“How many times have we heard persons say that ‘my depression is such a comfort to me.’ Many depressed people say that this feeling of worthlessness and hollowness is all they have ever known. In fact, they add, ‘since all I’ve ever known I’m too scared to feel something different.’ It appears that their whole identity is based on how they feel, and so they feel they are bad.” (9)
CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT
I know that I can recover and feel good about myself. Each new day I can choose to think differently about myself. I believe that, with time and while working my Twelve Step program, I can feel better. I will make a list of how I want to feel and then start to experience these brand new feelings of mine. My spiritual program of letting God run my life is beginning to payoff as I can feel a change in myself occurring.
I am taking out one of the main bars of my prison cell. I am no longer considering myself as someone who is bad, worthless, unacceptable to myself and to others. I am finding myself acceptable to me.
Our feelings of hollowness are greatly diminished after and during a meeting where we hear the hopeful stories of those members of the group who are feeling better because of the Depressed Anonymous program of recovery.
-Copyright(c) Higher thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 step fellowship groups. (1993, 1999) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. page 112.
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.
I will forgive myself for my past faults, mistakes and live just for today and try not to be afraid.
“Even without using not forgiving as a way of controlling people, taking other people’s thoughtless slights and bad temper personally and vowing never to forgive them soon leads to loneliness….If you see forgiving as something you ought not do, then when you do something wrong, you must not forgive yourself.” (7)
CLARIFICATION IOF THOUGHT
Today, I am becoming more aware of how I cannot control life because life is so broad and expansive. The area that I do control is quite small when compared to all areas of my life. To live means to let life happen and life is spontaneous. The more we try to control our relationships, our friends and what happens to us we short circuit any serendipitous intervention into our life today by our Higher Power.
The best place for me to experience life and the stories of others like myself is at Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings, Al-Anon meetings, Dep-Anon Family Group meetings, Depressed Anonymous meetings and the many other Twelve Step program meetings.
One of those absolute truths that live in every cell of our bodies when we are depressed is that I can never forgive myself – nor anyone else for that matter. It is this absolute truth that we hold about ourselves that continually imprisons us in our depression.
Just for today, we are going to really attempt to forgive ourselves for what happened to us yesterday and act as if today, the first day and only day of our lives, that I will be a new me. We are beginning life all over today. God, let your peace fill us now, and forever.”
Copyright(c) Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Kentucky Page 99.
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.
Three persons who made a big difference in my life and how they each helped me deal with my own melancholia (depression).
First of all there is Bill W., the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, who by his own witness, presented to us the spiritual program of recovery that we know as the Twelve Steps. Not only have they given me personally a daily step by step program of recovery to follow but helped me fashion a program of recovery for persons depressed using the same spiritual program of recovery. Bill W., makes available through the Steps to any and all who seek a way out of their attachments to whatever is slowly destroying their lives.
And then there is Dr. Dorothy Rowe, PH.D., a psychologist who has written many great books on depression and how to live one’s life. In 1985, a member of our newly formed Depressed Anonymous group gave me a copy of her book Depression: The way out of your prison. (1983, 1996) Second Edition. Routledge, London and New York. It was this book that opened my eyes and my mind to beliefs about depression that has accompanied me through my encounters with persons with depression in my own clinical practice, as well as in the formation of all the Depressed Anonymous groups focused and centered on the Twelve Steps. Not only have she and Bill W., been my mentors in this life long effort of mine, but both have given me keys that not only have released me from my own prison of depression, but persons everywhere have their lives back, plus a belief in a Higher Power, thanks to these two pioneers.
