Category Archives: Focus

The three questions I need to answer

I have learnt that in order to do any sort of recovery, there are three questions I need to answer. Basically, the three questions are simple in nature and not complicated.

When the Depressed Anonymous Workbook was being considered for publication and to be utilized as a critical piece of the recovery process, the Workbook was the other piece amplifying the message of the Depressed Anonymous Manual. As I began to use the Workbook, I had to reflect upon my own feelings of depression, clarifying the effects of sadness in my life. Also, I am poised to examine my relationships with family, friends and others with whom I was in contact over the years of my life. It is in the circle of these friendship and relationships that my life has been lived. We don’t live as hermits.

I guarantee that you will find a plethora of information about who you are, and how you think about yourself. Your response to so many situations that have brought you to the point where you are today. I believe, having gone through the Workbook myself, question by question and chapter by chapter with those with whom I served as a co-sponsor. I am amazed at the self-awareness that is stimulated for so many of us when we put our energies into this personal and unique process of gaining a new self-awareness of the real me. Many are surprised at the Workbook questions and one’s own responses which the questions elicited from us. The whole Workbook/Manual helps each of us face the real me and not the person whom you believed you were. So many times I find the person going through the Steps, gradually replaces mistaken beliefs about themselves, while Slowly coming into contact with the “real” and not the “false” self that others have wanted us to be, even from our earliest childhood days. Now, by finding answers to questions which were never asked and if they were asked, were not much help. Not that we didn’t want to share, but that we didn’t have an answer. Now, we not only are providing answers about who we are, we also are finding ourselves empowered as we continue to empower ourselves with the right to feel, think, and behave in ways that fits who we know we are. The three questions and their answers are unlocking those of us who were in “lockdown” but now are free.

Here are those three questions that you will be answering, at your own speed, in your own time, in more depth, as you’ve move through the Workbook.

  1. Who am I?
  2. What do I want?
  3. And who is my God?

If I am depressed or a loved one is depressed-the depression doesn’t define all that I am. Even though I may feel depressed all over- this can’t define all that I am. Just as someone who has an eating disorder – this eating disorder doesn’t define their whole person, just as being an alcoholic doesn’t define the whole total person. We might call someone an alcoholic or an addict but the label never defines the whole person.

If you are in a recovery program, such as Depressed Anonymous, it’s obvious that you are seeking help to find a way out of the prison of your own depression. The Workbook will provide you with many questions, and answers, (many your own) to help you find what you REALLY want for your life. The entire Workbook is a process of turning over each and every rock of sadness and gradually provide you with the tools, the support and the faith to overcome a life built on fear, anxiety and misery. You have the solution with credible answers that can and will provide you with a way out – the problem is no one ever told you that you have a choice or gave you the tools to gradually work your way out.

Hugh S., for the fellowship

RESOURCES
© The Depressed Anonymous Workbook (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.
© Depressed Anonymous, Third Edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.

Both of these books can be ordered from the Depressed Anonymous Publications website Bookstore @depressedanon.com
These two book can be purchased as a combo editions at a reduced price. They are also available as eBOOKS, and are less expensive as you have the ability to print them on your computer.

Statement
All books sold here on our website, the monies go back into buying more books, so as to keep our organization functioning. All work is done by Depressed Anonymous member’s service work. WE receive no outside help as we are self-supporting.

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.

Think, think, think

Think, think, think.
AA Slogan

Before recovery it used to be stimulus then reaction. Recovery has given me choice. I no longer have to react. Recovery has changed the pattern to: stimulus, pause, then response.

I have to ask myself: “What would a mature, serene person do in this situation?” Although the diseased default first thought is to do X I have a choice. I can pause, I can think about the tools I have learned in the program. I can ask the God of my understanding what I should do in this moment. So after that pause I now have a choice – I can do Y – what a mature and serene person would do.

By no means am I perfect at this. Sometimes it escapes me so I don’t pause. At times I will pause but I will still do the default reaction of X. My pattern is changing as time goes by though. I am learning to pause more, to reflect on what I should do in this moment. Sometimes I even include other people in my process. What a novel thought – including wise others who can guide me on the most useful way to go.

So my suggestion is this: Before you act, think, think, think.

Yours in recovery, Bill R

The ways we can make a “conscious contact” with our God.

For many of us, this might be the first time that we have run into information on how to make a “conscious contact” with God. In our program of Depressed Anonymous this is what we actually accomplish as we work through the 12 spiritual principles of recovery.

In Step 11 of our mutual aid group, our recovery program, Depressed Anonymous, has a clear and succinct method for making this a strong possibility for those of us who are willing to follow God’s path to freedom.

In Step 11 we learn how to get in touch with the God of our understanding.

“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry it out.”

The major words that stand out in this Step are prayer, meditation, doing God’s will for us and the and the power to carry it out.

