This sounds right for me. When my thinking is negative and my mind cycles around and around, these negative thoughts can create sad feelings which are negative. If I feel sad enough and for prolonged periods of time my sad feelings will create moods which can last for a short time or deepen into moods which gradually darken our thinking to the extent that hopelessness begins to rule our emotions-our lives. Once our moods deepen, we begin to find ourselves prisoners, not of any iron bars and locked cells, but the change in our thinking, now negative and hopeless , not only will change our behaviors so that any physical, mental or spiritual activities will come to a halt All those activities that were once such a large part of our lives, providing pleasure for us, gradually have all disappeared. From this time on, our thinking, our feelings, frozen with fear and anxiety are stuck in a place which is unable to provide any possible solutions providing a predictable escape.
“…seeing and talking to other people are amongst the most helpful experiences for depressed people generally.”
CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT
What a novel thought: a depressed person talking to another depressed person. When I tell people I am going to a Depressed Anonymous meeting their first response is “Isn’t that depressing?” “Actually,” I respond, “it isn’t.” I know from my experiences in other 12 Step groups how sharing with persons who have the same problems as my own, is always helpful and therapeutic.
“It takes one to know one” as the saying goes. The reason that meetings with the depressed are not depressing is that all of us speak the same language. All of us come with a HOPE that they can find a way out of the isolation and pain. The depressed person is discovering meetings which are hopeful and solution focused. No “poor me” attitudes here. No ” pity party” going on here.
I find the meetings upbeat and focus on the solution. The solutions are found in the 12 Steps; spiritual principles presenting a Step by Step plan for recovery and freedom from sadness and isolation. At the core of these meetings is a belief in a power greater than ourselves, who is restoring us to sanity. This power, for some, is the group meeting and while for others it is a being called God, the God of our understanding.
How Depressed Anonymous Works.
At each Depressed Anonymous meeting the following message is read to the group by a volunteer:
“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 our 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 pills and the easy formulas for success. We believe that to get out of the prison of depression takes time and work.
We all have been wounded in different degrees by the experience of depression. We also know that there is a method to regain control over our lives that is practical and workable. It is successful for all those who want to change their lives. Some of us believed that there was no hope and that suicide was the only way out.
In this natural world, one of the first laws is that all growth is gradual – that belief is the bottom line for all of us who are depressed and who want to get better. The more we attend meetings, the more we will learn and see the various ways to escape from depression. We also learn how important it is not to give up on ourselves.”
(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. Pages 156-157.
(c) Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 Step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.
(c) Believing is seeing:15 ways to leave the prison of depression. Hugh Smith (2016) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. .
Please VISIT THE STORE @THE DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS PUBLICATIONS BOOKSTORE if you would like to order online any of the books listed here.
When I am depressed. I do not think clearly. I feel like I’m worthless and that no one really likes me. I feel like there is nothing that I can do.
I keep telling myself these negative thoughts:
I have no control.
I can’t get going and I have no motivation energy.
Things are always bad and they won’t get better.
This kind of negative or distorted thinking includes more than self-criticism. It is a negative view of the world and the future as well as a negative view of the self. This way of thinking is a well established habit. The more self-critical and helpless I feel the more miserable I am. The more miserable I am, the more depressed I feel. How can I stop this cycle? If I could keep the negative thought from crowding my mind I might be able to remember my good qualities. For example, I know that I am helpful, generous, flexible, and have a warm smile. I am truthful, caring, considerate of others, responsible. and thoughtful .
We want to foucs today on the connection bretween what I think and the way it makes me feel. The task will be to practice changing what I think in order to feel better. (See the Depressed Anonymous Publication : I’ll do it when I feel better (2016). Louisville. KY.
What I think determines what I feel. Thoughts produce feelings, feelings cause moods and moods cause behaviors.
It is sometimes hard to recognize the connection between what I think and how I feel. So, it may help to think about simple examples.
