Category Archives: Positivity

Depression made me think I was losing my mind, until I did two things that changed my life forever

“What is happening to me,” I asked myself, as I spent another week of struggling to get out of bed. It was like a 500 pound lead weight had dropped on top of me. I felt that whatever commands I issued to my body, “like get out of bed,” the message never reached my body.

The only thing that I knew what to do was to force myself to move the body and hopefully the mind would follow, be it reluctantly. And that is exactly what happened. Every morning after was a struggle, but I did manage to push myself out of bed and I got myself to work. When work ended, I went home and immediately hit the bed. What’s going on here? I asked. I had no clue that what was the matter was that my body was shutting down and that my mind gradually became powerless to make any positive changes in my behavior or thinking.

It was only as I started to walk five miles a day in a local mall, just to promote the fact that I was up and out and able to get to work. I want to make the point here that even though this walking continued for over a year and half, I still was forcing myself to get out of bed. Every morning the debate in my head started all over again. By now I had developed some resistance to staying in bed and just realized, if I was to save my job, I had to walk.

Eventually, the walking was a way out of the prison that my mind had constructed. Eventually, I learned that the way I was living my life and the negativity that I had embraced in my thinking, together threw me into a deep dark pit. Before I was able to figure out what was happening to me, I became depressed. The more I tried to figure out, in my mind, why I was depressed the more I became further depressed, isolated and alone. Then I did something that changed my life to this very day.

The first thing that I did was to force myself to get out of bed and walk, walk, and walk some more. (I still walk three times a week). I know first-hand, the potential life-threatening nature of depression.

The second most important discovery for my recovery was to find a group of men and women just like myself, all who were depressed and looking for a way out of their depression. It was this 12 Step fellowship group, Depressed Anonymous, that has been an integral part of the way I live my life today. If you are looking for what I found, namely, a way to quit saddening yourself, this support group may be your lifeline as much as it continues to be for me today. And I still attend this meeting, even though I have not been depressed for many years, I attend because I find that I can help others to find the hope and peace that it promised and provides for me today.

Discover important information at www.depressedanon.com for our online virtual Zoom meetings which meet every day of the week. Other DA sponsored groups also meet during the week. There are no fees and dues. Come and share or just come and listen. You will find that you are not alone. We are all on this journey of hope together…and we do recover.

For the fellowship, Hugh S.

At least someone listened to me

I have heard this comment a few times after a new member shares some of their personal story at a Depressed Anonymous meeting. Can it be that many people feel so isolated and alone contend no one wants to stop and listen to what they have to say? I am afraid this is true. This is especially true for those of us who come to a meeting, professedly for people depressed, and discover we are welcome to share who we are and where we have been on this life journey. Possibly for the first time in our adult life, there are people like myself who are able to share their story. And people listen.

Just like children, emotions heal when they are heard and validated.
– Jill Bolte Taylor, My Stroke of Insight

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.

Hope Is Like A Road In The Country

Hope is like a road in the country;
There was never a road,
But when many people walk on it,
The road comes into existence.
– Lin Yutang

Comment
At a point in time,the AA road never existed.
At a point of time, the Depressed Anonymous road never existed.

With hope, a new road comes into existence.
What road was not there before, many roads exist now.

Hugh, for the fellowship

Stick to the plan. A prescription for change today.

It took me awhile to put into practice a simple idea. That idea is to do the same thing, day after day, in the same place and at the same time. If you have trouble following through on ideas or commitments, then you might feel better about reading the next few paragraphs.

With different situations in my life, some upheavals, some turning points, changes in my life goals, plus trying to do to much at the same time. It was somehow never easy to do what I knew needed to be dome. I used as my mantra “I’ll do it when I feel better.” In fact, this idea seemed to express perfectly, what I was doing, so I titled one of my books after it. Gradually, procrastination, I sensed, would not fit into my recovery program. I had put off for too long to knuckle down and start to do the work that I needed to do.

Here is my plan. I know it can work for you as well. There is no particular time limit on how long your prayer time is to be.

1. Everyday, I have found that morning works for me, I go to the quiet place that is best for my time alone with God, and start with a daily reading of Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 Daily Thoughts and Meditations for 12 Step Fellowships. This reading begins with an Affirmation, then a reflection, and a final meditation. I have my notebook handy and I write down a positive thought that I want to carry me through my day. Most of the time this is a simple single sentence.

