Category Archives: Spiritual Heroes

WE HUMANS ARE ABOUT CREATING MEANING! IS IT TRUE THAT WHAT YOU THINK IS WHAT YOU GET?

One of the main paths that leads out of the prison of depression is for those of us who are depressed is to begin  to believe that a power greater than themselves is what is going to set us free. Bill W., a cofounder of Alcoholics Anonymous reminds us of the reality of that power greater than ourselves.

“I had always believed in a  power greater than myself. I had often pondered these things. I was not an atheist. Few people really are, for that means that blind faith in the strange proposition that this universe originated as a cipher and aimlessly rushes nowhere. My intellectual heroes, the chemists, the  astronomers, even the evolutionists, suggested vast laws and forces at work..Despite contrary indications, I had little doubt that a mighty purpose and rhythm  underlie  all. How could there be so much of precise and immutable law, and no intelligence? I simply had to believe in a Spirit of the Universe, who neither knew time nor limitation. But that was as  far as I had gone. ” Bill W., AA. p10)

Like any person addicted to a chemical substance, a relationship or a behavior, we know that our will power doesn’t get us free. Our disabling attachments are more forceful than the power of our wills. Our will is essentially like an alcoholic’s first  drink or that first dip of ice cream. (I have an attachment to ice cream!)

All of what I have written down so far (Depressed Once-Not Twice) has to do with creating meaning. Humans have as their occupation to constantly create meaning for their lives. Whatever we do has to have meaning for their lives. Whatever we do has to have meaning. I saw that my Dad was gone, my girlfriend was gone, a ministry of 20 years was gone, friends of many years were now gone, and my role as a Christian minister were gone, and most important of all, I had felt that I had lost myself. I lost touch with my real self. I felt alone and worthless. I even had the thought that if someone were seen laughing or having a good time  –this made me angry. How dare anyone could smile while I felt so miserable, This feeling made me think that my brain felt as if it were made out of cotton. I couldn’t shove another thought into my head –not even with a jackhammer. It was as if the cells of my brain were filled to the brim.

There was nothing that I could do to shake these horrible and painful feelings. My mind like wise  was unable to focus or concentrate on anything. My memory was affected and it was impossible to retain a passage from whatever I happened to be reading. I no longer could keep my mind on anything and to read even a paragraph from a book wore me out.

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DEPENDING ON OTHERS APPROVAL?

AFFIRMATION

I am getting healthier the more I realize that I don’t have to feel the way I feel and that I have the options to feel content and even smile today if I desire. I will act like I want to smile even though I don’t feel like smiling.

“If you have made yourself a martyr to your unappreciative  family, remember the principle of partial reinforcement and apply it to your family.  If you are always at their beck and call trying to meet their every demand, they will not appreciate you, but once they find that they cannot rely on you to meet their needs, they will appreciate what you do for them.” (7)

REFLECTION

I    know that so  often those who are codependent and live all the time in everyone else’s feelings need to remember that the real maturity and happiness lies in being there for myself—not for everyone else.  I think that this reflection points out  the fact that I need to reinforce my own worth by going to meetings, actively getting involved with my own  recovery and putting the recovery over anything or  anyone else.  If I am going to begin to be  a pleasant person, I will want  to learn how to be pleasant to myself.

Now is the time and this is the program where I start to detach from other people’s opinion’s of myself and start to reflect on my own opinion  When I am depressed, I know that I have not been able to forgive anyone, much less forgive myself. I feel totally cheerless. I meet my own demands and continue to work the  Steps so as to get in touch with what I need to do to reinforce those positive concepts that I am forming about myself. I need to get prepared for a new me today. We are now on a different basis: the basis of trusting and relying upon  God. We trust, infinite God rather than our finite selves. Just to the  extent that we do as we think God would have us do, and so humbly rely on  God, does he enable us to match calamity with serenity.” Bill W.

MEDITATION

When we gradually work our way to the real self we get closer to God who made us.

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SOURCE: Copyright (c) Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications, Louisville, KY 40217.

FREE OF DEPENDENCE

” ‘ I asked myself  “Why can’t the Twelve Steps work to release me from this unbearable depression? ”  By the hour, I stared at the St. Francis Prayer:”  ” It is better to comfort than to be comforted.”

Suddenly I realized what the answer might be. My basic flaw  had always been dependence on people or circumstances to supply me with prestige, security and  confidence.  Failing to get these things according to my perfectionist dreams and speculations, I fought for them. And when defeat came, so did my depression.

Reinforced by what grace I could find in prayer, I had to exert every ounce of will and action to cut off these faulty emotional dependencies upon people and circumstances.  Then only could I be free to love as Francis had loved.

SOURCE: Bill W., co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous

BILL’S WAKE UP CALL! GOD TURNED ON THE LIGHT!

