Category Archives: Act As If

THE BRIGHT LIGHT OF HOPE

If we have worked the 12 Steps on a daily basis, we now realize the value 0f surrender and the power that releases in us, just by making a decision in Step Three to “turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understand God”is the beginning of reconnection with life and ourselves. It is in the group that the depressed person begins trusting their members where they have admitted that their lives are unmanageable, and that they have made a conscious decision to turn their lives over to God, or the Higher Power.The Twelve Step program helps people to become God conscious. It is in working the program while making no excuses for the spiritual nature of our recovery,we can begin to attribute our new-found sense of hope and peace to the Higher Power. For the active member of Depressed Anonymous there begins to glimmer in the distance, the bright light of hope.
Submitted by JANET M.

Am I a victim?

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

LEAVING LONELINESS BEHIND – DISMANTLING THE BARRIERS

Leaving loneliness behind. Dismantling the barriers.

THE TWELVE DECISIONS
What is loneliness?

“Loneliness is the state of being cut off from other people, through fear of other people. Loneliness is felt as a barrier and an emptiness between yourself and other people. You reach out to other people but the barrier intervenes. You take a step toward other people, but there is no place to put your foot. People come towards you and your loneliness shuts them out.”

“It is your loneliness rather than the absence of other people that leads you to be alone.” Dorothy Rowe. Ph.D
The only person that is going to take your loneliness away is you. This is what you do. You make 12 decisions and carry them out.

DECISION 1. BECAUSE I VALUE MYSELF AND ACCEPT MYSELF I WILL END MY LONELINESS.
In our planned conversation about how to leave our loneliness behind, I have noticed my own presence, as at a Depressed Anonymous meeting, whether on ZOOM or Face to face, each of us is provided a way to risk telling others who we are and what we are not. This presence gradually instills in our mind the fact that “Hey, I feel more with others when I can share.” I no longer feel so alone now. After our sharing at a DA meeting, others in the group connect with who we are.This personal sharing tells others how we intend to live out our lives. We share how our lives were before coming to the meeting of others like ourselves.

I believe this personal sharing and risking things about ourselves, will carry out beyond this one hour of meeting, having a gradual and positive effect in our world where we live out our lives. Now, you are able to maximize a good experience (group sharing) being being accepted and loved. This online group or a face to face group, is like a surrogate family. Whereas, when you were born into a family–not of your own choosing, you make a decision to choose this DA group as your family. I make a choice as to who I share my life. By making the decision, you will begin to value yourself as a worthwhile person. At the meeting, people really listen to what I have to say.

It helps to get close to others by helping them tell us who they are. We will hear their stories. And to get closer to others, you can do this by asking questions, asking how they are, what they are interested in, and other areas of their lives. They will begin to let you into their private world. You will let them into your world. A barrier has been dismantled.

This sharing at our DA meetings, a place of feeling safe,I can allow myself to chip away the barriers that once made me feel alone and afraid. THe old thoughts that we once felt we had to defend ourselves against, by erecting walls, built during our childhood days, will no longer be needed.

It is this first decision that we make, to value and accept ourseves and risk sharing my story with others. This will be the start, for breaking down those barriers which kept me from telling others who I am.

Tomorrow, we will Share Decison 2: “I will take the risk of approaching others.” Stay tuned.

Hugh S.

NOTE: Quotations are from Dorothy Rowe’s “Breaking the bonds. Understanding Depression, finding freedom. Fontana, 1991. London, UK.

Using the RAIN model

A fellow member of DA shared some wisdom with me and I thought I would pass it along. She mentioned that she uses the RAIN model or methodology when dealing with a situation:

  • Recognize
  • Acknowledge
  • Investigate
  • Nurture

Before you react to a situation that arises use the RAIN model.

Recognize – Be aware of the state you are in. State the facts of the situation without judgment.

Acknowledge – Accept that you are indeed in the situation you are in. You don’t need to fight it or complain about it. Acknowledging is not the same as liking or wanting the thing to happen – you’re just accepting that is where you are in the moment.

