Test Drive This Idea

The car I drive is a manual shift (stick) and has 5 gears. I like the stick shift better than automatic–it seems that I can feel the power of the engine when I go from one gear to the next.
When I bought an older Honda this last month, I made sure it was a shift. I gave it a test drive and the gears shifted smoothly from one gear to the next. I bought the vehicle.
How does this Test drive idea apply to depression? I’m glad you asked. Many times people when they come to a Depressed Anonymous meeting for the first time–it’s similar to test driving a car. They want to check out how many miles the car gets to a liter/gal of gas. Like, they want to know if this group will give them all that it promises . Is there a warranty with the group? Well, as a matter of fact there are. On page 109 in the Depressed Anonymous book the warranty itemizes everything that is yours. You will see them as the Promises of what can happen if you work the recovery program as outlined in our manual. I guess you would call the Depressed Anonymous book our manual. In fact, it has been written by persons who test drove the program and found it helped propel them into a life of healing and a fellowship of those many others who found it did what it promised. It always put them on the road.
When I was setting up Depressed Anonymous, a spiritual program of recovery in a State Prison a number of years back, one of the members of the group told us that he didn’t believe in God. He had been test driving the program and discovered that Step Two, (Gear 2?) “came to believe that a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity.” “Well,” he said his “Higher Power was his Prison DA group.” This is the engine that gave him the most mileage. In fact, after test driving it for weeks it was just what he was looking for–a trust worthy vehicle that would take him to the end of his journey–one day at a time. This group was the only engine with a warranty that was good all day, every day, and was good for the life of the engine. Since everyone in the group were all affected by depression, or the same engine problems they could speak to each other in the same language. No one was alone and isolated. The toolbox was there for each of the group and all of them had engines that were humming because they were all familiar with each of the gears and knew how to keep learning more about how all the gears (steps) were to work together.
Sign up today if you would like to test drive our vehicle of tested quality. We have everything you would like to know about our vehicle. Keep in touch. There is always a “pit crew” standing by to offer help.

I am not perfect–so what?

Copyright(c) Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications Louisville, Kentucky
An excerpt with some modifications and additions from Higher Thoughts for today, November 15.
AFFIRMATION
NO LONGER WILL WE ACCEPT OUR PAST THINKING THAT OUR WORTH IS BASED ON OUR ABILITY TO PRODUCE.
REFLECTION
I am going to be alert to those times during the day today, when I give myself the message that I could have done something better. These messages are from an old hypercritical tape from my childhood. Guilt rides roughshod over us when we fail to live up to the expectations we have of ourselves or those held by others about us. ( My 3rd grade teacher compared me to my brother, who was very smart, and said that I would never be like him, meaning brilliant. She was right, I am not brilliant. But it was only until I was in my 30’s did I realize that I had other qualities. Like it really didn’t matter anymore what she thought.) Since I have admitted that I am depressed, (Aware, motivated, doing, and maintaining positive behaviors) I am able to change certain old ways of thinking and behaving.
Our worth comes from the earliest childhood memories. The more we are able to get in touch with early images and feelings that we hold about ourselves the more clearly can we see that what we feel as adults is many times based on early childhood emotions. I am depending more now on my Higher Power to get me safely to those early days and those feelings. I will also talk to a friend today about my childhood experiences. I am not perfect–so what?
MEDITATION
With God on our side, we can’t fail. God loves us just the way we are.

