Category Archives: Hope

Metaphor for my depression

OK, I’m acknowledging and admitting in public that I have depression. I choose not to say that I suffer from depression, as I believe suffering is a choice. Here I mean the Buddhist interpretation of suffering, the mental and emotional anguish that we put ourselves through when we don’t accept the present moment for what it is.

Pain is part of the human experience, suffering is optional.

I choose to say instead that I have depression, or that I sometimes experience the symptoms of depression. This simple change of the words I use to describe my condition allows for space for the possibility that someday I won’t have depression, or that I don’t experience the symptoms of depression.

Why all this talk about words? Well words have great power. If you read Genesis, God first spoke “Let there be light”, then light existed. Words are the first step of creation. The words I choose to use help create my reality.

Many of us view life as a series of metaphors. Some view life as a race, others view it as a game, still others see it as a constant struggle. What metaphor do I use to describe my depression?

As I mentioned in a prior post, humans are dualistic beings. I see myself as two beings in one:

  1. a wounded inner child
  2. a mature outer adult

My depression shows itself by a lack of energy, a lack of progress, and a lack of emotion. The swing is not moving.

The depression is a manifestation of my wounded inner child. It is sitting in the swing. It is petulent and drags its feet in the sand. Sometimes it goes so far as to pump its legs in the opposite direction to prevent progress.

My outer mature adult is smaller than the depression. I can’t give a single push to get the depression swinging. I have to time my pushes, and consistently apply positive actions in my life. I have to encourage the inner child to lift his feet. After that I can encourage the inner child to begin pumping his legs so swinging isn’t relying totally on my smaller outer self.

It’s not a perfect metaphor mind you, but it is fairly consistent with my experience with my depression. I am hopeful that consistently giving gentle pushes I will emerge from the depression, free and happy once again. This future is possible for you too.

Yours in recovery, Bill R

I still prefer to cling to the so-called illusion of religion. – Bill W., co-founder of AA

Bill W., the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, wrote this to a friend in 1946, sharing this thought:

Many people soberly assure me that man has no more place in the universe than that of another competing organism, fighting its way through life only to perish in the end. Hearing this, I feel that I still prefer to cling to the so-called illusion of religion, which in my own experience has meaningfully told me something very different.

REFERENCE
Copyright(c) As Bill Sees It: The A.A. Way of Life – Selected Writings of A. A’s co-founder. Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, New York 1967. Page 137.

Fun? When was the last time you had some?

In Step Four of our Depressed Anonymous Workbook, we find the statement: “When was the last time you had some fun?” You could also add when was the last time you actually laughed or even had a smile on your face? In one of our early Depressed Anonymous meetings. Bob told the group that the DA meeting was the only place where he could actually find himself laughing.

At our online Depressed Anonymous meetings, we are presently sharing our thoughts and feelings about Step Four. As part of our inventory, there are a number of questions pertaining to our Family of Origin. The following section helps me to take and reflect on my own family of origins and the relationship that I had with all those persons who I shared my life in those early childhood years.

In order to make a good inventory I need to go to my roots and discover how I came to be the person that I am today. AS the saying goes, “WE are our parents.”
When we were small, we “swallowed” our parents, meaning “swallowed” their main personality characteristics. Even today parents, grandparents, a stepparent, or guardian all are now part of our personality -for good or for ill. For myself to escape from my depression I need to discover how I might have received certain messages from my depression I need to discover how I might have received certain messages about myself from those adults who surrounded me as a helpless infant and child. All of us have received messages as children -some helpful and others not so helpful. Some messages directed toward us might have made us feel worthless because we got the message that we could never do anything to please others.

Our Depressed Anonymous manual, with an excerpt from Step Four gives a detailed and traumatic account of one of my experiences as a 10-year-old child. This event had recurring consequences for my young life and into my adult years. We might want to take a deeper look into some of the unpleasant feelings that we have today, traced to their origins in our childhood. I know for a fact that these events, producing guilt and shame, were finally dealt with in therapy as a young adult.

