The impatient patient

 

It was not too long ago when I was an impatient patient. Have you ever been an impatient patient? If you have ever been admitted to the hospital for any length of time, as was I, then you know a little of what I am talking about. This was a few years back when I underwent open heart surgery. It was quite an experience to say the least. I got excellent care. The   staff said I was a very good patient.  Not much I could do to be an annoying patient. I had wires, tubes, and everything else hooked up to my anatomy. I felt that I must have looked like one of those huge electrical grids that we see alongside the road, all with a large chain link fence circling  them.

Because my numbers weren’t right (blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen level,  etc.)  the doctor told me that I would have to remain in the hospital another day. I had already spent three weeks, watching an  outside world,  all beginning to look like ne big beautiful garden.  Everything was coming alive.   I was coming alive too, but not fast enough. I did thank God that I was even alive: thanks to a great team of doctors and staff.

But gradually and with a new intensity, I had this strong desire to  to free myself from  whatever kept me from getting free. I know what it was: it was the numbers. Always the numbers. So, the day came, finally, and the doctor tells me that if the numbers were right I could go home. Home! That word spoken by the one who had the power to free me. Yes, I could  go home– tomorrow! (That was like the big sign behind the bartender  which read in big red letters “Free Beer tomorrow!” Tomorrow comes and yes, Free beer tomorrow!). I knew from past experience, that that  “tomorrow”  always came with a conditional “maybe”  tomorrow.

That was it. . . I was suffering from what I felt was a terminal case of “cabin fever.”   “Cabin fever”  can only be cured by  getting out of the cabin. We all know that. So, I asked the doctor how I could go home today (the day was Friday) as there was no use staying the weekend waiting for my numbers to come down. The doctor told me, because I had to have a certain medicine over the next 48 hours to keep my numbers at the right place, I must  give myself some  prescribed shots , and then come back the following Monday for a check on my numbers. Other than that, I was good to be released.

The nurse came in and with a few practice shots– on an orange no less, and then  I was good to go! Halleluja! By this time, most of my tubes and  wires had gradually been removed, one after another.  Another patient told me that this was a good sign when they started removing wires from one’s torso. My mind went to another possible reason, but I won’t go there now.

Home. And all it took was just to give myself two shots a day. No problem.  My numbers finally returned to where numbers need to be for a good recovery and so it all worked out. Thanks to the medical team, first of all, that gave me my life back!

Fast forward to today,  as I look back over  life before my experience with depression.  The sadness, the lethargy, my whole body seemed to want to go into hibernation. Sleep. And more sleep.  And when I could hardly get myself out of bed  in the morning. reality hit me in the face. I had something that I didn’t have a name for. I was immobilized. So, I started walking. Walking. Walking. I knew that I was continually feeling very sad. Sometimes like weeping.

My life before was a life of “hurry” for this and a “hurry ” for that.  I couldn’t stuff enough  of life into my daily schedule.  And then my discovery that I had clogged arteries and need open heart surgery as soon as could be scheduled. But what about my planned vacation, my clients, my books I was working on ?  I couldn’t just sit by and let things slide.

OK. I said. Obviously I was in denial. We are talking about saving my life here and I was worrying about nothing really.  That was  before my numbers helped me face the truth about myself.  The talk with the heart surgeon definitely grabbed my attention. I got it! I needed open heart surgery!  No denial now.

I got it that my life, the “hurry” and the “impatience”  that  had produced the stress, a diet filled with all sorts of food that was bad for me as well as a life without exercise.  I couldn’t relax. I couldn’t slow down.  I was always in a rush–a hurry to get to the next important   thing, a meeting or whatever pushed me into serious health problems.

Today is different. Once back in recovery, both from a physical standpoint as well as from a mental health standpoint, I have learned how to relax, how to spend  time alone  with my God as well as to set small goals which are attainable and healthy for each new day. My prayer time and my meditating on the spiritual principles of the 12 steps,  plus taking time out for my Depressed Anonymous meetings on a regular basis. I also have a regular sponsor who helps me over the times when I am in a “hurry” and shoving too much activity into a life filled with activity. I have the tools to slow down and live. These are  a musty now in my daily life!

