Some days I feel like my life is like that small boat on the ocean. I watch as the swirling waves and the thunderous noise of waves and wind wash over me. I watch as my small boat takes on water. No land is in sight. What to do? I pray. Have you ever had these feelings of helplessness? Well, let me tell you, I have had this experience more than I would like to admit.
One time in my life, one very difficult time for sure, I thought that my boat was sinking and that there was no recourse –no land in sight. This is when that deadening feeling of melancholia (depression) –like the Pac Man arcade game – began to chew me up. I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know what exactly. The time to row, so to speak, was when I couldn’t get myself out of bed and knew that I had to get to land, get my body moving, the best way that I could. I had to keep rowing.
Gradually, by walking everyday, and forcing myself to do what I didn’t want to do, like exercise, I gradually regained my balance. And after a year of this activity (rowing) I began to notice that the wind howling around me gradually subsided. My boat was still afloat and I could see land. Safety. This all happened almost thirty years ago.
It was then that my 12 Step life began. Now, with each new day, before the sun pops up over the horizon, my day begins with prayer and the centering of my thoughts. In our program of recovery we call this a meditation experience. I then read the Higher Thoughts for this day. I also read the Depressed Anonymous book, plus entering thoughts in the Depressed Anonymous Workbook. All this is accomplished in that first hour of the day. I feel like I truly am now on solid rock. And it’s like I take these morning thoughts and with them begin my day. With Step Two … I “came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” So this morning, I continue to “make a decision to turn my life and my will over to the care of God as we understand God to be.”
Turning my life over to to the care of God doesn’t mean I lay back and see what God is going to do…no, it means that I do my work and God will do his. And so I keep on rowing. Grab an oar!
I will let go of the negative thoughts about myself as soon as I am conscious that I am experiencing them.
“…try to live one day at a time.. We know from experience that our sobriety , our disappearance from sadness is due to letting go, admitting our powerlessness (Step 1) and coming to believe that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity (Step 2).
I know that I have to continue to work on myself and the way that I speak to myself on an ongoing and daily basis. My letting go and letting God take over my life doesn’t mean that I’ll just sit back and let it do all the work, no, it means that I will work on myself and leave the outcome up to my Higher Power. I know that my life can be lived differently if I just make an effort to choose to be conscious of the thoughts that I let myself ruminate and think about during the day. The more I monitor my thoughts, the more I am able to filter out the negative thoughts and have them replaced with positive and constructive thoughts. We call them SUNSPOTS (Depressed Anonymous).
So often when I am depressed I continue a thinking style that was learned as a small child. I am not even conscious as to how I would always select the negative attributes about myself to reflect upon instead of attempting to think positive and hopeful thoughts about myself and relationships. The more I believe that I have a choice as to how I am to feel, the more I become conscious of the thoughts that influence the way I feel.
Going to a mutual aid group, which focuses on depression, enables us to share with others how we talk to ourselves and what we tell ourselves, day after day. Do we like what we hear when we share with others our continued negative thinking? I would think not.
MEDITATION FOR TODAY
God, let us just for today, dwell on your mercy and kindness. Your are not the harsh judge of my childhood. You are the God who loves us just the way we are. God is like the Mother who continues to love the child of her womb.
SOURCE: HIGHER THOUGHTS FOR DOWN DAYS(C) December 14.
“Absolute certainty may appear to you to be a wonderful thing, giving complete security, but have you ever considered that if you want absolute certainty you must give up freedom, love and hope.” (8)
In my efforts to find a cure for my 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 had become, thus the cure became worse than what I depressed myself about in the first place. When and if I decide to really get cured of my depression, then I must take the bull by the horns 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 are 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 God knows for certain what is to happen in the future. Maybe that’s what I need to look at in myself, how much am I trying to play God?
God, be present with us today! You are God and I am not!
SOURCE: Higher Thoughts for Down days. December 11.
