Category Archives: Mindfulness

I found in this Depressed Anonymous program a path of freedom

FROM ‘NOW’ INTO STILLNESS

Is the present moment a problem or an opportunity for you? So often in the past, I struggled with the “isness” of the happening in the “Now”, but of course our lives are always happening in the “Now”. Fear would grip me with panic of the “What ifs”, driving my beliefs of a problematic outcome or future. I had so much resistance and felt so powerless.

I found in this Depressed Anonymous program a path of freedom, while journeying along the path. New beliefs began to develop. New attitudes of hope began to grow. Opportunities for spiritual solutions manifested from problems to challenges, to opportunities.

The ‘God of my understanding’ stills the ruminations of despair.A quieter mind softens my perceptions. This new presence takes on a formlessness of love, peace and happiness.

I have a new gratitude for the falling away of an old miserable sense of myself. I discovered God’s image in my true nature of beingness. This materializes as the same “I am” of peace and happiness living in a timeless “NOW”, AKA: KINGDOM of HEAVEN WITHIN.

I love the quote “uncover, discover and recover”, struggling now is in the past. What a blessing even they have turned into! “Now” is a lovely place to live where the sunlight of the spirit is always present, even when a few clouds may pass by. Enjoy your journey.

(C)Janet McCain(2022)

The OODA Loop: Observe, Orient, Decide, Act

The OODA Loop – Observe, Orient, Decide, Act
Training methodology for US fighter pilots
Ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OODA_loop

OK, the vast majority of us will never be a fighter pilot. There is something that we can use from their training in our struggle against depression.

Observe Become aware of your emotions. Are you: sad, mad, glad, lonely, embarrassed, guilty? If it’s not one of those you are probably tightly coupling an emotion with a judgment. Where do those emotions show up in your body?

Become aware of your feelings – what are you physically sensing in this moment? Not judging something as good or bad, just sensing. I’m wet because it’s raining – not it’s raining and my life sucks.

Become aware of your thoughts. Are you in stinking thinking? Are you in some sort of cognitive dissonance? Are you planning, reminiscing, ruminating?

Orient – Now that you are aware of your current state (emotions, feelings, thoughts) what impact is your current state having on your depression? What are your options? Are there things that could think or do or change in your surroundings that would help your depression and lessen it?

Decide – Come up with a plan of what to do. Be willing to try new things. Decide on a course of action.

Act – Deciding was the hard part – just take action. Execute your plan.

The OODA loop is not a one and done proposition. You need to go back into the OODA loop. What was the outcome of the prior loop? Did your actions lessen or increase your suffering? Let go of the terms good & bad – there is too much emotional baggage with those terms. Think of using helpful or unhelpful – these are neutral words that don’t have the same baggage associated with them.

Do not try to be perfect in executing your OODA loop. Observe, orient, decide, act. Then do that again. You will get better at it over time. Your depression will lift. Be willing to be aware, come up with options, decide on a course of action then act!

You are worth it. You are worthy of healing.

Yours in recovery, Bill R

101: How to eliminate wild weeds (Negative Thinking)

Eliminating weeds from our gardens or from the Spring beauties who show their marvelous colors every year, makes it our major task to dig the weeds out, cutting down these thriving seeds of destruction. They become a pest when allowed to grow and take over what was hoped to be something beautiful and bountiful. Negative thinking is likewise that noxious weed- It yields no good fruit!
Our strategy, is to knock them out before they can get a root- hold, destroying our hard work and handiwork. Seeing the first sign of the noxious weed (negative thinking) tells us that more are on the way.

This I believe, serves as a metaphor for when a mind has been taken over with negative thinking and accompanied by a sense of hopelessness.
Our mind, if filled with uninvited negative thinking, cycling us down with a feeling of loss and hopelessness, we find it’s time to get into action, take a crack at that first negative thought–before it even gets a chance to sabotage our thinking, our feelings and motivation to change.
When the negative thoughts begins–say STOP–don’t go any further with a debate about that first thought. We refuse to get entangled with this tangent thought, always leading us to places where we don’t want to go. We have been at this point of thinking far too many times. We know now how to dismantle this crippling form of negative thinking. Change the script. You do the managing of what you think about.
First, cut the thought down to size–don’t let it scare you, but tell it “I’m not going to believe this anymore.” Another reccuring negative thought, for example might be, “You are worthless.” When this thought appears, we can replace it with a positive “sunspot.” This “sunspot” can be a positve recent mental image of a past event or a positive affirmation of ouselves. And with your own weed control operation, tell yourself as many good things about yourself as you want. What you can accomlish at this point is to see the weed (thought) for what it is. Cut it down, like a bad weed, and dig it out. Have an affirmation ready at hand, to replace each and every negative thought. Positivty thinking is what you are all about!

