Category Archives: Grief

I have learned and I have grown

 

“As I began working on the abuse issues in therapy, the pieces of my life began to fall together in a way they never could have before, as I had never  dealt   with this catastrophic event. In the book, Depressed? Here is a way out! the author talks about how people find their time of depression to be one of the great gifts in their life. The first time I read this, I thought it was the craziest thing I had ever heard. Yet during this time of depression, I have learned and I have grown. I have come to understand myself and my God in a way I never could before.

It has been many years now. Life is starting to come together for me again, one day at a time by the grace of God and the fellowship of this program. From the very first time I walked through the doors of Depressed Anonymous I knew that I was in the right place. Having been an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous for so many years, I was already a firm believer in the Twelve Steps. I attended meetings, I worked the Steps with my sponsor. I used the Depressed Anonymous phone list and talked to people about my pain and my day to day problems. I read the book and followed the suggestions in it.

With God, through Depressed Anonymous, this program and the fellowship literally carried me through the darkest time of my life and God did not let me die. I have truly experienced the ‘miracle of the group.’  I have heard it said that sometimes God’s greatest miracles are unanswered prayers. I  believe it.  After all, I am one.”

Anonymous

Copyright(c)  Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition.(2011)  Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. Pages 119-120.

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.

 

 

Before attending my mutual aid support group, Depressed Anonymous, I felt that I had nothing to live for

 

Tommie tells us in Depressed Anonymous(c) 3rd edition,  how she honestly thought  “she had nothing to live for.  As a mother of five beautiful sons, a wife,and  a mother to be of quads, I wasn’t sure that I was a  member of the human race. I couldn’t eat, sleep, and cried for no reason. I wanted to be alone. It even got to the point that I didn’t know who I was. I was a physical body without a life.”

I’ve been going to Depressed Anonymous now for about five months. The program and my new found friends have been a  miracle of God. So many people have a big misconception about our meetings. They think we all sit around, tell our stories and cry on each other’s shoulders. Well there is a news flash for them – we learn that each and every one of us has experienced some degree of depression in our lives. We find out how to laugh, to comfort each other and  sincerely understand what each one is going through because we all have been here one time or the other. I  also learn that there is always  hope. Since coming to Depressed Anonymous, I have learned to grieve for my lost children and how to live with my depression. I still have good and bad days. …My life is not perfect, but now with the love of my God, my family, my friends and my husband, life is now worth living. But, the most important thing is that there is life after depression.”

SOURCE: Copyright (c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 132-133. Personal Stories section of the book.

Please VISIT THE DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS BOOKSTORE for more information about Depressed Anonymous and how to order books online.

“…spiritually engaged individuals (depressed)were in touch with something important…” David Karp

As a professor of Sociology at Boston University, David Karp  describes in his book SPEAKING OF SADNESS his spending  time interviewing 50 men and women about their own personal depression experiences. The following are some of his thoughts about  those persons whom he interviewed and who saw a connection between spirituality and depression.

I too found that  this connection  also  provided  me  with  a solid and healing plan for leaving my own depression.

I found a spirituality that produced my own personal transformation  by using the 12 Steps of Depressed Anonymous. These steps are based on the spiritual principles of the 12 Steps and take the depressed person through a process of incremental  healing actions  which gradually can loosen the bonds of their sadness.

Here are some of the findings  Karp shares with the reader of  his own feelings about  those who spoke about the power of  a spirituality   which provided them hope during their depression experience.

” I was leaving many of my interviews awed by the courage and grace with which certain people faced unimaginable   pain and loss. I was especially impressed with those who spoke of their depression as a gift from which they had learned valuable lessons. While I could not relate emotionally or intellectually with visions of reincarnation or explanations of depression as central to a God -given  life mission. I left many interviews with a sense that spiritually engaged individuals were in touch with something importantThe issue was not a matter of evaluating the truth of their particular brand of a spirituality. What I felt was a measure of envy of those who displayed an acceptance that seemed to me incongruence with accounts of exceptional pain.  The people possessed or knew something that I didn’t.”

SPEAKING OF SADNESS by David Karp. (1996), Oxford University Press, Inc. pg. 191..”

