Untying knots

How many times have I spent untying knots, from shoestrings to the reel on the fishing rod, the line erupting in a ball of tangled line. The lesson here is that untying knots is a metaphor for life. I knew from experience that if I stayed with trying to untangle the knot that I would eventually succeed. That happens to be true for the shoestrings –but not so much for the fishing line. I usually had to cut the line, pull out the tangled ball of line and use the line that was left.

Life is like this when a situation arises that needs our immediate attention, we either deal with it, or tell ourselves that there is nothing we can do to change it. We’ll just try and live with it. That doesn’t work very well for either shoestrings or fishing line. Cutting the fishing line and/or the shoestrings is not the best solution but it does take care of our knotted line and tangled shoestrings.

If you are experiencing some tangled knots in your life: depression, despair, divorce, and just all over emotional pain, now is the time to ask for help. We ask if there is someway or someone to help me untie my hard to live with problems? Is the solution just to cut off my lifelines of family and friends? We say no! If you need help now in untying a knot, such as a sadness that continues to spiral you downward, leaving you feeling adrift and hopeless, we can help you find a way out where you can connect with others like yourself.

A mutual aid group is available for those of us who have learned how to overcome our hopelessness and skilled at untying knots in our lives. We are skilled because we are with those others who have been busy cutting the lines of their own attachments to self bashing, feeling worthless and living in isolation.
Throw out a line and we will be there for you. You are not alone. “There is hope….and we do recover.” (The name of one of our Depressed Anonymous ZOOM groups).

WE have our Depressed Anonymous meetings everyday online at SKYPE and ZOOM, please come and join us. Check out our homepage for more information about our groups, online.
Please contact us with an email at depanon@netpenny.net.

For more information check out our literature at our website www.depressedanon.com.
Thank you,
Hugh, for the fellowship.

You Can Do This!

Fighting and managing depression can seem like a daunting task. I know as I feel overwhelmed at times. You don’t need to stay stuck in depression. You can take action. Any action is better than inaction and isolation. Get out of yourself and do service for others. The others can be others with depression, or they can just be the downtrodden in need of support. The women in World War II rose to the challenge and went to work (Rosie the Rivetter pictured here). You can rise to the challenge of doing something to help with your depression.

Easy does it, but do it!
– Slogan heard in AA meeting

If you’ve read any of Tony Robbins work he recommends taking massive action. Being in the depths of depression what does massive action look like? Here are some things that when you are in the depths of depression that are massive actions:

  • Have a sleep regimen. Go to bed at the same time, and get up at the same time every day. I’m not expecting you to be an early riser, but have a routine.
  • Making your bed every time you get up from bed.
  • Personal hygiene. Take a shower. Shave (wherever appropriate). Brush and floss your teeth.
  • Wash, fold, and put away your laundry.
  • Clean the bathroom.
  • Wash the dishes (machine washed is fine) and put them away.
  • Get dressed. My recommendation is to the level of business casual. You will feel like you have more of a purpose.
  • Get outside and take a 20 minute walk.

Put these little regimens into your life. Why did I use the word regimen?

regimen: a manner of living intended to preserve or restore health
Source: https://www.dictionary.com/browse/regimen

No one likes regimen. You are doing it for a purpose. You are attempting to restore health and sanity into your life. As you begin to do these things your depression will lighten, albeit very slightly. The slightly lighter mood will enable you to do even more massive actions. These future more massive actions will have an even greater impact on your depression.

What will those more massive actions look like? I don’t know, that depends upon you. Take the little actions of regimen. You can do those little things. Your depression will lessen even if it’s a mere one tenth of one percent. Accept the challenge, you can do it!

Then you can do even greater things that will have a greater positive impact on your depression.

Yours in recovery, Bill R

Strands vs. Steps

OK we all know the metaphor of the steps. They are an ever increasing ascent into sobriety. But is that the only metaphor that we can use for recovery?

I think not. I’m a big fan of trivia, and I have a thirst for the esoteric. One image that comes to my mind about recovery is the act of rope making. Thread is woven together to make yarn. Yarn is woven together to make twine. Twine is woven together to make rope. As the strands come together the result becomes stronger and stronger.

We start off with Step One, our first thread of recovery. It is the beginning of our recovery and a necessary part of it. Admitting powerlessness is a difficult undertaking. I think I have power: I am the master of my domain. Nothing is further from the truth. We can quibble over whether powerlessness is 0% power or is it 1% power, or some other single digit percentage of power. The bottom line is that we have very little power in our lives. Admitting powerlessness is a turning point in recovery. Something, somewhere, a power exists, but it is definitely not within us. Powerlessness is not the same as helplessness or hopelessness. It means that we are fallible and flawed beings. That is not a condemnation of our state of being, merely a statement of truth that we are fallible and that we need help.

