“Yesterday I was clever,
so, I wanted to change the world.
Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”
Rumi – 13th century Muslim Sufi
Words have amazing power. Guess what happens when I say ‘I suffer from depression’? Yep, you guessed it – I. SUFFER. FROM. DEPRESSION. The very action of saying that I suffer from depression creates further suffering.
Don’t say ‘I am depressed’ as there is a sense of finality and futility in that statement. Saying ‘I am depressed’ sounds like you are defining who and what you are by your depression. You are more than that. Depression is but one small sliver of yourself. Choose different more affirming language. You’re not sugar coating the existence of your depression, you’re merely using different words to describe it.
I’m suggesting you use different language. My first suggestion is that instead you say ‘I’m recovering from depression’. You’re on a journey to wellness. You may be at the beginning or at the end of your journey, but you are on the journey. You are not stuck in the hopeless state of suffering depression. You are seeking wholeness and serenity. You haven’t given up and chosen to wallow in your depression.
OK, what if you can’t even say that you are ‘recovering from depression’? I have another more neutral statement for you to try on: ‘I have depression’. It’s something you have, it doesn’t define you fully. By saying you have depression you open up the possibility that in the future you may not have depression.
OK, you don’t like that one? How about ‘I feel depressed’? Feelings may last a long time, but they eventually do pass. The only permanent thing is life is impermanence.
This too shall pass.
– Slogan heard in an AA meeting
The deep dark depression will pass eventually. If you are feeling good at the moment, well that will pass as well. I’m not saying ‘woe is me’, but rather pointing out the universal truth of impermanence. This dark cloud that you are under may be massive but it will eventually pass, and the sun will come out.
Please choose your words wisely. The words you use influence your thoughts. Your thoughts influence your feelings. Your feelings influence your actions. You want to be on a different path, well the first step (pardon the pun) is by choosing to use different words to describe your current state.
Yours in recovery, Bill R
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
It would not seem like a big deal to share our experience with depression at a Depressed Anonymous mutual aid support group. But the surprise comes as we share our own personal journey with others. We discover that no one drops out of their seats as they hear a new member tell of their suicide attempts, or the shame and guilt over the crazy things I have done in the past.
There is a freedom that accompanies our story telling because we are hearing ourselves share very personal things about our past. Once we get started sharing our story we may feel that we are letting ourselves be vulnerable.
In our Depressed Anonymous Big Book, 3rd edition, we hear the author tell us the following.
“Many times we have been so scared of being rejected once more that we have withdrawn deeper into the anguish of our shame and hurt. We need to air our hurts, our shame, and let others hear our story. There is something healing about hearing ourselves speak to others about our own journey in life and the many emotional potholes that we have fallen into from time to time. We have felt our lives jinxed.”
And here is the surprise I referred to earlier: there is no criticism of what we share. Everyone in the group thanks us for sharing our story. We now know that most of the fellowship have experienced some of the same behaviors and feelings themselves at one time or the other. In fact, their stories and mine have much in common. They have no difficulty in seeing themselves in my account of a lifetime of depression. I feel affirmed. I no longer feel alone. I know I am among friends and among those who are walking the same path as myself. We are all in this recovery effort together.
In the Depressed Anonymous Workbook we read the following:
“Have you noticed that you are spending less and less time alone and more time with others in the fellowship and the fellowship grows among you and others that you have met in Depressed Anonymous?” Let’s just say that our thoughts and feelings are now solution focused – whereas all we could think about before was how awful we feel. We believed that we are at the end of our rope. If there is no meeting in your community, you can use our HOME STUDY KIT which will take you through each Step and it’s commentary (Big Book) while the Depressed Anonymous Workbook asks some very valuable questions for you to answer as you move through your recovery program.
For more on this HOME STUDY KIT, please visit our Literature store at this site. You can also order Depressed Anonymous material online.
SOURCES: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.
Depressed Anonymous Workbook, Depressed Publications. Louisville.
These two works form our HOME STUDY KIT and can be ordered as a single unit.
WHAT IS DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS?
Depressed Anonymous is modeled after the 12 Steps (principles) of Alcoholics Anonymous and was founded in Evansville, Indiana in May of 1985. It uses a group approach where members mutually support each other.
In Depressed Anonymous the depressed person admits that he/she is powerless over his or her depression. The depressed person admits that the various areas of his/her lifer are controlled by depression, and that he /she needs help from one’s inner resources, combined with a faith in a Higher Power to help work through one’s time of hopelessness and helplessness.
