Category Archives: Mindfulness

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 over-analyzing 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

A litany for living life on life’s terms

These affirmations can produce in us positive feelings, with a desire to make the most of our day’s activities. Please take a few moments after each affirmation to see how these can best be brought to life.

  • I will live my life today with daily positive affirmations of who I desire to be. Pause.
  • I will live my life in service to others today. Pause.
  • I will live my life today with compassion for others. Pause.
  • I will live my life today in discovering God’s will for me and not my own. Pause.
  • I will live my life today in being empathic with those hurting and isolated. Pause.
  • I will live my life today in being thankful. Pause.
  • I will live my life today in prayerful moments throughout this day. Pause.
  • I will live out my life today by being a friend to those isolated by depression. Pause.
  • I will live out my life today with courage and hope. Pause.
  • I will live out my life today by being generous with my time and talents for our fellowship. Pause.
  • I will live out my life today in the present moment. All I have is today’s 24 hours. Pause
  • I will live out my life today with a quiet and receptive mind to the promptings of my HP. Pause.
  • I will live out my life today on life’s terms. Pause.
  • I will live out my life today in simplicity and truth. Pause.
  • I will live out my life today without a need to control others. Pause.
  • I will live out my life today with the firm belief that God loves me just the way I am. Pause.

What’s in your mind today?

How about talking about character building today. Ok?

In our book, I’LL DO IT WHEN I FEEL BETTER, there are some short paragraphs, explaining how character is built in our own lives.

” And how does one build character but by learning the tenets of one’s own faith traditions or practices and trying to live them out in one’s own daily life. It is in the simple process of being willing, honest and open about the best paths to take in overcoming our negative life attachments that trust can be attained.

…Character can be built by truth and the willingness to list the truth in ourselves. It can be a painful search but it will reveal that it’s all right
to be imperfect and not have all the answers and not to be perfect. It’s all right to trust others with our deepest fears and hurts, and to know that we can still be loved and respected even though we share how bad and evil we considered ourselves over the years. It will be evident in time that one’s feelings of deep sadness did not come out of nowhere but indeed was the result of the way we were led to believe and think about ourselves.

I believe that I can honestly say that the co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous
say it best when they point out the basis of trust in ourselves comes about when our purpose and mission in this life begins to be realized. We are now on a different basis: the basis of trusting and relying upon God rather than our finite selves. Just to the extent that we do as we think He would have us do, and honestly rely on Him, does He enable us to match calamity with serenity.

Every member of every 12 Step fellowship is aware of the power of the following prayer, which in itself has been found to produce and promote the growth of trust in the lives of those who pray this prayer:

” God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

RESOURCES:
Copyright(c) I’ll D0 It When I Feel Better. 2nd ed. (2013) Hugh M. Smith Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.KY. Pages 82-83.

Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd ed.(2012) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. Page 79, Eighth Step.

THE BOOKS LISTED IN TODAY’S RESOURCE CAN BE “ORDERED ONLINE FROM THE DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS BOOKSTORE” HERE AT WWW.DEPRESSEDANON.COM.

Depressed Anonymous is available in E Book format and can be downloaded.

I will make a daily inventory of all my strengths

Believing Is Seeing: 15 Ways To Leave The Prison Of Depression – Eleven

I will make a daily inventory of all my positive strengths. I tended to magnify the worst in everything in my life and make mountains out of molehills. I will focus on my stars and not my scars.

“One of the problems of being depressed is that every circumstance and situation is filled with potential hurt and disappointment. The depressed person has a tendency to think in patterns of despair, hurt, and disappointment. It appears to be a proven fact that the more a person keeps their fears and anxious thoughts to themselves, this can cause the mountain to grow larger. But by sharing these fears and thoughts with others, either by writing them out, as in a daily journal, or group discussion (like on SKYPE and ZOOM) we soon discover that our fears are not as big as we thought. The expression of fear many times decreased the size of their fear. Now that we are accepting ourselves we can begin to see that we possess the strength and persistence to tackle whatever obstacle lies ahead.

One of the features that stands out in our lives when depressed is we see everything in dark colors. Nothing looks hopeful. There does not appear to be a light at the end of the tunnel – except that it might be an oncoming freight train. We feel that we do not have a friend in the world. We feel that we’ll never feel good again. The list goes on and on.

What may be of some help is to take out pen and pencil and begin writing down your good points that you feel are your strengths. We have already done this, but it still remains an excellent exercise no matter how often you do it.

What do you remember as strengths before being aware that you are depressed? Going to Depressed Anonymous meetings 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 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 a personal persistence and desire to continue with gratitude for this new feeling of hope.”

