How long will my depression last? What can I do to fix it?

 

That very same question is one which I also found myself asking. How long will this pain last? The good news here is that for the 85% of people who become depressed, their  sad mood usually has been noted to leave for different periods of time. Some say that normally mild and moderate depressions last for about a year or so.  That was pretty much my situation.  It was only after  a year and a few months  that the fog of my depression lifted. Some researchers claim that on average  almost 80% to 90 % of  persons depressed find the depression gone during this time frame. Some say that depression symptoms are self- limiting.  All I know is that I could not fix whatever had taken over my life. But I did know this. I couldn’t continue to stay isolated. Withdrawing from everyone made it so much worse. Instead of a place of safety, it became my depression.

In the Depressed Anonymous book we read how the author shares “that our withdrawal from others has given excessive power to those already entrenched feelings of worthlessness and sadness. It seems that our inactivity and social isolation just help build higher and stronger walls to our prison. This is why we need to hear stories like Bob who was one of the  original members of Depressed Anonymous who felt that the Depressed Anonymous meeting was one  of the few places where he could be himself. He was with people who understood him and they didn’t consider him crazy or reinforce his own feelings that he might be losing his mind. ”

I believe that Bob, who couldn’t fix himself, discovered that it was only when he broke out of  The Closed system  of Depression with its syndrome of symptoms,    no longer withdrawing from  friends and family. Instead, Bob began attending  Depressed Anonymous meetings where he began to feel accepted and no longer alone.

Bob learned as we all have, that once we tend to the various symptoms of depression, working their own synergy in creating this syndrome,  trapping us in a downward  spiraling vortex  of  hopelessness and despair.  It is at this point in our recovery where we take these five symptoms one by one and start to work out a positive recovery strategy for developing  our thinking,  our feelings, our behaviors and motivating ourselves to use our  tools for recovery and putting each of them into practice. Accomplishing this goal, we can find a refreshed spirit, a healthy body and a mind sharpened by being part of the DA community. We are no longer alone now. By being active  participants in our own recovery ,   we gradually find that our lives have  become happier and that we now have a renewed and purpose for our lives.

NOTE: The various symptoms which create the closed system   include our cognition, feelings, behavior, motivation and what makes up our physiological self. Each of the five symptoms can be negative or they can be positive.  The secret is to gradually break into any of these symptoms and by doing so, you will find positive alternative ways to  think, instead of being possessed with those continued negative thoughts and ruminations. You will find ways to change negative self talk which is always self critical and start learning how to think ways to love and prize oneself.

RESOURCES

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

(C)  The Closed System of Depression. Depressed Anonymous (1987)  Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.

(C) Tools of Recovery. Go to depressedanon.com Home Page and click onto Tools For Recoverry

 

Walk day by day In the path of spiritual progress–If you persist remarkable things will happen.

“Being depressed means feeling disconnected, isolated and separated. Truly, depression or melancholia is the illness of our modern society. Our desire to isolate ourselves  from everyone and everything when we are depressing ourselves, isolates us from ourselves as well.

To recognize how it feels to be depressed, more people will be able to tolerate  and unfetter themselves from their own depression.  Lives will be saved as well.

People describe their experience of depression as being in some kind of prison. One man said that he was in a pit where the walls were of soft clay. One woman said  that she was in a brick maze where there was no exit and the walls were closing in on her. “I’m in an infinite desert” said one man, “the bars are thick and a lone scrawny tree.” “I’m in a cage” said one woman, “the bars are thick and black and there is no door.”  In side this prison the person has intense feelings of self-hatred..

Frequently, depressed persons imagine that they are going crazy, are crazy, or being afflicted with some mental illness.

One of the beautiful things about a Depressed Anonymous  group is that everyone has the same symptoms, feels the same pain and is relieved that they are not the only ones in the world with this experience. They don’t have to go it alone. They also don’t hear people saying: “Snap out of it,”

The following provides a guide for those of you who are attempting to see whether you are depressed or not. If you  feel that you have a good number of these situations going on in your life at the same time and for a number of weeks, your melancholia  might be indicating that you need to get in touch with persons like yourself by the fellowship of Depressed Anonymous.

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Do I have some or all of the symptoms of depression?

+Wanting to isolate and be alone.

+Changes in appetite.

+Shifts in sleeping patterns (too much/not enough sleep).

+Waking up early in the morning.

