Sometimes persons tell us that they just get sad for no reason at all. All of a sudden they just feel down and they don’t know why. Many times after reflecting upon the sudden rush of sadness, they realize that it has come from somewhere and they might as well take responsibility for it. and deal with it. One of the best ways to deal with a feeling , especially the unpleasant ones, is to stay with it, feel it and see what it is trying to say to you. When you run from it you lose. Granted, we it won’t be easy and you might not find the source of the sudden sadness at the first glance, but in time you can feel it, deal with it and then discard it. The more you ruminate about how sad you are and then how bad you are for feeling so sad, the more you have begun the downward spiral into physically feeling weak and hopeless. This is the time to call a friend or a member of the group. Just say “Hey, I’m feeling sad and here is the reason why I think I am feeling sad –what do you think? More times than not, your sad feelings will melt away.”
Yes, on the verge of sanity is the way I look at it. My life up to a certain point was not really insane –it just felt like it. You might recognize the feeling. You keep doing the same insane things over and over again and expecting different results. How is it that you and I are so good at this, that is, allowing our mind to chase us around in circles never finding a way out .
If you have been in a 12 step program for any length of time, you can see some of what I mean. Just by reading and looking closely at each of the spiritual principles of the 12 Steps you gradually become conscious of the dysfunctional way that you are living out your life.
The insanity begins to show itself for what it is –it is as it were exposed by the voices of the other members of the group. These men and women who have by now are discovering the core issues of their own insane ways of thinking and behaviors. As it states so pointedly in Step Two of the recovery program that we “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”
The members of the Depressed Anonymous group meetings have gradually painted a portrait of what insanity looks like. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. It’s when a member of the group, in detail fashion, shares with us how growing up he was told over and over again how “He would never amount to anything.” And guess what? He believed it! This prediction was fulfilled for everything that he put his hand to in life.
How about this one handed out to me by my teacher when I was in the third grade, namely “you will never be smart like your brother or your uncle ( a bible expert).”
She was right. I began to live with the shame of being inferior, the prediction of this authority figure gradually working its way into my subconscious from that moment on. I still remember feeling the flesh of my face turning red hot just thinking about that moment so many years back. Sharing this with the group and a therapist finally removed the scourge that it became in my life. I must have unconsciously worked against this false belief because later I earned a Master’s Degree and later a Doctoral degree.
Julia calls Depressed Anonymous a miracle. So far, she tells us that
“so far the most grabbing element of Depressed Anonymous has been the parts of the book where the author refers to the depressed person as a saddict, that is, a person attached or addicted even to sad and hopeless thoughts. Boy, did I ever see myself in these sections. Since then, I have learned to control my thought process. Now, very seldom do sad thoughts creep in. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say the first time I saw the description of a saddict, a light went on in my head. The actual miracle took place at that moment. And the beauty of the whole thing is that thinking positive thoughts becomes easier and easier, automatic, then ecstatic at times.
But it is not all that easy. I followed the Steps also. I work at them often. For just as sure as your mind is on the automatic positive gear, it can easily slip back to negativism without the proper maintenance , which includes weekly( not just regular) attendance at meetings, and the knowledge and practice of the Twelve Steps as well as for those that need it, medication plus therapy as recommended by your doctor. ” (C) Julia, Depressed Anonymous Personal Stories
Good luck! And if just one other person reaches the point where I am,then there is a hope that life can be different for you as well.”
Note: When I became aware of how to live on the verge of sanity and then start living a live of serenity I began sharing with others about the miracle of Depressed Anonymous. Now that I am feeling sane I just hope that you put this plan. that works, into your daily life.
Submitted by Julia, a member of Depressed Anonymous, writing her Personal Story in the Personal Stories section of Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY Page 122.
For more stories please click onto the Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore at our website www. depressedanon.com. You can order online.
Joyce was a client of mine a few years back. She was in her early sixties and just recuperating from a successful open heart surgery. She also was very depressed. That’s where I come in. I was asked by my clinical supervisor if I would spend some time with her and see how I might be of help to her. I agreed to do what I could do.
In the midst of counseling and listening to Joyce’s story, I discovered her strong faith, which included her personal faith in God which gave her the belief that she was going to get through whatever that had her in lockdown.
