I’m on a personal journey of transformation! Today!

I can do almost anything to feel better and more alive.  All I need to do is believe that I can do it. I want to believe.

“Through the Twelve Step program of recovery, I have been on a journey of transformation from the familiar life of drudgery, gloom and desperation,  to discovering a new freedom and a new happiness – something I didn’t know existed.

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

This is the real world, the 12 Step program for healing and  gradual abstinence from hiding the pressure that builds from inside and pushes me to want to withdraw and isolate myself.  I am more sure today than  I was yesterday.  The more I work my 12 Step program I  feel better. I also believe that the more I begin  to take charge of  areas of my life, like exercising,  getting a  hobby,  and moving about, the speedier will  be my recovery.

From childhood, I had a scarce amount of love and nurturing. I know that I can find the freedom to live and feel differently than I did  in the past. Today presents me with a clean slate –a new beginning, if you will.  Granted my yesterdays are always there, but my today is what really counts. This is the exciting part of living with hope. Life is a challenge and I need to forgive myself for all my yesterdays and live right now as if it is the first day of my life.

MEDITATION

God, make peace and serenity the by-word of our lives and efforts this day. We know that you are here – closer to us than the light in our eyes. We again trust you so that we can  live this unpredictable life with hope and trust in you. (Personal comments).

(c) Higher Thoughts for Down Days:365 Daily Thoughts and Meditations for all members of 12 Step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.

What are my priorities and why is it important to know this?

AFFIRMATION

I know that in time and with care, for myself, I am going to believe that I am truly living the way the God of my understanding wants me to live.  We need to know what our priorities are. If you don’t already know this question about yourself, you can work it out by becoming something that is important to you  and asking., “Why is this important?”

CLARFICATION OF THOUGHT

I came to believe that a power greater than myself can restore me to sanity  is really one of my belief priorities and one which brings me a certain amount  of serenity everyday. I know and believe that this is what is most important to me in my life. In my efforts to free myself from the fear and insecurity of depression, I am living in the solution instead of in  the problem.

I only want to do what I believe  will allow me to live with a desire to do God’s will.   He will not let me fall back again into  the false comfort of my attachments to depression. So  much of my attachment to these ongoing negative thoughts about  myself and my future seemed to flow so  naturally into my thoughts. They have all been brought to light and are daily exposed. I am trading them in for thoughts  which are new and unfamiliar, but healthier,  as I now live with gratitude.

MEDITATION
We need your help now God.  We seem to believe that it is all too much for us to bear with so many disappointment and burdens. We feel a bit like Job,  the Bible  character . We will attempt  for just  twenty-four hours to hang onto our faith that you God  will bring me through our darkness today. (Personal reflection).

(C) Higher  Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 Step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY. Pages 70 -71.

“We believe that no one can love us…”

We come to believe that if we do consider ourselves bad and worthless, we just know that no one can really love us or accept us. We just know the more we look at ourselves and our few remaining relationships, that we really aren’t accepted – people just put up with us.

“…There is  one great advantage about seeing yourself as helpless and in the power of others. You don’t have to be responsible for yourself. Other people make all the decisions and when things turn out badly you can blame other people. And things always turn out badly. You know this. That’s why you always expect the worst.” Dorothy Rowe.

Responsibility is the name of the game in recovery and it is here that we need to focus our attention.  As we get into discussion with other people who are depressed, much like ourselves, we see that they talk abut feeling better while at the same time acting on their own behalf. These people who are doing better are also talking about taking charge of their lives and doing things for themselves. In fact, at Depressed Anonymous meetings, the recovery people often delight at how assertive they are becoming now that they have gained a sense of mastery over their lives. They are also committed to their own recovery. People who want to change begin to swallow their pride and ask for help.  They get in touch with their feelings and feel!  This is truth and this is getting in touch with one’s best self. ”

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SOURCE: Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011)  Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Page 91.

The human experience of depression.

“It is my belief that the experience  that we call human depression, can very much be like the early designation of alcoholism as partly an allergy as well as being a mental obsession. And depression is very much like alcoholism, in that it very much causes the sufferer much the same symptoms, namely, feelings of being isolated, lonely, angry and  in a   deep dark pit, hopeless and helpless. Also, the depressed who decides to become more isolated and alone likewise digs a hole just a little more deeply. The fellowship of the program is combined with a belief that a power greater than oneself is ultimately what is going to save the person depressed from killing themselves  or floundering in a morass of self-will, resentments and self-pity. Many depressed basically are afraid of people and so tend not to trust others. They also hold a negative view of themselves and think themselves unacceptable to others and to themselves. (P.3)

In primitive human kind there was a system in one’s physical makeup that helped a primitive relative of ours flee or fight when danger approached.  In those days the person faced with a mortal danger got the adrenaline flowing that enabled the pursued to evade his/her captor. It also gave the pursued victim  the energy  to fight and overcome the adversary. In today’s world the days of being pursued by some ferocious tiger or beast is not our problem. But we are still pursued and the fear of the consequences of being caught by whatever is pursuing us  shoots the chemicals  into  our blood stream just as it did in our ancestors – with one major difference — our fears, anxieties, continual worries keep pumping those juices through our system until we are too tired to flee or even to fight. However it happens, the result is that our bodies suffer the damage of the stress of continual unpleasant emotions and feelings coursing through our veins.  We are at war with ourselves and depression is the last wall of defense in which the body says I need to take a rest from all this stress and so I surrender. I am closing down. I don’t want to fight any longer. And when one begins to feel a little better and the energy of one’s spirit starts to flow back into us again and we start  to feel renewed and it is here that our old ghost of fear starts to feel renewed and it is here that our old ghost of fear starts speaking to us saying “Hey, don’t trust this feeling of beginning to feel better. Stay with what you have — at least it’s predictable. At least you know what you have. Don’t try to change anything as you might get something far worse than what you have now.”  (P.5).