On pages 95-96, Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition we read

“That when we are especially depressed, it is hard to keep our mind on things such as prayer, but with continued effort and practice, we can come to believe that whatever we are doing just might be better than sitting in our pool of self-pity. If we haven’t ever been big on ‘organized religion’ we have a good chance that this new approach in being with God is much less judgemental, and that this God of the Twelve Steps is much more accepting than other concepts of God that we might once have held. Sometimes we have found that our religious background has filled us with a large amount of crippling guilt, shame and hopelessness rather than the complete acceptance that we will receive from the Higher Power.”

By now, here at Step 11 we have made some great strides in not only understanding the nature of our depression, but also to spend some time on what brought us to this point in the first place.

Our journey of hope begins with Step 1, where we admitted that we were powerless over depression and that our lives had become unmanageable. This admission is what brought me into our fellowship, Depressed Anonymous. It is here that my life began to change for the better. I became part of a fellowship where I learned that it was my belief that this Higher Power, who greater than myself, could finally restore me to sanity.

Throughout the process of living with the 12 spiritual principles in my own life and becoming part of the life of all those who are the DA fellowship, I gradually learned the more I placed my trust in my Higher Power,and kept in contact with his will, my life, thinking, feelings and behaviors changed dramatically for the better. The closer I stayed in contact with God, took part in my fellowship meetings, talked with my sponsor on a regular basis the more serenity became big part of my life.

THE YEAR 2022
How to continue CONSCIOUS CONTACT with God and making your life a daily retreat.

In 2022 my daily life will start with prayer and meditation each morning. I will sit quietly, get my mind quiet, start at the same time and be in the same location every day. This regular schedule helps us stay focused on our time with God.
The following is my plan and I hope it might be yours as well. You can use those prayers and meditations that best suit you.

1. I will read my HIGHER THOUGHTS FOR DOWN DAYS: 365 DAILY THOUGHTS AND MEDITATIONS FOR 12 STEP FELLOWSHIP GROUPS.
2. i will focus on a paragraph or two from reading our DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS MANUAL,THIRD EDITION.
3.Answer a few questions FROM THE DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS WORKBOOK

Following the daily retreat I will make an entry into my Journal about any inspiring thought that I can carry with me throughout my day.
Hugh, for the fellowship

ALL DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS LITERATURE CAN BE ORDERED ONLINE FROM OUR DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS BOOKSTORE.

What is known as “the Paralysis of Analysis” was a big factor in my spiraling down into depression

I don’t know what your experience with depression might be, but it may be similar to my own. When I first became aware that I was depressed, I imagined that my wishful thinking would get me to a better place emotionally. You know, I would feel better. Wrong! In fact, the more I tried to figure out in my head what was happening to me, it seemed like the hole I was digging was getting deeper, hurtling me downward into the abyss of hopelessness. Simultaneously, my insides betrayed a foreign activity of being hollowed out, producing an anxiety in me which I can only say was a bad case of unending “jitters”.

I remember how incessant was my need to try and figure out what was happening to me. I looked back on my life’s activities previous to being locked down into this prison. I wondered why I was feeling so awful. There was no relief. I continued thinking about my life unraveling and I there wasn’t an answer available – at that time.

The more energy I gave to try and think my way out of this pain-filled darkness, the more fatigued my mind, body and spirit became. With the fatigue came a total loss of motivation.
Not only did my analyzing mind NOT provide any meaningful clues as to my situation of feeling hopeless and helpless, but I mistakenly felt that my life would never return as before. I gave up. The forever negative thinking loop became a noose around my neck – I was scared.

My analysis, my paralysis of mind, body and spirit came to an end when I joined with our fellowship of Depressed Anonymous. I moved my body and my mind followed. I didn’t want to go to meetings, talk to anyone or even try to get out of bed. Soon after, it became decision time. I had to admit that I was powerless at this time of my life, that my thinking, loopy as it was, felt like I was riding on one of those up and down carousal ponies. I was moving, but not going anywhere but down.

I never really figured out why I was depressed, only that the more I attended Depressed Anonymous meetings, read their literature (written by the depressed), I consciously became aware of a needed change in my lifestyle, the way I thought, and how my behavior might have led me down the path to where I had to admit my life was unmanageable. I sought help. I entrusted my life and decisions to a Power greater than myself and of my own understanding. By doing this, my sanity has been restored and now my life has a purpose and a meaning.

If you have been feeling the same way as I have described here, please send us an email at depanon@netpenny.net and we will help you find a way out of your depression. You can also go to the drop down MEETING menu on the homepage and discover times and places where DA meetings are being held. We hope to hear from you.

Hugh, for the fellowship

Fear

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
Frank Herbert, Dune

I recently watched the film Dune and was struck by this mantra given in the first half of the movie. Most of my fears are imaginations or are irrational. Is it rational to be afraid of being attacked by a tiger on the streets of New York City? No, that is definitely not rational. If however, I was walking in the jungles of India, at dusk, then it is a rational fear for me to have.

