Dep-Anon: Support Group for Family and Friends of the Depressed

The family and friends of persons depressed now have their own support group ­ much like family and friends of those suffering from other problems. We all know that a family member with a serious problem affects the entire family or system and throw s it out of balance.

The idea of having a special group just for family members is to help each other understand the nature of depres­sion and learn how in the meantime to take care of their own needs. The group helps the focus stay on their own issues and not that of the depressed.

“Family members and friends of the depressed often feel they have nowhere to turn for help . They may find themselves reading books on depression and other resources, but still feel lost as to what to do. This is where Dep-Anon can offer assistance. It is a fellowship of persons who come together to share their stories, and offer support to one another in the process. Their issues may be different from those suffering with depression, but are just as valid. By joining a fellowship such as Dep-Anon, the families and friends of the de­ pressed are displaying a willingness to work their own program of recovery. In doing this, they are moving towards positive life changes, which promote the spiritual principles Dep-Anon is based upon. We simply can’t experience the healing we desire by being isolated, and trying to do it alone. We need the fellowship of others, who are on similar paths, and are seeking to implement the spiritual principles of Dep-Anon into their lives. This kind of fellowship is valuable beyond measure.

A group such as Dep-Anon would have been very helpful in my own last depressive episode. There wasn ‘t a group like this at the time. My husband felt lost and helpless in trying to care for me. He could have benefited from coming together with others like him­ self, who he could share with, and receive support in the process. Instead, he began to isolate as he felt increasingly overwhelmed, and became depressed as a result. This is the danger for family members of the depressed, when they don’t have resources for help and en­couragement like Dep-Anon.It is a wonderful resource that can make a tremendous difference in the lives of persons connected to the depressed. Please spread the word that help is available through Dep- Anon Family Group. It can make a difference.

Denise List, M.ED., writing in the FOREWORD to the DEP-ANON FAMILY GROUP MANUAL, 1999, Louisville, KY ,

Waiting for the Drugs to Kick In!

One of the realities of one’s life -especially if one has been depressed for a time -is that language creates reality. This is a tenet of our recovery program. How often as children have some of us have been told that “we’ll never be like our brother or our sister” all the time preparing us for a lived out prophecy from some early childhood significant other.

Since language can and does create our reality -especially if the language is that of someone who is an adult and many years our senior. It is this language that helps construct the meaning that we give to life and life’s events and circumstances – both pleasant and unpleasant. How often have we heard that we are patients or that “we are under the care of the doctor.” Get the feel of the language here –one, we are a patient, and secondly, we are under the care of and/or we are waiting for the drug to “kick in.” I don’t know about you, but the language just described can promote a self-understanding of someone who not only is powerless but is waiting for something to fall out of the sky and make things better. Don ‘t get me wrong, medication, doctors, therapists all may be very important as part and parcel of healing – but, let’s get this straight – we are responsible for our own health! I can’ t afford to sit and wait for something, someone to make me feel better – this is true especially for that painful reality that we call depression. I want to live in the solution, where I know there is hope the more I become proactive in my own recovery and start doing things for my­ self. I now believe that once I start making choices for my own health today the more I will speed up my recovery and release from the prison of depression .

Since language can create our reality and since humans are always constructing meaning for their lives it is essential that persons depressed he given the message from health-care professionals that they can do something now to start feeling different. In other words, people need to believe that there is hope for them. They can begin to believe that by starting a personal exercise program, watching what they put in their minds and mouths – in time things will start to come around. But if! am given a message that my problem is a chemical imbalance or that my problem is genetic-then that leaves me with little hope for now or the future. The only solution might appear to be no solution or at least a reliance on a chemical solution at best. And if the problem is essentially a chemical im­ balance then I’ll just have to wait til they find the right chemicals to stabilize those misbehaving chemicals in my brain.

For some reason, I don’t believe that we can just blame the brain – in fact, I don’t think it ever does any good to blame anybody or anything for the way we feel. Oh, sure, we can blame others and possibly that makes us feel a little better-but in the long run – it’s me, myself and I who has to take responsibility for me.

