Today I met some good people doing good things.

Today was another good day for me.  I was inspired.  I happened to find a group of people, like me, who were sharing feelings   about depression and how it is affecting their lives.. And if you are depressed, so many of us are, you might want to check into this discussion group–all centered on the Twelve Steps and recovery. We can’t do ourselves any good  by living our lives in isolation away from others. Our DNA makes us seek others. We are  social creatures.

A strange thing happens,  when we are depressed. We want to isolate. Our energy level is nil. Our hope is no longer an option. Everything looks bleak and hopeless. We gradually end up missing in action.  Our thinking, feelings, motivation, psychosocial life and behaviors each and everyone   becomes  a symptom  of our sadness. Together they become a syndrome.  Many symptoms  together form  a cyclical  interconnectedness, which being of a negative nature, can cause our whole being  to spiral  downward and  stay helpless.

This group today,  Depressed Anonymous were sharing positives as well as negatives about their individual lives. And by doing so, found  others like themselves who were  feeling animated and energized by sharing parts of their life story with others. It’s a freeing moment. This is what makes it work.  Members of this  fellowship found  themselves a home. It’s  secure and stable home base,  giving each of  us courage to   tell our stories, These good people are doing good things for themselves and the fellow members of this peer led group.

If you are wondering where to find this group, the same one that I attended today, sign in at https://join.skype.com at 12:30 pm CST and or 1:30 EST. A member of the fellowship will invite you in to be part of the group. This group meets everyday of the week. No fees or dues. All one needs is that desire to stop saddening themselves. Simple enough! There is also a ZOOM meeting every Sunday   4-5 EST and Tuesdays at 3-4pm EST.

If you have questions you can contact us by email at depanon@netpenny.net. I hope that you will be a good person doing good things for those who are still suffering from depression. We need each other. We are no longer alone.

 

Hugh

 

Learning to be nice.

 

“Because you are unaware of being angry does not mean that you are not angry. It is the anger you are unaware of which can do the most damage to you and to your relationships with other people, since it does get exposed, but in inappropriate ways.

Freud once likened anger to the smoke in an old fashioned wood burning stove. The normal avenue for discharge of the smoke Is up the flue and out the chimney. If  the normal avenue is blocked, the smoke will leak out the stove in an unintended way…around the door, through the grate, etc., choking everyone in the room. If all avenues of escape are blocked, the fire goes out and the stove ceases to function.  Likewise, the normal human expression of anger is gross physical movement and /or loud vocalizations; watch a red-faced hungry infant sometime. We learn  to “be nice”, which means (among other things) hiding “bad” feelings. By adult hood, even verbal expression  is curtailed, since  a civilized person is expected to  be “civil.”  Thus expression is stifled, and to protect ourselves form the unbearable burden of continually unexpressed “bad” feelings, we go to the next step and convince ourselves that we are not angry, even when we are. Such self-deception is seldom completely successful and the blocked anger “leaks out” in inappropriate ways.”

Source

 

(c) The Depressed Anonymous Workbook. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY. Page 33. Fourth Step 4:41.

“Spoon feeding is no use to you. You have to feed yourself.” D. Rowe

AFFIRMATION

I  will build up my self-esteem and self-respect by learning a hobby or skill that will bring me pleasure. “Dorothy Rowe says that “Spoon feeding is no use to you. You have to feed yourself.”

REFLECTION

I believe that feeding oneself is really the idea that grabs hold of most people who have a genuine desire to stop  saddening themselves. It appears to me that once I make a commitment to myself to begin to learn how to feel better, I really do begin feeling much better. I imagine that even though my passive depressed behavior had some benefits – like not having to risk changing the  way I lived my life.   I believe that since there is a way out of my depression that I do want to move  into a different way of  living my life. I want to live with hope and I am going to do something about it to make it happen.

I feed myself junk thoughts when I think that there is no hope for me in my life. This is  the stuff that depression is made of. If I want  to get well  and out of the prison that I call depression, I need to begin feeding myself with such hopeful thoughts, that my sadness won’t last forever, whatever I believe and expect to happen, just the way I want it to happen.

