Category Archives: Hope

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 overanalyzing 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

I have a plan that is simple with startling results

Originally published September 30, 2018. Some formatting changes.

Years ago I needed help and I was offered a number of plans/solutions which promised me relief for my particular problem. The plans offered me didn’t seem to work. In my desperation I thought I would try a 12 Step program of recovery. The plan was very simple. Not hard to understand. I tried it. I went to my first meeting and was given hope. All the folks there at the meeting were using the same plan. They talked about how this plan changed their lives. That got my attention. It got my attention because their story was my story. The group provide me with the plan’s list of areas in my life that I needed to look at. The plan, as I mentioned before was simple. Not complicated at all.

Have you ever in your life had to put something together and the thing that you put together came with a plan. It was a blueprint like thing that showed you what the end product would look like. when all the proper instructions were carried out. At this first meeting I made a commitment to follow this plan for 24 hours. Only 24 hours. Hey, not a big deal. I could handle that. So, I took the plan home and started to read the instructions, chapter and verse. It was a simple plan.

Now I had this plan. It was a plan for everyday of my life. I thought wow! is this good or what. That is exactly what I needed. I remember saying to myself, “I hope it works.” It works. Over 30 years later I am using the same plan. It never gets old and stale.

Early on I got some tools to go with the instructions on how to use the plan. The first tool showed me how to admit what was fouled up in my life and to also admit how things were terribly out of hand. In our plan there were all sorts of other tools that I needed to use if I was to get back on my feet. I have to confess some of these tools were not easy to use exactly. I mean there were parts of the plan that I needed to look at more closely than I ever had before. This plan came with a great instruction book that I and others call the Big Book. It spells out not only how to use the tools but what happens when we actively embrace them and put them to use in our daily life.

So, now besides the plan, we have the tools to go along with the instructions. So my life began to change. I began to find serenity in my life and I began to realize that there were things that I need to change in my life and then there were things I knew I couldn’t change. You know, like things that happened to me in then past. The instructions showed me a great way to take care of those issues that up to a time haunted me. I now really feel at home in my own skin now.

Startling results? Well, for sure. And part of the reason for these startling results is besides having a plan–having new tools to use-I was plopped right in the middle of a group of men and women that were using the same plan as I was. Like, we are all on the same page, literally. I was in a fellowship of folks who were telling each other their stories about how the instructions and tools brought them some really fantastic experiences changes in their lives. The first time I set foot in this group, I was promised that certain things were going to happen to me. You know what? They were right. They said that once I had the instructions under my belt, I would want to go and tell others my story. I would want to go and let those still suffering from whatever addiction was killing them, that they could live with the hope that their lives would change, as did mine. By following our plan, using our tools of recovery, and being a part of our fellowship (a 12 Step group) you “will be amazed before you are halfway through”. (the instructions) Again, that’s a Promise!

Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. © 2011, Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.

Contact: depanon@netpenny.net for more info.

Focus On Your Stars – Not Your Scars. Strength Survey

“What do you remember as strengths before being aware that you are depressed? Going to Depressed Anonymous meetings (now on ZOOM and SKYPE) has the potential to restore your sense of proportion about your strong points. At the meetings your friends in the fellowship will begin to tell how you are showing improvement the more you are participating in the meetings. To listen to those who themselves are working the program and who share their lives week after week, you begin to realize that you too can begin to feel differently. Today can be a new start and yes, you do have it within yourself to be that person who is reversing old negative patterns of thinking and replacing them with thoughts of hope and optimism. You now believe that there is hope for yourself. Right now your strength seems to be that of maintaining a habitual way of thinking thoughts of hope. By the fact that you are reading this, takes the strength to want to feel good and continue to maintain a positive recovery. Begin now and reflect on your strengths. Believe that you have a way to maintain them each day. Your personal strengths maintain a personal persistence and desire to continue with gratitude this new feeling of hope.”

As a therapist I would usually start my counseling session with a few questions for the counselee. I would ask them to write down five or six things that they liked about themselves – strengths. Invariably they would sit there, notepad in hand, watching the hand on the wall clock, gradually moving forward. (I might add that this question and answer session would not be too difficult for most of those who came for counseling) But for the depressed, it is a different story. Most could be unable to list any strengths on the list. I would ask them if they needed a little more time? Usually not. I would then tell them that just coming through the door to see a counselor showed immense strength. I told them that seeking help probably is a strength that could open up more doors for their own healing and serenity.

