Category Archives: Addiction

Addicted to sadness?

At a recent meeting we were reading from the Depressed Anonymous literature and the topic of being addicted to sadness came up. There were several people in the meeting who bristled at the idea of sadness being an addiction. Is depression really an addiction to sadness?

Instead of answering that question directly I think it would be helpful to list some common characteristics of any addiction.

  1. It’s an unhealthy coping mechanism for life’s ills.
  2. It worked for a while but now it no longer works.
  3. It has made your life unmanageable.
  4. It is a disease that tells you that you don’t have a disease.
  5. You lie about how often you do this drug/behavior.
  6. You think about it most, if not all, of the time.
  7. You have continuously done this drug/behavior even though it has done great harm to you and loved ones.
  8. It may have caused you to be fired from a job.
  9. It may have caused you to be admitted to a hospital/mental institution.
  10. It may have caused you to be arrested.
  11. It may have caused financial harm in your life.

Any addiction, whether it is alcohol, drugs, gambling, depression doesn’t have to meet all of these characteristics. Like the Jeff Foxworthy “You might be a redneck if…” jokes you might be addicted to sadness if say 5 or more of those characteristics are true.

Something doesn’t need to exactly match the medical definition of chemical dependence or physical dependence to be described as an addiction. Let go of your current belief on what is and is not an addiction. Look at the characteristics above and rate your depression against them. The magic number may not be 5. It could be 4 or 6 or whatever makes sense to you. Try it on for size. You may be able to let go of your skepticism.

Yours in recovery, Bill R

Good mental health practices help us thrive

“I believe that for me to finally integrate the spiritual program of the 12 steps into my personal and relational life is to believe that I can live without depression, drinking, gambling, overeating, and whatever else might take all my attention. I can overcome my “stinking” thinking.

One doesn’t tell people at DA that they’ll have to go to meetings for the rest of their lives. But if you really feel that you have learned something about depression, and how to overcome it – one way to continue recognizing the “red flags” in one’s own life, is to give away how it is nowthat you are beating the urge to sad and isolate oneself.

This really seems to be the secret of most good mental health efforts, whether for groups or individuals-namely, give others help and out of all of your own experiences. This will help you from relapsing.”

Hugh S., for the fellowship
(c) The Antidepressant Tablet Volume 4, Number 3, Spring 1993. Louisville, KY. Page 5.

Being Addicted to the Outcome

“Being addicted to the outcome I came to realize after deep examination of my character defects that I am still being addicted to the outcome of situations in my life. Which means I am trying with all my might to control the outcome. I don’t want to accept what God has planned for my outcome in certain situations. I want to steer the situation and control iT into my absolute vision of what I want and needed it to be. My addiction here is the projected outcome of the situation. My character defect is control. Control is a very hard character defect to change and one that I strongly believe needs God’s help to see it clearly and be granted the willingness to change it. Most humans want and deeply desire control of something in their life, so much so, that they would do anything to sway the matter, thus control things deeply to obtain their desired outcome. But there is another serious character defect in this equation. Far more important to examine than our desired outcome to the point of being controlling. This is an amazing spiritual arrogance that we know better, than the highest power knows, what is the right and proper outcome for us. But there is another serious character defect in this equation. Far more important to examine than our desired outcome to the point of being controlling. This is an amazing spiritual arrogance that we know better than the highest power knows what is the right and proper outcome for us. We are essentially saying we don’t believe your outcome, God. We don’t believe you could possibly be as good and perfect as are our chosen outcomes. This is a serious mistrusting of God.

The next thing we must look at is acceptance. Because once we are able to let go of the strongly desired outcome, which we are addicted to, we must stop and allow ourselves to accept whatever God has lined up for the outcome. This is sometimes difficult. It takes a good close walk with our higher power every single day, which is exactly what develops the needed trust in God. Once we begin to move into a place where we accept that our higher power loves us and wants good things for us, it then becomes easier to let go and let God in all the outcomes. This is where the step 3 prayer, taken every day, is so helpful with acceptance of God’s will in our life, instead of our own will and dominating the outcome that we insist upon. We can’t possibly know more than God, so who are we to think that we know exactly what the outcome should be to the situation days from now. How arrogant to think that we know everything. Letting go and letting God and acceptance, are the keys to the overcoming of the defects of control and arrogance.”

Debra C. NC


Copyright(c) Debra Sanford. A Medley of Depression Stories. #35. Pages91-92.(First Edition) 2017. ISBN 978-197 4499601. This book can be purchased at Amazon.com.

The Circle Dance

If you have ever been depressed or are depressed at this moment, you are familiar with the Circle Dance.

I know the dance steps well, and in fact, I could share with you some of the basic steps, illustrating familiar dance steps.

