“That which doesn’t kill you will probably make you stronger.” Nietzsche

 

Stress  put me in the hospital two years ago. First, pneumonia  put me in the hospital for a week.   Then, following  a diagnosis of clogged arteries with other assorted problems,  open  heart surgery.  Cardio/rehab for 24 straight weeks gave me my life back. But this was not my first experience with stress and /or depression.

Nietzsche had it right. In my case at least.  What made me stronger and saved my life was not only heart surgery but my new way of  dealing with stress. I now see stress for the trouble maker that it really is. The  stress in anyone’s,  continues to impress me how dangerous living under stress, of any kind, can be.

I know that the daily stress that I  had put my mind and body through every day,  every month, gradually destroyed my immune system’s ability to defend against  constant fear, worry and anxiety. Because of the environment  with which I was living in, day after day, finally caught up with me: pneumonia and then open heart surgery. So you might wonder  how can stress do all this damage to your mind and body?

THEN

This takes me back to my first  experience with sadness. It didn’t kill me, but it did force me to look  at my lifestyle, staying in a bad  situation and the ongoing ruminating which poured adrenaline into my veins, hyping up fear   and anxiety day after day.  Finally, all this  weakened not only my body but my mind  as well. My thinking started circling  around  and around as I tried to figure out exactly what the problem was  knocking me off my feet.  Not only that, I couldn’t concentrate. I would read a sentence or so  and then would forget what I had just read. I was always tired.  I always wanted to sleep. I never laughed anymore. My sense of humor went out the door. I started to isolate. I pushed friends away. I always had an excuse for cancelling meetings and appointments. Every morning I woke up, dead on arrival.  No energy. No purpose and nothing to look  forward to. I was losing all spontaneity and replacing it with boredom. I gradually was being sucked down intro the quicksand of futility and hopelessness.

After a year and half of this    pain filled  life I gradually walked out of the fog. I walked at least five miles a day-like a forced march looking forward to regaining my life. That was 1985.

NOW

Now,  I am stronger because I know all the red flags that pop up in my mind, wanting to  suck me back down into that environment which almost killed me in the first place.  I am definitely stronger now that I have a sponsor, a  12 Step   program (Depressed Anonymous) and  a daily plan   for my ongoing recovery.

My heart is stronger now. My commitment to taking good care of myself with proper rest, good healthy food, and physical activity at least three times a week or more. I also know that keeping in touch with those “still suffering from depression” by email, Home Study, website BLOG (depressedanon.com), phone and reading Depressed Anonymous literature.  What we give away comes back in countless ways. For me, continued sobriety and hope!

Resource: (c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.

Online Depressed Anonymous International Skype meetings ( Check website Menu for listing and links).

Order online :The Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore.

 

Can depression be a defense?

“Shutting out all uncertainties, disturbance and uncomfortable threats is the essence of the defense of depression. You cut yourself off, you throw up a wall, surround yourself with a barrier and you are, you hope, safe and certain. Of course the prison  walls are not impenetrable, some things do break through to disturb you and there are things inside yourself which you cannot shut out, and they will plague you, just as the continuing isolation will bring increasing pain. But the defense of depression will shut out the great uncertainties, and, though you feel miserable, you feel secure…

Inside the safety of depression you can refuse to confront all the situations that you find difficult. You can  avoid seeing people, going to places, as a symptom of an illness, when really it is a reasonably effective defense.

If you are trying to shut out all those matters which you find uncontrollable, threatening and confusing, you cannot give those matters the careful scrutiny they need if you are to make a decision about them. They create such turmoil in your mind that you decide that it is best not to decide. You can say, ‘I am depressed. I cannot make any decisions.’