SOURCE:   Depressed Once -Not Twice: The  autobiography of a spiritual journey out of depression.  (2000) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. (Pages 3, 5).

Comment:  In this important work, the founder of Depressed Anonymous the author shows us that even in the midst of the pain, isolation and a mental paralysis of will, the 12 Steps provide a plan,, a program of recovery. The author shows how by using the Steps himself in overcoming his own experience of depression that these same Steps  can now be used by those “still suffering from depression.

I am choosing to live in the security of my hope rather than in the fear of life’s possible pain.

“…Haven’t our sadness and thoughts of unworthiness been our last refuge from having to face ourselves, take charge and accept responsibility for our own lives? For many, just knowing that they might have a choice and be able to choose to feel differently can be a startling revelation. I can choose to be happy or I can choose to stay feeling miserable.”

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

Life is one that provides me with many areas of choice. I can choose to live with the uncertainty of  hope or I can stay mired in the despair of having to always have everything predictable.  The latter is the hell of my depression.

MEDITATION

We choose to place our trust in you, our God, and to believe that all we can ever have is to be provided with your love and protection in our daily struggles to free ourselves from this continued depression.

SOURCE:   Copyright (c) Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 Step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

“When the pain gets bad enough, you will seek the cure.”

“…Recovery is a gradual and pains taking process for both the person addicted to alcohol (depressive feelings)  and the person addicted to the addict…I had journeyed to counselor after counselor and program after  program seeking to get my husband well. But as the saying goes, “when the pain gets bad enough, you will  seek the cure.”  Recovery, however is looking for more than relief from the pain. In my case the cure involved a counselor, Al-Anon meetings, Al-Anon Adult children meetings, daily readings, meditations and new supportive friends. It also involved a constant struggle to be honest with myself, and to stop denying the feelings I had refused to recognize for  so long.  Recovery for me is a miracle. I still remember the craziness, but today my life no longer resembles a jigsaw puzzle of a thousand pieces that someone has dropped on the floor…Painful though recovery may be, it is well worth the effort and is definitely not as painful as no recovery at all.” The Forum, May 1991, Vol.39.No.5. p.11.

Comment: I know that recovery does take time and it does take work. Could this possibly be the worst thing a depressed person hears who wants to leave the prison of depression. Time and work? They tell us that they  can’t even get out of bed in the morning. They  have no desire to do anything, nothing, zilch!   I know what that  is all about. When I was depressed I too felt the pain of living  like a zombie. No energy. No motivation. Stuck in my own juices of nothingness. But like the person said,  quoted above, I knew that I had to do something because the pain became unbearable. That is when the  12 Steps of recovery pushed me toward a cure. They provided me   a way out of my own homemade emotional prison. I had to quit denying my painful feelings and get started  to work on myself. It was here at the Depressed Anonymous meeting that I was given my “toolkit” of recovery. There was no rush to get cured. There was only the desire to find a way to relieve myself from the pain of isolation and the lack of motivation to do anything for myself. My first job was to quit saddening myself.  With my “toolkit” and the 12 Steps I gradually, and with time, dismantled all that was keeping me prisoner.  I found the key that unlocked my prison door.

My life today is good. My feelings are no longer painful and crippling. The Depressed Anonymous Promises are true.  ” …a power greater than myself restored me to sanity.”

SOURCE: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed  Anonymous  Publications. Louisville.

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Admit, believe, decide.

These three words appear in the first three Steps of Depressed Anonymous.  These are the words that make us well. These are the words that start us on our journey to a life lived without fear. These are the words that will thrust us into a life filled with hope and meaningfulness. Of the 12 Steps of recovery, these are the first steps that one takes when they want to find peace and hope.

I remember so vividly when I took my first step over the threshold of despair  and isolation into the bright light of awareness and hope at my first 12 step group meeting. Just by walking through the door I admitted that I needed help. My life had spiraled out of control. It was on that day, at that meeting of the fellowship, that others heard my story, that I started to believe that  I could be restored to a purposeful life lived with hope and peace. It was on that day, at that meeting, that I made a decision to turn my life and my will over to the care of God as I understood God.

And here I am  today, 33 years later, not only with a life filled with a purpose designed to help others depressed but by doing so, have kept myself free from isolation and self-pity.

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SOURCE:   Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

6 ways to help you through depression.

