Slow down! Road work ahead!

How often do we see these orange warning signs along our highways? Sometimes it seems that everywhere we go, construction is going on. According to Murphy’s law, they only show up when we are in a hurry to get somewhere else.

In our recovery it is a necessity to read the signs that tell us to slow down. There is road work ahead. As we know or will soon find out recovery is about work, using those tools that are provided for our own healing and serenity.

We slow down, stop and reflect on our lives, examining how certain “triggers” not only slow us down but can “shut us down.” We discover how ruminating on the same negative feelings, produce a mood that continues to stifle us and prevents us from seeing it for what it is, namely a warning for us to make some changes in our behaviors. If we let these moods deepen there is a strong possibility that these negative ruminations can push us deeper into symptoms of depression. Before that happens, starting to use our tools can save us from relapsing or experiencing a recurrence of symptoms and get us back on the road again.

There are many things that can keep us motivated to stay involved in our program of recovery. You can read these for yourself here on our website (depressedanon.com) under the menu, TOOLS FOR RECOVERY. They are welcome tools not only providing help but hope.

You can also reflect on the “slogans” used by those of us in the 12 Step fellowships. I am going to list some of them and hope that you will use these as “mantra’s” or “slogans” for your own recovery and “road work.”

KEEP IT SIMPLE. Don’t complicate your life by overanalyzing or by placing judgments on others thinking or behavior. Don’t double yourself up with doing a hundred different things all at once.
DO THE NEXT RIGHT THING Telling yourself I’ll do it when I feel better never gets it. If you are recovering then go to meetings when you don’t want to or an appointment when you don’t feel like it. If you need to go to work go to work. That is the next right thing. Always be there for yourself and your healing. If you are doing Step work with a sponsor, then do the Step work. Do the next right thing. Put that on your bathroom mirror.
PROGRESS – NOT PERFECTION. Do what you can do and then don’t worry about it. The main thing is not that something you do is perfect –but that you are doing what you can do and doing it to the best of your ability.
CONTROL THE EFFORT-NOT THE OUTCOME. Take responsibility for you all that you do and again do your best. Make the effort. Give it your best shot. “To thine own self first be true.”
BE. HERE. NOW. Be in the present. Yesterday is gone forever. Tomorrow is not here yet. All we have is today. Enjoy the moment. Mindful that there is a God-and it isn’t me!
ONE DAY AT A TIME. We are only given one 24 hour period at a time. Use it well. Keep a journal and list three things that you are grateful for today.

Thank you for doing a little road work for yourself today. I hope that some of what I have written may have motivated you to look deeper into how you can “accept the things that you cannot change, the courage to change the things you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
If you would like to read more about depression please go to The Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore.

(C) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.
(c) The Depressed Anonymous Workbook. (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY

Hugh

A litany for living life on life’s terms.

These affirmations can produce in us positive feelings, with a desire to make the most of our day’s activities. Please take a few moments after each affirmation to see how these can best be brought to life.

I will live my life today with daily positive affirmations of who I desire to be. Pause.
I will live my life in service to others today. Pause.
I will live my life today with compassion for others. Pause.
I will live my life today in discovering God’s will for me and not my own. Pause.
I will live my life today in being empathic with those hurting and isolated. Pause.
I will live my life today in being thankful. Pause.
I will live my life today in prayerful moments throughout this day. Pause.
I will live out my life today by being a friend to those isolated by depression. Pause.
I will live out my life today with courage and hope. Pause.
I will live out my life today by being generous with my time and talents for our fellowship. Pause.
I will live out my life today in the present moment. All I have is today’s 24 hours. Pause
I will live out my life today with a quiet and receptive mind to the promptings of my HP. Pause.
I will live out my life today on life’s terms. Pause.
I will live out my life today in simplicity and truth. Pause.
I will live out my life today without a need to control others. Pause.
I will live out my life today with the firm belief that God loves me just the way I am. Pause.