First of all, let me say that you already know those steps that automatically get you to perform the “Circle Dance. You get caught up emotionally, the moment certain negative thoughts come bouncing across the dance floor into your mind. You know them as that painful hollowness in your gut, a desire to quit the dance and lay down, or to bash yourself with thoughts of how bad you feel.

Sometimes, starting with those life events from childhood, when your caregivers, be they parents or guardians, made you feel worthless and unwanted. These thoughts and feelings are constantly triggered by those with whom you share this life. You avoid people, think of yourself as unlovable –and the dance goes on and on in your head.

The Feelings of hopelessness produces unpleasant feelings. The feelings produce an unpleasant mood and the dance begins. The mood speeds up the dance and whisks you away into that painful circle with its attendant anxieties, sucking you down into the mental quicksand, swallowing you with all the terror and fright of losing all hope, much less your future. The Circle Dance will take you, everyday and in every way, to where you know you don’t want to go.

This dance is familiar. It is like the helpless insect caught in the web of the spider. The why of this hellish addiction to sadness, is never fully addressed with any solutions or answers. We want to know how to stop it. How to control it. We ask ourselves, how is it that I am depressed? How did I get into this terrifying circle, this loop which keeps me locked in a mood of hopelessness and despair. Where did all this sadness, anxiety originate? Will I ever find a way out? Is the dance, on automatic pilot, going to destroy me? Am I, a victim, without a source of help? Is this the way life is for me to be–forever filled with misery?
So much of the time I feel like I am on a train, heading toward a precipice, with no way of stopping it or escaping disaster?

Through all this, pain and confusion, you become an expert dancer, in fact, you know of others who like you, are expert dancers — trapped in dancing within their own Circle Dance.

The dance, it is so familiar. It is a defense, a comfort. We gradually learn to use it to protect us from the pain, without ever having a clue as to how it took over my life.

“A famous psychiatrist, a Dr. Freud, once theorized “that the reason a person continues to do the Circular Dance within themselves, is an effort to touch an unpleasant early life behavior or that long since forgotten event, buried in one’s unconscious. The Circular Dance promotes our addictive nature and the compulsion to repeat, is an effort by our mind to remember what it was that is the cause of our present cycle of misery, spinning us around and around – looking for answers as to what we do and why we do what we do and feel the way that we do, but never able to unlock the prison of our sadness.”

The Depressed Anonymous 12 step fellowship provides us with a possible solution to this question of no longer allowing the Circular Dance to determine the our life’s direction.

It is my belief, after participating in Hundreds of Depressed Anonymous meetings, over three decades or more, that the compulsion to repeat these sslf-destructive thoughts and images, may be linked to early childhood periods, accompanied with their painful, traumatic events. It is in those early days, that our Circular Dance took root and began to keep us locked down in its circular loop.

It is here, in the 12 Step Fellowship of Depressed Anonymous, that those unpleasant feelings, resultant from physical. emotional and mental abuse by significant others (parents and/or guardians, others) can be shared, voiced and talked about safely, and confidentially in the light of the accepting fellowship that we experience in all of our mutual help meetings.

It is possible that with time, patience and work, that these early feelings of hurt and feeling worthless, to name just a few, can be identified and shown how they have affected us negatively in the way we feel about ourselves today. With the help and work of the group, we are able to locate and make conscious those early life experiences that have been pushed aside. Because the feelings were too powerful and painful to examine and so they were buried in our unconscious. Basically, we can say, that there is no longer a need for that compulsive and addictive Circular Dance that our mind had used to punish us with guilt and shame. We now have the freedom to live life, recover from the wounds of the past, and live life today with hope and purpose. That is my wish for you this day.. And for myself.

No one puts me down, for saying that I am depressed. We never hear a “Snap nap out of it” at our meetings. If we could “snap out of it” there would be no need for our meetings. With work, time and the fellowship we no longer need a dance that goes nowhere but down. Now we are spiraling upward. We thrive!

Hugh S., for the Fellowship


Copyright(c) Hugh Smith (1986, 2013) 2nd Edition. I’ll do it when I feel better. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.
Pages 64-65.

In helping others I helped myself. Gloria’s story, continued.

The following story continues from page 140 of Gloria’s story In helping others,I helped myself

“There are four of us who were there together first on June 6th 1985. We had become very good friends. I still remember the things from the very first meeting that the counselor told us. I’ve seen people come and go. Some helped from the very first meeting. Some wanting a wand waved. It has helped me over the rough spots., and gave me courage and to go on as a widow, I have found a peace in life, a special joy in knowing and loving people. In helping others, I have helped myself. I know my background in life has made me degreased at times. My mother was abusive and I realized later in life that it was an emotional illness. I forgave her.

I will continue to attend Depressed Anonymous. Every meeting is different and who knows what mystery each group holds? One never knows who needs me, who needs a smile or hug, who needs to feel that they are not alone, or who needs to know that there is a God that loves all.”


Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous. THIRD EDITION (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY 140-141.

