Category Archives: Faith

Graffiti Wisdom

“Here is a poem that I found graffitied on a wall recently. It was signed “Hank”:

“your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank
submission
be on the watch there are ways out
there is light somewhere
it may not be much light but
it beats the
darkness
be on the watch
the gods will offer you
chances.
be on the watch
know them, take them
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life
sometimes
and the more often
you learn to do it
the more light there will
be
your life is your life
know it while you have
it
you are marvelous
the gods wait in delight
in
you.”

Quotation from:

Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving, Pete WALKER. Copyright by Pete Walker
An Azure Coyote Book /2013 www.Pete WAlker.com First Edition
ISBN 14972871842 1SBN 9781492871842 All Rights Reserved
Printed In the United States of America

Two Questions

Many times I am asked the same two questions and I always give the questioner the same two answers.

The first question: “How come you keep coming to meetings, though you say you are not depressed?”

My reply to the questioner: “Let me ask you why you go to the gym three times a week”

His answer. “Well I go to keep in shape.”

My question: “Well you look healthy enough to me. I mean, you tell me you’ve never felt better.”
“Ok” I say, “but why continue to go to the gym, since you look healthy and you say that you feel so great.”

“It’s so simple” he says. “I continue to go three times a week to keep in shape and maintain the progress that the Doctor says I am making.”

“That’s interesting” I say. That’s the same reason I continue to go to meetings. I keep in shape, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, not to mention how I can help others find the hope that is now mine. My Doctor tells me I’m looking better, happier and that I should keep doing whatever I’m doing, ’cause it’s working!”

The second question is one I am asked time and again. “Doesn’t going to all those depression meetings get you depressed? I mean, listening to all those problems? That sure would depress me.”

Here is what I tell all those who ask this question.

I tell them “that no, actually I look forward to my meetings. I always feel energized by going to a Depressed Anonymous meeting. I feel, by listening to others, and hearing their stories, I feel they are telling my story as well. Here, I am not alone. I am with people just like me. Each of us attending the meetings are at different places in our lives. We are here because we believe there is a solution for me, using the spiritual principles of recovery. The more they read the DA literature, talk to each other, they find tools to overcome their depression. They feel the energy, the peace and hope which they receive from each other at the meetings.

The meetings don’t dwell on our depression, as much as we dwell on the power of the Twelve Steps. Here is what I love about the meetings, I see people growing with every meeting. Even their faces begin to soften – they have a smile now. A few weeks previous, they had nothing but hurt to feel.

Again, the reason I go to meetings is to get a boost. I get another dose of hope. I am only as isolated as I choose to be. I now can choose to live and feel differently.

Find your plan of recovery (find a Depressed Anonymous meeting), and stick to it. Get into action. Seek out a DA member to talk with, and you’ll be on a journey that will continue to bring peace, hope and a fellowship with you as long as you wish.

For more information, check out the Depressed Anonymous website at depressedanon.com. You’ll be happy that you did. So, this fellowship is the reason I keep coming back to my meetings. There are no fees. No dues. Just come and see. Virtual, Zoom group meetings are now online.

Thanks for reading this message today. Please join us at Depressed Anonymous. You are always welcomed.

Hugh S. for the fellowship

Life Is Unpredictable

The following quotation is taken from the Introduction to Depressed Anonymous, the book used by the fellowship of Depressed Anonymous, a 12 Step recovery program.

Life is unpredictable. Every living organism operates with a certain amount of unpredictability and uncertainty. The uncertainty of life creates in us a desire for predictability. If we did not believe in the possibility of change, we would all be hopelessly lost and forever bored. Hope would be lost. Potential for a better life would never exist. Where there is hope, change is possible. The experience of depression is much the same. Depression is so predictable and unchanging that we lose hope for the pain of our isolation ever coming to an end.

Let me lift one sentence from the above quotation, which turns out to be a truth, attested to by thousands of those of us who are members of Depressed Anonymous and who are in recovery. That sentence “Where there is hope, change is possible” is what brought me into the Depressed Anonymous fellowship.

Like so many of us, who are just trying to get through each day, we are looking for something that could ease our pain and lift our burden of hopelessness. We were not only bored and isolated from life, but we had given up on ourselves of ever beng able to climb out of the hole which had us trapped.

When I walked into a Depressed Anonymous group meeting, I was thinking if those gathered could help me change, take me out of the pit that I was living in, I felt I had a chance – I too would be able to change.

Hope brought me into this fellowship, and member’s sharing their own hope, experiences and strengths, gradually convinced me that it was possible for me to get better. That now became my truth.

Hugh S.

© 2011 – Depressed Anonymous, THIRD EDITION, Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY

Catastrophic Thinking

Dorothy Rowe shares with us some helpful thoughts on how to deal with those thoughts which we label as catastrophic.

