All posts by Hugh Smith

Two sides of the same coin

As an active member of the Depressed Anonymous fellowship, I am also an active member of the 12 Step recovery program, Dep-Anon, for families and friends of the depressed.

Since I have a family member who is depressed, and the fact that I was depressed, but still maintain my serenity, by continuing to stay active in the DA fellowship. You might say that I am a “double dipper” being able to be part of two important mutual aid groups. Not only do I know what happens when I am depressed, I also know depression and how it affects a family member, resultant, affecting the whole family.

Now that I have the help of other family members (Dep-Anon) who have a depressed significant other in their life, my focus now is not on the depressed loved one, but the focus is now totally on me. I have become a new person, in that at one time I was harsh and critical of this person, who slept all the time, didn’t work, and was oblivious to the suffering she was causing myself and my family.

I believed, mistakenly, that since I had experienced depression with its overwhelming power, pushing me deeper into isolation from my world and myself, that I was qualified to FIX my family member. Wrong. I tried that route. It was a disaster. My criticism and cajoling her did the opposite of bringing her out of depression. My focus and anger, as it was directed toward her, locked her deeper into the prison of her depression. Ultimately, I discovered that my negsativity and lack of acceptance into the family, did nothing but harm. Surprisingly, now, with my harshness changing to compassion and acceptance of her as a daughter, a fellow humn being, brought down by her illness, is setting us both free. I give credit to my Dep-ANon fellowship for putting me on the right track–work/focus on fixing me.
Hugh

ORIGINS OF DEP-ANON
Dep-Anon had as its inspiration the 12 Step Al-Anon program for families of the alcoholic. The program was focused, not on the alcoholic but on themselves.

We now became focused on our need for recovery, believing that the focus had to be on us — not the depressed family member. I have learned that I can only FIX myself. Being part of the Dep-Anon family group presented me with a focus on my own spiritual and mental health needs. Now, I am participating With other family members, using the recovery tools of Dep-Anon, I was no longer alone, but now had the support of other family members like myself. Together, we have discovered that by focusing on our character defects ( critical of our loved one, anger at their behavior, lack of compassion for someone who is sick) I have found my attitudes changing.

A positive result of being part of the Dep-Anon family group is to learn about the nature of depression and how it affects a person, physically, mentally and spiritually. Our motivation to do anything positive to move us out of the mental and physical “lockdown” of depression is severely handicapped.

“Dep-Anon espouses the four C.s which state our beliefs
about NOT taking responsibility for our loved one’s depression. These four can be a constant reminder of living each day with what we face.
THE FOLLOWING ARE OUR FOUR STATEMENTS OF BELIEF
1) I believe that 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 that all I can do is to cope with it.”

Copyright(c) Dep-Anon: A Twelve Step Recovery Program for Families and Friends of the Depressed. (2021) Hugh S., Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. Page 13.
This Book can be ordered online from the Depressedanon.com website. PLease go to Visit the Store at Home page.

++++++Join us on ZOOM, every Monday afternoon, at 2PM EDT. Meetings are 1 Hour in length.

MEETING ID: 846 6885 1123
PASSWORD : serenity (Use small caps)

Detour – Taking a different way home

Step Four

“MADE A SEARCHING AND FEARLESS MORAL INVENTORY OF OURSELVES.”

“Let’s Just say that you always took path A home from work everyday. You passed the same old signs, the same old buildings, the same old malls–you feel you could almost drive home with your eyes closed. This is of course boring, and also deadening to our thinking processes as we do everything out of habit. The saying is true that we are creatures of habit. But let’s just say, for example, that a detour sign pops up along our old familiar path -we become disoriented – we become confused. We say to ourselves-Where am I? Now where do I go? Good questions.” The inventory will ask questions of you which you may never have asked of yourself.

“But we have figured out that even though my path home is very predicable, it is still a path that is gradually incapacitating my ability to keep a focus on hopeful outcomes.” We need to be awakened out of our routine. The daily grind is putting our mind to sleep.

Let’s take an example taken from the Depressed Anonymous Workbook, which presents us with a metaphor, on how an inventory will become a critical part of our personal recovery. The 4th and 5th Steps in the Depressed Anonymous Workbook, includes questions dealing with our lives, while detailing areas which have been influenced by our everyday feelings of sadness, hopelessness and despair.The inventory questions, prepared in the 4th and 4th Step chapters of the Workbook, (all 12 chapters are in a question and answer format) will provide for us some surprising pieces of positive information about ourselves that will be recovered from examining some of our past life issues. (Don’t forget to share all the good things that you like about yourself.)

We have mentioned how working the 4th Step Recovery Program is like coming home a different route. We will take the detour (inventory) which will help us get back on the right path. That is why, our inventory work, puts us on a different path for living. We are fitted with a new hope. We will quickly learn how doing or not doing what we always used to do, is NOT working.