NOTE: Take your pen and/or pencil and begin writing your thoughts down in response to the questions posed in the DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS WORKBOOK. Depressed Anonymous Publications.

Resources

Copyright © Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression. (2020) Hugh Smith. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY. Pages 57-59.

Copyright © The Depressed Anonymous Workbook. (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.

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

These basic books of the Depressed Anonymous Fellowship can be ordered online.

See: www.depressedanon.com

Literature Available

To receive a mailing of Depressed Anonymous literature, send a Self addressed stamped envelope to: DAP, Box 465, Pewee Valley, Kentucky. 40056.

The material can be used as “handouts” at your local Depressed Anonymous meetings.

Did I create my own prison of depression?

You know,  that’s a  great question for us who have been , or who are presently depressed.  My own reflections about my own experience with depression wasn’t a question that I  asked myself. Actually, that came later in my recovery.  I  really didn’t care who or what  created it – all I knew was I had to get rid of it.  In fact, the experience was much like Noah’s  in the belly of the whale.  I was just walking along one day minding my own business, and suddenly bam! physically feeling swallowed  up by some  invisible  creature who  was devouring me. And that was that. From that  moment on, the feeling continued to overwhelm  me for the next year and half.

Because I had no label to pin on this “whatever it was,”  and I thought nothing important to talk to  anyone  about, but only that the  feeling of helplessness had me locked down.  Oh, I still went to work, trudged through Graduate studies and continued my relationship with others, never revealing my interior mysterious  sense of isolation and despair.

My only distraction was to get up early every morning( biggest challenge of the day) and walk for miles, round and round,  thankful I was still able to function.

Long story short, during this period,  I gradually felt   small lift’s in my spirit but they never lasted. So I continued walking until I managed to walk out of the fog. I was feeling hopeful again,  able to face life with hope. Finally feeling fully freed from the  hopelessness that had isolated me from my world, disconnecting  me from everything, everybody, even myself. That was then.

Now reaching back into the past, looking at my life before ”  whatever it was” that had me,  I began  discovering that I’d unconsciously constructed my own prison and confinement. My ruminating on fearful scenarios of losing my job, not able to handle     negative life issues and constant  frightful thinking plus the  continuous feeling deep painful moods, all grinding my body, mind and spirit into the ground. The feeling, best described this  is  like  someone scraping  their  fingernails on  a blackboard all day  without end.  If you are old enough to remember this particular feeling, (or even a blackboard)  then you know it was that painful knife-like  feeling thrust through your stomach that echoed throughout your whole body. Well, that was the way I felt all the time, particularly in the morning each day.  I wanted never to get up. Here is where motivation  follows action . Move the body and the mind will follow.

When I speak of the pain that threw me to the ground and ended the familiar  life that I knew,  the members of the Depressed Anonymous group know exactly what I am talking about. Depression is physically  painful.  Usually when I tell someone I was depressed, they normally  don’t understand, unless of course, they have been depressed themselves.

In my case, I unconsciously  caused and created  my depression, and allowed the symptoms to grind me down until I took steps to feel differently.  The steps that I took   was to attend the “miracle of the Depressed Anonymous group ” where  I could share my own experiences, strength and hope, make the 12 Steps a daily part of my life, and to share this message of hope with all who feel the same way as I did.

Believing in a Higher Power greater than myself  continues to keep me sane and living one day at a time. It works. It can work for you as well.

For more information contact us @

Depanon@netpenny.net and read  what we are about @ depressedanon.com.

Resources:

Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publicatiuons. Louisville, KY 40241.

Home Study Program of Recovery  (See DA literature here at The Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore).

 

My Feelings Are Becoming Unfrozen

AFFIRMATION

“I pray that God will give me the courage to live today with hope – hope that God’s leading will take me past the dead end of despair.

If we want to live life fully we must have freedom, love and hope. Life must be an uncertain business. This is what makes it worthwhile.”

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

I  know how the feelings of depression, and the deadness and greyness of my sadness keep me holed up in the narrow confines of my dark past. Today my  feelings are gradually becoming unfrozen as I attempt new things, new connections with other persons. These cause me to reconsider that a life lived in unpredictableness is a risky but nevertheless a healthy way to live my life.

Since I hold on to the  belief that since bad things happened to me in the past, bad things will happen to me in the future.  I need to live each new day with the belief that I can change the way I think, feel and act.   I know now that I am not mentally ill nor am I losing my mind when I am depressed.  I want to live just for today to try to learn how to face the uncertainties of today.  Life is unpredictable . To have any certainty that it will  be other  than that  is clearly an illusion, and for sure one is being set up for many a disappointment.

