Keeping my Higher Power Highest

Keeping my Higher Power Highest

Throughout my life, different things have been my Higher Power.  A certain job that I loved and prioritized above all else, or the person I was dating.  When I was in active addiction, different substances were a higher power.  Before recovery, the looming black cloud of deep depression was a higher power.   Once I got into recovery and the steps, I was encouraged to find a true Higher Power, or God of my understanding – a Power greater than myself that could restore me to sanity.  In other words, step 2.  I can honestly say that after many months of praying and working the steps, this Power relieved me of the obsession to drink and helped me to recover from the hopeless dark pit of deep depression.  My challenge today, now that I am not in that deep dark hole of depression, is to keep my Higher Power the highest priority in my life.  For example, I recently started a short term job in a field that I am very passionate about.  It has been very demanding and time consuming, and I’m finding that this position is consuming my thoughts, actions, and life.  When I talked to my sponsor about this, she asked “So, has this job has become your Higher Power?”  I realized she was right!  Where was God in my life?  In my thoughts?  How can I be working step 3 if I am not cognizant of my Higher Power and turning my will and my life over to His care?  I realized this job had become my priority in life, instead of my Higher Power and my recovery.  I am grateful for this reminder, so that I can get back on track.  I know that when I don’t place my Higher Power and my recovery first in my life, I start to slip back into old thinking patterns and old behaviors, which for me will lead me back into depression.  Thank you, God, that You are always there for me, ready and willing to help me, no matter how many times I stray.

Staying out of the loop. Creating your own circuit-breaker!

One of the characteristics of the depression experience is to get lost in the loop of negativity. The more we try to think our way out of the mental labyrinth with our mind circling down into the deeper pit of sadness, the more locked and immobilized we become.

So, how do we stay out of the swirling cycle of despair? The loop is our master taking over our minds and emotions. Once we have managed to stay out of the loop, I discovered what frees me and breaks the chain that shackles my motivation.

What I find helpful and kind of simple is to distract myself and do something that takes me out of the loop momentarily as I focus on something else. This something else could be to go for a walk. Talk to a friend. Go to a mall. Visit a lonely friend. Choose your own distracter.

I will give a personal example where I found a distraction strategy that works. Because I was wearing out my mind with my continuous negative swirling thoughts, I was reminded how fatigue is an indicator of feeling depressed and helpless. When I became tired, I would automatically head for the coach. This just prolonged the pain, and it was when I said, “No, not this time,” I went to my desk and started to do some work on my computer. In a short time, my mind was focused on my writing and not on the assumption that I needed a nap. Even though I am no longer depressed, I still find this distraction strategy a real loop-breaker.

So, if you find yourself beating yourself up, ruminating, and mentally circling round and round, going nowhere but down, you’ll need at last 5 circuit-breakers ready to plug in when the looping begins. Be prepared!

Share this idea/strategy at your Depressed Anonymous meetings and let others in the group try it out when their own loop starts rolling.


POLAND: Depressed Anonymous groups publish Depressed Anonymous, 3rd Edition and Workbook into the Polish language

Congratulations to the Depressed Anonymous fellowship in Poland. We received the first edition of both the Depressed Anonymous 3rd Edition and the Depressed Anonymous Workbook published in the Polish language. The Depressed Anonymous fellowship groups are taking this major step in providing the original DA texts in the heart language of the Polish people.

We wish them all well–one day at a time.

Hugh, for our fellowship.

Dep-Anon’s message to families and friends of the depressed

The following statements are the worst things to say to someone who is depressed.

It’s all in your mind.
Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.
You have so many things to be thankful for; why are you depressed?
You have It so good; why aren’t you happy?
Well, at least it’s not that bad.
There are a lot of people worse off than you.
Hae you got tired of all this “me-me” stuff?
Everybody has a bad day now and then.
You can do anything you want if you just set your mind to it.
You don’t look depressed.

This excerpt is from the recently published book Dep-Anon: A 12 step recovery program for families and friends of the depressed (2021) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. Pages 99-100.

Dep-Anon is a support group for the family and friends of the depressed. This recovery program is much like Al-Anon, promoting health and healing for the family and friends of the depressed. We do this by focusing on ourselves, using all the tools for maintaining our spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical health.

Over the years, I continue my work with the depressed and with the families and friends of the depressed. I see a great need to offer help for the depressed and their families. Many people do not have an accurate understanding of the nature of depression with its debilitating and isolating effect upon the human mind and physical wellness of the depressed.

– Dep-Anon, P.7

We cannot change anyone but ourselves. Our spiritual principles of the 12 Steps will provide us with a spiritual power we recognize as more powerful than ourselves. And we will, invest in this power, promoting a faith that will keep our focus on ourselves and not the futility of our trying to “fix” them.

