All posts by Hugh Smith

I started to realize that I was depressed seven or eight years ago

The following is an account of how Bill, a member of Depressed Anonymous, shares his story of recovery. There could be a possibility that his story might be your own story. Part of Bill’s story is reprinted here. Let’s see what Bill has to say. (His story is part of a series of personal accounts illustrating the life changes of those attending who are members of Depressed Anonymous).

I became an active member of Depressed Anonymous after seeing my counselor for three or four months. I never knew that I was depressed. I never understood. I know that I needed to make changes in my life. Many depressed people have trouble, namely, not being able to admit that something is truly wrong in their lives and that they need to change.

…It started after the breakup with a girlfriend. I was devastated. I had good friends at work. I am well educated with two degrees after my name, but I wasn’t fulfilled. My world was falling apart. I had two jobs. I lost my girl. I wanted to be left alone. The burden was too real. I didn’t want to get up in the morning. I just wanted to be left alone to be isolated and bored. It was tough. I was nasty and mean. I sometimes still behave like this. I get angry and I get frustrated and get upset with myself.

Gradually by attending the DA meetings Bill had this to say:

We were a small group at first. In this group, we all had a story, and we had to let it out. I thought that no one could be in as bad shape as I was in. I thought everyone was perfectly happy. We started the Depressed Anonymous group about a year ago. We took one step at a time.

More follows:

Bill shares his final thoughts with us that:

… this is my short story. I was down and I was out. I really couldn’t care at one time if I lived or died. Now I do. It really didn’t matter. I met a great woman and decided to get married. I couldn’t have done it without Depressed Anonymous. It’s a wonderful experience. I’m learning how to take care of myself. I met a lot of new friends at Depressed Anonymous. It takes time to change. It may not work for everyone. But without Depressed Anonymous, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

I can say that the above is true for me as well.

Hugh S.

You can read the entire account of Bill’s compelling recovery in Depressed Anonymous, 2011, THIRD EDITION. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Ky. Pages 150-151.

I am depressed. I wish our families had a support group for themselves. – Depressed Anonymous member

Yes, all of us who are depressed or who have been depressed have said the same thing. I agree wholeheartedly. My family doesn’t have a clue as to the deep and hurting feelings that we experience. But how could they? They’ve never been depressed. I would never wish this on them or anyone, but my family needs are an understanding of depression and the power that it exerts over our lives.

As a depressed person myself., I know about the pain, the guilt, and the isolating nature of depression. Even though family members and friends are unaware of the life-threatening nature of our illness, it is a must that they begin to focus on themselves and their recovery. By getting involved in a fellowship with other families of the depressed, they learn of the nature of depression and the prison that keeps us immobilized. They also learn that we refuse to respond to their help, no matter what they say or do. In many cases, it pushes us away.
The Dep-Anon fellowship could be the depressed person’s best friend. The reason is that the family members learn how devastating this sadness keeps us in “lockdown.”

We learn that:

When one of the members of the family is experiencing depression, the family suffers. Attempting to free the depressed person from depression is of little help. They suffer but, they do not know what is happening to them; they make others suffer and, everybody feels betrayed, undefined and, abandoned. The family system is thrown off balance. Family members are conflicted about their loved one’s behavior. Conflicts and anger start to flare up – it is true that the family is the best therapist, but they must know that to be helpful, they must keep focusing on their mental health and wellness.
Dep-Anon, p.81

The point is that family members need to focus on themselves and not on the depressed. They are not able to change us. But what stands out here is that they can change only themselves. Dep=Anon will provide a program of recovery suited for their recovery, focusing on their own defects of character with a need for the support of other families who, like themselves, begin to understand the nature of depression (no more “snap out of it” comments) while gaining new insights into the power of the spiritual principles of the 12 Steps.