AFFIRMATION
“Making direct amends and using a personal inventory continues our progress and helps free us from all the hurts of the past. We know now that we can’t afford to think long about real of imagined hurts, or we will throw ourselves back into saddening ourselves once again.”

REFLECTION
One of the things that is toxic for the depressed peron is negative thinking. This thinking continues to grow, once nurtured by my attention into a large and uncontrolled wild weed, taking all the attention from the good things happening in my life. I know that I can no longer give into that first thought allowing to pound me to the ground. My negative thinking is very much akin to drinking for the alcoholic. Once I give into that first moment of self-bashing, the cycle of depression begins. There can be no second negative thought!
Hurts from my past continue to grow stronger the more I allow them to dominate my thinking and my behavior. Hurts are best eradicated (Seep 4 and Step 5) when I deal with them openly and honestly.

MEDITATION
The spirit hopes in God as we begin today with a prayer and a belief that this day can be a good one, like the days that I have had in the past.”

Copyright(c) Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 Step fellowships. Depressed anonymous Publications.Louisville, Ky. Pages 153-154. (September 17)

Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous. Third Edition (2011). Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters


1. I walk down the street
There is a Deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost..I am hopeless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

2. I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend that I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe that I am in the same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still a long time to get out.

3. I walk down the same street.
There is a hole in the sidewalk.
I see it there.
I still fall in…it’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

4. I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

5. I walk down another street.

NOTE
This poem appeared in The Antidepressant Tablet.Volume 2.4. Winter, 1991 Edition, P.3
Portia Nelson, 2001 This poem is copyrighted. Please credit the author.

Using the RAIN model

A fellow member of DA shared some wisdom with me and I thought I would pass it along. She mentioned that she uses the RAIN model or methodology when dealing with a situation:

  • Recognize
  • Acknowledge
  • Investigate
  • Nurture

Before you react to a situation that arises use the RAIN model.

Recognize – Be aware of the state you are in. State the facts of the situation without judgment.

Acknowledge – Accept that you are indeed in the situation you are in. You don’t need to fight it or complain about it. Acknowledging is not the same as liking or wanting the thing to happen – you’re just accepting that is where you are in the moment.

Investigate – Scan your thoughts, your emotions, and your physical sensations. Are you stuck in any form of stinking thinking? Label the emotion you are experiencing and where it manifests in your body. Scan yourself without judgment and with acceptance.

Nurture – Is there anything that you can do to comfort yourself and/or make you safe? Do you need to attack the thing that is harming you, or is a simple retreat a more effective way to protect yourself? Is there anything that you could think or do that would improve the situation even if only 1%? Do what the nurturing side of yourself is suggesting in the moment.

Practice the RAIN model. It will not feel natural at first, but keep doing it. A sense of calm will begin to envelop you. You will be able to respond maturely and serenely to the situations that come up in your life as opposed to the immature unhealthy reaction which is the normal way you do things.

You are worthy of being calm and loving towards yourself even if you are in the midst of the storm and chaos of those around you. Take the higher road as that is the way to peace and serenity.

Yours in recovery, Bill R

Life is unpredictable

Life is unpredictable. Every living organism operates with a certain amount of unpredictability and uncertainty. The uncertainty of life creates in us a desire for predictability. If we do not believe in the possibility of change, we would all be hopelessly lost and forever bored. Hope would be lost. Potential for a better life would never exist. When there is hope, change is possible. The experience of depression is much the same. Depression is so predictable and unchanging that we lose hope for the pain of our isolation ever coming to an end.

–Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous, (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. From the Introduction, Page 20.

Sharing a part of my Step Eight

When I first joined DA, it was such a relief to find others going through similar challenges with depression. I was also very hungry for concrete solutions; what can I actually do to feel better? I came to find out that some things worked, and some didn’t work for others. Everyone’s journey is different. As I attended the daily DA meetings, I learned to take what I needed and to leave the rest.

Today, as I worked on Step Eight in my workbook, I was able to answer some questions that really put my recovery in action. This plan of action worked for me; it may not work for you. I wanted to share it just in case it could speak to just one other person.

The questions were, “List the ways that keep you Saddicted”, and “List the activities/ways that can free you from your depression addiction”. As I listed all the negative ways I think and treat myself, I was also able to come up with the solutions.

