Having had a spiritual awakening …

Step 12 is about having a spiritual awakening. Remember, Step 12 is the last Step of our 12 Step recovery program. The 12 Steps are the 12 spiritual principles, the core of what we believe and what our lives and daily actions are based. The following remarks are mine and express the belief that has carried me personally through a time of darkness and hopelessness. Until, I had a “spiritual experience…an awakening.” I woke up to a new way of living my life. My old way of living brought me to the edge of personal disaster. That is, until I walked into a meeting of people who were just like myself. Let me explain. They WERE like me. They welcomed me. They shared how the God of their understanding gave them a new way of looking at themselves and others. They had an experience that changed their lives. They had a “spiritual awakening.” Their lives were no longer consumed by the devastatingly presence of fear and aloneness.

The text following is found in the Introduction to Depressed Anonymous, our 12 Step recovery program where the author extends an invitation to be part of this fellowship.

We now have a solution to offer those who want to reach out and grow into the new way of life, a life that is now focused on recovery and a feeling of hope. With this offer and solution daily before our eyes, we are beginning to see that the depressed have to depend on a spiritual experience to really be free from that debilitating scourge of depression. It is this spiritual experience, coupled with the power of the fellowship of those who like ourselves where we neither need to explain of excuse ourselves or apologize for being depressed that is the basis for our recovery.
You must want to begin this journey seriously enough to actually begin the recovery program of Depressed Anonymous. Someday I hope to know you as a kindred spirit in recovery.
Depressed Anonymous, 3rd Edition, p. 23

Again, I would like to share a quote from A Meister Eckarte (c. 1260-1328) who shaped his insight for us about the nature of knowing God and how our knowing, comes from God himself. Here are his thoughts about the Spiritual awakening that comes to those of us and are “willing to turn their lives and wills over to the care of God as they understand God to be.”

This work then when it is perfect, will be due solely to God’s action while you have been passive. If you really forsake your own knowledge and will, then surely and gladly God will enter your own knowledge shining clearly. Where God achieves self-consciousness, your own knowledge is of no use nor has it standing. Do not imagine that your own intelligence may rise to it, so that you may know God. Indeed, when God divinely enlightens you, no natural light is required to bring that about. This (natural light) must in fact be completely extinguished before God can come in with his light, bringing back with God all that you have forsaken and a thousand times more, together with a new form to contain it all.
Depressed Anonymous, 3rd Edition, p. 161

In Depressed Anonymous, you can read the stories of those who have had their lives changed by letting go, letting God, and willing to do what it takes to recover from depression. Please join us.

RESOURCE
Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd Edition, (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville KY

Energy of activation – Walking through the struggle

I study chemistry, and I see a correlation between a chemistry concept and walking through a struggle in depression.   In a chemical reaction, there is something called the “energy of activation.”  It is the energy that is necessary for a reaction to proceed.  In the diagram below, is the large hump or hill between the initial state and the final state.  So if I relate that to depression, it is the struggle that I go through to perform a particular task.  Now, I’ve realized it’s not about the task.  For example, it does not matter if the task I’m trying to achieve is getting out of bed, going to a meeting, going to work, going to the gym, or achieving a lofty goal.  It’s about the energy of activation, or the difficulty of the struggle that matters. When I am in severe depression, the energy of activation required for me to get out of bed is immense.  It may feel impossible at times!  Now that I am not in a depression, that task is not a struggle for me.  It has a low activation energy.  In other words, it’s easy for me at this time.

So why does this matter?  Because I used to (and still can) compare myself to others and ask myself the question “how does that person do this or that so easily?  How come it’s so hard for me to get out of bed but so easy for someone else?”  This concept of activation energy helps me realize that everyone has struggles.  And if I focus on how to get through the struggle, then I am focusing on the solution.  I also realize that at different points in my life, the activation energy for the same task can be VERY different.  This also tells me that I can and should give myself credit for getting through the struggle, no matter what the task is!!  Because what matters is getting over that hump.

So how do we do that?  It boils down to our thinking, doesn’t it?  If I feed myself positive thoughts, such as “this is possible,” “I can do it,” “I’ve had successes is the past, so I can do it again,” “I am capable and I am worth it,” then I’m going to get into action and take baby steps up the hill.  But if I think negative thoughts (or choose to stay with those negative thoughts, since in my case my default thinking is negative) then I am going to walk myself right down that hill and stay stuck at the bottom.  Sometimes I need to think positive thoughts that will get me to call someone else and ask for help or motivation.  It’s okay to get help – it’s easier to climb that hill together!

I’m realizing that when I focus on giving myself credit for overcoming that struggle, then I’m helping myself.  If I tell myself, “oh, it’s no big deal.  All I did was get out of bed today.  That doesn’t really count as a success,”  then not only am I saddening myself, but I’m also being dishonest with myself!!   Because overcoming the energy of activation for that task was critical and a major achievement!!  And best of all, at the end of the task, I’m in a better place than where I started.  So just for today, I am going to give myself credit for walking though the struggle – no matter how big or small the task.