My new self with an awareness of staying out  of the “hurry” has helped my being patient with whatever negative situations  life throws at me. I think before I act. I think before I make decisions and do not rush into anything without first “looking both ways” (as I learned in Kindergarten) many  years ago.

And BTW  my numbers are great: 120-130  over 80. Heart rate 70’s.

Check out the TOOLS for Recovery here at this website  www. depressedanon.com

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

 

 

Sisyphus and his rock.

There is an ancient Greek myth about a greedy King (Sisyphus)  from Corinth who was sent to Hades (hell) and who spent all eternity pushing a heavy rock up the hill, only to have the rock roll down again.

What do I make of this myth? What meaning can we give to it? What is its message?  And how can I relate it to my own life?

First of all, it has all sorts of meaning for all sorts of situations in my own life. I like to think of the story about Sisyphus and his rock much like my own story and struggles with the “rock” that I keep pushing up the hill. That rock was my struggle with  depression which  always seemed to be a part of my daily existence. Everyday, I just knew that it was time for me to face the rock and start pushing.   In time, the thought of facing another day with my hands on the rock gradually wore me down. I was exhausted.

I couldn’t get out of bed in the mornings. I couldn’t concentrate. I couldn’t think a coherent thought. My nerves were in revolt and my anxiety precluded any sort of activity that might help me escape my rock pushing. I began to feel hopeless and too helpless to walk away from this rock which was  chained to my mind, body and spirit.  I felt I had no choice but to get up and push the rock.

This started me to force myself to walk each day, and without thinking about the rock. It was like I was distracted from thinking about anything while I walked. And so in time, with my daily walks, I found that my rock grew smaller and smaller. And then one day, I reached the top of the hill without my rock. I was free. I felt free. I felt that my time in hell had ended.  (Read: I’ll do it when I feel better. Depressed Anonymous Publications).

Over the years I have found other tools besides that of walking in dealing with my depression. I founded a group, called Depressed Anonymous, where all the various shapes and forms of Sisyphus could gather, share their hopes, and their  victories and discard their rocks. I knew that being all alone in one’s hell, made life even more unbearable. But with a group of persons together, all with their own situations and experiences could get the strength to find their way out of this rock pushing bondage  .

All in all, I have found that when you get together with others like yourself, and you share your stories, things start to change.  You finally feel accepted, and made welcome  as you share your own rock pushing over the years, months, even a lifetime. We all can check our “rocks” at the door as we discuss ways out of our misery,  week after week .

For more information please check out our stories in our manual Depressed Anonymous, which by the way, is written by those of us who have been depressed and are in recovery, attending Depressed Meetings week after week. And if there is no meeting in our community we can also participate in our Home Study Program of Recovery, accompanied by an online sponsor.

Click onto the Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore for  learning more about who we are and what we do.  If you choose you can order online from our website at depressedanon.com.

Join us here everyday as we continue sharing our serenity and our hope online at our BLOG: Depressed Anonymous.

 

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.

“If there is a God, let Him show Himself !”

 

“When we look back, we realize that the things which came to us when we put ourselves in God’s hands were better than anything we could have planned.

My depression deepened  unbearably, and finally it seemed to me as though I were 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 a God, let him show himself! I am ready to do anything, anything.!”

Suddenly the room lit up with a great white light. It seemed to me, in the 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 feeling of Presence, and I thought to myself, “So this is the god of the preachers!”

SOURCE:  Bill W., As Bill Sees It.  Page 2.  “In God’s Hand.”  (The above quote is from Alcoholics Anonymous, P.100.)

THERE IS A PRINCIPLE WHICH IS A BAR AGAINST ALL INFORMATION…..

Most of us think this awareness of a Power greater than ourselves is the essence of spiritual experience. Our more religious members call it “God – consciousness.”

Most emphatically we wish to say that any alcoholic (or a person with depression) capable of honestly facing his problems in the light of our experience can recover, provided he does not close his mind to all spiritual concepts. He can only be defeated by an attitude of intolerance or belligerent denial.

We find that no one need have difficulty with the spirituality of the program. Willingness, honesty and open mindedness are the essentials of recovery. But these are indispensable.