Suppose that there is some event looming and you are frightened of what is going to happen. Your Mother may be coming to stay or you are required to go to the firm’s ball, or your daughter expects you to go to her graduation or your son wants you to take him along – all fearful events of course – and you can’t see any way of avoiding them other than being very depressed. Try something else. Write down what it is you are expected to do and then say, ‘if I do this, what is the very worst that could happen?’

Write down your answer and look at it in the cold light of day. If you have said ‘I’ll die’ then rejoice your troubles will soon be over.

If you have said, ‘I’ll make a fool of myself’ ask ‘What is the opposite of making a fool of oneself’? Then ask ‘Why is this important’? See if you dare commit to paper just how vain you are.

Then go back to the original situation and say, ‘How many different outcomes can I see?’ List them all, the good ones as well as the bad, the fantastic ones as well as the prosaic, see if you can predict what then actually happens. (No cheating by using self-fulfilling prophecies like ‘I am sure I won’t enjoy it.’)

Then there are the things that you feel compelled to do. No strange force is compelling you, not any person other than yourself. When you see your own values clearly you can ask, ‘Do I do this because I believe it is right or do I do it because the parent in my head tells me to and I am too scared to disobey’?

You are you, you are the parent in your head, you are the child who is scared to disobey. You can spend the rest of your life `going around as three squabbling people, or you can choose` to make into yourself one whole person.

Resource
Copyright(c) Dorothy Rowe. Depression: The way out of your prison. SECOND EDITION. 1983, 1996. Routledge, New York, NY.pp.225-226.

Depression made me think I was losing my mind, until I did two things that changed my life forever

“What is happening to me,” I asked myself, as I spent another week of struggling to get out of bed. It was like a 500 pound lead weight had dropped on top of me. I felt that whatever commands I issued to my body, “like get out of bed,” the message never reached my body.

The only thing that I knew what to do was to force myself to move the body and hopefully the mind would follow, be it reluctantly. And that is exactly what happened. Every morning after was a struggle, but I did manage to push myself out of bed and I got myself to work. When work ended, I went home and immediately hit the bed. What’s going on here? I asked. I had no clue that what was the matter was that my body was shutting down and that my mind gradually became powerless to make any positive changes in my behavior or thinking.

It was only as I started to walk five miles a day in a local mall, just to promote the fact that I was up and out and able to get to work. I want to make the point here that even though this walking continued for over a year and half, I still was forcing myself to get out of bed. Every morning the debate in my head started all over again. By now I had developed some resistance to staying in bed and just realized, if I was to save my job, I had to walk.

Eventually, the walking was a way out of the prison that my mind had constructed. Eventually, I learned that the way I was living my life and the negativity that I had embraced in my thinking, together threw me into a deep dark pit. Before I was able to figure out what was happening to me, I became depressed. The more I tried to figure out, in my mind, why I was depressed the more I became further depressed, isolated and alone. Then I did something that changed my life to this very day.

The first thing that I did was to force myself to get out of bed and walk, walk, and walk some more. (I still walk three times a week). I know first-hand, the potential life-threatening nature of depression.

The second most important discovery for my recovery was to find a group of men and women just like myself, all who were depressed and looking for a way out of their depression. It was this 12 Step fellowship group, Depressed Anonymous, that has been an integral part of the way I live my life today. If you are looking for what I found, namely, a way to quit saddening yourself, this support group may be your lifeline as much as it continues to be for me today. And I still attend this meeting, even though I have not been depressed for many years, I attend because I find that I can help others to find the hope and peace that it promised and provides for me today.

Discover important information at www.depressedanon.com for our online virtual Zoom meetings which meet every day of the week. Other DA sponsored groups also meet during the week. There are no fees and dues. Come and share or just come and listen. You will find that you are not alone. We are all on this journey of hope together…and we do recover.

For the fellowship, Hugh S.

Life is a Symphony

Sometimes, I am plagued with thoughts like, “what is the point?” or “what is this going to change anything anyway?” which leads me to doing nothing at all and just wallowing in my own sadness.  I was having one of those days that I am so familiar with, just to feel safe. But because of this program, I decided to do one thing that brings me joy; playing the flute.

As I played, it reminded me of the joy of being a part of a symphony. To be one part of a whole, even through the secondary melodies and many minutes of rests as the other instruments exploded in their grandeur, being swept away when I harmonized with another or sat in silence waiting for the entrance of my own instrument…

Before recovery, I was the conductor of the symphony of my life. It consisted of a jumble of solos as I reached for the next quick fix that would keep the music going for just another second longer. Now that I am in recovery, I have stepped down from the role, and let my Higher Power do my job. The God of my understanding knows and is capable of actually leading all parts of my life, and will never quit on my musical masterpiece. The 12-steps was my leap of faith to put my trust in God, and now I don’t question why I must play this inaudible sound, because I am not in charge anymore.