MOTIVATING STAGE

Today, we can look at the Motivating Stage –One of the Four. We have talked about the first stage, namely that of just being Aware. And in the context of BLAMING ourselves, others or God, we have made ourselves aware of a character defect where blaming others works against our self. It is in the Aware stage that we realize that “something is really wrong with me” as David Karp points out in his insightful book Speaking of Sadness. I know the feeling. I knew that I couldn’t just stay in bed but had to do something to get rid of that all encompassing fatigue as well as reduce the tremors in my limbs and eliminate that horrible jittery feeling in my gut. This led me to make a decision –to get motivated— hoping against hope that I wasn’t losing my mind. I wasn’t going crazy.
In the Motivating Stage we are using our awareness to show us how our negative thinking and talking to ourselves has helped continue our sadness. It’s like we have a “wake-up” call telling us how all this negative and emotion laden self talk is making us depressed. And now I am making up my mind to change the way I talk to myself as well as motivate myself to follow the spiritual program of recovery–step by step. I also am trying to live in the present. All I have is just this 24 hours. This Motivating Stage prepares me to move to the DOING stage. I will do all it takes to quit the BLAME game and gradually accept responsibility for my life.
MOVE THE BODY AND THE MIND WILL FOLLOW!

HOW DOES A PERSON CHANGE? ARE YOU A BLAMER?

In order for us to escape from depression we need 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.
As we illustrated yesterday there is a process of how a person chooses to change. First comes an Awareness stage. Then comes the Motivating stage. A Doing stage is then put into motion, and finally we have the Maintaining stage where a person continues to do all that is necessary to sustain and be responsible for positive changes.
In the DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS WORKBOOK, it asks the participant to apply all of these four stages as antidotes to those character defects which may keep us imprisoned in our prison of depression. Today we want to examine the character defect of BLAMING. Now let’s put to use our formula of the four stages. Today, I am going to share just one of the four stages with the example of BLAMING. For me, being aware meant that not only was I aware of what I was doing to cause me to heap blame after blame on myself but much later I discovered through Step Four of Depressed Anonymous the many good things that I had going for myself. I learnt that working the Steps is a gradual process developed for changing myself.
(1) AWARE. Now that I have admitted I am powerless over my depression and that it serves no purpose to blame myself for my depression and bashing myself with daily reminders of how bad and unacceptable I am. Now I am: (1) AWARE of my need to discover what there is about myself that I do find acceptable and wholesome?
Tomorrow, we apply the Motivating stage to our BLAMING. Then this will be followed by a segment on the Doing stage. Finally, the Maintaining stage will be considered. I hope to meet with you again tomorrow.


My thoughts: I share my own thoughts here. When my whole body became physically incapacitated and I could hardly get out of bed of a morning. My whole insides felt hollow and a strong, vague feeling that something was totally wrong inside of me. I felt full of “jitters” and anxiety. I was totally clueless as to what monster had me in its clutches. I had to admit that I needed help. I was powerless. I was not only AWARE I was scared. Know what I mean? If you do, please comment. So how do you change? Can you admit what is possibly keeping you depressed? Hugh

HOW DOES A PERSON CHANGE? THINK ABOUT IT AS A FOUR STAGE PROCESS.

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.
1. AWARENESS STAGE: We become conscious that we can’t go on feeling the way that we do. Something has to give.
2. MOTIVATING STAGE: I am going to prepare myself for needed change in my thinking, acting and feeling.
3. DOING STAGE: I am going to take charge and be responsible for positive changes that have to be made by me if I am to feel differently.
4. MAINTAINING STAGE: I will continue to seek out and sustain my recovery with people, concepts and my personal working of the 12 step program for recovery.
Now apply these four stages which serve as antidotes to our character defects and which cause us to stay imprisoned in our prison of depression…The first is the character defect of BLAMING.
(1) AWARE. Now that I have admitted that I am powerless over my depression and that it serves no purpose to blame myself for my depression an d bashing myself with daily reminders how bad and unacceptable I am. And now I am: (1) AWARE of my need to discover what there is about myself that I do find acceptable, good and wholesome.

(2) I am MOTIVATING myself now that I am aware how I have depressed myself by the faulty beliefs that I have held about myself over the past years. I now know that part of the way I feel is due to the way I automatically talk to myself throughout the day. Without ever being conscious of it I now realize that my feelings about myself are very negative and emotion laden.