She wasn’t aware of our Depressed Anonymous group and so I shared my story with her and the fact that I too was once depressed. I told her how I became a believer in the spirituality of the Twelve Steps and how my belief in God delivered me from my symptoms of depression. Now don’t get me wrong -my own story is that it took me over a year to finally get free of this noose around my neck. Also, because of my faith in a program and the recovered people who lived it out in their daily lives, I started on the road to recovery.
My faith told me if I would follow some of the simple steps outlined in this recovery program I would get better. My faith got me off of my seat, out of bed and out my door to begin walking. I believed walking might be the key that unlocked my prison of depression. I read that some Doctors in England were writing out prescriptions for exercise for their depressed patients. I figured that it worked for them and so why wouldn’t exercise work for me. After a year of walking everyday I finally walked out of the mental fog, lost the jitters and became free of depression. My faith in a Higher Power and my getting my body moving on a daily basis produced the healing effect that I had hoped for.
Back to Joyce. She and I had ten sessions together and I suggested to her that she start to think about the things that she did before her depression. What provided the satisfaction and those pleasant events previously in her life. She talked about how she at one time was a cartoonist as well as a lover of writing poetry. So, that is what I suggested — that she involve herself with these pleasant activities again. She said that she believed that she could do it–even though her mind and body rebelled at moving out of her comfort zone of doing absolutely nothing. The main defense for doing nothing is the oft repeated mantra from all of us when we are depressed which is “I’ll do it when I feel better.”
With each new session she would share with me a cartoon or a poem which she had created the previous week. As she continued doing what she liked, I noticed more energy in her voice as she shared her feelings about her new creations. All the while, she was compliant with her own physical recovery from heart surgery. Her pleasant moods gave her a feeling of being in control of her life and her future. She came to believe that a power greater than herself would restore not only her sanity but her health as well. Her faith was renewed in the God of her understanding while restoring her belief that her health was going to get better. Not only did she have a plan to follow but she made the spiritual principles of the Twelve Steps her way out of depression. She continues to follow this map to this very day.
The following quote is from a work titled, The Secret Strength of Depression written by Frederic Flach, M.D., K.H.S.
“Faith appears to be good for one’s overall health. Cardiovascular illnesses are more frequently seen in depressed individuals, in patients with coronary ischemia, depression worsens the outcome, possibly due to alterations in platelet function and changes in autonomic tone. Depression is also associated with a higher mortality rate following acute myocardial infarction; for those patients who survive, the recovery process is often a more complicated one. Studies suggest that the recovery rate from medical and surgical procedures, from the repair of hip fractures to coronary bypass surgery, is faster among believers. Moreover, patients undergoing such treatment appear less likely to have serious complications or die.” Page 239.
SOURCES: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky.
Copyright(c) I’ll do it when I feel better. 2nd Edition 1986, 2013. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.
Copyright)(c) Believing is seeing:15 Ways to leave the prison of depression. (2017) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky.
Be on the alert for symptoms of inner peace. The hearts of a great many have already been exposed to inner peace and it is possible that people everywhere could come down with it in epidemic proportions. This could pose a serious threat to what has up to now, been a fairly stable condition of conflict in the world.
SOME SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF INNER PEACE
+ A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears based on past experiences.
+ An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.
+ A loss of interest in judging other people.
+ A loss of interest in conflict.
+ A loss of the ability to worry. (This is a very serious symptom).
+ Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation and gratitude.
+ Contented feelings of connectedness with others and with nature.
+ An increasing tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen.
+ An increased susceptibility to the love extended by others as well as the uncontrollable urge to extend it.
+ Frequent attacks of smiling.
The Antidepressant Tablet Vols. 8. Issue 4 1997
DRINKING DEPRESSION: One man’s story of recovery from alcoholism and depression and the parallels between the two.
By Steve P.
“I have had experiences with alcohol abuse since childhood. I have also struggled since childhood with depression. I quickly learned to rely on both.
I call this paper “drinking depression” because that’s exactly what I did when I no longer had the alcohol. The following thoughts will express my feelings and the parallels that I have seen between these two addictions.