“I would rather one should walk with me rather than merely telling me.”

The author Edgar Guest got it right. He would rather have someone walk with him rather than merely telling him. How true this is for our own lives. An example: I went to a large store whose layout I was unfamiliar. I asked a clerk how to find an item. “Oh yea, ” she responded — “I think it’s in aisle 57.” I was in aisle three so I walked to aisle 57. I looked everywhere -I spent some time up and down the aisle — no luck it wasn’t in aisle 57.
I went and asked another clerk. She told me that my item was in another aisle. She asked me to follow her and we walked back to aisle 57. There was my item. I thanked the clerk for helping me and I told her that I wasn’t familiar with the store layout. “No problem.”

In our program of recovery we always want to make ourselves available to those who have questions about the program, who need more information about the Steps and just another person to talk with between meetings. I get that. Those who volunteer to help those who need our assistance sometimes become a sponsor of others, or partner together in the Depressed Anonymous Workbook. We look forward to sharing our own experiences with others, especially our “newbies.” Our help can be so valuable as we share our own story and how I too have come to my first meeting and found someone willing to help walk with me through the Steps.

At our Depressed Anonymous online meetings, the chair person shares how anyone wanting to have someone to talk with between meetings, can find the names and phone numbers on the screen for handy reference. I highly recommend this.

The Depressed Anonymous Workbook is a positive tool where a new member and a group member can share and walk this path together. For some it has completely changed their lives…including the friend and the sponsor. You will be glad you did.

Hugh

At a loss of words to describe emotion?

Sometimes I’m so out of touch with my emotions I can’t even come up with a word to describe it. I found this resource online that helps me to put my emotions into words. It’s not a perfect tool but it can help me to better describe what I’m going through.

If you can’t describe your emotion use this tool to try out different words. Sometimes putting a word to an emotions lessens it to some small degree. By using a word we can create a small gap between who we are and the emotion that we are feeling. I tend to run from my emotions and stuff them by acting out in some fashion. I’m still working on not using food to soothe my emotions, but I’m a work in progress.

I hope you find this tool useful. Give it a try and see if it works. If it works, great – you’ve found a tool that works for you. If it doesn’t work for you, great – you now know this tool is not right for you.

Yours in recovery, Bill R

emotion_word_wheel

Life is starting to come together

As I began working on the abuse issues in therapy, the pieces of my life began to fit together in a way they could never have before, as I had never dealt with this catastrophic event. In the book Depressed? Here is a way out! (now Depressed Anonymous) the author talks about how people find their time of depression to be one of the great gifts of their life. The first time I read this, I thought it was the craziest thing I have ever heard. Yet, during this time of depression, I have learned and have I grown. I have come to understand myself and my God in a way I never could before.

It has been nearly a year now. Life is starting to come together for me again, one day at a time by the grace of God and the fellowship of this program. For the very first time I walked through the doors of Depressed Anonymous, I knew that I was in the right place. Having been an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous for so many years, I worked the Steps with my sponsor. I was already a firm believer of the Twelve Steps. I attended meetings: I worked the Steps with my sponsor. I used the Depressed Anonymous phone list and talked to those people about my pain and my day to day problems. I read the book and followed the instructions given in it.

When God, through Depressed Anonymous, the program and the fellowship literally carried me through the darkest time in my life and he did not let me die. I have fully experienced the “miracle of the group.” I have heard it said that sometimes God’s greatest miracles are unanswered prayers. I believe it. After all I am one.
– ANONYMOUS
Resource
(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. pgs. 119-120.

A key that opened many doors

The following is an excerpt of a testimony of how a person hospitalized for depression found and used the key for her recovery.

