” In order to make a good inventory I need to go to my roots and discover how I came to be the person that I am today. As the saying goes, “We are our parents.”
When we were small we “swallowed” our parents, meaning “swallowed” their main personality characteristics. Even today parents, grandparents, a stepparent, or guardian are all now part of our personality — for good or for ill. For myself to escape from my depression I need to discover how I might have received certain messages about myself from these adults who surrounded me as a helpless infant and child. All of us have received messages as children — some helpful and others not so helpful. Some messages directed toward us might have made us feel worthless because we got the message that we could never do anything to please others. ”
See FAMILY OF ORIGIN in THE DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS WORKBOOK (P.29) Please visit the store at DA website for more information.
It has been said that the make-up of one’s personality is a mix of the personal, the biological and the environmental. As for our parents, so much of who we are can be traced back to early childhood beliefs about ourselves. When we t reflect on early childhood experiences are there any messages about ourselves that come to mind presently. These messages could be helpful to our development or not so helpful. Write down in your Workbook some of these reflections.
ALL OR NOTHING
“During acute depression, avoid trying to set your whole life in order all at once. If you take on assignments so heavy that you are sure to fail in them at the moment, then you are allowing yourself to be tricked by your unconscious. Thus you will continue to make sure of your failure, and when it comes you will have another alibi for still more retreat into depression.
“in short, the ‘:all or nothing’ attitude is a most destructive one. It is best to begin with whatever the irreducible minimums of activity are. Then work for an enlargement of these –day by day. Don’t be disconcerted by setbacks – just start over.” Bill W., As Bill Sees it. (p.308)
I know about this “all or nothing ” experience. It was really made manifest in my daily study of the Twelve Steps and writing down my thoughts in my journal. Now I use the HOME STUDY PROGRAM, which lets me go at my own speed and examine my own life in relationship to the Steps as spelled out in the Depressed Anonymous Manual and with questions asked in the Depressed Anonymous Workbook. Together, these really have helped me focus on one piece of the puzzle at a time. When I first entered the Twelve Step fellowship I wanted to devour everything there was to know about addictions in one big gulp. Gradually I learned that if I took my time, read the literature and continued to use Workbook and Manual one day at a time, that my life began to have that promised serenity and a hope that continues to this day.
“I find the insights of Bill W., to be at the cutting edge of whether or not a person depressed gets better or just simply gets., that is, gets more isolated and disconnected from life. Many hurting folks come to Depressed Anonymous with the mistaken belief that they are coming to a class; while there, someone will teach them about how to quickly get out of their depression. They want a quick fix and then get right back to living the way they used to – never realizing that they have to do some work on themselves if they indeed want to stay free of depression…” DEPRESSED ONCE – NOT TWICE.
For myself, I have found a way out of my pain. As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, it’s not complicated. I found a program that is neither hit nor miss. It is what you choose to make it. It is a steady ascent, if you will, into a life of sanity.The program of recovery lets you start at A and go all the way to Z. It persistently confronts you with yourself, your own pain and a way to relieve yourself of that pain–one day at a time. One step at a time. No need to rush. No need to hurry. We are now operating in God’s time. The Twelve Steps of recovery, based on Spiritual principles, is a map that can lead you out of the wilderness of doubt, anxiety and fear. I know. Been there. Done that. And, almost immediately following the admission that I need help in the 1st Step, we read in the 2nd Step of Depressed Anonymous, that we “came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” As it say in the AA Big Book, God either is, or He isn’t. What was our choice to be?” This Power is the God of your understanding. That isn’t complicated is it?
In the latest publication of Depressed Anonymous we read in Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression which states in the 5th Statement of Belief that we want to “Remember that an oak tree was once an acorn –recovery begins by taking one step at a time and accepting responsibility for moving from depression into peace and serenity.”
For a personal home study program to compliment your group work you can use the Depressed Anonymous Workbook and the Depressed Anonymous Manual. You’ll be glad that you did!
“The faith of my Sunday school days was gone, and the “god of my understanding” was far off. (But not so far as it turned out). It stretched me to even imagine ” a power, a strength, and I became unwilling to take this route. I wasn’t ready to take on God yet.
However, God was ready to take me on, for in my ignorance I’d done about all AA (We could add DA here. Editor) asks — I had become willing. And this is how he did it. In some casual reading about seeds, this statement caught my attention: ” Science can construct a seed identical to a natural seed in every detail but one –science’s seed will not germinate.” The words seemed to leap from the page. They demanded answers. What is the missing ingredient in the man made seeds? Is it some dimension I don’t know about? Is it in everything? Even people? And then the big question. Who is in charge here, anyway?
