Every day I have one word that travels with me throughout the day. Today that word is Acceptance. We admitted that we were powerless over depression and that our lives had become unmanageable.
Presently, a friend is struggling to find a way to help another friend who needs to be in treatment. The problem is that her friend refuses to accept the fact that she needs help. Her lack of acceptance that she needs help reminds us again that there is nothing that we can do except to “let go” and keep the focus on our own recovery. Let them know there is a Depressed Anonymous group that they could attend which could be of help.
In the meantime, I refer to the support that I receive today in the Depressed Anonymous 12 Step recovery program. I continue to believe that many families and friends want to “fix” whatever is wrong with their depressed loved one. They have no clue of the nature of depression and how immobilizing it is.
My own acceptance of not being able to “fix” someone brings home to me that I am not God. Because I am one of many who believe that they can only “fix” themselves and no one else, this acceptance is the starting point of our recovery. The main thrust of my wanting to produce the 12 Step recovery program of Dep-Anon, for families and friends of the depressed came from my acceptance that I had to “let go” and let God “untangle” something I could not fix. The only thing or person that I could change is myself. That is the power of admitting that I was depressed. This is the message that I want to give to the families and friends of the depressed. They need to gather family members together, keep the focus on themselves, and by putting the Steps into action in their own lives find the peace that they are looking for in their lives.
The following message is for a family who wants to help a depressed family member or friend.
The main idea of Step One is that we are at the point where we finally “get it” that our efforts to change our loved one will always fail. Our main thrust is to be supportive, non-judgmental, and uncritical. We are powerless over them and their behaviors. Our fellowship will now help us understand the nature of depression while giving us the critical and essential tools for taking care of ourselves. We begin to seek the support of other family members through the Dep-Anon fellowship and learn as much as we can about depression.
- (C) Dep-Anon, A 12 Step Recovery Program for families and friends of the depressed. (2021) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. Page 17.
- (C) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd EDITION (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.
Big news flash everyone – I have depression. Given that fact I can’t be held responsible for my first thought. My first thought more often than not is dark, depressive, critical, judgmental and self-serving. I’ve had to accept that my brain is broken and this is its default. I forgive myself for my first thought. Learn to forgive yourself for your first thought because your brain could be broken too.
Instead focus on your second thought and your first action. What am I choosing to focus on? Am I embracing an attitude of gratitude or am I stuck in a mentality of lack? You can choose what you focus on. That first thought – you are powerless over that. Let the judgment go. Am I focusing on the spiritual aspects of the program? Am I seeking a connection, a communion, with the God of my understanding? Am I choosing to be humble, or am I stuck in false pride?
Regarding my first action – am I taking one step closer to my goal of being a happy and serene person? (pardon the pun there) Or am I taking another step closer to the deep pit of depression? Am I choosing to be self-serving, or am I choosing to act in service of others? Service can be as simple as holding the door open for someone. A great way of doing service is listening to another with compassion and without judgment.
As a depressive and an addict I can’t be held responsible for my first thought. Being in recovery though means I am responsible for my second thought and my first action.
I urge you to forgive yourself for your first thought. Put focus and intention on your second thought and your first action. It will work, if you work it!
Yours in recovery, Bill R
Throughout my life, different things have been my Higher Power. A certain job that I loved and prioritized above all else, or the person I was dating. When I was in active addiction, different substances were a higher power. Before recovery, the looming black cloud of deep depression was a higher power.
Once I got into recovery and the steps, I was encouraged to find a true Higher Power, or God of my understanding – a Power greater than myself that could restore me to sanity. In other words, Step 2. I can honestly say that after many months of praying and working the steps, this Power relieved me of the obsession to drink and helped me to recover from the hopeless dark pit of deep depression.
My challenge today, now that I am not in that deep dark hole of depression, is to keep my Higher Power the highest priority in my life. For example, I recently started a short term job in a field that I am very passionate about. It has been very demanding and time consuming, and I’m finding that this position is consuming my thoughts, actions, and life. When I talked to my sponsor about this, she asked “So, has this job has become your Higher Power?” I realized she was right! Where was God in my life? In my thoughts? How can I be working Step 3 if I am not cognizant of my Higher Power and turning my will and my life over to His care? I realized this job had become my priority in life, instead of my Higher Power and my recovery. I am grateful for this reminder, so that I can get back on track. I know that when I don’t place my Higher Power and my recovery first in my life, I start to slip back into old thinking patterns and old behaviors, which for me will lead me back into depression.