+Fatigability or lack of energy.

+Agitation or increased activity.

+Loss of interest in daily activities and/or decreased sex drive.

+Feeling of sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness, guilt or self-reproach and possible thoughts  about killing myself.

+Weeping/Not being able to cry.

+Lapses of memory.

+Hard time making decisions.

Fear of losing one’s mind.

+Reluctance to take risks.

+Difficulty in smiling or laughing.

IMPORTANT NOTE: All the   symptoms   listed above don’t necessarily  include all symptoms, but enough of them, together,  point to a serious response needed  from an  individual to seek  help. also believe that my own serenity is constantly being assaulted during the day by all sorts of problems and situations that cry out for my immediate care and attention. 

The Fourth  of the Promises of Depressed Anonymous, tell us how we will be able to “comprehend the word   Serenity and we will know peace of mind.”

Agitation, anxiety and jitteriness were all part of my life as I muddled my way through -day after day, one foot in front of the other. Serenity was not a part of my life.

As with my attachment to negative behavior, serenity and peace were the  furthest thing from my mind.  The new beliefs and thoughts which I had expressed at Depressed Anonymous meetings started to help me change the ay I thought about myself, my world and my future.

I believe that it takes time, work and prayer, and sometimes with medication to achieve the peace and serenity that we are talking about here.

Peace of mind is the result of:

A clear conscience

Living in the present

Gratitude everyday

Belief that the God of my understanding will get me through the problems of my life

Forgiveness of myself and amends to all persons I have harmed

Hope

Doing God’s will. Neither grasping  but letting go

 

As Bill W.,  co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous tells us in the AA Big BOOK,

“Both you and the new man must walk day by day, in the path of spiritual progress. If you persist –remarkable things will  happen. When we look back, we realize  that the things which came to us when we put ourselves in God’s hands were better than anything we could have planned. Follow the dictates of a Higher Power and you will presently live in a new and wonderful world no matter what your present circumstances.”

 

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RESOURCES FOR HELP.

Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. Pages 166-167.

Copyright(c) The Promises of Depressed Anonymous (2002) Depressed  Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Ky. Pages 9-10.

Copyright(c) Alcoholics Anonymous. Page 100.

 

As my mind began to heal…nothing will stand in my way to make choices.

“As my mind began to heal and my thoughts became more lucid it became apparent that something inside of me is 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 lost love, that we mourn the death of part of us. The love object and ourselves has become one. I believe we use the word co-dependent   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 a feeling that my life has purpose and meaning. The more I am physically  active, that is.,  going to meetings even when I don’t feel like it. Working in my Depressed Anonymous Workbook, reading my 12 step literature. This behavior is where my freedom begins. And yes, I do feel lousy a 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 my depression was not so powerful as to  prevent  me from  even thinking that I could choose to feel differently. ”

SOURCE: (Copyright)  I’ll do it when  I feel better. (2016) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.  #11 PROMISE:  Intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. Pages 50-51.

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 pattern of fear

When we are afraid we feel a horrible sensation in the “pit of the stomach.”  This is the most distressing component of fear. However, the complete picture of fear includes all the symptoms induced by adrenaline: the sweating hands, churning stomach, racing heart, tight chest,. etc., as well as the spasm of fear left in our “middle.”

Normally we do not feel our body functioning, because parasympathetic nerves hold the sympathetic nerves dominate the parasympathetic and we are conscious of certain organs functioning. A healthy body without stress  is  a peaceful body.

The treatment of all symptoms depends on a  few simple rules. When you first read them you may think,” This is too simple for me. It will take something more drastic to cure me.” In spite of this, you will need to be shown how to apply this simple treatment and may often have to reread instructions.
The principles of treatment as laid out by Dr. Claire  Weekes is as follows:

Facing

Accepting

Floating

Letting time pass

Thee is nothing mysterious or surprising about the treatment and yet it is enlightening to see how many people sink deeper into their illness, by doing the exact opposite.

First, becoming unduly alarmed by his symptoms, examining each as it appeared, “listening in” in apprehension. He tried to free himself of the unwelcome feelings by pushing them away, agitatedly seeking occupation to force forgetfulness =–in other words, by fighting or running away.

A person is bewildered for not having a cure overnight. He kept looking back and worrying because so much time was passing and he was  not yet cured, as if this were an evil spirit that could be exorcised if only he, or the doctor, knew the trick. He was impatient with time.

