Category Archives: Isolation

Freedom talks. We listen!

To attend a 12 step meeting is to hear freedom talk. Freedom has many voices for the many, those who are willing to listen.

It is the nature of this fellowship, the 12 Step group of Depressed Anonymous and other 12 Step programs of recovery, that when attending meetings I hear members share their victories over depression, with accounts of personal struggles, and gradually freeing themselves from the bondage of depression.

In the Promises of Recovery in Depressed Anonymous,
We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us, sometimes quickly and sometimes slowly They will always materialize if we work for them.
Depressed Anonymous © Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY

Even though, personal freedom from the tight grip of depression doesn’t happen overnight–it does eventually happen. I am now speaking from my own experience. And since we all have different experiences with the 12 Steps, the results are the same. A lightness of mood, a spirited energy comes into our minds, hearts and body. We begin to thrive.

My own freedom was the result of a simple belief, that a Power greater than myself could release me from my prison of depression. I learned that if we wanted to get out of the hole of depression, we needed to stop digging. That made sense to me. In our fellowship, where freedom speaks, that by listening to the stories of others in the group, and others listening to my story, gave me the incentive to keep coming back to the meetings. I found I am now living with a new hope, without old fears, anxieties, crippling my motivation to grow and thrive.

Now, I speak about my freedom from the past, no longer dwelling on old negative compulsions which once defeated me.
Today, and with each new day, I listen to the loving spirit inside of me, operating within my group, and to all those who speak of their life within a loving community, Depressed Anonymous. Will you join us today?

There is a daily DA online International VIRTUAL ZOOM meeting and to find how to get there, please click onto the HOMEPAGE MENU, MEETINGS and you will be linked to the Journeys of Hope online meeting. Hope to see you at a meeting!

Thank you,
for the fellowship.
Hugh S.

Life Is Unpredictable

The following quotation is taken from the Introduction to Depressed Anonymous, the book used by the fellowship of Depressed Anonymous, a 12 Step recovery program.

Life is unpredictable. Every living organism operates with a certain amount of unpredictability and uncertainty. The uncertainty of life creates in us a desire for predictability. If we did not believe in the possibility of change, we would all be hopelessly lost and forever bored. Hope would be lost. Potential for a better life would never exist. Where there is hope, change is possible. The experience of depression is much the same. Depression is so predictable and unchanging that we lose hope for the pain of our isolation ever coming to an end.

Let me lift one sentence from the above quotation, which turns out to be a truth, attested to by thousands of those of us who are members of Depressed Anonymous and who are in recovery. That sentence “Where there is hope, change is possible” is what brought me into the Depressed Anonymous fellowship.

Like so many of us, who are just trying to get through each day, we are looking for something that could ease our pain and lift our burden of hopelessness. We were not only bored and isolated from life, but we had given up on ourselves of ever beng able to climb out of the hole which had us trapped.

When I walked into a Depressed Anonymous group meeting, I was thinking if those gathered could help me change, take me out of the pit that I was living in, I felt I had a chance – I too would be able to change.

Hope brought me into this fellowship, and member’s sharing their own hope, experiences and strengths, gradually convinced me that it was possible for me to get better. That now became my truth.

Hugh S.

© 2011 – Depressed Anonymous, THIRD EDITION, Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY

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.

MISS MY SAD THOUGHTS

MISSING 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.

Motivation follows action

I find that if I am depressed and want to start to feel better, or at least get my mind off depression, I need to go for a walk and get moving. In DA we say that MOTIVATION FOLLOWS ACTION. WHAT THIS MEANS IS THAT YOU’LL NEVER GET MOTIVATED til YOU GET BUSY DOING SOMETHING. This was my feeling much of the Time. It was only when I actually started walking that I wanted to walk. I didn’t want to do anything to help myself. I didn’t want to do anything to help myself until I forced myself to do something.

I believer much of one’s tiredness, when depressed comes from having too many things going through one’s brain at the same time. The strain of being overwhelmed is too much for the human mind and so it and the body begin to show the stress. I also believe that so many unpleasant emotions constantly coming to surface and being felt by the body results in an overload situation for my brain.

COMMENT
The best way to get into action is to get into action. I know this is so obvious–but when the time comes for me to actually do something–that is a different story. Then my mantra becomes “I’ll do it when I feel better,” and course this doesn’t get me out of bed. This doesn’t get me walking. Instead, what happens, is that my thinking gets caught in that neural rut, much like a merry-go-round. Round and round we go. Nothing ever changes.

Tell yourself that this day is going to be different .Make a commitment to yourself today! Make up your mind that you are not going to ride the merry-go-round horse today.You are going to start small. Take the “baby steps” that just might push you out the door and put some fresh air into your lungs. MOTIVATION FOLLOWS ACTION. Check it out. See, for yourself if this doesn’t work for you.

Copyright(c) Hugh Smith. Higher Thoughts for Down Days:365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY January 24, p.15.

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

Unsocial Distancing

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.

The pandemic is over for most of us as are the mandatory “lockdowns” and “wearing of masks” protocols.

Social distancing has always been part of my daily life when I was depressed. The “lockdowns’ just continued to push me further down onto the pit. Now that we are free to move around and do all those normal things that were familiar to us in pre-pandemic times my normal thing was unsocial distancing. I spent my time isolating myself from family and friends. If a family member tried to get hold of me, I would not answer the phone. I could put on a fake smile at work, but all was back to my unsocial distancing as soon as I got home from work.

In order to have hope, I make sure I attend a virtual Depressed Anonymous meeting. I make sure I step up and share my lack of hope and frustration with my fellowship group. In time, I am finding with group support, that my unsocial distancing is gradually lessening.

Now I have a “red flag” come up in my mind when I want to go home and sleep, hide and not answer the phone. The old mantra “I’ll do it when I feel better,” is ignored. I talk and share in the group and/or with my sponsor those unsocial thoughts pushing me to withdraw and isolate, behind the invisible prison bars of fear and anxiety. Go ahead–get social!

Now is the time to build a bridge –form new friendships –find hope. It’s as close as the keyboard in front of you.

Go to our website www.depressedanon.com, click on the menu MEETINGS and click on Virtual 12 Step Depressed Anonymous Meeting “Journey of Hope” at Skype://join.skype.com/ a link will be provided for you to enter a meeting. )

Hugh

IMPRISONED

SOLITARY CONFINEMENT

You laughed at my weakness
– as I feared to show them.
You trampled on my dreams
– so I dreamed alone.
You were too busy to listen
– so I never spoke.
You handled my secrets indiscreetly
– so I ceased to share them.
You were insensitive to my needs
– so I hid them from you.
You never seemed to understand
– so I stopped trying to communicate.
You hurt me by your indifference
-so I bled inwardly.
You wouldn’t let me near you
-so, I kept my distance.
You cared for my physical needs
– so my soul became imprisoned.
You drove me into myself
– so now I am imprisoned.

NOTE: This poem was written by Val, a client of Dorothy Rowe.


Dorothy Rowe: The way out of your prison. Second Edition, Routledge and Kegan Paul. 1996. London and New York. pp.15-153.

To keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is insanity

Maybe and maybe not! We use this slogan many times in our recovery groups, thinking the statement to be true. For example, to keep missing our recovery meetings week after week may result in a possible relapse. I believe this to be true! Insane? It is definitely not helpful when one is trying to find sobriety or a way out of their depression

For the depressed to isolate oneself from family, friends and the world, is to gradually move self into a deepened mood of sadness and ultimately depression. The isolation is not going to defend the individual from depression but is only going to make it worse.

To look at the slogan from another angle is to find that the statement is false. In fact, to keep going to meetings week after week or more often is doing the same thing – expecting different results. By doing the same thing over and over again, in this case, the different results are a strengthened recovery with hopefulness coupled with serenity.

This group gave me my voice back

There were times when I wanted to talk to someone about what was happening in my life – but I didn’t even have a name for whatever it was that had me totally immobilized. What could I tell my friends – that I felt I was losing my mind. Some mysterious cancer of the brain maybe? I was definitely scared. The more stuff that I read about the symptoms the more confused I became. Whatever it was I knew that I needed help. Go to a doctor? Talk to a counselor? I felt so alienated, from my self, family and friends. I had hit the wall.

Like others with whom I later became became acquainted, it gradually came to me that I must be depressed. I had most of the symptoms: I lost my appetite, I felt shame that I was unable to help myself. I did manage to hold down a job, but my main thing after work was to go home and sleep it off. I lost my ability to concentrate, plus my memory seemed to be on the blink. I didn’t answer my phone, skipped business appointments and just rather not be in touch with anyone and everyone. Most of all I was very angry about something that clearly made my life miserable, hopeless and out of my control. I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning – why, because my life was now without goals, purpose and meaning. My own isolation from everything that I once valued and dear to me was gone. In a sense I had lost my voice to ask for help.

I got a phone call one day – a work buddy asked me to attend a meeting with him. I asked, “What kind of meeting?” He just said something to get you moving again. I agreed, but only for his sake did I agree to go with him. By this time I realized that I was depressed – I knew what I had – or what had me. And if you are presently attending Depressed Anonymous meetings you know what I am talking about.

Not til after a few more meetings did I feel comfortable in this group. But it was only after more meetings was I willing to share my own story. You know, the before (how it was before recovery) and the after (how it is now that I am in recovery, have my own sponsor and go regularly to meetings). I felt I had to speak. I needed to get it out in the open. I told my story how I was a veritable wreck during my struggle and inner battles with depression. And then how I came to this fellowship and became a new person. The key that unlocked my prison was this group of men and women just like myself – and a God of my own understanding who I know loved me and was with me all the time.

With my voice back and no longer all alone I am using it now to encourage others who come to our meetings – to keep coming back and using the tools that we freely offer them. They will be another voice added to the many who are today sharing their hope, strength and experiences. If you are brand new they will be wanting to tell you about it!!

A Depressed Anonymous Member