How do I know if I’m depressed?
“Being depressed means isolation – and being cut off from everybody and everything. It is like being in prison, like a pit where the walls are like soft clay and I cannot climb out. To me the isolation is pre-hell and often I feel so dead inside. There is an awful feeling, that hole in my soul which is like a clenched fist. I don’t know where to turn with all the pain and hurt. I can’t imagine anyone hurts the way I do and I hope no one does. I would never want to inflict this pain on anyone, so I tried to hold it inside and it seems like it’s too much to bear, especially alone. This is where Depressed Anonymous comes in – this is where powerlessness and God come in. There was no one to help, even to try to understand before Depressed Anonymous. No one wanted my pain and others started to avoid me. I understand better now, especially since I’ve been around Depressed Anonymous via Hugh and the book Depressed Anonymous,3rd edition and the journaling I’ve done. My hope is that I will be more at peace and will try to use the specific tools which continue to be great helps in overcoming depression while giving me hope — just for today.”
Source: Mary C, Sterling Heights, Michigan.
Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition.(2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.
Visit the Store for more information on Depression and the use of the 12 Steps.
The NINTH WAY out of the prison of depression.
The following is an excerpt from the book, Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression. (2014) Smith, Hugh. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.
“Withdrawing from friends and other social contacts is the first clue that you are slipping back into the isolation and pain of depression. Move toward a friend, get a sponsor, and go to a 12 Step meeting. Ask your Higher Power for that nudge that can guide you onto the appropriate path.
There are two times that we need to go to a 12 Step meeting, 1) One, when we don’t want to attend a 12 Step meeting and 2) secondly when we do want to go to a meeting. From my personal experience I can share with you that it’s when I go to my meeting that I am able to come away from it with something positive to think about. I can honestly say that I feel better after a Depressed Anonymous meeting. I know in my heart that when I just want to sit at home by myself, isolating and ruminating within my head about all the horrible things that have happened to me, or are about to happen to me, that is when I depress myself even more. Get connected. ”
It’s not complicated.
These three words appear in the first three Steps of Depressed Anonymous. These are the words that make us well. These are the words that start us on our journey to a life lived without fear. These are the words that will thrust us into a life filled with hope and meaningfulness. Of the 12 Steps of recovery, these are the first steps that one takes when they want to find peace and hope.
I remember so vividly when I took my first step over the threshold of despair and isolation into the bright light of awareness and hope at my first 12 step group meeting. Just by walking through the door I admitted that I needed help. My life had spiraled out of control. It was on that day, at that meeting of the fellowship, that others heard my story, that I started to believe that I could be restored to a purposeful life lived with hope and peace. It was on that day, at that meeting, that I made a decision to turn my life and my will over to the care of God as I understood God.
And here I am today, 33 years later, not only with a life filled with a purpose designed to help others depressed but by doing so, have kept myself free from isolation and self-pity.
SOURCE: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.
In thinking about my experience with depression and the painful isolation that followed, I felt I was being knocked down by some invisible force. The force was so great that I felt I was going to be swallowed up in its vast black hole of nothingness. Indeed, I felt that I was going to end up being a hole in the doughnut. So, what could I do but try and ride it out–much like the surfer on their surfboard, riding precariously on one wave after another. I just knew that I would be forced out to sea as my body gradually began to slide off the only means of survival. I thought that I had no options except to just surrender and go the bottom of the sea.
Well, that’s half of the story. I knew I had to do something. Do anything but lie down and just linger on –immobile and lifeless. So, I picked myself up –got out of bed and started walking.And walk I did. Five miles a day. Almost two weeks later, with miles on my bodily odometer, I began to feel a little lighter – a little more hopeful that somehow I could get back in the game. I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel — and it wasn’t a train. And so it was possible — a person so depressed that I couldn’t force myself out of bed before, but now I know that I could raise myself up and move. I could move, not because I wanted to, but because I had to. I felt hopeful and I felt a gratitude and relief that I was not losing my mind.
The greatest benefit was that it brought me into a program of recovery where in order to remain standing up –raised up if you will, is my living out the 12 Steps of recovery in my daily life. Now all this happened some thirty years ago. Thanks to Depressed Anonymous and participating in the fellowship, I learn not only how to live a life of serenity but I also how I have a gift of sharing my own experiences of depression and offer others a way out of their depression. And today if you are depressed, please follow us in our program of recovery. All you need is a willingness to get better and live with hope. That’s it. A desire to get better. Admit you need hope and help and then get started. Move the body and the mind will follow. Please join us.
SOURCE: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.
” What is the power of Depressed Anonymous? Well, first let me say that when I started attending Depressed Anonymous meetings, I went for a couple of months and then stopped. I stopped going because my depression was so bad that I didn’t want to leave my apartment. I didn’t want to be around or talk to anyone. I just didn’t want to do anything except to crawl in a hole somewhere and isolate myself from everything. Then after about six weeks of isolation, I called the residential treatment facility where I had been a client to see if I had received any mail there and one of the members of the Depressed Anonymous group where I attend answered the phone. I spent a few minutes talking to her and there was something in her voice that told me that for some reason, it was important for me to be at the meeting. I attended the next Depressed Anonymous meeting. After the meeting was over, I suddenly realized the importance and power of Depressed Anonymous.”
