Category Archives: Stinking Thinking

Do we believe nothing will ever change? A response from The Promises of Depressed Anonymous. #1

Excerpts from The Promises of Depressed Anonymous (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.

++++++ FOLLOW THE DISCUSSION/COMMENTARY ON THE PROMISES EACH DAY +++++++

” I do believe that the pain of our depression originates from inside ourselves. We construct present day reality based on life experiences. The past is the predictor of the future. As it says in Depressed Anonymous, many of us hold the absolute belief that “since bad things happened to us in the past bad things will happen to us in the future. ” In other words – we have made up our minds – nothing will ever change. And of course this belief is what promotes and keeps our depression alive.”

The opposite of depression is spontaneity and vitality. When we are depressed we move about as in a fog. We are stuck. Since we desire everything to remain the same, that is, predictable, we in no way believe that life can be different for us. If we intend to stay stuck, we make the decision, choose to stay in the rut of being lifeless, hapless and hopeless.

As we change old beliefs into new ones we believe that things can change as things begin to change. We will begin to experience hope, light and joy.”

“… life doesn’t have to be lived alone in agony or misery.” (Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011)Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky. Page 41.)
___________________________________________________________________________
NOTE:
Tomorrow our commentary on the Promises continues for Promise #1.

Copyright(c) The Promises of Depressed Anonymous (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky. Page 1-3. The 1st Promise of a total of 13 Promises.

Manage your stress

During these months of being cooped up during the pandemic it’s a good time for learning more about how to manage our stress. Depression and stress go together.

Take a look at the TOOLS FOR RECOVERY at the Home Page menu and see how they may be a source of help for you in your own life. There are many tools listed here and we encourage all to try them on for size. I hope they work for you as they did for me.

Hugh for the Fellowship

Anger Worry Fear Guilt

Today I would like to share some thoughts and reflections from the Depressed Anonymous Workbook (the same one used for the Online Depressed Anonymous meetings at SKYPE).

On page 77 @ question 10.18 this question is asked of the participants: “list the various ways that you plan to remove your most frequent unpleasant emotion? Write down your strategy.”

If we are following the work in the Workbook, we have already spent a good amount of time and energy reflecting upon our own anger, worry fear and guilt. We know how all these emotions and moods have a large role to play in our own experiences with depression.

Step 10 states that we “continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.” Our Depressed Anonymous manual speaks to us about taking responsibility for our recovery from depression.

“Responsibility is the name of the game in recovery and it is here that we need to focus our attention. As we get into a discussion with others in the group who are depressed – much like ourselves- we see that they talk about feeling better while at the same time acting on their own behalf. These people who are doing better are also talking about taking charge of their lives and doing things for themselves instead of constantly trying to please others.” (You can find this quote on page 107 in the Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition.)

A potent strategy is suggested in our DA book (Page 110): “Promptly forgive yourselves! Promptly tell a friend, DA group member, coworker, spouse, that you are now trying to live one day at a time, one hour at a time and are depending on the Higher Power to give you the courage to risk thinking hopeful thoughts which have the power to lead yourself back into the community, the family and among friends. Develop a gratitude attitude and thank God for today! This day is all we have. Get involved in your own healing. Start to take on the attitude that if other people can make it so can I. It’s true – you can make it if you follow the program.”

Join with us every day at SKYPE. See Home Page menu items for MEETINGS times and places. You’ll be happy that you did!!

RESOURCES
(C) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd ed.(2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky.
(c) The Depressed Anonymous Workbook(2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY

The Covid-19 and its effect on a pre-existing clinical depression

Since we believe that depression just doesn’t come out of the blue, but stems from our relationship to the environment, our past and present relationships and NEGATIVE ruminations and self-talk.

For instance, the pandemic is a good place to start to untangle some of those underlying conditions which keep popping up in our daily lives. The covid-19 continues to create havoc, fear and anxiety in ourselves and communities. The more isolated we are from our normal life activities the more time we spend on all the negativity that continues to envelope us.

Anxiety and fear, both of which are some of those feelings and moods which may have contributed to our depression in the first place. Feelings can change from one to the other while moods are longer lasting with an ability to spiral down deeper in our psyche, resulting in an emotional lockdown. We can couple this with a fear that our life is spinning out of control, as our mind continues latching onto the worse possible scenario for our future, throwing more fuel on the fire, believing that life will always be this way for ourselves. We continue to live in total hopelessness.

And then the pandemic. Here we are, away from all the normal activities that once provided us with some temporary distraction from our fears and anxieties. It’s not as if we didn’t continue to feel the pain of living a life of isolation, holed up in the darkness of our own paralyzing moods, day after day, but now that we are cut off physically from friendships, co-workers, close friends or family members, our isolating pushes our negative moods further down. All this comes with a strong possibility that the virus may have claimed the life of a family member or grandparent or close friend or co-worker.

My own feelings, are the same basically of everyone else. Here we are, gradually realizing that this is now the “new normal” for each of us. We come to realize that we need to step back, and look at where we are today – and face our fears and anxieties. The question arises as what do I do now? Let me share with you my own experiences as my own life is turned upside down.

