A dis-ease of the spirit-

 

In his voluminous work THE ANATOMY OF MELANCHOLIA first published in 1621, the  author traces the historical understanding of melancholia or depression as we know it today.  Already back in the 16th century this alchemist and physician rightly spoke about depression  being a disease of the spirit and that a spiritual solution need be sought for relief.

Paracelsus held the conviction that God has to be part of the healing as melancholia for him was a spiritual disease and so needed a spiritual cure. And now the insight and belief put forward by Paracelsus in the present time is being echoed in our own time by Bill W., co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous and all those who are availing themselves of the spirituality of the Twelve  Steps. All members of Twelve Step fellowships who are acknowledging  the importance of a belief in a power greater than themselves have the guiding star of hope and meaning in their daily lives.”

COMMENT

The experiencing  of those dark symptoms of depression and the hopelessness that they present, can best be understood as a painful dis-ease of the human spirit. The human spirit is filled with anxiety, a hollowness and a lack of purpose or meaning.  It is this dis-ease of the human spirit which  is the impetus   to seek  a remedy that will bring an equilibrium of meaning and purpose back into one’s fragmented life.

How often has David Karp, sociologist at Boston University writes about the  number of participants in his study of depression, who speak about the benefits of a spirituality in their quest for a remedy to their sadness. The author of Speaking of Sadness was surprised at how many of his interviewed  respondents  gave credence to a  spirituality of their own  and how it buoyed their spirits and  was a source of light and hope amidst the darkness.

Bill W., also depended on a Higher Power for help in  bringing sobriety into his own downward spiral of alcoholism  and saving his life.  He makes   no apologies for his belief in a Power greater than himself.   And like Paracelsus, as mentioned above,  saw that  the cure for melancholia, a  spiritual dis-ease,  as that of a faith in a Power greater than oneself.    As  stated in the 3rd Step of Depressed Anonymous  “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand God to be.”

For me personally, it was only after I had hit bottom with no where to go but up, that I admitted my life was out of control and I prayed to God to help me. That is when  I walked into a 12 Step Group meeting and found what I was looking for. Help and wholeness.

Hugh

 

 

SOURCES:   Copyright (c) I’ll do it when  I feel better. Hugh Smith (2016) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. pgs. 84-85.

Copyright (c) Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression (2017) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

Spiritual Kindergarten

 

“We are only operating a spiritual kindergarten in which people are  enabled to get over drinking and find the grace to go on living  to better effect. Each man’s theology  has to  be  his own quest, his own affair.”  Letter. 1954.

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“When the Big Book was being planned, some members thought that it ought to be Christian in the doctrinal sense. Others had no objection to the use of the word “God,” but wanted to avoid doctrinal issues. Spirituality, yes.  Religion, no. Still others wanted a psychological book, to lure the alcoholic in.  Once in,  he could take God or leave Him alone as he wished.

To the rest of us this was shocking, but happily we listened.  Our group conscience was at work to construct the most acceptable and effective book possible.

Every voice was playing its appointed part. Our atheists and agnostics widened our gateway so that all who suffer might pass through, regardless of their belief or lack of belief.”

A.A., Come of Age.

 

SURVIVAL IS TO MEET LIFE’S PROBLEMS HEAD ON!

AFFIRMATION

I am going to take a fearless and moral inventory of myself today and list on paper my strengths as well as my weaknesses, that is those characteristics in my life that might keep me fearful and depressed,

“Step Four and Five really have to be faced head-on if our depression is to go away. Steps Four and Five are all about cleaning house. We must square off with ourselves and begin the rooting out process that will in time, free us from our sadness and our identity as a depressed person. So often a person depressed is afraid, panic stricken really, in facing some issues that were never their fault in the first place.”

REFLECTION

I see so many people are liberated from their depression the moment they begin to look themselves in the eye and reflect on  their character defects. These persons are the ones who are not afraid to make a list of all the persons they have hurt by their isolating depression and by the thought that they are unacceptable to others and to themselves. By working Step Five which states  that “we admitted to God, ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” I am assured by another person’s acceptance of me that I will get through this time of pain and hurt.