SOURCE:Ray, in his personal testimony on pages 133-134 in Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.
The following is an excerpt from Higher Thoughts for Down Days for June 17th.
I will make a point of it today to trust that my Higher Power is going to restore me to sanity and wholeness, the more I let go of what I want and let it move along the way of what it wants for me.
“Actually we were fooling ourselves, for deep down in every man, woman and child is the fundamental idea of God. It may be obscured by calamity, by pomp, by worship of other things, but in some form it is there. For faith in a Power greater than ourselves, and miraculous demonstration of that power in human lives are facts as old as man himself.” ( Bill W.)
CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT
Sometimes I have been brought to my knees by some calamity or some traumatic loss in my life only to find that in time, by admitting my defeat, I was instead raised up and I found hope. It is a mystery how the Higher Power works but I am certain about this, namely, that deep down inside of me I believe that my conscious contact with my Higher Power will bring me what I need when I need it.
The more I believe in the daily demonstration of the Higher Power, the more I place my trust in its ability to free me from all the memories that holds me captive in my isolation and aloneness.”
WHEN THE STUDENT IS READY THE TEACHER APPEARS!
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.
Dorothy Rowe sums it up splendidly in her work, The Way out of your prison, where she states how we have to learn to take care of ourselves. It takes time and work. And this applies to learning ways to work our selves out of the pit, the prison of depression. She promotes the solution that joining a self-help group like Depressed Anonymous is a way to do this. This of course entails work and a persistence in keeping one’s hand to the plow and focused on our own recovery.
She states that ” …joining a self-help group will be one of the most valuable things you can do. You will meet a group of people who knows what it is to be depressed. You don’t have to explain it to them, or apologize, or pretend that you are happy when you are not. In a self-help group, you give and receive friendship, and in sharing the responsibility for the group, you build up your confidence and self-respect.
….you can get help, provided you are prepared to go out and find it and to work with what you are offered.
Spoon feeding is no use to you. You have to feed yourself.”
Comment: To work on any aspect of one’s own life it does take work as Dr. Rowe suggests. In our own recovery program of Depressed Anonymous we are provided a “toolbox” where we can step by step learn and use the various tools of the fellowship to overcome our isolation and pain. All this can be accomplished in the context of the group as well as in the literature provided by the group. By our working the Twelve Step program of recovery, designed specifically for those of us depressed, we can and do leave the prison of our depression. One can read the many personal stories of those who have used the Steps and are free of the bondage of sadness in Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition.
In the work I’LL DO IT WHEN I FEEL BETTER, recently published (2013) by Depressed Anonymous Publications, Chapter Six centers its attention on COMPULSISIONS AND CHOICES; THE ADDICTIVE NATURE OF THE DEPRESSION EXPERIENCE. The following thoughts reflect some of the ideas discussed in Chapter Six.
CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT
“We all know that any addictive/compulsive type of behavior gradually removes you from the regular activities of persons around you, including family, friends and coworkers, until you are established in the narrow confines of pain and isolation. We are always going to be just a little more isolated the more we try to think our addiction through in the circle of our own thoughts.
This is what I have found out about addictive/compulsions is that they are like that of a dog chasing his tail. It’s a circular dance that can never end. The dog can never catch his tail. The addict can never get enough of what they are chasing, be it one substance or the other. The next physical rush is the next hit, the next drink, the next porno movie/picture.
Once we have admitted that our lives are powerless and unmanageable we begin to get excited about a vision, a vision of the new person that we might become. We also learn that there are other alternative ways and various choices that we can make in our behalf. It is beginning to sink into our minds that we are truly responsive for our choices and personal decisions. Like others in the program of recovery who broke out of the vise grip of their addictions they slowly learned to make decisions that favored sobriety and serenity”. Pgs. 61 – 62.
BEST WAY TO EAT AN ELEPHANT? ONE BITE AT A TIME!
I will think only those thoughts that today reinforce my self-worth!
“…try to live one day at a time as it’s a lot easier. As someone once said, if you want to eat an elephant the best way is one bite at a time.”
I desire to be part of God’s plan today by staying active in my own recovery from depression. The more I give of myself without reservation to its leading, the more I am able to free myself from my feelings of isolation and deadening fear.
My fears keep me living in my tomorrows and in my past yesterdays. Fear is the foundation of my depression. I am becoming less fearful the more I attempt to live one day at a time and have this day lived with hope.
Thoughts leads to feelings, feelings lead to moods and moods lead to behavior. I want to think that my life will improve today by the active role that I am taking in my own recovery.
God, we believe that you will not allow me to receive more than I can handle.”
SOURCE: Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 Step Fellowship Groups. (2014). Page 253.