Is there life after depression?

The question is a surefire cause for reflection.  In my own case, I can say that   my life  took a new and exciting direction.  As therapist I quickly learned  that my own painful depression experience gave my life and work a special path.

A recent author, in his work The Depths,  shares with us how his experience with depression provided new meaning for his life and work. It was when his depression ran it’s course did he realize that this experience had provided him with a purpose for his life.

“The specific enterprises that  will create purpose in life will differ from person to person and emerge from his or her history and needs. Your mileage will surely vary. There’s no ready made formula for discovering  and rebuilding life purpose (or purposes) after depression. It can and should emerge over time from solo reflection, as well as from conversations with spouses, friends, and therapists.  This diverse process is worth pursuing. This diverse process is worth pursuing. I expect what is common among people is that however purpose is created, it can hold depression at bay…”

Since 1985, my experience with depression  in the midst of my Graduate studies in Psychology,  provided me with a “life purpose” which I live out everyday in my life.  I didn’t just pick up where I left off before my depression but I used what I learned from my experience; used the tools given  to me while in recovery,  and now continue to share my experiences with thousands of people around the world.

Because of my participation in the 12 Step fellowship of Alcoholic Anonymous, this program of recovery I used as  a model of recovery and hope  for those of us who were depressed.

As Jonathon Rottenberg shares in his work, The Depths: The Evolutionary Origins of the Depression Epidemic (2014) Basic Books, NY.,  that

“This again is a reminder that we may be better off if we think about recovery, not simply as the absence of depressive symptoms, but as a set of active qualities or practices that prevent low mood from taking root, despite the presence of liabilities elsewhere. ” Pages 194-195.

I do hope that you have the opportunity to read this book as the author shows us in many different ways how the depression experience will not only provide purpose in our lives but also that  strength we  call hope.

Hugh

 

First, be true to one’s own self.

Way 13 of the 15 ways to leave the prison of depression.

“I’d rather be imperfect and happy than always trying to be perfect.”

One of the areas in my life where I strive to excel is in the area of trying to be perfect. Somewhere in our early development as children we got the message that if we were perfect we could be more acceptable to others. I gradually began to believe the more I tried to please others that this would bring me  happiness. Instead, all it brought me was a loss of myself. The loss of self reduced me to a shallow self without direction or meaning. I also had the false belief that the more predictable life is, I felt the less stressed my life would be. But in reality, just the opposite happened. By holding onto life with a tight grip, I needed to make sure that any decision that I made would have to have a predictable outcome.  I could only operate if there were no risks involved in what I planned to do. This kept me gradually pulling away from forming new relationships  and trying new things in my life.

Eventually, my depression became sort of a comfort as it kept me from having to risk an unpredictable life. In other words, this way of living took away all hope. This is what keeps many  of us depressed. We hold onto the mistaken belief that since bad  things happened in the past, bad things will continue to happen to us in the future.

This belief keeps us locked up in the prison of depression. We don’t believe anything will change. What a set up for depression. We have a difficult time realizing that we do have a choice in the way we think, feel and behave. We can live a life free of misery by following a recovery program as outlined in the suggested 12 steps of Depressed Anonymous. By coming often to meetings and getting involved with others not only gives us reason to have  days filled with friends and help, it also provides us with a daily program  step-by-step,  for leaving the prison of depression.”

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SOURCE:   COPYRIGHT(C) BELIEVING  IS SEEING: 15 WAYS TO LEAVE THE PRISON  OF DEPRESSION  (2017) . Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 63-64.

For more information about literature that is available please VISIT THE STORE here at this site.

Put SUNSPOTS in your life today and everyday!

 

THE   EIGHT WAY.

Excerpts from BELIEVING IS SEEING: 15 WAYS TO LEAVE THE PRISON OF DEPRESSION.  (See resources)

Please treat yourself  kindly! Begin to plan pleasurable activities into your life today!”