There was always an excuse to drink, mostly I was upset with something –I should say angry, for it was anger at the root of my depression that I was trying to suppress in medicating myself with alcohol. Later, I learned to do the same thing with my depression except to be in a depressive state high. I didn’t even have to leave the house and after awhile I didn’t want to break the cycle of reliance that dependency had begun. Where I was absorbing alcohol into my blood stream I was now injecting the depression into my soul and absorbing it like a sponge
FAMILIARITY AND COMFORT
As a recovering alcoholic, I can look back on my drinking and see where I took comfort in being drunk because eventually the numbness became the only way I could feel better. When I was drunk I could retreat into myself and not have to deal with everyday life.
The same escape tool was used in the form of depression. I could ball up like a wooly worm and the outside world was not going to hurt me. However, the more I wallowed in the darkness of my depression the deeper I got stuck in the mud of despair and hopelessness.
In order to deal with alcoholism and depression I had to hit rock bottom. I had reached a point in both that I had to call out for help or drown in my addiction. I called on my Higher Power to help deliver me from alcohol and he led me to a counselor to also help me with my depression. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit I am harnessing my talents now and I am seeing incredible results. My recovery has not been overnight but it is a day by day and step by step recovery process.
After some time had passed, the drinking affects the physical body breaking it down. Once I saw a film in which the brain of an alcoholic was compared to the brain of a heroin addict and they were very similar. The depression I experienced also had physical implications. For over twenty years the way my body would respond from too much emotional stress was to pass out. Instead of blacking out from alcohol I was using depression to numb myself and my brain.
When I was drinking I felt alienation and guilt. I felt professing Christians did not drink. The more I drank the more guilty I became. I felt much more distant from God the more I drank and spiraled further down into a cycle of despair.
In my depression, I felt God had no time for me and that I was unworthy of his love. Again, it was a carousal filled with guilt and anger going round and round so that I couldn’t get off the merry-go-round.
When I was drinking, I was sure that no one cared or could understand what I was going through, so I had many pity parties and I was the guest of honor. Why should I care if no one else cared? This was my way of thinking.
From painful experiences in my childhood I felt I was of no worth and just taking up space. It has taken therapy and the support of family and friends to finally look in the mirror and begin to like what I saw.
I have been sober over two years although I often have the desire to drink I daily call on my Higher Power to help me and march on one day at a time experiencing serenity and a release from my need to take that first drink.
I have been in therapy for almost a year off and on, although in order to recover one has to stay with it. I have to take my emotional and spiritual healing, like my drinking —one day at a time knowing I can make it. It is only by opening the door of the past that the light of the present can get rid of the darkness today, providing hope for the future.
It is my hope and prayer that this has helped you, in some small way. It has helped me by writing about my experiences. May God put walls of protection around you so that the way ahead for you may be crystal clear so that today may be your first step towards recovery.”
+This article first appeared in THE ANTIDEPRESSANT TABLET, Spring 1994.
It would not seem like a big deal to share our experience with depression at a Depressed Anonymous mutual aid support group. But the surprise comes as we share our own personal journey with others. We discover that no one drops out of their seats as they hear a new member tell of their suicide attempts, or the shame and guilt over the crazy things I have done in the past.
There is a freedom that accompanies our story telling because we are hearing ourselves share very personal things about our past. Once we get started sharing our story we may feel that we are letting ourselves be vulnerable.
In our Depressed Anonymous Big Book, 3rd edition, we hear the author tell us the following.
“Many times we have been so scared of being rejected once more that we have withdrawn deeper into the anguish of our shame and hurt. We need to air our hurts, our shame, and let others hear our story. There is something healing about hearing ourselves speak to others about our own journey in life and the many emotional potholes that we have fallen into from time to time. We have felt our lives jinxed.”
And here is the surprise I referred to earlier: there is no criticism of what we share. Everyone in the group thanks us for sharing our story. We now know that most of the fellowship have experienced some of the same behaviors and feelings themselves at one time or the other. In fact, their stories and mine have much in common. They have no difficulty in seeing themselves in my account of a lifetime of depression. I feel affirmed. I no longer feel alone. I know I am among friends and among those who are walking the same path as myself. We are all in this recovery effort together.
