Category Archives: Choice

This group gave me my voice back

There were times when I wanted to talk to someone about what was happening in my life – but I didn’t even have a name for whatever it was that had me totally immobilized. What could I tell my friends – that I felt I was losing my mind. Some mysterious cancer of the brain maybe? I was definitely scared. The more stuff that I read about the symptoms the more confused I became. Whatever it was I knew that I needed help. Go to a doctor? Talk to a counselor? I felt so alienated, from my self, family and friends. I had hit the wall.

Like others with whom I later became became acquainted, it gradually came to me that I must be depressed. I had most of the symptoms: I lost my appetite, I felt shame that I was unable to help myself. I did manage to hold down a job, but my main thing after work was to go home and sleep it off. I lost my ability to concentrate, plus my memory seemed to be on the blink. I didn’t answer my phone, skipped business appointments and just rather not be in touch with anyone and everyone. Most of all I was very angry about something that clearly made my life miserable, hopeless and out of my control. I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning – why, because my life was now without goals, purpose and meaning. My own isolation from everything that I once valued and dear to me was gone. In a sense I had lost my voice to ask for help.

I got a phone call one day – a work buddy asked me to attend a meeting with him. I asked, “What kind of meeting?” He just said something to get you moving again. I agreed, but only for his sake did I agree to go with him. By this time I realized that I was depressed – I knew what I had – or what had me. And if you are presently attending Depressed Anonymous meetings you know what I am talking about.

Not til after a few more meetings did I feel comfortable in this group. But it was only after more meetings was I willing to share my own story. You know, the before (how it was before recovery) and the after (how it is now that I am in recovery, have my own sponsor and go regularly to meetings). I felt I had to speak. I needed to get it out in the open. I told my story how I was a veritable wreck during my struggle and inner battles with depression. And then how I came to this fellowship and became a new person. The key that unlocked my prison was this group of men and women just like myself – and a God of my own understanding who I know loved me and was with me all the time.

With my voice back and no longer all alone I am using it now to encourage others who come to our meetings – to keep coming back and using the tools that we freely offer them. They will be another voice added to the many who are today sharing their hope, strength and experiences. If you are brand new they will be wanting to tell you about it!!

A Depressed Anonymous Member

Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.

George Bernard Shaw wrote the quote many years ago and that still holds true for most of today. This is especially evident when we begin participating in our 12 step fellowship group. The whole program consists of growth and self revelation. It provides us with a path for opening up ourselves to the world around us. And talk about change; that is what it is all about. We change the way we think, the way we feel as well as the way we believe about things. Our program is all about change. And for us who may have spent their whole lives depressed, this is a good place to be. We make the change from despair to hope, from isolation to being with new friends, and learning how hope is within our grasp when no hope seemed attainable.

Those of us who choose to change, and to continue to change, discover that by making some big changes in our own lives we now are alive with hope, alive with purpose and sharing the Steps (those twelve spiritual principles) that will lead others out of the prison of depression, becoming changed human beings.

It was only when I challenged a mistaken belief of mine that I would never get out of feeling sad and worthless. I made the plunge (change) and not only became motivated to change, but that I did change. I changed my thinking about being able to change what I thought was impossible and made it a possibility that I would change.

Again it is this wonderful group of people at a Depressed Anonymous meeting that gave me the courage to WANT to change.

RESOURCE
Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous, THIRD EDITION (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY 40241.

I will keep physically fit. Exercise is my priority now!

MOTIVATION FOLLOWS ACTION

AFFIRMATION
I promise myself that I will walk today to regain a positive feeling about myself and my world.
Keep physically fit. It is a must for us who are and have been depressed. Walking not only restore harmony to the body, it likewise restores my self-esteem and self confidence. Remember that motivation follows action.

REFLECTION
How can motivation follow action? Isn’t it the other way around, namely that action follows motivation? In a sense the criticism is true, but in another sense, it isn’t quite that accurate. When speaking about the paralysis of depression the individual’s motivation is almost completely nonexistent. That is why it is important for me, a depressed person to force myself to get moving -that’s right, force myself into an activity because even though I say “I will do it when I feel better.” I never usually feel better. So I need to find that point in my day, when I feel better and get out in the air and walk, if nothing else, it tends to distract from my wanting to sad myself.
When I take care of myself physically and begin giving myself p[permission to express my feelings, especially the unpleasant ones, I begin to speak more assertively and begin to like myself.