MEDITATION

We are thankful that we can feed ourselves healthy thoughts and that we can change our diet by discovering what has been junk food in our past life, substituting healthy food (thoughts) for the present.  God will show us a way to live in a healthy and serene way. (Personal  comment).

SOURCE: (C)  Higher Thoughts for down days: 365  daily thoughts and meditations for  members of 12 step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Kentucky.  Page 89. May 29.

Visit the Store  to order this book online.

Now I have to dig in and dismember those core beliefs…

 

“Now that I have to dig in and dismember those core beliefs, that keep us repeating the same thinking, the same behavior   which  keeps  us imprisoned in our depression. We have this compulsion to repeat – this ritual of defeat – because, first of all it is comfortable and secondly it keeps  us from having to do something that we haven’t done before. We continue to move around in a circle always meeting  up with the same me – no major changes evident.  If we don’t start the process of change, then not without surprise  our life then stays the same. But this also closes the doors to the future and with it a sense of hope and relief.  It seems that to believe that we have no future and that we will always feel this way can imprison us as we empower these absolute beliefs that nothing good will ever happen for us. We are thus chained to our own self-will and not only are we imprisoned but we are the jailer as well. The key is in our hands and it is there for the asking.”

(c) I’ll do it when I feel better. (2013) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville Ky. Page 18.

Order online at  www.depressedanon.com.

The opposite of depression is spontaneity and vitality.

The opposite of depression is spontaneity and vitality.

When we are  depressed we move about as in a fog. We are stuck. Since we desire everything to remain the same and predictable, we are unable to believe that life is or can be different. As we change old beliefs into new ones we believe that things can  change as things begin to change. We will begin to experience hope, light and joy.

Remember, by the time you have reached the Promises in in the  Big Book of AA, page four and page 109 in Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition, you have decided to do something about your life. You not only have been through an exhaustive self-examination of your life but you will also have shared these experiences with some other human being by working Step Five.  You have taken the time and the pain to write down all those areas of your life which   have kept you in the dark –  not only about yourself, but all that your life could be. ”

 

“All that your  life could be.” A promise is a promise. The reality of good things happening as   we  learn about the Steps,  practicing these spiritual principles in our lives. We can  take our story to a f2f meeting or gather with others like ourselves at the many   online Depressed Anonymous meetings, either with SKYPE or ZOOM.  You will find  support and encouragement at these group meetings.  It  will feel like home.

Hugh

Resources

(Copyright) Hugh Smith.  I’ll do it when I feel better. (2013) Depressed  Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Ky. Page 32.

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

Books can be purchased online @ www.depressedanon.com. Visit the DA Bookstore).

FRED TOOK THE PLUNGE.

I remember Fred on his first visit  to Depressed Anonymous. He said that he had been depressed all his life. The group listened to Fred, and of course for  the   most part Fred said he didn’t have the foggiest notion what all this talk of God had to do with his sadness and how it was supposed to help him. (Step 3). But it was the pain of Fred’s depression that brought him back time after time to the meetings, and he started not only to feel better but he began to look better. Then as he heard more about the Twelve Steps he saw that he could trust his Higher Power. And that maybe the depression that had been such a lifetime companion was not for him anymore. Fred took the plunge, came to believe that a power greater than himself could restore him to sanity – and it did just that. Fred said that he didn’t need this depression anymore, got busy making amends to family and friends and co-workers for being such a negative person, and began to take inventory where he needed to Spring clean his home.

It appears that Fred is like the many of those who come to attend their first Depressed Anonymous meeting. They come fearing that the risk that they are taking by attending a meeting, like everything they have tried, will not produce any positive results.  They figure that no one could possibly love them for themselves.”

(C) I’ll do it when I feel better. (1988, 2013) 2nd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Ky. Pages  73-74,

A Message to our Depressed Anonymous Fellowship. How are you doing?

Today, is another day  no different from all the rest.  Staying isolated from friends and family . Being pulled apart from all those relationships  which is what makes us social beings.  Being isolated and missing meeting up with friends and our  fellowship-except for our SKYPE and ZOOM meetings which are life  savors for many of us)..  Going to the market is a challenge.  Unable to visit with friends in Nursing home.  You don’t really  appreciate something till  it’s gone.  I think I am in mourning. I am irritable and feel lost. But with you, who read our blog I know someone will be reading what is written here. I am not alone.

This brings me to another very important issue now that I am on the subject of being alone and isolated.  And I don’t think about this issue very often, since life was rolling along fine until the virus put us in lockdown.   When  I was depressed I always talked about how depression felt like being in prison , isolated and alone. I grant that.  But I knew little of what happens in the life of a prisoner, until we were allowed to start Depressed Anonymous  groups in a State prison near our hometown.

It was an eye opener. I have visited prisons before. Short  periods of time.  Having a service for those who wanted to attend. This time it was different.  This prison experience began with being interviewed by a prison staff, including the head psychiatrist.  Our work would be carried out in a new wing in the prison which dealt    specifically with prisoners with mental health issues. I say “our” because I had the good fortune to work closely with a woman corrections officer.  I was there for about three years, with visits two times a week to attend DA meetings which we had set up. I remember well our first anniversary celebration where the warden allowed our fellowship to have  a birthday party for all of those men who were part of our groups. It was a most unusual event as this had not been done before–having punch and cookies in prison, at least not in the wing where are groups are located.

Fast forward to now,2020. The covid-19 virus wreaking havoc on lives around the world.   And now moving into prisons, nursing homes and other persons in institutional forced  lockdown.

All this to share how I have been feeling blue, low mood, and irritable, and wondering it will end and when. Presently, areas of life are still “iffy” and not back to normal. I wonder if there will ever be a normal to go back to?

All this fear and hurt with  so many elderly dying, and those of us who are over 65+ taking the hardest hit. But let me go on to my point and the reason I am writing this article now. My concern is for those men and women in this country, 80,000 or more  who are locked down in Special Housing Units, also  called “Solitary Confinement.”  I have been reading an account of a man named William who has been in solitary confinement for  25 years and more at the time of his writing his story. His story and the story of so many others, is titled  HELL IS A V ERY SMALL PLACE:  STORIES FROM SOLITARY CONFINEMENT.

William speaks about how it was before he was sentenced to prison life.  He mentioned   the freedom that he had before prison –but n o more.  He could ride his bicycle, go out with buddies, walking in the park. Anything.

If you are depressed now. If you are isolated and cut off from life now. You  can count me in.  I am so weary of all this enforced isolation, the social distancing, the masks. But I do believe that these efforts may save my life.  Will it ever return.?   Will normal ever return–not for a time. That’s just my belief.

William, in Solitary Confinement for over 25 years, writes from his 6×9 cell,  wonders the same thing.  Will his life ever return to the way he  remembers it?  I doubt it. No, neither will ours. I am not being pessimistic just honest–but I am still hopeful that we will get through this.

I have been an advocate for persons depressed for most of my adult life. I have been to more places in the world, with persons I never would believe I would meet and who live in countries  I have never been.  All virtually, either on Skype, ZOOM, emails or phone.

I  feel that there are so many men and women who we can reach out to who are in Solitary Confinement and deeply depressed. You and I can’t undepress  anyone but ourselves, but  being part of a fellowship sure gives me strength and  bonding that I will never forget and the Twelve steps and the spiritual principles  saved my life. . Thank you.  Now that we have shared online how the virus has most dramatically affected our lives in so many painful ways, our confinement is in no way is kin to what 80,000 prisoners are experiencing right now in America.

What can  we do. First of all I recommend that you find a way to learn more about people who are in Solitary. We can learn how to help them in ways that will truly be of most help to them.  We can learn more. We can share our own experiences with Depressed Anonymous with prisoners and least give them the knowledge that they are NOT ALONE.   We can be live advocates for those in Solitary, as    we can  share  their stories    how they live out their day in a VERY SMALL PLACE, for days. for months and for years. The name of their story is found in a recent publication titled “Hell is a very small  place: voices from Solitary Confinement.”  The New Press   (2016) New York. London. Edited by Jean Casella, James   Ridgeway and Sarah Shroud.

