Category Archives: Helpful Thinking

Two sides of the same coin

As an active member of the Depressed Anonymous fellowship, I am also an active member of the 12 Step recovery program, Dep-Anon, for families and friends of the depressed.

Since I have a family member who is depressed, and the fact that I was depressed, but still maintain my serenity, by continuing to stay active in the DA fellowship. You might say that I am a “double dipper” being able to be part of two important mutual aid groups. Not only do I know what happens when I am depressed, I also know depression and how it affects a family member, resultant, affecting the whole family.

Now that I have the help of other family members (Dep-Anon) who have a depressed significant other in their life, my focus now is not on the depressed loved one, but the focus is now totally on me. I have become a new person, in that at one time I was harsh and critical of this person, who slept all the time, didn’t work, and was oblivious to the suffering she was causing myself and my family.

I believed, mistakenly, that since I had experienced depression with its overwhelming power, pushing me deeper into isolation from my world and myself, that I was qualified to FIX my family member. Wrong. I tried that route. It was a disaster. My criticism and cajoling her did the opposite of bringing her out of depression. My focus and anger, as it was directed toward her, locked her deeper into the prison of her depression. Ultimately, I discovered that my negsativity and lack of acceptance into the family, did nothing but harm. Surprisingly, now, with my harshness changing to compassion and acceptance of her as a daughter, a fellow humn being, brought down by her illness, is setting us both free. I give credit to my Dep-ANon fellowship for putting me on the right track–work/focus on fixing me.
Hugh

ORIGINS OF DEP-ANON
Dep-Anon had as its inspiration the 12 Step Al-Anon program for families of the alcoholic. The program was focused, not on the alcoholic but on themselves.

We now became focused on our need for recovery, believing that the focus had to be on us — not the depressed family member. I have learned that I can only FIX myself. Being part of the Dep-Anon family group presented me with a focus on my own spiritual and mental health needs. Now, I am participating With other family members, using the recovery tools of Dep-Anon, I was no longer alone, but now had the support of other family members like myself. Together, we have discovered that by focusing on our character defects ( critical of our loved one, anger at their behavior, lack of compassion for someone who is sick) I have found my attitudes changing.

A positive result of being part of the Dep-Anon family group is to learn about the nature of depression and how it affects a person, physically, mentally and spiritually. Our motivation to do anything positive to move us out of the mental and physical “lockdown” of depression is severely handicapped.

“Dep-Anon espouses the four C.s which state our beliefs
about NOT taking responsibility for our loved one’s depression. These four can be a constant reminder of living each day with what we face.
THE FOLLOWING ARE OUR FOUR STATEMENTS OF BELIEF
1) I believe that that i didn’t cause it.
2) I believe that I can’t control it.
3) I believe that I can’t cure it.
4) I believe that all I can do is to cope with it.”

Copyright(c) Dep-Anon: A Twelve Step Recovery Program for Families and Friends of the Depressed. (2021) Hugh S., Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. Page 13.
This Book can be ordered online from the Depressedanon.com website. PLease go to Visit the Store at Home page.

++++++Join us on ZOOM, every Monday afternoon, at 2PM EDT. Meetings are 1 Hour in length.

MEETING ID: 846 6885 1123
PASSWORD : serenity (Use small caps)

Detour – Taking a different way home

Step Four

“MADE A SEARCHING AND FEARLESS MORAL INVENTORY OF OURSELVES.”

“Let’s Just say that you always took path A home from work everyday. You passed the same old signs, the same old buildings, the same old malls–you feel you could almost drive home with your eyes closed. This is of course boring, and also deadening to our thinking processes as we do everything out of habit. The saying is true that we are creatures of habit. But let’s just say, for example, that a detour sign pops up along our old familiar path -we become disoriented – we become confused. We say to ourselves-Where am I? Now where do I go? Good questions.” The inventory will ask questions of you which you may never have asked of yourself.

“But we have figured out that even though my path home is very predicable, it is still a path that is gradually incapacitating my ability to keep a focus on hopeful outcomes.” We need to be awakened out of our routine. The daily grind is putting our mind to sleep.

Let’s take an example taken from the Depressed Anonymous Workbook, which presents us with a metaphor, on how an inventory will become a critical part of our personal recovery. The 4th and 5th Steps in the Depressed Anonymous Workbook, includes questions dealing with our lives, while detailing areas which have been influenced by our everyday feelings of sadness, hopelessness and despair.The inventory questions, prepared in the 4th and 4th Step chapters of the Workbook, (all 12 chapters are in a question and answer format) will provide for us some surprising pieces of positive information about ourselves that will be recovered from examining some of our past life issues. (Don’t forget to share all the good things that you like about yourself.)