1. Isolation – Ignoring people and responsibilities. <Solution: Reaching out – Calling someone from the program to get out of my own head.>

2. Distraction – Getting sucked into video games or TV shows to run away from my thoughts and symptoms of depression. <Solution: Using distractions as mini-breaks – It’s OK to take a step back sometimes, as long as I am being mindful of the time spent.>

3. Negative thoughts – Thinking about the worst case scenario and running through them in my mind all day. <Solution: Staying present and having thoughts that are relevant to what I am doing NOW.>

4. Finding my faults in everything – I somehow find ways to make everything my own fault, and using that to hurt myself with blame and shame. <Solution: Finding my part in successes – Thinking more about the things that have worked out for me and seeing my part in it.>

5. Over planning – Planning to do an unrealistic amount of things throughout the day, that when I don’t or can’t complete them all I feel guilty and ashamed and like a failure. <Solution: NOT planning, and constantly making it a point to connect with my HP when I find myself not knowing what the next right thing to do is, or if I am unable to do the next right thing.>

6. Thinking about too many things at the same time to overwhelm myself to the point where I feel like I have no choice but to tun to taking depressive actions. <Solution: Thinking about one thing at a time – mainly what is happening at the present moment ONLY, and fighting the urge to think about the past or the future.>

7. Feeling guilty about doing things I enjoy when I have other responsibilities that need to be completed. <Solution: Trying to not feel guilty about anything – because if I am mindful and keep my connection with my HP, everything I do is justified. Being kind to myself because that is exactly what I needed to do at the very moment in time.>

I love working the steps because it helps me reach concrete solutions. I feel that I am done living the reactive life. With DA, I have the freedom to choose joyful and compassionate actions. I still struggle sometimes, but I find that I am reacting less and have moments where the choices are clear. Whether I choose the right one or not is still up to me, but with the help of this program and my fellows I am finding that I am free to make the choices I need to make, one day at a time.

 

Catastrophic Thinking

Dorothy Rowe shares with us some helpful thoughts on how to deal with those thoughts which we label as catastrophic.

Suppose that there is some event looming and you are frightened of what is going to happen. Your Mother may be coming to stay or you are required to go to the firm’s ball, or your daughter expects you to go to her graduation or your son wants you to take him along – all fearful events of course – and you can’t see any way of avoiding them other than being very depressed. Try something else. Write down what it is you are expected to do and then say, ‘if I do this, what is the very worst that could happen?’

Write down your answer and look at it in the cold light of day. If you have said ‘I’ll die’ then rejoice your troubles will soon be over.

If you have said, ‘I’ll make a fool of myself’ ask ‘What is the opposite of making a fool of oneself’? Then ask ‘Why is this important’? See if you dare commit to paper just how vain you are.

Then go back to the original situation and say, ‘How many different outcomes can I see?’ List them all, the good ones as well as the bad, the fantastic ones as well as the prosaic, see if you can predict what then actually happens. (No cheating by using self-fulfilling prophecies like ‘I am sure I won’t enjoy it.’)

Then there are the things that you feel compelled to do. No strange force is compelling you, not any person other than yourself. When you see your own values clearly you can ask, ‘Do I do this because I believe it is right or do I do it because the parent in my head tells me to and I am too scared to disobey’?

You are you, you are the parent in your head, you are the child who is scared to disobey. You can spend the rest of your life `going around as three squabbling people, or you can choose` to make into yourself one whole person.

Resource
Copyright(c) Dorothy Rowe. Depression: The way out of your prison. SECOND EDITION. 1983, 1996. Routledge, New York, NY.pp.225-226.

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.

Motivation follows action

I find that if I am depressed and want to start to feel better, or at least get my mind off depression, I need to go for a walk and get moving. In DA we say that MOTIVATION FOLLOWS ACTION. WHAT THIS MEANS IS THAT YOU’LL NEVER GET MOTIVATED til YOU GET BUSY DOING SOMETHING. This was my feeling much of the Time. It was only when I actually started walking that I wanted to walk. I didn’t want to do anything to help myself. I didn’t want to do anything to help myself until I forced myself to do something.

I believer much of one’s tiredness, when depressed comes from having too many things going through one’s brain at the same time. The strain of being overwhelmed is too much for the human mind and so it and the body begin to show the stress. I also believe that so many unpleasant emotions constantly coming to surface and being felt by the body results in an overload situation for my brain.

COMMENT
The best way to get into action is to get into action. I know this is so obvious–but when the time comes for me to actually do something–that is a different story. Then my mantra becomes “I’ll do it when I feel better,” and course this doesn’t get me out of bed. This doesn’t get me walking. Instead, what happens, is that my thinking gets caught in that neural rut, much like a merry-go-round. Round and round we go. Nothing ever changes.

Tell yourself that this day is going to be different .Make a commitment to yourself today! Make up your mind that you are not going to ride the merry-go-round horse today.You are going to start small. Take the “baby steps” that just might push you out the door and put some fresh air into your lungs. MOTIVATION FOLLOWS ACTION. Check it out. See, for yourself if this doesn’t work for you.

Copyright(c) Hugh Smith. Higher Thoughts for Down Days:365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY January 24, p.15.