Category Archives: Spiritual Heroes

Am I good enough?

The foundation of our prison of depression is our belief that, No matter how good I appear to be, I am bad, evil unacceptable to myself and to other people.

We can go through life being very good, and so keep our sense of being bad, or not being good enough, well hidden from ourselves. But being good at being good means working very hard, and as we get older we lose the resilience and strength of youth.. We get tired. We do not get as much done. Our list of mistakes and wrong directions gets longer. When something happens to shake our self-confidence we can no longer trust our ability to be good at being good. We can no longer ignore our sense of being essentially bad and unacceptable.

The reason that we as children so readily accept our parents teaching that we were bad and had to work to be good was that, harsh though this teaching was, it contains a promise. If you are very good, nothing bad will happen to you. We believed it. When bad things did happen to us, we blamed ourselves. We had not been good enough, so we worked harder, tried to achieve more, to do things better, to put other people’s needs before our own. Secretly this belief gave us a sense of power. Through our own efforts we could control the system of rewards and punishment that governed the universe. Instead of feeling helpless, we felt guilty. Instead of saying, ‘There was nothing else I could have done in that situation, given the information and experience I had,’ we said, ‘I ought to have done better,’ and persuaded ourselves that we were stronger and wiser and better informed than actually we were. By feeling guilty we could feel that we were both virtuous and not helpless.

So we lived in a world of illusion of our own making. Then one day a terrible disaster fell upon us, and we cried, ‘I have been good all my life. Why has this happened to me?’

We found ourselves contemplating, or trying to run away from, a truth which our parents had hidden from us.’


SOURCES:
The Successful Self. Freeing our inner strengths. Dorothy Rowe. Page 199.
Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky.

There are always alternatives

“The prison is the way we define the parameters of our lives. We do this in a way that we leave ourselves with only one outcome. We say “I have no choice”, when what we mean is that the alternatives are unacceptable. We refuse to accept that that there are always alternatives, because if we do accept this , we would have to acknowledge that we have made a choice. We would have to acknowledge our responsibility for ourselves.” Rowe continues, “Our willingness to hand over to other people and organizations the responsibility which is ours (just as the color of our eyes is ours) stem from our inchoate desire to sink into the mindless bliss of being totally cared for, totally supported, our original wanting and getting everything. We do not want to accept that, just as our sense of time is ordered to perceive time only as progressing, never as standing still or going backwards. No matter how great our longing, we cannot return to the womb of the Garden of Eden.” Pages 333, 336. Dorothy Rowe. Wanting Everything: The Art of Happiness. Harper Collins, 1991. London.


COMMENT

It’s my belief that when someone is depressed and seeks out help for their depression, the first person they think of seeing is their physician (if blessed enough to have one) or psychiatrist. They also may consult with a counselor or psychologist. This I think is the normal route one would take. These are some of the routes a person might choose. But for most persons depressed they either suffer in silence, talk with a friend, or just go it alone.

In the past (recent past) there is an alternative way to get help and this is the self-help way. Most mental health practitioners in the past would see a client or patient on a one to one basis. Possibly, they would involve them in a group therapy program directed by a therapist who would lead the group. All fine and good. But then there appeared the Depressed Anonymous mutual aid group. Not a therapy group per se, even though many therapeutic benefits would accrue to the participants. So, what we have now is a peer to peer support group. It is people who have the same disability, and need that special feedback from a group of people and a sponsor who talk the same language of those who live with the pain and isolating behaviors that have kept them depressed.

Mutual aid groups are truly an alternative whose time has come. Not only because this process of group works well, it is also a strong support for those persons who have always heard “to snap out of it” in reference to their depression and now have the necessary tools to leave the shackles of depression. “If others can get free,” they say, “then so can I.” And, now they know. They are not alone.

Hugh

A dis-ease of the spirit

 

In his voluminous work THE ANATOMY OF MELANCHOLIA first published in 1621, the  author traces the historical understanding of melancholia or depression as we know it today.  Already back in the 16th century this alchemist and physician rightly spoke about depression  being a disease of the spirit and that a spiritual solution need be sought for relief.

Paracelsus held the conviction that God has to be part of the healing as melancholia for him was a spiritual disease and so needed a spiritual cure. And now the insight and belief put forward by Paracelsus in the present time is being echoed in our own time by Bill W., co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous and all those who are availing themselves of the spirituality of the Twelve  Steps. All members of Twelve Step fellowships who are acknowledging  the importance of a belief in a power greater than themselves have the guiding star of hope and meaning in their daily lives.”

COMMENT

The experiencing  of those dark symptoms of depression and the hopelessness that they present, can best be understood as a painful dis-ease of the human spirit. The human spirit is filled with anxiety, a hollowness and a lack of purpose or meaning.  It is this dis-ease of the human spirit which  is the impetus   to seek  a remedy that will bring an equilibrium of meaning and purpose back into one’s fragmented life.

How often has David Karp, sociologist at Boston University writes about the  number of participants in his study of depression, who speak about the benefits of a spirituality in their quest for a remedy to their sadness. The author of Speaking of Sadness was surprised at how many of his interviewed  respondents  gave credence to a  spirituality of their own  and how it buoyed their spirits and  was a source of light and hope amidst the darkness.