Step Two is then woven in with Step One. Step One is still there, but we are now adding the additional wisdom of another spiritual principle. The most beautiful words in the English language are “Came to believe”. We see that there is a way out of our pit of depression. This power, this Higher Power can restore us to sanity. What does sanity mean? Well let’s look it up:

sanity – the quality or state of being sane
sane – proceeding from a sound mind
Sourcehttps://www.merriam-webster.com

Can we say that being in a state of depression is “proceeding from a sound mind”? I would say it is not.

Step Three is then woven with the other 2 strands. Turning our will and lives over to the care of the God1 of Our Understanding is a very hard idea to wrap your mind around. There is a saying in recovery: “Surrender to win”. Surrender is not about giving up. It’s about accepting fully to your current reality. You need help and your Higher Power can help if you’re willing. Remember that it is God’s will and not your will. You have it within your right to ask for things, but it is up to God1 to decide what is going to come to fruition.

Step Four is then woven in with the preceding strands. Making a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves is a difficult task, but a necessary one. We need to put down on paper what we have done, both right and wrong. Don’t just include your liabilities, but also include your assets. You haven’t been all bad, and neither are you all right. Have the courage to write is all down. You won’t die because of it.

“Admitting to God1, ourselves, and another human being…” is necessary as well. Step Five is about humility and sharing deeply about ourselves with another. Some people say: “I don’t want to confess my sins to another”. Confessing is not about supplicating yourself on the alter of forgiveness to escape damnation. The origin of the word confession is “testifying to the truth”. State clearly and concisely what has brought you to the state of depression.

Now that we have taken our inventory we can follow the guidelines of Step Six and make a list of all of our shortcomings. We can surrender these to the God1 of our understanding and become entirely ready to have Him2 remove them. This is not about beating yourself up, it’s about having the humility to admit where you have fallen short.

Which brings us to Step Seven: “Humbly asked Him2 to remove our shortcomings.” We can ask to have our character defects removed, but it is up to Him2 to decide which character defects will be removed. When asking to have your shortcomings removed end your petition with “Thy will, not mine be done”. Which ones will be removed is not up to you, it is up to Him2.

Step Eight is about making a list of all persons we have harmed. We don’t have anything else to do just yet. We are merely making a list. Don’t get ahead of yourself, you are not at Step 9. Focus on making the list.

“Made direct amends to such people, wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others”. Step Nine can be very frightening. If you are afraid to start making amends then I suggest that you talk to your sponsor. You may have created a terrible situation in your mind that you discover after talking with your sponsor that you don’t need to make amends to that person. Don’t avoid this step – it has amazing healing ability. A weight will be lifted from your shoulders. Making amends is not about begging for forgiveness. It’s about admitting what you did hurt another person, and that you are striving not to make that mistake any more. You can start with the easy amends and work your way towards the more difficult ones.

Step Ten is the next strand: “Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.” The longer you are in recovery the more prompt prompt becomes. It’s all about not creating a further wrong that needs to be fixed with another Step 9. Admit you were at fault. You will be glad you did.

If you’re in a hole, quit digging.
– Will Rogers

“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God1…” brings us to Step Eleven. It’s all about seeking that deeper relationship with your Higher Power. The seeking is what is important. There will be times you feel connected to your Higher Power and there will be times that you are in a dark night of the soul and you don’t feel the presence of your Higher Power. Don’t beat yourself up that your relationship with your Higher Power ebbs and flows. That’s what it does.

Yes it is important that you have had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps. The critical thing with Step Twelve is “..we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all of our affairs.” Be of service to others. Help someone else. Not for accolades, but rather to pay your blessings forward that you have been pardoned from the prison of depression.

You have woven a rope of recovery. It is so much stronger than the single thread that you began with. You are free from depression, and with this rope you can move great obstacles in your life.

Notes:

  1. Here I mean whatever you conceive your Higher Power to be. It could be God, or Jesus, or Allah, or Buddha, or Universal Truth, or Love, or any other conception. Your conception of your Higher Power is yours and yours alone. It is just a whole lot easier to write it in the shorthand term God. Please don’t be offended.
  2. Using the pronoun Him does not mean that God is definitively masculine, it’s just a shorthand way of referring to your Higher Power. Please don’t be offended.