I caution you then, be careful the way you talk to yourself . At the mutual aid meetings of Depressed Anonymous, the whole point of our coming together is to believe that you and I together can begin to see our­ selves in a new light. In fact, we learn a new language at our meetings. We learn to take responsibility for our­ selves, We find people in the group who speak our language of hope and courage. You never hear “snap out of it” at our meetings. The message that a newcomer gets at our 12 step meetings are assurances that things will get better the more you come to meetings; expect to get better; start using the tools that have successfully led others out of the prison of depression. So, all in all, we need to get busy as soon as the doctor prescribes the medication, or we start therapy or both. Next, we need to find a depression mutual aid group like Depressed Anonymous which is a NOW program to help support you as you gradually begin to walk out of depression. No need to wait ­ wait out the weeks before the drugs begin to take effect, hopefully, and we start feeling better . We don’t have to wait for the drugs to “kick in” before we get busy and start working on ourselves. We can start today. We can join a group of people committed to change and recovery. We can start today as together we work the steps of our program of recovery. It speaks the language of hope!

Characteristics of a well functioning group

• Attraction to individual members of the group.
• Feelings of getting help by helping.
• Risk-taking by group members.
• Demystification of the members experience and consensual validation
• Strong leadership with a willingness to share on the part of the leader, along with rotation of leadership roles
• A focus on goals and resolution of discrepancies in individual and group goals
• Active participation by group members.
• Demand by the group for self-responsibility of members.
• Elaboration ofa substitute culture in which identity changes can occur.
• Expansion of alternative perceptions through continuous intervention.

Source: Richard J. Riordan and Marilyn S. Beggs. Counselors and Self-Help Groups. Journal of Counseling & Development. Volume 65, Issue 8, pages 427–429, April 1987

Working the Steps

“If we have ‘worked’ the Twelve Steps on a daily basis, I do believe we now re­alize the value of surrender and the power that releases in us. Just by making a decision in Step Three “to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand God” • is the beginning of reconnection with life and with our selves. Now, we are conscious how our own isolation paradoxically isolated family, friends, loved ones from us. The more our friends tried to help us the more we went deeper into the darkness. Our darkness and their inability to comfort us in turn pushed them deeper into their own feelings of helplessness and isolation. Many times the desire to help the de­ pressed pushes the helper deeper into the isolation of the depressed – mirroring the reality often depressed person.”

Source: DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS, Harmony House Publishers, Louisville, Ky, 1998, Page 186.

Vital Spirtual Experience

“This work (birth), when it is perfect, will be due solely to God’s action while you have been passive. If you really forsake your own knowledge and will, then surely and gladly God will enter with his knowledge shining clearly. Where God achieves self-consciousness, your own knowledge is ofno use, nor has it standing. Do not imag­ ine that your own intelligence may rise to it, so that you may know God. Indeed, when God divinely enlightens you, no natural light is required to bring that about. This (natural light) must in fact be completely extinguished before God will shine in with his light, bringing back with God all that you have forsaken and a thousand times more, together with a new form to contain it all.”
– Meister Eckart (c. 1260-1328)

Spirtuality Spurs Recovery From Depression

WASHINGTON, March 2, 2006 I U.S. Newswire

The following was released by the National Institute for Healthcare Research: “A recent study in the American Journal of Psychiatry identified this other often overlooked resource patients draw upon to help fend off depression – a deep religious commitment – that significantly reduced recovery times. This study focused on 85 patients hospitalized with serious medical illness who also became depressed. Among their battery of tests, patients took the Hoge Intrinsic Religiousness Scale which measures how deeply a person has internalized their religious values and faith. Surprisingly, patients recovered from their depression 70 percent faster for every 10-point increase on the Hoge scale, which ranged from 10 to 50. This link held even when taking into account other factors that could speed up recovery including improving physical health…”

Higher Thoughts

AFFIRMATION
I will affirm myself by getting in touch with my feelings and expressing
them.

“To know how to behave you have to rely on other people’s opinions, and so
you live under the tyrannies of ‘they.’ What will ‘they’ think? is the
thing that accompanies every action and determines every decision.”

DECISION

I am so accustomed to living my life on the basis of others feelings
thoughts, and decisions about myself that in the end I feel de-selfed.
I feel empty and horribly alone; I feel saddened over the loss of my
identity as a person.
Now, I feel hopeful as I see that one of my best ways to defend my
sense of nothingness is to seek out the presence of this force
bigger than myself and be willing today–just for today, to let it
work its power in my life. My identity as a person is going to grow
slowly and spiritually.
Even depressed, it’s hard to make up my mind. Just knowing that
this is part of my depression makes it less painful as I still make
a mental decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of
God, as I understand him.

MEDITATION

Our God is consciousness and is knowledgeable of everything in the
universe. Our God is at the center of our lives, replacing the
sadness around which our world revolved. The more conscious we are
of God working in our minds and thoughts, the more we are going to
feel like someone we can love. (Personal comments).

Let’s hear from you today.

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