MEDITATION
Today, help me sort out what needs to be thrown away and what we need to keep. Help us keep those memories that had love attached to them.

RESOURCES
Copyright(c) Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 Step fellowship groups. (2002)Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky. Pages 150-151.

Copyright(c) Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky. Chapter Six. Pages 33-36.

Powerless does not mean No Power

People get hung up on the word powerless.

powerless –

  1. devoid of strength or resources
  2. lacking the authority or capacity to act

Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/powerless

Personally I don’t believe that I have NO POWER. Instead I have less power than the average healthy person. There are things that I can do to help manage my disease. OK, so I know I don’t have all control (100% control) and I believe that it’s not a case of having no control (0% control), so I’m somewhere in the middle – between 1% and 99% control over my depression. Wherever I fall on that spectrum I am compelled by my Higher Power to act. My Higher Power has given me the authority and capacity to act and attempt to influence and manage my disease of depression. I may wish and yearn for 99% control over my disease of depression but wherever I am I must act. I need to get out of my familiar zone (I don’t call it a comfort zone as it is NOT comfortable), and take action.

That action could be as miniscule as bringing the dirty dishes to the sink (washing may take another burst of commitment and action), or it could be as major as cleaning out and organizing the garage. I have it within my power to take my dog for a 20 minute walk. I may not have it in me today to go on a 45 minute walk, but I can do the 20 minutes and work towards improving my mood. Progress, not perfection.

If the love of your life was sick and in bed, wouldn’t you feed them? Wouldn’t you bring them tissues? Show yourself the same compassion and commitment! You are worthy of action and of love. Love is not a feeling, it is a choice and an action. Have the courage to choose to love yourself and put that choice into action. You are worth it!

Yours in recovery, Bill R

Change is risky!

“Change is risky and some folks don’t want to live with risk – they want life to be completely predictable. But with predictability, you pay the price of hopelessness. Hope can exist only when there is uncertainty. You never want anything to change. You want it to be completely under your control.”

I certainly agree with the belief that change is risky. I know how change effects our daily lives and daily routine. We are creatures of habit and move along in our life like a train on railroad tracks. There is never any veering off these tracks as doing so will create a disaster. We need to know what exactly is to happen if we change gears and try something new. Uncomfortableness is the outcome for this approach to life. But surprisingly, this is the way we like it. We want everything to be nailed down so to speak, where we are in total control. Control seems to be a definite issue for many of us.

“People won’t change until they have some assurance that when they do change they will be completely happy. They want to have someone promise them that if they decide to change, they will have no more problems and will be happy. Dorothy Rowe says “This request is based on two assumptions,namely: 1. Anyone who hasn’t got my problems has no problems at all (therefore, when my present problems disappear I shall have no problems); 2. Happiness is total certainty (therefore, unless I know exactly what is going to happen, I cannot be happy).” Again, the issue of control raises its ugly head. Source: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Page 74.

When depressing ourselves we tend to want to isolate and avoid all those environments, people, places and things that make me feel uncomfortable and where I want to run away.

“Just the feeling that we want to withdraw from everyone is a warning signal that we need to get to a meeting, talk to a friend and get moving. It is our effort to face the risk of living with the unpredictable that will free us from saddening ourselves. Depressed Anonymous is not the place to have people feel sorry for you. Depressed Anonymous is a spiritual program where you will find people like yourself, honestly, openly and willingly dealing with their character defects and gradually admitting that they will have to change their lives and lifestyle if they are going to be whole and a honest human being. The decision is yours. You make the choice! The Twelve Steps and your own personal story can now be shared with others and can help them on their own life journey.” Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Page 108.

We want to take the risk by facing ourselves and fears on a daily basis. Sharing in our Depressed Anonymous group will help us, amid a friendly fellowship, taking a risk and telling others who we are. You will be thankful that you did.

RESOURCE

(C) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition.(2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY 40241.
* This important manual of self-discovery can be ordered ONLINE here at our website: The Depressed Anonymous Bookstore @ www.depressedanon.com.

Three Circles

OK we know that depression is a disease, and we can also look at it as an addiction. In my opinion it’s helpful to look at other programs of recovery for understanding, inspiration, and tips on how to best manage your recovery from that addiction.