Because of my involvement in a mutual aid group, Depressed Anonymous, I am able to leave some of the pain of my isolation, join with all those others like myself who together are giving each other hope. All of us can share – not just our own pain of isolation – but ways to deal with and encourage each other with the successes we have experienced in facing our own fears and anxiety now and in the past.

As we try to navigate this “new normal” as best we can, we discover together how we are helping each other, day after day find a real lifeline – even though a virtual one. I am making this path work for myself, actively participating with the rest of the group, finding that my anxieties have diminished. By being in the now and being part of this mutually support group I am finding that there is a way out. I no longer am going to stay isolated.

“There is hope…and we do recover.” Please join us on SKYPE AND ZOOM – there are meetings on SKYPE every day at 11:30PM CST / 12:30PM EST and ZOOM four times a week (Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. See Home page menu for DA meetings for more information). This is located at our website depressedanon.com.

Finally, one of our resources is the Depressed Anonymous Workbook that we use at our meetings, helping us to uncover some of our “underlying conditions” that existed prior to the present pandemic.

Presently our contacts with family and friends are stretched thin. Everything that makes us a human being, those live social encounters that provided us with joy, comfort and hope. We all have lost that shoulder to shoulder feeling and the hugs and smiles that gave us hope. Now the new normal is social distancing six feet apart. People older-stay home. Wear mask. I agree with all those solutions to staying safe.

It is here at our virtual online Depressed Anonymous meetings where we share and strengthen our resolve, uncovering those areas of our lives (thinking, feelings, moods, behaviors) that prohibit our personal growth and happiness. Now we are replacing our hopelessness and helplessness with hope and help everyday online.

The Depressed Anonymous fellowship is a potent provider of self-discovery as we move from one Step to the other at our meetings using the Workbook format. It is here in this virtual environment where we not only can take the time to listen to others in the group about their own issues, but listening as well to their many responses to how hope and healing have given them a new freedom, a new self-confidence while being provided a self-discovery tool, the Depressed Anonymous Workbook. This tool, with the Depressed Anonymous manual is used at every meeting.

If you are interested in a HOME STUDY PROGRAM OF RECOVERY you can learn more about this process of recovery from our website.

The Depressed Anonymous Workbook and Depressed Anonymous manual are also both available online as eBOOKS from Depressed Anonymous Publications.

YOUR HOPE IS OUR HOPE!

Hugh for the fellowship

10 strategies for coping with anxiety and pain

Originally published January 28, 2019. Some formatting changes.

  1. Remember that although your feelings are very frightening, they are not dangerous or harmful. They are uncomfortable but not life threatening.
  2. Understand that what you are experiencing is just an exaggeration of your normal bodily reaction to stress.
  3. Do not fight your feelings or try to wish them away. The more you are willing to face them, the less intense they will be.
  4. Do not add to your panic by thinking about what might happen if you find yourself asking ‘What if’? Tell yourself. ‘So what!’
  5. Stay in the present. Notice what is really happening to you as opposed to what you think might happen.
  6. Label your fear level from zero to ten and watch it go up and down. Notice that it does not stay at a very high level for more than a few seconds.
  7. When you find yourself thinking about the fear, change your ‘what if’ thinking. Focus on and carry out a simple and manageable task such as counting backwards from 100 by 3’s or snapping a rubber band on your wrist.
  8. Notice that when you stop adding frightening thoughts to your fear, it begins to face.
  9. When the fear comes, expect and accept it. Wait and give it time to pass without running away from it.
  10. Be proud of yourself for your progress thus far, and think about how good you will feel when you succeed this time.

Source: NMH Association – Understanding Panic Disorder

Three Circles

OK we know that depression is a disease, and we can also look at it as an addiction. In my opinion it’s helpful to look at other programs of recovery for understanding, inspiration, and tips on how to best manage your recovery from that addiction.

One topic of recovery is to have a relapse prevention plan. If you go through life unaware and on auto-pilot chances are real good that you will relapse in your depression. You want to avoid that if humanly possible. The trick is to be aware of your behaviors and where those behaviors lead you. There are things that you can do that make you feel useful and whole. There are things that you can do that lead you towards that bottom line addictive behavior. And finally the thing you are trying to avoid: having a relapse of active depression.

The three circles is one way to come up with a relapse prevention plan. The three circles are concentric (see diagram below).

The Outer Circle contains those things that you can do that make you feel good and build your inner resolve. In some circles (pardon the pun) the Outer Circle is sometimes referred to as Top Line behaviors. I’ve put into the diagram some examples of top line behaviors but that is not a comprehensive list. You decide what things fill you up and make you whole. Some other examples include: prayer; hugging loved ones; playing with your pet; talking with friends; doing service; donating time/money to your favorite charity.

The Middle Circle contains those behaviors that lead you closer to a full blown relapse of your depression. Sometimes the Middle Circle is called Mid Line Behaviors. In some recovery groups they are called “People, Places, and Things” – anything that brings you closer to your bottom. As before you decide what belongs in the Middle Circle. What triggers you toward your depression may be a common trigger, or may be unique to you.