Take heed – live your life on purpose!

heed: to give consideration or attention to
Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/heed

I don’t know about you, but my autopilot is broken – it takes me to deep, dark places. My default setting is to come from a place of judgment, looking for the negative in the world. The funny thing is that what you seek is what you find. If I look for the negative that is what I will find. If I look for the good I will find that as well. It all comes down to focus – what am I paying attention to? Some of the things that I need to pay attention to are:

  • circumstance – What are the facts of my current situation? If I can’t express it through by describing it through one of my senses there is a good chance there is a judgment in there as well. “It is raining” is a fact. “It is raining, this sucks” is a fact followed by a judgment. Am I labeling things as they truly are, or am I imposing my judgment on the situation?
  • thought – What are my thoughts around my circumstances? Am I judging or in a place of non-acceptance? Am I caught in any form of stinking thinking? Am I remembering a past hurt? Am I projecting my thoughts of what could happen to the situation at hand?
  • feeling – What emotion am I experiencing regarding my thoughts? The 7 base emotions are: sad, mad, glad, afraid, embarrassed, lonely, guilty. Something like jealousy is an emotion like anger coupled with a thought. Try to label just the emotion. Is my emotional reaction right-sized to the current circumstance? For instance, being slightly annoyed at your waiter for being slow is one thing, but being rageful is not right-sized to the situation.
  • action – What action do I undertake that is motivated by my feeling? Is acting from a place of intense emotion the best course of action I can take? You can be angry about how someone hurt you, but if you act from that place of anger you may be punitive. Respond to being hurt, but try not to respond from the place of anger.
  • result – What is the outcome of your actions? Just doing the action does not guarantee that we get the result that we want. It is up to us to do the leg work and cultivate an environment that can manifest our desired outcome, but the resulting outcome is in our Higher Power’s hands. Do the work and turn the result over to God.

It is my belief that life is meant to be lived on purpose. When I am adrift on autopilot I will get taken to dark places. I strive to pay attention and give consideration as to what the best course of action is. Sometimes I need to be satisfied with what is the best possible action given my current state of mind.

Take heed – pay attention and try to act from a place of calm and serenity. You’ll be amazed at the change you will see.

Yours in recovery, Bill R

Dep-Anon Family Group, a must for families with a depressed loved one

Dep-Anon, a 12 Step recovery program for families and friends of the depressed, has recently had its Manual and program guide published (2021) by Depressed Anonymous Publications.

The Dep-Anon Family group has but one purpose: To help families and friends of the depressed. We do this by practicing the 12 Steps of Depressed Anonymous ourselves: by encouraging and understanding our depressed loved ones, the nature of their depression, plus welcoming and giving group support to families of the depressed.

Families are now equipped to form their own support groups, giving assistance to each other while all the time keeping the focus on their own growth and healing, without trying to fix the depressed member of their family.

You will join with other family members who no longer are alone, using the recovery tools of Dep-Anon. You will learn how the spiritual principles of the 12 Steps, applied to one’s own situation, will accompany you through every chapter of this new work.

A new feeling of hope begins to take hold as you participate in the Dep-Anon meetings. You will continue to learn from the other Dep-Anon group members how to start to take care of yourself. You will begin with yourself. The focus will reside with you and not on the depressed.

A DA member commented at a Depressed Anonymous meeting, hoped that her own family members would be part of this new movement. She knew that they would learn how to focus on themselves, applying the Steps to their own recovery, learning what depression is and what it is not.

Instead of being critical of the depressed loved one’s behaviors, they would possibly for the first time, have a compassionate understanding of how the various symptoms of depression played their part in immobilizing the depressed.

If there is someone in your family who could be helped by reading and forming a family group, please let them know Dep-Anon is now available.

Resources

  • Copyright © Hugh Smith. Dep-Anon, a 12 Step program of recovery for families and friends of the depressed. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY
  • Copyright © Depressed Anonymous, Third Edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications, Louisville, KY

Please visit Depressed Anonymous Literature for a list of all the titles available from Depressed Anonymous Publications. The page includes links for purchasing options.

When is judgment proper and healthy?

God created humans in His own image. 1

We have emotions, we have passions. We can pass judgment on others. A better question is should we pass judgment on others? This question brings to mind a quote from The Dhammapada:

Let none find fault with others; let none see the omissions and commissions of others. But let one see one’s own acts, done and undone.
Verse 50, The Dhammapada

Having the capacity to judge is a God-given talent. As humans however, we are not God. Judgment of others should be left in God’s hands, where it belongs. It is in our nature to judge others – accept that. Take the higher road however and resist the temptation to judge others. Focus your judgment on yourself: on what you have done, and what you have failed to do. Judgment is not about eternal damnation – it is seeing things as they truly are. See yourself as you truly are and ask yourself could I have acted more loving towards myself and others? If you have fallen short in any way, try to do better next time. Remember it’s about progress and not perfection!

Notes

  1. I use the word God and the pronoun His merely as a shorthand. Please substitute the appropriate words for your Higher Power.

You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step!

It’s hard to believe that such a statement could have such a meaningful purpose. When you’ve got so many tasks at hand, too many crosses to bear, just take the first step. Cross that off your list, pray, begin again. But pray in motion. We often say, “easy does it.”