There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man  in everlasting ignorance — that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”

— HERBERT SPENCER

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Source: AA Big Book. Page 184. THIRD EDITION 1976.

SPIRITUALITY AND DEPRESSION AND THE POWER GREATER THAN OURSELVES.

The following discussion about depression and spirituality has been excerpted from a recent DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS PUBLICATIONS (2013)  titled I’LL DO IT WHEN I FEEL BETTER. ( 2nd edition )Smith, Hugh.  Louisville, KY  40217. (p.86-87).

Bob P., a charter member of Depressed Anonymous shares his thoughts on the subject of SPIRITUALITY AND DEPRESSION.

Spirituality involves the recognition and acceptance of a Higher Power beyond your own will and intelligence, with whom you can have a relationship. The Higher Power can provide you with an experience of joy, security , peace of mind, and guidance that goes beyond what is possible in the absence of the conviction that such a power exists. Spirituality can be seen as being distinct from religion. Different world religions have proposed various doctrines and belief systems about the nature of a Higher Power and humanity’s relationship to it.  Spirituality, on the other hand refers to the common experience behind these various points  of view – an experience involving the awareness of a relationship with something that transcends your personal self as well as the humane order of thinking.

The ‘something” has been given various names –“God being the most popular in Western society  — and is defined in ways too numerous to count.  You can choose to define what that means to yourself in whatever way feels most appropriate to you.  Your own sense of Higher Power can be as abstract as cosmic consciousness or as down to earth as the  beauty of the oceans and the mountains. Even if you consider yourself a non-believer,  you may get a sense of inspiration from taking a walk in the forest or contemplating a beautiful sunset or a small child’s smile may give you a special sense of joy.  Whatever inspires to and takes you beyond yourself into a larger perspective is the direction of what is referred here as your Higher Power. ”

In the following quotation, Bill W.,  gives uis his concept of God.  By doing so he has basically reframed all of our understanding of God.

When therefore, we speak to you of God, we mean your own conception of God. This applies too, to others spiritual expressions, which you may find in this book (Alcoholics Anonymous). Do not let any prejudices you may have against spiritual terms deter you from honestly asking yourself what they mean to you? At the start,  this was all we need to commence spiritual growth, to affect our first conscious relation with God, as we understand him. Afterward  we found ourselves accepting many things, which often seemed entirely out of reach. That was growth, but if we wished to grow we had to begin somewhere. So we used  our own conception, however limited it was.

We had to ask ourselves but one short question: Do I now believe, or am I even willing to believe, that there is a power greater than myself?  (see, BELIEVING IS SEEEING: 15 WAYS TO LEAVE THE PRISON OF DEPRESSION. DAP, (2114)  Louisville, KY 40217.) As soon a person can say that he or she does believe or is willing to believe, we emphatically assure him or her that they are on their way. It has been  repeated proven among us that upon this  simple cornerstone a wonderfully effective spiritual structure can be built.”

For literature, focused  on the subject of Depression and the  12 Steps of Depressed Anonymous, please visit our store.

We will continue our discussion about depression and spirituality in the posts to follow. Please, stay tuned. Your comments are always appreciated.

A POWER GREATER THAN OURSELVES

I love that statement.  A few times with my work in the prison system I ran across one or two individuals who said  that they didn’t believe in God. No one fell off their chairs when that statement was made. Like, this wasn’t a church meeting by any mean. I remember the one man telling us that the Depressed Anonymous group was his Higher power. It was this group that met every week in which he could share the ups and downs of his prison life. The group was there when he needed them and who shared their own stories of pain and the need for  the fellowship’s support. 

Was I a prisoner?  Well, like all persons depressed, I felt that I was in continual lock down.I felt that my own isolating  behavior prevented me,  by my own feelings of shame and guilt to remain locked up behind the bars of fear and anxiety.  But I also knew that we all were kindred spirits.  We all experienced or were experiencing the pain of depression.  We all were fighting this thing together. We knew that we were all equal in this fellowship. Even though I did not live my life in a physical prison, I knew that my own isolation and fear kept me chained to my past. The new me, thanks to a gradual spiritual awakening, and dependence upon my Higher Power and  support of the fellowship of my Depressed  Anonymous group, I finally moved out of the dark world of depression.