“I still remember being embarrassed when my third-grade teacher told me in front of the whole class That I would never be like my brother who was much smarter than me. I used to feel my face get hot every time I thought about that embarrassing incident. But the more I share my shame of having been exposed to others about something that I had no control over, the freer I became of that fear. The same principle is at work here in the Depressed Anonymous group. We can take our own personal inventory of our weaknesses and fears and trust the group to hear us out and accept our stories of shame and hurt as we accept theirs. We begin to see how and why so many people feel bad because in their earlier years people made them feel they could never measure up to the way others expected them to grow up. By becoming our little child once more, we paradoxically grow up.”

More about our childhood experiences, pleasant and unpleasant in the days to follow. And since it is time for school to start again, it seems that our bodies, sensors that they are, remind us that the Fall weather and school both arrive at the same time of year.

(c) The Depressed Anonymous Workbook (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, p.29.
(c) Depressed Anonymous, (2011) THIRD EDITION. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, p. 55.

Willingness to Take Baby Steps

A common question in other 12 step fellowships is “Are you willing to go to any lengths to achieve recovery?” When thinking about willingness and my depression, I don’t know how well this applied to me. I mean, if I had the willingness to go to any lengths when I was in my deepest darkest depression, I would have just hopped out of bed, embraced the day, and ran a 5K! But that is not how it worked for me!
When I was in the depths of my depression, my willingness had gone out the door. “What was the purpose anyway?” I thought. I didn’t think I could get any better. But Depressed Anonymous showed me that there is hope, and there is a way out. For me, that path to recovery has been a series of baby steps. After coming to meetings, I saw people who were like me; people who really suffered from depression, and I saw that they were recovering. Once I had the realization that there was hope, I needed to ask myself a question. “Just for today, am I willing to take a baby step to help myself recover from depression?”
This was something that I could comprehend and that I thought might be possible. Yes, I can take a baby step and get out of bed. Yes, I can take a baby step and call someone from the fellowship. Yes, I can take a baby step and order the literature, then take another baby step and read a page of the literature. I can answer one question in the workbook today. Yes, I can do one little thing to help myself today!!
That is how my recovery began. That is how I climbed out of that 80-foot hole of depression-one baby step at a time. And the beautiful thing is that I don’t have to do it alone! Honestly, I don’t think I could have done it alone. I tried for years, and although I met with sporadic success, I inevitably fell back into that pit of depression. Today I have the DA fellowship surrounding me. I have a Higher Power. I have a sponsor and friends in the fellowship who help me along my path. I am also here to help others on their path to recovery. Today, I am grateful for the willingness to take baby steps.

Depressed? Here is a way out!

In 1990 the Depressed Anonymous group in Louisville, Kentucky, published the first Depressed Anonymous book, Depressed? Here is a way out! Using the Suggested Twelve Step Program of recovery. The Depressed Anonymous group had formed a year earlier and decided that we needed a written account of the Twelve Steps and their positive effect on our lives. Because depression was the reason for our coming together, just as an alcoholic has the Twelve steps for their recovery, we found the Twelve spiritual principles of the Steps as having the same positive effect. At the time, little did we ever believe that Depressed Anonymous would continue to grow beyond the city limits of Louisville. That was never our intent but only to have something we could use as our own book for study, meetings, and personal reflection. And then, in 1998, the first edition of Depressed Anonymous was published. In 2002 the Depressed Anonymous Workbook was published.

Fast forward to 2021, this June; we have launched our new publication Dep-Anon, a Twelve Step recovery program for families and friends of the depressed. Depressed Anonymous and Dep-Anon are two sides of the same coin. Each group has an integral relationship with the other. Each group member has some effect on the life of the other. Is this not like Al-Anon and Alcoholics Anonymous. Each group is focused on their own lives, using the Twelve Steps as the core for their own recovery. In Al-Anon, they learn that they cannot “fix” the alcoholic family member but only fix themselves. In other words, each needs to “stay in their own lane.”

My critical parent has informed me that this relationship cannot work. Some family members still see us, depressed, as unwilling to go to work, get out of bed – (if you are depressed, you know the drill), etc., etc. Moving my critical parent aside with all their negative thinking, I have decided to develop a Dep=Anon family group manual and put it out there as a published work.

