All posts by hopeservicefellowship

Hope is a universal language

The misery of depression is so powerful that it not only disables our thinking capabilities but likewise disables our desire to move or even to get out of bed in the morning. Now who in the world are you going to tell this craziness to? Family and friends don’t remember you breaking any bones. They know that you aren’t running a fever. You look fine to most people. And if you still have a job, everyone at your place of employment likes you, though you do  seem a little more reticent than usual. And because people will think you are losing your mind if you tell them how horrible  you feel inside, you continue to keep quiet and keep your “happy face” on.  Of course this makes you feel worse. So what do you do? Who do you tell? And what would you tell someone, even if they did want to listen? There is a solution for the way you are feeling but it is not the one most usually heard from people who have never experienced depression. You know what I mean as they repeat the old magical curative  of “snap out of it.”

Here is what I did these many years ago, like 30 years ago. I went to a 12 step meeting and found a map. This map was developed by people just like you and me and its  directions were clear. There were 12 Steps and as I walked carefully with the steps showing me the way, I finally found my way out. It was only because I was honest about the fact that I was hurting really bad,   and that I couldn’t depend on my will power alone to shut off this dreadful pain inside of me. I now was willing to do  anything to help myself get free of the deadly clutches of what had me and wasn’t  going to let go. I finally found that spark of hope inside of me thanks to the  recovery program of Depressed Anonymous. That spark ignited within me freedom. Freedom from fear, fatigue, and the hopelessness that all of us have experienced as we continue to live out our lives in silent isolation and self hate.

I now have hope and the great “tools” provided  for my recovery through the Twelve Step program of Depressed Anonymous,if you too want what we have, I recommend that you read the true stories of people like yourself who have tried our program and found freedom.

See Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition.(2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. You can find this work plus many others at Visit the Store on our site

You can let your thoughts come into your mind, just don’t invite them to stay for tea

The Promises of Depressed Anonymous: Promise #10 of 15.

Fear of people and economic insecurity will leave us.

Losses may produce a variety of very intense and painful feelings. Fear can cripple the best of us. Why fear people and economic insecurity? In Steps 4,5,6,7,8,9 we have examined our lives piece by piece, ending up with a good conscience, while feeling neither guilt or shame for things of the past. We have thrown off the shackles of the past.

Bill, in his personal testimony in the DA book relates that you don’t get better overnight, but you do get better. “I was down in the muck  as far as I could go.  I had to go and open  the door for the first time  because there was no other place to go. I had already used up all the hiding places in my life. I still have many problems like anyone else, but when I need sleep very badly, I turn the problem over to the Higher Power and go to sleep. I can always pick  life up in the morning. Somehow it all gets done. Every few days the world dumps on you and beats you down. That’s just life..” (Source: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition.)

I believe this man definitely “got it.” when he began attending the  group, spending some quiet time every day and learn that people like himself were able together to form a new environment, a surrogate  family if you will, where there exists healing and hope.

Granted the group cannot find you a job or take away fear of people, but it can provide you with a map where you can discover a way out of the prison of one’s depression. How can you learn that?

Kim, a member of DA in her personal story says that “the moment I read that I had a choice to stay in depression I undoubtedly knew that I could make the choice to get out of my depression. Bingo! It wasn’t an illness. This did not have control over me. And another tool I use frequently through the DA manual is  that “thoughts produce feelings, feelings produce moods and moods produce behavior.” (Source: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition.)

In the tradition of one major religion, there exist the three poisons, greed, anger and delusion. And as the saying goes “You can let your thoughts come into your mind, just don’t invite them to stay for tea.”

And as it says in the Bible; “Fear not, for I am with you. Let not your heart be troubled.”


If you have ever experienced the pain and hurt of depression you know what the thoughts expressed here are all about.

I remember Bill very well from the time he came into our group for the first time. And  with time passing I saw him change right before my eyes and live out what he shares with us in his personal story in Depressed Anonymous. I do know that it is just in the sharing of who we are that life can begin for us once again. It truly is like a rebirth. I also know how our feelings produce our moods and the moods produce our behavior. My behavior shifted dramatically from the extrovert that I normally was to the reclusive and isolated person trying to figure out the “why” of my depression. It was only until I got moving did my  feelings begin to change and I became more positive in my thinking so that gradually I began to climb out of the deadness of my  inactive behavior. “If you want something that you never had before,  you must do something that you never did before.”  Doing that something will be the thing that will change your life!

SOURCES:    I’ll do it when I feel better. (2014). DAP. Louisville.

Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011)  DAP. Louisville.

Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression (2015) DAP. Louisville.

