The “WE” program of the 12 Steps of Recovery

“…we let God demonstrate through us, what God can do.  We ask God to remove our fear and direct our attention to what God would have us be.  At once, we  commence to outgrow fear,”  Bill W., co-founder of AA.

How often have I felt the healing presence of God in the midst of a 12 Step group meeting. I have heard others comment on how God is speaking to them through other members of the group. Because WE are all part of the fellowship of Depressed Anonymous and united in our firm belief of a power greater than ourselves WE  made a decision to turn our wills and lives over to the care of God as WE understood God to be.  WE trust in the Promise that because we live the way of the Steps that WE will find the serenity that comes to those who believe in these Promises.

How can the Depressed Anonymous Group empower me?

“We know that 1) Depressed Anonymous  educates and informs us about our experience of depression. 2) We know that Depressed Anonymous nurtures  us so that we can begin to share unashamedly our unpleasant feelings with others. 3) Depressed Anonymous accepts us and does not make judgments about our experience with depression.  In  other words we don’t hear “snap out of it”  from the members of the fellowship. 4) Depressed Anonymous teaches coping skills by our frequent meetings and group membership interaction. We know about being connected with like minded folks. Depressed Anonymous empowers us so that we feel there is truly a way out of depression for self and/ or  my  loved ones. One of the major benefits of the group is that you can hear how other persons depressed have made it out of their depression. It is also clear that the program works best for those who keep coming back to the meetings.”

Source: I’ll do it when I feel better. 2013  DAP, Louisville, Ky Page 30.

Please comment if you like.

Peace of Mind

  When we join a Depressed Anonymous group we soon realize that members of the group speak the same language as do we. This is the language of hope and a belief that I can get better. I hear this at every meeting from those who actually live out the Promises of the Steps.

The Depressed Anonymous group provides us with a “toolbox” if you will of those actions that help us stay on a path that can provide a peace of mind for our daily living. In fact, as soon as we begin to involve ourselves in the fellowship we discover “peace of mind.”

    In our work” I’ll do it when I feel better”  we see  what can result from  our own peace of mind.

“1) A clear conscience; 2) Living in the present; 3) Gratitude every day; 4) Belief that the God of my understanding will get me through the problems of my life; 5) Forgiveness of myself and amends to all persons I have harmed; 6) Hope; 7) Doing God’s will means letting go.

    I am firmly convinced that in order to continue any semblance of peace and serenity I will have to structure a daily quiet period into my life. This is an essential part of the prescription for getting well and staying well.”  Page 37 in I’ll Do It when I feel better.”

Promises, promises.+

The Promises of Depressed Anonymous

1. If we are painstaking about this phase of our development we will be amazed before we are halfway through.

Change is painful. The first step is really the beginning of the end of our pain. By admitting that we are in pain is that which paradoxically  begins the release of our pain. This is the paradox of letting go and holding on as we learned from Step Three. (We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity). What we hold onto holds onto us. What we seek — seeks us.

This pain of depression begins to dissolve as a result of doing something we have never done before or rather doing something about our lives that we have not done before. It happens to be true that the more we get in touch with and remove our resentments, fear, guilt and self-pity from our lives, the lighter we feel emotionally. The less need we have to rely on our defense mechanisms, which shielded our fragile egos from pain, hurt, or remorse, the freer we become.

 Source: I’ll do it when I feel better (2013, 2nd edition.) Depressed Anonymous Publications, Louisville Ky. Page 31.

Upcoming topic on the Depressed Anonymous Blog

We will begin a series of posts dealing with the Promises of the Twelve Steps.  I have summarized these Promises into thirteen subject titles in our work “I’ll do it when I feel better.”  “I’ll do it when I feel better” was published in 2013 and has two chapters that deal specifically with The Promises of the Steps.  I hope you stay tuned and follow along as we share some of our own thoughts on these important Promises.


Therapists Views on Depressed Anonymous

The “Birth” of a Depressed Anonymous Group. Judith Bouffiou, Ph.D. (Cand.), Olympia, Washington

Isn’t life just full of expected and unexpected challenges, synchronous happenings, joys and griefs. Your life and mine. Following is a synopsis of a time in my life when I experienced all of the above. The summer of 1991 saw the dissolving of a business partnership for me; a painful, but healthy decision. The counseling center my ex-partner and I operated had provided the community with a Domestic Violence/Anger
Management (DV/A M ) Program for court and self referred clients, plus each of us had a private practice. M y decision to dissolve the partnership was motivated by a number of reasons, among them a desire to go back to school, and to spend more time and energy in my private practice. Over time my private practice had evolved into a growth and development type of practice, which I loved doing. A long with the dissolution of the partnership came the decision to no longer do the DV/A M work. I had a desire to still give the community some type of community service, but what?