By deciding not to decide we can feel that everything that is bothersome will vanish and everything else will remain the same. But, of course, things do not disappear just because we ignore them, and nothing does remain the same. Everything is changing all the time, and we are always part of that change…

Decisions are much easier to make when you know what the consequences will be. The consequences of spending the day in bed with the blankets over your head are fairly easy to predict – you’ll miss a day’s work, your home won’t be cleaned, your family will complain, there be nothing in the fridge for you to eat, and so on -while the consequences of going out and facing the world are much harder to predict.”

COMMENT: I think that most of us, having been depressed at one time or other, have experienced our depression as a defense. I have used it as a defense to keep family and friends away  when I was depressed.  I also found it a  helpful  defense to prevent me from taking a positive action in  my own recovery.

The harder friends and family tried to unlock my prison –(I had  the key) the more difficult was it for them to enter.

What has been your experience with depression? Did you see it as a defense?

 

 

Dorothy Rowe. The Depression Handbook (1991) Collins. London. England. Excerpts from Pages 108-109.

Published also in 1991 as Breaking the Bonds, Fontana, London. England.

Anxious? Please read this.

“Sometimes persons tell us that they get sad for no reason at all. All of a sudden they just feel down and don’t know why. Many times after reflecting upon this sudden rush of sadness, they realize that it has come from somewhere and they might as well take responsibility for it and deal with it.  One of the best ways to deal with a feeling, especially the unpleasant ones, is to stay with it, feel it, and  see what it is trying to tell you. When we run from it we lose. Granted, this won’t be easy and you might not find the source of the sudden sadness at the first glance, but in time you can feel it, deal with it and then discard it. The more you ruminate about how sad you are and then how bad you are for being so sad, the more you have begun the downward spiral into physically feeling weak and hopeless. This is the time to call a friend or a member of the group. Just say: “Hey, I’m feeling sad and there is no reason why I think I am feeling sad –what do you think?” More times than not, your sad feelings will melt away.

Our feelings are like messengers. They come to tell us something important. They can tell us , as was the case with our ancestors of primitive times,  that either it was time to run or to stand and fight. Flight or fight.   Today, in these modern times, we don’t have to run or even fight when the unpleasant feelings rise up inside of us. The only activity that most of us engage in when faced with an unpleasant thought/feeling  is to put our mind in overdrive, stomping on the accelerator, and shooting adrenalin into our blood stream.  Even though there is no lion nipping at our heels we begin to flee those feelings of fright and find our selves swimming in a sea of fear and anxiety. Our palms begin to feel clammy, our forehead breaks out in beads of sweat and our heart rate is going trough the roof.

The more we “listen into” these frenzied feelings   the more frenzied and frazzled  we become  physically. Now, totally worn out with all this adrenalin pumped through our arteries, and all physical  systems  on high alert, we become exhausted. After all this, my drug of choice was to  hit the bed and sleep it off. Some folks medicate themselves with alcohol or other mind altering drugs.

Our other stance is to stay and fight the lion. No lion? We fight in our mind whatever it might be that is  ready to devour us and spit us out. We might be sitting at our desk at work and this negative ruminating will be  having the same effect on our body as it did with the native faced with fighting a lion. It was the lion or himself that had to win this fight.

So, for us, as we continue to put emotional energy into the negativity of the thought that affects our moods, we  find ourselves spiraling downward into that depressed mood  and  isolation.  Instead we need to  listen to the feeling, face the feeling, and tell ourselves that the feeling is  uncomfortable, but not life threatening. This becomes sort of a mantra at the time of our  panicky thoughts where by gradually and slowly repeating this phrase over and over again to ourselves,  our breathing gets slower, our heart rate slides back to normal and the  sweating stops. No running and no fighting. No foot on the accelerator  resulting  in no more adrenaline  pumping  through our arteries.

This technique of talking ourselves down when our body and reasoning is  about to be taken over by unpleasant emotions,  really works.

RESOURCES

(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.KY. Pg.91.

(c) Claire Weekes, Hope and Help for your Nerves. (1969) Berkley. NY.

NOTE: All Depressed Anonymous publications can be ordered online from the Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore. Al www.depressedanon.com.

