The orange traffic cones, are a metaphor for me to slow down, keep alert

Often, I find myself face to face with those orange traffic cones warning me of a pothole in the roadway ahead, approaching lanes to change, or workers ahead.

Over the years, I have found myself battling negative thinking with the resultant spiraling down of my moods which because challenging to shake off. But after many years of doing the same thing over and over, meditating how bad I was, I found myself being more careful of, one, how I talked to myself, and two, learning that the best way to find myself in a deep unpleasant mood, was to continue these self-defeating thoughts- the self-bashing.

I am at a point now in my recovery that I know when a past unpleasant thought pops up in my head, like the orange road cones, that I am aware that I need to heed the warning and steer clear of that mental pothole about to derail me and throw me in a ditch too deep to remove ourselves.
What I do, though, is to face the fear with that instant adrenaline surge, not run away but continue to meet the feeling, acknowledge it for what it is, an unpleasant feeling, uncomfortable but not life-threatening, and so move along.

I also replace the fear with a sunspot, a pleasant memory of ourselves, if you will, and dwell on that pleasant memory with persistence. Be grateful that no longer will you let a fearful thought scare you into submission and inaction. Now you have a helpful and powerful way to stay out of the potholes of your thinking. You will be able to feel the strength and purpose by having a new direction for your life.

Hugh S.

Being on the level keeps us up right!

When working as a bricklayer or doing carpentry work, I always needed this instrument for measuring horizontal or perpendicular planes to see if they were level. A little air bubble in a tube, partially filled with liquid, has to lie in the center of the tube to indicate whether the plane is level.

In our Depressed Anonymous recovery program, being on the level with myself, my family, others, and my God (Higher Power) is what this 12 Step recovery program is about. In the first of the twelve steps, “We admitted that we were powerless over depression and that our lives had become unmanageable.” Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. p.28). From this moment on, as I walk along with others in our fellowship, I learn from the positive results that come when I am on the level with myself and others in our program of recovery. I admitted how in my past life, I was not always on the level with others. And by not being on the level, I gradually built for myself a prison–a prison without a door. I was in lockdown, sometimes for short periods of time, and sorry to say, for most of my life.

With the Twelve Step program, you can recover – although most likely not right away. Let’s be honest– nothing that has taken the greater part of a lifetime to build can be dismantled in a few days or weeks. But you will feel better if you follow the instructions in this book (Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY). I am still following the instructions in this book, with all those other kindred spirits, who like myself continue to be “on the level” with fellow members of the fellowship.

Hugh S.

Source:

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

Resentment is the number one offender

What’s your problem? One problem that many of us have is that we are riddled with resentment. How do I come to that conclusion? It’s found in the AA Big Book (remember that Depressed Anonymous is based on the model pioneered by Alcoholics Anonymous).

Resentment is the “number one” offender. It destroys more alcoholics (or depressed people) than anything else. From it stem all forms of spiritual disease, for we have been not only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick. When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically. In dealing with resentments, we set them on paper. We listed people, institutions or principles with whom we were angry. We asked ourselves why we were angry. In most cases it was found that our self-esteem, our pocketbooks, our ambitions, our personal relationships (including sex) were hurt or threatened. So we were sore. We were “burned up.”

Alcoholics Anonymous, pages 64-65

Okay, so we’ve identified the number one offender. We must set ourselves free from resentment. What do we do to rid ourselves of resentment? That too is found in the AA Big Book:

If you have a resentment you want to be free of, if you will pray for the person or the thing that you resent, you will be free. If you will ask in prayer for everything you want for yourself to be given to them, you will be free. Ask for their health, their prosperity, their happiness, and you will be free. Even when you don’t really want it for them and your prayers are only words and you don’t mean it, go ahead and do it anyway. Do it every day for two weeks, and you will find you have come to mean it and to want it for them, and you will realize that where you used to feel bitterness and resentment and hatred, you now feel compassionate understanding and love.

It worked for me then, and it has worked for me many times since, and it will work for me every time I am willing to work it. Sometimes I have to ask first for the willingness, but it too always comes. And because it works for me, it will work for all of us. As another great man says, “The only real freedom a human being can ever know is doing what you ought to do because you want to do it.”

Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, page 552

I can personally attest to the fact that praying for the people you resent truly works. I harbored a deep resentment for over 15 years. My parents chose not to come to my daughter’s funeral. The resentment was all consuming. My sponsor in AA told me “Bill you need to pray for your parents”.

The first thought that came to mind was: “No way in hell am I praying for my parents”. Then the small still voice of my Higher Power asked me a question: “Well Bill, what are you willing to do?”.