I can see how we are like Al-Anon, a group that has an alcoholic in the family, no longer keeping their focus and energy directed to them and their drinking, and efforts to stop their drinking behavior, but keeps the focus on their own lives, enjoying the support of their Al-Anon fellowship. The alcoholic has Alcoholics Anonymous, and I, as a depressed person, support Depressed Anonymous. Both of these 12 Step programs of recovery are on the same recovery page. I thank God for my understanding that now my family has the support of other families like mine. My family is learning so much about me and what I am facing. They are thankful that I have Depressed Anonymous, and I have a family that is focused on themself and not on me and my recovery.

The depressed person’s family plays a vital role in hastening his recovery or recovery. By understanding the nature of depression and offering the person the support he or she needs, the family can help him or her work through the depression. Together they can evolve a sounder system of relationships.

Resources:
(C) Depressed Anonymous, THIRD EDITION, (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville KY.
(C) Dep-Anon: A 12 Step recovery program for the families and friends of the depressed. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky.
(c) The Secret Strength of Depression. Frederic Flach. THIRD REVISED EDITION. 1988. Printed in Canada. Page 192.

The highest form of wisdom is kindness – The Talmud

When I share at our Depressed Anonymous fellowship meetings (online or virtual) my story is always met with kindness. No one tells me that I ‘shoulda’ or ‘woulda’ or ‘coulda’ done this or that differently. No, the group listens and shares their own thoughts on the issue at hand. The main feature of our fellowship sharing is for each of us to speak in the first person and share what has or has not worked for them.

Kindness kindles kindness. This is the strength of our fellowship. We are here for our recovery; we hope to be treated with the same respect as we would treat another. To tell our story – possibly for the first time – is quite a challenge for most of us. Depressed Anonymous, presents an important fact

“…that the more we share our story with other members of the Depressed Anonymous group, the more we can hear for the first time our own unique story. It is amazing how, when we speak to others about ourselves and our addictions, we begin to loosen up and release in ourselves a new sense of ourselves – freedom to express our true selves. It is at these times when we discuss our addiction at the Depressed Anonymous meetings that we get first-hand information and feedback on how others are working free of their sadness and hollowness.” (Depressed Anonymous., p.79.)

Resource
Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous, THIRD EDITION (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.

The Dep-Anon Family Group and Depressed Anonymous are my best friends

Recently, Dep-Anon the 12 Step recovery program, for family and friends of the depressed was launched. Because I am a member of Depressed Anonymous, I continue to experience the power of that fellowship.

The Dep-Anon manual and discussion guide for family and friends of the depressed is a powerful support group for those of us who are depressed. This new fellowship, like the Depressed Anonymous fellowship, is organized around the spiritual principles of the 12 Steps. It is similar to the Al-Anon fellowship where members keep the focus on themselves and their recovery, using the Steps. Instead of trying to fix the alcoholic, they take care of their own issues and do not try to fix the alcoholic. The fixing must come from the alcoholic. Also, the family members learn about the progressive illness of alcoholism and the negative effect that it has on the whole family. That’s where Al-Anon comes in – taking care of their own lives and feelings.

The alcoholic has AA meetings and a fellowship to support them in their search for sobriety. The Depressed have their own fellowship and support by attending their Depressed Anonymous meetings.

“By our fellowship with other family members, who also may share life with the depressed, we admit that all we can do is to take care of ourselves and admit that from this time forward we commit ourselves to the principle of living and let live. We also espouse the four C’s which state that our beliefs about NOT taking responsibility for our depressed significant other. These four C’S can be a constant reminder of how we are to live each day.

These are basically our four Statements of Belief:
1) I believe that I didn’t cause it. 2) I believe that I can’t control it. 3) I believe that I can’t cure it. 4) I believe all that I can do is to cope with it.

In Step One of our Dep-Anon fellowship, we admit that we are powerless over their depression. By taking responsibility for their every action, our lives gradually become swallowed up by the pain and morose of their lives. We gradually learn that it is by our surrendering the impossible desire to fix and cure, that we begin believing that what we can do is learn to cope with the depression and the isolating behavior of the depressed family member.” (Dep-Anon. Pgs. 15-16).

