So, I admit that I am depressed? Now what do I do?

“The first thing that I would do, would be to check out our Depressed Anonymous website @depresedanon.com. It is Here that you will be able to participate every day, with people just like yourself, who are seeking hope, and healing. This mutually supportive fellowship will lead you out of the prison of your depression and open your life up to hope, healing, and lasting friendships.

Even though we have a need to be by ourselves, and stay apart from human contact, we also have a need to be in contact with others. For to be in contact with others means that we will have to take some risks to make some choices. But when I am depressed and alone. I don’t have to make as many choices or take any action except to keep isolating myself and staying apart.”

Copyright (C) Depressed Anonymous Publications. (2002) Louisville, KY

The Three Needs and Storytelling

“In an article on AA’s Third Step (Richard Rohr) counsels that spirituality involves the “letting go” of three needs.

  1. The need to be in control.
  2. The need to be effective.
  3. The need to be right.

For alcoholics (and others) in early sobriety the last point may be the most important, for detachment from the need to be right, surrender of “demand to have the last word,” seems a prerequisite to the kind of listening that allows participation in the healing power of storytelling.

Source: The Spirituality of Imperfection. Kurtz and Ketcham. Bantam, NY, Page 173.

Quoted in THE ANTIDEPRESSANT TABLET. Fall 1996. Volume 8. Number 1. Page 8.


Comment: Control, I believe plays a big part in our own recovery. We tried to control others, manipulate our relationships, so that we came across as someone that we were not. We needed to have control of others, as only I knew what was right for them. We corrected others when we felt that we knew more about what they were talking about than they did.

As to my own recovery, I discovered that most of what I learned about recovery from depression was from others, like myself. who had weathered the depression darkness, by sharing their own story. By doing so, the deflation of my ego, took me out of being the center of the universe, to having this new belief that it was no longer I who was in control, but in fact, it was this power greater than myself who is now in control.

Amazingly, it was not only a story of my own brokenness and restoration, but was chiefly a story of how this Power put me back together. I now follow a path of serenity and hope, with the author of my new life who guides me every day of my life. My God always has the last word. BELIEVE!

Hugh S., for the fellowship

My mind has a mind of its own

One of our family’s favorite camping areas, is a small park that provides many positive experiences for those who love the outdoors. In fact, just the name of the park, brings to mind the days of the past. The park’s name, Buffalo Trace, let us know that thousands of buffalo roamed through this area, years ago, following a beaten path, that led to the open plains of the Dakotas. Even today, there is a physical trace of the path that once saw the presence of these large and majestic animals, crossing the continent of the United States.

Just like the physical trace of those many buffalo, moving along their annual travels, our human brain also creates familiar mind paths. All living beings are creatures of habit.

For example, because of a construction detour, I was forced to take a different route home from work. Guess what happens? My mind’s GPS is confused, everything looks different. Our mental map has changed. This new route to get home, has now been turned into a labyrinth, making a familiar way to return home, now becomes a major problem.

I like to think of our mind as the executor of various tasks, mental, emotional and physical, motivating us to accomplish the need at hand. But, if the human mind, continues to bombard us with those negative thoughts telling us how worthless and hopeless we are, over time, it becomes a veritable impossibility to make a change. Our continued negative thinking, has created a pattern of thinking about ourselves, which holds no hope for change. It is like our mind has created a neurological rut, where the mind has no choice but to stay the course. That is, to stay in the rut, to stay depressed, as there is no way out.

For any of us, to even think of changing one’s mind and behavior, can in itself, be frightening. The motivation and energy needed to change is no longer available. To change our hopeless thinking has reduced us to feel like a robot, losing our autonomy and all formerly meaningful relationships. A false belief has been created in our mind that there is no way out. We begin spiraling downward into that abyss of darkness and annihilation.

