Category Archives: Spiritual Heroes

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).

Dr. Dorothy Rowe, Ph.D: Helping us learn how to help ourselves.

Dr. Dorothy Rowe and I first met through a friend back in 1984 when I first became interested in setting up  a program for persons depressed. We didn’t actually have a face to face meeting at that time but a member of our newly  formed Depressed Anonymous mutual aid group, gave me Dorothy’s award winning work, titled Depression: The Way out of your prison.  I had already established elements of Aaron Beck’s thoughts on Cognition (Cognitive Therapy) into our mutual aid group’s structure and was quite familiar with  his point that it is not the event that causes the problem but how one’s perceives that event.  For a simple  example,  if a family is off for the day to enjoy a picnic at the park and it rains and their picnic is canceled, there are feelings of disappointment. And if a farmer is looking for rain for his drought stricken crop, he is heartened by the fact that the rain will enable his crops to live.  The same rain event is seen differently by different folks, dependent on how the even impacts their lives.

Dorothy Rowe and her beliefs, plus her hands on experiences as a therapist, came to me in this one book (followed later by her many works on the subject of depression). It was like the saying, “When  the student is ready the teacher appears.” Truly, a serendipitous happening!   It was this work of hers — the event — which powered my thoughts about how we humans construct the world of our individual personal experiences of depression. I also got  a  clearer and deeper insight into   how  “language creates reality.” Also, from Dorothy, I learned that it is how we talk to ourselves (our language and its meaning)  that provides us some insights into our emotional and thinking lives. From this I concluded  how  my  thoughts produce feelings, feelings produce moods and my mood produce behaviors.

In the Foreword (c) to  our work, Depressed Anonymous (1998, 2008, 2011) Dorothy Rowe tells us how she discovered a truth  about how persons deal most effectively with their depression experiences. Basically, it’s in the sharing of their story with someone  who cares and will lend a loving listening ear. Let’s look at what she has to say:

“When I first began reaching depression, back in 1968, the only treatments that depressed people got from psychiatrists were pills, ECT and psychosurgery, where incisions were made in the frontal lobes of their brain. My research required that I should talk to depressed patients, and lo and behold, many of these patients got better. This was  not because I had some magic cure, but because for the first time, the people were able to tell their story to someone who was concerned and interested. (My italics) By telling their story, they found that their lives gained in significance, and by explaining the whys and hows  to someone who was not always sure that she understood , they worked out better choices for themselves, and went on with their lives.”

So, in the Foreward (c) to our work Depressed? Here is a way out! which was published in 1991 by Fount paperbacks, a division of Harper Collins Publishing Group, Ltd., located in London, UK., Dorothy points out how those of us who “by engaging the depressed in dialogue, and getting depressed people to do what they least want to do: to come out of their isolation, to share their experiences  with others, and to become concerned  with and involved in the lives of other people.”

SEE:   Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (1998, 2008, 2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

Final note. It was  with Dr. Rowe’s and Bill W’s ., great influence on my thinking that helped make Depressed Anonymous what it is today. Thank you Dorothy.

In 1995 Dorothy came to the US and presented the major address at the 10th Anniversary celebration of Depressed Anonymous.

 

 

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?

Dr. Alfred Adler’s Prescription For Depression

“Years ago, Dr. Alfred Adler prescribed this remedy for depression to a patient.  “You can be helped if every day you begin the first thing in the morning to consider how you can bring joy to someone else. If you can stick to this for two weeks, you will no longer need therapy.”

Adler’s “prescription” of  course  is not much different than the suggestion that we work more intensively the program’s Twelve Steps to rid ourselves of depression. When I am depressed do I keep my feelings to myself or do I do what friends in the program have suggested that I do?” Source: A Day at a Time. 1976.Sept 10.

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I like Adler’s “prescription” as a real concrete and positive aid in being mindful of the needs of others. In a Twelve Step meeting we find ourselves in the midst of a group of people, some who are newcomers, some who  have been in the group for a period of time and others who have gone through all the Steps, one after another. That’s the beauty of the 12 Step program of recovery. The Twelfth Step tells us that ” Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we   tried to carry this message to the depressed, and to practice these principles in all of our affairs.”

One of the instances for me personally of putting  the prescription of Dr. Adler into practice and  before  I  leave for work , is to ask God to lead me to that person who needs a loving presence the most. I happen to work in a long term care facility and because of a person’s different stage of their dementia, just to be a silent presence can  give a  person comfort.

But if we stay holed up in the isolation of life deadening thoughts all we can reflect upon is our own pain, much less the pain of anyone else. So, get the picture?  Reach out to someone else; leave the prison of our isolating and negative ruminations; connect with another human being and give ourselves someone to think about other than ourselves. Who knows, maybe we will come away from our encounter the other and be grateful  of what we can still do that has a positive effect on another’s life.

A Zen byte

“It is possible to live life fully throughout life, and if that is accomplished, death need not be feared. An ancient anecdote of Zen literature is most illustrative here. A novice asked a Zen master, “What is death?” To this, the master responded, “I do not know.” “But you are a Zen master.”  To this, the master responded, “Yes, but I am not a dead Zen master.”

Source: Mind as Healer, Mind as Slayer, Kenneth R. Pelletier.

