Category Archives: Focus

101: How to eliminate wild weeds (Negative Thinking)

Eliminating weeds from our gardens or from the Spring beauties who show their marvelous colors every year, makes it our major task to dig the weeds out, cutting down these thriving seeds of destruction. They become a pest when allowed to grow and take over what was hoped to be something beautiful and bountiful. Negative thinking is likewise that noxious weed- It yields no good fruit!
Our strategy, is to knock them out before they can get a root- hold, destroying our hard work and handiwork. Seeing the first sign of the noxious weed (negative thinking) tells us that more are on the way.

This I believe, serves as a metaphor for when a mind has been taken over with negative thinking and accompanied by a sense of hopelessness.
Our mind, if filled with uninvited negative thinking, cycling us down with a feeling of loss and hopelessness, we find it’s time to get into action, take a crack at that first negative thought–before it even gets a chance to sabotage our thinking, our feelings and motivation to change.
When the negative thoughts begins–say STOP–don’t go any further with a debate about that first thought. We refuse to get entangled with this tangent thought, always leading us to places where we don’t want to go. We have been at this point of thinking far too many times. We know now how to dismantle this crippling form of negative thinking. Change the script. You do the managing of what you think about.
First, cut the thought down to size–don’t let it scare you, but tell it “I’m not going to believe this anymore.” Another reccuring negative thought, for example might be, “You are worthless.” When this thought appears, we can replace it with a positive “sunspot.” This “sunspot” can be a positve recent mental image of a past event or a positive affirmation of ouselves. And with your own weed control operation, tell yourself as many good things about yourself as you want. What you can accomlish at this point is to see the weed (thought) for what it is. Cut it down, like a bad weed, and dig it out. Have an affirmation ready at hand, to replace each and every negative thought. Positivty thinking is what you are all about!

AFFIRMATION
“Making direct amends and using a personal inventory continues our progress and helps free us from all the hurts of the past. We know now that we can’t afford to think long about real of imagined hurts, or we will throw ourselves back into saddening ourselves once again.”

REFLECTION
One of the things that is toxic for the depressed peron is negative thinking. This thinking continues to grow, once nurtured by my attention into a large and uncontrolled wild weed, taking all the attention from the good things happening in my life. I know that I can no longer give into that first thought allowing to pound me to the ground. My negative thinking is very much akin to drinking for the alcoholic. Once I give into that first moment of self-bashing, the cycle of depression begins. There can be no second negative thought!
Hurts from my past continue to grow stronger the more I allow them to dominate my thinking and my behavior. Hurts are best eradicated (Seep 4 and Step 5) when I deal with them openly and honestly.

MEDITATION
The spirit hopes in God as we begin today with a prayer and a belief that this day can be a good one, like the days that I have had in the past.”

Copyright(c) Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 Step fellowships. Depressed anonymous Publications.Louisville, Ky. Pages 153-154. (September 17)

Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous. Third Edition (2011). Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.

The Fox And Sour Grapes

Leaving Loneliness Behind

Our skills in relationships

“Being lonely requires some special skills, and you who are lonely have perfected these skills. There is the “sour grapes” skill. You remember Aesop’s fable about the fox who saw a bunch of ripe grapes hanging high on a vine. He jumped again and again, trying to reach the grapes, and each time he missed. Finally, he went away, saying to himself, ‘Those grapes are sour. I didn’t want them anyhow.’

Like the fox, whenever you see something that you might do which could make you less lonely- such as joining a club, taking up a hobby – visiting friends you can quickly and efficiently see that the grapes are sour – that the club is full of snobs, the hobby a waste of time, the friends are boring. Unlike the fox, you don’t even make a few jumps. You can know that something is not worth doing, so you don’t need to try.

One popular form of ‘sour grapes’ is the ‘aren’t those people ‘ridiculous’ skill.”


We can always have the time to do something that is important to us. We simply not do something less important. But every kind of work can be expanded, to fill all the time available, so when we are asked to do something which we wish not to do, we can say, very virtuously, ‘I’d loved to do that, but I haven’t got the time.’ This is a skill which lonely people polish to perfection.

Thus, if the skill that you use in relationships are aimed at scorning, limiting and avoiding relationships, you have cut yourself off from other people through a fear of other people.

Copyright Dorothy Rowe 1991: Breaking the Bonds: Understanding Depression, Finding Freedom. Fontana – an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. London. UK. PAGES 246,247,249

Using the RAIN model

A fellow member of DA shared some wisdom with me and I thought I would pass it along. She mentioned that she uses the RAIN model or methodology when dealing with a situation:

  • Recognize
  • Acknowledge
  • Investigate
  • Nurture

Before you react to a situation that arises use the RAIN model.

