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 cofounder 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. p.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

 

Drinking Depression: One man’s story of recovery from alcoholism and depression.

 

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.

RELIANCE

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.

DESPERATION

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.

THE PHYSICAL

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.

THE SPIRITUAL

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.

SELF-ESTEEM

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.

HOPE

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.”

God bless.

Steve P.

+This article first appeared in THE ANTIDEPRESSANT TABLET, Spring 1994.

 

 

I am able to beat loneliness by repeatedly being with other people in recovery or by doing the Home Study* program with my sponsor.

A HIGHER THOUGHT FOR YOUR DAY

AFFIRMATION

“I’m sure many sufferer’s could find a lot of comfort and support by coming into a group as I’ve done, to help beat the terrible loneliness which is felt by many and who find lasting friendship with lovely people.”

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

In the group, I established myself and got some positive feednback from others who watched me grow and have seen the genuine changes I make personally. I am gradually throwing off my personal way with sadness. The real support comes when I begin to learn that members of the group have the same problem that I have. That helps me trust others with the story of my life. These people are the ones who want to hear my story of how depression cost me my life.  Now, my life is freeing me from my need to sad myself.

I feel more able to attach myself to the group now that I know that they are struggling with the same depression that I struggle with. I no longer have to fight this battle on my own.

MEDITATION AND BEING MINDFUL OF A HIGHER POWER

God, you are our rock and our refuge, on you I place my trust. We know and  believe, easier now than before, that God has something good in store for me today. (Personal comment).

SOURCE:  Higher thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 Step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.  April 26. Pages 84-85.

*HOME STUDY PROGRAM, is an individual approach to a STEP study  program when no  Depressed Anonymous group program is available in one’s community. The participant is helped in working the steps by utilizing the help of a sponsor. The sponsor leads the individual through all the steps using the Depressed Anonymous Manual, 3rd edition as well as coordinating this work with the Depressed Anonymous Workbook. By means of emails the sponsor and participant communicate with each other on  a regular basis.

For more information in how to set up this HOME STUDY program please click onto the Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore. Or contact us at depanon@netpenny.net for how you can be part of this individualized study.

The Home Study material  can be ordered online.

 

Today I want to keep the focus on myself.

AFFIRMATION

Today, I’m going to keep the focus on myself and I aim to take responsibility for myself.

“… There is one great advantage about seeing yourself as helpless and in the power of others.  You don’t have to be responsible for yourself. Other people make all the decisions and when things turn out badly you can blame other people. And things always turn out badly. That’s why you always expect the worst.”

REFLECTION

It is when I no longer blame others for my problems that I begin to see that how I turn out is ultimately up to me. My happiness or unhappiness depends on the choices that I make. No one needs to feel sorry for me any longer because I am depressed. I know that I am responsible for me and that I have made the decision to get myself undepressed and to stay undepressed.

It’s most difficult to make decisions when I have hardly the energy to get out of bed in the morning. It’s always difficult to choose one way or the   other because in the past, most of my decisions have usually resulted in failure. Today and everyday I will make the decisions to learn all I can about the various ways that I use the 12 step tools of recovery  to release myself from my hopelessness.

MEDITATION

We now have hope that our expectations will come true for ourselves as we begin   to take responsibility for ourselves.

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Source: Copyright (C) Higher thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 step fellowship groups. (1999) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Page 64.

HIGHER THOUGHTS IS AVAILABLE ON THE KINDLE  eREADER.

Visit the store for more information on Depressed Anonymous literature.

I LIKE BEING A RESPONSIBLE PERSON AND I WILL NO LONGER BLAME OTHERS FOR MY SADNESS.

AFFIRMATION

Responsibility is the name  of the game in recovery and it is here that we need to focus our attention.  As we get into a discussion with other  people who are depressed  – much like ourselves – we see that they talk about feeling better while at the same time acting on  their own behalf. ” (8)

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

To blame someone else for all my problems, and to focus on someone else and not on myself, never  accomplishes anything therapeutic. I believe that as I commit myself to  my program of recovery I begin to feel a shift in the way I think and act.  I know that the only way out of my pain is to get into dealing with my sadness and the way that I sad myself.  I need to begin with Step One  and admit my problem. I need to admit that my life has become unmanageable because of my attachment  to depression.  I must remember not to blame myself for depression  – I just know that right now, today, I want out!  I tell myself I’ve had  it!  I intend to get better.

In order to change my life, I have to begin taking responsibility  for it today.  By setting a goal, just for today, I can plan some success into my life.”

MEDITATION

We know that our Higher Power wants us to live just this one day. God is neither a vengeful God nor is my God a punishing God. My God is there for me and the more I open up and trust God, I trust myself to change and be a better and more serene person.”

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SOURCE: Higher Thoughts for down days:365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications . Louisville, Kentucky  P. 69.