The Covid-19 and its effect on a pre-existing clinical depression

Since we believe that depression just doesn’t come out of the blue, but stems from our relationship to the environment, our past and present relationships and NEGATIVE ruminations and self-talk.

For instance, the pandemic is a good place to start to untangle some of those underlying conditions which keep popping up in our daily lives. The covid-19 continues to create havoc, fear and anxiety in ourselves and communities. The more isolated we are from our normal life activities the more time we spend on all the negativity that continues to envelope us.

Anxiety and fear, both of which are some of those feelings and moods which may have contributed to our depression in the first place. Feelings can change from one to the other while moods are longer lasting with an ability to spiral down deeper in our psyche, resulting in an emotional lockdown. We can couple this with a fear that our life is spinning out of control, as our mind continues latching onto the worse possible scenario for our future, throwing more fuel on the fire, believing that life will always be this way for ourselves. We continue to live in total hopelessness.

And then the pandemic. Here we are, away from all the normal activities that once provided us with some temporary distraction from our fears and anxieties. It’s not as if we didn’t continue to feel the pain of living a life of isolation, holed up in the darkness of our own paralyzing moods, day after day, but now that we are cut off physically from friendships, co-workers, close friends or family members, our isolating pushes our negative moods further down. All this comes with a strong possibility that the virus may have claimed the life of a family member or grandparent or close friend or co-worker.

My own feelings, are the same basically of everyone else. Here we are, gradually realizing that this is now the “new normal” for each of us. We come to realize that we need to step back, and look at where we are today – and face our fears and anxieties. The question arises as what do I do now? Let me share with you my own experiences as my own life is turned upside down.

Because of my involvement in a mutual aid group, Depressed Anonymous, I am able to leave some of the pain of my isolation, join with all those others like myself who together are giving each other hope. All of us can share – not just our own pain of isolation – but ways to deal with and encourage each other with the successes we have experienced in facing our own fears and anxiety now and in the past.

As we try to navigate this “new normal” as best we can, we discover together how we are helping each other, day after day find a real lifeline – even though a virtual one. I am making this path work for myself, actively participating with the rest of the group, finding that my anxieties have diminished. By being in the now and being part of this mutually support group I am finding that there is a way out. I no longer am going to stay isolated.

“There is hope…and we do recover.” Please join us on SKYPE AND ZOOM – there are meetings on SKYPE every day at 11:30PM CST / 12:30PM EST and ZOOM four times a week (Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. See Home page menu for DA meetings for more information). This is located at our website depressedanon.com.

Finally, one of our resources is the Depressed Anonymous Workbook that we use at our meetings, helping us to uncover some of our “underlying conditions” that existed prior to the present pandemic.

Presently our contacts with family and friends are stretched thin. Everything that makes us a human being, those live social encounters that provided us with joy, comfort and hope. We all have lost that shoulder to shoulder feeling and the hugs and smiles that gave us hope. Now the new normal is social distancing six feet apart. People older-stay home. Wear mask. I agree with all those solutions to staying safe.

It is here at our virtual online Depressed Anonymous meetings where we share and strengthen our resolve, uncovering those areas of our lives (thinking, feelings, moods, behaviors) that prohibit our personal growth and happiness. Now we are replacing our hopelessness and helplessness with hope and help everyday online.

The Depressed Anonymous fellowship is a potent provider of self-discovery as we move from one Step to the other at our meetings using the Workbook format. It is here in this virtual environment where we not only can take the time to listen to others in the group about their own issues, but listening as well to their many responses to how hope and healing have given them a new freedom, a new self-confidence while being provided a self-discovery tool, the Depressed Anonymous Workbook. This tool, with the Depressed Anonymous manual is used at every meeting.

If you are interested in a HOME STUDY PROGRAM OF RECOVERY you can learn more about this process of recovery from our website.

The Depressed Anonymous Workbook and Depressed Anonymous manual are also both available online as eBOOKS from Depressed Anonymous Publications.

YOUR HOPE IS OUR HOPE!

Hugh for the fellowship

Mood Rings

A number of years ago, a marketer of mood rings was making the claim that you could discover your mood by checking the color of the stone in the setting of the ring. Black was for a depressed mood, a blue for a “blue” mood, and green for a normal or happy mood. Well, I bought one and checked out my mood. Bingo! My mood ring indicated that I was in a happy mood, which I was. Hey, “this is great” I told myself. One half hour later I excitedly checked my mood ring again. “What” I exclaimed, “how can that be” as my ring had NOW changed to black. And that is the way it went for the rest of day. Green, black, blue and then blue again. I told myself I was still happy, nothing had changed there. Long story short – it was just another gimmick. So much for “fake” science. I knew that the diagnosis of my own mood was much more accurate and so I got help. But still, when the saddening symptoms of depression began to get worse, such as being unable to get out of bed, lacking any motivation to do what needs to be done, like going to work and keeping my important appointments. It is these daily responsibilities that began to slide. And then what seemed like just a short time I found myself immobilized and in a mental and physical lockdown.

If this is happening to you – we can help or at least point you in the right direction.

Welcome to our Depressed Anonymous meetings. We don’t depend on mood rings, but we do use the spiritual principles of the 12 Steps. These are at the core of our own recovery. By work, time, prayer, going to meetings and reading Depressed Anonymous literature we do recover and we do find our way out of depression. I can only tell you my own experience with depression and what tools I used to move out of isolation and begin doing the things that all of us in the program do to get well and back on track.

Here are some of my recommendations on getting started today, and finding that caring fellowship of men and women dedicated to helping themselves and others, and accompanying them on a path that leads out of depression, sadness and futility. The first Step is to admit that I need help and that my life is unmanageable. “I can’t go it alone anymore. I need support coupled with a belief that I can get better. Give me the tools and I will get to work!”

RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Attend Depressed Anonymous meeting. They happen every day of the week and sometimes twice a day, dependent whether it is a ZOOM DA meeting or a SKYPE DA meeting. Meeting times and locations can be found here on our website @ www.depressedanon.com.
  2. Attend a virtual (because of the Pandemic) Depressed Anonymous meeting, and click onto the site to gain entrance to the meeting. You will be welcomed by a member of the DA fellowship. If you do attend a meeting you can either pass or share your first name. But remember, you can ask questions, and participate as much as you are comfortable with. It is also important to listen to the members of the group and see if this meeting discussion talks about any issues that may be your issues.
  3. Some group members will post their phone numbers/emails at the meeting so that you might contact them if you would have questions about the group. Every Monday at the Skype meeting there is a Newcomers group meeting. This is a meeting that is very helpful to the new member. This can be a very good venue where some of your questions/concerns may find answers. The website also provides a wealth of literature available for purchase online plus special subject material at the Home Page menu. If you would like a person to help you with questions that you have about depression, they will be happy to share with you their story.

Hugh for the Fellowship
Finally, please trust your own feelings, not the Mood ring. šŸ™‚

If you find yourself in a hole, quit digging – Will Rogers

If you find yourself in a hole, quit digging.
Will Rogers

Do you really want to create yet another future Step Nine that you need to make? I didn’t think so.

If you make a mistake make an immediate Step TenWhen we were wrong, we promptly admitted it. Making a mistake is being in the hole and continuing to dig. That’s good because an immediate Step Ten is to put the dirt back in that you just dug up.

The better goal though would be to put down the shovel. Don’t keep making the hole bigger. Be loving TODAY. Be patient TODAY. Be compassionate TODAY. Be sober TODAY. You don’t need to do those things FOREVER, you merely need to do them TODAY.

The hole you have dug because of your active depression will need to be filled in with Step Nine, but don’t worry about that at the moment. Focus your attention on Step Ten – don’t make the hole deeper.

The results will be that you feel better about yourself, and others will feel better about you.

Yours in recovery, Bill R.

Slow down! Road work ahead!

How often do we see these orange warning signs along our highways? Sometimes it seems that everywhere we go, construction is going on. According to Murphy’s law, they only show up when we are in a hurry to get somewhere else.

In our recovery it is a necessity to read the signs that tell us to slow down. There is road work ahead. As we know or will soon find out recovery is about work, using those tools that are provided for our own healing and serenity.

We slow down, stop and reflect on our lives, examining how certain “triggers” not only slow us down but can “shut us down.” We discover how ruminating on the same negative feelings, produce a mood that continues to stifle us and prevents us from seeing it for what it is, namely a warning for us to make some changes in our behaviors. If we let these moods deepen there is a strong possibility that these negative ruminations can push us deeper into symptoms of depression. Before that happens, starting to use our tools can save us from relapsing or experiencing a recurrence of symptoms and get us back on the road again.

There are many things that can keep us motivated to stay involved in our program of recovery. You can read these for yourself here on our website (depressedanon.com) under the menu, TOOLS FOR RECOVERY. They are welcome tools not only providing help but hope.

You can also reflect on the “slogans” used by those of us in the 12 Step fellowships. I am going to list some of them and hope that you will use these as “mantra’s” or “slogans” for your own recovery and “road work.”

KEEP IT SIMPLE. Don’t complicate your life by over-analyzing or by placing judgments on others thinking or behavior. Don’t double yourself up with doing a hundred different things all at once.

DO THE NEXT RIGHT THING Telling yourself I’ll do it when I feel better never gets it. If you are recovering then go to meetings when you don’t want to or an appointment when you don’t feel like it. If you need to go to work go to work. That is the next right thing. Always be there for yourself and your healing. If you are doing Step work with a sponsor, then do the Step work. Do the next right thing. Put that on your bathroom mirror.

PROGRESS – NOT PERFECTION. Do what you can do and then don’t worry about it. The main thing is not that something you do is perfect –but that you are doing what you can do and doing it to the best of your ability.

CONTROL THE EFFORT-NOT THE OUTCOME. Take responsibility for you all that you do and again do your best. Make the effort. Give it your best shot. “To thine own self first be true.”

BE. HERE. NOW. Be in the present. Yesterday is gone forever. Tomorrow is not here yet. All we have is today. Enjoy the moment. Mindful that there is a God-and it isn’t me!

ONE DAY AT A TIME. We are only given one 24 hour period at a time. Use it well. Keep a journal and list three things that you are grateful for today.

Thank you for doing a little road work for yourself today. I hope that some of what I have written may have motivated you to look deeper into how you can “accept the things that you cannot change, the courage to change the things you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

If you would like to read more about depression please go to The Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore.

(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.
(c) The Depressed Anonymous Workbook. (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY

Hugh

A litany for living life on life’s terms.

These affirmations can produce in us positive feelings, with a desire to make the most of our day’s activities. Please take a few moments after each affirmation to see how these can best be brought to life.

I will live my life today with daily positive affirmations of who I desire to be. Pause.
I will live my life in service to others today. Pause.
I will live my life today with compassion for others. Pause.
I will live my life today in discovering God’s will for me and not my own. Pause.
I will live my life today in being empathic with those hurting and isolated. Pause.
I will live my life today in being thankful. Pause.
I will live my life today in prayerful moments throughout this day. Pause.
I will live out my life today by being a friend to those isolated by depression. Pause.
I will live out my life today with courage and hope. Pause.
I will live out my life today by being generous with my time and talents for our fellowship. Pause.
I will live out my life today in the present moment. All I have is today’s 24 hours. Pause
I will live out my life today with a quiet and receptive mind to the promptings of my HP. Pause.
I will live out my life today on life’s terms. Pause.
I will live out my life today in simplicity and truth. Pause.
I will live out my life today without a need to control others. Pause.
I will live out my life today with the firm belief that God loves me just the way I am. Pause.

“I would rather one should walk with me rather than merely telling me.”

The author Edgar Guest got it right. He would rather have someone walk with him rather than merely telling him. How true this is for our own lives. An example: I went to a large store whose layout I was unfamiliar. I asked a clerk how to find an item. “Oh yea, ” she responded — “I think it’s in aisle 57.” I was in aisle three so I walked to aisle 57. I looked everywhere – I spent some time up and down the aisle — no luck it wasn’t in aisle 57.
I went and asked another clerk. She told me that my item was in another aisle. She asked me to follow her and we walked back to aisle 57. There was my item. I thanked the clerk for helping me and I told her that I wasn’t familiar with the store layout. “No problem.”

In our program of recovery we always want to make ourselves available to those who have questions about the program, who need more information about the Steps and just another person to talk with between meetings. I get that. Those who volunteer to help those who need our assistance sometimes become a sponsor of others, or partner together in the Depressed Anonymous Workbook. We look forward to sharing our own experiences with others, especially our “newbies.” Our help can be so valuable as we share our own story and how I too have come to my first meeting and found someone willing to help walk with me through the Steps.

At our Depressed Anonymous online meetings, the chair person shares how anyone wanting to have someone to talk with between meetings, can find the names and phone numbers on the screen for handy reference. I highly recommend this.

The Depressed Anonymous Workbook is a positive tool where a new member and a group member can share and walk this path together. For some it has completely changed their lives…including the friend and the sponsor. You will be glad you did.

Hugh

At a loss of words to describe emotion?

Sometimes I’m so out of touch with my emotions I can’t even come up with a word to describe it. I found this resource online that helps me to put my emotions into words. It’s not a perfect tool but it can help me to better describe what I’m going through.

If you can’t describe your emotion use this tool to try out different words. Sometimes putting a word to an emotions lessens it to some small degree. By using a word we can create a small gap between who we are and the emotion that we are feeling. I tend to run from my emotions and stuff them by acting out in some fashion. I’m still working on not using food to soothe my emotions, but I’m a work in progress.

I hope you find this tool useful. Give it a try and see if it works. If it works, great – you’ve found a tool that works for you. If it doesn’t work for you, great – you now know this tool is not right for you.

Yours in recovery, Bill R

emotion_word_wheel

Life is starting to come together

As I began working on the abuse issues in therapy, the pieces of my life began to fit together in a way they could never have before, as I had never dealt with this catastrophic event. In the book Depressed? Here is a way out! (now Depressed Anonymous) the author talks about how people find their time of depression to be one of the great gifts of their life. The first time I read this, I thought it was the craziest thing I have ever heard. Yet, during this time of depression, I have learned and have I grown. I have come to understand myself and my God in a way I never could before.

It has been nearly a year now. Life is starting to come together for me again, one day at a time by the grace of God and the fellowship of this program. For the very first time I walked through the doors of Depressed Anonymous, I knew that I was in the right place. Having been an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous for so many years, I worked the Steps with my sponsor. I was already a firm believer of the Twelve Steps. I attended meetings: I worked the Steps with my sponsor. I used the Depressed Anonymous phone list and talked to those people about my pain and my day to day problems. I read the book and followed the instructions given in it.

When God, through Depressed Anonymous, the program and the fellowship literally carried me through the darkest time in my life and he did not let me die. I have fully experienced the “miracle of the group.” I have heard it said that sometimes God’s greatest miracles are unanswered prayers. I believe it. After all I am one.
– ANONYMOUS
Resource
(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. pgs. 119-120.

A key that opened many doors

The following is an excerpt of a testimony of how a person hospitalized for depression found and used the key for her recovery.

“During my first night in the hospital, a member of Depressed Anonymous informed me of a support group known as Depressed Anonymous. I decided to give it a try. By telling me about the wonderful, miraculous and very spiritual program, this person had not only worked the Twelfth Step, but had given me a key, a key which would open many doors for me. Walking through these doors was like admitting defeat. I was playing first base in a ball game in which I would eventually win. If I struck out, I was back on Step One. By playing ball with a positive attitude, I was allowing my Higher Power to walk the Steps to recovery with me. With the help and the positive sense of fellowship that I enjoyed in the group. I began to understand God’s will for me. With the love, support and true friendship of three faithful members in the group, I began working on my driver’s license, which had been another step toward independence for me. Within a year, I earned my license when two members of the group took me in for my road test. A new sunnier life had begun for me. The worst was finally over.”

– Excerpted from: “We never talked about our feelings,” in a personal story by Lena

Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition, © 2011 Depressed Anonymous Publications, Louisville, KY. Page 112.

10 strategies for coping with anxiety and pain

Originally published January 28, 2019. Some formatting changes.

  1. Remember that although your feelings are very frightening, they are not dangerous or harmful. They are uncomfortable but not life threatening.
  2. Understand that what you are experiencing is just an exaggeration of your normal bodily reaction to stress.
  3. Do not fight your feelings or try to wish them away. The more you are willing to face them, the less intense they will be.
  4. Do not add to your panic by thinking about what might happen if you find yourself asking ‘What if’? Tell yourself. ‘So what!’
  5. Stay in the present. Notice what is really happening to you as opposed to what you think might happen.
  6. Label your fear level from zero to ten and watch it go up and down. Notice that it does not stay at a very high level for more than a few seconds.
  7. When you find yourself thinking about the fear, change your ‘what if’ thinking. Focus on and carry out a simple and manageable task such as counting backwards from 100 by 3’s or snapping a rubber band on your wrist.
  8. Notice that when you stop adding frightening thoughts to your fear, it begins to face.
  9. When the fear comes, expect and accept it. Wait and give it time to pass without running away from it.
  10. Be proud of yourself for your progress thus far, and think about how good you will feel when you succeed this time.

Source: NMH Association – Understanding Panic Disorder

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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