Depression is a process addiction, just as alcoholism is a substance addiction.
A process addiction is when a person is addicted to a particular behavior. When we speak about one addiction, like the process addiction of depression, we can include them all. We are learning that the Twelve Step program of recovery can be used to overcome negative thinking and compulsive/addictive behavior for the person who sincerely wants to get emotionally, physically and spiritually healthy.
Our Depressed Anonymous fellowship is based on a hope that no matter how bad we feel, no matter how isolated we are, or how painful we feel, we do recover.
We discover that all our negative thinking, feeling and behaviors will no longer keep us captive, isolated and in the prison of our depression. We gradually begin to change the way we think and feel, learning how to motivate ourselves, using the Spiritual principles of the Twelve Steps, and begin to get active in our own recovery. Motivation follows action!
The main positive effect of making the Steps an integral part of our daily Lives is that people can come together and find the support of their Depressed Anonymous fellowship. They in turn will find the emotional nurturing acceptance of their group and learn the social skills that can help them gradually enter life again; with hope and a heightened spirit. Once people realize that they are not alone and that they hope that they too will feel better. The beauty of a self-help group is that a person feels acceptance from the group. No one is there to tell them to “snap out of it” or that depression is all in your mind.
Finally, we see our closed system of depression, with its negative addictive thinking, feelings of despair, coupled with those behaviors which keep us afraid and anxious, gradually are being dismantled. We discover that we have choices. We don’t have to stay isolated. Our positive thinking begins to show us a way out of a system that has had us bullied into submission. Our minds are now processing hope and possibilities for a new life of freedom.
Hugh S., for the fellowship
When I find myself drifting back into the pit (which is where I am at the moment) I need to go back to the beginning of recovery. Steps 1, 2, 3 and repeat. One, two, three like the waltz. Lather, rinse, repeat.
The first 3 steps can be summed up as follows:
- I can’t.
- He can.
- Trust Him.
A great many things, including my depression, are beyond my direct control. I don’t control the outcome – that is in God’s hands. I am responsible for the legwork. I need to do the work of recovery. I want to do the work of recovery. I don’t want to drift closer to the pit because if I don’t stop the backslide it will be that much harder to get out of it.
- I admit that I am powerless over depression. When I am on autopilot my life becomes unmanageable.
- I believe that a Higher Power exists and they can restore me to sanity. I have to work on my feelings of being unworthy of being saved.
- I turn my life over to the care of my Higher Power. This is not one and done. I’m human and I will take my will back. That is only a problem if I don’t surrender once again. To surrender is to win.
Practice the recovery waltz. Become so accustomed to it that it becomes a good habit. You are worthy of love and healing, but you must do the work of the steps to feel that love and healing. I wish you well.
Yours in recovery, Bill R
The topic of victim hood has come up several times in different meetings I’ve attended. There is some toxic self help out there that states that no one is a victim. I firmly do not believe that statement.
Do people inflict pain upon one another? Yes they do, sometimes that hurt is intentional, and sometimes it is not intentional. So I believe that victims exist in the world.
The problem for us as depressed people is not that we have been victimized – the problem is when we identify as being a victim. A better question to ask is:
Have I been victimized? (notice past tense here)
It’s when we make being a victim as our main identity that it becomes a problem.
I choose NOT to say “I suffer from depression” because then I identify with suffering from depression. I’m not denying that I’m often visited by the symptoms of depression. What I choose to do is instead focus on healing and recovery. “I am recovering from depression” is a much better and healthier statement for me. It points me in the direction of healing and hope.
Focus on hope and healing as that is the way out of depression.
Yours in recovery, Bill R
At a recent meeting we were reading from the Depressed Anonymous literature and the topic of being addicted to sadness came up. There were several people in the meeting who bristled at the idea of sadness being an addiction. Is depression really an addiction to sadness?
Instead of answering that question directly I think it would be helpful to list some common characteristics of any addiction.
- It’s an unhealthy coping mechanism for life’s ills.