I know it will work as I know Al-Anon works for the family and friends of the alcoholic. Imitation, they say, is the highest form of flattery. So here we are. We hope to have a website, a Dep-Anon family group website, dedicated to the issues faced by depressed family members and providing essential positive information about the nature of depression. No “snap out of it” here. Family members with a depressed loved one will have their own group for support, just as the depressed has Depressed Anonymous.

If you would like to help us in this effort to bring hope to the family and their depressed loved ones, we will be grateful. Also, any thoughts from Depressed Anonymous members or a family with a depressed loved one are most welcome. If you want to help design or develop a website that will be interactive and provide help for all, please let us know at depanon@netpenny.net, providing help to the family and the depressed. The Dep-Anon website will be separate from the Depressed Anonymous website, with its own address.

See www.depressedanon.com at the Depressed Anonymous Bookstore. Also, see the Depressed Anonymous literature location on website.

Thank you for the fellowship, Hugh

Staying out of the loop. Creating your own circuit-breaker!

One of the characteristics of the depression experience is to get lost in the loop of negativity. The more we try to think our way out of the mental labyrinth with our mind circling down into the deeper pit of sadness, the more locked and immobilized we become.

So, how do we stay out of the swirling cycle of despair? The loop is our master taking over our minds and emotions. Once we have managed to stay out of the loop, I discovered what frees me and breaks the chain that shackles my motivation.

What I find helpful and kind of simple is to distract myself and do something that takes me out of the loop momentarily as I focus on something else. This something else could be to go for a walk. Talk to a friend. Go to a mall. Visit a lonely friend. Choose your own distracter.

I will give a personal example where I found a distraction strategy that works. Because I was wearing out my mind with my continuous negative swirling thoughts, I was reminded how fatigue is an indicator of feeling depressed and helpless. When I became tired, I would automatically head for the coach. This just prolonged the pain, and it was when I said, “No, not this time,” I went to my desk and started to do some work on my computer. In a short time, my mind was focused on my writing and not on the assumption that I needed a nap. Even though I am no longer depressed, I still find this distraction strategy a real loop-breaker.

So, if you find yourself beating yourself up, ruminating, and mentally circling round and round, going nowhere but down, you’ll need at last 5 circuit-breakers ready to plug in when the looping begins. Be prepared!

Share this idea/strategy at your Depressed Anonymous meetings and let others in the group try it out when their own loop starts rolling.

Hugh

Hope is an essential part of the human DNA

The fingerprint of God is on all living creatures, great and small. Each of us has been imprinted with the creators. God has for us to discover the way of personal peace and serenity. He has provided us with a set of fingerprints, all uniquely our own.
In John Powel’s book Through Seasons of the Heart, 1986, he shares the following.

“There is a Christian tradition that God sends each person into the world with a special message to deliver, with a special song to sing for others, with a special act of love to bestow. These are entrusted only to me. No one else can speak my message, sing my song, or offer my act of love. Think about this quote today. What is the message that God wants you to give today? What is the message that only you can give? What is the only act of love that you can bestow to others today?”

I believe this is true. Bill W. and Dr. Bob came into my broken and messed up world with the message that the God of their understanding had given them. And now, I, with others, are bringing the same message of hope and healing to the world.

The only song that I can share is “O Happy day.” This is the song that I now sing because I have come into the world with God’s fingerprint on my soul. The message I am to share with others is not to give up on yourself if you are depressed. Know that you can recover. You have God’s fingerprint of love on your heart! You are never alone.

Hugh

Resources

(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (1998. 2008, 2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications, Louisville. KY.
(c) The Depressed Anonymous Workbook 2002, Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Ky.

Living in the security of my hope.

” I am choosing to live in the security of my hope rather than in the fear of life’s possible pain.”

To read this article, please click onto the Archives located on the home page of Depressed Anonymous.
Click onto the year 2016, February 21. You will be able to find this article and many more at this Archived location.

Pick up the bow

We are all flawed. That’s not an indictment, merely a fact.

Food for thought: the word sin is not about eternal damnation. The origin of the word is either Hebrew or Aramaic (the language Jesus spoke) and it comes from archery meaning ‘to miss the mark’ – to not hit the bullseye.

We all fall short of God’s ideal. Pick up the bow and shoot another arrow. Try to get closer to the mark. We don’t need to be perfect, we merely need to strive to do better.