I needed to lay all my cards out on the table…


First I need to forgive myself for not being perfect. I want to accept the fact that I am human and fallible.

” Made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.” Step Nine of Depressed Anonymous

Clarification of thought

When I made up my mind to attend my first Twelve Step meeting that was the beginning of making amends to myself and to others.  It was this taking the step and coming to a meeting that I made my statement that I needed help and that I might change the way that I lived my life.  I need to  lay all my cards on the table and get straight with anyone from my past who I feel that I hurt by my continual withdrawal  from living a full life.  I need to make amends to those who I passively watched when I would have been a support or a partner.  For the readiness to take the full consequences of our past acts, and to take responsibility for the well being of others at the same time, is the very spirit of Step Nine.

This really means that I will take an active role in changing my life. Amends doesn’t mean that we just shift the furniture around the room of our life. I might have to rip out the plumbing, knock out a wall, that is, face a major overhaul on the way I look at myself.


Our  God will help us locate the truth about whom we need to make amends; that is, how God  wishes us to be changed and whom we need to have forgiveness from so that we will be God’s  worthy vessels to carry  hope to others still suffering from  the despair of their sadness.”


Source: (c) Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of Twelve Step Fellowship groups. Louisville. Page 166.

Other sources of interest:

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

  I’ll do it when I feel better (2014) Depressed Anonymous  Publications. Louisville.

    Believing is seeing (2015) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

The “toolkit” for all seasons.

I have an assorted number of “toolkits” that I use for an assorted number of problems if and when they arise. I have a jack for my car in case I have a flat tire. I have screwdrivers, pliers, hammers and  other assorted tools for home repairs whenever I need them. Whenever I need a particular tool for a particular job, I know where to go to find what I need. It keeps my life simple.

But now I am talking about a “toolkit” that you can use for every season of your life. Every season of our lives come with certain situations that need our special attention and  particular tools which will help us stay in good shape.  To use an analogy, it’s much like maintenance on a car at regular intervals.

In our daily 12 step program of recovery, I use certain tools from my ” toolkit” on a daily basis, such as my prayer and meditation time in early morning. I don’t argue with myself whether or not I am going to do it, I just do it! Then I read a certain passage from my Big Book, Depressed Anonymous, (3rd edition) which treats each Step with an individual chapter. And beside my Depressed Anonymous book, I have my Depressed Anonymous Workbook which asks me pointed questions about a particular Step which I might be working on that day.

In my “toolkit” there is that commitment to my physical well being where I take a long walk every other day. You know as well as I do that if we want to stay healthy, then exercise is an absolute necessity. And of course, I try and stay away from all fatty foods,  and when in season try to  eat fresh fruit and vegetables.

In order to have a “sound mind in a sound body” I watch how I talk to myself. I attempt to rid myself of all resentments (these can put us down quicker than anything). I know that negative thinking results in negative behavior. The Steps provide us with those excellent set of tools to help us look at and  dismantle the bricks in the walls of the  prison that we have constructed over the years.

I also continue to worship the God of my understanding in my particular faith tradition. Most important.

One of the powerful  tools that I use for maintenance which gives me courage, hope and serenity is to be part of my 12 Step fellowship group.which meets every week. (We are thankful that we have two  Depressed Anonymous groups in our community)

A tool which always serves me well, in good times and not so good times is to have a person (we call him/her a sponsor) who has agreed to walk with me through my living out the Steps in my daily life.

There you have it. Would you like to put together your own  toolkit? It’s not difficult to assemble. All one needs is to be honest with oneself, be open to  what you need to get right in your life, and then be willing to get started. You might want to Visit the Publications Store and read about what tools are available for you. We can  be grateful that there is a proven way to leave the prison of depression. What’s in your “toolkit?”.

The Secret Of Life Is That There Is No Secret. – Sartre

This morning, before the rising of the sun, I was up and asking God to bless me for this next 24 hour period of my life. All I had left from yesterday was my memories of it. And the memories were good. My family and assorted friends came together for my wife’s brother’s birthday party. It was a lot of fun and lots of old memories from earlier times surfaced. From the youngest, a five year old grandchild to a 94 year old aunt. Anyway, I thanked God for family and friends. Today, I have memories of that time yesterday. But I live here now, in the space of these next few hours left in this day.