What is a sponsor?

SPONSORSHIP IN 12 STEP PROGRAMS OF RECOVERY 

A sponsor, when speaking about 12 Step programs of recovery is a mutual and confidential sharing between  two members.   A sponsor is a person with whom a member can discuss  personal problems or questions, and who will share their experience, strength,  and hope in working the program. It is strongly recommended that the person you choose as a sponsor has completed a Fourth and Fifth Step.

Is having a sponsor required? No. Although it is strongly recommended.

Sponsorship is not  a relationship to be undertaken lightly. It is good to give it some thought before making the commitment. No one is a perfect sponsor, but avoiding sponsorship denies us a valuable experience for growth. Sponsorship is a form of Twelfth Step service and a way of expressing gratitude for what we have gained in the program.

In finding a Sponsor look for one who:

1.Has what we want.

2, Lives in the solution.

3. Walks the walk.

4. Has a sponsor.

5. Emphasizes the Steps.

6. Has more time in recovery that I do.

7. Frequency of contact.

8. Has worked more Steps than we have.

9. Is available for telephone calls and meetings.

10. Emphasizes spiritual aspect of the program.

11,Gender is the same  as ours.

Sponsorship is not a permanent relationship. It is okay to change sponsors when felt that the relationship no longer meets our needs. Sponsees  deserve to know that they are welcome to change Sponsors whenever they want. Sponsors and sponsees  make this point clear at the initial onset of the relationship. Terminate any relationship that is endangering your own recovery. If after thoughtful consideration one person decides to end a   sponsorship relationship, it is recommended that the situation be approached with honesty and love.

Benefits of Sponsorship.

Sponsors can learn too. The newest member can give insights to those who have been in the program for months or years. The exchange between sponsor and sponsee  is a form of communication, which will instruct and nourish both persons.

We are all seeking peace of mind. Having and being a sponsor are important steps towards that goal and becoming what our Higher Power wants us to be –loving and   serene  people comfortable with ourselves and the world.

Interview the potential sponsor

Discuss mutual expectations. If we discuss our mutual expectations at the beginning, the Sponsorship will go more smoothly. Our goal in interviewing a potential sponsor is to determine how well we will work together. It is possible to have more than one sponsor.

  RESOURCE:

“SPONSORSHIP”  is a publication of Depressed Anonymous Program of Recovery. This brochure is readily available to all members of the Depressed Anonymous Fellowship as well as the Dep-Anon  family and friends fellowship.

“Sponsorship” is a publication of the Depressed Anonymous Publications office, based in Louisville, KY.

 

 

 

 

After 14 years, I have hope!

I had always known that I was hard on myself. I reamed myself out every time something bad happened. “Why can’t I find someone to love me?” “Why isn’t God looking after me?”  But for some reason, when I  realized that I was doing this to myself, it made me realize that maybe all I would have to do is stop doing it. All of a sudden, it made sense.

If I tell  myself negative thoughts, I feel negative. If I tell myself nothing, I feel nothing. So, if I tell myself positive thoughts, eventually I’ll have to feel positive.

Of course, I’m still testing it out, but I feel better and for the first time in 14 years, I have hope.  It’s not hard to find something positive about  myself or my life now. So I remind myself of something positive everyday and that’s what I’m going to do until I don’t have to remind myself anymore because I’ll know.”

(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY . Pages, 120 -121.

My feelings are becoming unfrozen.

AFFIRMATION

“I pray that God will give me the courage to live today with hope – hope that God’s leading will take me past the dead end of despair.

If we want to live life fully we must have freedom, love and hope. Life must be an uncertain business. This is what makes it worthwhile.”

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

I  know how the feelings of depression, and the deadness and greyness of my sadness keep me holed up in the narrow confines of my dark past. Today my  feelings are gradually becoming unfrozen as I attempt new things, new connections with other persons. These cause me to reconsider that a life lived in unpredictableness is a risky but nevertheless a healthy way to live my life.

