All posts by Hugh Smith

What is the “group conscience” as understood by Twelve Step fellowship groups?

Depressed Anonymous follows the model pioneered by Alcoholics Anonymous. Sometimes it’s helpful to read literature from AA to get insight.

I think many oldsters who have put our AA ‘booze cure’ to severe but successful tests still find they often lack emotional sobriety. Perhaps they will be the spearhead for the next major development of much more real maturity and balance (which is to say, humility) in our relations with ourselves, with our feelings, and with God. Reinforced by what grace I could secure in praying I found I had to exert every ounce of will and action to cut off their faulty dependencies upon people, upon AA, indeed upon any set of circumstances what soever…Plainly I could not avail myself of god’s love until I was able to offer it back to him by loving others as he would have me. And I couldn’t possibly do that so long as I was victimized by false dependencies. For my dependency meant demand a demand for the possession and control of the people and conditions surrounding me.
– From the AA Grapevine, January, 1958, Bill W.

Also quoting AA literature:

The term informed group conscience implies that pertinent information has been studied and all views have been heard before the group votes. This is achieved by the group members through the sharing of full information, individual points of views, and the practice of AA principles. To be fully informed requires a willingness to listen to minority opinions with an open mind. On sensitive issues the group works slowly, discouraging formal votes until a clear sense of its collective view emerges.
– AA group pamphlet, 1992.

Comment

I believe that these two articles, (Google) published under the title OF Tradition Two: Group conscience OR mob rule? can be a good reference for those Newcomers who may not have a understanding what “group conscience” is.

Hugh S., for the fellowship

Depression made me think I was losing my mind, until I did two things that changed my life forever

“What is happening to me,” I asked myself, as I spent another week of struggling to get out of bed. It was like a 500 pound lead weight had dropped on top of me. I felt that whatever commands I issued to my body, “like get out of bed,” the message never reached my body.

The only thing that I knew what to do was to force myself to move the body and hopefully the mind would follow, be it reluctantly. And that is exactly what happened. Every morning after was a struggle, but I did manage to push myself out of bed and I got myself to work. When work ended, I went home and immediately hit the bed. What’s going on here? I asked. I had no clue that what was the matter was that my body was shutting down and that my mind gradually became powerless to make any positive changes in my behavior or thinking.

It was only as I started to walk five miles a day in a local mall, just to promote the fact that I was up and out and able to get to work. I want to make the point here that even though this walking continued for over a year and half, I still was forcing myself to get out of bed. Every morning the debate in my head started all over again. By now I had developed some resistance to staying in bed and just realized, if I was to save my job, I had to walk.

Eventually, the walking was a way out of the prison that my mind had constructed. Eventually, I learned that the way I was living my life and the negativity that I had embraced in my thinking, together threw me into a deep dark pit. Before I was able to figure out what was happening to me, I became depressed. The more I tried to figure out, in my mind, why I was depressed the more I became further depressed, isolated and alone. Then I did something that changed my life to this very day.

The first thing that I did was to force myself to get out of bed and walk, walk, and walk some more. (I still walk three times a week). I know first-hand, the potential life-threatening nature of depression.

The second most important discovery for my recovery was to find a group of men and women just like myself, all who were depressed and looking for a way out of their depression. It was this 12 Step fellowship group, Depressed Anonymous, that has been an integral part of the way I live my life today. If you are looking for what I found, namely, a way to quit saddening yourself, this support group may be your lifeline as much as it continues to be for me today. And I still attend this meeting, even though I have not been depressed for many years, I attend because I find that I can help others to find the hope and peace that it promised and provides for me today.

Discover important information at www.depressedanon.com for our online virtual Zoom meetings which meet every day of the week. Other DA sponsored groups also meet during the week. There are no fees and dues. Come and share or just come and listen. You will find that you are not alone. We are all on this journey of hope together…and we do recover.

For the fellowship, Hugh S.

Change is of the nature of a spiral instead of a straight line

How many times have I heard clients tell me that they want to change. Most times the change that they desire is to remove pain from their lives. This pain could be an emotional one, a physical pain or a pain of a botched relationship. Pain, no matter how you look at it, prompts us to look at our lives, habits and relationship.