Investigate – Scan your thoughts, your emotions, and your physical sensations. Are you stuck in any form of stinking thinking? Label the emotion you are experiencing and where it manifests in your body. Scan yourself without judgment and with acceptance.

Nurture – Is there anything that you can do to comfort yourself and/or make you safe? Do you need to attack the thing that is harming you, or is a simple retreat a more effective way to protect yourself? Is there anything that you could think or do that would improve the situation even if only 1%? Do what the nurturing side of yourself is suggesting in the moment.

Practice the RAIN model. It will not feel natural at first, but keep doing it. A sense of calm will begin to envelop you. You will be able to respond maturely and serenely to the situations that come up in your life as opposed to the immature unhealthy reaction which is the normal way you do things.

You are worthy of being calm and loving towards yourself even if you are in the midst of the storm and chaos of those around you. Take the higher road as that is the way to peace and serenity.

Yours in recovery, Bill R

Motivation follows action

I find that if I am depressed and want to start to feel better, or at least get my mind off depression, I need to go for a walk and get moving. In DA we say that MOTIVATION FOLLOWS ACTION. WHAT THIS MEANS IS THAT YOU’LL NEVER GET MOTIVATED til YOU GET BUSY DOING SOMETHING. This was my feeling much of the Time. It was only when I actually started walking that I wanted to walk. I didn’t want to do anything to help myself. I didn’t want to do anything to help myself until I forced myself to do something.

I believer much of one’s tiredness, when depressed comes from having too many things going through one’s brain at the same time. The strain of being overwhelmed is too much for the human mind and so it and the body begin to show the stress. I also believe that so many unpleasant emotions constantly coming to surface and being felt by the body results in an overload situation for my brain.

COMMENT
The best way to get into action is to get into action. I know this is so obvious–but when the time comes for me to actually do something–that is a different story. Then my mantra becomes “I’ll do it when I feel better,” and course this doesn’t get me out of bed. This doesn’t get me walking. Instead, what happens, is that my thinking gets caught in that neural rut, much like a merry-go-round. Round and round we go. Nothing ever changes.

Tell yourself that this day is going to be different .Make a commitment to yourself today! Make up your mind that you are not going to ride the merry-go-round horse today.You are going to start small. Take the “baby steps” that just might push you out the door and put some fresh air into your lungs. MOTIVATION FOLLOWS ACTION. Check it out. See, for yourself if this doesn’t work for you.

Copyright(c) Hugh Smith. Higher Thoughts for Down Days:365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY January 24, p.15.

Energy of activation – Walking through the struggle

I study chemistry, and I see a correlation between a chemistry concept and walking through a struggle in depression.   In a chemical reaction, there is something called the “energy of activation.”  It is the energy that is necessary for a reaction to proceed.  In the diagram below, is the large hump or hill between the initial state and the final state.  So if I relate that to depression, it is the struggle that I go through to perform a particular task.  Now, I’ve realized it’s not about the task.  For example, it does not matter if the task I’m trying to achieve is getting out of bed, going to a meeting, going to work, going to the gym, or achieving a lofty goal.  It’s about the energy of activation, or the difficulty of the struggle that matters. When I am in severe depression, the energy of activation required for me to get out of bed is immense.  It may feel impossible at times!  Now that I am not in a depression, that task is not a struggle for me.  It has a low activation energy.  In other words, it’s easy for me at this time.

So why does this matter?  Because I used to (and still can) compare myself to others and ask myself the question “how does that person do this or that so easily?  How come it’s so hard for me to get out of bed but so easy for someone else?”  This concept of activation energy helps me realize that everyone has struggles.  And if I focus on how to get through the struggle, then I am focusing on the solution.  I also realize that at different points in my life, the activation energy for the same task can be VERY different.  This also tells me that I can and should give myself credit for getting through the struggle, no matter what the task is!!  Because what matters is getting over that hump.

So how do we do that?  It boils down to our thinking, doesn’t it?  If I feed myself positive thoughts, such as “this is possible,” “I can do it,” “I’ve had successes is the past, so I can do it again,” “I am capable and I am worth it,” then I’m going to get into action and take baby steps up the hill.  But if I think negative thoughts (or choose to stay with those negative thoughts, since in my case my default thinking is negative) then I am going to walk myself right down that hill and stay stuck at the bottom.  Sometimes I need to think positive thoughts that will get me to call someone else and ask for help or motivation.  It’s okay to get help – it’s easier to climb that hill together!

I’m realizing that when I focus on giving myself credit for overcoming that struggle, then I’m helping myself.  If I tell myself, “oh, it’s no big deal.  All I did was get out of bed today.  That doesn’t really count as a success,”  then not only am I saddening myself, but I’m also being dishonest with myself!!   Because overcoming the energy of activation for that task was critical and a major achievement!!  And best of all, at the end of the task, I’m in a better place than where I started.  So just for today, I am going to give myself credit for walking though the struggle – no matter how big or small the task.

Take heed – live your life on purpose!

heed: to give consideration or attention to
Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/heed

I don’t know about you, but my autopilot is broken – it takes me to deep, dark places. My default setting is to come from a place of judgment, looking for the negative in the world. The funny thing is that what you seek is what you find. If I look for the negative that is what I will find. If I look for the good I will find that as well. It all comes down to focus – what am I paying attention to? Some of the things that I need to pay attention to are:

  • circumstance – What are the facts of my current situation? If I can’t express it through by describing it through one of my senses there is a good chance there is a judgment in there as well. “It is raining” is a fact. “It is raining, this sucks” is a fact followed by a judgment. Am I labeling things as they truly are, or am I imposing my judgment on the situation?
  • thought – What are my thoughts around my circumstances? Am I judging or in a place of non-acceptance? Am I caught in any form of stinking thinking? Am I remembering a past hurt? Am I projecting my thoughts of what could happen to the situation at hand?
  • feeling – What emotion am I experiencing regarding my thoughts? The 7 base emotions are: sad, mad, glad, afraid, embarrassed, lonely, guilty. Something like jealousy is an emotion like anger coupled with a thought. Try to label just the emotion. Is my emotional reaction right-sized to the current circumstance? For instance, being slightly annoyed at your waiter for being slow is one thing, but being rageful is not right-sized to the situation.
  • action – What action do I undertake that is motivated by my feeling? Is acting from a place of intense emotion the best course of action I can take? You can be angry about how someone hurt you, but if you act from that place of anger you may be punitive. Respond to being hurt, but try not to respond from the place of anger.
  • result – What is the outcome of your actions? Just doing the action does not guarantee that we get the result that we want. It is up to us to do the leg work and cultivate an environment that can manifest our desired outcome, but the resulting outcome is in our Higher Power’s hands. Do the work and turn the result over to God.

It is my belief that life is meant to be lived on purpose. When I am adrift on autopilot I will get taken to dark places. I strive to pay attention and give consideration as to what the best course of action is. Sometimes I need to be satisfied with what is the best possible action given my current state of mind.

Take heed – pay attention and try to act from a place of calm and serenity. You’ll be amazed at the change you will see.

Yours in recovery, Bill R

Pushing through!

When we talk about “pushing through” it indicates that there is special energy needed to complete a project or work through or push through a difficult and resistant obstacle. What is happening here is a lack of will.

In our work, “I’ll do it when I feel better” it is only when I am assured of being able to push through the obstacle that I will do it. The problem here is what we all know and have experienced in our own recovery is that we never feel better. And so, it doesn’t get done.

And so “Pushing through” is when we feel that we cannot move our body or motivate our will to “push through” an obstacle that keeps us from doing what we know we need to do. Why? Because we have been immobilized by the lack of will and/or motivation due to our depression and frozen will. These obstacles seem too high and too large to jump over, go around, or push through.
So, my best chance to push through to the other side, and accomplish what I need to do, is to take one small step at a time. The following are some ways to “push through” and get ourselves moving again.