MEDITATION

We see that it is only in risking., that is, getting a different map, a map that shows a number of different routes instead of the one that leads us down the road to narrow isolation and despair. I ask the God of my understanding to lead me according to it’s guidance. Hopefully the road that leads to hope and serenity.

RESOURCES

(C) Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations  for members of  12  Step fellowship  groups.  Depressed Anonymous Publications . Louisville. KY. (January 5th).

(c) I’ll do it when I feel better. (2018) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.

(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition.(20ll). Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.

Check out VISIT THE STORE for more material that can be ordered online.

If God is for us who can be against us?

Is this not a strange way to open up our blog today? Depends. It centers around what our topic might be. Today our topic is centered on spirituality and depression. As a member of a 12 Step fellowship, Depressed Anonymous, we talk and reflect upon the fact that we believe in a Power greater than ourselves. We also commit ourselves to the belief in Step two that “a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity.” Following this we reflect on Step Three which states that we “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand God to be.”

It was here at this point that Bill W., and Dr. Bob made a very important decision in how God would be presented to the alcoholic, who for many different reasons would reject the idea that the God of their understanding had their best interests at heart. Their idea of what the “preachers” had to say about God was not what they were looking for. In fact, there were the “preachers” in New York’s Bowery, during the Great Depression of the 1930’s who set up store-front churches where the practicing alcoholics come, get off the street, get a free meal, and hear a Christian message about salvation, redemption and freedom from drink. But it appeared that some of the preachers emphasized hellfire and fear instead of giving the alcoholic a way out that included a plan – a simple process of surrender and how “to turn over our will and life over to God as we understood God to be.”

I believe with poet Robert Frost, who wrote that memorable poem, The Road Less Traveled, where he was faced with a fork in the road, one road went one way and one the other. The one he eventually took was “the road less traveled.”

This poem speaks to me when I think of Bill W., the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, who by his personal experience with the God as he understood God, provided him with a way to understand God, not just a Christian God, a Buddhist God, a Muslim God, but a God as we understand God. It was only when he had his own epiphany with God, did it prepare him to share this understanding with other alcoholics so all could choose the God of their own understanding–not just the God of the Christian “preachers.”

This was the freedom that the early A.A., pioneers brought into the discussion where anyone could believe whatever they wanted about a Higher Power. In today’s modern world, you can find AA, NA, DA, Al-Anon in almost every nation on the planet. If he had not traveled down a road that only God knew where it led, would we have the Twelve Steps be open to all, regardless of their own spiritual beliefs or religious dogmas.

The following is an autobiographical account of Bill W.’s own encounter with God.

My depression deepened unbearably, and it seemed to me as though I was at the very bottom of the pit. For the moment, the last vestige of my proud obstinacy was crushed. All at once, I found myself crying out, “If there is God, let Him show Himself! I am ready to do anything, anything!”

Suddenly the room lit up with a great light. It seemed to me, in my mind’s eye, that I was on a mountain and that a wind not of air but of spirit was blowing. And then it burst upon me that I was a free man. Slowly the ecstasy subsided. I lay on the bed, but now for a time I was in another world, a new world of consciousness. All about me and through me there was a wonderful presence, and I thought to myself, so this is the God of the preachers!

– A.A. Comes of Age, page 63

And finally, there was another road that Bill W., and others traveled and that was how one alcoholic talking with another alcoholic, sharing their story, would make all the difference in the world. It’s a simple story, one recovering alcoholic being open, honest and willing to share their own painful story with another alcoholic, one person at a time. One day at a time.

I am one of those persons with whom a recovered alcoholic shared his story. Today, I am celebrating my 32nd year recovery birthday. I am a friend of Bill W.

Hugh

Walking in another’s shoes

Family members also feel guilty about the situation and feelings of their depressed loved one. They somehow feel they have played a part in the melancholia and so are to blame. That is exactly what we don’t want to produce in the family member, more guilt and shame.

Walking a mile in another’s shoes is good advice today. Unless a family member has ever been depressed – then it won’t do   to wish that their loved one would just think more happy thoughts or just pray more or just get out and get busy. All these suggestions fit someone who might be sad or unhappy –but they don’t apply to a person who has a mood disorder –like the deep immobilizing mood of depression.

When I was depressed I became overwhelmed by all the situations  and circumstances surrounding me til I became consumed by them. They became all ever conscious, these thoughts that I could no longer keep at bay –like a  lion tamer wielding chair and whip –poised for action against an angry lion.

Many times the stigma of a family member who is experiencing is often enough for a family to avoid the subject.  They pretend it isn’t there. In a  way it is like the behavior of those people who live within an abusive relationship, or with a practicing alcoholic, or a verbally abusive spouse. There is an elephant sitting in the living room and everyone quietly walks around it. Nobody wants to talk about the problem that lies in the center of the family.