Since I hold on to the  belief that since bad things happened to me in the past, bad things will happen to me in the future.  I need to live each new day with the belief that I can change the way I think, feel and act.   I know now that I am not mentally ill nor am I losing my mind when I am depressed.  I want to live just for today to try to learn how to face the uncertainties of today.  Life is unpredictable . To have any certainty that it will  be other  than that  is clearly an illusion, and for sure one is being set up for many a disappointment.

MEDITATION

We see that it is only in risking., that is, getting a different map, a map that shows a number of different routes instead of the one that leads us down the road to narrow isolation and despair. I ask the God of my understanding to lead me according to it’s guidance. Hopefully the road that leads to hope and serenity.

RESOURCES

(C) Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations  for members of  12  Step fellowship  groups.  Depressed Anonymous Publications . Louisville. KY. (January 5th).

(c) I’ll do it when I feel better. (2018) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.

(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition.(20ll). Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.

Check out VISIT THE STORE for more material that can be ordered online.

Keeping the dance going: A metaphor.

When I was depressed (for over a year) I got hooked up with a dance partner who  continually  stepped on my feet.  I knew that stopping the dance was  my only way out.  I imagined  if I could learn a little more about the dance and  the proper step sequence things would turn out better for me.

The more I tried to think things out, try different step sequences the worse things got. It’s like walking up a flight of stairs and  carefully watching   each foot as it lifts to go from  one level to the  next. It’s a strange feeling as our mind and body become frozen from  what is normally an automatic sequence.  We don’t even think about the fact that our feet are taking the steps up one at a time.

From my own experience with this circular dance I learned that the more I  thought about why I was doing what I was doing the more my partner (my physical  body) came to a standstill.  My mind went round and round over a  sequence,  which I was hoping would free me. Instead, the dance stopped. I left the dance floor (my world) and retreated into my own little life surroundings,  going over and over again , completely obsessed with trying to figure out  a dance sequence, with a  result,  like the  wrestler’s “body slam” which  flattened and pinned me to the floor.  No matter how hard I tried to figure out what went wrong, the more this circular dance tightened it’s grip on my thinking, my body and everything else that had made me  an active part of my world, friends and future. I am all alone.

In the Depressed Anonymous Publication,  I’ll do it when I feel better, we read

“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. ”

Copyright(c) I’ll do it when I feel better., 2nd edition. Hugh M. Smith (2018)  Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY. Page 61.

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

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.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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.”

 

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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.

 

I am going to make a list of my strengths today!

I am going to make  a list of my strengths today.

Practicing these principles keeps us in tune on a daily basis with the God as we understand God, and  helps us keep our hope strong enough so that we can move away from our compulsion to sad ourselves.”

Depressed Anonymous

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

These principles refer to the Twelve Steps and the fellowship of our group which helps us keep the focus on ourselves and our daily need to improve ourselves. My hope gets stronger when I find myself being less compulsive about the affairs of my life and more conscious of how I need to believe that God is going to help me walk out of my prison of depression.

Our lives revolve around  principles – some good and some not so good. One of the principals formerly  guiding my life was that  I was only a passive victim of my depression. My belief was that there was nothing that I could do in my power to change my life. A new and exciting principle is replacing the old and that principle is that I am choosing to feel better. I am now going to be an active participant in my own program of recovery using the Twelve Steps. I am finding my strength grows as I believe in my own  resources and talents.

 

MEDITATION

God, you are the creator of all spiritual principles that promote healing, sanity and serenity. Please let us place these  principles of healing and hope  first in our lives today. (Personal comments)

RESOURCES

(c) Higher Thoughts for down days:365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of Twelve Step Fellowship groups. Depressed  Anonymous Publications. Louisville.KY.

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

NOTE: These excellent publications and more can be ordered online from the Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore at www.depressedanon.com.

A Spanish edition  Depressivos Anonimos is now available for ordering online.