In the Depressed Anonymous Workbook we read the following:
“Have you noticed that you are spending less and less time alone and more time with others in the fellowship and the fellowship grows among you and others that you have met in Depressed Anonymous?” Let’s just say that our thoughts and feelings are now solution focused – whereas all we could think about before was how awful we feel. We believed that we are at the end of our rope. If there is no meeting in your community, you can use our HOME STUDY KIT which will take you through each Step and it’s commentary (Big Book) while the Depressed Anonymous Workbook asks some very valuable questions for you to answer as you move through your recovery program.
For more on this HOME STUDY KIT, please visit our Literature store at this site. You can also order Depressed Anonymous material online.
SOURCES: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.
Depressed Anonymous Workbook, Depressed Publications. Louisville.
These two works form our HOME STUDY KIT and can be ordered as a single unit.
Promise #4: We comprehend the word serenity and we know peace of mind.
Agitation, anxiety and jitteriness were all part of my life as I muddled through day after day, one foot in front of the other. Serenity was definitely not a part of my life.
As with any attachment to a negative behavior, serenity and peace was the farthest thing from my life. The new beliefs and thoughts which I heard expressed at Depressed Anonymous meetings started to help me change the way I thought about myself, my world and my future.
I believe that it takes work, time and prayer and quiet periods of meditation to achieve the peace and serenity that we are talking about here.
PEACE OF MIND IS THE RESULT OF:
- A clear conscience
- Living in the present
- Gratitude everyday
- Belief that the God of my understanding will get me through the problems of my life
- Forgiveness of myself and amends to all person I have harmed
- Doing God’s will means letting go
I am firmly convinced that in order to continue any semblance of peace and serenity I will have to structure a daily quiet period into my life. This is an essential part of the prescription for getting well and staying well. Also, I believe that when I am quiet, God can give to me all that is mine to have. My will and my life have to be attuned to God’s presence and love. We will know that in order for God to make itself present to us and demonstrate its love we have to sit still, be quiet and listen with purity of heart. This is an essential part of the formula where we will find our sobriety and serenity.
It is my belief that God does speak to those who remain quiet and have a design to listen. Peace is defined as “an undisturbed state of mind, absence of mental conflict.” Serenity is defined as “a quality or state of being serene; calmness, tranquility.”
The quality or state of being serene all takes time, work and discipline. I believe that the big book of AA says it best: ” When we sincerely took such a position, all sorts of remarkable things followed. We had a new employer; being all powerful he provided what we needed, if we kept close to him and performed his work well.
Established on such a footing we became less and less interested in plans, our little designs and ourselves. More and more we became interested in seeing what we could contribute to life. As we felt new power flow in, as we enjoyed peace of mind, as we discovered we could face life successfully, as we became conscious of his presence, we began to lose our fear of today, tomorrow or hereafter.. We’re reborn.” ( Page 63, AA).
SOURCE: Copyright(c) I’ll do it when I feel better. (2014) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 36-38. The Promises of Depressed Anonymous.
If you really want to begin to “live outside the box“, a description of what the box feels like and looks like might be helpful to you. First of all, a box has an identifiable shape. It is a box mainly because it contains something–whatever that might be. And when we speak of the subject of depression, we talk about depression having us boxed in. The box as it is used here, in this context is a metaphor for feeling enclosed and which there is no exit. It is like being trapped or like in a prison.
Now, in order to live outside the box we want to live creatively, which means that we are having to learn how to live outside the box. Now, if you find this hard to believe -stick with me now as I will explain what I mean.
Just briefly, my own experience with depression can be used as an example. First of all, when I was depressed I thought that I was losing my mind. The box that I put myself in was getting more restricting by the day and making my life hell. I could see no way out. I was trapped. What could I do I asked myself? As hard as I tried, I couldn’t just will these feelings and scary thoughts away–like taking a broom and brushing them out of my life. No matter which way I turned I hit a wall. With no answers forthcoming on how to keep my head above water, my body slowly was being sucked down into the quicksand of despair. The thought came to me, much like that small glimmer, a tiny light so far away, but nevertheless a light. It was like the lighthouse which with its intense brightness warns seafarers that rocks were nearby and to be watchful before approaching. My mind began to race here and there for a way out of the box and then it hit me — get moving. Move the body. Get busy. The key out of this prison was already in my hand. And now, those of us here in the Depressed program of recovery,who have been putting “out of the box” ideas to work in our daily lives, we want to share what has worked for us and we know, if you actually use them for your own recovery, they are bound to ultimately free you. That is the promise I share with you today.