I have learned that yesterday is gone forever and tomorrow is not here yet. How true that is. Just try and live today.One day at a time. If I have a worry today about something coming up  tomorrow, I just keep informing myself, that I will have to  worry about that later. Later never comes. That’s the beauty of this strategy… later is interpreted as “push it off ” till another time in the day. It’s really a matter of making a choice at this point–worry or try and let it go. So,right now, I am going to enjoy the sun rising  over the horizon. I am also trying  to be mindful of what is right in front of me. Mindfulness is a very important habit to carry with us these  24 hours.  Be mindful of what is happening around us. Be mindful of the person with whom  you may be having a conversation. In other words, be present with your whole person to the person who is with you. When I look out now, with the sun beginning to cast its warm crimson glow in the East, I think God that I have shelter, food on the table, and a family that I love and care about. Morning is a gratitude time for me as I think about my ministry with the beautiful aged persons in a nursing home, the people  I may be able to  visit in the hospital today.

I also thank God for my sobriety, my spiritual recovery program of Depressed Anonymous, and the fact that I am mindful of  trying to be  honest with myself and others, that I am open about who I am. I  am willing to share with others how it is that I have the tools now  to stay out of the prison of depression. I love to tell the story of how it was when I was depressed and now how it is that I am part of a fellowship that uses a daily program of healing and serenity. (See Depressed Anonymous, 3rd ed., DAP. Louisville). You can also go to our site menu and find important and helpful literature there for your life.

Can you think about and write out all the areas of your life for which you are thankful? Try it. And then tonight before going to bed, reflect on how you still have hope that life can get better. I have found that living life one day at a time—with gratitude —  makes it a whole lot better!

A Power greater than ourselves!


I am conscious today that there exists a power who wants me to be free of my need to sad myself.

” Maybe there  are as many definitions of spiritual awakening as there are people who have had them.  But certainly each genuine one has something in common with all the others.  And these things which they have in common are not too hard to understand. When a man or a woman has a spiritual awakening, the most important meaning of it is that he now has become able to feel and believe that which he could not do before on his unaided strength and resource alone. He has been granted a gift which amounts to a new state of consciousness and being.  He has been set on a path which tells him he is really going somewhere, that life is not a dead end, not something to be endured or mastered,. What  he has received is a free gift , and yet usually, at least in some small part, he has made himself ready to receive it,.”

Clarification of thought

I have learned that people who believe in some power greater than themselves and surrender to it that these same people begin to find hope and start feeling better.

I no longer just have to endure like a passive victim but instead can get active in my own recovery and start  to feel hopeful about my day and my life. I don’t have to feel this way anymore.


It is only by our prayer, meditation and self reflection that we will gradually be free of our despair and begin to hope. Our lives have been permanently changed by our understanding that we will get well today, bit by bit. ”

SOURCES: Copyright(c)Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of Twelve Step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Page 164. August 15.

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

People have the seeds of their own revival within them…

” What I learned from my  own depression  and recovery and try to practice when working with clients is that people  have the seeds of their own revival within them.  I want to ask the right questions so that people can hear what they say, recognize what  changes they want to make, and how they can choose to make them. Specific time limits are set, and I prefer to focus initially on people making changes  in their behavior, rather than mood.  I explain that although the depressed mood colors the whole world, it has not been shown to be  causally   related to improvement, where  as  behavior has.

When clients know that there are specific and tangible things they can do, they often begin to experience an immediate uprising. A specific time limit is often  motivating.  People begin to see themselves making positive changes in their behavior, and can begin to change attitudes about themselves.  They begin to see themselves controlling aspects of their environment, and as this happens, helplessness and hopelessness begin to dissipate and self-esteem levels rise  proportionally. People see themselves to be improving as a result of their own efforts.  Nothing can be more rewarding to a depressed person.

SOURCE: Wounded Healers. Pgs. 86-87.


I think what the author states here   is so true.  Once a person depressed begins to see themselves making  some positive changes in themselves,  their own sense of helplessness and hopelessness is  diminished.  I see this all the time when those persons who continue to return to the mutual aid group Depressed Anonymous  week after week. They are given a “toolbox” by which they choose various areas of their life to work on. They have a Depressed Anonymous Workbook, with a Step by Step format that can open up answers to questions that they have about their own sense of personhood and their depression experience. They also have a member of the fellowship to walk with them week after week between meetings, sometimes called a sponsor or coach. And with help from the program persons depressed now have courage to begin this journey of hope. Our program of recovery can and does increase one’s sense of empowerment.

We are what we repeatedly do. – Aristotle

“It is our own real, lived experience which leads us into the prison of depression. It is not a gene, or own hormones, or our dysfunctional and illogical thinking, our lack of faith, or our complexes and inadequacies which have brought depression  upon us, it is what happened to us  and, most importantly, what we have made of what has happened to us: it is the conclusions  we draw from our experiences.