“I think one of the two things which depressed persons feel  is lacking is in not having mastery over the way they feel and believe. Secondly, they seem to have lost a desire to perform a pleasant activity which might attach their interest. One of the things I recommend for people depressed is to find one  pleasant activity that  they once enjoyed before being immobilized  by their present depression. I think it is a good learning  experience to believe that my depression won’t last forever and that someday I can feel better. In other words, I can still try and do that one thing that was a pleasant activity before I got depressed. We feel that we “have no reason to treat ourselves kindly” because we can’t find anything hopeful or of interest in our lives at the moment. We also feel that because we are so bad we don’t deserve anything good.

Also, as for planning pleasurable activities, you might want to start to  listen for the way that you talk to yourself. Try to speak kind words to  yourself as if you were talking  to a guest in your home. Talk out loud if you like–hear yourself say kind things to yourself. For once, say something  good  about  yourself instead of listening to all those old negative tapes that always made you feel you’d be better off dead. Or else someone else. You get the idea.

When you start listing your strengths as part of your Fourth Step Inventory, list all the good things that you like about yourself. (See the Depressed Anonymous Workbook and the Depressed Anonymous manual, 3rd edition., both books comprise the Home Self Study Program of Recovery).

With every negative statement about  yourself don’t allow yourself another statement about yourself until you are able to replace it with three positive statements.  We call these your SUNSPOTS.  I mean let’s be fair and balance this thing out! I know that you might feel a bit uncomfortable about prizing yourself, byut give it a try anyway.”

Also, plan some activities for the next day and write them  on your calendar. This is especially important for the weekend days   when there are so many hours that we may find hard to fill.  Some of us have made  plans  for each of the hours of the day.  We must force ourselves to get active.  Our life may depend on it!

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NOTE: Another resource for personal reflection is the work titled  I’ll do it when I feel better which presents some basic personal behaviors which can lead us out of our personal prison.

RESOURCES: COPYRIGHT(c)  BELIEVING IS SEEING:   15 WAYS TO LEAVE THE PRISON OF DEPRESSION. Hugh Smith (2017) DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS PUBLICATIONS. LOUISVILLE.  pgs.43, 44,45,46.

COPYRIGHT(C)  I’LL DO IT WHEN I FEEL BETTER. Hugh Smith  (2016) DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS PUBLICATIONS. LOUISVILLE.

HOME SELF STUDY KIT 

COPYRIGHT(c) DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS, 3rd edition.   (2011) DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS PUBLICATIONS. LOUISVILLE.

COPYRIGHT(c) THE DEPRESSED ANONYMOLUS WORKBOOK. (2011) DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS PUBLICATIONS. LOUISVILLE.

NOTE: To order online please   VISIT THE STORE. There you find other excellent resources on the subject of depression and recovery.

Our feelings come about due to how we think of things.

Happiness is an elusive feeling – and for each of us happiness can mean something very different. When I say to myself “life doesn’t get any better than this,” then I know that life is indeed good and that all is well with my soul.

What can keep us in the prison of depression is a construction that we place on events and situations that occur in our world.

To be free means  to act with a degree of spontaneity. This after all, is the opposite of depression. Events of themselves are not the cause for depression – similar events are in the lives of many folks  but there are some folks that don’t experience depression because of them. So, it must be the way we think about these events and the meanings that we place on the situation. Our lives and the way we look at life is composed of past and present events. Our past life is a way we predict the future. “Since bad things have happened to me in the past – bad things are bound to happen to me in the future.” How true this is.  Our  prison is composed of blocks of times and situations which at one time were fluid – like a river moving. Since these events affect our sense of self – we caused the river to stop flowing – and instead our painful thoughts and feelings – are the blocks that make up the walls of our personal prison. We need to restore the fluidity the of our lives. Once when our self has been restored – namely our spontaneity,  we will experience freedom and happiness. By having that spiritual experience and being an active member of  the fellowship  of Depressed Anonymous is what can restore us to sanity. Happiness comes from finding loving support, and acceptance.”

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SOURCES:  (C)   The Promises. (2002). Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

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

(C)The Depressed Anonymous Workbook, 2nd edition. (2002)  Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

Admitting that we are in pain is the start of freedom!

  THE PROMISES OF DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS.

PROMISE #1. We believe that once we have diligently and with rigorous personal honesty managed to complete the first nine steps of our program – good things can begin to happen in our life. It is after we have made amends to those whom we had harmed, swept the porch in front of our own house, and go to step ten and complete the remainder of the steps, we will be amazed at the peace that is become a part of our life.

