“That which doesn’t kill you will probably make you stronger.” Nietzsche

 

Stress  put me in the hospital two years ago. First, pneumonia  put me in the hospital for a week.   Then, following  a diagnosis of clogged arteries with other assorted problems,  open  heart surgery.  Cardio/rehab for 24 straight weeks gave me my life back. But this was not my first experience with stress and /or depression.

Nietzsche had it right. In my case at least.  What made me stronger and saved my life was not only heart surgery but my new way of  dealing with stress. I now see stress for the trouble maker that it really is. The  stress in anyone’s,  continues to impress me how dangerous living under stress, of any kind, can be.

I know that the daily stress that I  had put my mind and body through every day,  every month, gradually destroyed my immune system’s ability to defend against  constant fear, worry and anxiety. Because of the environment  with which I was living in, day after day, finally caught up with me: pneumonia and then open heart surgery. So you might wonder  how can stress do all this damage to your mind and body?

THEN

This takes me back to my first  experience with sadness. It didn’t kill me, but it did force me to look  at my lifestyle, staying in a bad  situation and the ongoing ruminating which poured adrenaline into my veins, hyping up fear   and anxiety day after day.  Finally, all this  weakened not only my body but my mind  as well. My thinking started circling  around  and around as I tried to figure out exactly what the problem was  knocking me off my feet.  Not only that, I couldn’t concentrate. I would read a sentence or so  and then would forget what I had just read. I was always tired.  I always wanted to sleep. I never laughed anymore. My sense of humor went out the door. I started to isolate. I pushed friends away. I always had an excuse for cancelling meetings and appointments. Every morning I woke up, dead on arrival.  No energy. No purpose and nothing to look  forward to. I was losing all spontaneity and replacing it with boredom. I gradually was being sucked down intro the quicksand of futility and hopelessness.

After a year and half of this    pain filled  life I gradually walked out of the fog. I walked at least five miles a day-like a forced march looking forward to regaining my life. That was 1985.

NOW

Now,  I am stronger because I know all the red flags that pop up in my mind, wanting to  suck me back down into that environment which almost killed me in the first place.  I am definitely stronger now that I have a sponsor, a  12 Step   program (Depressed Anonymous) and  a daily plan   for my ongoing recovery.

My heart is stronger now. My commitment to taking good care of myself with proper rest, good healthy food, and physical activity at least three times a week or more. I also know that keeping in touch with those “still suffering from depression” by email, Home Study, website BLOG (depressedanon.com), phone and reading Depressed Anonymous literature.  What we give away comes back in countless ways. For me, continued sobriety and hope!

Resource: (c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.

Online Depressed Anonymous International Skype meetings ( Check website Menu for listing and links).

Order online :The Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore.

 

Unpleasant emotions, such as fear, anger, resentments and tension work against recovery.

 

”  I don’t believe that you can  snap out of your depression, or suddenly and dramatically get your life turned around by going to one Depressed Anonymous meeting, or reading the 12 Steps five times hour. It just doesn’t happen that way, especially if you have lived with your depression for any length of time.  Even though we emphasize that your depression is not a disease, we do want you to know that a depression over a long time could cause physical problems and upset the metabolism of the human organism… unpleasant emotions such as fear, anger, resentment, tension and depression work against recovery.

Source: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Page 31.

I can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“I believe that by working the 12 Steps of Depressed Anonymous, the more my Higher Power can release in me the serenity that I seek.  While not giving up hope – I can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”  The FOURTEENTH WAY out of the prison of depression.

The following is an excerpt from Believing is  seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression. (2015) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

 

“As long as I have a belief that somehow, someway, I will begin to feel differently and I can believe that Depressed Anonymous was developed to bring the ‘sufferer’s  of depression together. By this gathering of like-minded folks, it resulted in individuals being empowered to find a support which slowly leads them out of the hole.  I have always believed in the power and the uinfluence of the group — either serving as a power for good or a power designed for destructive ends. But as for our group Depressed Anonynmous, I know that it truly builds, enhances and strengthens anyone who gets involved with it on a regular and consistent basis.  Those who do interact with our fellowship eventually come out of the pit of their depression and start feeling hopeful about their lives.  They are feeling hope instead of despair. This is actually happening all the time as those involved in the fellowship begin to see personal changes occurring in their lives.”   Pages 65-66.

We trust our newfound beliefs…

THE THIRD WAY TO LEAVE THE PRISON OF DEPRESSION : AN EXCERPT

“We trust others by sharing our recent episodes of loss/sadness while at the same time sharing our hopes and strengths.  We trust our newfound positive beliefs for getting  ourselves out of the prison of depression.

