Did I build my own prison of depression?

How could that possibly be? Build my own prison of depression?  Impossible. Wait. There might be a possibility if I go back to my childhood and think about some of the things that happened to me growing up.

The following are some of the examples that others (my clients)  might have experienced   unconsciously or consciously influencing their thinking, feelings and behaviors in their later teens and adult life.

EXAMPLES

*My  parents fought all the time and made me scared. (They added   a few   bricks to the structure of your prison).  I would go in my room and hide in the closet.  ( The foundation for our prison is being built).

*Because my Dad was a town drunk he would show up at my school and make a fool of himself…I felt shame and anger at these   times . (Put a few more bricks on that foundation.).

* I was bullied at school and I just wanted to die. I felt worthless. I felt no one liked me… (Bullies added more bricks   to my  prison. The walls are getting higher and higher).

*I was told that I was not allowed to get angry. I was not allowed to cry. I was not allowed to tell my parents how much I hated their drinking.  No expression  of feelings were allowed in my family.  I wasn’t able to trust anyone with my feelings.

*Another message that I always got was  “You’ll never amount to anything,” or “you’ll never be like your older brother.”  (An especially large row of bricks is laid here  when a Third grade teacher tells you this in front  of the whole class and your face  always turns crimson when you think about this shaming event).

*I was given the message that the world beyond  my family was dangerous and threatening. ”

*It was at this  point that my teenage years were spent behind the walls of a nearly finished prison. I was locked down and there was no way out of my prison. No one gave me a key.

*All these  building blocks that produced a prison  for myself all came with  early life relationships.  The messages that I got growing up gradually and effectively locked me down. I was   growing up with out hope. All the messages were  like  building blocks  which further imprisoned me.

Now that I am an adult, I have  begun to take  bricks away, one by one and the structure  is being dismantled,  one brick  at a time. And how did this happen?

It all happened when I became sick and tired of being sick and tired.   I needed help. I needed someone, something, other than the alcohol and opioids that I was abusing  to turn my life around.

Yes, I built my prison and I was not even aware that  each block carried to my structure was imprisoning  me. So many of my toxic relationships, growing up,   all came with another brick to put into my prison.

Taking the wall down, brick by brick we have to have a plan. We have to find ways to remove the bricks and free ourselves from those deadly feelings  of personal worthlessness and feelings that we  are unacceptable  to ourselves and to others. I know now that   I was not to blame for being in a prison and that  I had no idea that all those messages given to me when I was growing up,  influencing my life so directly,  they all were only  other people’s opinions of me. These opinions determined my future. They were responsible for building  my prison. No child or young person wants to live their life in a prison–especially which is not of their own making.  The tragic point here is that their imprisonment is not their fault.  For some youngsters and even older adults the tragedy is that they believed what was told them so that their pain is so great they take their own life.  They wanted  to be free, be  happy and have people around them who love them  and support them in every way possible. The real problem is that none of us  had  a choice when we got our parents,  teachers and relatives.

I think Bill W., the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous says it best when  gives us hope when he   wrote the following:

“We must never be blinded by the futile philosophy that we are just the hapless victim of our inheritance, of our life experiences, and of our surroundings –  that these are the forces that make our decisions for us. This is not the road to freedom. We have to believe that we can really choose.”  (c) As Bill Sees it. A.A. World Services. NY. 1967.

Now the plan that is working for many of us  is  to discover   that when we live out the solution in our lives,  that we focus on the solutions for removing those bricks from   the walls of our depression, that  it wasn’t our doing that the prison was built.  We didn’t choose to have the wall built. Who chooses to live in a prison  anyway? We didn’t know when we were young that these messages were never true but we believed them.   We do not take the blame today for our depression and feeling worthless and unacceptable. We know that blaming others doesn’t do us any good either.

What works for us is a well thought out plan of recovery.   We can begin to learn how to   prize  ourselves and  realize and celebrate who we really are and  the person whom we desire to become. The 12 Steps will get you there!  You will have the tools to rebuild and you will see results. That is a Promise. (See page 109 in Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition where it lays out the PROMISES of the Steps  for those who choose to use them).

By using the spiritual principles of the  12 Steps we have begun to choose to dismantle all those negative and hurtful messages from others  that were never true in the first place.

If you want to write your own story as how the 12 Steps helped you remove the blocks from your own prison, please let us know by writing to depanon@netpenny.net., as we would love to hear from you.

Also, please read the   personal stories of those who have chosen to  free themselves from the prison of their own depression in our Big Book:

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

Click onto The Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore at our website www.depressedanon.com. Online purchases of our literature is  available.

I have been crippled by saddening myself!

I know that I am going to be alright as long as I let God direct my thoughts today.

“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.”