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters


1. I walk down the street
There is a Deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost..I am hopeless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

2. I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend that I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe that I am in the same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still a long time to get out.

3. I walk down the same street.
There is a hole in the sidewalk.
I see it there.
I still fall in…it’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

4. I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

5. I walk down another street.

NOTE
This poem appeared in The Antidepressant Tablet.Volume 2.4. Winter, 1991 Edition, P.3
Portia Nelson, 2001 This poem is copyrighted. Please credit the author.

Do persons who are addicted have depression as part of their lives?

Many times I hear a person attending our fellowship, Depressed Anonymous, not only are they now attending another 12 step fellowship, but now believe that their depression is either a part of their addiction, or the cause of their depression.

Whether they are addicted to a substance (alcohol) or to a behavior (depressive thinking), they find that depression is part of their daily life. With depression being part of an addiction, it follows that these powerful feelings of helplessness and hopelessness need ot e addressed.

Co-morbidity is a term used in the treatment of addictions, as with the alcoholic who is depressed, exists as a critical factor in how alcoholism affects their specific addiction. Co-dependency also serves as fertile ground for depression to develop, as it takes over one’s moods, thinking and behavior. Both the depressed and the alcoholic find themselves out of control, unable to live a life free from their addictions. The one feeds on the other. That is why one will find the Depressed Anonymous fellowshiip a necessary and healing partner in one’s healing.

So, can we say, not only should an alcoholic deal with his/her addiction to alcohol, but need to look into their feelings of depression. The one affects the other negatively. In the case of seeking and getting help for their alcohol addiction, and staying sober, both AA and DA provide long term, positive effectS, on one’s feeling isolated and depressed. The more we use the tools of Alcoholics Anonymous and Depressed Anonymous, the more we will find the hope and serenity that comes from the strength and healing,
from both these spiritual programs of recovery.

Many times persons who join us in our Depressed Anonymous 12 Step program, find that our fellowship becomes a logical and necessary component for their individual recovery program.

If a person feels lost in their struggle to free themselves from the prison of depression, they simultaneously are struggling to stay sober, possibly denying their own negative and tortuous thinking causing a spiraling downward into a pit from which they are not able to dig out.

How many persons depressed come into a Depressed Anonymous meeting and find that there is hope for them too. They embrace and make part of their lives, the strength received when they apply the 12 steps to their own lives. If you are already part of a 12 Step Fellowship, and are seeking help for your depression. The fellowship of Depressed Anonymous is here for you.

Hugh S.

COPYRIGHT(C) Depressed Anonymous, THIRD EDITION, 2011. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Lousville, KY.

This book of Depressed Anonymous can be ordered online from the Depressed Anonymous website at Depressedanon.com. Other 12 Step literature is available from this Bookstore.

Miss My Sad Thoughts

Some days I miss my sad thoughts. They are addictive. They fill a space in me and meet a requirement of comfort and familiarity. Humans require and seek a level of comfort and familiarity. The depressed human is no different. Sadly, it’s the sad thoughts that provide the deep level of comfort. When I remove the sadness, I have to work to replace that big open field of nothingness left. It feels hard. It feels like work. Pressure and effort. I want to fall back into the sad thinking because, I know very well how to form those thoughts and how to feel them. How to make use of them, strangely. They serve a strong purpose. They validate my depression and vice a versa. They have lived in me for so long that to have to fill the void of their space feel so hard. It feels like big shoes to fill. I feel pressed, just trying. My mind is having to accept this new training I am putting it through. It doesn’t want to change. It is not welcoming of these new positive thoughts at first. It is a struggle. My mind wrestles back and forth: ‘I just want to go home and go to my bed. No, no! You want to keep grocery shopping…! No, please, I just need to lie down, I’m leaving this group!! I am so depressed. No, no! You are going to do your task today, because, it will make you feel better.’ The better part of me wins and I refuse to be held captive, a victim to this negative dark thinking that is killing me. So, I continue on doing the grocery shopping with an internal mind struggle going on. The whole day seems to continue like this. The back and forth tug of war in my mind! It takes time to truly train the mind to accept the incoming positive thoughts. Affirmations are a needed daily medicine for the saddened mind for sure. It takes consistency. I ask myself how bad do I want to feel better? I continue to retrain my mind every single day. Slowly, I miss my sad thoughts less and less. I feel the need for the positive affirmations more and more. This is the process of healing the depressed mind and thus, my feelings. I look forward to a time where I will not miss my sad thoughts and the struggle between the positive and negative thoughts will not be such a big part of my day.”
Debra NC

“Slowly, I found the positive affirmations more and more and more.”

Copyright(c) Debra Sanford. A Medley of Depression Stories. First edition. (2017) PP> 30-31.( Used with permission.)

You may email Debra: thedepressionstories@gmail.com. She would love hearing from you.

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

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