By using the Depressed Anonymous Workbook, with its 12 Step questions, accompanied with our personal answers, can provide us, with a gradual process of self-understanding, self-awareness, and emotional healing. These positive thoughts and feelings about ourselves, continue to manifest as a direct result from our personal answers to Workbook questions and our hard work on ourselves. We find that we are able to live with hope the more we commit ourselves to our recovery work. Our mind continues to put a “spotlight” on these negative concerns which keep us from a life lived with hope and peace. In time, the fog in our brain will gradually be lifted. We will begin to see ourselves and future in a positive light.

Path B, points us in a different direction from where we were used to going. And for many of us, this is the first time that we are intent upon taking a good and hard look at who we are. Taking an inventory, looking at the negatives as well as all the strengths that are ours, helps us to give a gratitude for all the good areas of our life that are beginning to awaken in us and continue to take root. These awakenings are the new and fresh beliefs about ourselves and our inner world that is gradually being created.

In the 4th Step of recovery, we are ready to “make a searching and fearless inventory of ourselves.” The inventory method will help us, as we take take a little time each day, reflecting on how we think about ourselves, while discovering reasons why our “mistaken beliefs” about ourselves, has gotten us to the place where we are today. This motivates us to get into action. We make a decision to change the way we live out our daily lives. We want to be fearless in uncovering any and all rocks, that have blocked our path in the past. We will begin to take action and we will possess a new courage, taking care of business.

We must look the beast in the face. I pray that the “God of your understanding” will lead you to where the light of love shines bright and where the darkness is swallowed by hope and love of self.

Hugh S., for the fellowship

For more information on the Workbook, and other literature which can be helpful, please check out the Webpage (Depressedanon.com) at the DA Literature Store

Copyright(c) Depressed Annoynous Workbook Depressed Anonymous Publications. (2002) Louisvllle, KY. Pages 22-24.

The Missing Piece

“There is a story about a circle that was missing a piece. The story centers on a circular shape-like creature missing a wedge-shaped piece of itself. It doesn’t like this and sets out to find its missing piece, singing,

Oh, I’m looking for my missin’ piece,
I/m looking for my missin’ piece.
Hi-dee-ho here I go,
Lookin’ for my missin’ piece.

It starts out on a grand adventure, searching for the perfect piece to complete itself while singing and enjoying the scenery. But after the circle finally finds the exact- sized wedge that fits it, it begins to realize that it can no longer do the things that it used to enjoy doing, like singing or or rolling slowly enough to enjoy the company of a worm or a butterfly. It decides that it was happier when searching for the missing piece than actually having it. So, it gently puts the piece down and continues searching happily.”


“The Missing Piece” by Shel Silverstein presents us with the lesson of the story that in some strange way, we are more whole when we are missing something.”

It is often said that the joy is in the journey. While most of us are on some type of journey or other, we admit that we also are searching for that missing piece. Our life is just not complete until that missing piece shows up, and of course, that could be one of a zillion things.

Remember, the circle finds happiness, not in the “thing” or “circumstance” that would make him happy and complete, but it is enjoying what lies surrounding him. It is right in front of him, in plain sight.

If we are seeking perfection in our lives, there is a strong possibility that we will miss what we are looking for. In other words, missing the joy of living in the NOW, the present. We gradually learn that What you seek, seeks you.

In my life today, I accept my own missing parts that I thought would make me happy. Surprisingly, just the joy of taking life one day at a time, living in harmony with others, plus walking everyday in what I believe is God’s will is for me, today.

I am part of a growing and positive fellowship, which is composed of hundreds of adventurers, each seeking their own missed part. The beauty of it all, is that we each have found what we are looking for, that is, a place, with others like ourselves, where there is no longer a need to keep rolling along, wanting it all, a perfect utopia. Instead, we are finding that wonderful acceptance from others in our live, just the way we are. This is the discovery of our grand adventure. It is progress that we are seeking, not perfection.

Hugh S., for the fellowship

Copyright(c) Dep-Anon: A 12 Step recovery program for families and friends of the depressed, Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. Pages 38-39. Quoted in (c) “The Missing Piece” from Shel Silverstein. (Children’s Picture Book) HarperCollins, 1976.

I found in this Depressed Anonymous program a path of freedom

FROM ‘NOW’ INTO STILLNESS

Is the present moment a problem or an opportunity for you? So often in the past, I struggled with the “isness” of the happening in the “Now”, but of course our lives are always happening in the “Now”. Fear would grip me with panic of the “What ifs”, driving my beliefs of a problematic outcome or future. I had so much resistance and felt so powerless.

I found in this Depressed Anonymous program a path of freedom, while journeying along the path. New beliefs began to develop. New attitudes of hope began to grow. Opportunities for spiritual solutions manifested from problems to challenges, to opportunities.

