Category Archives: Anxiety

Catastrophic Thinking

Dorothy Rowe shares with us some helpful thoughts on how to deal with those thoughts which we label as catastrophic.

Suppose that there is some event looming and you are frightened of what is going to happen. Your Mother may be coming to stay or you are required to go to the firm’s ball, or your daughter expects you to go to her graduation or your son wants you to take him along – all fearful events of course – and you can’t see any way of avoiding them other than being very depressed. Try something else. Write down what it is you are expected to do and then say, ‘if I do this, what is the very worst that could happen?’

Write down your answer and look at it in the cold light of day. If you have said ‘I’ll die’ then rejoice your troubles will soon be over.

If you have said, ‘I’ll make a fool of myself’ ask ‘What is the opposite of making a fool of oneself’? Then ask ‘Why is this important’? See if you dare commit to paper just how vain you are.

Then go back to the original situation and say, ‘How many different outcomes can I see?’ List them all, the good ones as well as the bad, the fantastic ones as well as the prosaic, see if you can predict what then actually happens. (No cheating by using self-fulfilling prophecies like ‘I am sure I won’t enjoy it.’)

Then there are the things that you feel compelled to do. No strange force is compelling you, not any person other than yourself. When you see your own values clearly you can ask, ‘Do I do this because I believe it is right or do I do it because the parent in my head tells me to and I am too scared to disobey’?

You are you, you are the parent in your head, you are the child who is scared to disobey. You can spend the rest of your life `going around as three squabbling people, or you can choose` to make into yourself one whole person.

Resource
Copyright(c) Dorothy Rowe. Depression: The way out of your prison. SECOND EDITION. 1983, 1996. Routledge, New York, NY.pp.225-226.

Depression made me think I was losing my mind, until I did two things that changed my life forever

“What is happening to me,” I asked myself, as I spent another week of struggling to get out of bed. It was like a 500 pound lead weight had dropped on top of me. I felt that whatever commands I issued to my body, “like get out of bed,” the message never reached my body.

The only thing that I knew what to do was to force myself to move the body and hopefully the mind would follow, be it reluctantly. And that is exactly what happened. Every morning after was a struggle, but I did manage to push myself out of bed and I got myself to work. When work ended, I went home and immediately hit the bed. What’s going on here? I asked. I had no clue that what was the matter was that my body was shutting down and that my mind gradually became powerless to make any positive changes in my behavior or thinking.

It was only as I started to walk five miles a day in a local mall, just to promote the fact that I was up and out and able to get to work. I want to make the point here that even though this walking continued for over a year and half, I still was forcing myself to get out of bed. Every morning the debate in my head started all over again. By now I had developed some resistance to staying in bed and just realized, if I was to save my job, I had to walk.

Eventually, the walking was a way out of the prison that my mind had constructed. Eventually, I learned that the way I was living my life and the negativity that I had embraced in my thinking, together threw me into a deep dark pit. Before I was able to figure out what was happening to me, I became depressed. The more I tried to figure out, in my mind, why I was depressed the more I became further depressed, isolated and alone. Then I did something that changed my life to this very day.

The first thing that I did was to force myself to get out of bed and walk, walk, and walk some more. (I still walk three times a week). I know first-hand, the potential life-threatening nature of depression.

The second most important discovery for my recovery was to find a group of men and women just like myself, all who were depressed and looking for a way out of their depression. It was this 12 Step fellowship group, Depressed Anonymous, that has been an integral part of the way I live my life today. If you are looking for what I found, namely, a way to quit saddening yourself, this support group may be your lifeline as much as it continues to be for me today. And I still attend this meeting, even though I have not been depressed for many years, I attend because I find that I can help others to find the hope and peace that it promised and provides for me today.

Discover important information at www.depressedanon.com for our online virtual Zoom meetings which meet every day of the week. Other DA sponsored groups also meet during the week. There are no fees and dues. Come and share or just come and listen. You will find that you are not alone. We are all on this journey of hope together…and we do recover.

For the fellowship, Hugh S.

The three questions I need to answer

I have learnt that in order to do any sort of recovery, there are three questions I need to answer. Basically, the three questions are simple in nature and not complicated.

When the Depressed Anonymous Workbook was being considered for publication and to be utilized as a critical piece of the recovery process, the Workbook was the other piece amplifying the message of the Depressed Anonymous Manual. As I began to use the Workbook, I had to reflect upon my own feelings of depression, clarifying the effects of sadness in my life. Also, I am poised to examine my relationships with family, friends and others with whom I was in contact over the years of my life. It is in the circle of these friendship and relationships that my life has been lived. We don’t live as hermits.