Lack of power, that was our dilemma!

In our “Big Book” Depressed Anonymous, we learned that not having the power to escape from depression was our main problem.

What gives many of us the power to overcome depression is to have some new purpose or find new meaning for our lives. In my own life I found that the best way to keep those low moods and depressive symptoms at arm’s length is to write. One day I stumbled across this great solution for my own wellness and rehabilitation – among many. Most times in the past when I felt discouraged and in a funk mood, I would seek out my pillow and rest. Too many times my escape from the mental and physical fatigue would be to hit the sack.

I gave up that moment which in time became my power to get on with that moment which gave meaning to me like no other.

Thinking causes feelings, feelings cause moods and moods cause behavior.

This sounds right for me. When my thinking is negative and my mind cycles around and around, these negative thoughts can create sad feelings which are negative. If I feel sad enough and for prolonged periods of time my sad feelings will create moods which can last for a short time or deepen into moods which gradually darken our thinking to the extent that hopelessness begins to rule our emotions-our lives. Once our moods deepen, we begin to find ourselves prisoners, not of any iron bars and locked cells, but the change in our thinking, now negative and hopeless , not only will change our behaviors so that any physical, mental or spiritual activities will come to a halt All those activities that were once such a large part of our lives, providing pleasure for us, gradually have all disappeared. From this time on, our thinking, our feelings, frozen with fear and anxiety are stuck in a place which is unable to provide any possible solutions providing a predictable escape.

Is This All There Is?

How many times have I heard clients share with me how the dreams of their youth have disappeared like the early morning mist. Now that they are part of the swelling “baby boomer” generation, life has become their unexpected challenge. But not only the “baby boomers” but others in society, much younger who feel disconnected and alone in the American society. With “social media” as the assumed connection bringing folks together, the face to face relationships have withered. to that end that loneliness is the new normal, and not the exception. Because there are no “super heroes ” in our daily lives, we have to create these bogus creatures who are neither real flesh and blood “super heroes.” These figments of our cultural imaginations captivate our minds so that we continue to look for someone to save us so that we can live out our lives, forever happy.

Some tell us that this is the “age of melancholy” where society lives with unrealized dreams and plans. Not everyone is reaching the promised top of the mountain filled with milk and honey. An alarm has been sounded. Suicides increasing. Children bullied who feel they are without hope and help. Their feelings of hopelessness, their isolating sadness, keeps them from searching out someone, somewhere to help them.

Children bullied must have advocates. But who and where are these advocates for these children? I believe that all of us are aware now how critical it is to get the word out and that parents and all others need to know the signs of a child or adult who is thinking of suicide. And if your child tells you he/she is being bullied – drop everything – and tell someone! This can be that moment that will change everything for your child or loved one.

With these horrific situations facing us, we can build a bridge, sometimes by ourselves initially, but gradually others can join with us and be part of these small communities finding purpose and meaning for their own lives. We can invite others to join us in our pursuit of healing and hope.

Courage To Change The Things I Can

Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is having fears, facing them, and taking action. I know that I can be overcome with fear. My depression manifests as a deer in the headlights. I am stuck in inaction. The hardest part is getting started.

Break whatever project you are procrastinating on into small manageable pieces. Start attacking and accomplishing those smaller tasks. Some people say to tackle the low hanging fruit – to start off easy. Some people say to tackle the hardest task first – the one that you are dreading the most. If you can handle the hardest task then you should be able to handle the rest.

Does it matter which way you start? The answer is a resounding no. What matters is that you take action, any action. Start, start NOW! It doesn’t matter if you make a mistake by going into action – you will have momentum on your side, and you can accomplish much more.

Choose action. Pick something, anything that is productive and gets you one step closer to your goal.

You will experience fear, it is to be expected. Have the courage to feel the fear and do it anyway. You may not feel better instantly, but you will feel better eventually.

If you are overcome with fear to the point of inaction don’t worry. Be gentle with yourself. Breathe through your fear and set the task aside for a few moments. Don’t have the attitude of no never, but instead have the attitude of no, not right now. Revisit the task that you put aside. Don’t get trapped in avoidance as you’re merely putting the fearsome task aside for a few moments. Catch your breath, and dive back in.

Be gentle with yourself, but do it!

Yours in recovery, Bill R

Depression And Anger

Many times in our lives we can hide our own anger from ourselves. Here is a checklist to help you determine if you are hiding anger from yourself. Any of these may be a sign of anger or some other possible physical causes. If you are concerned about any of these listed it would do you well to speak to a professional.