We have mentioned how working the 4th Step Recovery Program is like coming home a different route. We will take the detour (inventory) which will help us get back on the right path. That is why, our inventory work, puts us on a different path for living. We are fitted with a new hope. We will quickly learn how doing or not doing what we always used to do, is NOT working.

By using the Depressed Anonymous Workbook, with its 12 Step questions, accompanied with our personal answers, can provide us, with a gradual process of self-understanding, self-awareness, and emotional healing. These positive thoughts and feelings about ourselves, continue to manifest as a direct result from our personal answers to Workbook questions and our hard work on ourselves. We find that we are able to live with hope the more we commit ourselves to our recovery work. Our mind continues to put a “spotlight” on these negative concerns which keep us from a life lived with hope and peace. In time, the fog in our brain will gradually be lifted. We will begin to see ourselves and future in a positive light.

Path B, points us in a different direction from where we were used to going. And for many of us, this is the first time that we are intent upon taking a good and hard look at who we are. Taking an inventory, looking at the negatives as well as all the strengths that are ours, helps us to give a gratitude for all the good areas of our life that are beginning to awaken in us and continue to take root. These awakenings are the new and fresh beliefs about ourselves and our inner world that is gradually being created.

In the 4th Step of recovery, we are ready to “make a searching and fearless inventory of ourselves.” The inventory method will help us, as we take take a little time each day, reflecting on how we think about ourselves, while discovering reasons why our “mistaken beliefs” about ourselves, has gotten us to the place where we are today. This motivates us to get into action. We make a decision to change the way we live out our daily lives. We want to be fearless in uncovering any and all rocks, that have blocked our path in the past. We will begin to take action and we will possess a new courage, taking care of business.

We must look the beast in the face. I pray that the “God of your understanding” will lead you to where the light of love shines bright and where the darkness is swallowed by hope and love of self.

Hugh S., for the fellowship

For more information on the Workbook, and other literature which can be helpful, please check out the Webpage (Depressedanon.com) at the DA Literature Store

Copyright(c) Depressed Annoynous Workbook Depressed Anonymous Publications. (2002) Louisvllle, KY. Pages 22-24.

Piloting your life and having depression

There are different rules or methods of flying depending upon the current conditions.

  • VFR – Visual Flight Rules. In effect when the weather is clear during daylight when you can clearly make out the horizon and your orientation to it. You can also see the ground and estimate your altitude in relation to the ground. In this case you fly by using your senses. The actions you take when flying have a direct impact on your flight and you can see and sense the change in your flight pattern.
  • IFR – Instrument Flight Rules. In effect at night, or during a storm where your vision is poor. You may not be able to distinguish the horizon or your altitude in relation to the ground. In this case your senses are not reliable. You are better suited to fly by the instruments found in the cockpit: the altimeter, the horizon indicator, and the amount of throttle that is applied.

Why am I talking about flying a plane? What relation does that have to depression?

When my depression is in remission I can rely on my senses and my thoughts. I have a clear and concise view of what is going on around me. I can accurately see the consequences of my actions and I can respond to the updated situation clearly. I can trust my emotions and my thoughts because they are giving me an accurate representation of reality. I can go VFR and trust my senses.

When I am in the throes of active depression my senses and my thoughts are not clear. My emotions and thoughts are sending the wrong information and I should not rely on them. I must go IFR and trust the program of recovery. I need to step up the actions of recovery and be more diligent in my recovery work. I may need to go to more meetings. I may need to initiate an outreach call each and every day. I may need to journal. I may need to pray and meditate regularly throughout the day. Remember during active depression I can not trust my thoughts and emotions so I must fly by instruments.

This is not a judgment of good vs. bad. It is just a suggestion that you become aware of your current state. Are you in clear weather and trust your emotions and thoughts? Or are you in the midst of a current storm in your depression? If you are in a storm be sure to step up your recovery program. It works if you work it.

Yours in recovery, Bill R.

The Missing Piece

“There is a story about a circle that was missing a piece. The story centers on a circular shape-like creature missing a wedge-shaped piece of itself. It doesn’t like this and sets out to find its missing piece, singing,

Oh, I’m looking for my missin’ piece,
I/m looking for my missin’ piece.
Hi-dee-ho here I go,
Lookin’ for my missin’ piece.