My happiness is a beautiful melody and it consists of many tiny sounds and noises. I don’t have to understand to partake in it anymore. I just have to do what I have to do, one day, one hour, one second at a time, and be joyous about making that one part of a whole happen.

I am humbled by this program after being helped so many times, and I am still learning new things every day from my fellows. I am filled with gratitude to be a part of this DA symphony, with all of our strengths and weaknesses, coming together, playing the most serene music I have ever heard.

Yours in Recovery,

Anna T

At least someone listened to me

I have heard this comment a few times after a new member shares some of their personal story at a Depressed Anonymous meeting. Can it be that many people feel so isolated and alone contend no one wants to stop and listen to what they have to say? I am afraid this is true. This is especially true for those of us who come to a meeting, professedly for people depressed, and discover we are welcome to share who we are and where we have been on this life journey. Possibly for the first time in our adult life, there are people like myself who are able to share their story. And people listen.

Just like children, emotions heal when they are heard and validated.
– Jill Bolte Taylor, My Stroke of Insight

SAFE PLACE TO FALL

i love when one of my Depressed Anonymous friends says that a Depressed Anonymous meeting room is a “safe” place to fall. She describes it as an all accepting place with friends who truly understand what you are talking about. A place where you don’t have to feel ashamed to have mental illness or discuss depression at length! She says when she walks into the room and takes a seat she knows that the love and the anonymity of the group will provide her a safe place to discuss what’s happening in her life with her son and the bizarre situations bringing depressive thoughts. No place else has she ever found such a place she says. The bonds made with new friends who can speak the language of depression has been an amazing blessing. She says she never knew there could be such a place. A place where she truly can give details of her life, shed tears and not feel ashamed. Discuss her meds, her dark thoughts and ask for help without ensuring failure! Thus she says Depressed Anonymous meetings are a safe place to fall! Bringing her a comfort she didn’t know before. Sometimes we just need friends who truly understand and can relate to our depression. Especially living in a world where people tell us to just get up and go out and we will feel better. It’;s a safe place to be with people who can relate to feeling suicidal or being so down and not wanting to get out of bed. This “miracle of the group” is what makes it such a safe place to “fall,”: Thank God for depression support group where we can meet wonderful friends who are there when we need the help, and who totally understands depression.”

-Anonymous

“Depressed Anonymous meetings are a safe place to fall.”
(c) A Medley of depression stories. Debra Sanford. (2017) pp.57-58. With permission

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.

Stick to the plan. A prescription for change today.

It took me awhile to put into practice a simple idea. That idea is to do the same thing, day after day, in the same place and at the same time. If you have trouble following through on ideas or commitments, then you might feel better about reading the next few paragraphs.

With different situations in my life, some upheavals, some turning points, changes in my life goals, plus trying to do to much at the same time. It was somehow never easy to do what I knew needed to be dome. I used as my mantra “I’ll do it when I feel better.” In fact, this idea seemed to express perfectly, what I was doing, so I titled one of my books after it. Gradually, procrastination, I sensed, would not fit into my recovery program. I had put off for too long to knuckle down and start to do the work that I needed to do.

Here is my plan. I know it can work for you as well. There is no particular time limit on how long your prayer time is to be.

1. Everyday, I have found that morning works for me, I go to the quiet place that is best for my time alone with God, and start with a daily reading of Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 Daily Thoughts and Meditations for 12 Step Fellowships. This reading begins with an Affirmation, then a reflection, and a final meditation. I have my notebook handy and I write down a positive thought that I want to carry me through my day. Most of the time this is a simple single sentence.

2. I then read and reflect on a paragraph or two from our Depressed Anonymous manual.This is coupled with the accompanying Depressed Anonymous Workbook, where personal reflections, in the form of questions, help me clarify how I think about myself. These questions continue to uncover issues which I might have never encountered, becoming the positive basic building blocks, helping with an understanding of the nature of my own depression experience, and developing in myself strategies, the 12 spiritual principles of growth, for my personal recovery, day-by-day.

It’s not complicated. It’s a plan. This time of prayer and meditation is a powerful way to make “conscious contact” with the God of your understanding. (Check out Chapter 10 in “I’ll do it when I feel better.” This chapter discusses more fully the topic of prayer and meditation.

Resources

(c)Hugh Smith. Higher Thoughts for Down Days:365 Daily Thoughts and Meditations. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Ky.
(c) Depressed Anonymous, THIRD EDITION (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY
(c) The Depressed Anonymous Workbook, (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications.Louisville, Ky.
(C)Hugh Smith. I’ll do it when I feel better. (2020) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Ky.

+ These works can by ordered online at www.Depressedanon.com. Click onto The Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore.