Category Archives: Focus

Slow down! Road work ahead!

How often do we see these orange warning signs along our highways? Sometimes it seems that everywhere we go, construction is going on. According to Murphy’s law, they only show up when we are in a hurry to get somewhere else.

In our recovery it is a necessity to read the signs that tell us to slow down. There is road work ahead. As we know or will soon find out recovery is about work, using those tools that are provided for our own healing and serenity.

We slow down, stop and reflect on our lives, examining how certain “triggers” not only slow us down but can “shut us down.” We discover how ruminating on the same negative feelings, produce a mood that continues to stifle us and prevents us from seeing it for what it is, namely a warning for us to make some changes in our behaviors. If we let these moods deepen there is a strong possibility that these negative ruminations can push us deeper into symptoms of depression. Before that happens, starting to use our tools can save us from relapsing or experiencing a recurrence of symptoms and get us back on the road again.

There are many things that can keep us motivated to stay involved in our program of recovery. You can read these for yourself here on our website (depressedanon.com) under the menu, TOOLS FOR RECOVERY. They are welcome tools not only providing help but hope.

You can also reflect on the “slogans” used by those of us in the 12 Step fellowships. I am going to list some of them and hope that you will use these as “mantra’s” or “slogans” for your own recovery and “road work.”

KEEP IT SIMPLE. Don’t complicate your life by over-analyzing or by placing judgments on others thinking or behavior. Don’t double yourself up with doing a hundred different things all at once.

DO THE NEXT RIGHT THING Telling yourself I’ll do it when I feel better never gets it. If you are recovering then go to meetings when you don’t want to or an appointment when you don’t feel like it. If you need to go to work go to work. That is the next right thing. Always be there for yourself and your healing. If you are doing Step work with a sponsor, then do the Step work. Do the next right thing. Put that on your bathroom mirror.

PROGRESS – NOT PERFECTION. Do what you can do and then don’t worry about it. The main thing is not that something you do is perfect –but that you are doing what you can do and doing it to the best of your ability.

CONTROL THE EFFORT-NOT THE OUTCOME. Take responsibility for you all that you do and again do your best. Make the effort. Give it your best shot. “To thine own self first be true.”

BE. HERE. NOW. Be in the present. Yesterday is gone forever. Tomorrow is not here yet. All we have is today. Enjoy the moment. Mindful that there is a God-and it isn’t me!

ONE DAY AT A TIME. We are only given one 24 hour period at a time. Use it well. Keep a journal and list three things that you are grateful for today.

Thank you for doing a little road work for yourself today. I hope that some of what I have written may have motivated you to look deeper into how you can “accept the things that you cannot change, the courage to change the things you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

If you would like to read more about depression please go to The Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore.

(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.
(c) The Depressed Anonymous Workbook. (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY

Hugh

Three Circles

OK we know that depression is a disease, and we can also look at it as an addiction. In my opinion it’s helpful to look at other programs of recovery for understanding, inspiration, and tips on how to best manage your recovery from that addiction.

One topic of recovery is to have a relapse prevention plan. If you go through life unaware and on auto-pilot chances are real good that you will relapse in your depression. You want to avoid that if humanly possible. The trick is to be aware of your behaviors and where those behaviors lead you. There are things that you can do that make you feel useful and whole. There are things that you can do that lead you towards that bottom line addictive behavior. And finally the thing you are trying to avoid: having a relapse of active depression.

The three circles is one way to come up with a relapse prevention plan. The three circles are concentric (see diagram below).

The Outer Circle contains those things that you can do that make you feel good and build your inner resolve. In some circles (pardon the pun) the Outer Circle is sometimes referred to as Top Line behaviors. I’ve put into the diagram some examples of top line behaviors but that is not a comprehensive list. You decide what things fill you up and make you whole. Some other examples include: prayer; hugging loved ones; playing with your pet; talking with friends; doing service; donating time/money to your favorite charity.

The Middle Circle contains those behaviors that lead you closer to a full blown relapse of your depression. Sometimes the Middle Circle is called Mid Line Behaviors. In some recovery groups they are called “People, Places, and Things” – anything that brings you closer to your bottom. As before you decide what belongs in the Middle Circle. What triggers you toward your depression may be a common trigger, or may be unique to you.