It was 80 years yesterday (12/11), an alcoholic named Bill Wilson was admitted to a New York hospital.

He had just celebrated his 39th birthday.

Alone in his room he cried out, “I’ll do anything, anything at all!” He described what happened next:

Suddenly, my room blazed with an indescribably white light …Then, seen in my minds eye, there was a mountain. I stood upon its summit, where a great wind blew. A wind, not of air, but of spirit. In great clean strength, it blew right through . Then came the blazing thought, “You are a free man.”

   I became acutely conscious of a presence which seemed like a sea of living spirit.  I lay on the shore  of a new world.

Wilson said that after this experience, he never again doubted the existence of God. And he never  took another drink.

Bill Wilson is the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. (C) Diocese of Saginaw Advent Book for 2014

IT TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE!

It takes one to know one is  true. Following my own depression experience and the setting up of Depressed Anonymous groups did I realize that I had an experience which could be used to help others. I knew what it felt like to suffer  the physical symptoms of depression.  Following the attainment of my Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology, I discovered many in my practice  came  seeking help to overcome their  depression. Gradually it dawned on me that I could  be a source of support  to others — just by sharing my own struggle with depression.  Once I shared with my clients my own battles with the dark monster, it became clear by sharing my own  story that they began to open up about their own battle with the dark monster. My clients found someone who could not only relate to their own story about isolation, shame and the continual physical pain caused by depression–but they heard how helplessness and despair had given way to hope! My own story validated their story.  That it takes one to know one is so true.

This is where Bill W., (co-founder of AA) learned the greatest lesson, namely that an addict will be more open to listen to some one who has or is fighting the  same battles that you are fighting. And the best is that by using the program of recovery that we have used and still use  today, might find  life starting to be lived with serenity and hope.

It is not complicated. Here it is, laid out simply and to the point. I was once severely depressed and now I am not. How did this happen one will ask? It happened by believing that by being part of a fellowship of people just like myself  and following a way of life, marked out step by step, that I, like Bill W., and all other addicts will see how with  our belief that I  can get better,  get better. It does take work and time. We learn to not live in our past -it’s gone forever- and not to live in the future–but to live in the now, today. All we have is this 24 hour period.  As the Yiddish saying goes, “to share my story is to save my life.” It’s so true. When I discovered the 12 Steps, shared my story and made prayer and meditation a  part of  my daily routine,  I began to taste the freedom  that comes with that ‘spiritual awakening’ which occurs when we are able to share our story with those still suffering. The depressed newcomer will know that you are the “real deal.”  And if you are fortunate enough to find a group in your locale you then will find out what we all have all discovered–it takes one to know one.

God grant us the serenity—

“God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

” We treasure the Serenity Prayer because it brings a new light to us that can dissipate our oldtime and nearly fatal habit of fooling ourselves.

In the radiance of this prayer we see that defeat, rightly accepted, need not be a disaster. We now know that we do not have to run away, nor ought we again try to overcome adversity by still another bulldozing power drive that can only push up obstacles  before us faster than they can be taken down.”

I think that Bill W., sure got it right on this one.  He tells us that defeat, rightly accepted, need not be a disaster. Well, initially when I felt totally defeated, I did not accept it. How could I? My life was falling apart and the pain so great that I did  want to  run away. Hide. Disappear. Anything but face what I knew I had to face.  But eventually when I did face up to my defeat,  my defeat didn’t turn out to be a disaster. Bill got it  right.  With time, work,and the 12 step fellowship my life started to straighten out.  Now, these many years later, I see how God made it possible to use my own defeat to help others overcome theirs. In other words, my Higher Power  gave me the necessary courage to change the things I could. One day at a time.

SPIRITUAL LIBERATION

“The Wright brothers almost childish faith that they could build a machine which would fly was the mainspring of their accomplishment. Without that, nothing could have happened.
We agnostics and atheists were sticking to the idea that self-sufficiency would solve our problems. When others showed us that God-sufficiency worked with them, we began to feel like those who insisted the Wrights would never fly. We were seeing another kind of flight, a spiritual liberation from this world, people who rose above their problems.” Bill W.
Somehow each of us, in our way and in our own time, may come to the fork in the road. We have to decide whether to take the well trod road or take the “road less traveled.” The Wright brothers chose the road less traveled. They believed that they could fly with a machine that looked like a bird. Kittyhawk will always remind us of the childish faith of two brothers who put wings on their dreams. Because of their faith in their dreams, they experienced a spiritual liberation, a spiritual flight if you will. Believing in a Power greater than themselves that places no barrier in the minds and hearts of those who believe, they achieved in their dream that humans can fly.Step Two of Depressed Anonymous tells us that we “came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” In my experience with depression I felt that I was going crazy. My mind was a fog. I couldn’t remember a thing. No retention of words I had just read. No memory power at all. I was always feeling that deadly jitteriness in my gut. Sleeping all the time. Feeling so worthless and lacking any self-confidence. Feelings of guilt and shame. Thinking only of what I didn’t like about myself. Beating myself up for past mistakes. All of these gradually squeezed out any hope of feeling different. I felt that I was in a prison –locked into a solitary isolation.
Then came the “spiritual liberation of “believing in a power greater than myself.” Instead of relying solely on self-sufficiency I relied on God-sufficiency. I joined a group of and women who came to the belief that whatever they tried to give them life (addictions to substance, behaviors) and these didn’t work–they came into the fellowship of the Twelve Steps of recovery. For me, I believed that Depressed Anonymous, a Twelve Step program of recovery might help me. In time and with work, and prayer, I found myself gradually breaking out of my prison–brick by brick. People, like myself in the group which I attended, gave me a new map, a map of hope, based on a promise of spiritual liberation. Because of regular attendance at my meetings I saw the light. Others believed in this Power greater than themselves and so did I. I was no longer alone. I believed! The Wright brothers were right!