That sort  of conclusions which lead us, finally, into the prison of depression was not drawn illogically or fantastically, or crazily, but were the correct conclusions to draw,  given the information we had at the time.

If, when you were a child, all the adults whom you loved and trusted were telling you that you were bad and that if you  didn’t mend your ways terrible things would happen to you, you wisely and correctly drew the conclusions that you were bad and had to work hard to be good. If, when you were a child, all the people you loved and trusted left you or disappointed or betrayed you, you wisely drew the conclusion that you must be wary of other people and that you should never love anyone completely ever again.  You were not to know that if we grow up believing  that we are intrinsically bad, and that other people are dangerous, we shall become increasingly isolated, the joy will disappear  from our life, and that we shall fall into despair….” SOURCE: Dorothy Rowe. The Depression Handbook. Collins. London.


I believe that in my own case what Dr. Rowe points out is so true. Our childhood experiences are so important because they set us up for how we think about ourselves as we mature. I remember vividly when I was in the 3rd grade, a teacher shamed me in  front of the whole class because I couldn’t get something right. She told me that I  would never  be like my brother whom was brilliant or my uncle who was also brilliant. For many years after when I thought about that moment in the 3rd grade I could still feel my face getting hot with shame. The worst part is that what she said that day I believed. As I grew into middle age it became important to me that what she said had no bearing on me really, as I was not my brother or my uncle. And that that was OK.

You can change the way you feel. You are not a victim.

” Who better knows the pain and the isolation of depression  than the person who has been depressed? It is my personal conviction, both as a psychotherapist and as a person who has experienced depression that it was only when I admitted that I was depressed that I could start working my way out of this terrible and immobilizing experience. In my own experience, I thought  I was losing my mind, as I couldn’t cram another thought into my head and couldn’t remember a thing that I had just read or thought a minute before,.  I was tired all the time and would wake up early in the morning and couldn’t get back to sleep. But that’s the best news most people hear when they come to Depressed Anonymous meeting for the first time, namely, that they are not losing their minds. When you’re depressed, you feel your mind is made out of cotton and all life seems grey, cold and lifeless.

The important thing to remember about depression is that you are not a victim. You have bought into the belief that you can’t change how you feel.  You need to believe that once you change the way you think then that in itself can begin to produce a change in the way you feel.”

In Depressed Anonymous,(2011), the  guiding light of the  fellowship of Depressed Anonymous, a 12 Step program of recovery we read that we are not victims of depression.  In fact our basic guides out of the pit of depression are the Twelve Steps. What you have just read in the paragraphs preceding are some basic thoughts  that can help take down the walls that have built your prison of depression. Step One is where we all begin our life giving journey of hope. Step One states quite simply that “We admitted that we were powerless over depression and that our live had become unmanageable.”   By following this program of recovery, step by step, you will soon discover that you not only can be part  of a life giving fellowship but now you possess the tools to live a life free of depression.

SOURCE: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.  Step One- Page 29.

Dr. Alfred Adler’s Prescription For Depression

“Years ago, Dr. Alfred Adler prescribed this remedy for depression to a patient.  “You can be helped if every day you begin the first thing in the morning to consider how you can bring joy to someone else. If you can stick to this for two weeks, you will no longer need therapy.”

Adler’s “prescription” of  course  is not much different than the suggestion that we work more intensively the program’s Twelve Steps to rid ourselves of depression. When I am depressed do I keep my feelings to myself or do I do what friends in the program have suggested that I do?” Source: A Day at a Time. 1976.Sept 10.


I like Adler’s “prescription” as a real concrete and positive aid in being mindful of the needs of others. In a Twelve Step meeting we find ourselves in the midst of a group of people, some who are newcomers, some who  have been in the group for a period of time and others who have gone through all the Steps, one after another. That’s the beauty of the 12 Step program of recovery. The Twelfth Step tells us that ” Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we   tried to carry this message to the depressed, and to practice these principles in all of our affairs.”

One of the instances for me personally of putting  the prescription of Dr. Adler into practice and  before  I  leave for work , is to ask God to lead me to that person who needs a loving presence the most. I happen to work in a long term care facility and because of a person’s different stage of their dementia, just to be a silent presence can  give a  person comfort.

But if we stay holed up in the isolation of life deadening thoughts all we can reflect upon is our own pain, much less the pain of anyone else. So, get the picture?  Reach out to someone else; leave the prison of our isolating and negative ruminations; connect with another human being and give ourselves someone to think about other than ourselves. Who knows, maybe we will come away from our encounter the other and be grateful  of what we can still do that has a positive effect on another’s life.