It takes one to know one is true. Following my own depression experience and the setting up of Depressed Anonymous groups did I realize that I had an experience which could be used to help others. I knew what it felt like to suffer the physical symptoms of depression. Following the attainment of my Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology, I discovered many in my practice came seeking help to overcome their depression. Gradually it dawned on me that I could be a source of support to others — just by sharing my own struggle with depression. Once I shared with my clients my own battles with the dark monster, it became clear by sharing my own story that they began to open up about their own battle with the dark monster. My clients found someone who could not only relate to their own story about isolation, shame and the continual physical pain caused by depression–but they heard how helplessness and despair had given way to hope! My own story validated their story. That it takes one to know one is so true.
This is where Bill W., (co-founder of AA) learned the greatest lesson, namely that an addict will be more open to listen to some one who has or is fighting the same battles that you are fighting. And the best is that by using the program of recovery that we have used and still use today, might find life starting to be lived with serenity and hope.
It is not complicated. Here it is, laid out simply and to the point. I was once severely depressed and now I am not. How did this happen one will ask? It happened by believing that by being part of a fellowship of people just like myself and following a way of life, marked out step by step, that I, like Bill W., and all other addicts will see how with our belief that I can get better, get better. It does take work and time. We learn to not live in our past -it’s gone forever- and not to live in the future–but to live in the now, today. All we have is this 24 hour period. As the Yiddish saying goes, “to share my story is to save my life.” It’s so true. When I discovered the 12 Steps, shared my story and made prayer and meditation a part of my daily routine, I began to taste the freedom that comes with that ‘spiritual awakening’ which occurs when we are able to share our story with those still suffering. The depressed newcomer will know that you are the “real deal.” And if you are fortunate enough to find a group in your locale you then will find out what we all have all discovered–it takes one to know one.
“Once we admit that our depressed thinking is what conditions us to see our world as a hopeless place to live, the more we will try to change the way we think.”
When I am able to admit that I have need of improvement for some area of my life, things can begin to happen. I believe that now that I have a program in front of me that can help me to feel better, the more I will use it on a daily basis. As one member of the 12 Step group, DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS, points out, “I had to go to open that door for the first time because there was no other place to go. I had already used up all the hiding places in my life.” Now that we admit we need help, help is on the way.
It is always difficult to change. Millions of others are leading lives of peace, sobriety and hope as they place their trust in their Higher Power and commit themselves to learning how to feel differently. They are learning that by having faith in God, themselves, and the fellowship of the group, life does indeed get better. I am going to get better, the more I work and live the 12 Steps.
O God, we know that our hope in you is what will make it possible for us to find hope in our lives each and every day.
SOURCE: Higher Thoughts for December 4th, 2014.
If you believe that you had nothing to do with your depression, then the good implication is that you didn’t cause it. The bad implication is if you didn’t cause it then you could get it again, like the flu or the cold. But since depression isn’t a cold or a flu virus or germ we will try taking responsibility for our depression and its symptoms and go from there. The quickest answer to that is that it may lead me to take full responsibility for anyway that I can to overcome depression –this may mean taking the medication to reduce the negative symptoms, seek talk therapy, and then be part of a beloved community –a self help group where they know us by name. It is here that people like us will take the time to guide us toward the light where we can find safety, security and people like ourselves who will not tell us to “snap out of it.”
It is now the time to ask yourselves how you can best take responsibility for yourself. Formulating a daily plan, an activity, a pleasant activity, a feeling of finally getting control over your life which you felt that you never had. Also, planning one or more pleasant activities everyday into your life is a good way to plan your day instead of your day planning you.
To examine the good and the bad implications of depression as outlined briefly above is just another way to continue clarifying our thoughts on how well we are taking responsibility for our lives.