My final session always concluded with the question that started our sessions together – asking them to list all their strengths. The answer this time was quite different. No surprise to me.

Depressed Anonymous meetings can all provide the same help in giving us a look at our newfound strengths. Come to a F2F meeting or an Online meeting and discover this for yourselves. You will be happy that you did.

Resources

Copyright © Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression. Hugh Smith. (2020) Louisville. KY. Page 57-59. (The Eleventh Way).
Copyright © The Depressed Anonymous Workbook(2002) Depressed Anonymous Workbook. Louisville. Ky.
Copyright © Depressed Anonymous,3rd ed. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.

Simple is as simple does. – Forrest Gump

Affirmation

Even though I don’t feel better right now, I am going to make a mental decision to desire to feel better. I have a choice.

“We need to ask ourselves but one short question: Do I now believe or am I willing to believe that there is a power greater than myself.” As soon as a person can say that he or she does believe or is willing to believe, emphatically assure that person that he or she is on their way. It has been repeatedly proven among us that at this simple cornerstone a wonderfully effective structure can be built.

Reflection

I have found that the program of the Steps is simple to understand. It is a spiritual program one that doesn’t force me to think of God in pre-established ways. I am truly free to allow the God of my understanding to clear from the path of my life the thoughts and various saddictive ways where I have learned how to depress myself.

I know that the world simple means without a fold. The word denotes a reality that you get what you see. Hopefully I can see that my program of recovery is a most simple one to follow and one to practice in all affairs of my life.

Meditation

We want this God of our understanding to be with us as we face our fears and try to keep my thoughts focused on the here and now, not the pain of yesterday or the fears about tomorrow. (Add your personal comments).

Sources

© Higher Thoughts For Down Days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 Step fellowships. (1998) Hugh Smith. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY 40241. June 7. Online purchases can be made at The Depressed Anonymous Bookstore, at www.depressedanon.com

That which doesn’t kill you will probably make you stronger – Nietzsche

 

Stress  put me in the hospital two years ago. First, pneumonia  put me in the hospital for a week.   Then, following  a diagnosis of clogged arteries with other assorted problems,  open  heart surgery.  Cardio/rehab for 24 straight weeks gave me my life back. But this was not my first experience with stress and /or depression.

Nietzsche had it right. In my case at least.  What made me stronger and saved my life was not only heart surgery but my new way of  dealing with stress. I now see stress for the trouble maker that it really is. The  stress in anyone’s,  continues to impress me how dangerous living under stress, of any kind, can be.

I know that the daily stress that I  had put my mind and body through every day,  every month, gradually destroyed my immune system’s ability to defend against  constant fear, worry and anxiety. Because of the environment  with which I was living in, day after day, finally caught up with me: pneumonia and then open heart surgery. So you might wonder  how can stress do all this damage to your mind and body?

THEN

This takes me back to my first  experience with sadness. It didn’t kill me, but it did force me to look  at my lifestyle, staying in a bad  situation and the ongoing ruminating which poured adrenaline into my veins, hyping up fear   and anxiety day after day.  Finally, all this  weakened not only my body but my mind  as well. My thinking started circling  around  and around as I tried to figure out exactly what the problem was  knocking me off my feet.  Not only that, I couldn’t concentrate. I would read a sentence or so  and then would forget what I had just read. I was always tired.  I always wanted to sleep. I never laughed anymore. My sense of humor went out the door. I started to isolate. I pushed friends away. I always had an excuse for cancelling meetings and appointments. Every morning I woke up, dead on arrival.  No energy. No purpose and nothing to look  forward to. I was losing all spontaneity and replacing it with boredom. I gradually was being sucked down intro the quicksand of futility and hopelessness.

After a year and half of this    pain filled  life I gradually walked out of the fog. I walked at least five miles a day-like a forced march looking forward to regaining my life. That was 1985.

NOW

Now,  I am stronger because I know all the red flags that pop up in my mind, wanting to  suck me back down into that environment which almost killed me in the first place.  I am definitely stronger now that I have a sponsor, a  12 Step   program (Depressed Anonymous) and  a daily plan   for my ongoing recovery.