The ‘God of my understanding’ stills the ruminations of despair.A quieter mind softens my perceptions. This new presence takes on a formlessness of love, peace and happiness.

I have a new gratitude for the falling away of an old miserable sense of myself. I discovered God’s image in my true nature of beingness. This materializes as the same “I am” of peace and happiness living in a timeless “NOW”, AKA: KINGDOM of HEAVEN WITHIN.

I love the quote “uncover, discover and recover”, struggling now is in the past. What a blessing even they have turned into! “Now” is a lovely place to live where the sunlight of the spirit is always present, even when a few clouds may pass by. Enjoy your journey.

(C)Janet McCain(2022)

The FREEDOM FROM checklist

NOTE: This article was written and submitted by Robin R., a member of the Depressed Anonymous fellowship of recovery.

Below is a list of Twelve qualities we gain from working the Depressed Anonymous program of recovery, namely the FREEDOM FROM Checklist. So, how many boxes can you circle/check off?

  1. Freedom from the compulsion to sadden myself and circular thought patterns. (See Circle Dance DA blog @ 10/30/2022)
  2. Freedom from insanity and hopelessness
  3. Freedom from the bondage of self and freely giving of your time and yourself to those in need
  4. Freedom from dishonesty, especially with yourself
  5. Freedom from isolation: the “One Mans’ Island” permanent vacation theme
  6. Freedom from running the show and urges of deceptive control
  7. Freedom from excessive self reliance: I don;tr need anyone’s help!
  8. Freedom from blame
  9. Freedom from people or becoming codependent, comparing myself to others.
  10. Freedom from Complacency
  11. Freedom from Loneliness and becoming “involved”
  12. Freedom from the lack of purpose
  13. Freedom from FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real
  14. Freedom from FAILURE: Willing to try new ideas or adventure
  15. Freedom from ANGER: (ONE LETTER AWAY FROM DANGER) Surrender to a power and let it go! Remember, 90% of depression is anger turned inward. Again, LET IT GO!!!

And finally, our goal is to have:

Freedom to love, care, accept and appreciate the world around you

Repetitive complaint will attract things for you to complain about. Repeated gratitude will attract things for you to be thankful about. Turn those freedoms into your gratitude!!!
MAKE IT YOUR BEST DAY EVER!

Stay six feet apart, Wash your hands, Stay home

Stay six feet apart. Use sanitizer. Wear mask. Stay clear of large gatherings – especially indoors. Everywhere we went, we got the message, that life suddenly became threatened by an unseen enemy, the covid 19 virus. Most times, the virus took the lives of our elders, who were most vulnerable. Our Grandparents, our elderly loved ones in nursing homes, were decimated

Today, we now use the terms, Pre-pandemic and post pandemic. It’s almost like it never happened. Things are getting back to normal. Almost, but not completely. It has ravaged our businesses, workers without jobs.

It’s still here. Everywhere we go, with floor markings still looking up at us at the post office, pharmacy, the grocery store all reminding of a past where more than 1 million Americans died from this deadly virus. It definitely has turned our lives upside down.

In Kentucky, the Bourbon center of the world, distilleries were using the alcohol, normally for making whiskey, switching to making sanitizer hand lotions.

For many of us, who had the covid 19 , and survived, are “the long haulers” who still carry within them, some of the symptoms, including anxiety, depression, fatigue, insomnia and other health conditions, much of which continue to threaten our own mental health.

The pandemic is taking its toll on us, our youth, our elderly and those who struggle with other serious respiratory illnesses.

What used to energize us and make us, as humans, social creatures, the virus came along and made us into hermits, alone, isolated and fearful.

The “pandemic brain” is a name given to those who are the “long haulers” and whose cognitive abilities are affected and who still face some of those debilitating symptoms which can plague them everyday.

HOW CAN WE FIND THE HELP WE NEED?

I would look for a mental health person or group resource where others like ourselves, who are having the same issues, resultant from the traumatic effects of the pandemic.

Because depression is one of the major issues that are the result of the pandemic, find a support group or mental health agency that devotes its time and care to those of us who are having trouble functioning in this post pandemic world.

As a depression support group, the 12 Step Depressed Anonymous recovery program is now online, offering meetings on a daily basis for those who seek a safe place, with persons like themselves. We do have a voice in this mutual aid fellowship, where we can choose to share our story, or remain silent, listen, feel accepted, and find ourselves among kindred spirits. We are all here to help ourselves, and by that, help ohers at the same time..

Please free to attend our daily meetings on OUR ZOOM virtual fellowship group of Depressed Anonymous. Go to our website at Depressedanon.com, sign on, go to the meetings menu at the Home page, and it will take you to the link, taking you to our daily schedule of meetings, here in the USA and internationally.

We look forward to seeing you at our meetings. There are no fees or dues.