(3) DOING. I intend today to replace all negative statements that I make in my head and replace them with positive statements –positive affirmations. I am going to alert myself –like a red flag waving –every time I call myself stupid or put myself down mentally. I will use affirmations such as “I will build a new life.” “I am strong.” “I have courage to go through this experience.” “I no longer blame myself or others for my sadness.” “I do not have to wait for someone to make me feel differently.” “I can do it myself.”

(4) MAINTAINING. I am very hopeful that I can feel differently just today, for this 24 hour period. I am going to tolerate my imperfectness while at the same time refusing to feel sorry for myself. I am going to make myself accountable for how I feel –not blame it on another, the weather, parents or whatever.
SOURCE: The Depressed Anonymous Workbook (Pgs. 41-43)- Depressed Anonymous Publications – Louisville
Continued tomorrow: BEING A VICTIM

MOTIVATION FOLLOWS ACTION = MOVE THE MIND AND THE BODY WILL FOLLOW!

One of the more difficult issues of my life when depressed was to get moving. I knew that if I was to get my mind in gear I had to get my body moving. I then discovered that after my body got into gear and started to move, my mind began to cooperate. But to tell you the truth, I did fear that I was going crazy. I couldn’t hold onto a single thought. It was like I was “mindless.” So, here is what happened. I forced myself to get moving and following the first 10 minutes which I spent hoofing it around this shopping mall, I began to feel alive–still depressed–but alive nevertheless.
And now all these years later I have regularly continued to walk. Most everyday. But the truth of the matter is that moving the body works. It’s like putting a recharged battery into a lifeless machine. I really felt like a machine–just operating at my job like a mindless zombie. Going through the motions –smiling as needed to my fellow colleagues –but still hanging onto my job. And if I got through the morning hours I could manage to stumble through my day til I got home from work and collapse in bed.
It was my commitment to myself that forced me to move my body. I discovered a truth -MOTIVATION FOLLOWS ACTION. My motivation to move my body gradually intensified my resolve to get into action and move out of the darkness of my depression. This works for me. Tell us what has worked for you. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Dreaming is good for my soul.

Today, I celebrate a personal victory. Today, on Veterans Day (USA) 29 years ago I overcame my addiction to cigarettes. I was smoking two packs everyday. Then on the night of the 11th of November, 1985, I had a frightening dream. I dreamt that if I was to continue smoking it would not be long till I developed tongue cancer. Was the message from a Higher Power? Was it my fear come to fruition in that relaxed frame of mind which sounded a warning? Whatever it was and whoever it came from I really didn’t care–all I know is that day I needed to make a decision to quit smoking. By 7pm that evening the decision was made. And from that day forward my life went on without a smoke. I am grateful for the dream that paradoxically, woke me up. Was the dream a manifestation of the “Power greater than myself” that spoke to me in my sleep. How could a dream do what I could not do for myself? Believe me, I tried for years to quit–without any lasting results. I think what occurred that night in my dream enabled me to have a “spiritual awakening“, where my Higher Power did something for me that I was not able to do. Smoking two packs of cigarettes a day is definitely insane. God saved me from myself and for that I am most grateful. I think what got the ball rolling many times before my powerful dream was the fact that I admitted that I was helpless over my addiction. Three years before this event I had made a decision to join a 12 step fellowship recovery group and learned the importance of believing in a power greater than myself. I was ready to follow the prompt of this power 29 years ago.

DEPRESSION: Only the concern of the lone sufferer or is it a harbinger of a societal (community) problem?