Thank you, God, that You are always there for me, ready and willing to help me, no matter how many times I stray.
The following is an account of how Bill, a member of Depressed Anonymous, shares his story of recovery. There could be a possibility that his story might be your own story. Part of Bill’s story is reprinted here. Let’s see what Bill has to say. (His story is part of a series of personal accounts illustrating the life changes of those attending who are members of Depressed Anonymous).
I became an active member of Depressed Anonymous after seeing my counselor for three or four months. I never knew that I was depressed. I never understood. I know that I needed to make changes in my life. Many depressed people have trouble, namely, not being able to admit that something is truly wrong in their lives and that they need to change.
…It started after the breakup with a girlfriend. I was devastated. I had good friends at work. I am well educated with two degrees after my name, but I wasn’t fulfilled. My world was falling apart. I had two jobs. I lost my girl. I wanted to be left alone. The burden was too real. I didn’t want to get up in the morning. I just wanted to be left alone to be isolated and bored. It was tough. I was nasty and mean. I sometimes still behave like this. I get angry and I get frustrated and get upset with myself.
Gradually by attending the DA meetings Bill had this to say:
We were a small group at first. In this group, we all had a story, and we had to let it out. I thought that no one could be in as bad shape as I was in. I thought everyone was perfectly happy. We started the Depressed Anonymous group about a year ago. We took one step at a time.
Bill shares his final thoughts with us that:
… this is my short story. I was down and I was out. I really couldn’t care at one time if I lived or died. Now I do. It really didn’t matter. I met a great woman and decided to get married. I couldn’t have done it without Depressed Anonymous. It’s a wonderful experience. I’m learning how to take care of myself. I met a lot of new friends at Depressed Anonymous. It takes time to change. It may not work for everyone. But without Depressed Anonymous, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
I can say that the above is true for me as well.
You can read the entire account of Bill’s compelling recovery in Depressed Anonymous, 2011, THIRD EDITION. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Ky. Pages 150-151.
I live in the United States and today we celebrate our freedom. We are all captives of something or someone. Some of us are captives to addiction: drugs, alcohol, or some behavior. Many of us here have been captives of anxiety and depression. Many people are trapped in consumerism.
There is however a way out. Apply spiritual disciplines to your life, you will be surprised by the results. We are all trying to find our way to the God of our understanding. Some of us go down the side roads of addiction and depression, but you don’t have to continue down that route. Get in communion with the God of your understanding.
If you’ve been burned by past interactions with religion – theory and doctrine, or by people who misinterpreted God’s message I have a suggestion for you. Explore the mystical sects of the religion of your youth. Islam has the Sufi’s, if you’re Christian read the works of Thomas Merton, or Saint John of the Cross. The mystics all talk about experiencing the presence of God in your life. Explore.
You have a choice: you can either be a host to God, or a hostage to self. Choose to be free!
I agree. Be yourself. Who else can we be? That is a great question. Oscar Wilde got it right. How many times do you and I try to be something that we are not?
Many times, in the past we may have tried to please everyone. We lived our life – well, not really, as much of our living depended on other’s approval of what we said and did. Other people’s opinion of us was more important than our own. Remember the old saying that “Other people were living in our head rent free!” How true. We always depended on others to tell us how we felt. Is this not insane?
Yes, it is!
Today is different for those of us who have gradually erected boundaries on our behaviors and thinking about ourselves – not some other person’s opinion of us. I gradually became myself the more I interacted with those persons who accepted me the way I am. They didn’t attempt to change me. They laid out for me a plan to be myself. That plan is the Twelve Steps of Depressed Anonymous in which I am able to identify my strong points and work on my defects of character. The virtual DA meetings plus face-to-face meetings with people like myself, continue to help me grow and thrive and be myself.
Yes, Oscar was right, that “everyone else is taken”. Why continue to be someone else when being yourself is authentic “you.”
The Depressed Anonymous fellowship grows authentic relationships where you can be yourself, today, tomorrow, and the next day.
A few years back I was driving across a deserted stretch of highway in New Mexico. I noticed that my gas gauge showed that I was getting low on fuel. As I had no idea where the next gas station would be I began taking notice of signs, hoping to find a place to get gas. Having never traveled on this stretch of road before I was starting to get anxious. I didn’t want to run out of gas out here in the desert.