The Inner Circle contains those behaviors that you are really trying to avoid and if you do them you are active in your depression. Again, you define what goes into the Inner Circle. I’ve diagrammed some examples, but come up with your own if those don’t ring true for you.

three-circles

I encourage you to come up with your own Three Circles diagram. Become aware of your behaviors and if you find yourself in the Middle Circle take action with your Outer Circle behaviors. If you find yourself in the Inner Circle take massive action in the Outer Circle. Seek help you are worth it.

Good luck with this task. It only works if you work it. Diagram it and put it into action.

Yours in recovery, Bill R

If you’d like to read more here is a link to a Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_circles

And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today

And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me, and can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake.

Unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world, as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.

© Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Ed., page 417

That passage really speaks to me. After reading it I feel centered.

Life is 1% what the world hands you and 99% how you react to it. I’m not trying to minimize the pain and trauma that people go through, but I know that I can create suffering by not accepting the reality of the present moment.

When my daughter died I thought I was being stoic and heroic by going back to work immediately. I was not accepting on a deep and profound level the reality of my situation. I swallowed my emotions. I picked up an addictive behavior and ran from my feelings as opposed to having the courage to feel my emotions. I really didn’t grieve my daughter until 15 years later in a group therapy session.

Whatever pain you’re going through accept the fact that is where you are at the moment. I don’t mean give up and not find a way out through and past the pain. Stop asking yourself and God “WHY did this happen to me?“. For me the WHY is a way that I create suffering for myself.

I’ve had to learn to accept whatever situation I am currently in. Now is not the time for knowing why. When I die I’m sure my Higher Power will tell me why certain things happened to me and for me. Acceptance is the answer to my problems today. Problems morph into situations. Situations are things that need to be dealt with maturely, serenely and soberly. I hope that you can find acceptance with whatever is troubling you today.

Yours in recovery, Bill R

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

Periodically I will share pearls of wisdom that I’ve heard or read. I will try to include attributions to the original author/speaker.

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters
I.
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in. I am lost. I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.
II.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I still don’t see it. I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
It isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.
III.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it there, I still fall in.
It’s habit. It’s my fault. I know where I am.
I get out immediately.
IV.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.
V.
I walk down a different street.

© 1977 Portia Nelson

Yours in recovery, Bill R

Courage To Change The Things I Can

Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is having fears, facing them, and taking action. I know that I can be overcome with fear. My depression manifests as a deer in the headlights. I am stuck in inaction. The hardest part is getting started.

Break whatever project you are procrastinating on into small manageable pieces. Start attacking and accomplishing those smaller tasks. Some people say to tackle the low hanging fruit – to start off easy. Some people say to tackle the hardest task first – the one that you are dreading the most. If you can handle the hardest task then you should be able to handle the rest.

Does it matter which way you start? The answer is a resounding no. What matters is that you take action, any action. Start, start NOW! It doesn’t matter if you make a mistake by going into action – you will have momentum on your side, and you can accomplish much more.

Choose action. Pick something, anything that is productive and gets you one step closer to your goal.

You will experience fear, it is to be expected. Have the courage to feel the fear and do it anyway. You may not feel better instantly, but you will feel better eventually.

If you are overcome with fear to the point of inaction don’t worry. Be gentle with yourself. Breathe through your fear and set the task aside for a few moments. Don’t have the attitude of no never, but instead have the attitude of no, not right now. Revisit the task that you put aside. Don’t get trapped in avoidance as you’re merely putting the fearsome task aside for a few moments. Catch your breath, and dive back in.

Be gentle with yourself, but do it!

Yours in recovery, Bill R

Depression And Anger

Many times in our lives we can hide our own anger from ourselves. Here is a checklist to help you determine if you are hiding anger from yourself. Any of these may be a sign of anger or some other possible physical causes. If you are concerned about any of these listed it would do you well to speak to a professional.

The list is an attempt to see if any of these issues might be related to your own depression and anger. Also, the list gives you notice on ways to deal with those which you might be dealing with off and on.

  1. Procrastination in delayed working on important matters
  2. Perpetual or habitual lateness
  3. Overly polite
  4. Constant cheerfulness
  5. Attitude of “grin and bear it”
  6. Frequent sighing
  7. Sarcasm, cynicism or flippancy in conversation
  8. Smiling while hurting, always saying “I’m fine”
  9. Frequent or disturbing dreams
  10. Over controlled monotone speaking voice
  11. Difficulty in getting to sleep or sleeping through the night
  12. Boredom
  13. Slowing down of movements
  14. Getting tired more easily than usual
  15. Excessive irritability over trifles
  16. Getting drowsy at inappropriate times
  17. Sleeping more than usual
  18. Waking up tired rather than rested or refreshed
  19. Clenched jaw, usually while sleeping
  20. Habitual fist clenching
  21. Grinding of teeth, especially while sleeping
  22. Chronically stiff neck or shoulder muscles
  23. Anxiety and depression
  24. Swallowing your anger and keeping it pent-up inside
  25. Stomach ulcers/gastrointestinal problems.
  26. Flying off the handle.