I realized that I was willing to pray for willingness. I prayed for two weeks, and the willingness came. I prayed for two weeks for my parents: that they know peace, that they feel the presence of God in their life, that they have wisdom.

I prayed and the resentment was gone. The scar was still there because they hurt me. It however was no longer an open and festering wound. No longer was there bile in the back of my throat because of deep anger. I was free!

Prayer truly works if you pray for those you resent, and not pray at them.

Yours in recovery, Bill R

We felt trapped

The following is an excerpt from the recently published work Dep-Anon: A 12 Step Recovery Program for Families and Friends of the Depressed. (2021). Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

An obvious fact we have learned is that our depressed loved ones are not as different from us as we would like to believe. When it comes to us, we recognized and admitted to ourselves and others that we were shackled with the same darkness as was our depressed family member. We felt trapped. And what did we do about it? Nothing. We had hit a wall. Amazingly, it is like looking into a mirror, and instead of seeing ourselves. we see our depressed loved one. Do we feel we have lost our very selves in all of the chaos that has been an ongoing part of our lives?

The lesson that family members need to reflect upon, with feedback from their Dep-Anon fellowship, are all the myriad aspects of depression that we discussed in Chapters Six and Seven. Some say that it is like being in an eighty-foot hole with only an eight-foot ladder. Others say that that it is like being in a dark room with no windows and no door and having no way out. But we at Dep-Anon have each other, with a program that works. And we are gradually laying out a path in our life based on the dynamic spiritual principles of the Twelve Steps every day.
Dep-Anon, p.73


The intent of this book is to provide family and friends of the depressed a program that fits the needs for their own lives with an understanding of the nature of depression with its immobilizing effects upon those who experience it.
Dep-Anon will be a source of strength for family members who gather together, just as Depressed Anonymous members gather others like themselves for hope and strength. Basically, and primarily the Dep-Anon fellowship will keep the focus on their own need for healing and “hands off” their depressed loved one –realizing that they can only fix themselves.

If you who are reading this blog today, please know that this book will be a great help for your family and friends in understanding depression and continue to work the Steps for themselves plus keeping the focus on their own recovery.

Hugh S.

RESOURCE

VISIT THE STORE (www.depressedanon.com ) for more information about this new and challenging work.
Copyright (c) Dep-Anon. A 12 Step recovery program for family and friends of the depressed. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

Fun? When was the last time you had some?

In Step Four of our Depressed Anonymous Workbook, we find the statement: “When was the last time you had some fun?” You could also add when was the last time you actually laughed or even had a smile on your face? In one of our early Depressed Anonymous meetings. Bob told the group that the DA meeting was the only place where he could actually find himself laughing.

At our online Depressed Anonymous meetings, we are presently sharing our thoughts and feelings about Step Four. As part of our inventory, there are a number of questions pertaining to our Family of Origin. The following section helps me to take and reflect on my own family of origins and the relationship that I had with all those persons who I shared my life in those early childhood years.

In order to make a good inventory I need to go to my roots and discover how I came to be the person that I am today. AS the saying goes, “WE are our parents.”
When we were small, we “swallowed” our parents, meaning “swallowed” their main personality characteristics. Even today parents, grandparents, a stepparent, or guardian all are now part of our personality -for good or for ill. For myself to escape from my depression I need to discover how I might have received certain messages from my depression I need to discover how I might have received certain messages about myself from those adults who surrounded me as a helpless infant and child. All of us have received messages as children -some helpful and others not so helpful. Some messages directed toward us might have made us feel worthless because we got the message that we could never do anything to please others.

Our Depressed Anonymous manual, with an excerpt from Step Four gives a detailed and traumatic account of one of my experiences as a 10-year-old child. This event had recurring consequences for my young life and into my adult years. We might want to take a deeper look into some of the unpleasant feelings that we have today, traced to their origins in our childhood. I know for a fact that these events, producing guilt and shame, were finally dealt with in therapy as a young adult.

“I still remember being embarrassed when my third-grade teacher told me in front of the whole class That I would never be like my brother who was much smarter than me. I used to feel my face get hot every time I thought about that embarrassing incident. But the more I share my shame of having been exposed to others about something that I had no control over, the freer I became of that fear. The same principle is at work here in the Depressed Anonymous group. We can take our own personal inventory of our weaknesses and fears and trust the group to hear us out and accept our stories of shame and hurt as we accept theirs. We begin to see how and why so many people feel bad because in their earlier years people made them feel they could never measure up to the way others expected them to grow up. By becoming our little child once more, we paradoxically grow up.”

More about our childhood experiences, pleasant and unpleasant in the days to follow. And since it is time for school to start again, it seems that our bodies, sensors that they are, remind us that the Fall weather and school both arrive at the same time of year.