Be courageous. Wear the appropriate soles on your feet, check for ample lighting, etc., pray beforehand too, all these things together, however, did you call your sponsor?

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good day!

Robin R., is a member of the daily online DA International Journey of Hope fellowship.

I have to have absolute certainty that everything in my life will work out positively

AFFIRMATION
I am certain that I will feel better today.

“Absolute certainty may appear to you to be a wonderful thing, giving complete certainty, but have you ever considered that if you want absolute certainty you must give up freedom, love and hope.” (8)

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT
In my efforts to find a cure for depression I have instead dug a deeper hole than what I was in. I see that my depression is an addiction. The more I ran from whatever was making me sad and feeling alone, the more alone and sad I become, thus the cure became worse than what I depressed myself in the first place. When and if I decide to really be cured of my depression then I would take the bull by the horn and face whatever I was running from at the very beginning of my depression.
To live with any amount of freedom one has to live in a certain amount of uncertainty. Our lives get filled with the uncertainty of how things will work out in the short and long run. If I want certainty, then I will have to become God as only Gid knows for certain what is to happen in the future. Maybe that’s what I need to look at in my self, how much am I trying to play God?

MEDITATION
We ask you God, to be our intimate friend. We know enough about you That you will protect us through the times in our lives when we need the light on our path. Please be here for us today, so we grow in the certitude that you are walking beside me today.

COPYRIGHT (C) Hugh Smith (2002) Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 Daily Thoughts and Meditations for 12 Step Fellowship Groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications, Louisville, KY. Pages, 202-203.

NOTE: All Depressed Anonymous Literature can be purchased online from our DAP Bookstore, at https://shop.depresedanon.com. Literature discussed at a Depressed Anonymous meeting can be purchased here.

If I do what I always did, I’m going to get what I always got

If I do what I always did, I’m going to get what I always got.
Slogan heard in a recovery meeting

I need to do things differently. If I attempt to go on autopilot I’m doomed as my autopilot takes me to deep, dark places. I have a choice today because of recovery. I don’t have to go with the default dark thoughts and feelings. I can take action, something different, because my old way of doing things have brought me to depression.

Depression can be viewed as being in the habit of (addiction to) feeling bad. The truth is that feelings are not in isolation. They are in a relationship with thoughts and actions.

  • Feelings influence our thoughts and actions.
  • Thoughts influence our feelings and actions.
  • Actions influence our feelings and thoughts.

I’ve got some good news and bad news.

  • Bad news – you can NOT directly control your feelings. It’s just flat out impossible.
  • Good news – you can directly control your thoughts and your actions, which greatly influence your feelings.

Accept the fact that you can’t control your feelings. Have the courage to change your thoughts and actions. That is the way to a better place.

Move a muscle, change a thought.
Slogan heard in a recovery meeting

Yours in recovery, Bill R

What is known as “the Paralysis of Analysis” was a big factor in my spiraling down into depression

I don’t know what your experience with depression might be, but it may be similar to my own. When I first became aware that I was depressed, I imagined that my wishful thinking would get me to a better place emotionally. You know, I would feel better. Wrong! In fact, the more I tried to figure out in my head what was happening to me, it seemed like the hole I was digging was getting deeper, hurtling me downward into the abyss of hopelessness. Simultaneously, my insides betrayed a foreign activity of being hollowed out, producing an anxiety in me which I can only say was a bad case of unending “jitters”.

I remember how incessant was my need to try and figure out what was happening to me. I looked back on my life’s activities previous to being locked down into this prison. I wondered why I was feeling so awful. There was no relief. I continued thinking about my life unraveling and I there wasn’t an answer available – at that time.

The more energy I gave to try and think my way out of this pain-filled darkness, the more fatigued my mind, body and spirit became. With the fatigue came a total loss of motivation.
Not only did my analyzing mind NOT provide any meaningful clues as to my situation of feeling hopeless and helpless, but I mistakenly felt that my life would never return as before. I gave up. The forever negative thinking loop became a noose around my neck – I was scared.

My analysis, my paralysis of mind, body and spirit came to an end when I joined with our fellowship of Depressed Anonymous. I moved my body and my mind followed. I didn’t want to go to meetings, talk to anyone or even try to get out of bed. Soon after, it became decision time. I had to admit that I was powerless at this time of my life, that my thinking, loopy as it was, felt like I was riding on one of those up and down carousal ponies. I was moving, but not going anywhere but down.

I never really figured out why I was depressed, only that the more I attended Depressed Anonymous meetings, read their literature (written by the depressed), I consciously became aware of a needed change in my lifestyle, the way I thought, and how my behavior might have led me down the path to where I had to admit my life was unmanageable. I sought help. I entrusted my life and decisions to a Power greater than myself and of my own understanding. By doing this, my sanity has been restored and now my life has a purpose and a meaning.

If you have been feeling the same way as I have described here, please send us an email at depanon@netpenny.net and we will help you find a way out of your depression. You can also go to the drop down MEETING menu on the homepage and discover times and places where DA meetings are being held. We hope to hear from you.

Hugh, for the fellowship

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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