Bill W., also depended on a Higher Power for help in  bringing sobriety into his own downward spiral of alcoholism  and saving his life.  He makes   no apologies for his belief in a Power greater than himself.   And like Paracelsus, as mentioned above,  saw that  the cure for melancholia, a  spiritual dis-ease,  as that of a faith in a Power greater than oneself.    As  stated in the 3rd Step of Depressed Anonymous  “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand God to be.”

For me personally, it was only after I had hit bottom with no where to go but up, that I admitted my life was out of control and I prayed to God to help me. That is when  I walked into a 12 Step Group meeting and found what I was looking for. Help and wholeness.

Hugh

 

 

SOURCES:   Copyright (c) I’ll do it when  I feel better. Hugh Smith (2016) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. pgs. 84-85.

Copyright (c) Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression (2017) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

Spiritual Kindergarten

 

“We are only operating a spiritual kindergarten in which people are  enabled to get over drinking and find the grace to go on living  to better effect. Each man’s theology  has to  be  his own quest, his own affair.”  Letter. 1954.

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“When the Big Book was being planned, some members thought that it ought to be Christian in the doctrinal sense. Others had no objection to the use of the word “God,” but wanted to avoid doctrinal issues. Spirituality, yes.  Religion, no. Still others wanted a psychological book, to lure the alcoholic in.  Once in,  he could take God or leave Him alone as he wished.

To the rest of us this was shocking, but happily we listened.  Our group conscience was at work to construct the most acceptable and effective book possible.

Every voice was playing its appointed part. Our atheists and agnostics widened our gateway so that all who suffer might pass through, regardless of their belief or lack of belief.”

A.A., Come of Age.

 

SURVIVAL IS TO MEET LIFE’S PROBLEMS HEAD ON!

AFFIRMATION

I am going to take a fearless and moral inventory of myself today and list on paper my strengths as well as my weaknesses, that is those characteristics in my life that might keep me fearful and depressed,

“Step Four and Five really have to be faced head-on if our depression is to go away. Steps Four and Five are all about cleaning house. We must square off with ourselves and begin the rooting out process that will in time, free us from our sadness and our identity as a depressed person. So often a person depressed is afraid, panic stricken really, in facing some issues that were never their fault in the first place.”

REFLECTION

I see so many people are liberated from their depression the moment they begin to look themselves in the eye and reflect on  their character defects. These persons are the ones who are not afraid to make a list of all the persons they have hurt by their isolating depression and by the thought that they are unacceptable to others and to themselves. By working Step Five which states  that “we admitted to God, ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” I am assured by another person’s acceptance of me that I will get through this time of pain and hurt.

Bill W., the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous had a spiritual awakening on night as he truly was at the lowest point in his life and begged God to help him. God’s love lit up the room for Bill and he was never the same after that. He was a changed man. I need to make restitution to my family, my friends, my spouse and to whomever for my withdrawing from life and hiding from my responsibilities. This is the work that is needed if I am to get free of the shackles of sadness.

MEDITATION

God, shine the light of your wisdom into our hearts so that you might help us find the way out of our depression and get on with living our  lives the way you would have us live them.  Our fears and anxieties are definitely not the way you would want us to live. You have shown us the way out of our misery by bringing us close to those who once were depressed, but now in recovery, are doing better.”

SOURCES: Copyright (c) Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for all members of 12 Step fellowships. Depressed Anonymous  Publications. Louisville. Page 224/ November 10th.

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

Our basic antidote for fear is a spiritual awakening!

Antidote: “A remedy to counteract a poison.” This is the definition as given by Webster’s dictionary. Fear is truly a poison in some ways and in others it is a gift. We need to fear only that which will keep us locked in the prison of depression. Sometimes our fears are of what tomorrow might bring or might be the fears from the past. One of the better antidotes to fear is trying to live, just for today. Today is all I have.

So often I hear others say that they have been depressed all their lives until – let me repeat- until they hear other stories as to how with work, time and belief in a power greater than  themselves that they did and are feeling better now.  I need to trust that once I have made my conscious decision to turn my life and will over to the care of God as I understand him, that my life will indeed begin to change.

“I am no longer alone in my suffering depression. I believe that by getting more active in my recovery that my life will begin to brighten up.”

“We of (AA) and  Depressed Anonymous find that our basic antidote for fear is a spiritual awakening.” Bill W.

SOURCES:
Copyright (c) Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 Step fellowship groups. Depressed  Anonymous Publications. Louisville. May  10. Page 95.
Copyright (c) Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression. (2015 ) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.
Copyright (c) I’ll do it when I feel better. (2013) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

I said to myself, “if I ignore it maybe it(depression)will go away.”

“There was a time when we ignored trouble, hoping it would go away. Or, in fear and in depression, we ran from it, but found it was still with us. Often, full of unreason, bitterness, and blame, we fought back. These mistaken attitudes, powered by alcohol, guaranteed our destruction, unless they were altered.