(c) The Depressed Anonymous Workbook (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, p.29.
(c) Depressed Anonymous, (2011) THIRD EDITION. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, p. 55.

Willingness to Take Baby Steps

A common question in other 12 step fellowships is “Are you willing to go to any lengths to achieve recovery?” When thinking about willingness and my depression, I don’t know how well this applied to me. I mean, if I had the willingness to go to any lengths when I was in my deepest darkest depression, I would have just hopped out of bed, embraced the day, and ran a 5K! But that is not how it worked for me!
When I was in the depths of my depression, my willingness had gone out the door. “What was the purpose anyway?” I thought. I didn’t think I could get any better. But Depressed Anonymous showed me that there is hope, and there is a way out. For me, that path to recovery has been a series of baby steps. After coming to meetings, I saw people who were like me; people who really suffered from depression, and I saw that they were recovering. Once I had the realization that there was hope, I needed to ask myself a question. “Just for today, am I willing to take a baby step to help myself recover from depression?”
This was something that I could comprehend and that I thought might be possible. Yes, I can take a baby step and get out of bed. Yes, I can take a baby step and call someone from the fellowship. Yes, I can take a baby step and order the literature, then take another baby step and read a page of the literature. I can answer one question in the workbook today. Yes, I can do one little thing to help myself today!!
That is how my recovery began. That is how I climbed out of that 80-foot hole of depression-one baby step at a time. And the beautiful thing is that I don’t have to do it alone! Honestly, I don’t think I could have done it alone. I tried for years, and although I met with sporadic success, I inevitably fell back into that pit of depression. Today I have the DA fellowship surrounding me. I have a Higher Power. I have a sponsor and friends in the fellowship who help me along my path. I am also here to help others on their path to recovery. Today, I am grateful for the willingness to take baby steps.

How To Find Hope

How to find hope:

Hope can exist only in a state of uncertainty.
This certainty means total certainty. That security means to be without hope.
The prison of depression is built with the bricks of total certainty.

Certainty. Security. No hope.
To hope means to run the risk of disappointment.
Avoid disappointment. Stay depressed.
To be insecure means not to be in control.
Stay in control. Be depressed.
To be uncertain means to be unsure of the future.
Predict the future with certainty. Stay depressed. Absolute certainty means complete hopelessness. If we want to live fully, we must have freedom, love, and hope. So, life must be an uncertain business. That is what makes it worthwhile.

Source: Depression: The Way Out of Your Prison, (1996) Second Edition Dorothy Rowe.

Hugh, for the fellowship

Don’t Compare – Identify

When we compare ourselves to others it is a divisive action. We separate ourselves from others. What we are all looking for is to be part of, to belong, to be in a community.

If you truly want to be in a community – stop comparing. Seek instead the common ground.

Look for the good in people. You will find what you are looking for. Some people have coined a new term: The Law of Attraction. That law has been present for a long time.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
Matthew 7:7-8 New International Version 1

When you go to a 12 Step meeting and listen to people sharing, don’t focus on the surface details. The details will differ. Listen instead for the emotions behind the stories. The same things will come up again and again:

  • fear
  • loneliness
  • feeling like you don’t belong
  • abandonment and neglect
  • hurt
  • anger
  • abuse (severe or mild, physical or emotional)

You belong if you say you belong. You belong if you seek the common ground among your peers.

Yours in recovery, Bill R

Notes

  1. I’m not looking to convert you into Christianity. I’m merely pointing out the truth in a single line from that scripture. Take what you like and leave the rest. Sometimes even religious people get things right.

My word for today is “persistent”

PERSISTENT: Refusing to relent; continuing in the face of opposition, interference, etc.; stubborn, persevering.

This word has powerful ramifications for my life today. I am persistent in doing what I know is best for me. As I continue to live in the “present” moment – even though the “what if’s” cloud my mind about the past or the future. Flashbacks from past negative events and mistaken beliefs about myself are part of the opposition we face in our recovery.

I am persistent in writing in my journal about present victories, my strengths in overcoming and limiting all those negative thoughts that my internal mental critic keeps throwing at me. What persists positively is my ability to deal with the “red flags,” alerting my mind to thoughts or feelings which will immobilize me and keep me focused on the negative.

Persisting in coming to Depressed Anonymous meetings, reading the DA literature, having daily prayer and meditation time, I also persist in contacting other members of Depressed Anonymous online or by phone.

Doing some positive activity every day can become a habit, and the habit becomes an integral part of my life and behavior. Good recovery activities persist and provide hope!

Know that in our Depressed Anonymous program of recovery, it’s promised that “We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us -sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always arise if we work for them.” (Depressed Anonymous. Page.109).

I will continue to be persistent in taking care of myself today.

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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