All posts by Hugh Smith

We can start today in getting our lives in order

It is only when we have begun to experience the sanity and healing of the program, studying the Steps and then returning to the meetings week after week, it is then, and only then, that we have the desire to want to bring this message of hope to those still suffering. Too often those who are hurting the most have the least desire to stick out the weekly meetings and which can produce a belief that they will be healed. They just don’t believe that anything good can happen to them. This of course is where they make a mistake. Their depression continues to inform them that no matter what they do or the actions that they take on their own behalf, it seems that nothing provides relief. I remember the times I informed two gentlemen, each at different times within a two-week period to come to our program and give it a try to see if they might begin to feel differently. I told them most, if not all those who come to our group, almost always felt better after getting actively involved in our program. They both declined my invitation. Within the next month, both had completed suicide. They chose death over the possibility of life. One of the recently deceased told me what would he gain by going to a meeting with a bunch of depressed people? Wasn’t he depressed enough? In a sense he was right. If a depressed person goes to a Depressed Anonymous meeting and they just talk about their depression, then yes, I suppose that would bring on more sadness in a person. But if it is a Depressed Anonymous meeting where they speak about the spiritual nature of the program and begin to live out the solution. namely, all that is contained in the suggested principles in the 12 Steps then they will definitely get the help they need. We live in the solution, not the problem. If you go to one of our meetings and hear nothing but talk of depression and nothing about the spirituality of our program of recovery that you might be in the wrong meeting. The good thing about the Depressed Anonymous meeting is that many of those attending are in that stage of their recovery, have a sponsor, have been applying the tools of the program, and have gained a positive view of themselves, their world, and their future.

Those of us who have lived with depression on a daily basis know the despair that dogs us day after day. For those who have been dependent principally on drugs and therapy and found no relief -this program is a good place to land. For those who have the courage to stay, and that need help, then this personal faith and effort will begin to pay off in time.

RESOURCE
Copyright(c) Hugh Smith. Depressed Once – Not Twice. (2000) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Ky. Pages 1-2.

Powered Up!

Powered up can mean a countless number of things to a lot of different people. It means that by involving myself in certain activities, I benefit from moving on to what I know is vital for me. Necessary in the sense of staying fit and healthy (walking, weight training), I get myself powered up to do what I want to do. For the athlete, or musician, writer, songwriter, and others, we all get powered up by doing whatever is needed to be the best we can be. When this happens, we feel powered up.

As a member of the Depressed Anonymous Fellowship, I am powered up when I involve myself in positive and healthy daily activities. This means that I am open and willing to do all that it takes to get myself undepressed, maintaining a daily regimen for my recovery.

Here is a formula for getting yourself powered up.

  1. I do positive self-talk. I no longer fall into the trap of self-bashing. I produce “sunspots (memories, pictures) in my mind” that keep me positive.
  2. I walk as often as I can when I can. Usually, three times a week.
  3. I pray and meditate daily and keep in touch with my Higher Power – having conscious contact with my God.
  4. Social engagement. I keep going to my Depressed Anonymous meetings, whether online or face to face. This is a must! Meetings energize me and motivate me always to want to come back.
  5. Exercise keeps me powered up. I feel energized, and I feel in harmony when I am in nature. Go green!!! Nature has a calming effect on me.
  6. Staying in the NOW. Practice mindfulness.
  7. Serve as a co-sponsor for a member of our fellowship. Call a friend when in need. Meet with members between meetings.
  8. Read Depressed Anonymous literature.
  9. Eat a healthy plant-based diet.
  10. Play. Have fun.

Hugh, for the fellowship

I still prefer to cling to the so-called illusion of religion. – Bill W., co-founder of AA

Bill W., the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, wrote this to a friend in 1946, sharing this thought:

Many people soberly assure me that man has no more place in the universe than that of another competing organism, fighting its way through life only to perish in the end. Hearing this, I feel that I still prefer to cling to the so-called illusion of religion, which in my own experience has meaningfully told me something very different.

REFERENCE
Copyright(c) As Bill Sees It: The A.A. Way of Life – Selected Writings of A. A’s co-founder. Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, New York 1967. Page 137.

Fellowships creating communities of hope and mutual care for each other!