The Inner Circle contains those behaviors that you are really trying to avoid and if you do them you are active in your depression. Again, you define what goes into the Inner Circle. I’ve diagrammed some examples, but come up with your own if those don’t ring true for you.

three-circles

I encourage you to come up with your own Three Circles diagram. Become aware of your behaviors and if you find yourself in the Middle Circle take action with your Outer Circle behaviors. If you find yourself in the Inner Circle take massive action in the Outer Circle. Seek help you are worth it.

Good luck with this task. It only works if you work it. Diagram it and put it into action.

Yours in recovery, Bill R

If you’d like to read more here is a link to a Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_circles

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

Periodically I will share pearls of wisdom that I’ve heard or read. I will try to include attributions to the original author/speaker.

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters
I.
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in. I am lost. I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.
II.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I still don’t see it. I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
It isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.
III.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it there, I still fall in.
It’s habit. It’s my fault. I know where I am.
I get out immediately.
IV.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.
V.
I walk down a different street.

© 1977 Portia Nelson

Yours in recovery, Bill R

You Can Do This!

Fighting and managing depression can seem like a daunting task. I know as I feel overwhelmed at times. You don’t need to stay stuck in depression. You can take action. Any action is better than inaction and isolation. Get out of yourself and do service for others. The others can be others with depression, or they can just be the downtrodden in need of support. The women in World War II rose to the challenge and went to work (Rosie the Rivetter pictured here). You can rise to the challenge of doing something to help with your depression.

Easy does it, but do it!
– Slogan heard in AA meeting

If you’ve read any of Tony Robbins work he recommends taking massive action. Being in the depths of depression what does massive action look like? Here are some things that when you are in the depths of depression that are massive actions:

  • Have a sleep regimen. Go to bed at the same time, and get up at the same time every day. I’m not expecting you to be an early riser, but have a routine.
  • Making your bed every time you get up from bed.
  • Personal hygiene. Take a shower. Shave (wherever appropriate).
  • Brush and floss your teeth.
  • Wash, fold, and put away your laundry.
  • Clean the bathroom.
  • Wash the dishes (machine washed is fine) and put them away.
  • Get dressed. My recommendation is to the level of business casual. You will feel like you have more of a purpose.
  • Get outside and take a 20 minute walk.

Put these little regimens into your life. Why did I use the word regimen?

regimen: a manner of living intended to preserve or restore health
Source: https://www.dictionary.com/browse/regimen

No one likes regimen. You are doing it for a purpose. You are attempting to restore health and sanity into your life. As you begin to do these things your depression will lighten, albeit very slightly. The slightly lighter mood will enable you to do even more massive actions. These future more massive actions will have an even greater impact on your depression.

What will those more massive actions look like? I don’t know, that depends upon you. Take the little actions of regimen. You can do those little things. Your depression will lessen even if it’s a mere one tenth of one percent. Accept the challenge, you can do it!

Then you can do even greater things that will have a greater positive impact on your depression.

Yours in recovery, Bill R

Courage To Change The Things I Can

Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is having fears, facing them, and taking action. I know that I can be overcome with fear. My depression manifests as a deer in the headlights. I am stuck in inaction. The hardest part is getting started.

Break whatever project you are procrastinating on into small manageable pieces. Start attacking and accomplishing those smaller tasks. Some people say to tackle the low hanging fruit – to start off easy. Some people say to tackle the hardest task first – the one that you are dreading the most. If you can handle the hardest task then you should be able to handle the rest.

Does it matter which way you start? The answer is a resounding no. What matters is that you take action, any action. Start, start NOW! It doesn’t matter if you make a mistake by going into action – you will have momentum on your side, and you can accomplish much more.

Choose action. Pick something, anything that is productive and gets you one step closer to your goal.

You will experience fear, it is to be expected. Have the courage to feel the fear and do it anyway. You may not feel better instantly, but you will feel better eventually.

If you are overcome with fear to the point of inaction don’t worry. Be gentle with yourself. Breathe through your fear and set the task aside for a few moments. Don’t have the attitude of no never, but instead have the attitude of no, not right now. Revisit the task that you put aside. Don’t get trapped in avoidance as you’re merely putting the fearsome task aside for a few moments. Catch your breath, and dive back in.