“During my first night in the hospital, a member of Depressed Anonymous informed me of a support group known as Depressed Anonymous. I decided to give it a try. By telling me about the wonderful, miraculous and very spiritual program, this person had not only worked the Twelfth Step, but had given me a key, a key which would open many doors for me. Walking through these doors was like admitting defeat. I was playing first base in a ball game in which I would eventually win. If I struck out, I was back on Step One. By playing ball with a positive attitude, I was allowing my Higher Power to walk the Steps to recovery with me. With the help and the positive sense of fellowship that I enjoyed in the group. I began to understand God’s will for me. With the love, support and true friendship of three faithful members in the group, I began working on my driver’s license, which had been another step toward independence for me. Within a year, I earned my license when two members of the group took me in for my road test. A new sunnier life had begun for me. The worst was finally over.”

– Excerpted from: “We never talked about our feelings,” in a personal story by Lena

Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition, © 2011 Depressed Anonymous Publications, Louisville, KY. Page 112.

10 strategies for coping with anxiety and pain

Originally published January 28, 2019. Some formatting changes.

  1. Remember that although your feelings are very frightening, they are not dangerous or harmful. They are uncomfortable but not life threatening.
  2. Understand that what you are experiencing is just an exaggeration of your normal bodily reaction to stress.
  3. Do not fight your feelings or try to wish them away. The more you are willing to face them, the less intense they will be.
  4. Do not add to your panic by thinking about what might happen if you find yourself asking ‘What if’? Tell yourself. ‘So what!’
  5. Stay in the present. Notice what is really happening to you as opposed to what you think might happen.
  6. Label your fear level from zero to ten and watch it go up and down. Notice that it does not stay at a very high level for more than a few seconds.
  7. When you find yourself thinking about the fear, change your ‘what if’ thinking. Focus on and carry out a simple and manageable task such as counting backwards from 100 by 3’s or snapping a rubber band on your wrist.
  8. Notice that when you stop adding frightening thoughts to your fear, it begins to face.
  9. When the fear comes, expect and accept it. Wait and give it time to pass without running away from it.
  10. Be proud of yourself for your progress thus far, and think about how good you will feel when you succeed this time.

Source: NMH Association – Understanding Panic Disorder

Gathering evidence that I am doing better

Originally published January 25, 2019. Some formatting changes.

I need to gather evidence that I am doing better, rather than focusing on all the ways I am feeling worse.

Negative voice: I am doing worse and I do everything wrong.

Positive response: No, I’m doing better little by little and here is some evidence:

  • Set your goals really small
  • People often give up hope feeling too overwhelmed
  • Each week identify what would be the tiniest-absolutely smallest piece of evidence that you are doing better

The smallest tiniest piece of evidence that I am doing better is:

  • I stopped my negative tape in my head once
  • That I read and completed a small section of the Depressed Anonymous Workbook, answering four questions
  • That I was able to go out and walk though I didn’t want to this week
  • Called a friend in the recovery program
  • Began to read the first couple of paragraphs from our Big Book Depressed Anonymous and made a commitment to read a few paragraphs each day

Please add a few more of your own small pieces of positive changes that you made happen this past week.

Just by reading this BLOG you are taking a tiny step in your recovery.

I have a plan that is simple with startling results

Originally published September 30, 2018. Some formatting changes.

Years ago I needed help and I was offered a number of plans/solutions which promised me relief for my particular problem. The plans offered me didn’t seem to work. In my desperation I thought I would try a 12 Step program of recovery. The plan was very simple. Not hard to understand. I tried it. I went to my first meeting and was given hope. All the folks there at the meeting were using the same plan. They talked about how this plan changed their lives. That got my attention. It got my attention because their story was my story. The group provide me with the plan’s list of areas in my life that I needed to look at. The plan, as I mentioned before was simple. Not complicated at all.

Have you ever in your life had to put something together and the thing that you put together came with a plan. It was a blueprint like thing that showed you what the end product would look like. when all the proper instructions were carried out. At this first meeting I made a commitment to follow this plan for 24 hours. Only 24 hours. Hey, not a big deal. I could handle that. So, I took the plan home and started to read the instructions, chapter and verse. It was a simple plan.