It starts out on a grand adventure, searching for the perfect piece to complete itself while singing and enjoying the scenery. But after the circle finally finds the exact- sized wedge that fits it, it begins to realize that it can no longer do the things that it used to enjoy doing, like singing or or rolling slowly enough to enjoy the company of a worm or a butterfly. It decides that it was happier when searching for the missing piece than actually having it. So, it gently puts the piece down and continues searching happily.”


“The Missing Piece” by Shel Silverstein presents us with the lesson of the story that in some strange way, we are more whole when we are missing something.”

It is often said that the joy is in the journey. While most of us are on some type of journey or other, we admit that we also are searching for that missing piece. Our life is just not complete until that missing piece shows up, and of course, that could be one of a zillion things.

Remember, the circle finds happiness, not in the “thing” or “circumstance” that would make him happy and complete, but it is enjoying what lies surrounding him. It is right in front of him, in plain sight.

If we are seeking perfection in our lives, there is a strong possibility that we will miss what we are looking for. In other words, missing the joy of living in the NOW, the present. We gradually learn that What you seek, seeks you.

In my life today, I accept my own missing parts that I thought would make me happy. Surprisingly, just the joy of taking life one day at a time, living in harmony with others, plus walking everyday in what I believe is God’s will is for me, today.

I am part of a growing and positive fellowship, which is composed of hundreds of adventurers, each seeking their own missed part. The beauty of it all, is that we each have found what we are looking for, that is, a place, with others like ourselves, where there is no longer a need to keep rolling along, wanting it all, a perfect utopia. Instead, we are finding that wonderful acceptance from others in our live, just the way we are. This is the discovery of our grand adventure. It is progress that we are seeking, not perfection.

Hugh S., for the fellowship

Copyright(c) Dep-Anon: A 12 Step recovery program for families and friends of the depressed, Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. Pages 38-39. Quoted in (c) “The Missing Piece” from Shel Silverstein. (Children’s Picture Book) HarperCollins, 1976.

Service in Recovery

Today I’m truly grateful to be able to do service in my 12 step fellowships. Especially in DA, which has done so much for me. But I didn’t always feel that way about service! At first, I was very scared to make a commitment to chair a meeting. How could I, someone suffering from depression, someone unable to function successfully in daily life, someone who didn’t know if I could get out of bed or not on a particular day, how could I possible make a commitment to chair a meeting? Well, the group supported me and said “we’ll be here if you can’t make it. Just let us know! And we applaud you for being willing!” So I agreed. I also faced technology challenges. At the time the DA meetings were using Skype and I didn’t know how to use that platform (or any online meeting platform, for that matter).  So on a day and a time when a meeting was not going on, I logged on and pretended to chair a meeting. I went for a practice run to learn the technology. I asked someone for help, and they helped me. I faced my fears and I showed up for the first meeting that I volunteered to chair. I stumbled. But the meeting went on, and no one died! I made a mistake and it was okay.

I had feelings of anxiety, but I walked away with an inkling of a sense of purpose. So I kept chairing, and that sense of purpose increased. I started going to business meetings, and they needed people to do service there too. So I volunteered. As I continued, I felt more useful and my confidence grew.

The point I’m trying to make is that doing service has greatly helped my recovery! I learn lessons here in DA that I’m applying to other areas of my life. I’m growing. That is one of my goals – to stay green and growing. Doing service gives me that opportunity. And the icing on the cake is that doing service allows us to help DA as a whole and ensure that DA will be there for others who need it, just like I needed it and still need it.

In closing, the Responsibility Statement, revised for DA:

“I am responsible – when anyone, anywhere reaches out for help, I want the hand of DA always to be there, and for that: I am responsible.”

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 Path and the Holes

I was walking down a path and I encountered a 40-foot hole. I fell in. The hole was very deep, dark, dirty and miserable.  I was all alone.  I looked around and saw no way out.  So I stayed there.  I made a bed out of the dirt, and sought comfort in the hole. And I stayed there longer.  After a long while, I was rescued.  I eventually got out, and continued down the path.

I walked along the path and I encountered a 30-foot hole. I fell in.  The hole was deep, dark and miserable. I was all alone.  I saw no way out. I stayed there.  I eventually was rescued, and I continued along the path.

I walked along the path and found a backpack labeled “DA.”  I picked up the backpack and put it on.