What we are describing here is a metaphor for all addictions, be that of a mind altering drug or a process addiction where the mind follows a thinking pattern, which fills our mind with painful thoughts, that we are hopeless, unacceptable to ourselves and others. We are initially unaware that this negative and self-bashing addictive form of thinking and feeling, is potentially a life threatening trap. This mind of our own, which now has become our misguided fellow traveler, tells us there is no hope and that we are powerless! We take this as a truth. We now feel like the hole in the doughnut. Empty, alone, and living as a prisoner of one’s own mind.

So, our mind does have a mind of its own, and when it veers off the path of sanity, of honesty and a willingness to want to change, we discover sadly that we have been led to a place where thriving is not a personal option. The good news for us is that my mind can choose a road that provides freedom and restoration. In time, and with help, I have come to the absolute truth, that our minds do have a mind of their own. I am grateful that I have made the right choice–a choice that says, “I Came to believe that a power, (an eternal MIND) greater than ourselves, that could restore us to sanity.”

“Hope is the oxygen for the soul.”

Hugh S., for the fellowship.

Please join with us at our daily program of recovery at: depressdanon.com. You will be happy that you made the right choice!

When you’re depressed all you’re interested in is survival – Dorothy Rowe

 

THE ORIGINS of MISTRUST

I want to share with you how Dr. Fitzgibbons, a psychiatrist, provides examples how our lack of trust can originate in early childhood. Patterns of isolating behavior and negative thinking, grow strong in a home environment where the child is not loved and nurtured.

Dr. Fitzgibbobs, tells us “that the seedbed of mistrust resides in childhood. Many times this lack of trust, of others and ourselves and the world around us, may have begun with the loss of a parent, sister, brother, or a close friend. A serious illness in a parent, sibling or oneself can be the cause of depression. Many times mistrust comes about because of an alcoholic parent so that a child never knows if a drunken loved one is coming home, or in an angry drunken stupor. Anger and rejection by caregivers and/or peers can also have an effect on the ability to trust. Parental divorce or separation can have an effect on a child. Also a cold distant, and unloving parent can have a negative effect on a child. Add to this, a legacy of mistrust and fear in the family will negatively influence a child. Finally, poverty may also be a cause of mistrust”

Brenda, (not her real name ) shares with us some of her own story:

” I have often reflected on how a lack of trust in myself and in others, had a crippling effect on my early childhood development. It was only until I began examining my own childhood, later in life, that I discovered reasons for my mistrust of others. I accomplished these discoveries by getting in touch with those early negative feelings that constantly bombarded my everyday thinking. Most of these early feelings remained unconscious and hidden, until I started to examine my childhood relationships, especially with those significant others who were my caregivers. ”

By utilizing the Depressed Anonymous Workbook with its’ 12 STEP COMMENTARY, and questions, directed toward one’s early life experiences, special attention was centered on those caregivers and significant others in one’s family, who, charged with caregiving, to provide the child with the love that a child deserves. For many children, who grew up in a home environment, filled with anger, parental arguing, and violence, made it impossible for a child to defend themselves against such abuse, including mental, sexual, and physical abuse. Some children create fantasy worlds, some with imaginary friends, with whom they can confide in and feel secure in a home environment where chaos reigns.

In our Depressed Anonymous fellowship, we can begin to open up to group members, giving us that opportunity to share and trust,\

others, who are like ourselves. We happily discovered that we are now no longer alone. Most of us come to our program of recovery, looking to find help, and that welcome relief from the daily crippling burden of depression, which has forced us to isolate from others, believing that we are not good enough.

Earlier, Dr, Fitzgibbons has listed some of the major causes of our childhood depression, and we can resonate with them within our hearts and minds. And in your moments of personal quiet and reflection, celebrate who you are and not who others say you are.

So get a notebook, and begin to write down your answers to those questions in the DA Workbook, which hold meaning for your own personal life and recovery, to which you can relate. Share your DA Workbook with your therapist, sponsor or friends in Depressed Anonymous at the ZOOM meetings online, and/or face to face meetings.