Then I remembered reading some time earlier in one of my professional journals about a man who had developed a Twelve-step program, Depressed Anonymous for individuals who suffered from depression. Like most therapists, a significant number of the people I saw (and still see) in my practice were experiencing depression to one degree or other.

The more I thought about the concept of Depressed Anonymous, the more intrigued I was, so I contacted the founder of Depressed Anonymous for information and details. Information was sent to me and that was the start of the first Depressed Anonymous group in Washington State.

From the Depressed Anonymous material I received, I photocopied, organized, prepared and prepared and advertized. I decided on a start time and date, sent notices to our local paper, our Crisis Clinic, therapists and physicians in this area, tacked up flyers all over town, and of course, lots of word of mouth advertizing. The Depressed
Anonymous group originally met in a group room at my office, and eventually moved to a local church when I moved into a smaller office space.

A s a therapist I organized, started, sponsored, and “mothered” the Depressed
Anonymous group for a time, before withdrawing to just being the phone contact person that people can call in for information. From the very first meetings, which had 8-10 people, a “home” group evolved; fine people, some of whom had previous Twelve-step experiences. One of fine traditions and legacies of Twelve-step groups is the willingeness of folks to be and do the supportive and necessary work (the glue) that holds the Twelve-step groups together. The Twelve-step tradition and service continues on.

As is often the case, I have received more than I’ve given as the person who organized and started this Olympia, Washington Depressed Anonymous group. Now that I’m not a person who suffers from depression, other than short term appropriate situational depression; nothing ever deep or prolonged. A s I organized and started this Depressed Anonymous group little did I know that I would benefit from the Depressed Anonymous process and group in such a personal way.

The Depressed Anonymous group had only met two or three times when my middle son unexpectedly died from a type of cancer that years before had taken his father. So, in a synchronous manner, for a time and in a different way, the Depressed Anonymous group supported me as much as I supported them. In my prior work as a nurse, I had often been witness to dying and death, also in my personal life. However, the death of one son and then a year and half later, the death of my oldest son (two out of three) have been devastating experiences for me.

So in many, many ways being the organizer and sponsor of the first Depressed Anonymous group have been an exceedingly enriching experience for me. A s mentioned before, because of the wonderful people in the group, and with great confidence on my part, I turned the operation of the Depressed Anonymous group over to the capable hands of the home group people. I remain the telephone contact. The Depressed Anonymous group continues to thrive and grow. Just recently I talked with a man from Portland, Oregon, who is thinking about starting a group in the Portland area


Denise L ., Louisville, Kentucky

One of the greatest resources I’ve used in working with many depressed persons has been Depressed Anonymous. The transformation it causes in an individual’s life is truly miraculous. This stems from it being primarily a spiritual program of healing and recovery. It encourages a person to seek a personal relationship with God, whoever they understand him to be. In doing this it helps a person to look inside for healing, rather than in a pill or some quick “cure”. M any persons who suffer with depression look on God as a being who judges them harshly. This thinking usually leads to much anger towards God, which results in more negative thinking. I know this from my own
experiences with depression, and the angry relationship with God I had during those times. This is where Depressed Anonymous offers hope by getting a person connected to a group who also suffer with depression, and are working the twelve steps. In doing this, it helps a person come to a realization that it will only be through a power greater than themselves, that they will find sanity in their life. Depressed people cannot do this alone because of the compulsion to ruminate endlessly over negative thoughts. It is only through coming together with a group of people like Depressed Anonymous, that they are able to break the cycle of negative thinking.

A client I was working with is a good example of the above. H e spent his time alone and many countless hours thinking of all the disappointments in his life, which continually reinforced his depression. Then he started going to DA, and found that through being with other people like himself, he didn’t feel as alone as he did before. H e started sharing his pain, and found understanding and support. I noticed his face began to soften, and he started smiling more. Then I noticed his face began to soften, and he started smiling more. H e also found help spiritually from DA, for he started
working the twelve steps, and as a result he started trusting God more for his healing. H e is one of many persons I’ve worked with who have found help and encouragement through attending DA .

The spiritual emphasis of DA is it’s greatest strength. People come together and hear from one another how their higher power is healing and guiding their lives. They realize that in being part of the group they are not alone, and also encourage true healing. DA has been a wonderful healing tool in the lives of many depressed persons I’ve worked with. It will always be one of the greatest resources I use in my work. It is true that “it works if you work it.”

Throw Yourself Like a Seed

Shake off this sadness, and recover your spirit; sluggish you will never see the wheel of fate that brushes your heel as it turns going by, the man who wants to live is the man in whom life is abundant.

Now you are only giving food to that final pain which is slowly winding you in the nets of death, but to live is to work and the only thing which lasts is the work; start then, turn to the work.

Throw yourself like seed as you walk, and into your own field, don’t turn your face for that would be to turn it to death, and do not let the past weigh down your motion.