Gradually a vicious cycle of negative feelings and behaviors manifest in the family members. They feel isolated, resentful, angry or despairing, and this complicates the sense of  isolation, guilt or hopelessness.

I believe that DEP-ANON will be or can be a great resource of strength for those members of the family who live with the depressed day after day.  They too must begin to work on the 12 Steps, one after another so  they can begin, in a supportive group context, facing the fact that that their feelings about their loved one have resulted in them feeling hopeless and helpless. This is the first step for all of us in  recovery,  to admit that we are powerless over the   behavior of a loved one depressed.  Once the 12 spiritual principles of Depressed Anonymous are interiorized in our hearts and minds, and actively operating in our own daily lives, we will see progress. Not only will we change but so will all members  of the family. The DEP-ANON group provides the whole family an  opportunity to experience a new found peace and wellness.

Copyright(c)  DEP-ANON family group manual: A 12 Step support group for families and friends of the depressed. (1999) Hugh Smith. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky. 

There is hope for you now

AFFIRMATION

“One of the most important things to remember in  the midst of depression  is that it won’t last forever, that there is hope for you to begin to feel better. We won’t tell you to SNAP OUT OF IT (who have never experienced depression) like other folks,  because we are not turning something on and off like a water faucet. Just as it took years to get where you are now, it   takes  time to get better and air out your sad thoughts as well.” D. Rowe

I know that in our program of recovery we try and live one  day at a time. This is not easy for someone who usually wants to know the outcome for something that might happen ten years from now,  not to mention the need to try and make right something not done properly ten years from our past.  When I work my program I want to work on myself, finding serenity in knowing that in time and with patient work I can begin to feel better. There are just too many success stories of how people get better  when they work their Twelve Step recovery program.

Forever is a word that hardly is heard in a Depressed Anonymous meeting. I intend to try and live just for today. I accept that I am depressed but that I do have a choice to find my way out of this sadness. I also believe  that it is irrational to think that this sadness can last forever. The more I change the way I think and behave the more positive will my attitude be about my recovery.

MEDITATION

Our Higher Power, or our God as we understand God, is guiding and leading us toward a life free from sadness. We intend to place more of our trust in its hands. (Personal comments).

RESOURCES

(c) Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 daily  thoughts and meditations for members of 12 Step Fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.

(C) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.  (May 21, page 103.)

Note. To discover more literature about depression and recovery  please click onto The Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore at  VISIT THE STORE.  All literature can be ordered online.

Motivation Follows Action!

Why do I continue the work of bringing hope to those still suffering? What motivates me to continue to try and help others? What has made the change in my life where now I want to share what I know and what I feel.  Basically, I know that the program of recovery works. I no longer feel powerless over  my depression. In DA group meetings members speak my language. We see how useless it is to waste time looking back over our shoulder to see if the dark shadow of my own inner fears is going to overtake me.  I now have attained small amounts  of hope and strength as I go from day to day. I am prepared for those moments of despair that at times overtake me and cause me to feel paralyzed and out of control.

In the first step “we admitted we were powerless over depression and that our lives had become unmanageable.” It is a paradox that it is in the admission of our lives being out of control that we began to take control of our lives.”

It was an interesting fact that in the very beginning of my recovery   that I received a very important message… that if I was to get well I had to motivate myself to do something. I had to get in motion. That sounds simple enough doesn’t  it?  I must stop the isolating of myself and get to work on ways that would gradually lead myself  out of despair and hopelessness, and deadly inactivity.

The first thing that I began to do each and everyday was to start walking.  I just knew  that the inner war that  was waged with every step that I took was the message that “walking would not do me any good”  would almost  completely scuttle my best intentions to complete my walks.  The odd thing about it was that, almost without fail, if I could just continue on and walk at least for 15 minutes  and ignore the messages “that I was too tired to walk this morning”    my body began to get into  a  rhythm. I would feel content  to finish my walks. And ironically, there is not a day that goes by,  when I start my walk that I don’t feel the lethergy and resistance to continue my walking.  Then as always, after about 10-15 minutes into my walking, I feel  a rush, an energy spurt, to continue walking. Other walkers have told me that they have the same experience. It must have something to do with the human body,  with all its members working together and harmonically working in sync with each other.

I just add the above note to let others know that your body will repel the healthy attempt to move out of its   isolation. It’s the force of one’s motivation powered by action that will in time help us all do one of the more beneficial exercises that our body can undertake, namely to walk.

——————————————

(C) I’ll do it when I feel better. (2017) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY. Page 42.