One topic of recovery is to have a relapse prevention plan. If you go through life unaware and on auto-pilot chances are real good that you will relapse in your depression. You want to avoid that if humanly possible. The trick is to be aware of your behaviors and where those behaviors lead you. There are things that you can do that make you feel useful and whole. There are things that you can do that lead you towards that bottom line addictive behavior. And finally the thing you are trying to avoid: having a relapse of active depression.

The three circles is one way to come up with a relapse prevention plan. The three circles are concentric (see diagram below).

The Outer Circle contains those things that you can do that make you feel good and build your inner resolve. In some circles (pardon the pun) the Outer Circle is sometimes referred to as Top Line behaviors. I’ve put into the diagram some examples of top line behaviors but that is not a comprehensive list. You decide what things fill you up and make you whole. Some other examples include: prayer; hugging loved ones; playing with your pet; talking with friends; doing service; donating time/money to your favorite charity.

The Middle Circle contains those behaviors that lead you closer to a full blown relapse of your depression. Sometimes the Middle Circle is called Mid Line Behaviors. In some recovery groups they are called “People, Places, and Things” – anything that brings you closer to your bottom. As before you decide what belongs in the Middle Circle. What triggers you toward your depression may be a common trigger, or may be unique to you.

The Inner Circle contains those behaviors that you are really trying to avoid and if you do them you are active in your depression. Again, you define what goes into the Inner Circle. I’ve diagrammed some examples, but come up with your own if those don’t ring true for you.

three-circles

I encourage you to come up with your own Three Circles diagram. Become aware of your behaviors and if you find yourself in the Middle Circle take action with your Outer Circle behaviors. If you find yourself in the Inner Circle take massive action in the Outer Circle. Seek help you are worth it.

Good luck with this task. It only works if you work it. Diagram it and put it into action.

Yours in recovery, Bill R

If you’d like to read more here is a link to a Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_circles

What is Acceptance?

What does acceptance look like?

whatisacceptance

Stop complaining about the rain. It is what it is. Your complaints about the rain are not going to make the rain stop. The only thing that the complaining creates is suffering. Suffering for you, and for the people around you. The rain is something that you cannot change. Accept it, or if you need another way of thinking about it: surrender to the reality of the fact that it is raining.

Acceptance is acknowledging that it is in fact raining. It means getting out your umbrella or raincoat and doing what you had planned on doing. If you were going to talk a walk – then take a walk. You’re not made of sugar and you won’t melt away. Go out and meet with friends if that is what you were going to do before. You may not be able to go out and have a picnic on the grass, but you could go out and have a picnic under a pavilion. You may have to give up your plans of bathing in the sun, but there are plenty of other things that you could do that would be productive.

I remember a time – it was summertime and I was 16 years old. Myself and two of my friends were hired to dig out this man’s crawl space so he could put in a full basement. No power tools – pick ax and shovel only. Our work was done for the day and I had to walk the 2 miles home. About 10 minutes into the walk the skies opened up. I don’t know about raining cats and dogs but it was coming down in buckets. At first I started to run. Then I stopped running and accepted the fact that I was going to be soaked. I began to dance and I recreated the scene from Singing In The Rain – including singing. Granted I’m not a good singer, but I had a blast.

Accept whatever rain storm you are in. You don’t have to like it, but you do have to accept that the rain is real. You have a choice. Accept and have serenity or resist and have suffering. Choose wisely.

There is no bad weather, there is only bad clothing.
Canadian proverb

Yours in recovery, Bill R

Serenity Prayer flowchart

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I can not change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.

The Serenity Prayer confuses some people. Why wouldn’t it? The prayer begins at the end where they ask God to grant them serenity. There are things that happen prior to that point. Have you determined what is and is not possible to change? Have you prayed for wisdom? I found this infographic online and this is more like the process that I go through.

serenityprayerflowchart

What problem has the fates put in front of me? Can I change the problem? If I can change it, then I will pray for courage to actually change it. If I’m unsure if I can change it, I will ask the God of my understanding for wisdom to discern if it is possible to change it. Only when you determine that it’s not possible to change the problem do you pray to your Higher Power for serenity. The Accept it state is not a static thing. Acceptance ebbs and flows, you have it and then you don’t. You will need to pray to God multiple times to get to a state of complete and utter acceptance.

I hope this helps.

Yours in recovery, Bill R