- It worked for a while but now it no longer works.
- It has made your life unmanageable.
- It is a disease that tells you that you don’t have a disease.
- You lie about how often you do this drug/behavior.
- You think about it most, if not all, of the time.
- You have continuously done this drug/behavior even though it has done great harm to you and loved ones.
- It may have caused you to be fired from a job.
- It may have caused you to be admitted to a hospital/mental institution.
- It may have caused you to be arrested.
- It may have caused financial harm in your life.
Any addiction, whether it is alcohol, drugs, gambling, depression doesn’t have to meet all of these characteristics. Like the Jeff Foxworthy “You might be a redneck if…” jokes you might be addicted to sadness if say 5 or more of those characteristics are true.
Something doesn’t need to exactly match the medical definition of chemical dependence or physical dependence to be described as an addiction. Let go of your current belief on what is and is not an addiction. Look at the characteristics above and rate your depression against them. The magic number may not be 5. It could be 4 or 6 or whatever makes sense to you. Try it on for size. You may be able to let go of your skepticism.
Yours in recovery, Bill R
I am writing this prayer I wrote some five years back now for deeper peace and acceptance, during this challenging time I’m experiencing. Sharing this Hope in case I too can 0ffer Strength for others.
Affectionately, Janet M.
Thank you dear Creator of love and joy in action for the fellowship of your presence. Move me, I pray, for the Stillness of this Love. Why I abide there always gathering in your Strength, Peace and Wellbeing as kindling to feel the fire of your Spirit within. As I walk this path today, should I become disturbed return my heart to you. Purify my motives and direct my attention back into Awareness and Unity with your Spirit, which is the hand of Peace. Help me to offer kindness for the many Seeds of Blessings which feed my growing into Trueness of Being. Help me to understand your Passion in laughter, tears, joy and pain, knowing all of your Provision and how Precious that gift is that lies within the Earth of us all. Thank you for my children, family and friends. Bless ua your light, nurturing our hearts and strengthen our vision and relationships. May a seeming separateness burn up into the flames of letting go of all illusions while Liberating the Soul and setting Freedoms flight to soar and all resistance fall away. Gather us together, this day in Body, Mind and Spirit manifesting your Love. Amen.
The following are some of the ways that we can cope and deal positively with panic and anxiety.
- Remember that although your feelings and symptoms are very frightening, they are not dangerous or harmful.
- Understand that what you are experiencing is just an exaggeration of your normal bodily reaction to stress.
- Do not fight your feelings or wish them away.The more that you are willing to face them, the less intense they will become.
- Do not add to your panic by thinking about what “might” happen. If you find yourself asking “what if?” Tell yourself “So what.”
- Stay in the present. Notice what is really happening to you as opposed to what you think might happen.
- Label your fear level from zero to ten and watch it go up and down. Notice that it that it does not stay at a very high level for more than a few seconds.
- When you find yourself thinking about the fear, change your “what if” thinking. Focus on and carry out a simple and manageable task, such as counting backward by 3’s or snapping a rubber band on your wrist.
- Notice when you stop adding fearful thoughts to your fear, it begins to face.
- When th fear comes, expect and accept it . Wait and give it time to pass, without running away from it.
- Be proud of yourself for your progress thus far, and think about how good you will feel when you succeed this time.
Reprinted courtesy of the Mental Health Association. Understanding panic disorder.
“When we listen we learn, and to learn means to keep listening. Is there anything today that you have learned by listening. Write down what you have heard that specially applies to you today. Write down what you have learned.
Dorothy Rowe wrote the following:
Dangers,perhaps even greater dangers threaten you if you leave your prison of depression for the ordinary world. There you might have to change, and change always involves uncertainty. The good thing about being depressed is that you can make every day be the same. You can be sure of what is going to happen. You can ward off all those people and events that expect a response from you. Your prison life has a regular routine, and like any long-term prisoner, you grow accustomed to the jail’s security nd predictability. The prison of depression may not be comfortable, but at least it is safe. ”
SOURCES; The Depressed Anonymous Workbook (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Ky Page 85. Question 11.19.