Then there is Margie W., a charter member of Depressed Anonymous (whose account appears in Depressed Anonymous in the Personal Stories section of our book). She states “I can’t really remember for sure how I became involved in Depressed Anonymous. I believe a co-worker told me about a professor at the University of Evansville who had students who were helping people in the psychology field and wanted to know if I would be a volunteer to help start this new self help group. And it was free! What did I have to lose? I had seen Doctors, took their prescribed drugs and still ended up on the same old merry-go-round of ups and downs and “hangovers” from the drugs. I joined a small group at first. We talked, set weekly goals, took short walks, visited with friends or enjoyed a cup of coffee to relax. We had to do something for ourselves. I had to learn to be good to myself, instead of nurturing everyone else. I found a good doctor who gave me a lot of good advice about “pampering ” myself more. It hadn’t been easy. I’ve read self help books, positive thinking books and worked hard on my way of thinking for years. I’m a natural born worrier, so things always seemed worse than they really were. “(I) feel like I have something to offer the group. Hope is the word. I finally got above the edge of the rut that I could barely peer over for years. I know others can do it too. Don’t give up. It’s a lot of hard work, but it can be done. I know. I was there.” Depressed Anonymous, (2011) Third Edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville Kentucky.
“Responsibility is the name of the game in recovery and it is here that we need to focus our attention. As we get into a discussion with other people who are depressed – much like ourselves – we see that they talk about feeling better while at the same time acting on their own behalf. ” (8)
CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT
To blame someone else for all my problems, and to focus on someone else and not on myself, never accomplishes anything therapeutic. I believe that as I commit myself to my program of recovery I begin to feel a shift in the way I think and act. I know that the only way out of my pain is to get into dealing with my sadness and the way that I sad myself. I need to begin with Step One and admit my problem. I need to admit that my life has become unmanageable because of my attachment to depression. I must remember not to blame myself for depression – I just know that right now, today, I want out! I tell myself I’ve had it! I intend to get better.
In order to change my life, I have to begin taking responsibility for it today. By setting a goal, just for today, I can plan some success into my life.”
We know that our Higher Power wants us to live just this one day. God is neither a vengeful God nor is my God a punishing God. My God is there for me and the more I open up and trust God, I trust myself to change and be a better and more serene person.”
SOURCE: Higher Thoughts for down days:365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications . Louisville, Kentucky P. 69.
I choose to live in my skin and feel my feelings today.
ALAN WATTS SAID, “THERE IS NEVER ANYTHING BUT THE PRESENT, AND IF ONE CANNOT LIVE THERE, ONE CANNOT LIVE ANYWHERE.” (3)
CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT
To live in the present is difficult because usually when I am depressed I live in the faults, losses, guilt, and shame world of the past. The horrible past with all its hurts, imperfections and sins make it impossible but for me to live in yesterday.
I am gradually learning how to live, one day at a time. I am also picking up on how to see the red flags that pop up in my mind whenever I have a thought, or an action that indicates a need to sad myself. I have to admit defeat over what happened yesterday, accept myself for today and just thank God that I am alive and that I can choose to feel differently right now.
I accept the present as my only dwelling place . I find that the more I am in touch with my present feelings, the more I can grow into a healthier human being.
God you told us that we had enough troubles today and that we didn’t need to live in tomorrow. Our depression will be diminished the more we take charge of our lives today, utilizing your guidance that we receive in quietly listening to your voice.
SOURCE: Higher thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 Step fellowship groups.
TO LIVE IS TO CHANGE
To live is to change. I choose to live with uncertainty today so that I can live with hope today. I choose to monitor all the negative and unpleasant things I say to myself today.
“TRUSTING MEANS ACCEPTING UNCERTAINTY, AND THAT IS NOT ONE THING THAT YOU ARE PREPARED TO DO.” (3)
CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT
How often do I hear others who were once depressed say that it is only when they become vulnerable –that is, trusted others, that their lives took a turn for the better. So often, because of my need to completely control past, present and future, I can give my trust to no one else, including God. I must live my life with total certainty which the certain sad feeling of depression assures me, that what always has been (sadness) always will be.
To believe that my depression will never lift is to possess an irrational belief like saying the sun will never shine again because the sky has been overcast for days. It is living with certainty that gets me so depressed.