I guarantee that you will find a plethora of information about who you are, and how you think about yourself. Your response to so many situations that have brought you to the point where you are today. I believe, having gone through the Workbook myself, question by question and chapter by chapter with those with whom I served as a co-sponsor. I am amazed at the self-awareness that is stimulated for so many of us when we put our energies into this personal and unique process of gaining a new self-awareness of the real me. Many are surprised at the Workbook questions and one’s own responses which the questions elicited from us. The whole Workbook/Manual helps each of us face the real me and not the person whom you believed you were. So many times I find the person going through the Steps, gradually replaces mistaken beliefs about themselves, while Slowly coming into contact with the “real” and not the “false” self that others have wanted us to be, even from our earliest childhood days. Now, by finding answers to questions which were never asked and if they were asked, were not much help. Not that we didn’t want to share, but that we didn’t have an answer. Now, we not only are providing answers about who we are, we also are finding ourselves empowered as we continue to empower ourselves with the right to feel, think, and behave in ways that fits who we know we are. The three questions and their answers are unlocking those of us who were in “lockdown” but now are free.

Here are those three questions that you will be answering, at your own speed, in your own time, in more depth, as you’ve move through the Workbook.

  1. Who am I?
  2. What do I want?
  3. And who is my God?

If I am depressed or a loved one is depressed-the depression doesn’t define all that I am. Even though I may feel depressed all over- this can’t define all that I am. Just as someone who has an eating disorder – this eating disorder doesn’t define their whole person, just as being an alcoholic doesn’t define the whole total person. We might call someone an alcoholic or an addict but the label never defines the whole person.

If you are in a recovery program, such as Depressed Anonymous, it’s obvious that you are seeking help to find a way out of the prison of your own depression. The Workbook will provide you with many questions, and answers, (many your own) to help you find what you REALLY want for your life. The entire Workbook is a process of turning over each and every rock of sadness and gradually provide you with the tools, the support and the faith to overcome a life built on fear, anxiety and misery. You have the solution with credible answers that can and will provide you with a way out – the problem is no one ever told you that you have a choice or gave you the tools to gradually work your way out.

Hugh S., for the fellowship

RESOURCES
© The Depressed Anonymous Workbook (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.
© Depressed Anonymous, Third Edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.

Both of these books can be ordered from the Depressed Anonymous Publications website Bookstore @depressedanon.com
These two book can be purchased as a combo editions at a reduced price. They are also available as eBOOKS, and are less expensive as you have the ability to print them on your computer.

Statement
All books sold here on our website, the monies go back into buying more books, so as to keep our organization functioning. All work is done by Depressed Anonymous member’s service work. WE receive no outside help as we are self-supporting.

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.

Depressed? Looking for a stable and secure environment?

Depressed and feeling alone? This is what many of us have felt when a combination of the many symptoms of depression shackled us physically and put our mind in park.

Some of us felt that there must be a way out of the pain of depression, but as yet were unable to find what might help us. But this feeling changed once I came into the fellowship of Depressed Anonymous, our 12 Step program of recovery. When I was asked if I would like to share with others my own path of recovery I heartily agreed. Here is my story.

I am sharing my story here to give others a chance to read what happens when we land in this circle of friendship with its healing acceptance and support.
After ten years of repeated meetings with the depressed of Depressed Anonymous meetings, it’s clear that that the meetings create a secure base for those who in their childhood had neither kindness nor the life giving warmth and affection of a loving family.
People who keep coming back to Depressed Anonymous continue to grow and become aware of the inner change taking place, week after week, as they find not only attention to their story, but find that they are loved and and cared for at the same time. Possibly for the first time they find that they look forward to each weekly meeting and become attached to the positive feelings that emerge inside themselves as they continue to share the story of their pain. In time they share how their week is suddenly being filled with more good days than bad. It also becomes obvious to the participant that childhood behavior and experiences are carried right on into adult life. Trusting is such a hazard for the depressed, because every person is different. You can’t trust your environment because it could suddenly shift and you would be without a certainty that you were bad and worthless. The meetings gradually present to you an opportunity to be someone worthwhile and valued. Your sharing and risking information about yourself begins the construction of a new and secure you. The DA group becomes for the first time in your life a very secure and stable environment where you can share, trust and grow.
–Anonymous

Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous, THIRD EDITION. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. Page 162-163. (Personal stories: #25. Depressed Anonymous provides a secure (love and acceptance) base for those who never experienced love nor support growing up.