If I showed a spider to five people, one might scream, one might back away, one might poke it to get it to spin a web, one might put it by the fish pond so its web would catch mosquitoes, one might get a magnifying glass to look at the exquisite markings on its back. All of the responses, though different, resulted from what the person Thought about spiders.
The one who screamed THOUGHT spider bites were fatal.
The one who backed away THOUGHT “Be careful!”. He was mistrustful of what kind it was.
The one who poked it was curious. His THOUGHT was “what will it do!?”
The person who put it by the pond THOUGHT it was a useful insect.
The person who got the magnifying glass THOUGHT it was beautiful.
In each of these cases, the person could probably say th e spider caused the response when, in fact, what they THOUGHT about spiders determined how they responded and how they felt.
Similarly, what I think about myself, and how I believe I should behave, determines what I do and how I feel.
One of the goals of this session today and tomorrow is to stop the negative, self-defacing thoughts and beliefs that may result in symptoms of depression and replace them with useful, positive, constructive thinking.
One of the first steps is to become aware of all the different kinds of self-critical thoughts that cause trouble. Following are some examples of situations and reactions.
Situation: I didn’t get Sue’s invitation to the party
Negative thoughts: No one likes me.
Feelings and reactions: Rejection and depression. I won’t talk to her tomorrow.
EXERCISE # 1
In the following situations, look at the possible negative thoughts that might explain the person’s feelings and actions.
A man’s neighbor came over to ask if he could borrow a shovel. The man took him to the garage to get the shovel. The garage was cluttered with junk and tools. After some digging around he finally found the shovel to loan to his friend. His negative thought might be: (circle one of the below).
- How embarrassing to have my neighbor see this messy garage.
- I should keep this place clean all the time.
- It’s terrible to be so unorganized The man had “rules” that he thought he should follow. It wasn’t right to not always live up to his own values. Therefore, he was embarrassed by the clu tter in his garage. He was sure the neighbor would think less of him. When in fact the neighbor was thinking “Gee, this guy must be OK, his garage looks just like mine.”
Tomorrow we will continue our discussion on our important topic of how I think determines how I feel and respond to life situations and environments.
SOURCES: I’ll do it when I feel better(2016) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky.
Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky.
Quotations from A University of Oregon Doctoral Dissertation:A Depression Workbook.
My Mother had died in 1983 and I fell into a severe depression. I felt overwhelmed and suicidal.
I never actually attempted suicide because the alcohol came into my life. It dulled my senses and made me oblivious. Alcohol also at the same time gave me this feeling of empowerment and happiness, but at the same time. – resentment because I knew what was bothering me and didn’t quite want to address the issue.
It wasn’t until 1993 that I joined Alcoholics Anonymous and got into therapy, which has been amazingly helpful. I’m growing and dealing with the death of my mother and with alcohol. My hobbies, like gardening and my writing give me great joy and are therapeutic. I’ve been working The Twelve Steps with an open mind that every day things will get better. If problem does occur, the Higher Power will give me the answer and the strength to deal with it and not to run away or shut it away like before.
Depression is something that’s so overwhelming. For me, it’s like crawling from beneath the earth and facing the light with fear that no ne would understand how I truly feel. When in depression, isolation would follow as my only friend, but actually, it was my own worst enemy. I should have been opening up to someone. Instead, I shut myself off from the world.
Through therapy, a belief in myself, and encouragement, facing each day doesn’t seem difficult.
Working my Twelve Steps of Depressed Anonymous and reading Higher Thoughts for Down Days gives me reassurance that we are not alone. I now appreciate what I do have when I work through the program.
Through prayer and appreciation, I realize that there’s more to life than alcohol and that I kissed a chunk of my life away because of it.
Now I’m gaining much more through life than ever before. Being sober, I see my life as a gift and not as a heavy burden.” Rheatha
Click on to Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore for more literature dealing with depression and the Twelve Step Program of Recovery.