So now, not only will you be a survivor, you will no longer be a victim of those circumstances, which made you believe that you were worthless, unlovable and unacceptable. Progress, not perfection.

By completing my Fourth Step inventory, it became possible to uncover those areas of my early life which made trusting an impossibility. As mentioned earlier, and later into my early adult life, it was my own spiraling downward, into the darkness of depression, the only thing that I could think of was my survival. I was desperate to stop the descent into the darkness and physical pain. I knew that I must get active, preventing my paralyzing desire to take comfort in sleep and shut out the world.

My life is very different now. I continue to take inverntory of my life on a daily basis and I finally believe in myself and the Higher Power that has helped me believe that I have a purpose and a meaning for my life. I also believe in a power that is greater than myself and who continually leads me, everyday, on this wonderful journey of hope! Progress and not perfection.

TRUST IS A FEELING OF BEING SAFE IN RELATIONSHIPS AND IN LIFE.

HUGH S., FOR THE FELLOWSHIP

Boundaries

Definition
Boundaries are things that put a limit on something else. They clearly define the minimum or maximum. Boundaries define what is inside and what is outside. They delineate what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. Boundaries can be many things to many different people. In the context of recovery and self-growth, boundaries are put into place to control the poor behavior of people and to protect one from the other.

Boundaries can be healthy or unhealthy. They can be lovingly firm or manipulative and controlling. Healthy boundaries are lovingly firm and should protect you from the poor behavior of others.

Boundaries are not perfect, you may still get hurt, but hopefully the boundary has protected you from the gravest of harm.

Firm, but flexible

Boundaries should be firm yet flexible. You may have a firm boundary where people should not yell and curse in your presence, but it should be flexible enough to allow for a loud and profane interjection after your spouse hits their thumb with a hammer. It wouldn’t permit a non-stop cursing tirade after hammering the thumb, but an involuntary curse after the hit would be understandable.

Creating and maintaining flexible and healthy boundaries can be very difficult but it is well worth the effort. Below is an example of an unhealthy boundary as it is porous.

Unhealthy boundary

Two types of boundaries

  • Protective boundaries
  • Containment boundaries

Protective boundaries are limits that I put into place to protect myself from the poor behavior of others. Protective boundaries can be put in place to prevent persistent yelling, or sarcasm, or any other poor behavior. Protective boundaries typically take the form:

When you do (specific-behavior), I will remind you of my boundary. If you continue to (specific-behavior) I will respond by doing (consequence-behavior).

For example:

When you raise your voice in anger to me I will calmly remind you of my boundary. If you continue to raise your voice in anger to me I will calmly leave the house and go for a walk or drive for between 15 minutes and an hour.

Protective boundary

Protective boundaries are not easy but they are necessary.

Containment boundaries are limits that I put into place to protect others from my poor behavior. You mean that I am not perfect? Containment boundaries typically take the form:

When you do (specific-behavior) I (feel-emotion/think-thought) and I will do (limiting-behavior).

For example:

When you talk on and on I think ‘will he ever shut up’, and I will not interrupt you but rather I will recite the serenity prayer in my head.

Containment boundary

Containment boundaries are also not easy, but they are just as necessary.
I would strongly suggest that for every protective boundary you have in place that you also create the corresponding containment boundary. For instance, if you do not want others to raise their voice in anger to you, then your containment boundary would be that you cannot raise your voice in anger to others.

Five categories of boundaries

  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Mental
  • Social
  • Spiritual

Physical Boundaries
Some examples include:

  • Not being touched inappropriately;
  • Having private alone time;
  • Personal items not being used without permission;
  • Personal space;
  • Respecting locked doors to private space;
  • No extremely loud noises;

Emotional Boundaries
Some examples include:

  • Having a right sized emotional response;
  • Not being told we shouldn’t feel a certain way;
  • Denying your feelings;
  • Being given time to process emotions;
  • Having the courage to experience and sense emotions at depth;
  • No blaming others for your emotions which includes no talk of “you made me feel”;
  • Taking ownership and responsibility for your own emotions;

Mental Boundaries
Some examples include:

  • Not being called stupid;
  • Not being told your thoughts don’t matter;
  • Telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth;
  • Listening with an open mind;
  • Not getting stuck in “stinking thinking” (Ego, Greed, Aversion, Delusion);
  • Holding onto your opinions and beliefs;
  • Respecting another persons opinions and beliefs;
  • If you must disagree with someone, then disagree with their line of thought, but not with them;

Social Boundaries
Some examples include:

  • Not condoning or participating in gossip;
  • Not lying or manipulating;
  • Following through on your commitments;
  • Being respectful of people’s time;
  • Having good manners;
  • Not accepting or condoning toxic behavior. Separating yourself from toxic people;
  • Speak directly to others, no triangulation. An example of triangulation: A has issue with B, A doesn’t talk to B, A talks to C, and A is hoping that C will talk to B on their behalf;
  • Following through with your plans if others don’t show up. Allowing others to go through with their plans if you don’t show up;

Spiritual Boundaries
Some examples include:

  • Not holding blindly on to your beliefs even though evidence points to something different;
  • Respecting the beliefs of others and not preaching at them they are wrong and your way is right;
  • Refusing to betray your moral values;
  • Being open to listen to others sharing their beliefs and looking for the common ground between your belief and theirs;
  • Letting go of the language of good and bad. These carry too much weight and people can take them on that they are inherently bad. Choose instead the language of helpful versus harmful;
  • Let go of judging others. If you must still judge someone then focus on their behavior and the words they speak. We can’t truly know another persons thoughts and emotions. That capability is outside of human hands, but rather in the hands of the Divine;

Boundaries – Parenting your inner child
Many people think of setting boundaries as controlling another person’s behavior. On the surface I would agree with that assessment. However, boundaries have a much deeper context.
Lying within all of us is our own wounded inner child. Face it, we are all broken in one way or another. Boundaries are really about parenting that inner wounded child.
Confronting someone who has violated your boundary sounds like a good thing to do. I would say that this is not always true. In the real world if your child was being bullied by another child you may want to swoop in there and punish the bully. The thing is that even bullies have parents. Confrontation is not always the best solution. Perhaps the best solution is to remove your child from the situation. The same holds true as we set boundaries as an adult. Our mature outer adult is defining what is and is not acceptable behavior and having an action plan that “if you do X” then “I will do Y”.

If you continue to speak to me in a loud and sarcastic way then I’m going to excuse myself and take myself (and my wounded inner child) out of harms way.

Confronting bad behavior can backfire. I would posit that perhaps you are trying to teach the inner wounded child of the bully what is and is not acceptable behavior. The thing is the perpetrator’s inner wounded child could be running the show for their outer adult, and that outer adult may have real power that may be able to harm you (physically, emotionally, financially, etc.).

Be a loving parent to your own inner wounded child. Keep them safe. Create an environment that is beneficial for their growth and healing.
Setting clear and mature boundaries will not only parent your own inner wounded child, but it will model good behavior and perhaps influence the inner wounded children of the people in your life. You can’t control other people, but you can influence them. Be the shining light of reason and serenity. Be loving but firm and protect your inner child’s environment.

Personal Stories: DA and Yoga proved a powerful combination …..

My family immigrated from Kharkiv, Ukraine to the USA in 1992 as refugees. When I came to the United States, it seemed like I came from another planet.  Everything was different: language, mentality, and environment.  It seemed like I lost my identity and I did not belong anywhere.  In New York, I went to college.  However, I became severely depressed during my second semester and was hospitalized for depression.  When I got better, I returned to college and obtained my BA in Liberal Arts and MS in Education.  I wanted to become an elementary school teacher but became interested in school psychology and became a school psychologist for New York City, Department of Education.  The job was so stressful that i was hospitalized for depression and finally quit the job and went on disability.

One day I saw a yoga studio near where I lived.  I didn’t know anything about yoga.  I absolutely loved yoga after the first session.  Yoga helped me tremendously with my depression.  I did yoga in the hospital for myself and the other patients and the nurses.  Then I promised to myself and to God (even though I am agnostic) that I will be teaching free yoga to anyone who wants to learn.

I always searched for a cure for my depression and felt the need of a support group in addition to my psychotherapy and medications, so I was happy when I found DA online.  My first DA meeting was on September 22, 2020.  It’s my first Twelve Step program and I decided to give it a chance.  I thought “I don’t have anything to lose except my misery.”  I was very skeptical at the beginning, because nothing seemed to help my depression.  I couldn’t share anything during my first DA meeting and didn’t have my camera on.  I didn’t purchase DA literature for about a month because I didn’t have money and wasn’t sure if DA would help me after everything I had been through.  To my surprise, after being in DA for two years, I felt I became less depressed.  I didn’t get hospitalized during this time, I made friends by attending daily DA meetings, I was reading DA literature, working the 12 Steps, got a sponsor and joined two co-sponsorship groups.   I found my purpose in life by sharing my story and offering yoga to DA members twice a week.  I still feel anxious and depressed  sometimes but I know that I can use the tools of DA, reach out to my sponsor and DA friends, and count on their support.  I can see a tremendous difference in myself.  In a sense, I “love my depression” now because through it I found the DA community and feel like I finally belong.  I am so grateful to be a DA member and I hope my hard work in DA and my Higher Power (power of DA group, yoga and universal love) will bring me peace and serenity, and I will be able to say one day that I am completely recovered from depression.

Irene S., NYC, October 2023

Depression is a process addiction

Depression is a process addiction, just as alcoholism is a substance addiction.

A process addiction is when a person is addicted to a particular behavior. When we speak about one addiction, like the process addiction of depression, we can include them all. We are learning that the Twelve Step program of recovery can be used to overcome negative thinking and compulsive/addictive behavior for the person who sincerely wants to get emotionally, physically and spiritually healthy.

Our Depressed Anonymous fellowship is based on a hope that no matter how bad we feel, no matter how isolated we are, or how painful we feel, we do recover.

We discover that all our negative thinking, feeling and behaviors will no longer keep us captive, isolated and in the prison of our depression. We gradually begin to change the way we think and feel, learning how to motivate ourselves, using the Spiritual principles of the Twelve Steps, and begin to get active in our own recovery. Motivation follows action!

The main positive effect of making the Steps an integral part of our daily Lives is that people can come together and find the support of their Depressed Anonymous fellowship. They in turn will find the emotional nurturing acceptance of their group and learn the social skills that can help them gradually enter life again; with hope and a heightened spirit. Once people realize that they are not alone and that they hope that they too will feel better. The beauty of a self-help group is that a person feels acceptance from the group. No one is there to tell them to “snap out of it” or that depression is all in your mind.

Finally, we see our closed system of depression, with its negative addictive thinking, feelings of despair, coupled with those behaviors which keep us afraid and anxious, gradually are being dismantled. We discover that we have choices. We don’t have to stay isolated. Our positive thinking begins to show us a way out of a system that has had us bullied into submission. Our minds are now processing hope and possibilities for a new life of freedom.

Hugh S., for the fellowship

Belief in myself

Depression is something that is so overwhelming. For myself it is like crawling from beneath the earth and facing the light, with fear
that no one would understand how I truly feel.

When in depression, isolation would follow, being my only friend, but actually it was my own worst enemy. I should have been opening up to someone, instead I shut myself off from the world.

Through therapy and a belief in myself and encouragement, facing the days didn’t seem so difficult.

Working on my Twelve Steps of Depressed Anonymous, and reading “Higher Thoughts for Down Days” gave me reassurance that we are not alone.

I now appreciate what I do have when I work through the program.
– Reatha, Canada

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!