Be gentle with yourself, but do it!

Yours in recovery, Bill R

Discover the patterns of behavior from your own life. Example: How you think about yourself.

AFFIRMATION

I want to believe that my God, as I understand him, will continually make a path for me through life. I want today to listen to its leading.

“Our patterns are more successful than the fortune telling arts,  since we expect our patterns  to prove true, and expecting this, we usually find that they do. Edmund Carpenter once wrote,
“We say, ‘If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it, but the phrase should be, ‘If I hadn’t believed it with all my heart, I wouldn’t have seen it.'”

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

I  usually expected bad things to happen to me because bad things usually did happen to me, as Dorothy Rowe points out in her six immutable beliefs that make up the prison of our depression. I used to believe that God punished me for all the bad things I did in my life and for my being the bad person that I believe that I am. But now, I am changing my beliefs about my depression and that I am only a passive victim. I believe that I will survive this time of depression.

It’s as if  my depression is like a rotted tooth, a thing that can be extracted. I am slowly believing that it is important what I believe about myself and how I have a responsibility to extract myself from my own lifestyle of sadness. I do know this, that if I continue to think the way that I have over the last couple of years, I will stay stuck in the deep pit of depression.   If  we do  something over and over again, day after day,  we can say that we have created a pattern of thinking and behaving. Some say that our life is on auto-pilot.

I now believing with all my heart that I will get better with the help of my own resources and through the help of others and the Twelve Step program of recovery.

MEDITATION

God, you can make all things new but you never infringe your will upon any of us. But the more peace we receive from turning our will over to yours, the more I can predict that my future will be more according to your design.”

RESOURCES

(C) Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 Daily Thoughts and Meditations for members of 12 Step fellowship groups. Louisville, Ky.

(C) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky. Pg.29.

(C) Believing is Seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression (2017) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville Ky.

Order Online from The Depressed Anonymous Bookstore here at our website www. depressedanon.com.

With the compulsion to sad ourselves…

In our “Big Book” Depressed Anonymous the statement is made:

” With our compulsion to sad ourselves, much like the alcoholic’s urge to medicate his or herself with alcohol, we need daily to turn our will over to God and ask for the  Higher Power’s (God) guidance, eventually it is the conscious contact with the loving God that sets us free from the need to sad ourselves.”

11.1 Question: How do you see your depression as a compulsion? What are the triggers that cause you to spiral downward back into the dark pit of depression?

When you think of depression do you  think of it like one big thing or do you see it for the many parts that make up a depression experience, namely, the way that we think, behave or feel. In other words, when we make it to be a thing, that is when we reify it – it holds power over us – like it came out of the blue – we talk about depression in medical terms such as I just had a bout of depression -like it came from outside of us like an infectious germ or virus. In reality, our depression is made up of many parts, such as particular depressiogenic ways of thinking, behaving and feeling.

11.1. Write the way that you perceive your depression? Can you distinguish the various parts ( thinking; feeling; behaving;  physiological; motivational; spiritual ) that go to form what we call the depression experience?  Which of the above parts continue to cause you the most anxiety/fear?

Which of the following Illustrations can you best relate to.

11.2. A need to be perfect!

11.3. A need to be successful!

11.4. A need to please others always!

11.5. A need to never get angry!

11.6. A need to have someone in my life before I feel I am somebody!

11.7. Please write down how one or more of the above items keeps you down, despairing and hopeless? Also, write about where these attitudes come from?

Please respond to the statement:

I can’t do anything to remove my compulsive behavior until I choose to live without it. It is truly living in the will and mind of God that will help us, one day at a time to stop being so compulsive in our rigid and automated thinking about people and things so that we do not let our dated emotions and thoughts predict what the outcome of our perceptions ought to be.”

The Home Study Program is an excellent tool for self reflection and a meaningful way to discover what needs to be changed in our lives.  The Question  and answers provided by the participant provides freedom from the issues (dated emotions) that continue to cripple us.

RESOURCES

(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd ed., (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.

(c) The Depressed Anonymous Workbook. (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY. pp79-80.