Then came AA (and DA. OA, NA,  Al-Anon etc). Here we learned that trouble was really a fact of life for everybody – a fact that had to be understood and dealt with. Surprisingly, we found that our troubles could, under God’s grace, be converted into unimagined blessings.

“Indeed, that was the essence of A.A. itself: trouble accepted, trouble squarely faced with calm courage, trouble lessened and often transcended. This was the A.A. story, and we became a part of it.  Such demonstrations became our stock in trade for the next sufferer.”

COMMENT: It was with my own experience with depression that I tried to deny that it was anything that could keep me from a life lived with hope and joy. I thought that if I just ignored it, like Bill W., stated so well above, it would just evaporate like the morning midst. Of course this just didn’t happen.

As I commented on this denial factor which is a big part of all addictions, I also came to believe that,  “well, what I am going through will surely pass. It isn’t so bad, really. I can put up with a little discomfort.”  Sorry. It didn’t work that way. And as I pointed out in   I’ll Do It when I feel Better  I said  ” we also learn that our depression is a defense and predictable and for some, depression is even come to be a comfort and as has been said before, at least one knows what they have with depression. And to change and risk removing this numbness is better not to be undertaken  because it’s better to know what one has than to risk getting something worse. Much like the example cited before of the debate within ourselves to go to the dentist for the toothache or just tough  it out and hope for the best.  We call this denial.” Page 17.

To examine more literature about depression and using the Twelve Steps in your personal recovery , please taker a look  at VISIT THE STORE here at our website.

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SOURCES:

1) As Bill sees it. Page 110.

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

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

 

Reverence for life and spiritual freedom

“Here, then, is the first spiritual act in someone’s experience: reverence for life. The consequence of it is that one comes to realize his dependence upon events quite beyond his control

Therefore he becomes resigned. And this is the second spiritual act: resignation.

What happens is that one realizes that he is a speck of dust, a plaything of events outside his reach. Nevertheless, he may at the same time discover that he has a certain liberty, as long as he lives.   Sometimes or another all of us must have found that happy events have not been able to make us happy, nor unhappy events to make us unhappy. There is in each of us a modulation, an inner exaltation, which lifts us above the buffetings  with which events assail us. Likewise, it lifts us above dependence upon the gifts of events for our joy. Hence, our dependence upon events is not absolute; it is qualified by our spiritual freedom. Therefore, when we speak of resignation it is not sadness to which we refer, but the triumph of our will to live over whatever happens to us. And to become ourselves, to be spiritually alive, we must have passed beyond this point of resignation.

The great defect of modern philosophy is that it neglects this essential fact. It does not ask someone to think deeply on himself.  It hounds him into activity, bidding him find escape thus.  In that respect it falls far below the philosophy of Greece, which taught people better the true depth of  life.”

SOURCES: Copyright(c) Albert Schweitzer :Essential Writings. (2005)  Orbis Books.  New York. Pages 154-155.

Copyright(c)  Believing is Seeing:15 ways to leave the prison of depression. (2015) Smith, Hugh.  Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

Copyright(c) Higher thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

Our thought life will be on a higher plane…

 

“On awakening, let us think about the 24 hours ahead. We ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity and from dishonest or self-seeking motives.  Free of these, we can employ our mental faculties with assurance,  for God gave us brains to use.  Our thought life will be on a higher plane when our thinking begins to be cleared of wrong motives. If we have to determine which of two courses to take, we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought, or a decision. Then we can relax and take it easy, and we are often surprised how the right answers come after we have tried this for a while.

We usually conclude our meditation with a prayer that we be shown all through the day what our next step is to be, asking especially for freedom from damaging self-will.” Page 243 (As Bill Sees It).

And some more thoughts from our friend Bill W.

“In meditation, debate has no place. We rest quietly with the thoughts or prayers of spiritually centered people who understand, so that we may experience and learn. This is the state of being that so often discovers and deepens a conscious contact with God.” Page 108(As Bill Sees It).

Is depression an addiction?

At the weekly Depressed Anonymous meetings there stirs a glimmer of hope for the saddict  as he/she begins to encounter others like themselves at group meetings.  It is a bigger payoff for the saddict  to gradually believe that  the recovering members  of the Depressed Anonymous group are holding out a hope that can be theirs if only they would depend on the serenity of the members of the group rather than depend on the long time comfort of their addiction.

“Whether it is therapy or not, addicts improve when their relationships to work, family, and other aspects of their environment improve. Addicts  have come to count on the regular reward they get from their addictive involvement.  They can give up these rewards when they believe they will find superior gratifications from other activities such as  the DA meetings  in the regular fiber of their lives. Therapy helps this process by focusing on external rewards and assisting addicts in conceptualizing these rewards and obtaining them. What any rewards therapy itself produces must be regarded as intermediate and time limited, as a passage to the stable, environmental rewards that are necessary to create  a non addictive equilibrium in people’s lives. Only when such everyday but potent  reinforcements are firmly in place is an addiction cured. ”  Source: The Meaning of Addiction: Experience and its interpretation. Stanton Peale. Lexington Books. Lexington,  MA, 1988. p,55.

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SOURCE: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. (2011) Louisville. Appendix  Is depression an addiction?