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

I know that at first, when I was depressed, I wondered  how this could apply to me. Then I realized that for so long I tried to live in the solitude and isolation of the comfort of my depression, where everything stood still. The way I lived my life was left unchallenged.  I now realize that at the center of every one’s life must be the spiritual life of each of us and it is the amount of care and time that we give to this center that determines the amount of hope and change that  we bring to our lives.

The more I plan to work my program, I admit that truly my life has been unmanageable since I have been hampered by my saddening myself, I can truly move forward and plan more pleasant and  fun activities into my life.

MEDITATION

We ask you God, the center of our life, to continue to provide for us the necessary courage to know you on a  more personal level so that we might have the daily courage to put our life and plan into your hands. (Personal comments).

SOURCE:  (c) Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 Step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.  Page 122.

VISIT THE STORE and learn more about Higher Thoughts for Down Days, now in a Kindle edition.

“Help is on the way!”

 

Learning some creative ways   to deal with depression, based on one’s  own personal experiences utilizing the   power of the Twelve Steps of Depressed Anonymous.  Our program is modeled after  the recovery program of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Many times a person depressed will look for help from our website,  hoping that we have something that will give them relief and present for them  a positive solution.  We  do our best to help them with our solution focused approach to overcoming depression. Most are thankful to know that we are here and have developed various avenues for one’s own  recovery from depression.

To understand who we are and what we do, we always advise that the seeker read each   of the items listed on our website menu. We also  point them to past issues of our published  Newsletters in the Newsletter Archives.

Our readers are treated to timely posts at our website  center (www.depressedanon.cm) which include those topics which are most helpful to a person depressed as well as for one’s family members and friends.

Recently, we initiated an ongoing program of recovery for those persons who would like to start their own Depressed Anonymous group This program is one in which our DA members (SPONSORS) work collaboratively with those who choose this HOME STUDY PROGRAM OF RECOVERY.  The program enables the person desirous of learning more about depression and their own unique experiences,  to  communicate with their sponsor  by email. The participant   answers  questions from the Depressed Anonymous Workbook and reading  from the Basic text of Depressed Anonymous.    Each of the Twelve Steps is    reflected upon as it relates  to one’s life past and present. The participant’s responses are then emailed to the sponsor and a return mail by the sponsor  answers   those questions which the participant may have during the  course study of  their ongoing Home Study  Program. The best part of the Home Study is that you can go at your own pace and  get feedback from someone who has lived the program in their daily life!

If you choose to start a group that is entirely up to you and there is no obligation to initiate a group in your locality.

So there you have it. You may discover  things about yourself that you never know existed. And  whatever questions you might have about the origins of your own experience may come to light during this program. The best answers are there in your own life experiences and your taking the time to reflect upon them by using the DA WORKBOOK and the DA BASIC TEXT.

A participant will need the two books  mentioned above for the program of Home Study and these are used in the group program.  You can purchase both books as a unit   from the Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore as well as purchase the books as eBooks from the Depressed Anonymous  Publications Bookstore onsite at www.depressedanon.com.

If for whatever reason you are financially  unable to purchase these  books, please send me  an email (depanon@netpenny.net)   and we will contact you privately about the matter.  Our main concern is to get these positive materials in the hands of those who want a way out of the prison of depression.

For an explanation of the HOMNE STUDY PROGRAM in more detail please click onto the Website Menu and click onto the drop down menu labeled HOME STUDY PROGRAM.

 

 

I can visualize myself happy and serene.

A HIGHER THOUGHT FOR YOU  TODAY

AFFIRMATION

I will trust myself to try thoughts other than  the ones that make me feel sad, small and guilty. I will imagine myself happy and serene.

“Any system approaching perfect self-control is also approaching perfect self frustration. The desire for perfect control of the environment and of myself, is based on a profound mistrust of the controller. Because you couldn’t trust yourself to become, to allow   yourself to grow as a plant grows. Rather you have to make yourself, like you make a box. In regarding yourself as a manufactured box, rather than a growing plant you see yourself as an object, not as a living being…” (3) Dorothy Rowe.

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

I know now that I need to let go and to let God guide my life as I attempt to live today. Just one day at a time. I pray now that God, or my Higher Power, will not let me get down on myself. Instead the Higher Power will help me become conscious of the fact that the Twelve Steps are truly  my steps out of the cell of the prison of my depression.

Each and every living human organism on this earth has five major characteristics that link all life together. Each  life organism has an autonomy, a competency, an interconnectedness to others, a self-directedness and an ability to duplicate itself.

MEDITATION

We want to control our lives and we are discovering that the best way to guide our lives is to live in the principle  of this Higher  Consciousness or, the God of our understanding.”

SOURCES:  Copyright(c) Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for  members of Twelve Step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.  Page 59. March 22.