For the fellowship, Hugh S

Is The Road That You Are Traveling, Taking You To A Place Where You Want To Go?

If you are going down a road and don’t like what’s in front of you, and you look behind you and you don’t like what you see, get off the road. Create a new path.
– Maya Angelou

When I was traveling down a road that led me into one brick wall after another, I made up my mind to find a new road–without all the brick walls.

The road that I am on now, a road which I have created, still exits with some obstacles, but no longer am I faced with unmovable brick walls. I got off this road.

What happened, you might ask. Well, to keep this brief, I ran into a bunch of people who were traveling on a very wide and level road, one which they said would lead me to where I wanted to go. (no, this is not the Yellow Brick Road of the Wizard of Oz). Amazingly, they all knew where I needed to go. This surprised me, as I didn’t even know where I needed to go.

With my God’s help, a fellowship of wonderful brothers and sisters, all fellow travelers, continuing to travel on this road, a personal path, filled with hope and serenity.

This path has a name, in case you are curious. It’s called the Twelve Steps of Recovery. This path is filled with signs of hope, those spiritual principles which are our guardrails, keeping us all headed in the right direction.

It’s even possible that I might even meet you on this path. I hope.

Hugh S., for the Depressed Anonymous fellowship

What is an emotional laryngitis condition?

Have you ever experienced laryngitis, that inflammation of the larynx, often accompanied by a temporary loss of your voice. Most probably you have have had that experience. It’s more of a nuisance than anything. But nevertheless, a problem that lingers around for a short time. This is a case which if you want to be heard, you have to whisper really loud.

Now how about your experience with an emotional laryngitis condition, a metaphor for being unable to voice unpleasant feelings, which causes you to be stuck in the dark pit of depression.

To experience an emotional loss of your voice, usually starts at a young age. You remember the saying, “Children should be seen and not heard.” And as it works out, that is precisely what happened to so many of us growing up. We lost our voice. We couldn’t share our feelings of hurt and loss.
We stuffed our feelings. We buried the pain of growing up, where we felt abandoned and unloved. We tried to forget about them. Which we did. Buried in our unconscious.

When we wanted to have a grownup, a parent, a family member listen to what we had to say, nobody cared what we had to say. We felt invisible. Also, to cry was forbidden. The message that we heard was “Little boys don’t cry.” Or, “just get over it.” Or, “suck it up.”

I remember on one occasion, standing near my mom and dad, I tried to tell them something. They ignored me. I remember feeling hurt that they didn’t want to listen to me. Strange, it was that one time which I do remember and I still wonder why I remember that one time. Does this mean my voice was always heard and that this time was an exception? I don’t know.

How often do I hear adults tell me HOW their home life was chaotic, filled with anger and fighting parents.
Usually, it was because of one or both of the parents were alcoholics and they NEVER wanted or even suggested, that they wanted to know how we felt or what was happening in our lives. In fact, our whole family didn’t want to hear from us. They never seemed to make time for us in their lives. We didn’t feel safe, and definitely we did not feel love. And what do we do? We began to hide, isolate ourselves creating our own little fantasy worlds. We wanted to have someone hear our voice. But there was never anyone that would listen to how we were feeling. We were the lost child.

Fast forward. As adults now, we discovered we have been addicted to alcohol, or opioid or gambling.or pornography. Anything to remove the pain.The core of all of these addictions, both substance and process addictions, were my attempt to fill the hole in my soul. Not only had we lost our voice, but we almost lost our lives. We lost the purpose for our lives. Not being able to tell people who we are had robbed us of the one thing that might have saved me – my voice. I was too scared to use it.
I needed to tell my story. How I survived. I never wanted to lose my voice again. Today is a good day.

Not until I became an adult did I attend a Twelve Step Depressed Anonymous meeting. It was here that I would use my voice and tell total strangers about all the losses in my life. It is here, that all my feelings, both pleasant and unpleasant are voiced. They heard me. They heard my voice. They listened to me. They didn’t judge me. I had RECLAIMED my ability to use my voice. I could talk about my feelings. My worst life hurts could now be shared and voiced. i was no longer the lost child. No longer was I the victim, the martyr, a clown seeking attention. And, all the time seeking for someone to tell me that I was loved.

It is here that my emotional laryngitis, accompanying me throughout my life, would no longer keep me from voicing who I am and who I want to be. No longer were my feelings shut down and no longer was I invisible. I am here–deal with it!

If you, are having an emotional laryngitis condition, and need a way to use your voice, and share you feelings, then we have a group for you. We call ourselves the fellowship of Depressed Anonymous. You will always be welcomed into our fellowship.

For more information about who we are, click onto our website at depressedanon.com. Attend our Depressed Anonymous daily group zoom meetings and begin to hear the voices of hope. Come and share your own VOICE.

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

Hugh S., for the fellowship