Briefly, he spent his time:

Running away, not facing;

Fighting, not accepting;

Arresting and “listening in,” not floating past;

Being impatient with time,  not letting time pass.

I want to give credit to that wonderful Australian Psychiatrist,  Dr.Claire Weekes, whose  incisive thoughts, here and in other  excellent works on how to have peace, hope and help for one’s nerves. (See: Hope and help for your nerves.).

I personally have found her thoughts on anxiety and panic to be so accurate as I have experienced these feeling myself. In fact one occasion I remember with clarity as  I let my first fear  of panic over come me. The intensity of that first fear caused me to try and run away, not face the feelings, fight the feeling and continue to “listen in” and not just let the fear float on by, and with time our thoughts and feelings became calm and tranquil. I learned that if I could tell myself calmly, which I did,  when I felt the intensity of the first fear that the feeling is  ” uncomfortable but not life threatening,” and continued saying it like a mantra of sorts, until my heart rate went down, my hands were no longer clammy, and all together I regained my  emotional balance.

Depression is the ultimate state of disconnection.

“…Depression is the ultimate state of disconnection, not only between people, and between mind and heart, but between one’s self image and public mask, writes Parker J. Palmer in  Let you life speak.

“Then”, he continues, “there were the visitors who began by saying “I know exactly how you feel…”  Whatever comfort or counsel these people may have intended to speak, I heard nothing beyond their opening words, because I know they were peddling a falsehood: no one can fully experience another personal mystery.  Paradoxically, it was my friends emphatic attempt to identify with me that made me feel even more isolated, because it was  over identification.  Disconnection may be hell, but it is better than false connections.

Having not only been “comforted” by friends but having tried to comfort others in the same way, I think I understand what the syndrome is about: avoidance and denial.  One of the hardest things we must do sometimes is to be present to another’s pain without trying to fix it, to simply stand respectfully at the ends of  the person’s mystery.  Standing there, we feel useless and powerless, which  is exactly how a depressed person feels – and our unconscious need as Job comforters is to reassure ourselves that we are not like the sad soul before us.”——————————————————-

Comment.  It is extremely important for others to understand that not only is the person depressed feeling useless and powerless, so to is the person who is in the company of the person depressed. It is not hard to understand that this is exactly what happens with all of us when we cannot “‘fix” someone who we know needs help.  Our statements of the false disconnection type, do not build bridges between peoples, but widens the gap between them and us. I know and believe that it is the person who is present to us, as Parker points out, that is standing by, on the outskirts of an understanding  of our pain, and who  continues  to be there without a ” toolkit” to “fix” us.

I THINK THAT I AM DEPRESSED!

In the mutual aid group, Depressed Anonymous, we make it OK to say “I think I am depressed.”

In Believing is seeing, an effort is made to help  persons depressed as well as the  friends and families of the depressed to know that there is a group that is there for them. In fact, once people come to the group and experience a meeting focused on the power of the Steps working in the lives of the fellowship, they soon come to  believe and know the group members are speaking their language. It’s much like going to a foreign country and finding someone who can speak your language.

“Thank goodness, people can now go  and find help –namely, the Depressed Anonymous group.  Persons need to be educated about depression and that one is  not losing their minds when the symptoms of depression begin to take over their lives.  Their own depression experience and the symptoms that comprise it may enable them to seek help faster. They may be relieved to know what it is that is happening to them. I believe that a doctor or nurse practitioner would be more than happy to help de-stigmatize such a common and universal problem as depression or as some have called it in an earlier time, melancholia. In time and with our own advocacy as a mutual aid fellowship we will help make it OK to say “I am depressed.” We hope by that fact to help de-stigmatize this common and natural response to loss. Remember, to admit you’re depressed is the first step in recovery and the first step in getting yourself undepressed.”

Copyright (c)Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression. (2013) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 17-18.

I HAVE CHOICES

Depressed Anonymous bases its healing and recovery on the premise that once depressed persons admit that they are out of control, even for some to the point of having attempted suicide, they then come to believe that a Power greater than themselves can restore them to sanity, while  at the same time making a decision to turn their minds over to the care of God, as they understand God.

