Category Archives: Stinking Thinking

Resentment is the number one offender

What’s your problem? One problem that many of us have is that we are riddled with resentment. How do I come to that conclusion? It’s found in the AA Big Book (remember that Depressed Anonymous is based on the model pioneered by Alcoholics Anonymous).

Resentment is the “number one” offender. It destroys more alcoholics (or depressed people) than anything else. From it stem all forms of spiritual disease, for we have been not only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick. When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically. In dealing with resentments, we set them on paper. We listed people, institutions or principles with whom we were angry. We asked ourselves why we were angry. In most cases it was found that our self-esteem, our pocketbooks, our ambitions, our personal relationships (including sex) were hurt or threatened. So we were sore. We were “burned up.”

Alcoholics Anonymous, pages 64-65

Okay, so we’ve identified the number one offender. We must set ourselves free from resentment. What do we do to rid ourselves of resentment? That too is found in the AA Big Book:

If you have a resentment you want to be free of, if you will pray for the person or the thing that you resent, you will be free. If you will ask in prayer for everything you want for yourself to be given to them, you will be free. Ask for their health, their prosperity, their happiness, and you will be free. Even when you don’t really want it for them and your prayers are only words and you don’t mean it, go ahead and do it anyway. Do it every day for two weeks, and you will find you have come to mean it and to want it for them, and you will realize that where you used to feel bitterness and resentment and hatred, you now feel compassionate understanding and love.

It worked for me then, and it has worked for me many times since, and it will work for me every time I am willing to work it. Sometimes I have to ask first for the willingness, but it too always comes. And because it works for me, it will work for all of us. As another great man says, “The only real freedom a human being can ever know is doing what you ought to do because you want to do it.”

Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, page 552

I can personally attest to the fact that praying for the people you resent truly works. I harbored a deep resentment for over 15 years. My parents chose not to come to my daughter’s funeral. The resentment was all consuming. My sponsor in AA told me “Bill you need to pray for your parents”.

The first thought that came to mind was: “No way in hell am I praying for my parents”. Then the small still voice of my Higher Power asked me a question: “Well Bill, what are you willing to do?”.

I realized that I was willing to pray for willingness. I prayed for two weeks, and the willingness came. I prayed for two weeks for my parents: that they know peace, that they feel the presence of God in their life, that they have wisdom.

I prayed and the resentment was gone. The scar was still there because they hurt me. It however was no longer an open and festering wound. No longer was there bile in the back of my throat because of deep anger. I was free!

Prayer truly works if you pray for those you resent, and not pray at them.

Yours in recovery, Bill R

Fun? When was the last time you had some?

In Step Four of our Depressed Anonymous Workbook, we find the statement: “When was the last time you had some fun?” You could also add when was the last time you actually laughed or even had a smile on your face? In one of our early Depressed Anonymous meetings. Bob told the group that the DA meeting was the only place where he could actually find himself laughing.

At our online Depressed Anonymous meetings, we are presently sharing our thoughts and feelings about Step Four. As part of our inventory, there are a number of questions pertaining to our Family of Origin. The following section helps me to take and reflect on my own family of origins and the relationship that I had with all those persons who I shared my life in those early childhood years.

In order to make a good inventory I need to go to my roots and discover how I came to be the person that I am today. AS the saying goes, “WE are our parents.”
When we were small, we “swallowed” our parents, meaning “swallowed” their main personality characteristics. Even today parents, grandparents, a stepparent, or guardian all are now part of our personality -for good or for ill. For myself to escape from my depression I need to discover how I might have received certain messages from my depression I need to discover how I might have received certain messages about myself from those adults who surrounded me as a helpless infant and child. All of us have received messages as children -some helpful and others not so helpful. Some messages directed toward us might have made us feel worthless because we got the message that we could never do anything to please others.

Our Depressed Anonymous manual, with an excerpt from Step Four gives a detailed and traumatic account of one of my experiences as a 10-year-old child. This event had recurring consequences for my young life and into my adult years. We might want to take a deeper look into some of the unpleasant feelings that we have today, traced to their origins in our childhood. I know for a fact that these events, producing guilt and shame, were finally dealt with in therapy as a young adult.

“I still remember being embarrassed when my third-grade teacher told me in front of the whole class That I would never be like my brother who was much smarter than me. I used to feel my face get hot every time I thought about that embarrassing incident. But the more I share my shame of having been exposed to others about something that I had no control over, the freer I became of that fear. The same principle is at work here in the Depressed Anonymous group. We can take our own personal inventory of our weaknesses and fears and trust the group to hear us out and accept our stories of shame and hurt as we accept theirs. We begin to see how and why so many people feel bad because in their earlier years people made them feel they could never measure up to the way others expected them to grow up. By becoming our little child once more, we paradoxically grow up.”

More about our childhood experiences, pleasant and unpleasant in the days to follow. And since it is time for school to start again, it seems that our bodies, sensors that they are, remind us that the Fall weather and school both arrive at the same time of year.

(c) The Depressed Anonymous Workbook (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, p.29.
(c) Depressed Anonymous, (2011) THIRD EDITION. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, p. 55.

Willingness to Take Baby Steps

A common question in other 12 step fellowships is “Are you willing to go to any lengths to achieve recovery?” When thinking about willingness and my depression, I don’t know how well this applied to me. I mean, if I had the willingness to go to any lengths when I was in my deepest darkest depression, I would have just hopped out of bed, embraced the day, and ran a 5K! But that is not how it worked for me!
When I was in the depths of my depression, my willingness had gone out the door. “What was the purpose anyway?” I thought. I didn’t think I could get any better. But Depressed Anonymous showed me that there is hope, and there is a way out. For me, that path to recovery has been a series of baby steps. After coming to meetings, I saw people who were like me; people who really suffered from depression, and I saw that they were recovering. Once I had the realization that there was hope, I needed to ask myself a question. “Just for today, am I willing to take a baby step to help myself recover from depression?”
This was something that I could comprehend and that I thought might be possible. Yes, I can take a baby step and get out of bed. Yes, I can take a baby step and call someone from the fellowship. Yes, I can take a baby step and order the literature, then take another baby step and read a page of the literature. I can answer one question in the workbook today. Yes, I can do one little thing to help myself today!!
That is how my recovery began. That is how I climbed out of that 80-foot hole of depression-one baby step at a time. And the beautiful thing is that I don’t have to do it alone! Honestly, I don’t think I could have done it alone. I tried for years, and although I met with sporadic success, I inevitably fell back into that pit of depression. Today I have the DA fellowship surrounding me. I have a Higher Power. I have a sponsor and friends in the fellowship who help me along my path. I am also here to help others on their path to recovery. Today, I am grateful for the willingness to take baby steps.

Unhelpful Comparisons vs. Helpful Comparisons

We’ve all fallen into the trap of comparing ourselves to others. This is a losing game if there ever was one. You don’t know the struggles that the other person has gone through to get where they are now. Comparing yourself to others in an attempt to boost your own self-esteem degrades the other person’s worth. These are unhelpful forms of comparison. These forms of comparison create suffering in yourself and others.

Don’t compare your insides to somebody else’s outsides.
Slogan heard at a recovery meeting

What then is a helpful comparison (lessen the suffering in yourself and others)? The best way is to compare your current self and situation to an earlier incarnation of yourself. Have you improved or have you gotten worse over time? This is a comparison that provides you valuable information about yourself. This type comparison can show you how you have improved over time, that you are not stuck and stagnated in your present state. You do change, even if that change is slight.

To overcome the challenge of managing your depression stop comparing yourself to others and begin comparing yourself to your past self.

For further information on this please watch Dean Furness’s TED Talk To overcome challenges, stop comparing yourself to others on YouTube. https://youtu.be/IOrmS8vJDQw

Yours in recovery, Bill R

DA fellowship as my scaffolding 

 

Some great advice I got from my sponsor was to “find my help and use my help.”  Often times my help comes in the form of DA members.  Over the last two years I’ve spent time at meetings and on the phone in between meetings with members of the fellowship, and they have become an important part of my recovery.  I have built up a network of people around me, much like one uses scaffolding to build a new structure.  I have been built anew by the steps and the help of the DA fellowship.  Now, when life presents me with problems and struggles that previously felt unmanageable and too overwhelming to deal with, I have a support structure in place that I can lean upon.  I have found my help and now I know how to use that help.  All I have to do is pick up the phone and reach out to my DA fellowship.  Through their help, the help of my Higher Power, and the steps, I will be guided to sanity and solutions.

Letting go of good and bad

Why would I want to let go of good and bad? Do these words help when you use them to describe yourself?

I know that for myself when I label myself bad I tend to classify myself as bad to the core, beyond any hope of redemption and healing! When I label myself as good I either think of myself as being beyond reproach, or I don’t believe the statement.

What about using them when to describe others? Well when you label someone as good aren’t you putting them on a pedestal? When you say someone is bad aren’t you reducing their worth so that they are beneath you?

Are these judgments worth making? Do they put us into a place of calm and serenity, or do they place us into a negative dark place? I say the latter.

OK so then how can I modify my language to not fall into that trap? If I must use those words I will say something along the lines of: ‘Their behavior was bad.’ Significantly less judgment and baggage with that statement!

What about when I want to apply those words against myself? I prefer the terms helpful and unhelpful. They carry far less judgment.

  • Helpful – those things that I think, say, or do that decrease suffering in myself or others
  • Unhelpful – those things that I think, say, or do that increase suffering in myself or others

A synonym for these would be skillful and unskillful.

Let go of judgment, that realm belongs to God. Humans can judge but it may not be the most helpful thing that we can do.

Bill

Keeping my Higher Power Highest

Throughout my life, different things have been my Higher Power.  A certain job that I loved and prioritized above all else, or the person I was dating.  When I was in active addiction, different substances were a higher power.  Before recovery, the looming black cloud of deep depression was a higher power.  

Once I got into recovery and the steps, I was encouraged to find a true Higher Power, or God of my understanding – a Power greater than myself that could restore me to sanity.  In other words, Step 2.  I can honestly say that after many months of praying and working the steps, this Power relieved me of the obsession to drink and helped me to recover from the hopeless dark pit of deep depression. 

My challenge today, now that I am not in that deep dark hole of depression, is to keep my Higher Power the highest priority in my life.  For example, I recently started a short term job in a field that I am very passionate about.  It has been very demanding and time consuming, and I’m finding that this position is consuming my thoughts, actions, and life.  When I talked to my sponsor about this, she asked “So, has this job has become your Higher Power?”  I realized she was right!  Where was God in my life?  In my thoughts?  How can I be working Step 3 if I am not cognizant of my Higher Power and turning my will and my life over to His care?  I realized this job had become my priority in life, instead of my Higher Power and my recovery.  I am grateful for this reminder, so that I can get back on track.  I know that when I don’t place my Higher Power and my recovery first in my life, I start to slip back into old thinking patterns and old behaviors, which for me will lead me back into depression. 

Thank you, God, that You are always there for me, ready and willing to help me, no matter how many times I stray.

Roadblocks and pitfalls in recovery

I think sometimes people have the idea that recovery is a straight line angled upward with a positive slope.  For me, that is not the case.   My recovery is a conglomeration of sine waves, bumps, upward swoops, pot holes, and squiggly lines.  Overall, it does have a positive upward slope.  In other words, as the promises state, I have more good days than bad. Today, I have many more good days than bad.