The list is an attempt to see if any of these issues might be related to your own depression and anger. Also, the list gives you notice on ways to deal with those which you might be dealing with off and on.

  1. Procrastination in delayed working on important matters
  2. Perpetual or habitual lateness
  3. Overly polite
  4. Constant cheerfulness
  5. Attitude of “grin and bear it”
  6. Frequent sighing
  7. Sarcasm, cynicism or flippancy in conversation
  8. Smiling while hurting, always saying “I’m fine”
  9. Frequent or disturbing dreams
  10. Over controlled monotone speaking voice
  11. Difficulty in getting to sleep or sleeping through the night
  12. Boredom
  13. Slowing down of movements
  14. Getting tired more easily than usual
  15. Excessive irritability over trifles
  16. Getting drowsy at inappropriate times
  17. Sleeping more than usual
  18. Waking up tired rather than rested or refreshed
  19. Clenched jaw, usually while sleeping
  20. Habitual fist clenching
  21. Grinding of teeth, especially while sleeping
  22. Chronically stiff neck or shoulder muscles
  23. Anxiety and depression
  24. Swallowing your anger and keeping it pent-up inside
  25. Stomach ulcers/gastrointestinal problems.
  26. Flying off the handle.

Now That I Look Back

Now that I look back and see the way I was and see how I am now, I can’t believe that I ever knew that other person. This person is different altogether. I like this person now very much. I am so thankful to the group. They are just wonderful. They are my family. They are my Depressed Anonymous family. I also have my church family. It is a wonderful,l feeling to know that there is a Higher Power that can help you through these things. At first, I thought, “I doubt that very much” when everyone was talking about the Higher Power and peace in my life. Then it happened to me. Every few days, the world dumps down on you and beats you down. That’s just life. I always think to myself that there is that extra strength that I didn’t have before. I feel that everything is going to be OK with me. I have that peace now myself.

An excerpt from Bill’s story in PERSONAL STORIES from Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition.(2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY Page 147.

I think I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree

“Trees” by the poet Joyce Kilmer has always been a favorite of mine over the years. At one time I could recite the poem by heart. It ranked near the top of my favorite poem list, only to be topped by Psalm 23, the Bible’s Good Shepherd Psalm.

I always thought that Joyce Kilmer was a woman – wrong – he is a man. Now that was sort of a surprise. Anyway, being a country boy from rural Indiana, trees were part of our lives, and much of our hunting experiences. Squirrels lived in trees. We hunted squirrels. Trees were all sizes and all kinds. Lots of trees. My Grandpa, could name any and all trees that were part of the Southern Indiana forests. Trees were so much of his life as a child and young man. We learned how to tell the kind of a tree just by looking at it’s bark. Yes, beautiful trees.

Now, during this pandemic I knew I could not sit self-quarantined at home 24/7 (not until middle of March did I begin to realize this might go on for a spell. I was right). I decided to write a book. I did write a book and it has kept me busy all these months. I hardly go anywhere, maybe for some groceries or walk around a neighboring park. I have been visiting with friends on one of our 12 Step ZOOM and SKYPE meetings. I kept in contact that way. So, now I am about ready to finish up the book and get it ready for publication. So I didn’t waste my time. I have something to show for it.
But my latest effort has been to take up the pencil and learn how to draw trees. Thank you Joyce Kilmer. Not just stick type trees. Trees that are beautiful and have leafy branches and the limbs are well shaded and all so perfect. My wife bought me some great Walmart $1.98 special colored pencils. I was excited. That is, until I tested out my innate, so I thought, ability to draw. Well, it hasn’t turned out so good. My trees just don’t come alive like the ones shown on the Computer screen.

I’ve learnt a lesson here. Try new things, and if you feel you are not successful – give it up! But seriously, I intend to get back to the trees some other time. I think I will use my camera and take pictures of trees. At least what I end up with are pictures that look like trees. Not stick trees.

One final thought. I at least proved one thing to myself. I don’t have to always be perfect and succeed at everything. Life is like that. We at least know that God has given me another day – another 24 hours – to give thanks for. I don’t have to be a great poet, writer, or artist. But I can be a man of gratitude for all of God’s blessings. In my book, trees point my thoughts heavenward to God who made all creation and is an expression of his love for you and me.

My favorite tree is an Autumn Blaze Maple. What is your favorite tree?

Hugh Smith © 2020

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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