1) Don’t bottle things up: if you’ve recently had some bad news, or a  major upset in your life, try to tell people close to you about it and how it feels.  It helps re-live the painful experience several times, to have a good cry, and talk things through. This is part of the mind’s natural healing mechanism.

2)  Do something: get out of doors for some exercise, if even for only a long walk. This will enable you to keep physically fit, and you may sleep better…This will help you take your mind off those painful feelings which only make you  more depressed when allowed to sweep over you.

3) Eat a good balanced diet: even though you may not feel like eating. Fresh fruits and vegetables are especially recommended. People with severe depression can lose weight and run low in vitamins, which only makes matters worse.

4) Resist the temptation to drown your sorrows. Alcohol, actually depresses mood, so while it may give you immediate relief, this is very temporary and you may end up more depressed that ever.

5) Don’t get into a state of not sleeping. Listening to the radio or watching TV (it’s on all night now!) while you’re resting your body will still help, even if you are not actually asleep, and you may find that you drop off because you’re no longer worrying about not doing so!

6) Remind yourself that you are suffering from depression –something which many other people have gone through — and that you will eventually come out of it, as they did, even though it does not feel like it at the time. Depression can even be a useful experience, in that some people emerge stronger and better able to cope than before.  Situations and relationships may be seen more clearly, and you may now have the strength and the  wisdom to make important decisions and changes in your life which you were unable to do before.”

Source:  Depression: P.9. Pamphlet published as a service to the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

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I find these 6 ways as very helpful for anyone making a choice to change their behavior, the way they  feel and the way they think. With a fellowship of like minded persons, such as Depressed Anonymous,  there is a greater capacity to make better choices as well as to learn ways to gradually move out of the bondage of depression.

Sources: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition.(2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

  The Depressed Anonymous Workbook (2001) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

Is depression an addiction?

At the weekly Depressed Anonymous meetings there stirs a glimmer of hope for the saddict  as he/she begins to encounter others like themselves at group meetings.  It is a bigger payoff for the saddict  to gradually believe that  the recovering members  of the Depressed Anonymous group are holding out a hope that can be theirs if only they would depend on the serenity of the members of the group rather than depend on the long time comfort of their addiction.

“Whether it is therapy or not, addicts improve when their relationships to work, family, and other aspects of their environment improve. Addicts  have come to count on the regular reward they get from their addictive involvement.  They can give up these rewards when they believe they will find superior gratifications from other activities such as  the DA meetings  in the regular fiber of their lives. Therapy helps this process by focusing on external rewards and assisting addicts in conceptualizing these rewards and obtaining them. What any rewards therapy itself produces must be regarded as intermediate and time limited, as a passage to the stable, environmental rewards that are necessary to create  a non addictive equilibrium in people’s lives. Only when such everyday but potent  reinforcements are firmly in place is an addiction cured. ”  Source: The Meaning of Addiction: Experience and its interpretation. Stanton Peale. Lexington Books. Lexington,  MA, 1988. p,55.

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SOURCE: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. (2011) Louisville. Appendix  Is depression an addiction?

“Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” Step 5 of Depressed Anonymous

“I haven’t done anything wrong, so why do I have to admit anything? And anyway, what does this have to do with my depression?”

In the Depressed Anonymous Workbook these questions there are provided answers for those who are struggling to free themselves from depression. In fact, the more we work through each of the questions posed in the Workbook, we can also go to the Depressed Anonymous Manual, 3rd edition., and find six pages  (pgs. 59-64) of thoughts from members of the fellowship on Step 5.  We discover that the Depressed Anonymous Manual is written by people like you and me. We have been where you are and we came to believe after admitting that we were powerless over our depression and that life was unmanageable we had to make a decision.

In Step 3 we made a decision –that is what life is all about –namely, making decisions. Our decisions are the product of the meaning that we give to those persons, events and circumstances that fill our lives every day.  We make the decisions based on those meanings that we give to those situations and experiences. We are making a decision to day to share part of our dark side with another human being.

In Alcoholics Anonymous it describes the way to make a good 5th Step:

” We pocket our pride and go to it, illuminating every twist of character, every dark cranny of the past. Once we have taken this Step, withholding nothing, we are delighted. We can look the world in the eye.  We can be alone at perfect peace and ease.  Our fear fall from us. We begin to feel the nearness of our creator. We may have had certain beliefs, but now we begin to have a spiritual experience…”

Telling someone else seems to be the key to our freedom: When we decided who is to hear our story, we waste no time. We have a written inventory and we are prepared for a long talk. We explain to our partner what we are about and why we have to do it.” (This is why it is so important to write down in a  separate notebook the answers to all the questions in the Workbook which now bring us to the point of sharing our answers with a person we can trust, such as a clergy person or our sponsor. ED).

Steps 1 and 5 are the two Steps where the word “admitted” is used.  When we hear the word “wrongs” such as in this Step 5 – we may induce in ourselves a feeling of guilt. This is NOT the intention of Step 5 at all.

To be depressed is not to be wrong. We are not accusing ourselves of being bad. We are only pointing out the ways that I need to act, think and behave as a non-depressed person.”

SOURCES:  The Depressed Anonymous Workbook (2001) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 49-50.

Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 59-64.