these steps on a daily basis, starting our day with asking the Higher Power for guidance for the rest of the day we can then be  assured of God’s presence and help in our lives.”

Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Page 106.

 

Promise # 11. “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 of myself was 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 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 love object, that we mourn the death of part of us.  The love object and ourselves has become one. I believe we use the word co-dependence 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 for prayer and meditation and feeling that my life has purpose and meaning.  The more I am physically active  and going to meetings even when I don’t feel like it. Working on my Depressed Anonymous Workbook, reading my Twelve Step literature. The behavior is where my freedom begins. And yes, I do feel lousy at times, but I also 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 depression was not so powerful now as to prevent me from even thinking that I could choose to feel differently.”  (Read more tomorrow on Promise # 11.

SOURCE: Copyright(c) I’LL DO  IT  WHEN I FEEL BETTER.  (2014) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 50-51.

The little part in me that says I am OK, is the part that I am going to concentrate on today.

AFFIRMATION

“Now that small voice, that little part of you that wants to  have light and some hope is getting up  the courage to ask more for itself.” (8)

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

I am finding that the more I seek out a solution to my depression and begin to look for signs of sadness lifting, the more my focus stretches from despair to hope. I am making the courageous move to speak kinder thoughts to myself and gradually replace those harmful negative thoughts  to newer and more hopeful thoughts.

The only voice that I want to listen to today is the voice that says that the mistakes of yesterday or the various views I held about  myself in the past do not matter. The voice that I am going to listen to today says that I can make a choice to feel better right now.

MEDITATION

God, help us to take what we can that’s positive about ourselves and leave behind the awful negatives that always seemed to take center stage in our mind.”

SOURCE: Copyright (c) Higher Thoughts for down days:365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 Step fellowship groups.(1999). Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

12 Ideas about appropriate self-help activities for use when depressed.

1. Attributing the depression to a cause. 2. Attempting to rectify the problem considered responsible for evoking the feeling of depression. 3. Finding social and moral support. 4. Engaging in diverting and distracting  recreations.  5. Keeping busy and working. 6. Focusing one’s attention elsewhere than on the depression problems or depressed feelings. 7. Restructuring one’s cognitions so as to minimize the significance of the depressing events. 8. Engaging in  self-care and maintenance activities. 9. Visiting one’s emotions. 10. Taking prescribed medication. 11. Finding compensations and boosting feelings of self-esteem/ or self sufficiency through useful, purposeful activity. 12. Taking comfort in one’s religious beliefs.

Source: Rippere, V., and Williams, Ruth. Wounded Healers. NY: John Wiley and sons. Ltd.,1985.

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I might add that one of the more therapeutic activities for a person depressed is to join a Depressed Anonymous group where you will find yourself no longer alone and isolated. The group members will speak a language which tells you that they know what you are  experiencing. And when you do turn your attention to your personal experience with depression they will provide you with a solution-focused plan of recovery. We call it the Twelve Step program of recovery This plan has been tried and tested for almost a century now, and  has been found to be the “real deal.”

Take a look at some of the literature offered by Depressed Anonymous, use it,  then become a believer that it works.

Sources: Believing is seeing:15 ways to leave the prison of depression. (2015) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville

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

An addiction exists when…

“Peale says that an addiction  exists when someone’s attachment  to a person or a sensation lessens his appreciation to deal with other things in his environment or in himself. The person  becomes increasingly dependent on that attachment as his only source of gratification. ” Source: Looking for love in all the wrong places: Overcoming romantic and sexual addictions. Jed Diamond. G. P.  Putnam’s Sons. NY

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When I was depressed all I could think about was the fact that I felt I was going crazy. I could think of nothing else other than the misery of my pain and the isolation of my self from everything around me. My feelings of depression were truly inescapable and my dependence on the negativity of my life and feelings kept me imprisoned and isolated.  And the one way that dealt a blow  to my circular thinking of doom and gloom was to force myself to get my body moving with the result that my mind gradually and slowly followed suit. It was like I was defrosting the frozen  windshield of my mind so that I could establish a way to see where I needed to go.

SOURCE: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed   Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

Three of the world’s worst excuses!

We have our identity in the process of depressing.  We are afraid that if we stop, we won’t know how to be, won’t know who to be, won’t know what life will expect.

It’s safer and more comfortable to continue with the depressing than to risk freedom

Is this depressing?

Can I realize I do this (reject well-being) without being depressed about it?

It’s depressing to realize that I’ve spent my whole life depressing myself.

The most important part is that I’ve thought it was external. Now I’m getting the sense that it is something I’ve learned to do and now to do to myself.

To say this is depressing information is like saying that you are on a sinking ship and you have just discovered a lifeboat.

You can stand there and be upset that this ship is sinking or you can take the lifeboat.

We’re talking about being compassionate with yourself because everything else springs from that.

It is not selfish to love yourself.

If you can’t find compassion  for yourself, you’ll never find it for anyone else. You won’t know how. You will never be truly generous to anyone else. You won’t know how. You will never be truly generous to anyone while depriving yourself.

The reason we don’t tell anyone they should do this is that a person won’t do this until they are ready.

Most people never will in their life.

All we’re saying is that when you’re ready here’s the way you can do it. This definitely is  not another stick to beat yourself.

When you’ve suffered enough, you’ll remember that you know how to do it. It  doesn’t really matter what you have thought, believed, felt or done before.

This is a new day.

“But I’ve always done it this way.”  “But I’ve always been  this way.”  “This is just the way I am.”

These are three of the world’s worst excuses.

It’s OK to change.

It’s OK to try something new.

It’s OK to try something radically new…There isn’t really anything new because if you try it and don’t like it, you can always return to how you were doing it before. No problem. No shoulds. Trying anything once or twice doesn’t mean you have ever to do it again if you don’t want to.

And not taking a risk because you are  afraid is a grave disservice to yourself.  Fear is not the problem. You can have your fear and allow it to stop you or you can have your fear and risk anyway. Either way, the fear is there. The choice is yours.”

Sources:  The Depressed Anonymous Workbook. (2001)  DAP. Louisville. Pgs.45-46.

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

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

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