My heart is stronger now. My commitment to taking good care of myself with proper rest, good healthy food, and physical activity at least three times a week or more. I also know that keeping in touch with those “still suffering from depression” by email, Home Study, website BLOG (depressedanon.com), phone and reading Depressed Anonymous literature.  What we give away comes back in countless ways. For me, continued sobriety and hope!

Resource: (c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.

Online Depressed Anonymous International Skype meetings ( Check website Menu for listing and links).

Order online :The Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore.

 

I have a program that works!

AFFIRMATION

I am learning today how to think in more positive terms about myself.

“Once we admit that our depressed thinking is what conditions us to see our world as a hopeless place to live, the more we will try to change the way we think.”

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

When I was able to admit that I have need of improvement   for some area of my life, things begin to happen. I believe that now I have a program in front of me that can help me to feel better, the more I   use it on a daily basis. As one member of the Twelve Step group, Depressed Anonymous points out, “I had to go and open that door for the first time because there was no other place to go. I had already used up all the hiding places in my life.” Now that we admit we need help, help is on the way.”

It is always difficult to change.  Millions of others are leading lives of peace, sobriety and hope as they place their trust in  their Higher Power and commit themselves to learning how to get better.  They are learning that by having faith in God, themselves and the fellowship of the group, life does indeed get better. I am going to get better, the more I work and live the Twelve Steps.

MEDITATION

O God, we know that our hope in you will make it possible for us to find hope in our lives  every day. That’s a Promise.

RESOURCE

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

(c)Higher Thoughts for down days. DAP. December 4th, Pages 198-199.

Ordering Online is possible from this website @ The Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore.

I have learned and I have grown

 

“As I began working on the abuse issues in therapy, the pieces of my life began to fall together in a way they never could have before, as I had never  dealt   with this catastrophic event. In the book, Depressed? Here is a way out! the author talks about how people find their time of depression to be one of the great gifts in their life. The first time I read this, I thought it was the craziest thing I had ever heard. Yet during this time of depression, I have learned and I have grown. I have come to understand myself and my God in a way I never could before.

It has been many years now. Life is starting to come together for me again, one day at a time by the grace of God and the fellowship of this program. From the very first time I walked through the doors of Depressed Anonymous I knew that I was in the right place. Having been an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous for so many years, I was already a firm believer in the Twelve Steps. I attended meetings, I worked the Steps with my sponsor. I used the Depressed Anonymous phone list and talked to people about my pain and my day to day problems. I read the book and followed the suggestions in it.

With God, through Depressed Anonymous, this program and the fellowship literally carried me through the darkest time of my life and God did not let me die. I have truly experienced the ‘miracle of the group.’  I have heard it said that sometimes God’s greatest miracles are unanswered prayers. I  believe it.  After all, I am one.”

Anonymous

Copyright(c)  Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition.(2011)  Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. Pages 119-120.

Stepping out of hopelessness

 

One of the greatest feelings  I experienced in confronting my depression was that I began to have hope. I began to believe   what others were saying about the Steps. They were telling me that the plan that they followed everyday of their lives was giving  them a positive feeling that they were going to step out of  the  swamp   of sadness and hopelessness. In fact,  those who spoke these encouraging words already  were  manifesting the strength and power of the 12  Steps in their own lives. I was one of these people.

A question that continued to cross my mind  during my period of pain and isolation was basically “is life worth living.” Many folks depressed still debate this question in their minds. And far too many have provided us their answer that “life is not worth it.”

This has been my mission over these past years to show by example of other’s recovery (plus my own) that with appropriate  faith, work and  the spiritual tools, life can be good again. There is a faith, a strong  indomitable spirit  at the core  of every human being, that hope is available to all who seek it.” What you seek, will seek you.” It’s almost akin to the  belief in Karma–as you give out so will you receive back–in some way, at some time in your own  life   experiences. I don’t know how or why, but I do know that it just works out that way.

When I was first introduced to the 12 Steps, I came to my first meeting, willing to learn what I could to  recover fully from my addiction. I had to have hope that something would work. It would have to work for me. And members of this 12 Step group presented me stories , facts and situations where persons completely down and out, physically, mentally and spiritually found hope in the confusion and despair of their own hopelessness  and became free.

No longer did we feel hopeless of finding a way out of what was killing us.  Yes, “we” found a way out. The plan was before us and the group was behind us as we plodded along , each of us supporting the other til we finally completed our Steps. We  now share how our stepping into hope continues to be the North star for me  these past thirty plus  years for my own life.