One time I asked a client why he drank so much. I wasn’t prepared for his answer. It was honest enough, but nevertheless a surprise. He told me unabashedly that he drank because it made him feel good. I was thinking that he might be drinking because of a lost job, a relationship or marriage that didn’t work out. But he told me that he was going to keep on drinking. No one was going to take that away from him.

Has depression distorted us from the truths of life? Namely, that life is to be lived with hope and serenity. Nursing along a good habit can in time wean us from old and debilitating habits of thought and behavior. We want to daily fill our day with the gratitude that we are indeed better and that the trust that we have is indeed placed in the Higher Power.

In order for us to escape depression we need to begin to be aware of the process of how people change.

At least someone listened to me

I have heard this comment a few times after a new member shares some of their personal story at a Depressed Anonymous meeting. Can it be that many people feel so isolated and alone contend no one wants to stop and listen to what they have to say? I am afraid this is true. This is especially true for those of us who come to a meeting, professedly for people depressed, and discover we are welcome to share who we are and where we have been on this life journey. Possibly for the first time in our adult life, there are people like myself who are able to share their story. And people listen.

Just like children, emotions heal when they are heard and validated.
– Jill Bolte Taylor, My Stroke of Insight

Spiritual Malady: A spiritual unmanageability.

I have seen so many people come into the meeting rooms over my 25 years of attending 12 step meetings and they stay for a few weeks, a few months, even a few years and they leave. Then they come back and leave again. A few months or years pass by and they come stumbling back to the meeting rooms, tired, exhausted, sick of life, and desperate, in need of help and support. I have also seen people who are consistent with meetings fall into the Spiritual Malady trap. The “syndrome” or repetitive pattern, is truly an indication of a “self will run life.” In other words, I got it all together now and I don’t need this mess anymore. God and these amateurs are wasting my time talking, so I am not coming back. I can figure out my life without any one’s help or shared wisdom! That includes God’s help! Thank you very much! Guess what? That was me! I was the ‘self will run life’ works better than the 12 steps for me.” I went several years, where I stopped attending meetings. I was just too busy. We had finally achieved our goals in our life financially, so I didn’t need the support group, of any kind I thought! I didn’t realize until years later how the support groups and meetings could have helped me greatly through those years! A spiritual malady formed inside of us when we place God on the back burner or up on a shelf. All the while, going on with our life and problems in full force with little or need of spiritual guidance from the Great Creator. We soon come to realize we are in a mental and spiritual sickness. We are running as fast as we can. We are making flipped decisions for our life that had requirement and seeking consent from God. We are on the fast track and there seems to be so many problems and situations that we have to fix them right now. Thus a Spiritual Malady develops. A Spiritual Malady on its most basic level, is spiritual unmanageability. It has taken loose and ran on its own. It’s a horse with out the cart! Without higher guidance or wisdom, we’re just making life decisions like water poring out of the spout! Thoughts are spouting out of our mouths without any self-care as to the consequences! This is a Spiritual Malady and most often wreaks havoc in our life. The fastest and best way to pull out of this self-will-run-riot is Step 3. It will take us there every time. The daily taking of Step 3 prayer cannot be overemphasized to protect us from a Spiritual Malady. It assures us, that a Higher Power is in charge over our life every single morning. We have asked God to take the reins and guide us today. When we take Step 3 every day it is very hard to fall into that worldly Spiritual Malady.

-Debra, NC
Copyright(c) Debra Sanford. A Medley of Depression Stories. (2017). pp. 15-17. ( Used with permission). This work can be ordered online from Amazon.com/books. We recommend it!