As Stacy S, pointed out here in her excellent post Willingness to Take Baby Steps she tells us the importance of taking small baby steps. Please take a look.

I also would like to share some small things that we can do to get moving on and past those blocks to our motivation and recovery. We can say the Serenity Prayer slowly and with attention, read a paragraph from Higher Thoughts for Down Days, call a Depressed Anonymous friend or sponsor, walk outside for five minutes, and getting fresh air. Also, remember, there are two times that you should go to a Depressed Anonymous meeting; 1. When you want to go, and 2., When you don’t want to go.
We need to move the body and gently move forward and continue along in our recovery pushing on and through. Just do it!!!!

Hugh, for the Fellowship

Metaphor for my depression

OK, I’m acknowledging and admitting in public that I have depression. I choose not to say that I suffer from depression, as I believe suffering is a choice. Here I mean the Buddhist interpretation of suffering, the mental and emotional anguish that we put ourselves through when we don’t accept the present moment for what it is.

Pain is part of the human experience, suffering is optional.

I choose to say instead that I have depression, or that I sometimes experience the symptoms of depression. This simple change of the words I use to describe my condition allows for space for the possibility that someday I won’t have depression, or that I don’t experience the symptoms of depression.

Why all this talk about words? Well words have great power. If you read Genesis, God first spoke “Let there be light”, then light existed. Words are the first step of creation. The words I choose to use help create my reality.

Many of us view life as a series of metaphors. Some view life as a race, others view it as a game, still others see it as a constant struggle. What metaphor do I use to describe my depression?



As I mentioned in a prior post, humans are dualistic beings. I see myself as two beings in one:

  1. a wounded inner child
  2. a mature outer adult

My depression shows itself by a lack of energy, a lack of progress, and a lack of emotion. The swing is not moving.

The depression is a manifestation of my wounded inner child. It is sitting in the swing. It is petulent and drags its feet in the sand. Sometimes it goes so far as to pump its legs in the opposite direction to prevent progress.

My outer mature adult is smaller than the depression. I can’t give a single push to get the depression swinging. I have to time my pushes, and consistently apply positive actions in my life. I have to encourage the inner child to lift his feet. After that I can encourage the inner child to begin pumping his legs so swinging isn’t relying totally on my smaller outer self.

It’s not a perfect metaphor mind you, but it is fairly consistent with my experience with my depression. I am hopeful that consistently giving gentle pushes I will emerge from the depression, free and happy once again. This future is possible for you too.

Yours in recovery, Bill R

Staying out of the loop. Creating your own circuit-breaker!

One of the characteristics of the depression experience is to get lost in the loop of negativity. The more we try to think our way out of the mental labyrinth with our mind circling down into the deeper pit of sadness, the more locked and immobilized we become.

So, how do we stay out of the swirling cycle of despair? The loop is our master taking over our minds and emotions. Once we have managed to stay out of the loop, I discovered what frees me and breaks the chain that shackles my motivation.

What I find helpful and kind of simple is to distract myself and do something that takes me out of the loop momentarily as I focus on something else. This something else could be to go for a walk. Talk to a friend. Go to a mall. Visit a lonely friend. Choose your own distracter.

I will give a personal example where I found a distraction strategy that works. Because I was wearing out my mind with my continuous negative swirling thoughts, I was reminded how fatigue is an indicator of feeling depressed and helpless. When I became tired, I would automatically head for the coach. This just prolonged the pain, and it was when I said, “No, not this time,” I went to my desk and started to do some work on my computer. In a short time, my mind was focused on my writing and not on the assumption that I needed a nap. Even though I am no longer depressed, I still find this distraction strategy a real loop-breaker.

So, if you find yourself beating yourself up, ruminating, and mentally circling round and round, going nowhere but down, you’ll need at last 5 circuit-breakers ready to plug in when the looping begins. Be prepared!

Share this idea/strategy at your Depressed Anonymous meetings and let others in the group try it out when their own loop starts rolling.

Hugh