Recognize – Be aware of the state you are in. State the facts of the situation without judgment.

Acknowledge – Accept that you are indeed in the situation you are in. You don’t need to fight it or complain about it. Acknowledging is not the same as liking or wanting the thing to happen – you’re just accepting that is where you are in the moment.

Investigate – Scan your thoughts, your emotions, and your physical sensations. Are you stuck in any form of stinking thinking? Label the emotion you are experiencing and where it manifests in your body. Scan yourself without judgment and with acceptance.

Nurture – Is there anything that you can do to comfort yourself and/or make you safe? Do you need to attack the thing that is harming you, or is a simple retreat a more effective way to protect yourself? Is there anything that you could think or do that would improve the situation even if only 1%? Do what the nurturing side of yourself is suggesting in the moment.

Practice the RAIN model. It will not feel natural at first, but keep doing it. A sense of calm will begin to envelop you. You will be able to respond maturely and serenely to the situations that come up in your life as opposed to the immature unhealthy reaction which is the normal way you do things.

You are worthy of being calm and loving towards yourself even if you are in the midst of the storm and chaos of those around you. Take the higher road as that is the way to peace and serenity.

Yours in recovery, Bill R

Skate to where the puck’s going, not to where it’s been. – Wayne Gretzky

For a world renowned hockey player, Wayne Gretzky, knows what he is talking about. Isn’t it true that when we spend all our time trying to figure out why we are depressed, isolating ourselves, and our mind beating ourselves up, we dig that dark hole deeper.

It’s become obvious to most of us who are in recovery, that we do best when we have a workable plan. We believe that our plan, when lived out in our daily regular routines, will take us to where we want to go. Our plan has a definite focus.

First, let’s figure out who we are. That’s our starting point. To find out who we are can gradually lead us to another important question, what do I want? And finally, who is my God, or my Higher Power.

Today, I am going to attend an important meeting. I am going to meet some new people, plus many old friends and acquaintances, and hearing some great thoughts from those who know where they have been and are now discovering where this plan is taking them on the road to recovery.

I know where I have been. I was depressed. The meeting today is for me, and for those who are depressed now, and those who are discovering and sharing how this 12 Step plan of recovery is working for them. We call this plan, Depressed Anonymous, initially based on the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Step model of recovery for the alcoholic. Even though depressed, we find that the 12 spiritual principles, the steps of recovery, work equally well for us.

Now that I admitted to who I am, my response to the healing ways, provided by my fellowship and the positive Depressed Anonymous literature, I continue to live a daily life, with hope and support. Now, when I get out of bed in the morning I look forward to living my life on life’s terms – not on my terms. Life is good.

I want what I find in my new discovery of a spiritual program, filling me with hope, acceptance. My program of recovery gives me the motivation to maintain a new way of living, filled with a purpose and meaning. I know that I am finally getting what I always wanted, peace, a plan for keeping my focus on where my life is going, not in the negativity and darkness of the past, not only threatened my mental wellness and relationships, but for some, their very lives.

My God? Now, I have a God that I know loves me, supports me in my new life, my new direction. What used to send my feelings and thinking into a spiraling downward, into a deep sadness, but now, since I have ‘made a decision to turn my will and life over to the care of God as I understood God to be’, my life keeps getting better. For that and this program of recovery, I am grateful. (Step 3).

Resource:

Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous, THIRD EDITION. 2011. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.

Do I have to do the work of Recovery?

The short answer is NO you do not have to do the work of recovery.

Recovery is about having a choice. A choice to do things differently. I can continue to act, think, and talk in the ways that I have done in the past, but chances are the outcome will be the same.

If I do what I always did, I will get what I always got.
– A slogan heard in a 12 Step recovery meeting

I can choose to stay in stinking thinking. I can choose to continue to look to blame others for my depression and my situation. A far healthier choice though is to accept and take ownership of my part in my depression. There are things, small or large, that I can do, think or say that perpetuate my depression. That is what is meant by saddening yourself.

Taking ownership of your own stuff is hard to do. There is no denying it. But sadly, it is the only way out. I need to accept that my best thinking got me into the depths of my depression. Continuing on with doing it my way is a recipe for disaster.

I have a choice. I choose to do the work of recovery. Not because it is easy, but rather because it is what will bring about healing in my life. There is a saying in Buddhist circles – trying to calm the monkey mind. My mind is fraught with negativity, anger, fear, and self-loathing. I need to walk on a higher path. I need to go the way of recovery. I need to take the pathway where God walks.

The trick is that I don’t have to – I get to choose a better healthier way.

You too can choose to take the higher road. Good luck!