Depressed Anonymous,3rd ed., Depressed Anonymous Publications. (Personal Stories). Pages 110-152.
Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 Daily Thoughts and meditations for members of 12 Step Fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications
” Our real identity is emerging from the sadness as we try to live one day at a time. Of course I am still testing it out but I feel better and for the first time in 14 years I have hope. It’s not that hard to find something positive about my life now. So, I remind myself of something positive everyday and that’s what I’m going to do until I don’t have to remind myself anymore because I’ll know. Remarkable things happen to us when we are willing to admit defeat and talk about our powerlessness over our depression and how our lives had become unmanageable. The first step is the beginning of the flight of steps that takes us up and into our new way of living. At our fellowship of Depressed Anonymous we talk hope. We are hopeful, and we think hope. We learn that our thinking depressed and negative thoughts might have got us in the shape that we are in today. What you think is what you become. For us who find sadness our second nature, we at times continue to revert to the old comfort of our old familiar negative thinking and are in actuality returning to self-destructive activity. Sadness is overcome by hope.”
SOURCE: Copyright (c)I’ll do it when I feel better. (2016) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 69-70.
“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 God to be. In doing this, it helps a person to look inside for healing, rather than in a pill or some quick “cure.” Many persons who suffer with depression look on God as being one 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 suffers 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. ”
To read more of what therapists have to say about Depressed Anonymous please read their thoughts in Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY. Page 67-68. ( The therapist who wrote the above is Ms. Denise List, doing therapy in Louisville, KY.)
As a therapist myself, I have found, as Denise herself found, that our own struggles with the isolating and painful reality that we call depression, made a difference in our relationship with clients. To have a mutual aid group such as Depressed Anonymous to which we could refer them had special and positive outcomes.
Our manual contains a veritable host of testimonies from persons from all walks of life who found Depressed Anonymous to be the “real deal.” It is here where they found acceptance, tools for recovery and most importantly a safe place to share their story.
Please VISIT the STORE here at our site. And if you are a therapist reading this now, it would serve your clients well for you to suggest that they pick up this book and begin to see and find hope for themselves.
“I’d rather be imperfect and happy than always trying to be perfect.” The THIRTEENTH WAY to leave the prison of depression.
The following two excerpts quoted below are from Believing is seeing:15 ways to leave the prison of depression.(2015). Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.
” One of the areas in my life where I strive to excel is in the area of trying to be perfect. Somewhere in our early development as children we got the message that if we were perfect we could be more acceptable to others. I gradually began to believe the more I tried to please other’s that this would bring me happiness. Instead all it brought me was a loss of myself. The loss of self reduced me to a shallow self without direction or meaning.” Page 63.
” Eventually, my depression became a sort of a comfort as it kept me from having to risk an unpredictable life. In other words, this way of living took away all hope. This is what keeps many of us depressed. We hold onto the mistaken belief that since bad things happened to us in the past, bad things will continue to happen to us in the future.” Page 64.
SOURCE: Copyright (c) Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression. (2015) Depressed Anonymous Publications Louisville.
VISIT THE STORE for more information on other publications offered to the depressed by Depressed Anonymous Publications.
If you really want to begin to “live outside the box“, a description of what the box feels like and looks like might be helpful to you. First of all, a box has an identifiable shape. It is a box mainly because it contains something–whatever that might be. And when we speak of the subject of depression, we talk about depression having us boxed in. The box as it is used here, in this context is a metaphor for feeling enclosed and which there is no exit. It is like being trapped or like in a prison.
Now, in order to live outside the box we want to live creatively, which means that we are having to learn how to live outside the box. Now, if you find this hard to believe -stick with me now as I will explain what I mean.
