Category Archives: Courage

When we are disturbed, something is wrong with us

It is a spiritual axiom that every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us. If somebody hurts us and we are sore, we are in the wrong also. But are there no exceptions to this rule? What about “justifiable” anger? If somebody cheats us, aren’t we entitled to be mad? Can’t we be properly angry with self-righteous folk? For us of A.A. these are dangerous exceptions. We have found that justified anger ought to be left to those better qualified to handle it.
Twelves Steps and Twelve Traditions, page 90

I need to remember that if I’m disturbed with something or someone I need to look within a see what is wrong with me. How am I thinking about my current situation? Is my thinking mature, serene, and sound regarding this circumstance? Am I looking to see where I’ve fallen short?

I say these things not as another opportunity to beat myself up but rather as a point of reflection. Is there anything that I could do that would be better than how I handled it before?

Improvement is possible only if I can recognize how things actually are and not how I think they should be. Accepting my part in my circumstance is the place from which I can grow and become better.

Could I give in to justifiable anger? Of course I could but would that be helpful and useful? Not very likely. It is far better for me to examine where I fell short, where I’m upset because that sticking point is where growth can occur. Have the courage to look within. It may be scary to look within, but that is where healing occurs. Good luck on your trip within.

Yours in recovery, Bill R

Making gratitude my attitude helps keep Robin out of depression

Through the Depressed Anonymous program of recovery, which utilizes the Twelve Steps, I have been on a journey of transformation from the everyday life of struggle, gloom, and desperation to discovering new freedom and new happiness – something I didn’t know existed. My entire perspective is changing. Other people who I thought were judgmental are now considered as all being a child of God- all created equal. What a provocative pence tool this is! Really! It helps me lift those negative attitudes and places them with affirmations. This is undoubtedly the most valuable technique offered in Depressed Anonymous to acquire an optimistic attitude towards life itself or simply “making gratitude my attitude.” So many of us were only familiar with the sham and the drudgery of life, but even with all the sham and drudgery in the world, it is still a beautiful place to live. We learn to change not the world but how we view the world and all its intricacies.

Using the Twelve Steps allows me to begin the journey of hope and to admit that I am powerless over depression. There is the time when depression overwhelms me so intensely that it nearly cripples me altogether. These emotions of failure, shame, and “feeling less than”, become so uncontrollable that I have to stop and simply admit that I am powerless over them. But now, I genuinely believe that there is a power greater than myself and greater than those emotions.

The Higher Power (whom I call God) is there to help me any time I ask Him. And you know what? He rescues me every single time.

Resources
Depressed Anonymous 3rd Edition, © 2011, Depressed Anonymous Publications, Louisville KY. (Pages 115)

Fun? When was the last time you had some?

In Step Four of our Depressed Anonymous Workbook, we find the statement: “When was the last time you had some fun?” You could also add when was the last time you actually laughed or even had a smile on your face? In one of our early Depressed Anonymous meetings. Bob told the group that the DA meeting was the only place where he could actually find himself laughing.

At our online Depressed Anonymous meetings, we are presently sharing our thoughts and feelings about Step Four. As part of our inventory, there are a number of questions pertaining to our Family of Origin. The following section helps me to take and reflect on my own family of origins and the relationship that I had with all those persons who I shared my life in those early childhood years.

In order to make a good inventory I need to go to my roots and discover how I came to be the person that I am today. AS the saying goes, “WE are our parents.”
When we were small, we “swallowed” our parents, meaning “swallowed” their main personality characteristics. Even today parents, grandparents, a stepparent, or guardian all are now part of our personality -for good or for ill. For myself to escape from my depression I need to discover how I might have received certain messages from my depression I need to discover how I might have received certain messages about myself from those adults who surrounded me as a helpless infant and child. All of us have received messages as children -some helpful and others not so helpful. Some messages directed toward us might have made us feel worthless because we got the message that we could never do anything to please others.