Remember the canary in the coal mine? The canary, carried by miners into the mine was the first one to smell potential disaster, alerting miners to get out of that mine. Today, with so much emphasis on medical treatments, David Karp, a sociologist, in “Speaking of Sadness” comments in his chapter Sociology, Spirituality and Suffering that “once individuals realize that medical treatment is unlikely to fix their problems, their thinking moves away from the medical language of cure toward the spiritual language of transformation.” He also tells us that “…(T)he Iroquois Indians, for example, believed that when any single person suffered, it reflected the suffering of nature, of the whole world, in fact.” The reality is that all life is interconnected with other living organisms. We see this illustrated best when a culture becomes narcissistic and centered primarily on the individual. Karp maintains that “the social disconnection generated by an ethic of individualism is an important element in the proliferation of affective disorders in America.”
While I believe that medications can alleviate the pain of some of those who are depressed and seek clinical help, the meds in themselves cannot remove whatever caused the pain, or the initial hurt. But the depression itself will allow us to take a deeper look at how we live out our lives. And for this reason that is why I am an advocate for mutual-aid groups where persons can come together, form community/fellowships and follow a procedure for healing ourselves while assisting in the healing of other members of the community.
The first step of Depressed Anonymous states that “We admitted…” and in Steps three, eight, ten, eleven, twelve again the word “we” is used. If anyone wants to find a community and a spiritual antidote to individualism, the 12 step fellowships provide a solution focused recovery program. I am an advocate for 12 step programs based on helping each other out of isolation into a fellowship of hope and healing. No longer is it just about me, me alone, but about something bigger than just me .It is a “we” program.
We are all connected!

I Made A Decision

Back in the last century I made a decision that continues to direct my life today and everyday. That decision was that I needed help. I needed to know how to free myself from an addiction to a substance that was gradually killing me. The only place that I knew that might offer me some help would be a local AA group. Frightfully, but expectantly, I walked through the door of my first 12 step meeting. The power that was greater than me–was the group of men and women who were meeting to talk about a solution–namely, to their addiction to alcohol. I felt at home. Well, not totally at home–but I did find acceptance for me and my particular addiction. They presented me with a toolbox–not material tools–but spiritual tools that I use to keep myself free of my desire and craving for alcohol. We call them the 12 steps.
That was in 1982, December 7th. And then three years later I became depressed and I applied the steps to my depression experience, which likewise was killing me. I got out my tool box and began applying the same tools as I had applied to my other addiction and found I again had a solution to my twisted and distorted thinking. It was only after I admitted that I had a problem, and my life was unmanageable, did I find a way out. My Higher Power leads the way, day after day, month after month and year after year. If you want to learn more about how YOU can make a decision, find the tools and keep your attention focused on the solution oriented 12 steps, then you let us know. We want to share with you our story and how it was before in our life and how it is now.
Looking to find that toolbox? We can help. Don’t give up. Look us up and give us a call.

WHAT DO I NEED TO BE HAPPY?

Sigmund Freud was once asked what people needed to be happy? The questioner no doubt expected a long, complicated answer reflecting Freud’s years of deep reflection on the matter. His simple response, however, was “arbeiten und lieben,” –work and love. Happy people feel connected to others at work and through their intimate relationships. When those connections are threatened, diminished, or broken, people suffer. Today, millions of Americans are suffering from what my colleague Charles Derber calls “double trouble.” Those in double trouble have neither meaningful work nor sustaining intimate ties. The withering of community life in both domains fosters a rootless and social disintegration that unquestionably contributes to the growth of emotional disorders.” Speaking of Sadness. David Karp. Page 178.

Reflection
I believe that in the midst of the pain of depression I just wanted to pull the plug on life. I wanted to be alone. I just wanted people to keep their distance. I was not happy. I was unhappy at a job I began to hate. I do remember how hard it was even to lift up the phone to talk to a family member, an old friend or whoever intruded into my isolation. Truly I was suffering from “double trouble.”
But as the pain deepened I began to look for solutions–where was the key to unlock my depression. I found it in a fellowship, a 12 Step Recovery group. I was able to form intimate relations, work a program which was solution focused and then gradually get back into the light, into meaningful relationships. I also recovered the energy I needed to find a career that today (30 years later) still gives me joy and sustains my hope.

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!