Backed into a corner finally, by a logic greater than my ego, I conceded. Too many miracles, too much confidence, and too much evidence of a power greater than myself all around me left me defenseless. and in awe. I surrendered. And the power wasted no time in reinforcing my belief with these words from the Big Book: “We found that as soon we were able to lay aside prejudice and express even a willingness to believe in a power greater than ourselves, we commenced to get results, even though it was impossible for any of us to fully define or comprehend that Power, which is God…
He is always there if I but look, feel and want him to be; my conscious contact is dependent upon my being willing.
My personal thought about this passage is that it took a complete deflation of my ego before I said “I give up.” My life was in ruins and I had nowhere to go. No one had an answer–not even my church fellowship. (That came back in spades later). But who was able to help–it was that Twelve Step group who said that they believed in this Power that was truly greater than the booze, depression, gambling–insert your own addiction here–and you know what, they were right. That was more than 30 years ago. The seed that was planted by these Steps has now produced in my life that is lived one day at a time.
SOURCE: The Depressed Anonymous Workbook, Depressed Anonymous Publications. (Question 11.11 in STEP ELEVEN SECTION. Louisville, KY 40217.
Yes, what we believe about ourselves can and does make all the difference in the world. Yesterday we were sharing how certain people, places, situations and things have had power over our lives. Even those earlier and long forgotten relationships with significant others are still kicking around in our psyche’s.
As we continue to work through these relationships and attitudes about ourselves (less than) the following quote from our Depressed Anonymous Workbook says it best:
” We have given ourselves over to the belief that this growing feeling of helplessness is what must govern our lives, moods and behavior. We have given it license to run roughshod over every part of our life and over our relationships. Most people can’t see inside us and discover the pain that makes up every waking moment. For the most part we are able to hide how miserable we feel.” Depressed Anonymous Workbook, Step 2/ Page 12.
What power have you given over to others that you are willing to reclaim? And speaking of power–what Power greater than yourself are you able to turn to when you feel hopeless and helpless? And this power, has it been able to help you feel more in control of your life? Just some things to ponder today.
“We admitted that we were powerless over depression and that our life was unmanageable.”
Granted this is not the most happiest of thoughts to read as we get going this day. But you know what? It’s at this point in your life that something, some attitude change is going to give you courage to take back control over your life. Years ago when I was doing a project for my degree work I discovered, (like I didn’t know it by my own life experiences) that when a person feels they have control over their life and life’s circumstances that their symptoms of depression start to disappear. So, is this a fact or is it something somebody just told me, without any foundation in fact. The truth of the matter is, that when I felt most helpless and hopeless and my life was falling apart, I had no control. It was literally the feeling of sliding down that slippery slope. I actually felt at that moment like my life was truly spinning out of control. I can even remember the place, the time of day when it happened. That was in 1985. I was completely powerless. Helpless. All alone in my pit of isolation. Alone with my secret. I looked the same. No one knew the disabling effect this paralyzing had in my life. But I knew. That was the important issue here. I knew. I felt the total pain of the isolation.
And now these many years latter, I still use the Steps for CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT. Back to Step One where we say we “admitted…” In our Workbook it states that “But what good is it to admit that our depression has made us feel powerless? I already know what you might say? That is why I have spent thousands of dollars on hospitals, doctors, counselors and drugs!” But really for a person to admit that they are powerless is what gives us new power –paradoxically. It’s like in the letting go of a death grip on our continued sadness that makes the sadness gradually wither and die.. But somehow – again I don’t know how it all works –when I say I am depressed, deflated, and down and have the 12 Steps and the fellowship at my side there is a small ray of lite starting to shine in my mind and heart. It’s like saying I’ve had it this way all my life —depressed and isolated- now I’ll try it your way.”
Here is the next question that can help clarify some of your thinking today.
One of the major ways people help build the walls of depression is to believe the following statement: “Since bad things happened to me in the past, bad thing are bound to happen to me in the future. ” Today, reflect, be aware of your own feelings, write down on paper your response, then get motivated to do something now, today. Do something which will motivate you to move and perform an activity that you can achieve just today. You are building a future one day at a time. Keep it simple!
We all enjoy taking part in quizzes and surveys. At least I do. It’s pretty much a challenge to see how much we know or don’t know. By doing the quiz we possibly learn just a little bit more about whatever the subject may be, even though we might not answer all the questions correctly. In a certain fashion we have clarified a bit of our thinking about a certain subject.
Clarification of thought is a most difficult process when It comes to a mind swallowed up by depression, is confused, darkened with fog and just extremely exhausted. Many of us wanted to think our way out of depression, as if our will power could push open that prison door which continued to keep us locked up. Will power is useless initially. What we do need is a fairly straight forward and simple approach to getting at the genesis of our sadness. Along the way of the clarification process we find out and discover more of who we are, how we got to be where we are and what to do now that we know what we got and how we got here. For one, I don’t believe that that paralyzing feeling of melancholia just drops out of the sky and hits me on the head and knocks me down. So, I start with where I believe it all gets started. The pain is inside of me so I have to start there!
After getting some physical stamina back into my life I began to ask myself some questions–each as it pertains to the 12 Steps of Depressed Anonymous. I used a process which I called the clarification of thought process. How I was thinking about myself and speaking to myself needed to be examined to see how much of my thinking got me to where I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning.
Today, if you would like to join with me, I will, pose a few questions about your own experience with depression and then you can evaluate how that affects your life today.
1. When you feel depressed what do you say to yourself?
2. What action or behavior do you do when you feel this way?
3. Does it promote more isolation or being more connected?
We are using the Depressed Anonymous Workbook to help us work through the questions that will help us all clarify our thinking and thus gradually free us from the mystery of what keeps us in bondage. Continue your program of recovery using the Clarification of thought process and you will find a key that will present to you the ” courage to change what you can.”
The car I drive is a manual shift (stick) and has 5 gears. I like the stick shift better than automatic–it seems that I can feel the power of the engine when I go from one gear to the next.
When I bought an older Honda this last month, I made sure it was a shift. I gave it a test drive and the gears shifted smoothly from one gear to the next. I bought the vehicle.
How does this Test drive idea apply to depression? I’m glad you asked. Many times people when they come to a Depressed Anonymous meeting for the first time–it’s similar to test driving a car. They want to check out how many miles the car gets to a liter/gal of gas. Like, they want to know if this group will give them all that it promises . Is there a warranty with the group? Well, as a matter of fact there are. On page 109 in the Depressed Anonymous book the warranty itemizes everything that is yours. You will see them as the Promises of what can happen if you work the recovery program as outlined in our manual. I guess you would call the Depressed Anonymous book our manual. In fact, it has been written by persons who test drove the program and found it helped propel them into a life of healing and a fellowship of those many others who found it did what it promised. It always put them on the road.
When I was setting up Depressed Anonymous, a spiritual program of recovery in a State Prison a number of years back, one of the members of the group told us that he didn’t believe in God. He had been test driving the program and discovered that Step Two, (Gear 2?) “came to believe that a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity.” “Well,” he said his “Higher Power was his Prison DA group.” This is the engine that gave him the most mileage. In fact, after test driving it for weeks it was just what he was looking for–a trust worthy vehicle that would take him to the end of his journey–one day at a time. This group was the only engine with a warranty that was good all day, every day, and was good for the life of the engine. Since everyone in the group were all affected by depression, or the same engine problems they could speak to each other in the same language. No one was alone and isolated. The toolbox was there for each of the group and all of them had engines that were humming because they were all familiar with each of the gears and knew how to keep learning more about how all the gears (steps) were to work together.
Sign up today if you would like to test drive our vehicle of tested quality. We have everything you would like to know about our vehicle. Keep in touch. There is always a “pit crew” standing by to offer help.
Today, we can look at the Motivating Stage –One of the Four. We have talked about the first stage, namely that of just being Aware. And in the context of BLAMING ourselves, others or God, we have made ourselves aware of a character defect where blaming others works against our self. It is in the Aware stage that we realize that “something is really wrong with me” as David Karp points out in his insightful book Speaking of Sadness. I know the feeling. I knew that I couldn’t just stay in bed but had to do something to get rid of that all encompassing fatigue as well as reduce the tremors in my limbs and eliminate that horrible jittery feeling in my gut. This led me to make a decision –to get motivated— hoping against hope that I wasn’t losing my mind. I wasn’t going crazy.
In the Motivating Stage we are using our awareness to show us how our negative thinking and talking to ourselves has helped continue our sadness. It’s like we have a “wake-up” call telling us how all this negative and emotion laden self talk is making us depressed. And now I am making up my mind to change the way I talk to myself as well as motivate myself to follow the spiritual program of recovery–step by step. I also am trying to live in the present. All I have is just this 24 hours. This Motivating Stage prepares me to move to the DOING stage. I will do all it takes to quit the BLAME game and gradually accept responsibility for my life.
MOVE THE BODY AND THE MIND WILL FOLLOW!