But what to do on those bad days?  That is the question.  How do I navigate recovery when I am in a downward slope, have a roadblock or a pitfall?  How do I get through this period of mild depression?

First of all, I remind myself that This too shall pass.  It may sound cliché, but it is true!  If I am having a difficult day, I do not have to let it become a bad couple of days or a bad week.  I do not have to let it go to a moderate or severe depression.  Sometimes I can even limit it to bad moments.  The point is, this depressing feeling will not last forever.  I do have a choice to realize that it is temporary, to do something about it and not let it take over.

So what do I do about it?

The program gives me tools.  It’s up to me to use them.  Sometimes I have to pray for the willingness to use them.  The willingness to help myself undepress myself and stop being a victim.  When I’m in a pitfall, I feel alone and isolated. That is my disease talking to me.  The reality is that I’m in a program with people who understand me and care about me.  I can reach out to them and be honest about how I’m feeling.  This simple but sometimes difficult action really does help me a lot.  By telling on my feelings, I feel less isolated and more connected to others.   Another thing I do is journal to my Higher Power.  I tell my Higher Power what I’m thinking and feeling.  Sometimes I follow it up with journaling from my Higher Power to me.  This is the voice of truth.  This helps me to contradict those negative thoughts and see the truth as my Higher Power sees it.   When I’m in a slump, I’ve learned that it’s okay to be in a slump and to be kind and loving with myself through this period.  I’ve learned that my recovery is not a straight line upwards, and that it’s okay for me to have some squiggly parts and bumps in that recovery journey.  I can learn to give myself that same love and compassion that I would give another struggling person.  Another tool I like to use is the “way to go self” list.  When I’m in a slump, I focus on the negative, specifically those “I’m not good enough” statements.  I neglect seeing my positives.  So I make a list of my assets or those things that I am doing well, or those things that I am accomplishing.  And I’ll give myself double stars for doing something positive when I don’t feel like doing it – because that is extra difficult for me!  So by making a point to look at the positive things I am doing, it helps me gain clarity and see the positives.

To sum up, bumps in the road of recovery are part of the process for me today.  It doesn’t mean I’m bad or need to shame myself.  It means that life happens, and now I have an opportunity to use the tools this program gives me – IF I choose to do so.

Stacy S

Unsocial Distancing

NOTICE: Whenever a blog post mentions an online meeting be sure to consult the page Online Depressed Anonymous Meetings for the most up to date and correct information. If the blog post is more than a few days old there is a chance it could be incorrect.

The pandemic is over for most of us as are the mandatory “lockdowns” and “wearing of masks” protocols.

Social distancing has always been part of my daily life when I was depressed. The “lockdowns’ just continued to push me further down onto the pit. Now that we are free to move around and do all those normal things that were familiar to us in pre-pandemic times my normal thing was unsocial distancing. I spent my time isolating myself from family and friends. If a family member tried to get hold of me, I would not answer the phone. I could put on a fake smile at work, but all was back to my unsocial distancing as soon as I got home from work.

In order to have hope, I make sure I attend a virtual Depressed Anonymous meeting. I make sure I step up and share my lack of hope and frustration with my fellowship group. In time, I am finding with group support, that my unsocial distancing is gradually lessening.

Now I have a “red flag” come up in my mind when I want to go home and sleep, hide and not answer the phone. The old mantra “I’ll do it when I feel better,” is ignored. I talk and share in the group and/or with my sponsor those unsocial thoughts pushing me to withdraw and isolate, behind the invisible prison bars of fear and anxiety. Go ahead–get social!

Now is the time to build a bridge –form new friendships –find hope. It’s as close as the keyboard in front of you.

Go to our website www.depressedanon.com, click on the menu MEETINGS and click on Virtual 12 Step Depressed Anonymous Meeting “Journey of Hope” at Skype://join.skype.com/ a link will be provided for you to enter a meeting. )

Hugh