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So many times I hear people talking about how our modern world is basically absorbed in a “culture of death.” Sadly, so many persons, are occupied, almost phobic about growing older, looking older and being older. More thought is given to death than to life. So much time is spent on looking at the ” what if’s”, than seeing the “what is.”. We all are not automatons, going about life in a daze   We all  have the ability to look inside, take a deep breath and begin to take  responsibility  for our lives. Even though we might feel helpless and hopeless it doesn’t mean that we are. How often have I heard that language creates our reality and the language that we use in our self-talk, creates an illusion that there is no hope. And my self-talk tells me that all I have is today–yesterday is gone forever –tomorrow is not here yet, and so all I have is this 24 hour period of time. Do I make an investment in my today, so that what I do today, pays off in serenity and happiness for the 24 hours to come or do I stay frozen in my fears and isolation.

Frankly, what has worked for me and still works for me is to stay in today and say daily the Serenity Prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference…just for today!

When You’re Depressed, All You’re Interested In Is Survival

How true. I will always remember how I felt when I found myself unable to get up in  the morning. I knew something was different and something was very wrong. I was scared.  I did the only thing that I knew what to do–I got into “fight” mode and forced my unresponsive  body to get into motion. For some strange reason  I found myself in  “survival mode.” I just knew that whatever had me pinned to the floor and motionless I had to do the next right thing. The next right thing was to get out of bed and start walking. I did just that. And from that “survival mode” experience I learned a very important lesson: motivation follows action. In a way I had a faint bit of trust that what I was about to do, would be a factor in my survival;.

As it says in the book I’ll do it when I feel better, that “Trust, always has been a critical element in one’s search for finding one’s true and best self. And with trust comes hope. Hope is the thread which weaves its way throughout the spiritual program of the Twelve Steps.”

    LOST SELVES

Depression is about lost selves – and the struggle to regain the self. We are in a perpetual lock down! it is indeed a battle with one’s will to survive –that is why Dorothy Rowe calls depression a prison. We build the walls as a defense to keep us safe until we can combat our demons and find which way out is the best.

Over time you and I both have discovered  a truth: trust is never an easy proposition. Trust comes with a belief that all things will work out. But another problem is that so much of our lives negative and harmful life experiences have ben carried through life and so conditioned us to predict that no matter what we say or do we will always be living in the prison of despair.”

And finally I discovered the more I walked, the more bricks that had me imprisoned in despair and fear, I was able to remove.

It was then that I had the energy to pick up my Twelve Step “tool box”  from the fellowship of Depressed Anonymous, and to this day continue my life of serenity and hope. Now, learning to be in a “trust mode” has given me freedom to live each new day with hope.

SOURCE: Copyright(c) I’LL DO IT WHEN I FEEL BETETR.(2015) DAP. LOUISVILLE.  PAGES 75, 76-77.

YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE YOUR LIFE PARKED IN NEUTRAL!

I just returned from a combined (Edenton and Elizabeth City, North Carolina) Depressed Anonymous fellowship  workshop which I was asked to give. It was an all day workshop, with morning open to the public and then the  afternoon sessions committed to the two groups speaking to each other about their own personal experiences with the Twelve Steps and how their lives have changed since being part of these two groups.

These groups both were formed right before Christmas 2014. Both groups now have a strong presence in their communities because those in recovery now want  to “carry this message to those  who are still suffering from depression.” This is the bottom line for all of us who have found hope and healing in practicing and putting the spiritual principles of the Twelve Steps  into our daily lives. Hope is what we are sharing. You don’t have your life parked in neutral.

“THE MOST COMMON FORM OF DESPAIR IS NOT BEING WHO YOU ARE! ”  —  Soren Kierkegaard

”  Depressed Anonymous is a spiritual  program where you will find people like yourself, honestly, openly and willingly dealing  with their character defects (staying isolated) and gradually admitting that they have to change their lives and lifestyle, if they are going to be a whole and honest human being.  The decision is yours. You make the choice!  The Twelve Steps and your own personal story can now be shared with others and can help them in their own life’s journey. Give the hope that you have now with those who have lost hope. Build it  (mutual aid) and they will come! ”

Source: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 108-109.

I witnessed the “miracle  of the group” again this past Saturday in Edenton, North Carolina when the participants of both fellowship groups came together and shared their stories of how they moved into drive and  out of neutral. I thank  all you beautiful people in North Carolina as you continue to work your program of recovery! You are becoming who you really are and whom God means for you to be!

I Am No Longer Ashamed To Talk About My Being Depressed…

AFFIRMATION

I am no longer ashamed to talk about my being depressed; when I talk with other depressed persons I feel better.

I used to be ashamed of my condition and didn’t talk about it. But nowadays I freely confess I am a depressive , and this has attracted other depressed people to me. Working with them has helped a great deal.
(2) Bill W.,  Co-founder of AA.

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

I  know that the more I read the literature about the Twelve Steps and daily work my program, the more I am able to help myself grow out of this depression as Bill W.,  did shortly after he wrote the above piece.  So often alcoholism covers up depression so that the original cause of  the depression needs to be looked at.

MEDITATION

God, please help us through this day and help us work through these memories of shame that keep us depressed.  Let us truly believe that we can be free of our shame and live as a free person today.

COPYRIGHT(C) Higher Thoughts for Down days: 365 Daily Thoughts and Meditations for Twelve Step fellowship groups. (1999) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.  Higher thought for  June 24. Pages 126-127.

NOTE:   Because I had experienced depression myself,  this added a  healing assistance  to my encounters with clients who were depressed.  We could speak and understand each other.