Category Archives: Focus

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.

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