Just briefly, my own experience with depression can be used as an example. First of all, when I was depressed I thought that I was losing my mind. The box that I put myself in was getting more restricting by the day and making my life hell. I could see no way out. I was trapped. What could I do I asked myself? As hard as I tried, I couldn’t just will these feelings and scary thoughts away–like taking a broom and brushing them out of my life. No matter which way I turned I hit a wall. With no answers forthcoming on how to keep my head above water, my body slowly was being sucked down into the quicksand of despair. The thought came to me, much like that small glimmer, a tiny light so far away, but nevertheless a light. It was like the lighthouse which with its intense brightness warns seafarers that rocks were nearby and to be watchful before approaching. My mind began to race here and there for a way out of the box and then it hit me — get moving. Move the body. Get busy. The key out of this prison was already in my hand. And now, those of us here in the Depressed program of recovery,who have been putting “out of the box” ideas to work in our daily lives, we want to share what has worked for us and we know, if you actually use them for your own recovery, they are bound to ultimately free you. That is the promise I share with you today.
The following activities, listed below are some of the tools that will get you “out of the box” when you get serious about using them.
I think taking a close and personal look at the following tools will not only help you get “out of the box” but can be tools that you will be able to utilize, day after day as you continue your recovery.
- Exercise is a great tool if you happen to be depressed.
- Getting out into nature will also help put your mind on beauty and your surroundings.
- Overcoming fear is also a great place to learn how to get out of the box. Learn about “first fear” and “second fear.” Fear doe seem to be at the center of our life when depressed.
- Recite the “SERENITY PRAYER” as often as you need it.
- The present. Staying in the now.
- Making use of the God box. This is an exercise, a simple one at that, which helps us learn the discipline of “letting go.”
- Feelings need to be examined and expressed. We will look at why expressing feeling is so important, instead of having them bottled up and causing all sorts of physical and emotional problems.
- Disable negative thinking: learn how to short circuit negative thoughts when they pop into our minds.
- Reading Depressed Anonymous literature and all material on the subject of depression.
- Learn how we all have choices. We make those decisions that bring us closer to freedom–not those that continue to imprison and box us.
- Journaling is a great tool for writing down what has been our experience for the day. It helps to clarify our thinking and puts things into perspective.
In the next post, I will begin placing attention on each of the eleven ideas listed above. Gradually we can take time to evaluate our response to each individually and make our own notes as how to use these recommended ideas for our own recovery.
If you really want to leave behind your painful sadness, the daily fears, and the feelings of worthlessness, then begin now to admit the unmanageability of your depression. You have had it with feeling out of control.
That’s the way it is with depression –over the years you get comfortable with feeling miserable which doesn’t mean that you like it, but that you’re just too afraid to risk something different. When you want to change and leave your depression behind, the choice that you want to make is immediately dashed to the ground because you just feel that there is no hope for you. “I can’t pull myself up by my bootstraps and start to feel better,” you tell yourself. Most of the time, we tell ourselves that we’ll do it when we feel better. Folks, let me tell you something – you’ll never feel better until you begin by physically get moving. We all know that we feel better only when we get in gear and get busy – distracting ourselves from those ever present miserable thoughts whispering how bad we are and how hopeless life seems to be.”
____________________HELP IS ON THE WAY! ___________________________
SOURCE: Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Page 32.
Let’s get this straight about depression: it is a very serious illness and needs to be taken seriously as a potential life threatening illness. We already know about the rising number of suicides in the country, especially those from the ages of 18-35. Our mission is to let people know that we are here (Depressed Anonymous) and we have a program that works.
What’s my point? My point is simple: know that depression is a life threatening illness and that society needs to get with it and learn how to reach those who feel hopeless and want to kill themselves. Because of those who come to our meetings and share how they have tried to kill themselves in the past but now have found hope in the fellowship of DA because of the acceptance of group members. They know they are not alone and can share their pain with members of the fellowship and gradually discover hope.
Rheatha describes her situation of being overwhelmed and suicidal with her personal story in Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition, (2011). Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.Pages 124-125. Rheatha, by making the 12 Steps a daily part of her life, she found her life to be a gift and not a burden.