Now I had this plan. It was a plan for everyday of my life. I thought wow! is this good or what. That is exactly what I needed. I remember saying to myself, “I hope it works.” It works. Over 30 years later I am using the same plan. It never gets old and stale.

Early on I got some tools to go with the instructions on how to use the plan. The first tool showed me how to admit what was fouled up in my life and to also admit how things were terribly out of hand. In our plan there were all sorts of other tools that I needed to use if I was to get back on my feet. I have to confess some of these tools were not easy to use exactly. I mean there were parts of the plan that I needed to look at more closely than I ever had before. This plan came with a great instruction book that I and others call the Big Book. It spells out not only how to use the tools but what happens when we actively embrace them and put them to use in our daily life.

So, now besides the plan, we have the tools to go along with the instructions. So my life began to change. I began to find serenity in my life and I began to realize that there were things that I need to change in my life and then there were things I knew I couldn’t change. You know, like things that happened to me in then past. The instructions showed me a great way to take care of those issues that up to a time haunted me. I now really feel at home in my own skin now.

Startling results? Well, for sure. And part of the reason for these startling results is besides having a plan–having new tools to use-I was plopped right in the middle of a group of men and women that were using the same plan as I was. Like, we are all on the same page, literally. I was in a fellowship of folks who were telling each other their stories about how the instructions and tools brought them some really fantastic experiences changes in their lives. The first time I set foot in this group, I was promised that certain things were going to happen to me. You know what? They were right. They said that once I had the instructions under my belt, I would want to go and tell others my story. I would want to go and let those still suffering from whatever addiction was killing them, that they could live with the hope that their lives would change, as did mine. By following our plan, using our tools of recovery, and being a part of our fellowship (a 12 Step group) you “will be amazed before you are halfway through”. (the instructions) Again, that’s a Promise!

Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. © 2011, Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.

Contact: depanon@netpenny.net for more info.

Three Circles

OK we know that depression is a disease, and we can also look at it as an addiction. In my opinion it’s helpful to look at other programs of recovery for understanding, inspiration, and tips on how to best manage your recovery from that addiction.

One topic of recovery is to have a relapse prevention plan. If you go through life unaware and on auto-pilot chances are real good that you will relapse in your depression. You want to avoid that if humanly possible. The trick is to be aware of your behaviors and where those behaviors lead you. There are things that you can do that make you feel useful and whole. There are things that you can do that lead you towards that bottom line addictive behavior. And finally the thing you are trying to avoid: having a relapse of active depression.

The three circles is one way to come up with a relapse prevention plan. The three circles are concentric (see diagram below).

The Outer Circle contains those things that you can do that make you feel good and build your inner resolve. In some circles (pardon the pun) the Outer Circle is sometimes referred to as Top Line behaviors. I’ve put into the diagram some examples of top line behaviors but that is not a comprehensive list. You decide what things fill you up and make you whole. Some other examples include: prayer; hugging loved ones; playing with your pet; talking with friends; doing service; donating time/money to your favorite charity.

The Middle Circle contains those behaviors that lead you closer to a full blown relapse of your depression. Sometimes the Middle Circle is called Mid Line Behaviors. In some recovery groups they are called “People, Places, and Things” – anything that brings you closer to your bottom. As before you decide what belongs in the Middle Circle. What triggers you toward your depression may be a common trigger, or may be unique to you.

The Inner Circle contains those behaviors that you are really trying to avoid and if you do them you are active in your depression. Again, you define what goes into the Inner Circle. I’ve diagrammed some examples, but come up with your own if those don’t ring true for you.

three-circles

I encourage you to come up with your own Three Circles diagram. Become aware of your behaviors and if you find yourself in the Middle Circle take action with your Outer Circle behaviors. If you find yourself in the Inner Circle take massive action in the Outer Circle. Seek help you are worth it.

Good luck with this task. It only works if you work it. Diagram it and put it into action.

Yours in recovery, Bill R

If you’d like to read more here is a link to a Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_circles

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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