Sigmund Freud was once asked what people needed to be happy. The questioner no doubt expected a long, complicated answer reflecting Freud’s years of deep reflection on the matter. His simple response, however, was “arbeiten und lieben”, – work and love. Happy people feel connected to others at work and through their intimate relationships. When those connections are threatened and diminished or broken, people suffer. others at work and through their intimate relationships. When these connections are threatened and diminished, or broken, people suffer. Today, millions of Americans are Americans are suffering from what my colleague Charles Derber calls “double trouble.” Those in double trouble have neither meaningful work nor sustaining intimate ties. The withering community life in both domains fosters a rootlessness and social disintegration that unquestionably contributes to the growth of emotional disorders.
David Karp. Speaking of Sadness: Depression, Disconnection, and the Meanings of Illness. (1996) Oxford University Press. New York. Page 178

It has been my personal experience that for as many years that I have been involved with Depressed Anonymous and other 12 Step fellowships how vital community is for us who seek healing, help, and hope. It is such a strength that those of us who use the program and attend the meetings find we are part of a loving community. We are part of a community where others care about us and share with us, and then we become the “miracle of the group” for others.

Today in our world, our global depression is of pandemic proportions. There is no vaccination for depression, of which I am aware. But what we do have is each other. There we can form relationships with others just like ourselves. We can have a sponsor who can listen and share their own experiences with depression giving us hope. Indeed, and speaking metaphorically a shot in the arm. So, what the world needs now is for each of us, by our WORK and LOVE of each other, to thrive – not close ourselves off in isolation and despair. Our “home” group where we go every week, virtually or face-to-face, is in this context of fellowship that we are “rooted” and become a family of friends–not acquaintances.

I have friends that I first met in DA that go back thirty years or more. Depressed Anonymous means growth, community, and serenity.
Please join our fellowship and be part of an ever-growing and loving community worldwide. We are not alone!

I found my depression a comfort

It strikes people as a strange thing to say when I tell them that I found my depression a comfort. I found it convenient because I didn’t have to make my decisions about anything or anybody. I could medicate these thoughts of how bad I was and continue to meditate until I felt completely numb and immobilized. Thanks to the program and the emphasis on personal honesty, the more I got the courage to take charge of my life and change what I knew had to be changed.

Today, I am not going to allow myself to get into addicting to negative and unpleasant thoughts. I will risk being myself and step out of the prison of my depression into the fresh air of living with a certain amount of unpredictability and freshness.

Avoidance is a vast reality when you are depressing, as I learned through the Twelve Steps program. I don’t want to see, talk to or have anything to do with anyone else when I am depressed; I will have to force myself to get involved with other people if I want to have a chance of ever feeling better.

Reflection

Because of you, O Lord, I wait: you O Lord my God will answer.
Psalm 35:16

The more we work our Program, God is as near as we are to God. The more we open up our consciousness to the God of our understanding, the more God draws us to himself. We believe that as we wait on the Lord to speak to us, our God will speak to us in some fashion that we will recognize. (Personal comments).

Resource
Higher Thoughts For Down Days, © 2014, Depressed Anonymous Publications, Louisville KY. (Pages 157-158)

Making gratitude my attitude helps keep Robin out of depression

Through the Depressed Anonymous program of recovery, which utilizes the Twelve Steps, I have been on a journey of transformation from the everyday life of struggle, gloom, and desperation to discovering new freedom and new happiness – something I didn’t know existed. My entire perspective is changing. Other people who I thought were judgmental are now considered as all being a child of God- all created equal. What a provocative pence tool this is! Really! It helps me lift those negative attitudes and places them with affirmations. This is undoubtedly the most valuable technique offered in Depressed Anonymous to acquire an optimistic attitude towards life itself or simply “making gratitude my attitude.” So many of us were only familiar with the sham and the drudgery of life, but even with all the sham and drudgery in the world, it is still a beautiful place to live. We learn to change not the world but how we view the world and all its intricacies.

Using the Twelve Steps allows me to begin the journey of hope and to admit that I am powerless over depression. There is the time when depression overwhelms me so intensely that it nearly cripples me altogether. These emotions of failure, shame, and “feeling less than”, become so uncontrollable that I have to stop and simply admit that I am powerless over them. But now, I genuinely believe that there is a power greater than myself and greater than those emotions.

The Higher Power (whom I call God) is there to help me any time I ask Him. And you know what? He rescues me every single time.

Resources
Depressed Anonymous 3rd Edition, © 2011, Depressed Anonymous Publications, Louisville KY. (Pages 115)

The orange traffic cones, are a metaphor for me to slow down, keep alert

Often, I find myself face to face with those orange traffic cones warning me of a pothole in the roadway ahead, approaching lanes to change, or workers ahead.