It wasn’t long until I could spot a small building a few hundred yards ahead. Lucky for ne, it was a gas station.I knew that I didn’t want to tempt fate, so I filled up my tank. I still had no idea where I was and so I asked the attendant where I was. He turned around and pointed to a large map on the wall. All the map showed was a long horizontal line across the face of the map. In the middle of the map there was a large X placed over the stretch of the road indicating YOU ARE HERE. My only problem was that I didn’t know where “here” was. My attendant was a man of few words and he said the next town was about an hour down the road. The map didn’t tell me much.
Just like many of us who are looking for some kind of support for our own lives, all we know is that a group called Depressed Anonymous was meeting today. This is the reason why you are here. We showed up today because our lives had come to a standstill. We were starting to feel there was no where to go. The man who is lost in the desert and running out of gas with no hope, can be a metaphor for all of our own lives. And at our first meeting of Depressed Anonymous today we don’t know what to expect – only that I am here and you are here. Let our recovery begin.
Hugh, for the fellowship.
I am getting healthier the more I realize that I don’t have to feel the way that I feel. I have the option to feel content and even smile today if I so desire. I will act like I want to smile again even though I don’t feel like smiling.
“If you have made yourself a martyr to your unappreciative family, remember the principle of partial reinforcement and apply it to your family. If you are always at their beck and call trying to meet their every demand, they will not appreciate you, but once they see that they cannot rely on you to to meet their demands, they will appreciate what you do for them.” (Breaking the Bonds, D. Rowe.Fontana, 1991).
i Know that so often those who are codependent and live all the time in everyone else’s feelings need to remember that the real maturity and happiness lies in being there for me — not for everyone else. I think that reflection points out the fact that I need to reinforce my own worth by going to DA meetings, actively getting involved with my own recovery over anything and everyone else. I am going to begin to be a pleasant person. I will want to learn how to be pleasant to myself.
Now is the time and this is the program where I start to detach from other people’s opinion of myself and start to reflect where I start to detach from those people’s opinions of myself and start to reflect on my own opinion of myself. When I am depressed, I know that I haven’t been able to get angry, not to forgive anyone, much less forgive myself. I feel cheerless. I meet my own demands and continue to work the steps so as to get in touch with what I need to do to reinforce those positive concepts that I am forming about myself. I need to get prepared for a new me today.
“We are now on a different basis: the basis of trusting and relying upon God, our Higher Power. We trust an infinite God rather than our finite selves. Just to the extent that we do as we think he would have us do, and humbly rely on him, does he enable us to match calamity with serenity.” (As Bill sees it.p.265).
When we gradually work our way to the real self we get closer to the God who made us.
Copyright(c) Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. Hugh Smith. Pages 14-15.
Depressed and feeling alone? This is what many of us have felt when a combination of the many symptoms of depression shackled us physically and put our mind in park.
Some of us felt that there must be a way out of the pain of depression, but as yet were unable to find what might help us. But this feeling changed once I came into the fellowship of Depressed Anonymous, our 12 Step program of recovery. When I was asked if I would like to share with others my own path of recovery I heartily agreed. Here is my story.
I am sharing my story here to give others a chance to read what happens when we land in this circle of friendship with its healing acceptance and support.
After ten years of repeated meetings with the depressed of Depressed Anonymous meetings, it’s clear that that the meetings create a secure base for those who in their childhood had neither kindness nor the life giving warmth and affection of a loving family.
People who keep coming back to Depressed Anonymous continue to grow and become aware of the inner change taking place, week after week, as they find not only attention to their story, but find that they are loved and and cared for at the same time. Possibly for the first time they find that they look forward to each weekly meeting and become attached to the positive feelings that emerge inside themselves as they continue to share the story of their pain. In time they share how their week is suddenly being filled with more good days than bad. It also becomes obvious to the participant that childhood behavior and experiences are carried right on into adult life. Trusting is such a hazard for the depressed, because every person is different. You can’t trust your environment because it could suddenly shift and you would be without a certainty that you were bad and worthless. The meetings gradually present to you an opportunity to be someone worthwhile and valued. Your sharing and risking information about yourself begins the construction of a new and secure you. The DA group becomes for the first time in your life a very secure and stable environment where you can share, trust and grow.
Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous, THIRD EDITION. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. Page 162-163. (Personal stories: #25. Depressed Anonymous provides a secure (love and acceptance) base for those who never experienced love nor support growing up.
To read more stories of inspiration (Depressed Anonymous, THIRD EDITION. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY. Please click onto the Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore at www.depressedanon.com. Literature can be ordered online. Ebooks are also available.
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.