Category Archives: Honesty

Depression made me think I was losing my mind, until I did two things that changed my life forever

“What is happening to me,” I asked myself, as I spent another week of struggling to get out of bed. It was like a 500 pound lead weight had dropped on top of me. I felt that whatever commands I issued to my body, “like get out of bed,” the message never reached my body.

The only thing that I knew what to do was to force myself to move the body and hopefully the mind would follow, be it reluctantly. And that is exactly what happened. Every morning after was a struggle, but I did manage to push myself out of bed and I got myself to work. When work ended, I went home and immediately hit the bed. What’s going on here? I asked. I had no clue that what was the matter was that my body was shutting down and that my mind gradually became powerless to make any positive changes in my behavior or thinking.

It was only as I started to walk five miles a day in a local mall, just to promote the fact that I was up and out and able to get to work. I want to make the point here that even though this walking continued for over a year and half, I still was forcing myself to get out of bed. Every morning the debate in my head started all over again. By now I had developed some resistance to staying in bed and just realized, if I was to save my job, I had to walk.

Eventually, the walking was a way out of the prison that my mind had constructed. Eventually, I learned that the way I was living my life and the negativity that I had embraced in my thinking, together threw me into a deep dark pit. Before I was able to figure out what was happening to me, I became depressed. The more I tried to figure out, in my mind, why I was depressed the more I became further depressed, isolated and alone. Then I did something that changed my life to this very day.

The first thing that I did was to force myself to get out of bed and walk, walk, and walk some more. (I still walk three times a week). I know first-hand, the potential life-threatening nature of depression.

The second most important discovery for my recovery was to find a group of men and women just like myself, all who were depressed and looking for a way out of their depression. It was this 12 Step fellowship group, Depressed Anonymous, that has been an integral part of the way I live my life today. If you are looking for what I found, namely, a way to quit saddening yourself, this support group may be your lifeline as much as it continues to be for me today. And I still attend this meeting, even though I have not been depressed for many years, I attend because I find that I can help others to find the hope and peace that it promised and provides for me today.

Discover important information at www.depressedanon.com for our online virtual Zoom meetings which meet every day of the week. Other DA sponsored groups also meet during the week. There are no fees and dues. Come and share or just come and listen. You will find that you are not alone. We are all on this journey of hope together…and we do recover.

For the fellowship, Hugh S.

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

Making “resolutions” on New Year’s Day hasn’t worked for me

My New Year’s resolutions usually self-destruct, sometimes quickly (same day) and most times, a little bit later. What’s the point? Why make them? It sounds good when I hear myself tell others how I am going to do this or I am going to do the other to change my life. Now, today, I tell myself, that this year it’s going to be different. I know that the one major change in my life was a decision I made more than three decades ago…to no longer sad myself. That is the one “resolution”, if you will, that I have kept over the years and has worked for me. It continues to work for me.

I don’t make big “announcements” that I am going to do this or that. What I do now is to keep making decisions that I know with time and God’s help I can change my life, my thinking and my moods.

Recovery’s North Star is honesty – honesty with self and honesty with others. With this in mind, I place the resolution business aside. I know the New Year is about a new start, for some, a new beginning, filled with hope, promises and experiences. Whatever works for others is fine – it just doesn’t work for me.

My life has been geared toward living one day at a time. Keeping it simple, and putting the 12 principles of recovery into practice in my everyday life. My life is as Bill W., points out in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions,

…service gladly rendered, obligations squarely met, troubles well accepted or solved with God’s help, the knowledge that at home or in the world outside we are partners in a common effort, the well understood fact that in God’s sight all human beings are important, the proof that love freely given surely brings a full return, the certainty that we are no longer isolated and alone in a self constructed prison, the surety that we no longer be square pegs in round holes but can fit and belong to God’s scheme of things – these are the permanent and legitimate satisfactions of living, for which no amount of pomp and circumstance, no heap of material possessions could possibly be substitutes.
True ambition is not what we thought what it was. True ambition is the deep desire to live usefully and walk with humility under the grace of God.

RESOURCES

Copyright © Hugh Smith. I’ll do it when I feel better. (2020) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY. p.95.

Copyright © Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. (1952, 1953, 1981) The A.A., Grapevine,Inc and Alcoholics Anonymous.

Not too tight, not too loose

Last week, my boss’s 8 year old daughter told me something that really helped me with my recovery today. She asked me to do her hair in preparation for her ballet class that was near my office. As I was gathering her long locks into a ponytail, she told me,

“Not too tight, but not too loose!”

Today is Thanksgiving in the US, and the past 5 years of Thanksgiving has been a really difficult day for me. It was a special day that my father used to prepare for, waking up at 4am to prepare his famous turkey and ham. Last night I even had a dream about him and woke up very sad. Ever since his passing, this holiday has been in shambles, with none of my family members organizing or choosing to spend it with each other. I am sure it is hard on everyone who is reminded that we can never taste his delicious food.

I also have been very tight with myself, finding other families and friends to spend the day with as a distraction from my feelings. Today, I have loosened up a little, mourning him and giving myself space to feel and be. Thanks to this program, I can be kind to myself and give myself a little breathing room. I know now that it’s important to feel my feelings; to not run away from them. I know I have the tools to pull myself out before it’s too late. I can deal with the strong emotions and have people to help me wait out the storm. And to me, this is recovery; to not deny who I am or what I am feeling, but to face them and have support to overcome it. And for that I am forever grateful, and appreciate the love and support from my fellows from the bottom of my heart.

Today, I will relax the tension of my rubber band. Not too tight that I feel like my hair is being pulled, but not loose enough for it to fall apart. And I will always remember my father’s hug which was also,

“not too tight, but not too loose”

Yours in recovery,

Anna T

Stop saying ‘I suffer from depression’!

stop-sign
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.

Good luck.

Yours in recovery, Bill R

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.”

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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

In telling my story I feel hopeful!

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.

 

Depressed Anonymous meetings are normally positive and the focus is upbeat!

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 lifeIt also provides hope for people like yourself who have been where you are. Hope now resides where once there was only darkness and despair!

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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.