Many of us won’t allow ourselves to trust anyone. We are so distrustful of ourselves that we cannot trust ourselves to feel. The painful hollowness of depression is such that we can’t allow it to be felt.  It is only among our brothers and sisters in the 12 step group that we can share our hurts and deep pain of being isolated. When we hear other members share their stories of hurt and isolation we know that we are not alone. We gradually begin to trust ourselves to touch our own nerves of pain and hurts. We trust the nurturing and accepting atmosphere of the fellowship of Depressed Anonymous to take part of our hurt and help carry us along. Every time we share a hurt from our own past we remove one more brick out of our prison wall of depression. The more we find that our trust is validated by the continual acceptance from the group, the more energy we muster up for ourselves to continue trusting our deepest thought and feelings to others. No longer do we take refuge in the numbed comfort of our isolating sadness. Now we walk upright and begin making choices on how we want to feel, think an believe.  We no longer live our lives in isolation and disconnected from others.  Now we join in the mutual  fray of battling depression with all our new friends on the broad road of healing.”

——————

SOURCES: Copyright(c) Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression. (2014) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 15-16.

Copyright(c) The Depressed Anonymous Workbook (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

VISIT THE STORE for more literature on the subjects of depression and the 12 steps of recovery.

 

IF YOU SERVE PEOPLE BREAKFAST IN BED, THEY’LL NEVER LEARN TO COOK THEMSELVES.

How to start a  Depressed Anonymous Mutual-Help group.

“Think “Mutual-Help” from the start.  Find a few others who share your interest in starting (not simply joining) a self-help group. To do this, first distribute some flyers or letters that specifically cite your interest in hearing from those who would be interested in “joining with others to help start” such a group. Consider including your first name and phone number. Xerox copies and post them at places you feel most appropriate, example., people whom you think would know others like yourself. You can also have a notice published in your local newspaper or church bulletin.  When, hopefully, you receive a response, discuss with the caller what the interests are, share your vision of what you like to see the group do, and finally ask if they would be willing to share the work with you for a specific period of time (e.g., a few months or so) to try to get the group off the ground…Once a couple of people have said yes, you have a “core group” or “steering committee”  — and you won’t have to do it alone.

It is much easier to start a group if the work is shared…if you don’t involve others in leadership and work from the very beginning you won’t get them later.  As one self-help group leader put it, “if you serve people breakfast in bed, they’ll never learn to cook for themselves.”  Lastly, consider obtaining the help of any professionals who may be sensitive to your needs and willing to assist you in your  efforts. They may be helpful in various ways, from providing needed referrals and information to locating resources and providing suggestions. Remember, everyone in the group is a leader.”

SOURCE: Copyright(c) Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression. (2015) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 81-82.

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

CONFESSIONS OF A SOCIOLOGIST: THE CONNECTION BETWEEN SPIRITUALITY AND DEPRESSION

David Karp, in his work Speaking of sadness: Depression, Disconnection, and the Meanings of Illness (1996)  confesses that in the middle of interviewing persons for this work  states, “I was initially puzzled by the number of respondents who spontaneously  spoke about the role of spirituality in their lives.  During the early stages of the data collection, however spirituality meant no more  or less to me than any of the large number of issues that were coming out of the interviews. At a certain point, though, enough people spoke about spirituality that I began routinely to ask everyone about it. Certainly there were many who had little to say, and some who claimed no interest in spirituality, but the question often elicited an outpouring of talk.  After 25 or so interviews, it seemed that my anticipated chapter on coping and adapting would have to pay at least some attention to the role of spirituality.” (p.190).

Karp was deeply impressed by what he calls the “courage and grace”  how some of his interviewees faced their own pain of depression. He says  he “left many interviews with a sense that spiritually engaged individuals were in touch with something important. ”  He concludes by saying  “These people possessed or knew something that I didn’t.” (pp. 190 -191).

I think most of you who are reading my posts know that I too am an advocate  of the  power of  spirituality in the recovery process for persons depressed. In the American culture and most probably in most Western cultures, where one’s lack of meaningful work and diminishing intimate relationships, or “double trouble” as a colleague of Karp,  Charles Derber points out, promotes a community of strangers, alone, isolated and disconnected.  He describes depression as the disease of disconnection.  Freud when asked what makes for human happiness he replied ” arbeiten  und  leben”. (work and love).

All the above is put before you, the reader, to continue to present to you how important  my own recovery from depression  continues  to this day because of my own spirituality dependent on my Higher Power, or the God of my understanding. In BELIEVING IS SEEING:15 WAYS TO LEAVE THE PRISON OF DEPRESSION (2014) I share how I believe that I am not alone, as I have other fellow travelers who will lead me around the ditches and the potholes of that old depressive life style that once ruled my thoughts and actions. Now I am on a personal mission of growth and recovery.” (p.13).

I still have my potholes, ditches and rough seas to maneuver around,. Thanks to a Power greater than myself— I pray and continue rowing to shore, and this Power as I understand it, has been getting me to that safe harbor of serenity and safety.