The important thing is not so much whether depression is or is not an illness or a mental disorder, but that people have to take responsibility for themselves and their feelings.  So many people think that since they are patients of a doctor, they must just sit back and wait for the medicine to kick in.  The doctor will be doing these people a great favor to ask them what has been going on in their families, their work, or with those whom they love.  The depressed consumer of medical and mental health services might then get it that maybe they have a choice on whether they stay depressed or not.  The consumer might also begin to work on themselves, knowing that everything they can do to take care of themselves will gradually eliminate the symptoms that we call depression.

So often, those depressed are living out of step with their own expectations or the expectations of others, sometimes stemming back to early childhood.  It would be great if the many people on antidepressant medication would start talking about why they depressed themselves in the first place. The pain might disappear with the medication, but the experience is still part of their lives and memories. Unless one talks about the experience then the depression symptoms will indeed re-appear.”:

SOURCE: Copyright (c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd Edition. (2011)  Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville Ky   Page 168.

PROMISE #11 OF DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS: 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 me is 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 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 lost love, that we mourn the death of part of us. The love object  and ourselves has become one. I believe we use the word codependence 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 of prayer and meditation and a feeling that my life has purpose and meaning. The more I am physically active, that is,  going to meetings even when I don’t feel like it. Working in my Depressed Anonymous Workbook, reading my 12 Step literature.

This behavior is where my freedom begins. And yes, I do feel lousy at times but I 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 my depression was not so powerful as to prevent me from even thinking that I could choose to feel differently.”

SOURCE: (C) I’LL DO IT WHEN I FEEL BETTER. (1986, 2013) 2nd Edition  DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS PUBLICATIONS LOUISVILLE,  KENTUCKY   Pages 50-51.

This Promise really does work. I know from my own personal experience that once I had begun my recovery and began to deal with those things I refused to face that things lightened up. When I was in the pit of my own melancholia I couldn’t even begin to think that there was a way out — I just didn’t consider  that as a possibility. But the more I read–the more I listened to others who had or were presently climbing out of their own pit of melancholia I felt hopeful  that I too could choose to think differently and so feel different.  With time, work and prayer plus having a sponsor I intuitively knew how to handle situations that at one time confused me. Things in my life became clearer and I began to examine those past patterns of behavior and thinking that put me in the pit.  It was by living out the Twelve Steps and practicing these principles in all of my affairs that eventually gave me the freedom of making the choice to either choose to stay depressed or to choose to live life  and find the path to free me from the bonds of my own depression.

Hugh

BEAGLES/RABBITS/CIRCLES

What do beagles, rabbits and circles have in common?  I know you must be curious. Well, first of all, let me tell you that when I was growing up in a small community in Indiana, my Grandpa took my brother and I hunting. We hunted a lot. We mainly hunted squirrels and rabbits.  Grandpa also had some great help when hunting the rabbits. He had the assistance of Red and Dukie. They were awesome beagles!   When you are out in the wild hunting rabbits it always helps to have your helpers stirring up trouble. That is where the beagles come in. They always made things happen. When you heard the beagles with their high pitch cries you just knew the rabbits had been found out. Here is where the circle come in. Maybe you are aware or maybe you are not aware that when rabbits are running away from danger, they appear  to run in a circle. How do I know this? My grandpa told me. So one morning we three, my brother, Grandpa and myself heard Red and Dukie starting  their high pitched cries, Suddenly through the opening in the brush, two rabbits whizzed past, right in front of us. Then here come the beagles in hot pursuit right behind them.  Grandpa told me to stand on a stump facing the opening. He told us that they might come back this way. The cries of the beagles grew faint —  but not for long, as Red and Dukie’s cries started to increase in volume. And then, presto!  first one rabbit came through the brush, and then the second, I raised my shotgun,  fired a shot  at the second rabbit and missed. Those rabbits for some reason made a full circle and there they were again. I missed my chance.

So that was the day when I learned how some animals, who knows maybe all animals tend to run in circles. I do know that when I had gotten lost hunting squirrels and thought I was heading away from where I started I found myself back in the spot at which I started. What is it I thought? Why do we go in circles–does it have to do  with a dominant foot always turning us left or right?

Somebody smarter than me will have to help me here with this one.

With my symptoms of depression, I too keep circling trying to figure out in my head why I am depressed. The more I spiral downward in the unending circle of despair, the more I return  to those many places I have been before. None of these places gave me comfort or answers to the why I am depressed–only the fact that I have been here before. The mind when burdened appears to run in circles as well. What’s chasing us?

Hugh