God, we want to begin today to trust you with our lives. We hear others who work the Twelve-Step program claim a new feeling of hope for their lives when they begin to live with trust in their Higher Power. We accept your plan for us today. We surrender our will to you now –we’ve only got our depression to lose. ”
Again we can’t promise anything about what will happen if you decide to change. I just can talk about my own experiences with depression. The only thing I knew was that I had to do something–I had to take responsibility for my life–I didn’t know for sure that my walking everyday and forcing myself out of bed a morning would make a difference in my mood. I didn’t know for sure that the Twelve Step Promises would work for me. I just knew that I was vulnerable and was willing to live with that uncertainty that possibly the sun would shine again for me. I just believed that if I moved the body–the mind would follow behind (which it did) and soon my own uncertainty about me ever feeling different than my everyday sadness–changed into hope as I did feel different. The fog of my depression did lift. I was almost caught up in one of those six immutable beliefs that Dr. Rowe speaks about, namely, “since bad things happened to me in the past, bad things will happen to me in the future.” The certainty of this belief will definitely hinder us from taking responsibility for our lives.
Copyright(c) Higher Thoughts for Down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 step fellowship groups. 1993, 1999. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. 40217. (p. 53))
HOPE IS CONTAGIOUS!
A great benefit of belonging to a fellowship is the power of hope. “If he or she can do it, then so can I.” This is a common belief for those who begin reading a book called Depressed Anonymous. This book, by the way, is written by folks who have felt hopeless and helpless. The many accounts and personal stories in the book fill one with hope and courage. The pages of this book help serve as a manual for those of us who want to embark on this personal journey of hope and recovery from depression. Now this book and all of the other books published by DAP are specifically geared to those of us who want to leave the prison of depression and are written by persons who were depressed — and who got better. What is better than to hear that the program works. Hearing how other people use the Twelve Steps and have them always available, is much like tools in your toolbox. The tools are there to help build a structure for one’s own life making it an adventure of hope–not a prison from which we felt we could not escape.
In Depression: The way out of your depression. Dr. Dorothy Rowe.1996 (2nd Ed)., tell us that “Hope can exist only in a state of uncertainty. That certainty means total certainty. That security means to be without hope. The prison of depression is built with the bricks of total certainty.
Certainty. Security. No hope.
To hope means to run the risk of disappointment.
To be insecure means not to be in control.
Stay in control. Be depressed.
To be uncertain means to be unsure of the future.
Predict the future with certainty. Stay depressed.
Hope can only exist where there is uncertainty. Absolute certainty means complete hopelessness. If you want to live fully we must have freedom, love and hope. So life must be an uncertain business. That is what makes it worthwhile.”
So, when we gradually believe that in each life some rain must fall, and pain can come, we begin to live life with hope. That’s the way it is. We can gradually believe, like thousands of other pilgrims on this path of recovery, that having a spiritual program such as the Steps, hope is possible, hope is doable and our lives can take on new meaning and have purpose.
How wonderful is the feeling that we do not have to be specially distinguished among our fellows in order to be useful and profoundly happy. Not many of us can be leaders of prominence, nor do we wish to be .
Service gladly rendered, obligations squarely met, troubles well accepted or solved 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 and circumstance, no heap of material possessions, could possibly be substitutes.” Bill W., in his work TWELVE AND TWELVE, P.124
I particularly am struck by the phrase from the quote above, namely, “the surety that we can fit and belong in God’s scheme of things.” I find this thought especially attractive because it happens to be true for my own life. The reason being, that after these many years (25+)of working with persons depressed that I have come to believe that my own experience with depression, is in some mysterious way, prepares me to be a fit messenger of hope for those who still suffer from depression. Been there. Done that. I heartily believe that just by writing this BLOG God continues to inspire me and help me promote the will of God for those of us who want to walk, work and live the spiritual program of recovery as given to us in the Twelve Steps. I know that when I speak with that person who says they are depressed and I encounter them with accounts of my own past brokenness and recovery, so that the love I show them is returned back to me a hundredfold. To share my story is really a way to save my life. And as I move through my life I just know that truly I am working out what God wills for me in being part of his scheme of things.
In Depressed Once -Not Twice. Depressed Anonymous Publications, I share how the mutual aid group Depressed Anonymous .came to be. That was back in1985 and here I am still being used by God as I try and help others realize that their own depression experience fits them well for God’s scheme of things.