The pain that we experience now – and working our program step-by-step is indeed slight – compared to the pain that may continue if we don’t bite the bullet and look at the issues that have trapped us these many years.

Working the 12 steps is like the person who heads toward  the light at the end of the tunnel. The closer one gets to the light – the more one discovers a way out. The light in this case is symbolized by the fellowship of Depressed Anonymous. The expression of light, health and recovery of its members helps each of us to stay focused on recovery. Work is to be done if we are to find not only the light  – but a life free from the symptoms of depression.

Change is painful.  The first step is for the beginning of the end of our pain.  By admitting that we are in pain is that which paradoxically begins a release of our pain. This is the paradox of letting go and holding on as we learn from step three. What we hold onto holds on to us. What we seek – seeks us.

It is difficult for any of us to admit that our lives are out of control.

People sometimes speak of their depression as a comfort. I can identify with that, because if they were to change for anything else, they might end up with something far worse than what they have now. They feel that they might end up the hole in the doughnut. This pain of depression begins to dissolve as a result of doing something we’ve never done before – or rather doing something about our lives that we have not done before. It happens to be true that the more we get in touch with and remove our resentments, fear, guilt, and self-pity from our lives, the lighter we feel emotionally. The less need we have   to rely on defense mechanisms which shielded our fragile egos from pain,  hurt or remorse, the freer we become.

I do believe that the pain of our depression originates from inside ourselves. We construct present-day reality based on past life experiences. The past is a predictor of the future.  As it says in Depressed Anonymous, many of us held the absolute belief that “since bad things have happened to us in the past, bad things will happen to us in the future. In other words – we have made up her mind – nothing will ever change. And of course this belief is what promotes and keeps our depression  alive.”

The opposite of depression is spontaneity and vitality. When we are depressed we move about as in a fog.  we are stuck.  Since we desire everything to remain the same, that is, predictable, we in no way believe that life can be different. If we intend to stay suck, we make the decision, choose to stay in the rut of being  lifeless, hapless and helpless.

As we change old beliefs into new ones we believe that things can change as things begin to change.  We will begin to experience light, hope  and joy.   ”

In every   Depressed Anonymous story (See Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition) one’s personal story of recovery  illustrates how pain has been the admission price for the beginning  of a new life without depression and isolation.

.”The God that we know speaks to us through members of the Depressed Anonymous group. The Higher Power will put a new sense of purpose into  your life once you know how to turn  to it and surrender your pain. The Depressed Anonymous group will lead you safely and gently. The miracle is in the group.”

“The starting point is the admission that so far everything we have tried has not worked…”  Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. DAP. Louisville. DA/P.39.

“… Life doesn’t have to be lived alone in agony or misery.” DA/.41.

 

“A rock in a rocky sea which we all hold onto.

“Remarkable things happen to us when we are willing to admit defeat and talk about our powerlessness over our depression and how our lives had become unmanageable. This first step is the beginning of the flight of steps that takes us up and into our new way of living.  At our fellowship of Depressed Anonymous we talk hope, we act hopeful, and we think hope. We learn that our thinking depressed and negative  thoughts might have gotten us in the shape that we are in today.  What you think is what you become. For us who find sadness our second nature, we at times continue to revert to the comfort of old familiar negative thinking and are in  actuality returning to self destructive activity. Hope is overcome by  sadness.

When we become convinced that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity, we found ourselves turning many times during a twenty four hour period to that power.  It is a rock in a rocky sea that we all hold onto when we find it easier to just give up and sadden ourselves instead of facing the storm and living through the fear. What Bill W., said about the alcoholic applies equally to the saddict: “He or she can settle for mediocrity and self-satisfaction even though this may indeed prove to be a precarious perch. Or he/she can choose to go on growing in greatness of spirit and action.”

You never stop using and following the steps of the program. We are  in recovery all our lives. You don’t graduate. When we return to saddening ourselves, we return to the old compulsion that can again reduce us to that bankrupt individual who is bereft of peace and hope. We want to grow in the conviction that the Higher Power will restore us to sanity. One of the best ways to grow out of our  saddiction  is to start acting the healer instead of being the passive victim.  We are under the care of no one except our God.