To read more stories of inspiration (Depressed Anonymous, THIRD EDITION. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY. Please click onto the Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore at www.depressedanon.com. Literature can be ordered online. Ebooks are also available.

I’m depressed! Where do I go from here?

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.

“Now that I have admitted I am having a difficult time living I want to learn some new avenues that will make my life more enjoyable and much more livable.” Depressed Anonymous Workbook, Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY. 2002.
Are the sad feelings of depression causing your life to be lived inside the prison of hopelessness? Have your moods deepened to the extent that you are no longer able to function. By that I mean are you unable to do even the basic things like talking to family or friends, holding onto a job, getting out of bed in the morning, or just to concentrate on any single thought for any length of time. Some of us are unable to sleep when we are depressed. Some of us gain weight because of inactivity and fatty comfort foods. If you say yes to any of the above life changers then you could possibly be suffering from the symptoms of depression.

I know now that at the point that I think my life is at its lowest point…that is when this program of recovery came into my life. I believe with the Psalmist who once stated that we need to commit ourselves to God, trust in him, and that the God of my understanding will act in my behalf.

When we learn to let go+ of those persons, mental images, painful past personal situations and memories the better I am able to let God control my life. I find this letting go a fearsome project but nevertheless I find that I must do it if I want to find hope once again.

“Some of the major ways people help buiild the walls of derpession are to consider themselves worthless, won’t allow themselves to get angry, they can’t forgive themselves or others, and they beleive that life is hard and death is worse. Also, they beleive that since bad things happened to them in the past bad things are bound ti happen to them in the future.”
Depressed Anonymous, Third Edition, Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisvile. KY. 2011. Page 28-38.

And so to answer my question, where do I go from here? I personally suggest that you find a Depressed Anonymous meeting and be part of the conversation. But now with the covid-19 surrounding us, most face to face meetings have paused for safety reasons.

We are now very fortunate to have an online International Depressed Anonymous Skype meeting every day. It is live at 11:30AM CST and at 12:30PM EST. The Depressed Anonymous meeting originates from the USA, and can be accessed by anyone with the Internet.

For more information please go to www.depressedanon.com, click onto Depressed Anonymous HOMEPAGE drop down menu at MEETINGS and it is there you wil find a link to the meeting live.

If there are other questions please contact Depanon@Hotmail.com

For more information about Literature on Depression and the 12 Steps please click onto THE DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS PUBLICATIONS BOOKSTORE for online ordering.

The DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS Third Edition is available as well as the DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS WORKBOOK. Both these can be downloaded as Ebooks from our website.

#4. THE PROMISES OF DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS

Promise # 4: We comprehend the word serenity and know peace.

Agitation, anxiety and jitteriness were all part of my life as I muddle my way through – day after day, one foot in front of the other. Serenity was not a part of my life.

As with any attachment to negative behavior, serenity and peace were the farthest thing from my life. The new beliefs and thoughts which I heard at Depressed Anonymous meetings started to help me change the way I thought about myself, my world and my future.
I believe that it takes work, time and prayer with meditation to achieve the peace and serenity that we are talking about here.

Peace of mind is the result of:
1) A clear conscience
2) Living in the present
3) Gratitude everyday
4) The belief that the God of my understanding will get me through the problems of my life.
5) Forgiveness of myself and making amends to all persons I have harmed.
6) Hope
7) Doing God’s will- Neither grasping but instead “letting go.”

I also believe that my own serenity is constantly being assaulted during the day by all sorts of problems and situations that cry out for my immediate care and attention.

I am firmly convinced that in order to continue my semblance of peace and serenity I will have to structure a daily quiet time into my life. This is an essential part of the prescription for getting well and staying well.

Also, I believe that when I am quiet, God will give to me all that is mine to have. My will and my life have to be attuned to God’s presence and love. We will know that in order for God to make itself present to us and to demonstrate its love we have to be still, be quiet and listen with a purity of heart. This is an important part of the formula where we will find success.