MISS MY SAD THOUGHTS

MISSING MY SAD THOUGHTS

Some days I miss my sad thoughts. They are addictive. They fill a space in me and meet a requirement of comfort and familiarity. Humans require and seek a level of comfort and familiarity. The depressed human is no different. Sadly, it’s the sad thoughts that provide the deep level of comfort. When I remove the sadness, I have to work to replace that big open field of nothingness left. It feels hard. It feels like work. Pressure and effort. I want to fall back into the sad thinking because, I know very well how to form those thoughts and how to feel them. How to make use of them, strangely. They serve a strong purpose. They validate my depression and vice a versa. They have lived in me for so long that to have to fill the void of their space feel so hard. It feels like big shoes to fill. I feel pressed, just trying. My mind is having to accept this new training I am putting it through. It doesn’t want to change. It is not welcoming of these new positive thoughts at first. It is a struggle. My mind wrestles back and forth: ‘I just want to go home and go to my bed. No, no! You want to keep grocery shopping…! No, please, I just need to lie down, I’m leaving this group!! I am so depressed. No, no! You are going to do your task today, because, it will make you feel better.’ The better part of me wins and I refuse to be held captive, a victim to this negative dark thinking that is killing me. So, I continue on doing the grocery shopping with an internal mind struggle going on. The whole day seems to continue like this. The back and forth tug of war in my mind! It takes time to truly train the mind to accept the incoming positive thoughts. Affirmations are a needed daily medicine for the saddened mind for sure. It takes consistency. I ask myself how bad do I want to feel better? I continue to retrain my mind every single day. Slowly, I miss my sad thoughts less and less. I feel the need for the positive affirmations more and more. This is the process of healing the depressed mind and thus, my feelings. I look forward to a time where I will not miss my sad thoughts and the struggle between the positive and negative thoughts will not be such a big part of my day.”
Debra NC

“Slowly, I found the positive affirmations more and more and more.”

Copyright(c) Debra Sanford. A Medley of Depression Stories. First edition. (2017) PP> 30-31.( Used with permission.)

You may email Debra: thedepressionstories@gmail.com. She would love hearing from you.

SAFE PLACE TO FALL

i love when one of my Depressed Anonymous friends says that a Depressed Anonymous meeting room is a “safe” place to fall. She describes it as an all accepting place with friends who truly understand what you are talking about. A place where you don’t have to feel ashamed to have mental illness or discuss depression at length! She says when she walks into the room and takes a seat she knows that the love and the anonymity of the group will provide her a safe place to discuss what’s happening in her life with her son and the bizarre situations bringing depressive thoughts. No place else has she ever found such a place she says. The bonds made with new friends who can speak the language of depression has been an amazing blessing. She says she never knew there could be such a place. A place where she truly can give details of her life, shed tears and not feel ashamed. Discuss her meds, her dark thoughts and ask for help without ensuring failure! Thus she says Depressed Anonymous meetings are a safe place to fall! Bringing her a comfort she didn’t know before. Sometimes we just need friends who truly understand and can relate to our depression. Especially living in a world where people tell us to just get up and go out and we will feel better. It’;s a safe place to be with people who can relate to feeling suicidal or being so down and not wanting to get out of bed. This “miracle of the group” is what makes it such a safe place to “fall,”: Thank God for depression support group where we can meet wonderful friends who are there when we need the help, and who totally understands depression.”

-Anonymous

“Depressed Anonymous meetings are a safe place to fall.”
(c) A Medley of depression stories. Debra Sanford. (2017) pp.57-58. With permission

Motivation follows action

I find that if I am depressed and want to start to feel better, or at least get my mind off depression, I need to go for a walk and get moving. In DA we say that MOTIVATION FOLLOWS ACTION. WHAT THIS MEANS IS THAT YOU’LL NEVER GET MOTIVATED til YOU GET BUSY DOING SOMETHING. This was my feeling much of the Time. It was only when I actually started walking that I wanted to walk. I didn’t want to do anything to help myself. I didn’t want to do anything to help myself until I forced myself to do something.

I believer much of one’s tiredness, when depressed comes from having too many things going through one’s brain at the same time. The strain of being overwhelmed is too much for the human mind and so it and the body begin to show the stress. I also believe that so many unpleasant emotions constantly coming to surface and being felt by the body results in an overload situation for my brain.

COMMENT
The best way to get into action is to get into action. I know this is so obvious–but when the time comes for me to actually do something–that is a different story. Then my mantra becomes “I’ll do it when I feel better,” and course this doesn’t get me out of bed. This doesn’t get me walking. Instead, what happens, is that my thinking gets caught in that neural rut, much like a merry-go-round. Round and round we go. Nothing ever changes.

Tell yourself that this day is going to be different .Make a commitment to yourself today! Make up your mind that you are not going to ride the merry-go-round horse today.You are going to start small. Take the “baby steps” that just might push you out the door and put some fresh air into your lungs. MOTIVATION FOLLOWS ACTION. Check it out. See, for yourself if this doesn’t work for you.

Copyright(c) Hugh Smith. Higher Thoughts for Down Days:365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY January 24, p.15.