The following activities, listed below are some of the tools that will get you “out of the box” when you get serious about using them.
I think taking a close and personal look at the following tools will not only help you get “out of the box” but can be tools that you will be able to utilize, day after day as you continue your recovery.
- Exercise is a great tool if you happen to be depressed.
- Getting out into nature will also help put your mind on beauty and your surroundings.
- Overcoming fear is also a great place to learn how to get out of the box. Learn about “first fear” and “second fear.” Fear doe seem to be at the center of our life when depressed.
- Recite the “SERENITY PRAYER” as often as you need it.
- The present. Staying in the now.
- Making use of the God box. This is an exercise, a simple one at that, which helps us learn the discipline of “letting go.”
- Feelings need to be examined and expressed. We will look at why expressing feeling is so important, instead of having them bottled up and causing all sorts of physical and emotional problems.
- Disable negative thinking: learn how to short circuit negative thoughts when they pop into our minds.
- Reading Depressed Anonymous literature and all material on the subject of depression.
- Learn how we all have choices. We make those decisions that bring us closer to freedom–not those that continue to imprison and box us.
- Journaling is a great tool for writing down what has been our experience for the day. It helps to clarify our thinking and puts things into perspective.
In the next post, I will begin placing attention on each of the eleven ideas listed above. Gradually we can take time to evaluate our response to each individually and make our own notes as how to use these recommended ideas for our own recovery.
I will not be afraid of the shadows in my life and my personality, but I will face them and look at them and find serenity.
“They knew what to do about those black abysses that yawned to swallow me when I felt depressed or nervous. There was a concrete program, designed to secure the greatest possible inner security for us long time escapists. The feeling of impending disaster that had haunted me for years began to dissolve as I put into practice more and more of the Twelve Steps. It worked. ” (1)
CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT
I am now having more periods of serenity and quiet as I begin to work the Steps of my program and trust more in my Higher Power. I know that my God is there right now waiting to help me through this time of sadness and disease. I believe that my help is coming from a power greater than myself. I know that it is never to my advantage to run away from my problems or hide from the fact that I need to construct a new way to look at myself.
When you are depressed you are not even aware of the fact that you are unconsciously making an effort to escape from your sadness as this running away that we do is so subtle and so chronic. Now that I know that I am responsible for setting myself free from my depression the more I am going to face my fear, anxiety and loneliness. I no longer intend to escape my responsibility for myself, my serenity and happiness. Only I can make myself happy.
Our fears began to dissolve once we begin the process of believing in this power greater than ourselves. We no longer put our trust in the sadness that appeared to us to be like a God in that it was all powerful and all important. It ruled every moment of the day. It also comforted us with its predictability. We are, today, choosing a God who loves us and will lead us into the promised land of hope and security.
SOURCE: HIGHER THOUGHTS FOR DOWN DAYS: 365 DAILY THOUGHTS AND MEDITATIONS FOR 12 STEP FELLOWSHIP GROUPS. DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS PUBLICATIONS. LOUISVILLE. JULY 14.
” The sanity of the Twelve Step program is what will eventually help you change how you look at yourself and your experience of depression. The program shows that just because you have always felt miserable is no reason to remain miserable for the rest of your life. The sanity of placing your trust in a Power greater than yourself opens up great possibilities for your personal happiness and success. If you have felt that you have to be in total control of every situation in your life, then coming to believe in a power greater than yourself might be a frightening experience. What would happen if suddenly you couldn’t control your unhappy situation with the comfort of sadness or self-pity? Haven’t our sadness and thoughts of unworthiness been our last refuge from having to face ourselves, take charge and accept responsibility for our own lives?
The escape into feelings of worthlessness and resignation over my depressing feelings is no longer an acceptable way for me to delay the hard choice of being responsible for me. This statement is not made to make you feel guilty but only to help you see that, with time and by working the Twelve Steps on a daily basis and having the ongoing fellowship and support of the Depressed Anonymous group, you can begin to choose a way out!”
SOURCE: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Page 42-43.