And K. Duff shares with us that

“…illness is an opportunity for enlightenment, that, seen the right way, we do not cure illnesses –instead, they have the potential to cure us. This happens when we realize that illness is “not so much a state of being as a process of transformation.”  In K. Duff, The Alchemy of illness(New York):Simon and Shuster, (1993). pg. 191.

In  our  Step Manual , Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition,( 2011)Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville., a work which includes many stories shared by those who use the spiritual principles of the 12 Steps for their own recovery and transformation.  Also, this book is written by those who were depressed and graciously share their stories on how Depressed Anonymous transformed their lives.

Like Karp states in the  section quoted above how I too see my depression as a gift, as for the last 30 or more years my life mission has been to bring hope to those still suffering from depression. Almost every day I speak, write to someone , or continue to get the message out with  our DA publications how  I have been and continue to be transformed  by putting  to use in my own life  the spiritual principles of these Steps. For this  reason we continue to   establish   mutual aid groups for persons depressed.

In some of our next  blogs I will continue this most important discussion about depression and its connection to the power spirituality.

VISIT THE STORE for more information about our DA literature.

I Will Make A Moral And Fearless Inventory Of My Life

AFFIRMATION 

I will make a moral and fearless inventory of my life and devote myself to the truth about myself so that I might be able to admit my powerlessness over my past so that I might love myself today.

“Accepting yourself can mean resolving the grief left over from earlier years. Say you have lost somebody – or even something – and you were not able to show your grief, perhaps not even to admit it to yourself. There is nothing brave or wise in denying grief, in pretending that that you feel no pain or anger or sorrow.”

 CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

So often I have heard of the various stages of grief. For me to begin to work my way out of grief, I must go through these various stages of grieving. There is no fast way to grieve and it is an essential part of letting go of that which I have lost. One of the initial stages of grief is the shock of the loss of a love object and the need I have to believe that it will reappear again soon.

I have to get in touch with those who left me years earlier in my life and I never knew how to grieve their passing or even that I needed to grieve. I have many years of blocked up energy in my body as in the form of unresolved grief, anger, sadness and a general unease about myself. Somehow all these feelings from the past are like seeds that are trying to bear good fruit.  If left to themselves and never able to yield their fruit they fester inside me and continually keep me agitated, depressed and afraid.

MEDITATION 

God, lead us with the pillar of fire at night and the cloud by day as we move into the Promised land where we with those who have surrendered their wills to you, continue to recover and live with the belief that you will not desert us. You are my food, the manna for my journey through these lean times.


SOURCES:  Copyright(c) Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 Step groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Page 19.

Copyright(c)  Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition.(2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. (See Step 4).

SHINING A LIGHT ON THE DARK NIGHT…

Today we have made a big step in that we admitted that you, me,  all of us are here to learn how to brighten up our life and begin to take greater responsibility for the way we feel, think and act. We all know that if we want to have the light and warmth of life then  we will have to risk the unpredictable. We have to face the uncertain future. And as we all know, this is the nature of depression in that it predicts sameness and the unending hell that we have experienced, day after day for months and for many years. And as strange as it may sound –for some, the sameness and the predictability of depression is sort of a comfort.  At least we know what we got.

Today, we will take every advantage for discovering how to begin to take full responsibility for our own lives  and how to become hopeful, and help ourselves out of the prison that we have constructed for ourselves over the years.”

“…By diagnosing the problem, and providing a solution and providing a practical plan for getting out of our depression we now can be free of the depression that has imprisoned us for so long.

As we go about attempting to shed some light on our own personal darkness –on our own symptoms of depression –we will gradually begin  to see that we must now hold some different beliefs about ourselves  – -some immutable beliefs which have hindered our development as hope filled happy people. Now,  once we learn what these are and how they defined us these many years we can become free.

We will learn to take responsibility for our lives and our behavior. ”

Source: Shining a light on the dark night of the soul. (1999) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. Pages 2-3.

Tomorrow 5/25/15 we will list the six immutable beliefs which may have held  us behind the bars of depression.

TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE

“To  thine own self be true.”  is an old axiom that has much merit for those of us who work the spiritual  program of the Twelve Steps.    Often in therapy I ask people to list as many strengths as they can, and for some this is a difficult task when they are depressed and the world appears to be a grey and fearsome dark place.  But this is a n inventory that we must make– we must begin to look at  our strengths and stop wallowing in the self-pity which denies the new directions and progress occurring in our lives through the life of our depression, namely that we can’t seem to see the gracious goodness in ourselves that has been placed there for all time by the Higher Power. This in itself is the attitude that keeps alive our depression, sadness and self-deprecating attitudes.  We need to look at our assets and list our strengths as we gather together time after time in our Depressed Anonymous group or our individual working ( HOME STUDY PROGRAM)  of the Twelve Step program  in our lives.  We  need to remove as quickly as possible all the old excuses and reasons that we cling to which  keep us depressed and out of healthful recovery. Let’s be objective about ourselves and admit that just as we possibly have caused ourselves to be depressed, we likewise can un-depress ourselves in the same way.”

SOURCE: DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS, (3rd Edition, 2011).. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Ky 40217. (p. 56)

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Only when I had taken a complete inventory of my own life (Step Four) did I realize that certain ways of personal  thinking, feeling and behaviors gradually spiraled me physically into the painful pit of my own personally  manufactured  melancholia. (Some depression experiences can also be the result of physical illness/diseases. That is why it is best to talk to a medical professional before we diagnose ourselves. )  Now here is the part that people can’t quite understand –that we caused ourselves to be depressed. How could that be? Why would I want to cause myself so much pain? Good question. The real issue here is that I discovered over time that because of emotional issues that were mine, mostly unpleasant to reflect upon, such as guilt, shame producing isolation from family, friends and the world, plus the grief over lost employment and relationships. And then, because of this continued mental and emotional beating myself up it all came crashing down  as no longer could I think of anything but disaster, grief  and gloom. I became paralyzed emotionally, physically and spiritually and mentally. My body responded by not responding so that in time it was a battle just to get out of bed. So, there you have it. I caused all this by the way I thought about myself. In Step Four I was able to take each issue by itself and then to see how I might restore myself before my experience with depression. I learned how to un-depress myself. Remember, most of the things that come “out of the blue” are  the rain, snow and lightening. And now that I know where my melancholia originated and why, I am un-depressed today.

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TWO PERSONS MAKE A GROUP.

Someone once shared with me how he and a friend–both feeling depressed –went to the local library – checked out a Depressed Anonymous book and started working the 12 Step program of recovery. After a bit of time they got the workbook and then after a few months discovering the power of the Steps opened the group up to their community.
The point: if you are unable to locate a group in your community have you thought about getting one other person to work the Steps with you? This other person doesn’t have to be depressed. Could be a counselor, friend or family member.
Like the song, “it all starts with one.”

CHIPPEWA FALLS, WISCONSIN + NEW DA GROUP STARTS 10/28/14

CHIPPEWA FALLS, WISCONSIN / NEW DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS GROUP OPENS OCTOBER 28TH.

LOCATION: NOTRE DAME PARISH LIFE CENTER( multi-purpose room) NORTH SIDE ENTRANCE  ON 22 S. PRAIRIE STREET.

TIME:  6PM TO 7PM / MEETS:  Tuesdays

CONTACT:   715.723.1052  ( Collene ) OR 715.861.3472

MORE INFO @ E-MAIL depressedanonymous1chippewafalls@aol.com

CALL: 502.569.1989 CENTRAL OFFICE IN USA

Therapists Views on Depressed Anonymous

The “Birth” of a Depressed Anonymous Group. Judith Bouffiou, Ph.D. (Cand.), Olympia, Washington

Isn’t life just full of expected and unexpected challenges, synchronous happenings, joys and griefs. Your life and mine. Following is a synopsis of a time in my life when I experienced all of the above. The summer of 1991 saw the dissolving of a business partnership for me; a painful, but healthy decision. The counseling center my ex-partner and I operated had provided the community with a Domestic Violence/Anger
Management (DV/A M ) Program for court and self referred clients, plus each of us had a private practice. M y decision to dissolve the partnership was motivated by a number of reasons, among them a desire to go back to school, and to spend more time and energy in my private practice. Over time my private practice had evolved into a growth and development type of practice, which I loved doing. A long with the dissolution of the partnership came the decision to no longer do the DV/A M work. I had a desire to still give the community some type of community service, but what?

Then I remembered reading some time earlier in one of my professional journals about a man who had developed a Twelve-step program, Depressed Anonymous for individuals who suffered from depression. Like most therapists, a significant number of the people I saw (and still see) in my practice were experiencing depression to one degree or other.