Our Depressed Anonymous manual, with an excerpt from Step Four gives a detailed and traumatic account of one of my experiences as a 10-year-old child. This event had recurring consequences for my young life and into my adult years. We might want to take a deeper look into some of the unpleasant feelings that we have today, traced to their origins in our childhood. I know for a fact that these events, producing guilt and shame, were finally dealt with in therapy as a young adult.

“I still remember being embarrassed when my third-grade teacher told me in front of the whole class That I would never be like my brother who was much smarter than me. I used to feel my face get hot every time I thought about that embarrassing incident. But the more I share my shame of having been exposed to others about something that I had no control over, the freer I became of that fear. The same principle is at work here in the Depressed Anonymous group. We can take our own personal inventory of our weaknesses and fears and trust the group to hear us out and accept our stories of shame and hurt as we accept theirs. We begin to see how and why so many people feel bad because in their earlier years people made them feel they could never measure up to the way others expected them to grow up. By becoming our little child once more, we paradoxically grow up.”

More about our childhood experiences, pleasant and unpleasant in the days to follow. And since it is time for school to start again, it seems that our bodies, sensors that they are, remind us that the Fall weather and school both arrive at the same time of year.

(c) The Depressed Anonymous Workbook (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, p.29.
(c) Depressed Anonymous, (2011) THIRD EDITION. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, p. 55.

Willingness to Take Baby Steps

A common question in other 12 step fellowships is “Are you willing to go to any lengths to achieve recovery?” When thinking about willingness and my depression, I don’t know how well this applied to me. I mean, if I had the willingness to go to any lengths when I was in my deepest darkest depression, I would have just hopped out of bed, embraced the day, and ran a 5K! But that is not how it worked for me!
When I was in the depths of my depression, my willingness had gone out the door. “What was the purpose anyway?” I thought. I didn’t think I could get any better. But Depressed Anonymous showed me that there is hope, and there is a way out. For me, that path to recovery has been a series of baby steps. After coming to meetings, I saw people who were like me; people who really suffered from depression, and I saw that they were recovering. Once I had the realization that there was hope, I needed to ask myself a question. “Just for today, am I willing to take a baby step to help myself recover from depression?”
This was something that I could comprehend and that I thought might be possible. Yes, I can take a baby step and get out of bed. Yes, I can take a baby step and call someone from the fellowship. Yes, I can take a baby step and order the literature, then take another baby step and read a page of the literature. I can answer one question in the workbook today. Yes, I can do one little thing to help myself today!!
That is how my recovery began. That is how I climbed out of that 80-foot hole of depression-one baby step at a time. And the beautiful thing is that I don’t have to do it alone! Honestly, I don’t think I could have done it alone. I tried for years, and although I met with sporadic success, I inevitably fell back into that pit of depression. Today I have the DA fellowship surrounding me. I have a Higher Power. I have a sponsor and friends in the fellowship who help me along my path. I am also here to help others on their path to recovery. Today, I am grateful for the willingness to take baby steps.

Unhelpful Comparisons vs. Helpful Comparisons

We’ve all fallen into the trap of comparing ourselves to others. This is a losing game if there ever was one. You don’t know the struggles that the other person has gone through to get where they are now. Comparing yourself to others in an attempt to boost your own self-esteem degrades the other person’s worth. These are unhelpful forms of comparison. These forms of comparison create suffering in yourself and others.

Don’t compare your insides to somebody else’s outsides.
Slogan heard at a recovery meeting

What then is a helpful comparison (lessen the suffering in yourself and others)? The best way is to compare your current self and situation to an earlier incarnation of yourself. Have you improved or have you gotten worse over time? This is a comparison that provides you valuable information about yourself. This type comparison can show you how you have improved over time, that you are not stuck and stagnated in your present state. You do change, even if that change is slight.

To overcome the challenge of managing your depression stop comparing yourself to others and begin comparing yourself to your past self.

For further information on this please watch Dean Furness’s TED Talk To overcome challenges, stop comparing yourself to others on YouTube. https://youtu.be/IOrmS8vJDQw

Yours in recovery, Bill R

Be yourself, everyone else is taken – Oscar Wilde

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.
Hugh

There is no turning back!

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.

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.