When I am feeling depressed, I repeat to myself statements such as these…”Pain is the touchstone of progress.”…”I fear no evil.” …”This, too will pass.” … “This experience can be turned to benefit.”
These fragments of prayer bring far more than mere comfort. They keep me on the track of right acceptance; they break up my compulsive themes of guilt, depression, rebellion, and pride; and sometimes they endow me with the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Bill W., writing in Grapevine, March 1962.
My mantra, personally, is the Serenity Prayer.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
As one person told Dorothy Rowe: “When I think of all those years I wasted being depressed, I wish I would have listened. I’d wish I’d realized that all I had to do was say that I had enough of being put upon and put down, feeling that there was something wrong with me. I’d like to go up to the hospital and tell everybody: ‘You don’t have to be like this.’ Up there nobody ever told me that. I’d see those people going on and on being miserable. If I’d have seen someone like me now, it would have given me hope.”
SOURCE: Depressed Anonymous. 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications,. Louisville. P.72.
How often do we present this message to those who enter into our world. Our world is one of hope, possessed with the awesome reality that I am different. I have changed. I can use my tool kit of the 12 steps to gradually dismantle and replace the negative features of my life with new directions, new behaviors and continuing to put into action those positive beliefs about who I am. The Depressed Anonymous fellowship helps us meet others who were depressed and who now are living a full life. We are grateful for coming into contact with those who have a story of hope to share. So, if you are feeling miserable and helpless, just know that what you read here will definitely make a difference in your life. We don’t have a magic wand that will take away your pain but we do have a step by step recovery process that can lighten your load and give you courage to live one hour, one 24 hour period at a time. You are no longer alone. No “snap out of it” from our group. You can make your decision today to join us and begin a journey that can lead you eventually to say, “I don’t have to be like this.” I did!
David Karp, in his work Speaking of sadness: Depression, Disconnection, and the Meanings of Illness (1996) confesses that in the middle of interviewing persons for this work states, “I was initially puzzled by the number of respondents who spontaneously spoke about the role of spirituality in their lives. During the early stages of the data collection, however spirituality meant no more or less to me than any of the large number of issues that were coming out of the interviews. At a certain point, though, enough people spoke about spirituality that I began routinely to ask everyone about it. Certainly there were many who had little to say, and some who claimed no interest in spirituality, but the question often elicited an outpouring of talk. After 25 or so interviews, it seemed that my anticipated chapter on coping and adapting would have to pay at least some attention to the role of spirituality.” (p.190).
Karp was deeply impressed by what he calls the “courage and grace” how some of his interviewees faced their own pain of depression. He says he “left many interviews with a sense that spiritually engaged individuals were in touch with something important. ” He concludes by saying “These people possessed or knew something that I didn’t.” (pp. 190 -191).
I think most of you who are reading my posts know that I too am an advocate of the power of spirituality in the recovery process for persons depressed. In the American culture and most probably in most Western cultures, where one’s lack of meaningful work and diminishing intimate relationships, or “double trouble” as a colleague of Karp, Charles Derber points out, promotes a community of strangers, alone, isolated and disconnected. He describes depression as the disease of disconnection. Freud when asked what makes for human happiness he replied ” arbeiten und leben”. (work and love).
All the above is put before you, the reader, to continue to present to you how important my own recovery from depression continues to this day because of my own spirituality dependent on my Higher Power, or the God of my understanding. In BELIEVING IS SEEING:15 WAYS TO LEAVE THE PRISON OF DEPRESSION (2014) I share how I believe that I am not alone, as I have other fellow travelers who will lead me around the ditches and the potholes of that old depressive life style that once ruled my thoughts and actions. Now I am on a personal mission of growth and recovery.” (p.13).
I still have my potholes, ditches and rough seas to maneuver around,. Thanks to a Power greater than myself— I pray and continue rowing to shore, and this Power as I understand it, has been getting me to that safe harbor of serenity and safety.