So, it is at this point where other family members can gather together at their Dep-Anon meetings, using the spiritual principles of the Steps, and continue to focus on their own issues. They learn more about depression by being an active member of Dep-Anon and discover that this is the best way to help their depressed family member.

Resource

(COPYRIGHT) Dep-Anon: A 12 Step recovery program for the families and friends of the depressed. (2021) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville., Ky.

This new publication can be ordered online from VISIT THE STORE @www.depressedanon.com.

Dep-Anon family fellowship keeps the focus on themselves

“By our fellowship with other family members, who also may share life with the depressed, we admit that all we can do is to take care of ourselves. We admit that from this time forward, we are committing ourselves to the principle of living and let live. We also espouse the four C’s which state our beliefs about NOT taking responsibility for our depressed significant other’s depression. These four C’s can be a constant reminder of how to live each day with what we are dealing with.
These are basically our four Statements of belief:
1) I believe that I didn’t cause it.
2) I believe I can’t control it.
3) I believe that I can’t cure it.
4) I believe that all I can do is cope with it.,

In Step One of our Dep-Anon fellowship, we admit that we are powerless over their depression. By taking responsibility for their every action, our lives gradually become swallowed up by the pain and morose of our depressed loved one’s life. We gradually learn that it is by our surrendering the impossible desire to fix and cure, that we begin believing that what we CAN do is learn to cope with the depression and the isolating behavior of our significant other.

We begin the healing journey with other family members, discovering our own path for healing and wholeness. ”


Copyright (c)Dep-Anon: The 12 Step recovery program for families and friends of the depressed. (2021) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. Pgs. 17-18.

Please check out our bookstore at www.depressedanon.com. Ordering online is available.

The Dep-Anon handbook combines issues of both the depressed and family

This recently published handbook (June 24, 2021) combines the issues of both the family and the depressed, providing a common ground for understanding and acceptance.
The Dep-Anon handbook is divided into two sections, each with its own emphasis. Section one is about the need for Dep-Anon, a family group with a depressed member as part of their family.
Section two acquaints us with the nature of depression and how it affects the lives of those depressed who experience it.

“First, Dep-Anon is a necessary recovery program for the family and friends of the depressed. Here they learn about the crippling and life-threatening nature of depression. They will discover that their loved one or friend cannot just will themselves out of the incapacitating physical and mind-shattering problem. All the “snap out of it” and “get on with your life” messages directed at their loved ones are futile. Secondly, family members begin to see the necessity of taking care of themselves. With the Dep-Anon fellowship giving attention to the daily practice of 12 Step living, it becomes clear that this is at the core of our personal and communal recovery.
‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. Courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.'”
–An excerpt from the Introduction of Dep-Anon: A 12 Step Recovery program for families and friends of the expressed.

The hope is that the Dep-Anon family fellowship groups will be formed, just as their depressed loved ones have their own fellowship of Depressed Anonymous.

Each of Dep-Anon’s Twelve chapters has a group discussion guide. Also provided is a suggested meeting format for those setting up Dep-Anon mutual aid groups in their communities.

NOTE: Please Visit the Store (Depressed Anonymous Publications) for further information for ordering online.

Hope is an essential part of the human DNA

The fingerprint of God is on all living creatures, great and small. Each of us has been imprinted with the creators. God has for us to discover the way of personal peace and serenity. He has provided us with a set of fingerprints, all uniquely our own.
In John Powel’s book Through Seasons of the Heart, 1986, he shares the following.

“There is a Christian tradition that God sends each person into the world with a special message to deliver, with a special song to sing for others, with a special act of love to bestow. These are entrusted only to me. No one else can speak my message, sing my song, or offer my act of love. Think about this quote today. What is the message that God wants you to give today? What is the message that only you can give? What is the only act of love that you can bestow to others today?”