Yours in recovery,
Bill R

Plan ahead for intermittent brain fog

When I’m in the thick of a depressive episode my brain is foggy – I just can’t think straight. In those moments of darkness I am unable to think of things I could be doing to improve my mood, or to ease my anxiety.

My brain fog eventually passes. The trick is that when I am lucid I have to write out and plan the things I could do when depression strikes. All I have to do when the brain fog strikes is to remember that I have written down options of things to do.

Be gentle with yourself and forgive yourself for any brain fog you experience. It happens to many of us with depression. If you can’t think of things you could be doing fear not. Fire up your web browser and go to your favorite search engine and search for things you could do to treat your depression. You don’t HAVE TO do any of the things on the list – they are options available to you. Having choices is better than having no choices.

I put together a list of over 100 things I could do to help treat my depression. Put together your own list of things you could do. Be thorough when putting together the list. Write down things that may only improve your mood by 1%. One percent better is better than where you are. Remember you don’t HAVE TO do any of the things on the list. You will be making a choice to do the things that you are willing to do in that moment of darkness.

Remember the hurdle you have to cross is not DO I WANT TO DO THIS, but rather AM I WILLING TO DO THIS? The willingness hurdle is lower than the wanting to hurdle. Do the things you are willing to do. Once you begin doing things motivation will come to do more. Remember that motivation follows action.

Yours in recovery,
Bill R

Doing what you can, even if it is really small

My depression wants me to wallow in doing nothing. I want to crawl into the Bill cave and let the world pass me by.

If I give into that thought completely I am doomed to remain in the pit of my depression. I must take action! What if I don’t have the motivation? Well I don’t need to muster up the energy and motivation to do the grand projects. Maybe my house is an utter pig sty and I really should fully clean my house. That’s OK – start small. Perhaps all you need is a small self push of picking up all the dirty dishes in your house and bringing them to the kitchen. If you’re feeling inspired perhaps scrape the leftovers from the plates into the garbage. Tell yourself that you are going to load the dishwasher in an hour. Two hours from now you’ll wash the pots and pans.

You don’t need to do it all right now. You don’t need to undertake all the work of recovery right now. All you need to do is to take action on the small thing in front of you. Remember you don’t climb a mountain in a single small step. Climbing a mountain is done a step at a time. Sometimes looking at the peak while we are in the valley is overwhelming. Believe me, I’ve been there. Don’t focus on how far the peak is. Just be mindful of your surroundings and where you are going to place your next step. Then take that step, then the next. Eventually you will be at the peak. The pit of the depression will be behind you.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
– Tao Te Ching

Yours in recovery, Bill R

MISS MY SAD THOUGHTS

MISSING MY SAD THOUGHTS

Some days I miss my sad thoughts. They are addictive. They fill a space in me and meet a requirement of comfort and familiarity. Humans require and seek a level of comfort and familiarity. The depressed human is no different. Sadly, it’s the sad thoughts that provide the deep level of comfort. When I remove the sadness, I have to work to replace that big open field of nothingness left. It feels hard. It feels like work. Pressure and effort. I want to fall back into the sad thinking because, I know very well how to form those thoughts and how to feel them. How to make use of them, strangely. They serve a strong purpose. They validate my depression and vice a versa. They have lived in me for so long that to have to fill the void of their space feel so hard. It feels like big shoes to fill. I feel pressed, just trying. My mind is having to accept this new training I am putting it through. It doesn’t want to change. It is not welcoming of these new positive thoughts at first. It is a struggle. My mind wrestles back and forth: ‘I just want to go home and go to my bed. No, no! You want to keep grocery shopping…! No, please, I just need to lie down, I’m leaving this group!! I am so depressed. No, no! You are going to do your task today, because, it will make you feel better.’ The better part of me wins and I refuse to be held captive, a victim to this negative dark thinking that is killing me. So, I continue on doing the grocery shopping with an internal mind struggle going on. The whole day seems to continue like this. The back and forth tug of war in my mind! It takes time to truly train the mind to accept the incoming positive thoughts. Affirmations are a needed daily medicine for the saddened mind for sure. It takes consistency. I ask myself how bad do I want to feel better? I continue to retrain my mind every single day. Slowly, I miss my sad thoughts less and less. I feel the need for the positive affirmations more and more. This is the process of healing the depressed mind and thus, my feelings. I look forward to a time where I will not miss my sad thoughts and the struggle between the positive and negative thoughts will not be such a big part of my day.”
Debra NC

“Slowly, I found the positive affirmations more and more and more.”

Copyright(c) Debra Sanford. A Medley of Depression Stories. First edition. (2017) PP> 30-31.( Used with permission.)

You may email Debra: thedepressionstories@gmail.com. She would love hearing from you.

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.