– Dep-Anon, Pages 4-5

I see the Dep-Anon program as a powerful resource and tool, as families of the depressed come together as a 12 Step fellowship group, supporting each other, discovering the nature of depression and how it affects the mind and life of their loved ones.

If we want the support of our family during our darkest hours, I will hope that this work of Dep-Anon would inspire families to come together, learn how no human being can ever “snap out of depression” having the spiritual principles of the 12 Steps to guide them along the way. The Depressed Anonymous fellowship and the Dep-Anon family group fellowship are two sides of the same coin. Being in one fellowship will, without doubt, strengthen the members in the other fellowship. With both groups finding answers to their lives while making the Steps part of their daily lives, there is no place to go except up and together –as family.

Copyright(c) Dep-Anon is a 12 Step Recovery Program for families and friends of the depressed. (2021) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.

Visit the Literature Section at this site to learn more about our work Dep-Anon. Visit the Store and discover literature pertaining solely to depression and the 12 Steps. All books are available online.

Roadblocks and pitfalls in recovery

I think sometimes people have the idea that recovery is a straight line angled upward with a positive slope.  For me, that is not the case.   My recovery is a conglomeration of sine waves, bumps, upward swoops, pot holes, and squiggly lines.  Overall, it does have a positive upward slope.  In other words, as the promises state, I have more good days than bad. Today, I have many more good days than bad.

But what to do on those bad days?  That is the question.  How do I navigate recovery when I am in a downward slope, have a roadblock or a pitfall?  How do I get through this period of mild depression?

First of all, I remind myself that This too shall pass.  It may sound cliché, but it is true!  If I am having a difficult day, I do not have to let it become a bad couple of days or a bad week.  I do not have to let it go to a moderate or severe depression.  Sometimes I can even limit it to bad moments.  The point is, this depressing feeling will not last forever.  I do have a choice to realize that it is temporary, to do something about it and not let it take over.

So what do I do about it?

The program gives me tools.  It’s up to me to use them.  Sometimes I have to pray for the willingness to use them.  The willingness to help myself undepress myself and stop being a victim.  When I’m in a pitfall, I feel alone and isolated. That is my disease talking to me.  The reality is that I’m in a program with people who understand me and care about me.  I can reach out to them and be honest about how I’m feeling.  This simple but sometimes difficult action really does help me a lot.  By telling on my feelings, I feel less isolated and more connected to others.   Another thing I do is journal to my Higher Power.  I tell my Higher Power what I’m thinking and feeling.  Sometimes I follow it up with journaling from my Higher Power to me.  This is the voice of truth.  This helps me to contradict those negative thoughts and see the truth as my Higher Power sees it.   When I’m in a slump, I’ve learned that it’s okay to be in a slump and to be kind and loving with myself through this period.  I’ve learned that my recovery is not a straight line upwards, and that it’s okay for me to have some squiggly parts and bumps in that recovery journey.  I can learn to give myself that same love and compassion that I would give another struggling person.  Another tool I like to use is the “way to go self” list.  When I’m in a slump, I focus on the negative, specifically those “I’m not good enough” statements.  I neglect seeing my positives.  So I make a list of my assets or those things that I am doing well, or those things that I am accomplishing.  And I’ll give myself double stars for doing something positive when I don’t feel like doing it – because that is extra difficult for me!  So by making a point to look at the positive things I am doing, it helps me gain clarity and see the positives.

To sum up, bumps in the road of recovery are part of the process for me today.  It doesn’t mean I’m bad or need to shame myself.  It means that life happens, and now I have an opportunity to use the tools this program gives me – IF I choose to do so.

Stacy S

What is God’s will anyway?

Trying to discern what God’s will can be vexing. Where does my will end and God’s will begins?

Many people would say pray to determine what God’s will is. I firmly believe that God answers all prayers, the problem that we have is that the answer is sometimes No. God answers prayers with:

  • Yes
  • No
  • Wait

God will answer No to those requests that don’t conform to His will. By praying those prayers that are answered Yes you will be conforming to God’s will. What prayers are answered Yes to?

I read a book a while back that was very helpful: Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To, by Anthony DeStefano. He posits that God always answers Yes to the following prayers:

  1. God, show me that you exist
  2. God, put people in my path so I can be an instrument of your love and peace
  3. God, outdo me in generosity
  4. God, get me through this suffering
  5. God, forgive me
  6. God, give me peace
  7. God, give me courage
  8. God, give me wisdom
  9. God, bring good out of this bad situation
  10. God, lead me to my destiny

You don’t have to believe this completely. Believe it just enough to put this into practice. Prayer takes time and effort, but it is worthy of that time and effort. Good luck!

Yours in recovery, Bill R

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.

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.

(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.)

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.


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

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We seek to prevent depression through education and by creating a supportive and caring community through support groups that successfully keep individuals from relapsing into depression.

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