I must separate the rational from the irrational – the true from the imagined. If the fear is irrational then I need to focus on the reality of the present moment. Where am I? What am I feeling emotionally? Is it helpful for me to act out of that place of irrational fear? No, it is not helpful for me to act from that place of imagined fear.

What about facing rational and true fears? Courage is not having no fear, but rather facing your fear and acting anyway. If you truly do have to walk in the jungles of India at dusk, wear a backwards facing mask as that greatly diminishes the chances of a tiger attack.

Ask yourself “what can I do, in this moment, to protect myself from this true and rational fear?” Don’t give into the fear. Choose to act from a place of serenity and calm. You’ll be amazed at the results you will see.

Yours in recovery, Bill R

My word for today is “persistent”

PERSISTENT: Refusing to relent; continuing in the face of opposition, interference, etc.; stubborn, persevering.

This word has powerful ramifications for my life today. I am persistent in doing what I know is best for me. As I continue to live in the “present” moment – even though the “what if’s” cloud my mind about the past or the future. Flashbacks from past negative events and mistaken beliefs about myself are part of the opposition we face in our recovery.

I am persistent in writing in my journal about present victories, my strengths in overcoming and limiting all those negative thoughts that my internal mental critic keeps throwing at me. What persists positively is my ability to deal with the “red flags,” alerting my mind to thoughts or feelings which will immobilize me and keep me focused on the negative.

Persisting in coming to Depressed Anonymous meetings, reading the DA literature, having daily prayer and meditation time, I also persist in contacting other members of Depressed Anonymous online or by phone.

Doing some positive activity every day can become a habit, and the habit becomes an integral part of my life and behavior. Good recovery activities persist and provide hope!

Know that in our Depressed Anonymous program of recovery, it’s promised that “We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us -sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always arise if we work for them.” (Depressed Anonymous. Page.109).

I will continue to be persistent in taking care of myself today.

Hugh, for the fellowship

I can’t be held responsible for my first thought

Big news flash everyone – I have depression. Given that fact I can’t be held responsible for my first thought. My first thought more often than not is dark, depressive, critical, judgmental and self-serving. I’ve had to accept that my brain is broken and this is its default. I forgive myself for my first thought. Learn to forgive yourself for your first thought because your brain could be broken too.

Instead focus on your second thought and your first action. What am I choosing to focus on? Am I embracing an attitude of gratitude or am I stuck in a mentality of lack? You can choose what you focus on. That first thought – you are powerless over that. Let the judgment go. Am I focusing on the spiritual aspects of the program? Am I seeking a connection, a communion, with the God of my understanding? Am I choosing to be humble, or am I stuck in false pride?

Regarding my first action – am I taking one step closer to my goal of being a happy and serene person? (pardon the pun there) Or am I taking another step closer to the deep pit of depression? Am I choosing to be self-serving, or am I choosing to act in service of others? Service can be as simple as holding the door open for someone. A great way of doing service is listening to another with compassion and without judgment.

As a depressive and an addict I can’t be held responsible for my first thought. Being in recovery though means I am responsible for my second thought and my first action.

I urge you to forgive yourself for your first thought. Put focus and intention on your second thought and your first action. It will work, if you work it!

Yours in recovery, Bill R

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

Keeping my Higher Power Highest

Throughout my life, different things have been my Higher Power.  A certain job that I loved and prioritized above all else, or the person I was dating.  When I was in active addiction, different substances were a higher power.  Before recovery, the looming black cloud of deep depression was a higher power.  

Once I got into recovery and the steps, I was encouraged to find a true Higher Power, or God of my understanding – a Power greater than myself that could restore me to sanity.  In other words, Step 2.  I can honestly say that after many months of praying and working the steps, this Power relieved me of the obsession to drink and helped me to recover from the hopeless dark pit of deep depression. 

My challenge today, now that I am not in that deep dark hole of depression, is to keep my Higher Power the highest priority in my life.  For example, I recently started a short term job in a field that I am very passionate about.  It has been very demanding and time consuming, and I’m finding that this position is consuming my thoughts, actions, and life.  When I talked to my sponsor about this, she asked “So, has this job has become your Higher Power?”  I realized she was right!  Where was God in my life?  In my thoughts?  How can I be working Step 3 if I am not cognizant of my Higher Power and turning my will and my life over to His care?  I realized this job had become my priority in life, instead of my Higher Power and my recovery.  I am grateful for this reminder, so that I can get back on track.  I know that when I don’t place my Higher Power and my recovery first in my life, I start to slip back into old thinking patterns and old behaviors, which for me will lead me back into depression. 

Thank you, God, that You are always there for me, ready and willing to help me, no matter how many times I stray.