Category Archives: Despair

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

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.

Promise # 5 of the Promises of Depressed Anonymous.

Promise # 5 : No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we see how our experiences can benefit others.

“Some of us have attempted suicide. A few of us more than a few times. We had despaired of ever finding peace or hope. We believe that we had no future and that our yesterdays were as hopeless as our today’s.

It was hard to attend our first Depressed Anonymous meeting. We felt horribly alone. We just know that no one in the group has been through what we have been through. But as we listened and watched the other members of the group speak – we saw ourselves in their stories.

Personally I believe that whatever you give out to others is the amount that comes back to us. Our experiences can usually help another. An experience such as depression is so isolating, so predictable in its misery that it is bound to have had an impression upon us that it changed our life. And then when our life is changed for the better – thanks to DA and the fellowship that we have to share it with those still suffering.

Ironically, it appears that the farther we have gone down in mood– and up again in our recovery -the more powerful is this experience. They see the after and hear how it was before we got involved in the fellowship.

The fact that we have recovered so completely is in itself a message of tremendous hope for those who are newcomers to the group.

Isn’t it amazing that those who can do the most for those still suffering are those who have worked themselves out of the pit of isolation and depression.”

Copyright (c) The Promises of Depressed Anonymous (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Ky. (Page 12).

Can depression be a defense?

“Shutting out all uncertainties, disturbance and uncomfortable threats is the essence of the defense of depression. You cut yourself off, you throw up a wall, surround yourself with a barrier and you are, you hope, safe and certain. Of course the prison  walls are not impenetrable, some things do break through to disturb you and there are things inside yourself which you cannot shut out, and they will plague you, just as the continuing isolation will bring increasing pain. But the defense of depression will shut out the great uncertainties, and, though you feel miserable, you feel secure…

Inside the safety of depression you can refuse to confront all the situations that you find difficult. You can  avoid seeing people, going to places, as a symptom of an illness, when really it is a reasonably effective defense.

If you are trying to shut out all those matters which you find uncontrollable, threatening and confusing, you cannot give those matters the careful scrutiny they need if you are to make a decision about them. They create such turmoil in your mind that you decide that it is best not to decide. You can say, ‘I am depressed. I cannot make any decisions.’

By deciding not to decide we can feel that everything that is bothersome will vanish and everything else will remain the same. But, of course, things do not disappear just because we ignore them, and nothing does remain the same. Everything is changing all the time, and we are always part of that change…

Decisions are much easier to make when you know what the consequences will be. The consequences of spending the day in bed with the blankets over your head are fairly easy to predict – you’ll miss a day’s work, your home won’t be cleaned, your family will complain, there be nothing in the fridge for you to eat, and so on -while the consequences of going out and facing the world are much harder to predict.”

COMMENT: I think that most of us, having been depressed at one time or other, have experienced our depression as a defense. I have used it as a defense to keep family and friends away  when I was depressed.  I also found it a  helpful  defense to prevent me from taking a positive action in  my own recovery.

The harder friends and family tried to unlock my prison – (I had  the key) the more difficult was it for them to enter.

What has been your experience with depression? Did you see it as a defense?

Dorothy Rowe. The Depression Handbook (1991) Collins. London. England. Excerpts from Pages 108-109.

Published also in 1991 as Breaking the Bonds, Fontana, London. England.

Drinking Depression: One Man’s Story Of Recovery From Alcoholism And Depression

 

DRINKING DEPRESSION:  One man’s story of recovery from alcoholism and depression and the parallels between the two. 

By Steve P.

“I have had experiences with alcohol abuse since childhood. I have also struggled since childhood with depression. I quickly learned to rely on both.

I call  this paper “drinking depression” because that’s exactly what I did when I no longer had the alcohol. The following thoughts will express my feelings and the parallels that I have seen between these two addictions.

RELIANCE

There was always an excuse to drink, mostly I was upset with something –I should say angry, for it was anger at the root of my depression that I was trying to suppress in medicating myself with alcohol. Later, I learned to do the same thing with my depression except to be in a depressive state high.  I didn’t even have to leave the house and after awhile I didn’t want to break the cycle of reliance that dependency had begun. Where I was absorbing alcohol into my blood stream  I was now   injecting the depression into my soul and absorbing it like a sponge

FAMILIARITY AND COMFORT

As a recovering alcoholic, I can look back on my drinking and see where I took comfort in being drunk because   eventually   the numbness became the only way I could feel better.  When I was drunk I could retreat into myself and not have to deal with everyday life.

The same escape tool was used in the form of depression. I could ball up like a wooly worm and the outside world was not going to hurt me. However, the more I wallowed in the darkness of my depression the deeper I got stuck  in the mud of despair and hopelessness.

DESPERATION

In order to deal with alcoholism and depression I had to hit rock bottom. I had reached a point in both that I had to call out for help or drown in my addiction.  I called on my Higher Power to help  deliver me from alcohol and he led me to a counselor  to  also help me with my depression. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit I am harnessing my talents now and I am seeing incredible results. My recovery has not been overnight but it is a day by day and step by step recovery process.

THE PHYSICAL

After some time had passed,  the drinking affects the physical body breaking it down. Once I saw a film in which the brain of an alcoholic was compared to the brain of a heroin addict and they were very similar. The depression I  experienced also had physical implications. For over twenty years the way my body would respond from too much emotional stress was to pass out. Instead of blacking out from alcohol I was using depression to numb myself and my brain.

THE SPIRITUAL

When I was drinking I felt alienation and guilt. I felt professing Christians did not drink. The more I drank the more guilty I became. I felt  much more distant from God the more I drank and spiraled further down into a cycle of despair.

In my depression,  I felt God had no time for  me and that I was unworthy of his love. Again,  it was a carousal filled with guilt and anger going round and round so that I couldn’t get off the merry-go-round.

SELF-ESTEEM

When I was drinking,  I was sure that no one cared or could understand what I was going through, so I had many pity parties and I was the guest of honor. Why should I care if no one else cared? This was my way of thinking.

From painful experiences in my childhood I felt  I was of no worth and just taking up space. It has taken therapy and the support of family and friends to finally look in the mirror and begin to like what I saw.

HOPE

I have been sober over two years although I often have the desire to drink I daily call  on my Higher Power to help me and march on one day at a time experiencing serenity and a release from my need to take that first drink.

I have been in therapy for almost a year off and on, although in order to recover one has to stay with it. I have to take my emotional and spiritual healing, like my drinking —one day at a time knowing   I can make it.  It is only by opening the door of the past that   the light of the present can get rid of the darkness  today,  providing  hope for the future.

It is my hope and prayer that this has helped you,  in some small way.  It has helped me by writing about my experiences. May God put walls of protection around you so that the way ahead for you may be crystal clear so that today may be your first step towards recovery.”

God bless.

Steve P.

+This article first appeared in THE ANTIDEPRESSANT TABLET, Spring 1994.

 

 

The difference between depression and despair is…

The difference between depression and despair is that despair is static, whereas depression, underneath its lassitude, is all about transformation. Depression is a temporary opting-opt, to enable you to adjust to life more successfully. The process has its own dynamic, like water, and you can float on its surface, if you trust its buoyancy.

Despair is much more  dangerous because it insists on a fixed position. Even when adopted as part of an intellectual fashion, it doesn’t  allow for a way out of its own stance.  It won’t release you, as depression  does, as a matter of course. No doubt it has its pleasures, but it’s a mask that merges eventually with your face..

When despair is a statue, depression is a waterfall.

For wisdom moves more easily than motion itself; she is so pure she pervades and permeates all things…she is but one, yet can do all things, herself unchanging, she makes all things new.”

The Wisdom of Solomon, Chapter 7: 24-25, 27. The Apocrypha. The Revised English Bible.

* Comment: “…depression is a temporary opting out..” is a great way to say that I am no longer able to stay focused on what is before me…only what is past and what lies in the future. I cannot and will not stay in the present. My opting out is a way of saying I am attempting to  gather my thoughts and senses, so that I can figure out why I feel the way I do and what is the way out for me. I need this time away from me and my pain to lick my wounds.  I was trying to escape and run from whatever was  chasing me.

Hugh

A remedy for depression

 

” Years ago, Dr. Alfred Adler prescribed this remedy for depression to a patient: “You can be healed if every day you begin the first thing in the morning to consider how you can bring a real joy to someone else. If you can stick to this for two weeks, you will no longer need therapy.”  Adler’s “prescription,” of  course, is not much different than the suggestion that we work more intuitively The Program’s Twelve Steps to rid ourselves of depression. When I am depressed, do I keep my feelings to myself? Or do I do what friends in The program have suggested that I do?  (Author’s emphasis)

Today I pray

May  I turn myself inside out, air out the depression which has been closeted inside me, replace it with the comfortable feeling that I am cared about by real friends, then pass along that comfort to others caught in the same despair.

Today I will remember

The only real despair is loneliness.

SOURCE:   A DAY AT A TIME.   Hazeldon.  September 10

“We’ve got work to do.”

When my grandson  was  3 years old  and older he would always say “papa, we ‘ve got work to do. ”  When he would see me with a hammer in my hand or a can of paint and ready to work on some repair project around our house,   without fail he would always be willing to pitch  in and do his part. As a little guy he always seemed so much older than what he was because of his strong desire to help his papa. He is 19 today and now he is doing his own  work. But not surprising is his continued willingness to help me when he can. Now that I am in recovery, thanks to our Depressed Anonymous program of recovery  and  after these many  years,   I am still free from depression.  I attribute that  this freedom is due to what I did learn  when I was depressed and continue using these tools on  every basis. I have found  that it does take some work to get through the darkest periods of the depression. It also takes a supportive group of men and women who know what we know,  and feel what we have felt when depressed.

Every meeting that we attend, and every step that we take on the road of our recovery, we find the fog lifts, the desire  to live again returns. Not all at once–but in short spurts – the fog lifts and we feel the hope churning in our hearts and minds.  And at every Depressed Anonymous meeting we hear the following words read from HOW DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS WORKS.

“You are about to witness the miracle of the group. You are joining a group of people who are on a journey of hope and who mutually care for each other. You will hear how hope, light and energy have been regained by those who were hopeless and in a  black hole and tired of living.

By your involvement in the group we are feeling that there is hope – there is a chance for me too – I can get better. But we are not the people with the magic wand and the  easy formula for success. We believe  that to get out of the prison of depression takes time and work.

And so at each and every Depressed  Anonymous meeting the group listens as we hear  what it will take to escape  from the prison of depression. ”

Also, at every meeting of the fellowship we hear how by using the spiritual tools, our Twelve Steps, we can gradually find the path that will that can lead us out into the light of freedom. We come to believe that a power greater than ourselves  can restore us to sanity. And then we make a decision to turn our lives and our wills over to the care of God as we understand God.”

SOURCE:  Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky. Page  67.

PLEASE VISIT THE STORE for more info on depression and ways to free ourselves from the agony of sadness.

Go to Groups on Menu to see if there is a DA group in your State or LOCATED  outside the USA.

We are what we repeatedly do. – Aristotle

“It is our own real, lived experience which leads us into the prison of depression. It is not a gene, or own hormones, or our dysfunctional and illogical thinking, our lack of faith, or our complexes and inadequacies which have brought depression  upon us, it is what happened to us  and, most importantly, what we have made of what has happened to us: it is the conclusions  we draw from our experiences.

That sort  of conclusions which lead us, finally, into the prison of depression was not drawn illogically or fantastically, or crazily, but were the correct conclusions to draw,  given the information we had at the time.

If, when you were a child, all the adults whom you loved and trusted were telling you that you were bad and that if you  didn’t mend your ways terrible things would happen to you, you wisely and correctly drew the conclusions that you were bad and had to work hard to be good. If, when you were a child, all the people you loved and trusted left you or disappointed or betrayed you, you wisely drew the conclusion that you must be wary of other people and that you should never love anyone completely ever again.  You were not to know that if we grow up believing  that we are intrinsically bad, and that other people are dangerous, we shall become increasingly isolated, the joy will disappear  from our life, and that we shall fall into despair….” SOURCE: Dorothy Rowe. The Depression Handbook. Collins. London.

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I believe that in my own case what Dr. Rowe points out is so true. Our childhood experiences are so important because they set us up for how we think about ourselves as we mature. I remember vividly when I was in the 3rd grade, a teacher shamed me in  front of the whole class because I couldn’t get something right. She told me that I  would never  be like my brother whom was brilliant or my uncle who was also brilliant. For many years after when I thought about that moment in the 3rd grade I could still feel my face getting hot with shame. The worst part is that what she said that day I believed. As I grew into middle age it became important to me that what she said had no bearing on me really, as I was not my brother or my uncle. And that that was OK.