I walked along the path and I encountered a 25-foot hole. I fell in.  The hold was deep, dark and miserable. I had a backpack with me.  I unpacked the tools and I did not know how to use them. I tried, and I eventually climbed out of the hole. I continued along the path.

I walked along the path and I encountered a 10-foot hole. I fell in.  The hole was mid-sized, dim, and miserable. I had a backpack with me.  I unpacked the tools and had an idea how to use them. I climbed out.  I continued along the path.

I walked along the path and I encountered a 5-foot hole. I fell in.  The hole wasn’t very deep, but it was miserable. I had a backpack with me.  I unpacked my tools and used my favorite ones. I climbed out. I continued along the path.

Today, I walk along the path and I encounter shallow holes that I fall in.  I have my backpack with tools I know how to use.  I use them and I climb out.

And I continue along the path.

Step 2 and Hope

Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity

Hopelessness is common in depression. Many members identify with thoughts like “life is bleak and things will never change,” “I’ve lost the ability to enjoy life – I just endure it,” or “What’s the point anyhow?” Underneath all of these thoughts is the lack of hope. Hope is the principle behind Step 2. So how does a member work Step 2 and regain hope?  Let’s break it down!

Came to believe – This little phrase tells us that we don’t have to have hope when we come in the program. Instead, it is something that we develop over time! When we come to meetings and hear the stories of how others who suffered like us have found a way out of their depression, we start to think “Maybe, just maybe, there is hope for me too!” We don’t need hope to make a beginning.  All we need is to be open to the possibility of hope.

Power greater than ourselves – This program gives us the freedom to identify our own Power greater than ourselves, or our own Higher Power.  We don’t even have to use the word “God.” We can choose a term that suits us, such as Creative Intelligence or Spirit of the Universe. We can use the group as our Higher Power, or God as we understand Him/Her. The main idea here that we agree upon is that there is some Power greater than us in this universe.

Restore us to sanity – One definition of sanity is “soundness of mind.” When I am in the grips of depression, I am not very sound of mind. My thinking is distorted so that I view life through a dark depressive lens. I amplify the negative and don’t see any positive. This distorted view of the world is not rational. Furthermore, I cannot see the irrationality of it when I am in the midst of depression. What I need is some power greater than myself – some force for Good – to help restore me to sanity.

So putting the pieces together, if I am open to the possibility that there might be something out there that can help me get better, then I am on my way!  When I came into the program I listened to the stories of the members of Depressed Anonymous; I heard how they suffered like I did and how they gradually began to experience recovery. I started out with the group as a Power greater than myself that could help restore me to sanity.  Today, my Higher Power is something more. At first, I was skeptical. Later, I slowly opened up to the possibility that maybe this could work for me. Today, I KNOW that there is a Power Greater than myself that restores me to sanity on a daily basis. Today, I know hope is alive and real! I Came, I Came to, and I Came to Believe in Hope.

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

The FREEDOM FROM checklist

NOTE: This article was written and submitted by Robin R., a member of the Depressed Anonymous fellowship of recovery.

Below is a list of Twelve qualities we gain from working the Depressed Anonymous program of recovery, namely the FREEDOM FROM Checklist. So, how many boxes can you circle/check off?

  1. Freedom from the compulsion to sadden myself and circular thought patterns. (See Circle Dance DA blog @ 10/30/2022)
  2. Freedom from insanity and hopelessness
  3. Freedom from the bondage of self and freely giving of your time and yourself to those in need
  4. Freedom from dishonesty, especially with yourself
  5. Freedom from isolation: the “One Mans’ Island” permanent vacation theme
  6. Freedom from running the show and urges of deceptive control
  7. Freedom from excessive self reliance: I don;tr need anyone’s help!
  8. Freedom from blame
  9. Freedom from people or becoming codependent, comparing myself to others.
  10. Freedom from Complacency
  11. Freedom from Loneliness and becoming “involved”
  12. Freedom from the lack of purpose
  13. Freedom from FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real
  14. Freedom from FAILURE: Willing to try new ideas or adventure
  15. Freedom from ANGER: (ONE LETTER AWAY FROM DANGER) Surrender to a power and let it go! Remember, 90% of depression is anger turned inward. Again, LET IT GO!!!

And finally, our goal is to have:

Freedom to love, care, accept and appreciate the world around you

Repetitive complaint will attract things for you to complain about. Repeated gratitude will attract things for you to be thankful about. Turn those freedoms into your gratitude!!!
MAKE IT YOUR BEST DAY EVER!