How to live outside the box? The depression box!

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.

  1. Exercise is a great tool if you happen to be depressed.
  2.  Getting out into nature will also help put your mind on beauty and your surroundings.
  3. 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.
  4. Recite the “SERENITY PRAYER” as often as you need it.
  5. The present. Staying in the now.
  6. Making use of the God box. This is an exercise, a simple one at that, which helps us learn the discipline of “letting go.”
  7. 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.
  8. Disable negative thinking: learn how to short circuit negative thoughts when they pop into our minds.
  9.  Reading Depressed Anonymous literature and all material on the subject of depression.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.

NOTE

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.

Hugh

Walling off negative feelings

“In examining our purpose one of the things that stands out is our emphasis on feelings. We stress feelings for several reasons… First of all, our behavior in the past has been so opposed to our value system that considerable feelings of remorse and self loathing have been built up. It appears that we have accumulated a pool of negative feelings and walled them off with a variety of masks or defenses that prevent this discovery…” Source: Group Psychotherapy with Addicted Populations. Flores, Phillip J. The Haworth Press.

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

I know all about “walling off” my negative feelings.  I purposely disconnected myself from negative feelings. To even think about negative events in my life, and much less to even talk about them with others, were  the bars that created my own personal prison. It was only when I admitted my own powerlessness with a life spiraling down out of control, because of shame, guilt and isolation, that I had to do something, anything,  to free myself from the bondage of depression. And that is where my story begins and that is where I began to get my life back.  When I admitted to myself and then to that group of persons who faced the same problem as myself,  that the bars of my prison were gradually removed.

Could it be that we have spent so much time on getting rid of these oppressive feelings of shame and despair that, as Thomas Moore states so wisely in his work, Care of the Soul in  Everyday life, that “depression  may be as important a channel for valuable “negative” feelings, as  expressions of affection are for the emotions of love.”

Finally the truth comes out. Even though medications prescribed for depression may help some of us get  back on the  playing field of life, getting in touch with these dark feelings of melancholy which have us down for the count, it is by feeling them and talking about  them that get us back to life. Why is it that we are so ready to get rid of something which with time and work can reveal to me a better path where i will discover a purpose and meaning  for my life.

If you want to discover how others like myself made this journey through the darkness and bitterness of their lives and came out more fully human, with negative feelings  and all, then please read  the PERSONAL STORIES of those like myself who using  the 12 Steps of recovery found the passage to freedom.

SOURCES:

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

I’ll do it when I feel Better(2014)  Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression. (2015) Depressed Anonymous Publications.   Louisville.

Please Visit the Store for more literature dealing with Depression and the 12 steps.