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.
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.
I can’t go back. I finally made up my mind, after many years, never to go back to my old ways of thinking. My choice to refuse thinking those old negative thoughts gave me a freedom – not right away–but eventually I became free. I knew that once I gave them a “pass” that they would set in motion a mood–a negative mood, gradually throwing me into a deep depression, a mental quicksand. It was baffling to me how this rapid descent, set in motion, like a row of dominos falling over one after another. It was like suddenly turning off a light switch And finding myself drowning in despair and darkness.
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
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.
Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous, THIRD EDITION (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY 40241.
So far today God, I’ve done all right.
I haven’t gossiped.
I haven’t lost my temper.
I haven’t been grumpy, nasty or selfish.
I’m really glad of that.
But in a few minutes,
God, I’m going to get out of bed, and from then on,
I’m probably going to need a lot of help!
MOTIVATION FOLLOWS ACTION
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.
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.
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.
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.
People get hung up on the word powerless.
- devoid of strength or resources
- lacking the authority or capacity to act
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