Bill W., the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous had a spiritual awakening on night as he truly was at the lowest point in his life and begged God to help him. God’s love lit up the room for Bill and he was never the same after that. He was a changed man. I need to make restitution to my family, my friends, my spouse and to whomever for my withdrawing from life and hiding from my responsibilities. This is the work that is needed if I am to get free of the shackles of sadness.

MEDITATION

God, shine the light of your wisdom into our hearts so that you might help us find the way out of our depression and get on with living our  lives the way you would have us live them.  Our fears and anxieties are definitely not the way you would want us to live. You have shown us the way out of our misery by bringing us close to those who once were depressed, but now in recovery, are doing better.”

SOURCES: Copyright (c) Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for all members of 12 Step fellowships. Depressed Anonymous  Publications. Louisville. Page 224/ November 10th.

Now available in the KINDLE format. Check out our STORE for more information as how to order online or snail mail.

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

Our basic antidote for fear is a spiritual awakening!

 

 

Antidote: “A remedy to counteract a poison.” This is the definition as given by Webster’s dictionary. Fear is truly a poison in some ways and in others it is a gift. We need to fear only that which will keep us locked in the prison of depression. Sometimes our fears are of what tomorrow might bring or might be the fears from the past. One of the better antidotes to fear is trying to live, just for today. Today is all I have.

So often I hear others say that they have been depressed all their lives until – let me repeat- until they hear other stories as to how with work, time and belief in a power greater than  themselves that they did and are feeling better now.  I need to trust that once I have made my conscious decision to turn my life and will over to the care of God as I understand him, that my life will indeed begin to change.

“I am no longer alone in my suffering depression. I believe that by getting more active in my recovery that my life will begin to brighten up.”

“We of (AA) and  Depressed Anonymous find that our basic antidote for fear is a spiritual awakening.” Bill W.

 

SOURCES:

Copyright (c) Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 Step fellowship groups. Depressed  Anonymous Publications. Louisville. May  10. Page 95.

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

Copyright (c) I’ll do it when I feel better. (2013) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

 

I said to myself, “if I ignore it maybe it(depression)will go away.”

“There was a time when we ignored trouble, hoping it would go away. Or, in fear and in depression, we ran from it, but found it was still with us. Often, full of unreason, bitterness, and blame, we fought back. These mistaken attitudes, powered by alcohol, guaranteed our destruction, unless they were altered.

Then came AA (and DA. OA, NA,  Al-Anon etc). Here we learned that trouble was really a fact of life for everybody – a fact that had to be understood and dealt with. Surprisingly, we found that our troubles could, under God’s grace, be converted into unimagined blessings.

“Indeed, that was the essence of A.A. itself: trouble accepted, trouble squarely faced with calm courage, trouble lessened and often transcended. This was the A.A. story, and we became a part of it.  Such demonstrations became our stock in trade for the next sufferer.”

COMMENT: It was with my own experience with depression that I tried to deny that it was anything that could keep me from a life lived with hope and joy. I thought that if I just ignored it, like Bill W., stated so well above, it would just evaporate like the morning midst. Of course this just didn’t happen.

As I commented on this denial factor which is a big part of all addictions, I also came to believe that,  “well, what I am going through will surely pass. It isn’t so bad, really. I can put up with a little discomfort.”  Sorry. It didn’t work that way. And as I pointed out in   I’ll Do It when I feel Better  I said  ” we also learn that our depression is a defense and predictable and for some, depression is even come to be a comfort and as has been said before, at least one knows what they have with depression. And to change and risk removing this numbness is better not to be undertaken  because it’s better to know what one has than to risk getting something worse. Much like the example cited before of the debate within ourselves to go to the dentist for the toothache or just tough  it out and hope for the best.  We call this denial.” Page 17.

To examine more literature about depression and using the Twelve Steps in your personal recovery , please taker a look  at VISIT THE STORE here at our website.

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SOURCES:

1) As Bill sees it. Page 110.

2)  I’ll do it when I feel better. (2014)  Depressed  Anonymous Publications.                                  Louisville.

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

 

Our thought life will be on a higher plane…

 

“On awakening, let us think about the 24 hours ahead. We ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity and from dishonest or self-seeking motives.  Free of these, we can employ our mental faculties with assurance,  for God gave us brains to use.  Our thought life will be on a higher plane when our thinking begins to be cleared of wrong motives. If we have to determine which of two courses to take, we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought, or a decision. Then we can relax and take it easy, and we are often surprised how the right answers come after we have tried this for a while.