ONE. IT ALL STARTS WITH ONE. (ANE BRUN- NORWEGIAN SINGER)

IT ALL STARTS WITH ONE

Bill W., co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous wrote this about those who found themselves alone with the message of  hope  appearing in the first Alcoholics Anonymous book , in 1939.

“Someday, we hope that every alcoholic (depressed person)  who journeys will find a Fellowship of AA (DA) at his destination…Little clusters of twos and threes and fives of us have sprung up in other communities…Thus  we grow. And so can you, though you be but one man (woman) with this book (Depressed Anonymous) in your hand. We believe and hope it contains all you will need to begin.

We know what you are thinking. You are saying to yourself.  “I’m jittery and alone. I couldn’t do that.” But you can.  You forget that you have just now tapped  a source of power much greater than yourself. To duplicate, with such backing, what we have accomplished is only a matter of willingness, patience and labor.” (AA, 1976)

Ane  Brun  in  her song “:ONE” has the following lyrics

“It all  starts somewhere/ It all starts with one/ Everything comes from something/It all starts with one…First everything is quiet/A breath of fresh air from lips and tongue/Then the sound makes the world wild/ One, two, three more/ We can do more/ Much more, let’s do more/ Much more, lets say more/We are more”

Yes, I agree with Ane.  It all starts with one. Even though you might be just one person and are reading our book Depressed Anonymous for the first time, and just by talking to one other person about help gained from the reading, you now have a 12 step group. You are part of a group. You now have a group which is a power greater than you alone or yourself.

Even though you are alone and feel jittery and anxious just know that by picking up our Depressed Anonymous book and reading the personal stories contained in it, that you will know that you are not alone. You now can take this message of hope and share it with another one. We speak your language!

WE HAVE ENTERED THE WORLD OF THE SPIRIT

We have entered the world of the spirit

From the AA Big book

“…We vigorously commenced this way of living as we cleaned up the past (Steps 4 & 5) . We have entered the world of the Spirit. Our next function is to grow in understanding and effectiveness. This is not an overnight matter. It should continue for a lifetime (Step 12) . Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, and fear. When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them. We discuss them with someone immediately and make amends quickly if we have harmed anyone. Then we resolutely turn our thoughts to someone we can help. Love and tolerance of others is our code…Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God’s will into all of our activities. “How can I best serve Thee? Thy will (not mine) be done.” These are the thoughts which must go with us constantly. We can exercise our will power along this line all we wish. It is the proper use of the will.

THE DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS WORKBOOK Step 10 Question for personal reflection #10. 12. Page 76.

“WE HAVE LESS CONCERN ABOUT SELF AND GAIN INTEREST IN OTHERS.” PROMISE # 7 of DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS

PROMISE # 7 OF  DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS

“As we start our program of recovery we notice that there are persons in the group who are less well off than are we.”

Newcomers also remind us of ourselves when we stepped into the group for the first time.  They struggle to keep back tears and hurt as they speak, possibly for the first time, trusting that they are with people who have been where they are.   This is what provides the beginning of hope and healing.  People in the group speak their language of hope and possibility. They hear how recovery is possible. They want those tools to use in their own recovery.

…  We need to air our hurts, our shame, and let others hear our story. (3)

I personally believe that once I have made the first step, and admitted my powerlessness, I set in motion a force, a loving force of the creator in my personal life. In time I am filled with energy and find that this power can change me and restore my life with purpose and meaning. It can prepare me to meet those who are willing to risk leaving the prison of their depression. By my own interest in getting in touch with the Higher Power and getting its direction to “do the next right thing” I find that my own life is gradually becoming more filled with purpose and energy.”

SOURCE:  I’LL  DO IT WHEN I FEEL BETTER. (2013) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Pages 43-44.