Leave What’s alive in the furrow, what’s dead in yourself, for life does not move in the same way as a group of clouds; from your work you will be able one day to gather yourself.

-Miguel de Unamuno

Dep-Anon: Support Group for Family and Friends of the Depressed

The family and friends of persons depressed now have their own support group ­ much like family and friends of those suffering from other problems. We all know that a family member with a serious problem affects the entire family or system and throw s it out of balance.

The idea of having a special group just for family members is to help each other understand the nature of depres­sion and learn how in the meantime to take care of their own needs. The group helps the focus stay on their own issues and not that of the depressed.

“Family members and friends of the depressed often feel they have nowhere to turn for help . They may find themselves reading books on depression and other resources, but still feel lost as to what to do. This is where Dep-Anon can offer assistance. It is a fellowship of persons who come together to share their stories, and offer support to one another in the process. Their issues may be different from those suffering with depression, but are just as valid. By joining a fellowship such as Dep-Anon, the families and friends of the de­ pressed are displaying a willingness to work their own program of recovery. In doing this, they are moving towards positive life changes, which promote the spiritual principles Dep-Anon is based upon. We simply can’t experience the healing we desire by being isolated, and trying to do it alone. We need the fellowship of others, who are on similar paths, and are seeking to implement the spiritual principles of Dep-Anon into their lives. This kind of fellowship is valuable beyond measure.

A group such as Dep-Anon would have been very helpful in my own last depressive episode. There wasn ‘t a group like this at the time. My husband felt lost and helpless in trying to care for me. He could have benefited from coming together with others like him­ self, who he could share with, and receive support in the process. Instead, he began to isolate as he felt increasingly overwhelmed, and became depressed as a result. This is the danger for family members of the depressed, when they don’t have resources for help and en­couragement like Dep-Anon.It is a wonderful resource that can make a tremendous difference in the lives of persons connected to the depressed. Please spread the word that help is available through Dep- Anon Family Group. It can make a difference.

Denise List, M.ED., writing in the FOREWORD to the DEP-ANON FAMILY GROUP MANUAL, 1999, Louisville, KY ,

The Power of Depressed Anonymous

By Ray

What is the power of Depressed Anonymous?
Well, first let me that when I started attending D. A. meetings I went for a couple of months and then stopped. I stopped going because my depression was so bad I didn’t want to leave my apartment. I didn’t want to be around or talk to anyone. I just didn’t want to do anything except crawl in a hole somewhere and isolate myself from everything. Then after about six week of isolation I called the residential treatment facility where I had been a client to see if I had received any mail there and one of the members of the D. A. group where I attend answered the phone. I spent a few minutes talking to her and there was something in her voice that told me that for some reason it was important for me to be at the meeting. I attended the next D. A. meeting. After the meeting was over, I suddenly realized the importance and power of Depressed Anonymous.

So what is the power of Depressed Anonymous? For me, it’s just like attending the first meeting. I was a little scared and apprehensive at first, but then I found the Depressed Anonymous meeting was a place to go where there were other depressed people just like me. They could relate to and understand what I was going through. They didn’t judge me or think of me as crazy. I was accepted.

Another power of Depressed Anonymous the group and what each person brings to the group. I have seen our fellowship get stronger and grow. I have developed many friendships that I can depend on for support and understanding, I have watched some of the newcomers that have kept coming back, grow and improve, Even something as simple as a smile when there as not before. The miracle of the group empowers and energizes me.

The most important power of Depressed Anonymous is hope. Hope that we will not be
locked in the prison of depression forever and that there is a way out for each of us. A hope that our Higher Power will work the miracle through us and that we will fwd our own happiness. I have hope that our hearts and minds will know love and peace like we have never known or felt before. The power of Depressed Anonymous works for me. I hope and pray that it works for you. Keep coming back!”

Source: DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS, Harmony House Publishers, 1998, Pages 154-155.

Who Will Make the First Move?

“Who will make the first move?” “We are surprised because we don’t see that beneath the surface of the present there is always the human material for change: the suppressed indignation, the common sense, the need for community, the love of children, the patience to wait for the right moment to act in concert with others. These are the elements that spring to the surface when a movement appears in history.

People are practical. They want change but feel powerless, alone, do not want to be the blade ofgrass that sticks up above the others and is cut down. They wait for a sign from someone else who will make the first move, or the second. And at certain times in his tory, there are intrepid people who take the risk that if they make that first move others will follow quickly enough to prevent their being cut down. And if we understand this, we might make that first move.”

Source: You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train. A Personal History of our times. Howard Zinn, Beacon Press, Boston, Page 10

We believe that what we think, what we say, and what we do impact our depression. We believe that depression can be managed by applying the principles of the 12 Steps. All are welcome!

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