Copyright(c) I’ll do it when I feel better. 2nd Edition (2018) Hugh Smith, Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

“I can make the hard changes.”

Your HIGHER THOUGHT  for today

Affirmation

I am gaining, day by day, a new and hopeful attitude about my life and my relationship with others.

“Strangely, I feel as if I’ve been incredibly lucky. Logically, I don’t believe in  luck. I believe the people make their own lives when they are what they  are, but still I feel so lucky to have been involved in a group which gave me the opportunity, and incentive, to start to make changes in my life: to understand why I am sometimes so angry, why I have been so  self-critical and self-destructing. Understanding why you feel as you do opens the gates for the even harder struggle of changing what you do.”

Making changes is part of making a life.  If I choose to stay mired in the deep pit of depression, I can choose that. I have that as an option. But, if I want to choose and risk changing  myself, I have the option of working to construct a different way of looking at my world. Just by changing my attitude about my life in the direction where I want it to go, I can make the hard changes. I want to change my attitude. I will now want  to listen to those who have been in recovery for months and/or years and listen to their hopeful attitude and how they are feeling better now that they are living one day at a time. They are no longer fearful that the old nemesis, the sadness, will sneak up and change everything back to the way it was.

I can only change myself. I will always try and keep the focus on how I need to change, not how others around me  need to change.

Meditation

God, we are always heartened  and  healed by the group. Please guide us and let us be led  to that healing community of persons who are  struggling to find the serenity that you promised to those who do you will. “Fear not, for I am always with you.”

SOURCE:   Copyright(c)  Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 step fellowship groups. Hugh Smith. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky. Page 43. (2/27/18.)

In order to get started on your own recovery, at your pace, and in the amount of time that you feel you need, we offer a HOME STUDY KIT. Please click onto the Depressed Anonymous Bookstore menu for information on ordering these materials of recovery.

Author pens new book, “A Medley of Depression Stories.”

The following are excerpts  from a recent article, from the Edenton, North Carolina Newspaper,  written  by Staff writer  Rebecca Bunch.  Portions of the article have been edited and paraphrased.

“Author Debra Sanford has accurately captured the struggles behind depression in a deeper  way in her new book, “A Medley of Depression Stories.” The book most ably points out with stories the personal observations on the mental health issues that plague members but also shares the stories of others in their own words.

In the Introduction to the book, Sanford describes  it  as  a Medley  of  powerful  short stories from  different perspectives  and  experiences — meant to help  the  depressed person –  relate and to  understand that they are  not alone.

The author has the hope that the reader will be able to relate to the stories from others.  Debra hopes that you will find your wellness here.

But, according to one entry in the book by someone identified only as “Anonymous” the Depressed Anonymous meeting is promised as a ” safe place to fall.”

The meetings are  described as an accepting place with friends who truly understand what you are talking about, a place where you don’t have to be ashamed to have a mental illness or to be depressed.

Meetings of Depressed Anonymous are scheduled every week in Edenton, NC., as well as in Elizabeth city.These meetings are there to offer support and comfort to those who need not to feel alone or as they live out their day to day lives.

 Copies of Sanford’s book are available at  Amazon.com.

You can reach the author at www.depressedanon.com/edentonnc. You can also contact Debra at (252) 333.8855.”

She will be happy to hear from you.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

A short review of A Medley of Depression Stories by Hugh Smith,  Depressed Anonymous member.

First off, I met Debra and  members of the newly formed DA groups from Edenton and Elizabeth NC., about three years ago. It was a wonderful experience for me to meet face to face with a very enthusiastic and dynamic bunch of people. Yes, they were there to support each other and discover the ways the 12 Steps would lead them out of depression.

Debra’s work has stories, 35 of them written by Debra and some who struggled with the pain and isolation of depression.  I could pick out a few titles of these short stories but as I look over and read the stories I must admit that they all definitely strike home. I am inspired and given hope that  I  can get  help.

Everyone who reads these stories will find parts of themselves in each of the accounts. I find myself in so many of them myself.  If you are looking to find hope, and a way out of depression which has imprisoned all of us, then you have found here a  key that will free you.

If you are a member of a local DA group looking for topics to give hope, especially to Newcomers, then I advocate that this book and its stories be selected to be read at all the meetings.

I am proud to have the opportunity to know Debra personally and to see how her love of others is the reason for it being written. And with Debra, we all can say “my story is not over yet.” At every DA meeting another hopeful page has been added to our own story !

Hope is the door that leads into tomorrow!

Drinking Depression

Drinking depression: One man’s story of recovery from alcoholism and depression and the parallels between the two.

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 really say angry, for it was anger at the root of my depression that I was trying to suppress  in medicating myself. 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. When 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 when I took comfort in being drunk because after awhile the numbness became the only way I could feel better because 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 woolly 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 me with my depression. With 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 a heroin addict and the alcoholic were very similar. The depression I experienced also has 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 my brain and myself.