Over the years, I have found myself battling negative thinking with the resultant spiraling down of my moods which because challenging to shake off. But after many years of doing the same thing over and over, meditating how bad I was, I found myself being more careful of, one, how I talked to myself, and two, learning that the best way to find myself in a deep unpleasant mood, was to continue these self-defeating thoughts- the self-bashing.

I am at a point now in my recovery that I know when a past unpleasant thought pops up in my head, like the orange road cones, that I am aware that I need to heed the warning and steer clear of that mental pothole about to derail me and throw me in a ditch too deep to remove ourselves.
What I do, though, is to face the fear with that instant adrenaline surge, not run away but continue to meet the feeling, acknowledge it for what it is, an unpleasant feeling, uncomfortable but not life-threatening, and so move along.

I also replace the fear with a sunspot, a pleasant memory of ourselves, if you will, and dwell on that pleasant memory with persistence. Be grateful that no longer will you let a fearful thought scare you into submission and inaction. Now you have a helpful and powerful way to stay out of the potholes of your thinking. You will be able to feel the strength and purpose by having a new direction for your life.

Hugh S.

Being on the level keeps us up right!

When working as a bricklayer or doing carpentry work, I always needed this instrument for measuring horizontal or perpendicular planes to see if they were level. A little air bubble in a tube, partially filled with liquid, has to lie in the center of the tube to indicate whether the plane is level.

In our Depressed Anonymous recovery program, being on the level with myself, my family, others, and my God (Higher Power) is what this 12 Step recovery program is about. In the first of the twelve steps, “We admitted that we were powerless over depression and that our lives had become unmanageable.” Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. p.28). From this moment on, as I walk along with others in our fellowship, I learn from the positive results that come when I am on the level with myself and others in our program of recovery. I admitted how in my past life, I was not always on the level with others. And by not being on the level, I gradually built for myself a prison–a prison without a door. I was in lockdown, sometimes for short periods of time, and sorry to say, for most of my life.

With the Twelve Step program, you can recover – although most likely not right away. Let’s be honest– nothing that has taken the greater part of a lifetime to build can be dismantled in a few days or weeks. But you will feel better if you follow the instructions in this book (Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY). I am still following the instructions in this book, with all those other kindred spirits, who like myself continue to be “on the level” with fellow members of the fellowship.

Hugh S.

Source:

Depressed Anonymous 3rd Edition, © 2011, Depressed Anonymous Publications, Louisville KY.

We felt trapped

The following is an excerpt from the recently published work Dep-Anon: A 12 Step Recovery Program for Families and Friends of the Depressed. (2021). Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

An obvious fact we have learned is that our depressed loved ones are not as different from us as we would like to believe. When it comes to us, we recognized and admitted to ourselves and others that we were shackled with the same darkness as was our depressed family member. We felt trapped. And what did we do about it? Nothing. We had hit a wall. Amazingly, it is like looking into a mirror, and instead of seeing ourselves. we see our depressed loved one. Do we feel we have lost our very selves in all of the chaos that has been an ongoing part of our lives?

The lesson that family members need to reflect upon, with feedback from their Dep-Anon fellowship, are all the myriad aspects of depression that we discussed in Chapters Six and Seven. Some say that it is like being in an eighty-foot hole with only an eight-foot ladder. Others say that that it is like being in a dark room with no windows and no door and having no way out. But we at Dep-Anon have each other, with a program that works. And we are gradually laying out a path in our life based on the dynamic spiritual principles of the Twelve Steps every day.
Dep-Anon, p.73


The intent of this book is to provide family and friends of the depressed a program that fits the needs for their own lives with an understanding of the nature of depression with its immobilizing effects upon those who experience it.
Dep-Anon will be a source of strength for family members who gather together, just as Depressed Anonymous members gather others like themselves for hope and strength. Basically, and primarily the Dep-Anon fellowship will keep the focus on their own need for healing and “hands off” their depressed loved one –realizing that they can only fix themselves.

If you who are reading this blog today, please know that this book will be a great help for your family and friends in understanding depression and continue to work the Steps for themselves plus keeping the focus on their own recovery.

Hugh S.

RESOURCE

VISIT THE STORE (www.depressedanon.com ) for more information about this new and challenging work.
Copyright (c) Dep-Anon. A 12 Step recovery program for family and friends of the depressed. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.