The more I thought about the concept of Depressed Anonymous, the more intrigued I was, so I contacted the founder of Depressed Anonymous for information and details. Information was sent to me and that was the start of the first Depressed Anonymous group in Washington State.

From the Depressed Anonymous material I received, I photocopied, organized, prepared and prepared and advertized. I decided on a start time and date, sent notices to our local paper, our Crisis Clinic, therapists and physicians in this area, tacked up flyers all over town, and of course, lots of word of mouth advertizing. The Depressed
Anonymous group originally met in a group room at my office, and eventually moved to a local church when I moved into a smaller office space.

A s a therapist I organized, started, sponsored, and “mothered” the Depressed
Anonymous group for a time, before withdrawing to just being the phone contact person that people can call in for information. From the very first meetings, which had 8-10 people, a “home” group evolved; fine people, some of whom had previous Twelve-step experiences. One of fine traditions and legacies of Twelve-step groups is the willingeness of folks to be and do the supportive and necessary work (the glue) that holds the Twelve-step groups together. The Twelve-step tradition and service continues on.

As is often the case, I have received more than I’ve given as the person who organized and started this Olympia, Washington Depressed Anonymous group. Now that I’m not a person who suffers from depression, other than short term appropriate situational depression; nothing ever deep or prolonged. A s I organized and started this Depressed Anonymous group little did I know that I would benefit from the Depressed Anonymous process and group in such a personal way.

The Depressed Anonymous group had only met two or three times when my middle son unexpectedly died from a type of cancer that years before had taken his father. So, in a synchronous manner, for a time and in a different way, the Depressed Anonymous group supported me as much as I supported them. In my prior work as a nurse, I had often been witness to dying and death, also in my personal life. However, the death of one son and then a year and half later, the death of my oldest son (two out of three) have been devastating experiences for me.

So in many, many ways being the organizer and sponsor of the first Depressed Anonymous group have been an exceedingly enriching experience for me. A s mentioned before, because of the wonderful people in the group, and with great confidence on my part, I turned the operation of the Depressed Anonymous group over to the capable hands of the home group people. I remain the telephone contact. The Depressed Anonymous group continues to thrive and grow. Just recently I talked with a man from Portland, Oregon, who is thinking about starting a group in the Portland area

MY VIEWS ON DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS

Denise L ., Louisville, Kentucky

One of the greatest resources I’ve used in working with many depressed persons has been Depressed Anonymous. The transformation it causes in an individual’s life is truly miraculous. This stems from it being primarily a spiritual program of healing and recovery. It encourages a person to seek a personal relationship with God, whoever they understand him to be. In doing this it helps a person to look inside for healing, rather than in a pill or some quick “cure”. M any persons who suffer with depression look on God as a being who judges them harshly. This thinking usually leads to much anger towards God, which results in more negative thinking. I know this from my own
experiences with depression, and the angry relationship with God I had during those times. This is where Depressed Anonymous offers hope by getting a person connected to a group who also suffer with depression, and are working the twelve steps. In doing this, it helps a person come to a realization that it will only be through a power greater than themselves, that they will find sanity in their life. Depressed people cannot do this alone because of the compulsion to ruminate endlessly over negative thoughts. It is only through coming together with a group of people like Depressed Anonymous, that they are able to break the cycle of negative thinking.

A client I was working with is a good example of the above. H e spent his time alone and many countless hours thinking of all the disappointments in his life, which continually reinforced his depression. Then he started going to DA, and found that through being with other people like himself, he didn’t feel as alone as he did before. H e started sharing his pain, and found understanding and support. I noticed his face began to soften, and he started smiling more. Then I noticed his face began to soften, and he started smiling more. H e also found help spiritually from DA, for he started
working the twelve steps, and as a result he started trusting God more for his healing. H e is one of many persons I’ve worked with who have found help and encouragement through attending DA .

The spiritual emphasis of DA is it’s greatest strength. People come together and hear from one another how their higher power is healing and guiding their lives. They realize that in being part of the group they are not alone, and also encourage true healing. DA has been a wonderful healing tool in the lives of many depressed persons I’ve worked with. It will always be one of the greatest resources I use in my work. It is true that “it works if you work it.”