Copyright(c) Shining a light on the dark night of the soul. DAP Pages 16=-17( Excerpts)
One of the more difficult issues of my life when depressed was to get moving. I knew that if I was to get my mind in gear I had to get my body moving. I then discovered that after my body got into gear and started to move, my mind began to cooperate. But to tell you the truth, I did fear that I was going crazy. I couldn’t hold onto a single thought. It was like I was “mindless.” So, here is what happened. I forced myself to get moving and following the first 10 minutes which I spent hoofing it around this shopping mall, I began to feel alive–still depressed–but alive nevertheless.
And now all these years later I have regularly continued to walk. Most everyday. But the truth of the matter is that moving the body works. It’s like putting a recharged battery into a lifeless machine. I really felt like a machine–just operating at my job like a mindless zombie. Going through the motions –smiling as needed to my fellow colleagues –but still hanging onto my job. And if I got through the morning hours I could manage to stumble through my day til I got home from work and collapse in bed.
It was my commitment to myself that forced me to move my body. I discovered a truth –-MOTIVATION FOLLOWS ACTION. My motivation to move my body gradually intensified my resolve to get into action and move out of the darkness of my depression. This works for me. Tell us what has worked for you. Looking forward to hearing from you.
To really believe, possibly for the first time in my life that I can free myself from the prison of depression and begin to feel better. I know that I need to be proactive in my efforts at self-recovery. But what causes our outlook and attitude to change?
I have begun to believe that hope and healing is possible. Once we have gone through some painful inner changes, such as dealing with our character defects and our isolating tendencies we see there is a way out. We have to have a positive attitude that will move and motivate us to want to go and get to the next step. Watching someone actually take these steps week after week and watch that feeling of wellness rise up in them can provide a belief that with work and time, their lives do improve. Soon we see that a sense of purpose begins to manifest itself the more time and work we put into our personal recovery.
A door opens every slightly, and there appears a way out! I do know that when hope and faith in recovery rises, my symptoms of depression go down.
From: I’ll do it when I feel better. (2013) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Page 46.
HIGHER THOUGHTS FOR DOWN DAYS
I have a desire to get connected with everything around me today!
“Until we have actually been depressed we do not realize that there is a great difference between being depressed and being unhappy. When we are unhappy, no matter what terrible things have happened to us, we still feel in contact with the rest of the world. When other people offer comfort and love we can feel it warm and support us… When we are depressed we feel cut off from the rest of the world.” (7)
I admit to taking full responsibility for my detachment from my world and also from my very self. It seems that by numbing my grief over those matters lost in my past life, this has caused myself to be depressed. By burying what need to be faced and mourned, I am making a stand to face the depression that I have created over the years. I am going to care for myself and make the effort to hope that this twenty-four period that I call TODAY is one of rebirth and movement toward others.
Many times I wish I was merely unhappy rather than depressed. I can handle being unhappy, depression is a different story./ I am not about to give up on myself as I step out of depression and begin to take responsibility for my recovery TODAY. Because I have “made a decision to turn my life and my will over to the care of God as I understand God” my life is already starting to show the signs of a positive nature.
My God has given me hope that my depressed days are going to be less and less: I believe that. My faith in God has given me hope.
Source: (c)Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 step fellowship groups. (1993, 2014). Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Ky. Page 210.
We have entered the world of the spirit
From the AA Big book
“…We vigorously commenced this way of living as we cleaned up the past (Steps 4 & 5) . We have entered the world of the Spirit. Our next function is to grow in understanding and effectiveness. This is not an overnight matter. It should continue for a lifetime (Step 12) . Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, and fear. When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them. We discuss them with someone immediately and make amends quickly if we have harmed anyone. Then we resolutely turn our thoughts to someone we can help. Love and tolerance of others is our code…Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God’s will into all of our activities. “How can I best serve Thee? Thy will (not mine) be done.” These are the thoughts which must go with us constantly. We can exercise our will power along this line all we wish. It is the proper use of the will.
THE DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS WORKBOOK Step 10 Question for personal reflection #10. 12. Page 76.