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.
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“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.
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.
“My life is joyful. The blackness – the despair – withdrawing more and more into myself – the hopelessness – there was NO joy and I could no longer pretend. My husband said, “You need to get some help.” I knew that he was right but I was always the one who helped others. Our newspaper carried a listing of all the support groups in the community and I found the notice for a 12 Step Depressed Anonymous group. I had never heard of it before but I knew it fit. The group was just forming and was there when I needed it. I had knowledge of 12 Step programs and actually believed that I lived that life. Today I know that I had a head-knowledge but today I live the 12 – Step life…” Lois, in her Personal Story in Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Pages 110-111. (More from Lois tomorrow)
I just returned from a combined (Edenton and Elizabeth City, North Carolina) Depressed Anonymous fellowship workshop which I was asked to give. It was an all day workshop, with morning open to the public and then the afternoon sessions committed to the two groups speaking to each other about their own personal experiences with the Twelve Steps and how their lives have changed since being part of these two groups.
These groups both were formed right before Christmas 2014. Both groups now have a strong presence in their communities because those in recovery now want to “carry this message to those who are still suffering from depression.” This is the bottom line for all of us who have found hope and healing in practicing and putting the spiritual principles of the Twelve Steps into our daily lives. Hope is what we are sharing. You don’t have your life parked in neutral.
“THE MOST COMMON FORM OF DESPAIR IS NOT BEING WHO YOU ARE! ” — Soren Kierkegaard
” Depressed Anonymous is a spiritual program where you will find people like yourself, honestly, openly and willingly dealing with their character defects (staying isolated) and gradually admitting that they have to change their lives and lifestyle, if they are going to be a whole and honest human being. The decision is yours. You make the choice! The Twelve Steps and your own personal story can now be shared with others and can help them in their own life’s journey. Give the hope that you have now with those who have lost hope. Build it (mutual aid) and they will come! ”
Source: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 108-109.
I witnessed the “miracle of the group” again this past Saturday in Edenton, North Carolina when the participants of both fellowship groups came together and shared their stories of how they moved into drive and out of neutral. I thank all you beautiful people in North Carolina as you continue to work your program of recovery! You are becoming who you really are and whom God means for you to be!
What do beagles, rabbits and circles have in common? I know you must be curious. Well, first of all, let me tell you that when I was growing up in a small community in Indiana, my Grandpa took my brother and I hunting. We hunted a lot. We mainly hunted squirrels and rabbits. Grandpa also had some great help when hunting the rabbits. He had the assistance of Red and Dukie. They were awesome beagles! When you are out in the wild hunting rabbits it always helps to have your helpers stirring up trouble. That is where the beagles come in. They always made things happen. When you heard the beagles with their high pitch cries you just knew the rabbits had been found out. Here is where the circle come in. Maybe you are aware or maybe you are not aware that when rabbits are running away from danger, they appear to run in a circle. How do I know this? My grandpa told me. So one morning we three, my brother, Grandpa and myself heard Red and Dukie starting their high pitched cries, Suddenly through the opening in the brush, two rabbits whizzed past, right in front of us. Then here come the beagles in hot pursuit right behind them. Grandpa told me to stand on a stump facing the opening. He told us that they might come back this way. The cries of the beagles grew faint — but not for long, as Red and Dukie’s cries started to increase in volume. And then, presto! first one rabbit came through the brush, and then the second, I raised my shotgun, fired a shot at the second rabbit and missed. Those rabbits for some reason made a full circle and there they were again. I missed my chance.
So that was the day when I learned how some animals, who knows maybe all animals tend to run in circles. I do know that when I had gotten lost hunting squirrels and thought I was heading away from where I started I found myself back in the spot at which I started. What is it I thought? Why do we go in circles–does it have to do with a dominant foot always turning us left or right?
Somebody smarter than me will have to help me here with this one.
With my symptoms of depression, I too keep circling trying to figure out in my head why I am depressed. The more I spiral downward in the unending circle of despair, the more I return to those many places I have been before. None of these places gave me comfort or answers to the why I am depressed–only the fact that I have been here before. The mind when burdened appears to run in circles as well. What’s chasing us?