Did I create my own prison of depression?

You know,  that’s a  great question for us who have been , or who are presently depressed.  My own reflections about my own experience with depression wasn’t a question that I  asked myself. Actually, that came later in my recovery.  I  really didn’t care who or what  created it – all I knew was I had to get rid of it.  In fact, the experience was much like Noah’s  in the belly of the whale.  I was just walking along one day minding my own business, and suddenly bam! physically feeling swallowed  up by some  invisible  creature who  was devouring me. And that was that. From that  moment on, the feeling continued to overwhelm  me for the next year and half.

Because I had no label to pin on this “whatever it was,”  and I thought nothing important to talk to  anyone  about, but only that the  feeling of helplessness had me locked down.  Oh, I still went to work, trudged through Graduate studies and continued my relationship with others, never revealing my interior mysterious  sense of isolation and despair.

My only distraction was to get up early every morning( biggest challenge of the day) and walk for miles, round and round,  thankful I was still able to function.

Long story short, during this period,  I gradually felt   small lift’s in my spirit but they never lasted. So I continued walking until I managed to walk out of the fog. I was feeling hopeful again,  able to face life with hope. Finally feeling fully freed from the  hopelessness that had isolated me from my world, disconnecting  me from everything, everybody, even myself. That was then.

Now reaching back into the past, looking at my life before ”  whatever it was” that had me,  I began  discovering that I’d unconsciously constructed my own prison and confinement. My ruminating on fearful scenarios of losing my job, not able to handle     negative life issues and constant  frightful thinking plus the  continuous feeling deep painful moods, all grinding my body, mind and spirit into the ground. The feeling, best described this  is  like  someone scraping  their  fingernails on  a blackboard all day  without end.  If you are old enough to remember this particular feeling, (or even a blackboard)  then you know it was that painful knife-like  feeling thrust through your stomach that echoed throughout your whole body. Well, that was the way I felt all the time, particularly in the morning each day.  I wanted never to get up. Here is where motivation  follows action . Move the body and the mind will follow.

When I speak of the pain that threw me to the ground and ended the familiar  life that I knew,  the members of the Depressed Anonymous group know exactly what I am talking about. Depression is physically  painful.  Usually when I tell someone I was depressed, they normally  don’t understand, unless of course, they have been depressed themselves.

In my case, I unconsciously  caused and created  my depression, and allowed the symptoms to grind me down until I took steps to feel differently.  The steps that I took   was to attend the “miracle of the Depressed Anonymous group ” where  I could share my own experiences, strength and hope, make the 12 Steps a daily part of my life, and to share this message of hope with all who feel the same way as I did.

Believing in a Higher Power greater than myself  continues to keep me sane and living one day at a time. It works. It can work for you as well.

For more information contact us @

Depanon@netpenny.net and read  what we are about @ depressedanon.com.

Resources:

Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publicatiuons. Louisville, KY 40241.

Home Study Program of Recovery  (See DA literature here at The Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore).

 

When will I feel better?

Often I ask myself about the length of the depression experience and what makes it end.  One author quotes  someone who  asks “When will I feel better?”   I asked myself the very same question, with never getting a  satisfactory answer.  That is, until I read Jonathon Rottenberg’s book The Depths. His work, is my “go to ” guy when I want to learn more about moods and how they affect our daily lives.

Rottenberg, whom I have just finished reading gives us some pertinent information on the subject.  He tells us that ” Martin Keller and his colleagues followed a cohort of 431 patients diagnosed with depression – many of them so debilitated that they had been hospitalized over a five year period. Two months into the observation, nearly one in three had recovered from the episode. By six months, over half the patients had recovered ….

Likewise, data from samples that are more representative of the average depressed person  in the community, suggest that depression will last a year or less 90% of the time.”

The author,Jonathon Rottenberg, in his insightful and helpful account,  Out of the Depths: The Evolutionary Origins of the Depression Epidemic,  tells us that the experts have referred to depression as a self-limiting condition, a problem that ends in by itself.

“…But as depression grinds on, vague bromides don’t work so well. For someone at the end of her rope, whose patience is measured in days or hours, it’s the pace of improvement that is critical. Someone who  has already the best years of life torn up by depression wants to know, “When will I be better?” Hearing that most people recover eventually, even if it’s true, is not good enough.” We all want to know what can make this recovery possible? With my own personal battle with depression and a feeling that I might never escape that tight hold that it had on my thinking and feelings, I   wanted to know how long this journey in “death valley  was to continue. As I never got an answer to my question,I continued the trek through the fog.  It was  about a year and half later that I began to have a rise in my mood. I felt just a tad of cheer and hope as I continued my long walks in the mall where I spent all of my daily mornings before work.  Even though I never had a  clue as to when I would feel better, I kept  waiting for the moment when the gut wrenching  pain would be over. When the mood changed for me, from sad to hopeful, my life and moods began to spiral upwards instead of following  their usual negative trajectory downwards.

I do know this, that I  have lived my life without depression for at least three decades now. I attribute the fact of my recovery to a continued use of a resource, the Depressed Anonymous meeting, plus putting  the Twelve Principles of the 12 Steps in action in my everyday life.

Back to the question: “When will I feel better?” When will anybody feel better? I can’t answer that. I wish that I could. I did not know that 90% of persons depressed, do get better in time.  That is good news. That is something to share with depressed persons, and sometimes various treatments do  help in ending the torment of the depression experience. Even though the experts tell us that  the depression experience is self-limiting, this in a small way can provide some hope for the  one who has suffered  depression all of their life.

Jonathon’s,The Depths, is a work that  has a permanent  place in my reference  library.

RESOURCES:

Jonathon Rottenberg. The Depths: The Evolutionary Origins of the Depression Epidemic. Basic  Books.  A Member of the Perseus  Books Group. New York.  NY.

Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.

 

People have the seeds of their own recovery within themselves.”

 

” Having spent time researching causes of, and vulnerability to depression, I know that I was a prime candidate for the disorder.  The person typically diagnosed as depressed is likely to be a married woman who is also  a mother, and beset with practical problems.: Children, interpersonal relationships, and spouse concerns. What I learned from my own depression and recovery and try to practice when working with clients, is that people have the seeds of their own revival within them. I want to ask the right questions so that people can hear what they say, recognize what changes they want to make, and how they can choose to make them. Specific time limits are met, and I prefer to focus initially on people making changes in their behavior, rather than mood. I explain that although  the depressed mood colors the whole world, it  has not been shown to be causally related to improvement, whereas behavior has.

When clients know that there are specific and tangible things they can do, they begin to experience an immediate upswing.  A specific time limit is often motivating.  People begin to see themselves making positive changes in their behavior,  and can begin to change attitudes about themselves.  They begin to see themselves controlling aspects  of their environment, and as this happens, helplessness and hopelessness begin to dissipate and self- esteem level rises proportionally. People see themselves to be improving as a result of their own efforts. Nothing can  be more rewarding to a depressed person.”

Sources:  Wounded Healers. V. Rippere. Pages 86-87.

The Antidepressant Tablet  Vol. 2:3  Spring 1991.

Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky.

Moods produce feelings and feelings produce behavior

AFFIRMATION

I am going to believe that today is all I have and when I begin to feel better, I will not kill this feeling by telling myself that it won’t last. I will refrain from criticizing myself now.  I do have a choice. All of the Twelve Steps ask us to go contrary to our natural desires…they all deflate our egos. When it comes to ego deflation, few steps are harder to take than Step Five. (10).

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

The other night at a Step meeting one of the participants suggested that the reason she continued to stay depressed was the fact that she was still  living a life that came natural to her. In other words, she was still continuing to think the what she always thought in the past.  Now that she is living and working a program that is spiritual, her natural inclinations are not the driving force in her life. Her natural way of living kept her depressed. Her recovery program of living  in the Twelve Steps is providing her with some serenity.

Hugh’s comment

I want to add my comments here in response to the Depressed Anonymous participant quoted above. When she started to feel better she would put herself down–much like I did when I was beginning to feel better.  When my sad mood was beginning   to lift, my  first reaction was to tell myself “it’s not going to last,” which shot that good feeling  down almost immediately. I got hooked back  onto my old natural self of negativity and hopelessness.  It took me a while to get back on  track.  I realized that I scuttled myself. I had always scuttled myself with a running diatribe  against my self. And when I finally got free of my natural inclinations to beat myself up, primarily by living out in my daily life  the spiritual recovery program of the Steps. I also began   participating in the fellowship of Depressed Anonymous. I began to listen, not to my natural self, but to the  Steps of recovery,  now armed with the  spiritual armor provided to me,  I began the reconstruction of my life–one day at a time.

In a helpful look at depression and mood, Jonathon Rottenberg  tells us that

“Our perspective here is that, although depression’s pain is never entirely welcome, moods offer meaningful information about our status and prospects in the world. Without trivializing  how difficult it would be to “listen to depression” to extract evolution’s warnings, to find the signal amid the pain, this listening particularly in its aftermath, can be a vehicle to foster rebirth and transformative life change. Certainly it will be difficult to learn from depression if we don’t listen at all.”  (The Depths: The Evolutionary Origins of the Depression Epidemic. Basic Books. NY.2014. Page 195.)

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It is intended that my life be filled with hope and commitment to myself so that I can live out my life with a peace that overcomes fear. “To admit to  God, to ourselves, and to another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs.” (Step Five).

This is not the natural way to live. The naturel way to live is to deny that we have a problem. The more I work and live out my program, the better I am beginning to feel.

MINDFULNESS

We believe that the God of our understanding will help us visualize ourselves as happy and free persons. We will visualize in our mind all the good things that can happen to us if we believe that they can.  If God is with us and cares for us, why worry? (Personal  comments).

SOURCES: Copyright(c)  Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for Twelve Step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Kentucky. Pages 169-170.

Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. (1998,2008, 2011). Depressed ANONYMOUS  Publications. Louisville. Ky.

 

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.