This spiritual awakening is enhanced even further when we make a decision to turn our wills and our minds over to the care of God. Without a doubt this is a very big step for many people to trust anybody – and now especially to trust a God who they have spent a lifetime fearing. It is this decision which allows us to feel freedom when  we start to practice the daily turning over of our will to God. It frees us up and as we pray and listen in our meditation times, we find that our spiritual capacity to connect with the Higher Power is greatly magnified.”

SOURCE:  Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition.(2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. Page 107.

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” It has to be that what one believes is what one can become. Actually it is a self fulfilling prophecy  that how we conceive of our self is what we can become. This having a dream and setting out some life goals can lead to a life filled with hope and promises.  And for those of us who take our 12 Step fellowship seriously and stay actively involved one day at a time, soon discover the joy and serenity that this spiritually rich recovery program provides.”

SOURCE: I’ll do it when I feel better. (2016) Hugh Smith. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.KY. Page 85.

 

Making “gratitude my attitude” helps keep Robin out of depression.

 

A personal story/ testimony from Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition by Robin.

“Through the Depressed Anonymous program, which utilizes the Twelve Steps, I have been on a  journey of transformation from the familiar life of drudgery and gloom and desperation to discovering a new freedom and a new happiness – something I didn’t know existed. My entire perspective is changing.  Other people who I once thought were   judgmental  are now considered as all being a child of God–all created equal. What a peace provocative tool this is. Really! It helps me lift those negative attitudes and replaces them with affirmations. This is certainly the most  valuable technique offered in Depressed Anonymous to acquire an optimistic attitude towards life itself, or simply “making gratitude my attitude.” So many of us were only familiar with the sham and the drudgery of life, but even with all the sham and drudgery in the word,  it is still a beautiful place to live.  We learn to change not the world, but how we view the world and all its intricacies.”

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

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It is truly a remarkable fact, that  by going to one meeting you may hear someone  share  their own personal story and you think they are talking about you. It is amazing how this works, but not really.  What happens  is that all of us who come to the Depressed Anonymous meeting for the first  time, find that members of this mutual aid group speak the same language … hope and support. It does take one to know one, which is true. I guess the point here is that if we all feel pretty much the same thing when we are depressed, even though my depression experience is unique to me and how it effects my life, that this awareness is a great thing as it helps to produce those many strategies for recovery which can be applied across the board for most of  us in the group. The Twelve Steps are  strategies that in time and  work can   give us a  fresh and healing perspective for  our individual lives.  To read more about the recovery experience   of  others who have used tjourney of transformation

he Twelve StepsVISIT THE STORE and continue to find other literature which can   provide you with hope  plus  a way out of your depression.

Hugh

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The latest offer by the PUBLISHER is the KINDLE edition of Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 daily Thoughts and Meditations for Twelve Step individuals. Take a Higher  Thought with you were ever you go!

Get the body moving and the mind will follow!

Sue, tells us how working at a local Zoo got her out of the house and focused on a new volunteer position at the zoo. She found that she loved it. It gave her a purpose and a self dignity that her depressed lifestyle had taken from her. The following is her own account of what this volunteer position brought into her life.

Action does precede motivation and I began working at a local zoo. It is a beautiful place (and safe from muggers too). I began talking with people and learned about classed there to become a docent (a volunteer teacher). I enrolled and graduated. This gave me a new purpose in life. I get great joy from working there doing outreaches to schools, nursing homes and hospitals. I have made friends with both animals and humans. There isn’t a day that I go  there to talk that I don’t get thanked by someone, a visitor, or employee (or sometimes an animal).

My family hasn’t changed ( although my mother commented on the change in my face), but I have. In this the Serenity  Prayer really helps.  I know that I can’t change them but I have new friends and a real support system so this doesn’t matter so much now.

Whoever you are, you who are reading this. Believe! The first Three Steps are the most important. Walking or other exercise is important. Staying with it is also important. Going to the meetings and participating is important, but above all else, faith is important. Faith will truly move mountains.”

SOURCE: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 142-145. Personal Stories: Sues story: Faith does move mountains.