All posts by Hugh Smith

Mother’s intuition

We all have experienced our mother’s intuition, especially as children. They always had the ability to take one look at us and sensing that we had been up to something. That something was more in the line of a Dennis the Menace something. You know, the kind of look that messaged “Yea, Mom, I did break that antique vase given to you by the President.”

In our 12-step program of recovery, we read the Promises of AA at all our meetings. And of the thirteen lines or so, there is one of the Promises that I have been thinking about this past week. A member of Depressed Anonymous and I have been sharing our thoughts with each other about these Promises. Here is the sentence that I find to be full of hope for our recovery. “We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.”

The dictionary defines intuition as “The direct knowing or learning of something without the conscious use of reasoning: immediate apprehension or understanding.”

It has taken me some years to realize, without even thinking about it, that there was something that really baffled me, was powerful and cunning. I am not talking just about abusing alcohol, even though the three words apply to addictive drinking, and how the thought to drink suddenly popped into my mind and I thought one drink wouldn’t hurt. The one drink did matter.

Now that I have been in recovery, I have learned that there is such a thing as “red flags” which automatically pop up in my mind and my thinking starts to slide down into that slippery slope which always brings my mood down and my feelings aching. In the past I could not stop these thoughts from pulling me downward. Now, I get “red flags” warning me. intuitively, that no good is going to come from going down this path.

Like any addiction, which once enslaved us, the thinking, as messed up as it was, suddenly threw me down and put the shackles on my mind.

Now I intuitively know, recognize, that I will not be overpowered, or let these old tapes, old playbills, take over my mind, my body, and soul. When the old deadly thoughts come knocking at my door, I know, no heavy-duty thinking, no conscious reasoning about what is available, I just know. DON’T GO THERE!

I do know this for a fact when an addictive thought starts to take me to where I know I cannot go, I have enough warning now, a “red flag”, where I don’t even have to think of the consequences–I intuitively know that there will be hell to pay if I start to go through the “should I” or “shouldn’t I” internal dialogue.


There is no turning back!

I can’t go back. I finally made up my mind, after many years, never to go back to my old ways of thinking. My choice to refuse thinking those old negative thoughts gave me a freedom – not right away–but eventually I became free. I knew that once I gave them a “pass” that they would set in motion a mood–a negative mood, gradually throwing me into a deep depression, a mental quicksand. It was baffling to me how this rapid descent, set in motion, like a row of dominos falling over one after another. It was like suddenly turning off a light switch And finding myself drowning in despair and darkness.



You laughed at my weakness
– as I feared to show them.
You trampled on my dreams
– so I dreamed alone.
You were too busy to listen
– so I never spoke.
You handled my secrets indiscreetly
– so I ceased to share them.
You were insensitive to my needs
– so I hid them from you.
You never seemed to understand
– so I stopped trying to communicate.
You hurt me by your indifference
-so I bled inwardly.
You wouldn’t let me near you
-so, I kept my distance.
You cared for my physical needs
– so my soul became imprisoned.
You drove me into myself
– so now I am imprisoned.

NOTE: This poem was written by Val, a client of Dorothy Rowe.

Dorothy Rowe: The way out of your prison. Second Edition, Routledge and Kegan Paul. 1996. London and New York. pp.15-153.

The voice of hope

“We admitted that we were powerless over depression and that our lives had become unmanageable.”

“Let’s listen now to the long-denied part of us that speaks out in favor of a change – that voice of hope that says we will feel cheerful one day. The small part of us says that we should risk going to this meeting and admit that: “Yes, I am depressed, and yes, I am going to find my way out of this prison by taking stock of my strengths and by beginning to want to hope.” You do have a choice. You can begin to let go of your fears of what life will be like without the constant gnawing feeling inside of you that produces that awful jitteriness. You will find lots of acceptance from the group as you listen to the many ways others like yourself have surrendered their problems to their Higher Power and begun to find a sense of peace and sanity that they never thought existed. The old issues in your head will whisper that there is no hope for you that no one is as badly off as you are and that nobody will want to help you as you don’t deserve anything anyway. Often these old tapes have been with us since childhood and many of our adult depressions have their roots in our childhood. Many people do not remember much of their childhood, but repressing memories does not mean that the emotions belonging to these experiences in childhood disappear.”

Depressed Anonymous, THIRD EDITION. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Kentucky. PP.33-34.

I met some great folks at a time in my life when I needed them most

We all have heard when the student is ready the teacher appears. You know there is a lot of truth to that statement. It is also true that when we are face flat on the ground, a person happens along who gives us needed support and a purpose for living. Is it a coincidence or is it part of a greater plan? Or maybe a divine setup.

How often has it been your experience that you’re thinking of a friend and the friend is suddenly contacting you on the phone. Synchronicity is one way to explain this simultaneous happening with two events happening at the same time. Again, you meet an old friend who shares important information with you: information that you desperately needed but this need of yours is unknown to the friend. Again, is this a coincidence or just something that happens without any mysterious meaning attached to it.

This brings me to Step Two of the 12 Step program of Depressed Anonymous. “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” This meeting of a Power greater than ourselves happens all the time to many of us in the recovery program. But it frequently happens at just the right moment when that greater power shows up and saves the day and/ or our lives.

Has this been your experience? If so, I think that you remember the time of day, the month and the year. We call this your birthday in the recovery program.

Hugh S.

To keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is insanity

Maybe and maybe not! We use this slogan many times in our recovery groups, thinking the statement to be true. For example, to keep missing our recovery meetings week after week may result in a possible relapse. I believe this to be true! Insane? It is definitely not helpful when one is trying to find sobriety or a way out of their depression

For the depressed to isolate oneself from family, friends and the world, is to gradually move self into a deepened mood of sadness and ultimately depression. The isolation is not going to defend the individual from depression but is only going to make it worse.

To look at the slogan from another angle is to find that the statement is false. In fact, to keep going to meetings week after week or more often is doing the same thing – expecting different results. By doing the same thing over and over again, in this case, the different results are a strengthened recovery with hopefulness coupled with serenity.

Survive the now and I will survive the tomorrow

This is a timely nugget of hope for my day today. All we have today is 24 hours.

When I attempt to stay in the now, keeping my mind occupied with what is happening in my inner environment – my thinking and feelings. I reflect on how these thoughts affect my mood. My mood might be spiraling upward, or it my be spiraling downward. And again, it just might just be stuck in neutral, sort of flat.

When I share at a Depressed Anonymous group meeting, I feel the acceptance of the fellowship no matter what I share. The group helps keep me in the now. I find some meetings, some speakers, say things that hit me where I live. I feel my own mood resonates with what they have to say. My mind pushes past my gloom with its struggling thoughts, hanging on to that spoken life raft just now offered to me. I begin to believe, right now, at this very moment in time, that maybe I too can survive the tomorrow. I feel hopeful.