I do hope as time goes by to put emphasis upon this Power greater than ourselves. And what is the Power? How do you contact it? How does one  “…come to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity? STEP TWO OF DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS

For a refresher, you might like to go to our website menu where you can read THE PROMISES OF DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS. I know these Promises to be true ..they happened for me.

A POWER GREATER THAN OURSELVES: OUR GO TO PERSON.

A POWER GREATER THAN OURSELVES: OUR GO TO PERSON

The more time that I spend in daily prayer and meditation the closer I feel to this Power greater than myself. Now, let’s be honest, it isn’t everyday that I feel this or think this way, but for most days I feel energized by my time in quiet listening. It was when I first joined a Twelve Step recovery program that I I knew that I was truly home. I had always been looking for a home where I could feel acceptance, nurturing and fellowship. It was at my first meeting, 32 years ago, that in all my brokenness, guilt and shame, that I felt I had made it home. It was here that I could reveal who I was, who I thought I was and get a plan for my life, just one 24 hour period at a time. My own feelings of being totally accepted in this new fellowship created in me the belief, without  doubt, that  sanity would be restored to me. How did I know this? What made me a believer? Simply the fact that the members of the group had pretty much the same story as my own. But for all of this, what stood out was the basic belief among all of the members, that there is a Power, and it is greater than me. And that this Power, whom we understand as God, is my GO TO person every day of my life. And the two things this group taught me early on,  is that THERE IS A GOD, AND IT IS NOT ME!

If today you are feeling alone, lost and frightened, please join me here everyday, as I speak about spirituality and the Power greater than myself,  and what it has to do with my recovery, and how it impacts  on our search for  that serenity that we are all seeking. Remember what you seek, seeks you!

THE MYSTIC EXPERIENCE OF BILL W., CO-FOUNDER OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS.

Granted that this site is not about alcoholism but about depression. But let’s face it, many of those addicted to alcohol are also depressed. I think many depressed try and medicate the pain with alcohol and then end up with two conditions that they need help with. We call this a co-morbid addictive illness.
A few days ago I wrote about the “spiritual awakening” that gave Bill the jump start that he had to have in order to quit his drinking. For Bill it came down to either lose (surrender) his life to this mystic power or to the disease of alcoholism. After this special illumination of the hospital room and to his mind, he knew he could not continue his drinking.
Bill describes his thoughts about this epiphany in the following light:
I was the recipient of a tremendous mystic experience or “illumination” and at first it was very natural for me to feel that this experience staked me out as somebody very special.
But as I now look back upon this tremendous event, I can only feel very grateful. It now seems clear that the only special features of my experience were its suddenness and the overwhelming and immediate conviction that it carried.
In all other respects, however, I am sure that my own experience was essentially like that received by any A.A. member who has strenuously practiced our recovery program. Surely, the grace he received is also of God; the only difference is that he becomes aware of his gift more gradually. Source: AS Bill sees it.

“Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

Isn’t this the way it is? It usually takes an awareness of something bigger than just me that propels us into life armed with a sense of purpose. This something bigger could be getting involved in a political campaign, working in a food kitchen serving the poor, helping migrants find a job, learn a language of their newly adopted homeland.
The experience of depression gradually whittled down my world and any interests that I considered worth my time. Then as I continued to spiral down into the dark abyss of inactivity and aloneness, I felt a great need to find something that would break my fall and so it all began–the search, the seeking the power that would help me get up and get going again. For me, (this is about me right now), I made a decision to find some power that was greater than the power of my need to sad myself. I found the power that was greater than myself–it was a group of persons journeying with a hope and a faith that manifested serenity and purpose in their words and deeds. My world began to get large again, it started to swell with possibility and hopefulness. It was sanity personified. It was a belief, coupled with a witness of those others who had achieved a continued saneness in their dealings with their world and most importantly within their selves. Now I am a witness to the truth of that power which I discovered or that which discovered me. You, the reader are now part of my world and I, for a bit of time, am part of your world. I am grateful.