It is a belief of mine that God does speak to those who remain quiet and have a desire to listen.
Peace is defined as a “quality or state of mind of being serene, calm and tranquil.”
The quality or state of being serene all takes time and I might add work and discipline. What possibly might have taken years to accomplish, remember we have built a fortress with our defensive thoughts and behavior to reject any force that is deemed harmful on our path. We always sought the prison of isolation over the risk of doing something different.

I believe that the Big Book of AA says it best: ” When we sincerely took such a position, all sorts of remarkable things followed. We had a new employer, being all powerful, he provided what we needed, if we kept close to him and performed his work well. Established on such a footing we became less and less interested in ourselves, our little plans and designs. More and more we became interested in seeing what we could contribute to life. As we felt new power flow in, as we enjoyed peace of mind, as we discovered we could face life successfully, as we became conscious of his presence, we began to lose our fear of today, tomorrow or the hereafter. We’re reborn.” (Alcoholics Anonymous. Page 63.)

The particular section following Step Two which declares that we “came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” (Depressed Anonymous.Pages 39-45). This is an important part of our getting re-centered and renewed as we let the power flow into our lives.

“…We may have had certain spiritual beliefs, but now we begin to have a spiritual experience. We feel that we are on the Broad Highway walking hand in hand with the Spirit of the Universe.” (Alcoholics Anonymous.Page 39).

“Both you and the new man must walk day by day in the path of spiritual progress. If you persist –remarkable things will happen. When we look back, we realize that the things which came to us when we put ourselves in God’s hands were better than anything we could have planned. Follow the dictates of a Higher Power and you will presently live in a new and wonderful world, no matter what your present circumstances, Alcoholics Anonymous. Page 100)

RESOURCES
(C) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. Pages 39-45.
(C) Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. New York City, 1955. Pages 39,63,100.

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

Discover how our anxiety creates a “first fear” and “second fear”

Depression usually carries with it a large dose of anxiousness. I don’t know how anxiety affects others, I do know this, it’s usually a large part of one’s depression experience.

My strategy was to run away from it and not face or accept it for what it is: that is moving my body, walking away and changing the mental channels in my mind. While this is going on in my head I would let   the “first fear” overcome me with the “second fear.” What happens at this point is best illustrated with a personal example.

A few years back, I was in the dentist’s chair needing  some teeth  to have fillings. The Doc gave me a few shots of   novacane,   lowered the lights and left the room indicating he would return in a few minutes.

As the novacane began to take its numbing effect I noticed that I couldn’t feel my tongue. That is when the “first fear” reared its ugly head. I immediately started thinking  I could swallow my tongue and choke to death.  The more I imagined that horrible scenario and continuing listening into ” my own thinking the “second fear” smashed into my mind, like a bull in the proverbial  china shop. 

Immediately, my  mind began to speed up with more disastrous thoughts, my palms becoming sweaty, my heart rate accelerating. I panicked and was ready to yell for the Doc to  rescue me before I actually did swallow my tongue, which I could no longer feel.

 In the midst of this chaos and anxiety, I suddenly remembered what a Dr. Claire Weekes, taught us to do at this most  anxious  time. (Hope and Help for  your nerves.) She wrote that what was happening to me is what happens to all of us, when the “first fear” is “listened into” and the avalanche of the spiraling downward fearful  thinking  paralyzes us. We run away from the anxiety and put mental energy into fighting the fear. She tells us to “float” past the disturbing thoughts, refuse to listen into  fear causing even more fear, the “second fear.”

At this point in the midst of my panic I started to talking  to myself and telling myself that what was happening was   uncomfortable, but NOT life threatening. I kept repeating this mantra with its calming words till  slowly my heart rate began to slow, my  palms no longer were sweating and by continuing to repeat the words, “it’s uncomfortable, but not life threatening.” my whole body returned to a calm and relaxed state. I had almost scared myself to death.

The Doc comes back, turns the lights up and asks me cheerfully “how are things  going?” Sheepishly, I answered clumsily with my thick tongue “just fine.” If he only knew.

 After   putting into play the  steps of faceing, accepting, floating and letting time pass, you will with practice find a helpful way to regain your composure. For me, repeating my own mantra, and turning on my own accepting and not fighting my physical symptoms of panic, I was able to calm myself with a reassurance that all would be well. 

Dr. Claire Weekes, MD. Hope and Help for your Nerves: End Anxiety Now. 1969. Berkley. Imprint of Penguin Random House. NY.NY.

For more information about depression and anxiety please read the following:

(c) The Depressed Anonymous Workbook (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.

(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011)  Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.