Here is a place where I hope you will contact: “About Solitary Watch” http:://solitarywatch.com/about. We can learn, we can share, we can act. I hope to do as much as I can in being an advocate. If you would like to join with me in this effort, a justice and human rights issue, let’s get together and work as one voice. A voice for the “voiceless.

If you are interested and want more info please  write to me at : depanon@netpenny.net  and in the subject line put SOLITARY.

Hugh

Recovery people delight in how they are becoming more assertive.

 

“Responsibility is the name of the game in recovery and it is here that we need to focus our attention. As we get into a discussion with other people who are depressed – much like ourselves – we see that they talk about feeling better while at the same time acting on their own behalf. These people who are doing better are also taking responsibility on their own behalf. Those   who are doing better are also talking about taking charge of their lives and doing things for  themselves   instead of constantly trying to please others.  In fact at DA meetings the  recovering people often delight at how assertive they are becoming now that they have gained a sense of recovery  over their lives. They are now committed to their own recovery.  People who want to change begin to swallow their pride and ask for help. They begin to   get in touch with their feelings and feel!  This is truth and this is getting in touch with one’s own best self.”

COPYRIGHT(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY 40241. (Page 91. Step Ten)

Am I a people pleaser?

Am I a people pleaser? What would happen if we didn’t please them? Let’s take a look in our Depressed Anonymous Workbook  and see what it suggests as an answer.

“Has depression distorted us from the truth 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 getting better and that the trust 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.  That process for change is of the nature of a spiral instead of a straight line. In other words, now that we are willing to risk feeling differently we have been gearing up to improve our situation. In other words, we are making a very important decision right now about our lives.”

Tomorrow we will see how changes are made, and a  process that will make this happen. In time we will  discover  that making any decision in our lives , is  doing something that we have never done before, like breaking our habit of   trying to please people.   There  is always a   risk. It feels very uncomfortable   changing  a behavior that we have always done before.  But, there is a way to change. The support  that you need is to be found here in the Depressed Anonymous online groups, the Home Study Program, and f2f meetings.

Choose support -not isolation, especially  now when we all need someone to talk with, helping us get through these tough  times.  You will be happy that you did. Find help, love and acceptance. YOU ARE NEVER ALONE.

-Hugh

RESOURCE:

(C) The Depressed Anonymous Workbook. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.   (Page 41. Fourth  Step Question 4.51.)

You can download this Workbook  for $1.00 at www. depressedanon.com. (Visit the Store). The Basic Text is also $1.00. Get moving forward in hope and serenity–and fellowship worldwide.

I have realized that I was addicted to the self.

 

”  As a person that has suffered depression since childhood, I can say that until you start to open up, share your hurts and feelings, listen to the members of the group, watch them as they grow from the support of the group, you will not be able to get out of  your prison of depression. I have been going to Depressed Anonymous for four years and only until recently have I realized that I was addicted to the self. Only then did I start to take a good look at myself and start to ask God for  his help and truly mean it. I am learning to trust God and do his will an not mine.  I feel better about myself. I can tell you it is a lot easier to be depressed than it is to work on yourself and admit to yourself that there is a problem. It is God’s will for us to live  each day to the fullest because our time is limited.  Live each day, not yesterday or tomorrow. Share with the group and your friends and you will be surprised who will be glad to listen  if you would give them a chance. Accept the fact that all of us at Depressed Anonymous are here to listen to you and not make  judgments  on you or give advice. Even if you don’t want to share, come to the meetings because you can always get something out of them. Eventually, you will want to share and the group will listen.”

Starr, who is  a member of Depressed Anonymous ,  writing her PERSONAL STORY,  is one of the many stories that are  shared in (c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) . Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. Page 130.

Skype and Zoom meetings are online every day of the week. The following are a listing of persons to contact if you want more information.