I believe this is true. Bill W. and Dr. Bob came into my broken and messed up world with the message that the God of their understanding had given them. And now, I, with others, are bringing the same message of hope and healing to the world.

The only song that I can share is “O Happy day.” This is the song that I now sing because I have come into the world with God’s fingerprint on my soul. The message I am to share with others is not to give up on yourself if you are depressed. Know that you can recover. You have God’s fingerprint of love on your heart! You are never alone.

Hugh

Resources

(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (1998. 2008, 2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications, Louisville. KY.
(c) The Depressed Anonymous Workbook 2002, Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Ky.

How to run a tight ship

The pessimist complains about the wind;
The optimist expects it to change;
The realist adjusts the sails.
– William Arthur Ward

When I attend a Depressed Anonymous meeting, whether virtual or face-to-face, I know that I will learn more about adjusting my sails. My life is always undergoing an adjustment. Now, that’s not a bad thing, that’s just how this program of recovery works. The “power that is greater than myself” is the wind in my sails. The first three steps of Depressed Anonymous describe how we get in touch with this power that continues to keep me afloat, staying on course.

My life continues to have some “zigging and zagging” adjustments, some minor and some needing more attention, and I make it through the day. I want to mention that there are many trusty mates on board with me, all having tested sea legs, continuing to help me, anytime and any day, sail through rough waters.

Now, with adjusted sails, I head for port, a metaphor for serenity and hope.

Hugh

We learn to be nice

Are you a “nice” guy or gal? Is there a relationship between wanting to be “nice” and being “co-dependent”? I think so. And why is being nice so important? Is it that if you weren’t nice, people wouldn’t like you anymore? Is this a possibility?

Personally, I had found myself being “nice” when I was boiling with anger at something someone said or did. All this with a smile on my face. Crazy? What makes us want to be “nice” when inside we are ready to blow our top?

Here are some of my thoughts about being “nice.” For example, I want to be a good guy. If I am not agreeable, I may lose a friendship or a relationship. So, in the process of being agreeable, we lose a piece of who we are and the values that we espouse.
How can I be “nice” and still be honest?

For more about being “nice,” click on the blog at the Archives for September 3rd, 2015. https://depressedanon.com/1091/
Also, check out the word Anger at Categories.

A Pressing Concern

My pressing concern over these many years as a practicing mental health therapist is to do more to help family members be part of the conversation with medical and mental health professionals when dealing with a depressed loved one. I continue to help setting up Depressed Anonymous groups, while encouraging Dep-Anon Twelve Step groups for those who have a depressed member in their family.

Dep-Anon, a 12 Step Recovery program for Families and Friends of the Depressed, was published on June the 24th, 2021, by Depressed Anonymous Publications. This 117-page book includes Chapter topics that can promote an understanding of the nature of depression, dismissing those negative beliefs that not only are incorrect, and damaging they continue to cast a stigma upon those who are depressed. These attitudes will do nothing but further isolate the depressed. NOT HELPFUL AT ALL!

The Dep-Anon Family group can be that healthy connection between the depressed and the family. The family members will learn to help the depressed; they must and not the depressed. Each of the book’s 12 Chapters will present useful information on the nature of depression while including a commentary for each of the 12 spiritual principles (Steps) of Dep-Anon. In addition, each Chapter will provide the family groups with discussion questions that will enrich the Dep-Anon fellowship. Finally, the groups will help each other cope with their own emotions and provide an ongoing pathway for their emotional growth and balance.

The depressed loved one has their own fellowship of Depressed Anonymous, which helps them focus on their own recovery, and their family has Dep-Anon, which helps family focus on what needs a focus in their own lives.

The Dep-Anon family group might end up being the best advocate/friend for the depressed, fostering understanding and acceptance instead of the negative beliefs that had once made the situation seem hopeless.

Hugh, for the fellowships