We usually conclude our meditation with a prayer that we be shown all through the day what our next step is to be, asking especially for freedom from damaging self-will.” Page 243 (As Bill Sees It).

And some more thoughts from our friend Bill W.

“In meditation, debate has no place. We rest quietly with the thoughts or prayers of spiritually centered people who understand, so that we may experience and learn. This is the state of being that so often discovers and deepens a conscious contact with God.” Page 108(As Bill Sees It).

I AM NO LONGER ASHAMED TO TALK ABOUT MY BEING DEPRESSED…

AFFIRMATION

I am no longer ashamed to talk about my being depressed; when I talk with other depressed persons I feel better.

” I used to be ashamed of my condition and didn’t talk about it. But nowadays I freely confess I am a depressive , and this has attracted other depressed people to me. Working with them has helped a great deal.”

(2) Bill W.,  Co-founder of AA.

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

I  know that the more I read the literature about the Twelve Steps and daily work my program, the more I am able to help myself grow out of this depression as Bill W.,  did shortly after he wrote the above piece.  So often alcoholism covers up depression so that the original cause of  the depression needs to be looked at.

MEDITATION

God, please help us through this day and help us work through these memories of shame that keep us depressed.  Let us truly believe that we can be free of our shame and live as a free person today.

COPYRIGHT(C) Higher Thoughts for Down days: 365 Daily Thoughts and Meditations for Twelve Step fellowship groups. (1999) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.  Higher thought for  June 24. Pages 126-127.

NOTE:   Because I had experienced depression myself,  this added a  healing assistance  to my encounters with clients who were depressed.  We could speak and understand each other.

WHEN THE STUDENT IS READY THE TEACHER APPEARS.

The following is an excerpt from Higher Thoughts for Down Days for June 17th.

AFFIRMATION

I will make a point of it today to trust that my Higher Power is going to restore me to sanity and wholeness, the more I let go of what I want and let it move along the way of what it wants for me.

“Actually we were fooling ourselves, for deep down in every man, woman and child is the fundamental idea of God. It may be obscured by calamity, by pomp, by worship of other things, but in some form it is there.  For faith in a Power greater than ourselves, and miraculous demonstration of that power in  human  lives are facts as old as man himself.” ( Bill W.)

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

Sometimes I have been brought to my knees by some calamity or some traumatic loss in my life only to find that in time, by admitting my defeat, I was instead raised up and I found hope. It is a mystery how the Higher Power works but I am certain  about this, namely, that deep down inside of me I believe that my conscious contact with my Higher  Power will bring me what I need when I need it.

The more I believe in the daily demonstration of the Higher Power, the more I place my trust in its ability to free me from all the memories that holds me captive in my isolation and aloneness.”

WHEN THE STUDENT IS READY THE TEACHER APPEARS!

BILL W. & DOROTHY ROWE & MARGIE W.

Three persons who made a big difference in my life and how they each  helped me deal with my own melancholia (depression).

First of all there is Bill W., the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, who by his own witness, presented to us the spiritual program of recovery that we know as the Twelve Steps. Not only have they given me personally  a daily step by step program of recovery to follow but helped me fashion a program of recovery for persons depressed using the same spiritual program of recovery. Bill W., makes available through the Steps to any and all who seek a way out of their attachments to whatever is slowly  destroying their lives.

And then there is Dr. Dorothy Rowe, PH.D., a psychologist who has written many great books on depression and how to live one’s life. In 1985, a member of our newly formed Depressed Anonymous group gave me a copy of her book Depression: The way out of your prison. (1983, 1996) Second Edition. Routledge, London and New York. It was this book that opened my eyes and my mind to beliefs about depression that has accompanied me through my encounters with persons with depression in my own clinical practice, as well as  in the formation of  all the Depressed Anonymous  groups  focused and centered on the Twelve Steps. Not only have she and Bill W., been my mentors in this life long effort of mine, but both have given me keys that not only have released me from my own prison of depression, but persons everywhere have their lives back, plus a belief in a Higher Power,  thanks to these two pioneers.

Then there is Margie W., a charter member of Depressed Anonymous (whose account  appears in Depressed Anonymous in the Personal Stories section of our book). She states  “I can’t really remember for sure how I became involved in Depressed Anonymous. I believe a co-worker told me about a professor at the University of Evansville who had students who were helping people in the psychology field and wanted to know if I would be a volunteer to help start this new self help group. And it was free! What did I have to lose? I had seen Doctors, took their prescribed drugs and still ended up on the same old merry-go-round of ups and downs  and “hangovers” from the drugs. I joined a small group at first. We talked, set weekly goals, took short walks, visited with friends or enjoyed a cup of coffee to relax. We had to do something for ourselves. I had to learn to be good to myself, instead of nurturing  everyone else. I found a good doctor who gave me a lot of good advice about “pampering ” myself more. It hadn’t been easy.  I’ve read self help books, positive thinking books and worked hard on my way of thinking for years. I’m a natural born worrier, so things always seemed worse than they really were.  “(I) feel like I have something to offer the group. Hope is the word. I finally got above the edge of the rut that I could barely peer over for years. I know others  can do it too. Don’t give up. It’s a lot of hard work, but it can be done. I know. I was there.” Depressed Anonymous, (2011)  Third Edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville Kentucky.

SPIRITUALITY AND DEPRESSION AND THE POWER GREATER THAN OURSELVES.

The following discussion about depression and spirituality has been excerpted from a recent DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS PUBLICATIONS (2013)  titled I’LL DO IT WHEN I FEEL BETTER. ( 2nd edition )Smith, Hugh.  Louisville, KY  40217. (p.86-87).

Bob P., a charter member of Depressed Anonymous shares his thoughts on the subject of SPIRITUALITY AND DEPRESSION.

Spirituality involves the recognition and acceptance of a Higher Power beyond your own will and intelligence, with whom you can have a relationship. The Higher Power can provide you with an experience of joy, security , peace of mind, and guidance that goes beyond what is possible in the absence of the conviction that such a power exists. Spirituality can be seen as being distinct from religion. Different world religions have proposed various doctrines and belief systems about the nature of a Higher Power and humanity’s relationship to it.  Spirituality, on the other hand refers to the common experience behind these various points  of view – an experience involving the awareness of a relationship with something that transcends your personal self as well as the humane order of thinking.

The ‘something” has been given various names –“God being the most popular in Western society  — and is defined in ways too numerous to count.  You can choose to define what that means to yourself in whatever way feels most appropriate to you.  Your own sense of Higher Power can be as abstract as cosmic consciousness or as down to earth as the  beauty of the oceans and the mountains. Even if you consider yourself a non-believer,  you may get a sense of inspiration from taking a walk in the forest or contemplating a beautiful sunset or a small child’s smile may give you a special sense of joy.  Whatever inspires to and takes you beyond yourself into a larger perspective is the direction of what is referred here as your Higher Power. ”

In the following quotation, Bill W.,  gives uis his concept of God.  By doing so he has basically reframed all of our understanding of God.

When therefore, we speak to you of God, we mean your own conception of God. This applies too, to others spiritual expressions, which you may find in this book (Alcoholics Anonymous). Do not let any prejudices you may have against spiritual terms deter you from honestly asking yourself what they mean to you? At the start,  this was all we need to commence spiritual growth, to affect our first conscious relation with God, as we understand him. Afterward  we found ourselves accepting many things, which often seemed entirely out of reach. That was growth, but if we wished to grow we had to begin somewhere. So we used  our own conception, however limited it was.

We had to ask ourselves but one short question: Do I now believe, or am I even willing to believe, that there is a power greater than myself?  (see, BELIEVING IS SEEEING: 15 WAYS TO LEAVE THE PRISON OF DEPRESSION. DAP, (2114)  Louisville, KY 40217.) As soon a person can say that he or she does believe or is willing to believe, we emphatically assure him or her that they are on their way. It has been  repeated proven among us that upon this  simple cornerstone a wonderfully effective spiritual structure can be built.”

For literature, focused  on the subject of Depression and the  12 Steps of Depressed Anonymous, please visit our store.

We will continue our discussion about depression and spirituality in the posts to follow. Please, stay tuned. Your comments are always appreciated.