THE SPIRITUAL

When I was drinking I felt alienation and guilt. I felt professing  Christians did not drink  and the more I drank the more guilty I became. I felt that 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 understood 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 for help and march on one day at a time experiencing serenity and a release from my need to  take the 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 and know when I can make it because it is only opening the door to the past can the light of the present get rid of the darkness today and have hope for the future.

It is my hope and prayer that this has helped you, the reader,  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 and that today be your first step towards recovery.

God bless.

—Steve P.  A member of the Louisville Depressed Anonymous Group.

 

Withdrawal from friends is the first clue…

  Withdrawing from friends  and other social contacts is the first clue that you’re slipping back into the isolation and pain of depression.   Move toward a friend, get a sponsor, and go to a 12 step meeting. Ask your higher power for that knowledge that can guide you onto the appropriate path. 

There are two times that we need to go to a 12 step meeting. 1) One, when we don’t want to go to a meeting and 2) secondly when we do want to go to a meeting.  From my personal experiences I can share with you that is when I go to my meeting that I’m able to come away from it with something positive to think about. I can honestly say that I feel better after a Depressed Anonymous meeting. I know in my heart that when I just want to sit at home by myself, isolating and ruminating within my head about all the horrible things that have happened to me, or are about to happen to me, that is when I depressed myself even more. Get connected!

CHOICE,  NOT CHANCE  DETERMINES DESTINY!

It’s our addictive thinking, our compulsive way of processing negative information, which describes how we habitually store the negative but continue to dump the positive information which 24/7 continually flows into our brain. These negative thoughts of feeling  persist  in  keeping us falling back into the old habit of staying isolated and avoiding others. We might fool  ourselves and say that people have nothing to offer me and that is why I distance myself from everyone.  Part of my nature when  depressed is to avoid and distance myself from whatever I feel is threatening me, like a child afraid of the dark.

I can only do what God wants me to do and I discover what this is by spending time alone with my God and meditation. Whatever we do, we need to know that our isolation and our withdrawing from friends and family, is an environment where depression grows strong.  Depression dies in the light of discussion.

Dorothy Rowe in  her award-winning book Depression: the way out of your prison, has an excellent section on isolation and depression. Let me quote it for you and then you can the draw your own conclusions

” Thus none of us can escape needing other people so that we can exist and not fear annihilation. But you who get depressed have decided to express your need for other people in ways which make it hard for you to live.

    Take the first form of existence – wanting to be part of a group and fearing isolation. If you see yourself as basically a good person and therefore with  something to offer other people, you have no fear of joining groups, of being part of the family, as much as you suffer loss, you know you’re able to find new friends and to help other people. But if you see yourself as basically a bad person, then the threat of expulsion from your group is expected and feared. Since  you do not value yourself, you cannot see people as wanting you to join them, either as a friend our helper. If disaster wrenched you away from your family you cannot see yourself surviving, and so no matter how much you come to hate your family you cannot let them go. They are your reference point of existence, and you fear that if you lose them, you will disappear…

     Seeing yourself as basically good reduces the need for other people’s approval. If you see yourself as basically good, you can set up a select group of people whose approval you desire and can be indifferent to the opinion of the multitude. But if you see yourself as basically bad then you need everybody’s approval…”   Dorothy Rowe. Depression: the way out of your prison. 1983. Harper Collins, London, UK. Page 111.

Source:  Copyright ( c)  Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression. (2002) D AP. Louisville. Kentucky. 40216. Pages 47-50.

“There will be no mountain I cannot climb.”

Ralph’s story continued…

“I have come a long way since that first day  I walked through those doors (Depressed Anonymous Fellowship) and into all of your open arms.  It was good to know that other people had the same feelings that I had experienced. I had feelings  of loneliness and despair, and felt that  there was no way  out of the living hell that was going through me inside. At that time, it was like my heart and my soul had been ripped out of my body.

I felt that my own mind was my worst enemy and its mission was to destroy me. I had many sleepless nights and my mind was forever racing with negative thoughts of gloom and doom. I did not think that I would ever function like a normal being again. I felt my negative thoughts would win the battle and that I would forever be condemned to the eternal hell.

The Depressed Anonymous Group has proven me all wrong( thank God). The group has been my guardian angel who was speaking to me all the time. I learned that there was hope for me after all. There is a new rebirth in me spiritually, emotionally, and physically. I believe now that I can go on with my life  without all the fears that I bottled up inside of me. As long as I have faith in my Higher Power and the Depressed Anonymous Group, there will be no mountain that I cannot climb. I am forever grateful.”

Ralph

Read more of Ralph’s story in   Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.KY. Pages 117-118.