2. I then read and reflect on a paragraph or two from our Depressed Anonymous manual.This is coupled with the accompanying Depressed Anonymous Workbook, where personal reflections, in the form of questions, help me clarify how I think about myself. These questions continue to uncover issues which I might have never encountered, becoming the positive basic building blocks, helping with an understanding of the nature of my own depression experience, and developing in myself strategies, the 12 spiritual principles of growth, for my personal recovery, day-by-day.

It’s not complicated. It’s a plan. This time of prayer and meditation is a powerful way to make “conscious contact” with the God of your understanding. (Check out Chapter 10 in “I’ll do it when I feel better.” This chapter discusses more fully the topic of prayer and meditation.

Resources

(c)Hugh Smith. Higher Thoughts for Down Days:365 Daily Thoughts and Meditations. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Ky.
(c) Depressed Anonymous, THIRD EDITION (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY
(c) The Depressed Anonymous Workbook, (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications.Louisville, Ky.
(C)Hugh Smith. I’ll do it when I feel better. (2020) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Ky.

+ These works can by ordered online at www.Depressedanon.com. Click onto The Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore.

Energy of activation – Walking through the struggle

I study chemistry, and I see a correlation between a chemistry concept and walking through a struggle in depression.   In a chemical reaction, there is something called the “energy of activation.”  It is the energy that is necessary for a reaction to proceed.  In the diagram below, is the large hump or hill between the initial state and the final state.  So if I relate that to depression, it is the struggle that I go through to perform a particular task.  Now, I’ve realized it’s not about the task.  For example, it does not matter if the task I’m trying to achieve is getting out of bed, going to a meeting, going to work, going to the gym, or achieving a lofty goal.  It’s about the energy of activation, or the difficulty of the struggle that matters. When I am in severe depression, the energy of activation required for me to get out of bed is immense.  It may feel impossible at times!  Now that I am not in a depression, that task is not a struggle for me.  It has a low activation energy.  In other words, it’s easy for me at this time.

So why does this matter?  Because I used to (and still can) compare myself to others and ask myself the question “how does that person do this or that so easily?  How come it’s so hard for me to get out of bed but so easy for someone else?”  This concept of activation energy helps me realize that everyone has struggles.  And if I focus on how to get through the struggle, then I am focusing on the solution.  I also realize that at different points in my life, the activation energy for the same task can be VERY different.  This also tells me that I can and should give myself credit for getting through the struggle, no matter what the task is!!  Because what matters is getting over that hump.

So how do we do that?  It boils down to our thinking, doesn’t it?  If I feed myself positive thoughts, such as “this is possible,” “I can do it,” “I’ve had successes is the past, so I can do it again,” “I am capable and I am worth it,” then I’m going to get into action and take baby steps up the hill.  But if I think negative thoughts (or choose to stay with those negative thoughts, since in my case my default thinking is negative) then I am going to walk myself right down that hill and stay stuck at the bottom.  Sometimes I need to think positive thoughts that will get me to call someone else and ask for help or motivation.  It’s okay to get help – it’s easier to climb that hill together!

I’m realizing that when I focus on giving myself credit for overcoming that struggle, then I’m helping myself.  If I tell myself, “oh, it’s no big deal.  All I did was get out of bed today.  That doesn’t really count as a success,”  then not only am I saddening myself, but I’m also being dishonest with myself!!   Because overcoming the energy of activation for that task was critical and a major achievement!!  And best of all, at the end of the task, I’m in a better place than where I started.  So just for today, I am going to give myself credit for walking though the struggle – no matter how big or small the task.

Take heed – live your life on purpose!

heed: to give consideration or attention to
Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/heed

I don’t know about you, but my autopilot is broken – it takes me to deep, dark places. My default setting is to come from a place of judgment, looking for the negative in the world. The funny thing is that what you seek is what you find. If I look for the negative that is what I will find. If I look for the good I will find that as well. It all comes down to focus – what am I paying attention to? Some of the things that I need to pay attention to are:

  • circumstance – What are the facts of my current situation? If I can’t express it through by describing it through one of my senses there is a good chance there is a judgment in there as well. “It is raining” is a fact. “It is raining, this sucks” is a fact followed by a judgment. Am I labeling things as they truly are, or am I imposing my judgment on the situation?
  • thought – What are my thoughts around my circumstances? Am I judging or in a place of non-acceptance? Am I caught in any form of stinking thinking? Am I remembering a past hurt? Am I projecting my thoughts of what could happen to the situation at hand?
  • feeling – What emotion am I experiencing regarding my thoughts? The 7 base emotions are: sad, mad, glad, afraid, embarrassed, lonely, guilty. Something like jealousy is an emotion like anger coupled with a thought. Try to label just the emotion. Is my emotional reaction right-sized to the current circumstance? For instance, being slightly annoyed at your waiter for being slow is one thing, but being rageful is not right-sized to the situation.
  • action – What action do I undertake that is motivated by my feeling? Is acting from a place of intense emotion the best course of action I can take? You can be angry about how someone hurt you, but if you act from that place of anger you may be punitive. Respond to being hurt, but try not to respond from the place of anger.
  • result – What is the outcome of your actions? Just doing the action does not guarantee that we get the result that we want. It is up to us to do the leg work and cultivate an environment that can manifest our desired outcome, but the resulting outcome is in our Higher Power’s hands. Do the work and turn the result over to God.

It is my belief that life is meant to be lived on purpose. When I am adrift on autopilot I will get taken to dark places. I strive to pay attention and give consideration as to what the best course of action is. Sometimes I need to be satisfied with what is the best possible action given my current state of mind.

Take heed – pay attention and try to act from a place of calm and serenity. You’ll be amazed at the change you will see.

Yours in recovery, Bill R

I have to have absolute certainty that everything in my life will work out positively

AFFIRMATION
I am certain that I will feel better today.

“Absolute certainty may appear to you to be a wonderful thing, giving complete certainty, but have you ever considered that if you want absolute certainty you must give up freedom, love and hope.” (8)

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT
In my efforts to find a cure for depression I have instead dug a deeper hole than what I was in. I see that my depression is an addiction. The more I ran from whatever was making me sad and feeling alone, the more alone and sad I become, thus the cure became worse than what I depressed myself in the first place. When and if I decide to really be cured of my depression then I would take the bull by the horn and face whatever I was running from at the very beginning of my depression.
To live with any amount of freedom one has to live in a certain amount of uncertainty. Our lives get filled with the uncertainty of how things will work out in the short and long run. If I want certainty, then I will have to become God as only Gid knows for certain what is to happen in the future. Maybe that’s what I need to look at in my self, how much am I trying to play God?

MEDITATION
We ask you God, to be our intimate friend. We know enough about you That you will protect us through the times in our lives when we need the light on our path. Please be here for us today, so we grow in the certitude that you are walking beside me today.

COPYRIGHT (C) Hugh Smith (2002) Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 Daily Thoughts and Meditations for 12 Step Fellowship Groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications, Louisville, KY. Pages, 202-203.

NOTE: All Depressed Anonymous Literature can be purchased online from our DAP Bookstore, at https://shop.depresedanon.com. Literature discussed at a Depressed Anonymous meeting can be purchased here.

Courage to Change

Fear has held me back so often in life, especially in depression. Although I hated the feelings of depression, there was a security in that dark depressing place. A respite from the uncertainties of the world. Change involves uncertainty – or the question “What if?”  My mind automatically goes to the negative.  What if I try this again & fail again? What if I can’t do it?  What if I’m not capable?  And so on. The needle on my mental compass defaults to negative thinking. I have to make a serious effort to shift my thinking to the positive.  It occurred to me that I could ask myself other “what if” questions.  What if I can make a positive change?  What if I am capable?  What if I can do something good for myself? What would that look like, and what would that feel like? It was almost scary to find out!  Again, because it was different and new.

I’ve made a lot of positive changes in my life lately, and I had to ask my Higher Power for help. I said, “God, please give me the courage to change the things I can.  Please give me the courage to walk through the fear. I know that with Your help, one day at a time, this is possible.”  It has been possible, and it still is!  I’ve been walking through fear and making positive changes!  Two years ago I thought it would be impossible for me to get up Monday through Friday and go to work (let alone get out of bed and be functional, or show up to chair a meeting). But with the help of my Higher Power, this program & the fellowship – just for today – God has given me the courage to walk through fear and change the things I can. And for that, I am immensely grateful. ❤

Willingness to Take Baby Steps

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