These and other helpful publications  can be ordered online from the Depressed Anonymous Publications  Bookstore at our website www.depressedanon.com.

Was finding this phone number a coincidence?

 

Helen shares her story about finding help–when she needed it most.

”   I finally knew after two year or more of sleepless nights that someone had to help me.   I found a card saying Depressed  Center, in the back  of the phone book. It has a phone number and that was all. I talked to a man on the other end of the phone.  I said to myself this man is too  busy to talk with me, but anyway I made the first appointment myself. I made myself go. I thank God I did. I thank God that I went for help. It was a whole new beginning for me. I wanted to get well so badly. I think people do have to want to change. I went in with an attitude that I have to get well. I had heard things about counselors that scared me, but this was just all the old negative feelings that caught up with me and boxed me in. I got better and started to think differently. I started to get rid of some of my negative thoughts. I began to feel better and I continued to see my counselor. I started in Depressed Anonymous  some weeks later.”

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

If you are curious about how the mutual aid group changed Helen’s life you’ll need to read her full account in the Personal Stories section of Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition,  pages 169-172.

She also has something powerful to say about pleasing people and how  she needed to get her priorities straight and begin taking care of herself.

Sources:   Seeing is believing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression. (2017). Hugh Smith. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.

 I’ll do it when I feel better.(2018) Hugh Smith. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY

Life can be good for a change.

 

I read the Depressed Anonymous manual, go to counseling, and attend the Depressed Anonymous meetings. The meetings are a must. I need them to survive. The support group’s  members help each other by listening, talking, expressing their feelings, and giving support on how to  cope with depression. By letting my Higher Power help me, I am beginning to feel free from depression. I am not so nervous and  tensed up. My Christian inner faith is getting stronger. I am not so stressed out  and I am beginning to get confidence within myself. I still have trouble with sleep pattern and I am getting some motivation back. I have learned how to handle anxiety by taking deep breaths when I am nervous or troubled. This was suggested by my therapist. I also am learning how to stand up for myself.

All these tools have helped me and will continue to do so. They also taught me not to dwell on my past, to live life one day at a time, and to look toward the future, but not live there. It  will take me a long time to deal with depression, but I am glad that these tools are available. Life can be good for a change. Please don’t give up.”

~ANONYMOUS

Anonymous, is  one of the many persons who share their  personal story of recovery  in  the group’s  manual, Depressed Anonymous.

For more of her story and many others please go to The Depressed Anonymous Publications at www.depressedanon.com.

 

My moods began to spiral upwards once I regained control of my life!

 

Is it that simple?   Gaining control  of my life  didn’t happen overnight. I did  know that most people’s depression usually lifted after a year’s time. Mine did.  The catch is,  that for me,  it took some work and patience. No magic wand waving over my head and no silver bullet automatically killing the demon of despair that continued to beat me down. But what  gradually happened was  that my mood  came back providing me with hope and a plan for my recovery.  I began to feel some control over how I was feeling and the new mood of cheer gave me the courage to keep on doing what I was doing. In my case, my mood began to be lightened the more I continued my daily walking.

Just my determination to take of myself physically paid huge benefits. For once, in many months I felt some control over my mood and the direction where my life was heading.  I was beginning to be in control instead of my life being out of control and unmanageable.

I remember in Graduate school I gave persons depressed a questionnaire  determining  how  much control they felt they had over their lives. Interestingly, the person who felt they had less control over their lives, or none at all, these  more depressed  persons felt less in control over their environment and the way  the direction of their life was taking.

Those who were less depressed answered that they were begin to feel more in control of their lives. These persons  were experiencing more hope and   the direction of their lives was providing purpose and meaning.

What to do?

First of all, get a plan that will work for you. My plan was this Step by Step program of recovery we call Depressed Anonymous. The best part of the plan is to find friends who, just like ourselves, are working the same plan.  This fellowship, this non judgmental approach and support of the group provides us with our marching orders.  When members of the fellowship share their story–we hear our own story. We know that just by admitting that we need help  it is at this initial starting point, where we begin to spiral upwards instead of continuing   the spiral downward.

If you  want to take control of your life and your mood, it would do you well to join us and  discover how others gained control  over their lives just as it is possible for yourself.

SOURCE: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011). Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky.