ONE HUMMINGBIRD AND SIX TURTLES

I just returned from a four day retreat. I spent my time in a one room cabin situated  overlooking a large lake’s  small inlet.  The Hermitage, as it is called, sits on a 375 wooded acreage,  The Franciscans operate the Hermitage  to help those  who want to nurture a closer relationship with God.  Because of my own busy life and desire to  take stock of what God’s will continued to be for  me, I needed time for prayer and meditation.  I think what God whispered to me these last four days was  to “SLOW DOWN.”  I know we all have heard the expression to “Take time out to smell the roses.” That was exactly what I did. I cut out radio, TV, text messages, computer emails–anything electronic. Now it was just me and my God,. Well, not exactly. As it turned out I was part of a dynamic natural scenario. This place was au natural. Right before my very eyes, from sunrise to sunset there was always something happening.

Enter the Hummingbird, and enter it did. It exited as quick as it came. It happened that attached to the cabin wall was a  nectar bottle. Where I sat looking over the lake from my own vantage point, I noticed out of the corner of my eye, a hummingbird zoomed in to the nectar bottlem, juiced up and flew away. The small flying jet of a bird was only an arms length from me. It didn’t seem to mind that I was there. I thought I am going to plot out and docment the times that it showed up at the bottle. Well, it showed up a lot during the day as I soon discovered.

I quietly refreshed myself sight, sound and silence. I know the Fransiscans said that this was to be like a desert experience and all that  we have is time alone with our God and creator. This obviously was not a deset but a bountiful garden of living organisms –all interconnected and living with and  for each other. It was just as much a “survival of the fittest”  as much as all species mutually aiding each other as the need arose in its members. And now enter my friends the turtles.

In the inlet, resting on sunken tree limbs in  the shallow water were the turtles.Lots of turtles. Each day they would come out of the water, climb onto the limbs of the trees, and sun themselves. This happened every day. Each day the behavior was repeated. One day as I sat watching the drama on the logs, like watching the flow of  molasses, the turtles, six in all, in unison with each other lazily enjoyed their place. There were two large turtles and four small ones. Suddenly,  I witnessed  the turtles, like on  command,  all plopped into the water with a huge splash. They resembled those synchronized swimmers who compete at the Summer Olympic Games. It was not until I  discovered  a few seconds later that a fisherman had approached the inlet and had just thrown out a lure into the water nearby. The turtles wasted no time in going to the safety of the water. It was not too long after that one of them gave an “all safe ” signal and they were all back to sunning them selves.

My reflections on this most sacred time, was how the environmentalist Walden must have experienced his Golden Pond. I was not only a spectator of the dynamism of Mother earth and its nurturing ecology, but I was a definite part of it. The turtles and the hummingbirds and all of God’s creation  continue to  do what they have always done for millennia.  Everything is interrelated and whole. The hummingbird and the turtles are an important part of this whole and each has an important part to contribute to the whole.

And so as with the Second Step of our program of recovery, “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity,” it was here (the Hermitage) that I found a measure of serenity plus the truth  that sanity does  flourish when we embed ourselves and encounter  the dynamic world of all living things.  I learned that to “Slow Down” and “smell the roses” pays out big dividends four our recovery and helps us to see  and find our place in creation. We each are an important piece of what we call creation. Creation is the THOU of the I-THOU relationship. Meanwhile, back at the Hermitage, I am sure the hummingbird is doing what it always does and the turtles are there sunning themselves in afternoon summer sun as they always do.

THE BEGINNING OF MY HEALING IS WITHIN MY GRASP.

“This is the biggest challenge for those of us who are depressd.  I need to get busy with whatever is in front of me. I can panic about the fears that cross my mind and throughout the day. I also know that just as I have had some good days in the past, these are going to be there for me again. I know its irrational to think that this sadness will last forever. When I start to spiral  downward in my own sadness and self-pity I need to reach out and try to call a member of the group or my sponsor. Help is there if I want it.  (Help for most of us is located in Depressed Anonymous, 3rd ed., (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.)

Do I really want to get well?  I will do more for myself by facing the fears that scare and panic  my mind, than to run from them and hide in the comfort of not having to change the way I think, feel and live out my life. Today, I am choosing to accept the fact that I am depressed and my admission of this fact may be the beginning of my healing.”

MEDITATION

God, today let us accept the fact that we have usd our depression to keep from facing our own insecurity and that now, with your help, we will discover new ways to free ourselves from all those bars that imprison us in our depression.”

source: Copyright(c) Higher Thoughts for Down Days/June 11.

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One of the best ways to overcome a difficulty is to be part of a group where others like ourselves are facing the pain and sharing ways to escape the prison of depression.   Read the book (Depressed Anonymous) that is being used by many to help release themselves and others from  feeling worthless and unacceptable. By going one step at a time you will learn, what many of us have learned and have utilized, that life only gets better. You have an opportunity to use the Home Study Program if there is no group in your locale. Who knows, you might want to start your own group.

WE ARE MESSENGERS OF HOPE.

“Each group has but one primary purpose, to carry its message to the depressed person who still suffers.”

FIFTH TRADITION OF DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS

I think this is what keeps me going through out my week, namely, to know that there are people out there that will support me in my moments when I want to sad myself. I am grateful for all the  Twelve Step programs of recovery which help me let go of my need to sad myself. I am grateful that someone told me about Depressed Anonymous  and now, since I am feeling better, I am carrying the message of hope to others like me.

I have a message of hope to give to others who keep coming back to the Depressed Anonymous  meetings. I am convinced that it is the group and their understanding of my depression that makes me feel accepted and understood. I carry the message of hope to all those others out there who want to get better.

MEDITATION

Today, we pray that our potential for carrying the message  of hope to others who are depressed will be strengthened in us. We want to be a channel of God’s healing power.

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Source: Copyright(c) Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 Step Fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 116-117.

MYTH #1: DEPRESSION FLOATS IN LIKE A DARK CLOUD OVER WHICH WE HAVE NO CONTROL!

An excerpt from Depressed Anonymous (3rd edition)

“The depression is so  bad at times that we feel no one would ever understand how we feel unless of course they have been there.  We just have about given up on God, church, family and friends as allies on our behalf.  We  feel resentments and anger toward people for not feeling more sympathetic toward our never ending sadness.  We feel that people aren’t kind and don’t treat us with the same respect that they do other people such as a diabetic, insomniac or arthritic person. Most people don’t want anything to do with us because they get tired of our moaning, groaning and pessimistic way of looking at life.  Why shouldn’t they? Life is tough  enough without having to be subjected to another’s gloom and doom. But this is the place where we recognize the difference between ourselves and others, and of course we think our lot is always the worst of all. The self-pity never brings us into any personal sense of peace, but has just the opposite effect in that it helps perpetuate the myth that depression floats in like a dark cloud over which we have no control. We need to tell our spouse, family and friends that we want to start again and begin to take charge of our lives and start to chip away at our sadness. We won’t blame our need to sadden ourselves on what my wife/husband did or did not do for us, or what a friend said or didn’t say. We finally have to take the bull by the horns much like the recovering alcoholic overeater, gambler or smoker, and admit that it is “I”  that has the problem, and that it no longer does any good to blame others for my problem. Once I admit that I am addicted to depressing myself, then I can begin to walk through the door of the prison that binds me. I must realize the fact that  my depression  will only get worse unless I put a stop to all the ill-thinking, feeling and acting out behavior that keeps me perpetually locked into my sadness.”

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SOURCE: DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS (3rd edition). 2011. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Page 86.

EMPOWERMENT AND PREVENTION

Being part of a group gives a sense of empowerment

Depression is a horrible experience. I believe that it is truly a defense, as Dorothy Rowe claims. It is more a defense which we have learned how to use, many of us, since our childhood days. It is more a defense than a disease.  Too often persons depressed come to me  and say that their depression really is a comfort because it protects them from something far worse than what they have.  They would hardly call a disease a comfort. I wonder what goes through a person’s mind when they learn that persons much like themselves are gaining strength from persons just like themselves. I talk with  them about Depressed Anonymous. They seem interested. They tell me that they will attempt to make a meeting.  They are hurting so bad that they are willing to learn – to come and see – to experience first hand how being part of a group may give them a sense of empowerment — a sense that they have it within themselves to gain an exit from the prison of their depression.

EMPOWERMENT AND PREVENTION

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Copyright(c) Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression. (2015) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville Page 112.

I AM NOT ALONE

One of the  comments that we hear frequently at our Depressed Anonymous meetings is that “I am not alone!” Yes, in fact  to hear  that others have the same experiences as the rest of us in the group is liberation.  No longer is it a scary mystery to feel the way that I do.

At a meeting this week one of the newcomers told us how she wakes up every morning with such a heavy and dark cloud hanging over her that it makes it near impossible to want to get out of bed. She then heard how others in the group said they had the same experience. Many of us know that feeling.  But it is not impossible to deal with the lethargy and the lack of will that we feel  when we attempt to get started on our day. I know the feeling well.  It is the force of motivation that gets us out of bed and for us to  get started  on our day’s activities. The more action the more motivation. Motivation follows action!  How do we do it? We just simply do it. We don’t have that argument in our mind to do or not do it. I always lost that argument. Instead I just made up my mind to get out of bed and to start walking. That was my iron commitment to myself. I had to get back on my feet. No excuses. No “maybe later” nonsense thoughts were allowed. No inner arguments. I just did it. And after about 10 minutes of walking and moving the body I thought to myself “hey, I’m glad that I  am doing this.”  If you feel the way we have described here then you realize that you are not alone!   Been there done that! As Nike says “just do it.”

THE SIMPLE ABC’s of DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS: THE 12 STEP PROGRAM OF RECOVERY

Yes, learn your ABC’s of Depressed Anonymous and you are on your way to discovering how to live with freedom and with purpose. I learned my ABC’s back in 1982 in another  12 step fellowship. It did take me a little while to get used to them but in due time everything all came together. Once  I got serious about learning my ABC’s things started to happen. I not only found the key that opened a new world of serenity and a fellowship to me,  I also have a daily plan for my life that gives me purpose and serenity to this very day. Just as day follows night I am helping others learn their ABC’s.

First of all, you might be wondering what are the ABC’s of Depressed Anonymous? And how can I learn them? Well, let me tell you about them.

Simply put, the ABC’s stand for three realities which anyone can learn. The first reality is to 1) admit that I have a problem. That is fairly easy to understand. Having a problem is what usually brings a person into our 12 Step fellowship in the first place.  We know something is happening and we know we can’t go on feeling as bad as we do. “We admitted that we were powerless over depression and that our lives had become unmanageable.” There you got it.  You just learned a bit about the A of the ABC’s — to admit. OK, I know that to admit something is out of kilter in our lives is not easy but to also know that the pain  is so great we have to take the bull by the horn and find help. We also know how scary life becomes when we feel we have no control over the way we feel and think. I know. When I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning and had this awful feeling of hollowness in my body which was unbearable I knew then that something serious, possibly deadly serious was going on. Yes,deadly serious.

It was then that I  believed that I had to take action. I had to seek help and find out what was causing my life to take a nose dive or extreme proportions.  For me to feel that I had no control over the way I felt and even to the point that I  could not get myself out of bed in the morning with will power alone, it was then that I knew what I had was serious.  I ” came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” I didn’t know what this Power was that was going to restore me but I had to find out. I sought help and finally got the help I needed. I moved the body and my mind followed. I was forcing myself out of bed a morning and started walking. For awhile I felt I was an incarnation of the movie hero, Forrest Gump. But over time I found the key to my recovery and learned how to use the C of my ABC’s. I learned how to commit myself to this Power that was greater than myself. Actually, it was my decision to commit myself to going to as many 12 Step meetings as  I possibly could. It was there that I learned to live my life. I now had a plan. I had a purpose and I made sure I was about doing the next right thing for my recovery. It has been 30 years since that day when I had to admit that I had  serious problem on my hands. I am still doing my ABC’s every day and helping others learn their ABC’s of recovery. I know the program of recovery takes time and work–but it is worth a life. Your life!

If you want to learn the ABC’s of Depressed Anonymous, it would do you well to get  to a meeting or get the  BIg  Book, DEPRESED ANONYMOUS, 3rd Edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications.  ( By the way, this book was written by a group of depressed persons who learned their ABC.s and wanted to show others a plan that worked for them.  They found HOPE. Their Personal Stories are in the book).

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.

YOU CAN’T BECOME A BUTTERFLY UNTIL YOU LEAVE THE COMFORT OF YOUR COCOON.

The depressed, says Dorothy Rowe, can “give a thousand and one reasons why they should stay depressed. They can think up thousands of painful thoughts about how bad they are and how they don’t deserve the cheer and joy that most of us frequently experience in our daily lives. Some run over and over again in their minds the awful things that they have done, and become used to their continual ruminating over their own sense of worthlessness. They have fallen into the depressed persons morbid need to feel bad.  The sadness continues to eat away at the very heart of the person until there is no more hope and the light at the end of the tunnel has been snuffed out. In their hopelessness of ever feeling better, they throw away the only key that unlock the prison, and that is the key called hope. Getting to the hope is at the heart of getting our lives and feelings recognized. We begin to believe that maybe I too can overcome my depression like other members of the group. Not only am I consciously changing the way I think but likewise I am forcing myself to get involved with the  other members of the group and making friends.  I know that withdrawing from others is one of the first signs that we are depressing ourselves. But it is in the continual contact with others like myself that I can begin to find a way out of my depression.”

Source: Depressed Anonymous (3rd Edition)  2011. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. page 42.

I AM FINDING MYSELF ACCEPTABLE TO ME.

AFFIRMATION

“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.

MEDITATION

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.