Is life worth living?  For many years now   I discovered how a faith, a strong belief in my Higher Power, and a bonded group of men and women have continued to travel the same  path as my own.

If you want more  information  about our group Depressed Anonymous please check out our website at www.depressedanon.com for a   full explanation of  who we are and what we do. You’ll want to step out with us.

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

I am beginning to taste what a new life can be like. Hope is close at hand. I want my wings!

 AFFIRMATION

I  deserve to be free of my sadness.

“Now that small  voice, that little part of you that wants to have light and some hope, is getting up the courage to seek more for itself.”

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

I can no longer turn back and live in my old self. I am like the butterfly gradually becoming winged and ready to fly as soon as it throws off its old body, the body of the caterpillar. My metamorphosis is in process and nothing is going to turn me back to the  way my life had been. I want  now for my life  to continue to get better as I notice   the more I work on myself and trust in my Higher Power, the more I am ready to live with courage and hope. I am beginning to like the taste of living life and look forward to each new day as it comes. I want my wings!

Courage is to have heart and to believe that all things can work out if I just put my belief into gear and work as if it depended on myself and pray as if it all depended on God.

MEDITATION

God, we hear you speaking to us to grow and to trust. We all count the ways that you have cleared the obstacles from our path so that our down days are less than before and we have now more good days than before.

(Write your personal comments here).

SOURCES: (c) Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY. April 2. Page 55.

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

(c) Believing is Seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression. (2015) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.

*****

For more  information about depression and the twelve spiritual principles of Depressed Anonymous click onto the Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore. Please know that one can order online.  Our ebooks  are also available.

Notice

Depresivos Anonimos is soon ready for publication.  Those who wish to have our Big Book in Spanish will be able to order this new version.

 

I believe that my life is going to get better! Hope is a hard habit to break!

 

How often have I heard these powerful words at one of our group Depressed Anonymous meetings. In fact, it is  oftener  than one would think, seeing where most of the group members have been before opening the door  into our fellowship.

Not only have we heard powerful stories of recovery but we also witness them with  own eyes. By coming to meetings week after week, we  begin to see the truth of the Promises as laid out for each of us who take that first step into recovery.  In Higher Thoughts for Down Days I read that I am going to be secure in my belief that my life is going to get better.

Today is the day. Doing your best, living each day to the fullest is the art of living. Yesterday is gone forever, and we don’t know whether we will be here tomorrow. If we do a good job of living today, and if tomorrow does comes for us, then the chances are we will do a good job when it arrives – so why worry about it?

This makes sense to me. What about you?  I know that the more I share myself with others, be that with my DA sponsor or with other members of our fellowship, that my life is beginning to change for the better. Also, the more I share with others the more spontaneous I become, and there are now some bright periods  of my life beginning to appear in my life.

I believe that by living in the present reduces my trust in the past fears of yesterday or the anxious moments I thought I needed for tomorrow.

Knowing that others, who are just like me, can make it through   the day with a greater amount of serenity and peace  as they try to live in today-just for the next 24 hours.

We all believe that the more we turn our minds and wills toward God, the more God will turn his love and will for us in unmistaken ways  and with our belief that God is truly with us.

AS Brad Cohen tells us in that great Hallmark Movie, FRONT OF THE CLASS, “Hope is hard to break.”

Hopeful people gather together on  every continent on this planet. Their hope stems from a strong belief  that with God’s help and support from their fellow members of DA (Or any other 12 Step mutual aid group) they become energized by people feeling better and coming more energized about trying to live their life with purpose and meaning.

Every Depressed Anonymous meeting starts with a statement on How Depressed Anonymous Works:

” You are about to witness the miracle of the group. You are joining a group of people who are on a journey of hope and who mutually care for each other. You will hear how hope, light and energy have been regained by those who were hopeless and in a black hole and tired of living. ”

In the Big Book of Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition,  you can read story after story of those persons who have  escaped from the prison of their isolation. These stories tell each of us that there is hope and you can have it too. If it has taken  you a lifetime to find a healing way out of your depression, you then can   appreciate those others who have made it-all now living with hope and trust.

SOURCES

(C) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011). Depressed Anonymous Publications.Louisville. Ky. (Personal stories section).

(C)I’ll do it when I feel better. (2017) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Ky.

(c) Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 step fellowship groups. (1998) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.