*Originally appeared in Rowe, D., Depression: The way out of your prison. Page 127.
The following excerpt is from a letter that Helen wrote to the Depressed Anonymous fellowship about her recovery from depression.
Her story is just one of the many stories, relating their recovery from depression, found in the Personal Stories section of Depressed Anonymous Pages 110-152.
“Now that I look back and see the way I was and see now how I am now,
I can’t believe that I ever knew that other person. This person is different altogether. I like this person now very much. I am thankful to the group. They are just wonderful. They are my family. They are my Depressed Anonymous family. I also have my church family. It is a wonderful feeling to know that there is a Higher Power that can take you through these things. At first, I thought, “I doubt that very much” when everyone was talking about the Higher Power and peace in my life. Then it happened to me. Every few days, the world dumps down on you and beats you down. That’s my life. I always think to myself that there is that extra strength that I didn’t have before. I feel that everything is going to be OK with me. I have that peace now myself.”
Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous (1998) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. pp 145-148.
“Being addicted to the outcome I came to realize after deep examination of my character defects that I am still being addicted to the outcome of situations in my life. Which means I am trying with all my might to control the outcome. I don’t want to accept what God has planned for my outcome in certain situations. I want to steer the situation and control iT into my absolute vision of what I want and needed it to be. My addiction here is the projected outcome of the situation. My character defect is control. Control is a very hard character defect to change and one that I strongly believe needs God’s help to see it clearly and be granted the willingness to change it. Most humans want and deeply desire control of something in their life, so much so, that they would do anything to sway the matter, thus control things deeply to obtain their desired outcome. But there is another serious character defect in this equation. Far more important to examine than our desired outcome to the point of being controlling. This is an amazing spiritual arrogance that we know better, than the highest power knows, what is the right and proper outcome for us. But there is another serious character defect in this equation. Far more important to examine than our desired outcome to the point of being controlling. This is an amazing spiritual arrogance that we know better than the highest power knows what is the right and proper outcome for us. We are essentially saying we don’t believe your outcome, God. We don’t believe you could possibly be as good and perfect as are our chosen outcomes. This is a serious mistrusting of God.
The next thing we must look at is acceptance. Because once we are able to let go of the strongly desired outcome, which we are addicted to, we must stop and allow ourselves to accept whatever God has lined up for the outcome. This is sometimes difficult. It takes a good close walk with our higher power every single day, which is exactly what develops the needed trust in God. Once we begin to move into a place where we accept that our higher power loves us and wants good things for us, it then becomes easier to let go and let God in all the outcomes. This is where the step 3 prayer, taken every day, is so helpful with acceptance of God’s will in our life, instead of our own will and dominating the outcome that we insist upon. We can’t possibly know more than God, so who are we to think that we know exactly what the outcome should be to the situation days from now. How arrogant to think that we know everything. Letting go and letting God and acceptance, are the keys to the overcoming of the defects of control and arrogance.”
Debra C. NC
Copyright(c) Debra Sanford. A Medley of Depression Stories. #35. Pages91-92.(First Edition) 2017. ISBN 978-197 4499601. This book can be purchased at Amazon.com.
LEAVING LONELINESS BEHIND: 12 DECSIONS
“DECISION 7: I WILL TRY TO IMPROVE MY UNDERSTANDING OF MY BEHAVIOR.”
All actions have consequences. and they are usually different from what we expect.
In a situation where we want our cake and eat it too, we always try to have both, but we learn that in trying to get both, we lose both.
If you are to improve your skills in understanding people, in order to rid your loneliness, working out the consequences OF what you and others do, is extremely important.
You really have to develop more flexible ways in dealing with the consequences when the consequence is anger.”
TOMORROW DECISION 8: I WILL BE MORE ACCEPTING OF OTHER PEOPLES ANGER AND NOT TAKE It PERSONALLY.”