At Depressed Anonymous meetings, we do not pry into people’s personal lives. We also do not give advice at meetings but instead tell our story and how the 12 steps are releasing us from the tight grip of depression. Meetings are normally upbeat and the focus is positive! Each of us set small concrete and positive goals for ourselves and begin to learn how to gain some mastery over our lives and feelings. Each of us has time at meetings to share our experiences with other member so f the group. As a new member you are ready to make a commitment to quit sadding oneself, and that’s when results begin to happen.
This 12 Step recovery program can be a great healer of personal wounds and provides the depressed with a new start in life. It also provides hope for people like yourself who have been where you are. Hope now resides where once there was only darkness and despair!
SOURCE: (C) I’ll do it when I feel better.(2013). Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Ky. Pages 22-23. Chapter Three: What is Depressed Anonymous.
Please VISIT THE STORE and discover the many exciting chapters, which will outline hope for the depressed and how the group can provide essential tools for unlocking the prison of one’s own depression.
I will tell as much truth about myself as I am humanly capable today.
“Only God can fully know what absolute honesty is. Therefore, each of us has to conceive what this great ideal may be to the best of our ability.”
“Fallible as we all are, and will be in this life, it would be presumptuous that we could ever really achieve absolute honesty. The best we can do is strive for a better quality of honesty.”
CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT
I admit that I am depressed. This honesty about the way I feel creates in me a real hope that by my being honest, I can admit other things about myself. My spiritual well being rides on how honest I am. It is this inner truth about myself that I want to share with others. I gain freedom the more I share who I am with other’s like me.
It is in talking about my attachments to depression that sets me free from my fear of getting more depressed. Indeed, the truth will set us free and enlighten us as to how our attachments to behavior such as depression and sadness have imprisoned us.
I have to be honest with myself if I am to be released from my prison of depression. In my heart, I really don’t believe all the nonsense that I keep pumping into my head about how bad I am and how hopeless everything is. In reality, I know things might be bad but never hopeless. I have just to look around me and see hope blooming, budding and growing.
“He satisfied the longing soul and filled the hungry soul with good things.” Psalm 107. 9
SOURCE: Higher thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 Step fellowships. (1999) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. October 1. Page 197.
The Twelve Steps are the essential beliefs and at the very core of Depressed Anonymous. The Depressed Anonymous recovery program, modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous which originally developed to help men and women to deal with their addiction to alcohol, one day at a time. The Twelve Steps have been found to be a potent means of recovery for those who desire to free themselves from their compulsions. The Twelve Steps are basically a program of letting go of our compulsions and handing our will to the care of God, as we understand God. Essentially our program is a step-by-step way to change not only our addiction but also our way of life. Change happens when we choose to change. The fellowship of the group and our desiring to make change in our life is what provides our life-giving spiritual experience. Many people get organized religion and spirituality mixed up and Depressed Anonymous achieves strength from a spirituality without set creed, dogma or doctrine. All the program asks of a person who come to the meetings is only to have a sincere desire to stop the compulsion of sadding themselves… “Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition.(2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Page 94.
People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered, FORGIVE THEM ANYWAY!
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. BE KIND ANWAY.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies. SUCCEED ANYWAY
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you. BE HONEST AND FRANK ANYWAY.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight. BUILD ANYWAY.
If you find serenity and happiness, there may be jealousy. BE HAPPY ANYWAY.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow. DO GOOD ANYWAY.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough. GIVE THE WORLD THE BEST YOU GOT ANYWAY.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God. IT WAS NEVER BETWEEN YOU AND THEM ANYWAY.
I will forgive myself for my past faults, mistakes and live just for today and try not to be afraid.
“Even without using not forgiving as a way of controlling people, taking other people’s thoughtless slights and bad temper personally and vowing never to forgive them soon leads to loneliness….If you see forgiving as something you ought not do, then when you do something wrong, you must not forgive yourself.” (7)
CLARIFICATION IOF THOUGHT
Today, I am becoming more aware of how I cannot control life because life is so broad and expansive. The area that I do control is quite small when compared to all areas of my life. To live means to let life happen and life is spontaneous. The more we try to control our relationships, our friends and what happens to us we short circuit any serendipitous intervention into our life today by our Higher Power.
The best place for me to experience life and the stories of others like myself is at Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings, Al-Anon meetings, Dep-Anon Family Group meetings, Depressed Anonymous meetings and the many other Twelve Step program meetings.
One of those absolute truths that live in every cell of our bodies when we are depressed is that I can never forgive myself – nor anyone else for that matter. It is this absolute truth that we hold about ourselves that continually imprisons us in our depression.
Just for today, we are going to really attempt to forgive ourselves for what happened to us yesterday and act as if today, the first day and only day of our lives, that I will be a new me. We are beginning life all over today. God, let your peace fill us now, and forever.”
Copyright(c) Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Kentucky Page 99.