A victim in my own mind

Depression was something that I grew up with. I really had no idea that I had it until my senior year in college. It started with my parents’ divorce and ended with me totally losing control over everything in my life. I couldn’t decide what career I wanted, but hated every job that I could think of. I couldn’t decide what city or state to live in, so I kept moving, hoping that the next place I lived would make me happy. Eventually, I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to live or to die. I cried at the drop of a hat but still found enough rage inside of me to push the people I loved as far away from me as possible.

I knew that I needed help. I have been to counselors on three other times in my life, but nothing ever seemed to work or last. This time, I have been in counseling for about two months. I was sick and tired of being like this. I wanted a life and I wanted to be happy. Every week someone would notice a change in me, but I still felt the same. Then one day while watching TV (thinking thoughts at 100 mph) it occurred to me that I was making myself miserable.

I had always known that I was hard on myself. I reamed myself every time something had happened. “Why can’t I find someone to love me?” “Why isn’t God looking after me?” But for some reason, when I realized that I was doing this to myself, it made me realize that maybe all I would have to do is stop doing it. All of a sudden it all made sense.

If I tell myself negative thoughts, I feel negative. If I tell myself nothing, I feel nothing. So, if I tell myself positive thoughts, eventually I have to feel positive.

Of course I’m still waiting it out, but I feel better and for the first time in 14 years, I have hope. It’s not that hard to find something positive about myself or my life now. So I remind myself of something positive every day and that’s what I’m going to do until I don’t have to remind myself anymore because I’ll know…”

Read The rest of the story tomorrow
A Depressed Anonymous Member.

(Copyright) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. Pages 120-121. Personal Stories.

Connect, Connect, Connect

The message is clear: Get connected!

Of the many discussions that center on the subject of depression, there appears to be a paucity of references to depression and its relationship to society.

“No man is an island”, says the poet John Donne. We live in a society where we find ourselves saturated with every form of electronic communication systems and are able to communicate with anyone, anywhere in the world. In a certain paradoxical way we are at the same time appearing to be moving toward greater isolation and human disconnection (the present pandemic has made the situation 100 times worse).The paradox of our times is that the more we are able to communicate with each other, it seems the more isolated we have become from each other. The number of people depressed is of epidemic proportions and how can this be, we may ask, as there are now so many of us who are connected via the Internet, email, and social online groups as well as other sophisticated forms of communications.

This brings me to the point of the essay, namely, that if our world needs anything, it needs a world where people can get connected, network, form real communities where people know us and truly care about us. We all want a real live community – a face to face community where we can share, we can cry and we can laugh and where we can actually touch each other. Even though these modern ways of communicating are tremendous helps in moving past our isolation and into the real world they cannot end there.

A prisoner once mentioned that he considered depression not as a chemical imbalance but rather more of a “living imbalance.”
Resource

Personal Comment:
This essay was written in 2013 and as it was true then it is true now, in spades. Ironically, the present pandemic (Covid-19) has isolated us in so many ways and from so many family and friends (to include greater than 250,000 deaths in the USA) we all are using electronic means to keep alive and in touch with our 12 Step fellowship groups as well as family and friends.

This pandemic is wreaking havoc on every member of our societies, here and worldwide. This out of control virus is also wreaking its deadly grip upon those in our communities who are already burdened with their own mental health issues. Most of us need someone to share how bad we feel and how blue this ongoing isolation has deepened a hopeless mood in ourselves and others.

But there is hope – and we will recover. This is going to be my mantra as I try and live each day at a time. I only have 24 hrs and I will try and keep my hope alive in the present. My prayer is that you do the same.

Hugh

Copyright(c) I’ll do it when I feel better.(2013) Depressed Anonymous Publications.Louisville, KY. pgs.62-63.

…understand what is happening to you

UNDERSTAND WHAT IS HAPPENING TO YOU

Cohen and Taylor recently surveyed the studies of psychological survival and concluded that repeated affirmation by survivors suggest the first rule of any handbook on survival : understand what is happening to you.
(Cohen, S., and Taylor, L. (1972). Psychological Survival. The Experience of Long Term Imprisonment. Penguin. p.138. )

“The same rule applies for those who wish to survive the experience of depression. Ultimately, so many depressed people, when they try to discover what is happening to them, are told that they have an illness which only a doctor can understand. Books on depression are rarely enlightening. What one needs in this situation is someone to talk with, someone who will not give advice and produce solutions, but who with help to unravel the complexities of one’s thinking and feeling and to look at possible alternatives, someone whose presence ensures that the isolation is not complete.” (Rowe, Dorothy.(1988) Choosing Not Losing:The experience of depression. Fontana. London. p.341.)

It is my belief, after these many years of being in a Depressed Anonymous group and as an active participant, I did learn that I no longer needed to be alone and isolate myself from my world, my family and friends. Over time and with the help of the group, the complexities and dead-ends of my thinking and feeling, were brought to bear, time and time again, on seeing myself in a different light. It was in the group where I learned that “free and truthful discussion is only possible between people who see each other as equal members of the human race…Until we learn to talk together without fear we shall not be able to progress in understanding the human race and the world.” p.343.

Hugh

I will keep physically fit. Exercise is my priority now!

MOTIVATION FOLLOWS ACTION.

AFFIRMATION
I promise myself that I will walk today to regain a positive feeling about myself and my world.
Keep physically fit. It is a must for us who are and have been depressed. Walking not only restore harmony to the body, it likewise restores my self-esteem and self confidence. Remember that motivation follows action.
REFLECTION

How can motivation follow action? Isn’t it the other way around, namely that action follows motivation? In a sense the criticism is true, but in another sense, it isn’t quite that accurate. When speaking about the paralysis of depression the individual’s motivation is almost completely nonexistent. That is why it is important for me, a depressed person to force myself to get moving -that’s right, force myself into an activity because even though I say “I will do it when I feel better.” I never usually feel better. So I need to find that point in my day, when I feel better and get out in the air and walk, if nothing else, it tends to distract from my wanting to sad myself.
When I take care of myself physically and begin giving myself p[permission to express my feelings, especially the unpleasant ones, I begin to speak more assertively and begin to like myself.

MEDKITATION

Today, help me sort out what needs to be thrown away and what we need to keep. Help us keep those memories that had love attached to them.

RESOURCES
Copyright(c) Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 Step fellowship groups. (2002)Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky. Pages 150-151.

Copyright(c) Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky. Chapter Six. Pages 33-36.

The most difficult type of depression…

To those of us who attend Depressed Anonymous meetings can take heart in the following thought: to know how good it is to openly talk about our own depression experiences with others.

I agree whole heartedly with this belief as most of us who do attend meetings do so because we speak directly to what is going on in our lives. Those who attend the meetings feel free to speak about their struggles and victories without apologies or blame. We are happy to have them as part of our fellowship.

The most difficult type of depression is to be in contact with is not the most dramatic, but the most indirect. It is when people themselves do not recognize their depression, or seek to solve their conflicts through behavior, such as the excessive use of alcohol, or blame everything and everyone for their misery and unhappiness, to the extent that those around them will find it hard to empathize and difficult to help. By contrast, when people experience depression clearly and directly, and can understand to some degree why they are down, it is much easier to reach out to them. Rollo May in his book Paulus, wrote about the depressive episodes that Paul Tillich experienced. His depression never made the rest of us depressed because they were open…If we admit our depression openly and freely, those around us get from it an experience of freedom rather than the depression itself.

Flach, E. F: (1995) 3rd ed. The Secret Strength of Depression. Hattherleigh Press. New York Pg. 187.

Sunny was one smart dog

When anyone talks about their pets, dogs, cats, birds, I am all ears. I love dogs and we sure got a good one when we got Sunny. She was barely six weeks old. She was also a Border Collie. We loved her and she loved all our family, especially our Grandchild. He was about 2 years old when he came to live with us.

Sunny took to him immediately. She would curl up with him on the couch, it was almost like she thought he was a little lamb. She also made sure no one approached him without her approval.

Sunny showed us unconditional love. This is why we love them. You can’t buy that type of love anywhere. And during this pandemic I feel that having a dog (insert your family pet here) as a family member is really a source of comfort and healing. They ARE family.

We really need each other during this most trying time in our lives. We tend toward feeling blue, and some of us get depressed because everything that we did normally is not normal now. We are self quarantined whether we like it or not. The feeling alone and isolated is like waves of grief washing over us; not just now and then – but most everyday.

I hope you who are reading this have someone, a pet, a member of the family, a DA fellowship member, anyone who is telling you with their love and presence how happy they are that they can share time with you, via Skype, Zoom, telephone, a letter or an email. Just knowing someone cares about us – means everything these days.

In our Depressed Anonymous fellowship I am blessed to know that I can meet with my friends all that I like. I can meet with them when I am blue and they can call me when the isolation is getting too great for them as well.

Contact us at https://depressedanon.com and let us know how you are doing today. We’d love to hear from you.

Powerless does not mean No Power

People get hung up on the word powerless.

powerless –

  1. devoid of strength or resources
  2. lacking the authority or capacity to act

Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/powerless

Personally I don’t believe that I have NO POWER. Instead I have less power than the average healthy person. There are things that I can do to help manage my disease. OK, so I know I don’t have all control (100% control) and I believe that it’s not a case of having no control (0% control), so I’m somewhere in the middle – between 1% and 99% control over my depression. Wherever I fall on that spectrum I am compelled by my Higher Power to act. My Higher Power has given me the authority and capacity to act and attempt to influence and manage my disease of depression. I may wish and yearn for 99% control over my disease of depression but wherever I am I must act. I need to get out of my familiar zone (I don’t call it a comfort zone as it is NOT comfortable), and take action.

That action could be as miniscule as bringing the dirty dishes to the sink (washing may take another burst of commitment and action), or it could be as major as cleaning out and organizing the garage. I have it within my power to take my dog for a 20 minute walk. I may not have it in me today to go on a 45 minute walk, but I can do the 20 minutes and work towards improving my mood. Progress, not perfection.

If the love of your life was sick and in bed, wouldn’t you feed them? Wouldn’t you bring them tissues? Show yourself the same compassion and commitment! You are worthy of action and of love. Love is not a feeling, it is a choice and an action. Have the courage to choose to love yourself and put that choice into action. You are worth it!

Yours in recovery, Bill R

Lemmings and their mass migration to the sea

Today we would like to share with you some thoughts about a small mouse-like arctic rodent called a lemming. It has a furry body, short tail and fur covered feet. Every now and then, the Lemmings begin their journey to the sea. It is what is called a mass migration. Ultimately, while trying to cross the sea they all drown. This mass migration occurs at the peak of population growth.

I have reflected upon this odd behavior at different times in my life and wondered about it. Why cross the sea? It’s almost like asking the question, “Why did the chicken cross the road?” At least we know the reason for the lemmings – population growth. Does that mean, apparently, not enough food for their communities? Does it mean that they intuitively know when it’s time to march to the sea. And what makes them want to cross the sea? Is it a mutual understanding that if others are to survive then many must give up their lives so that the remnants left behind can continue to propagate and flourish.

I wonder if there is a resonance in one’s mind that, like in our world today, mass migrations of people fleeing their homes , country of origin, families and friends to escape oppression, domination by groups inimical to their religious beliefs and values.

What does this have to do with depression? Well, it has much to do with feelings, at least for humans , when we lose our place of nesting, lose members of our family, our children, spouse and all those cherished familiar relationships that kept us intertwined and mutually responsible to and for in our own lives.

Mass migrations, people on the run, millions of people on the run, with their most prized treasures, their children, and family members. All they have is the clothes on their backs. And then another tragedy: food resources, lodging, a place that is no longer familiar and friendly – all these disappear and are non-existent. Because of warring groups in some nations, people again flee their farms, herds and crops and die of starvation. And combine this with climate change, many areas of the earth are flooded out of villages and their homes making it impossible to grow their own food, feed their children and families.

Mass migrations of families and peoples are fleeing to wherever there is hope of survival and stability They are hoping that someone will come to their rescue. National leaders ar finding that the mass migrations of people over their borders are either not welcomed or allowed in. Many times the refugees are treated with hatred, physical violence or both.

Large movements of people today are presenting complex challenges, which call for global action. Many migrant s arrive in developing countries, creating tensions where resources are already scarce, by the majority of about 763 million, who move within their own countries. rather than abroad.

Source: http://www.fao.org/world-food-day/2017

The World Health Organization lists depression as a major world health problem. The organization strives to help persons become aware of the life threatening challenges that face our work and our people and nations. Millions have lost families, their own national heritages, members of their own families, plus the myriad of culture changes and climate changes press down upon and impact their lives.

Even here in the Western world we live in a society flooded with gadgets, vapid entertainment, and politicians making those self serving decisions for who is in and who is out in our societies. In America it is those who are uninsured, the children and the poor who are left out, left behind and voiceless.

Resultantly why shouldn’t depression become a number one isse for all of us. Why shouldn’t this be an issue for our local communities to help others deal with their losses, lost dreams and hopeless situations. We can’t just stand by and let others fend for themselves but it is necessary that we get involved in this global, local and personal which is draining the energy and the feelings that I belong to something bigger than myself.

Can we all be there for others when we find ourselves in a sea of indifference and let “George” do it.

Here is what I recommend, get involved at a local level, get informed on people homeless in your community, the number of refugees who are looking for support, and the persons in your own family who are depressed.

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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