Category Archives: Community building

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.

Two Questions

Many times I am asked the same two questions and I always give the questioner the same two answers.

The first question: “How come you keep coming to meetings, though you say you are not depressed?”

My reply to the questioner: “Let me ask you why you go to the gym three times a week”

His answer. “Well I go to keep in shape.”

My question: “Well you look healthy enough to me. I mean, you tell me you’ve never felt better.”
“Ok” I say, “but why continue to go to the gym, since you look healthy and you say that you feel so great.”

“It’s so simple” he says. “I continue to go three times a week to keep in shape and maintain the progress that the Doctor says I am making.”

“That’s interesting” I say. That’s the same reason I continue to go to meetings. I keep in shape, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, not to mention how I can help others find the hope that is now mine. My Doctor tells me I’m looking better, happier and that I should keep doing whatever I’m doing, ’cause it’s working!”

The second question is one I am asked time and again. “Doesn’t going to all those depression meetings get you depressed? I mean, listening to all those problems? That sure would depress me.”

Here is what I tell all those who ask this question.

I tell them “that no, actually I look forward to my meetings. I always feel energized by going to a Depressed Anonymous meeting. I feel, by listening to others, and hearing their stories, I feel they are telling my story as well. Here, I am not alone. I am with people just like me. Each of us attending the meetings are at different places in our lives. We are here because we believe there is a solution for me, using the spiritual principles of recovery. The more they read the DA literature, talk to each other, they find tools to overcome their depression. They feel the energy, the peace and hope which they receive from each other at the meetings.

The meetings don’t dwell on our depression, as much as we dwell on the power of the Twelve Steps. Here is what I love about the meetings, I see people growing with every meeting. Even their faces begin to soften – they have a smile now. A few weeks previous, they had nothing but hurt to feel.

Again, the reason I go to meetings is to get a boost. I get another dose of hope. I am only as isolated as I choose to be. I now can choose to live and feel differently.

Find your plan of recovery (find a Depressed Anonymous meeting), and stick to it. Get into action. Seek out a DA member to talk with, and you’ll be on a journey that will continue to bring peace, hope and a fellowship with you as long as you wish.

For more information, check out the Depressed Anonymous website at depressedanon.com. You’ll be happy that you did. So, this fellowship is the reason I keep coming back to my meetings. There are no fees. No dues. Just come and see. Virtual, Zoom group meetings are now online.

Thanks for reading this message today. Please join us at Depressed Anonymous. You are always welcomed.

Hugh S. for the fellowship

Won’t you be my neighbor?

Remember that friendly greeting? Well, I do and so do my adult children and grandchildren. Even today, Mr. Rogers’ name and face is enshrined in each our memories. What a delight to see him come through the door, moving down a few steps into his living room, heading for the closet, where he cheerfully donned his sweater. All the while he’s singing “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, won’t you be my neighbor? Won’t you be my neighbor.” Then he sits down and puts on his gym shoes. We are now ready and excited to see our friends and neighbor(s) again today.

His neighbor’s became my neighbors, his friends became my friends.

Our day began with Mr. Rogers. Everyday started the same. Everyday was a new day, seeing a new friend or old friend, with lessons to be learned. It was a program that we looked forward to everyday. This relationship with Mr. Rogers continues today for our children and grandchildren. As an adult, I believe that Mr. Rogers neighborhood, all his friends helped my children, my family members all thrive on the goodness and respect that they witnessed day after day.

Mr. Rogers taught me a great lesson. The more I watched his program, the more I wanted to watch his program. I found that I had created a habit for myself, a daily listening with my children happily watching neighbors loving their neighbors. It was a habit I never wanted to break. I found that my thoughts, my feelings of goodness and happiness thrived within me as my attention was glued to the screen.

But as we grow older we discovered that there have been some habits in our lives that did not cause us to thrive. In fact, they caused us to spiral downward where we had fewer and fewer neighbors (friends) that were willing to help us thrive. The lessons Mr. Rogers had taught us early on in life had gradually faded. Now, today, we continue to look for those friends who will help us get back on our feet. I have learned to develop habits that help me to thrive upwards into a serene and healthy human being. In my recovery program of healthy daily living (God, and the 12 Steps). I now watch what I think about. I watch what I say, and I watch that I always show respect for others. I also watch that I speak to myself with respect and that I affirm myself everyday with the belief that God created me because of his love for me. God has a plan for me and is always with me to carry that plan forward for the good of myself and my neighbors.

I spend time, everyday, to pray and meditate (Step 10) as I make a conscious contact with my God. Everyday, every morning, always in the same place, the same time and in the same comfortable chair. In our program, it teaches us the importance of that daily relationship with our God.

Do you know who my neighbors are today? Let me tell you who they are and what happens when we meet. I meet with them as often as I am able. They help me thrive. Do they ever! I am part of a recovery program where all of us come together, meet old and new friends and learn life long lessons. We learn how to love ourselves and enjoy each other’s company. We learn lessons on how to live out our daily lives with hope and peace. Our lessons come from listening to others who have formed a habit, a habit of how to love their selves and their neighbors.
For more information, please click onto the Depressed Anonymous website at https://www.depressedanon.com.

Welcome neighbor.

Hugh S., for the fellowship.

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

We can do the possible – the impossible takes a little more time

If there are challenges for me today, I remember other days when what seemed impossible was made possible.
– AA Grapevine

Can you relate to this statement? I sure can. Like most of us, I always felt that when facing an obstacle of whatever kind and size, I just believed that the effort was too much. This was always my thinking, especially when I was living in my emotional and mental desert of depression.

Just getting out of bed was a Herculean task. I didn’t even know why I couldn’t get out of bed, but I did know this, the effort that it would take was just impossible. The challenge was more than my mind and my body could handle.

When I discovered the twelve spiritual principles (steps) of recovery I discovered that I had to face the challenge, admit that and that I was powerless. By using the tools which my fellowship group, Depressed Anonymous, was giving me, I began to climb out of the hole that I was in. From that point on, the challenges that faced me every day, I found they were no longer impossible to face and overcome. Yes, the impossible does take a little more time and work, but no longer living in a hole, makes taking on the challenge worth it.

Hugh S., for the fellowship

Life is a Symphony

Sometimes, I am plagued with thoughts like, “what is the point?” or “what is this going to change anything anyway?” which leads me to doing nothing at all and just wallowing in my own sadness.  I was having one of those days that I am so familiar with, just to feel safe. But because of this program, I decided to do one thing that brings me joy; playing the flute.

As I played, it reminded me of the joy of being a part of a symphony. To be one part of a whole, even through the secondary melodies and many minutes of rests as the other instruments exploded in their grandeur, being swept away when I harmonized with another or sat in silence waiting for the entrance of my own instrument…

Before recovery, I was the conductor of the symphony of my life. It consisted of a jumble of solos as I reached for the next quick fix that would keep the music going for just another second longer. Now that I am in recovery, I have stepped down from the role, and let my Higher Power do my job. The God of my understanding knows and is capable of actually leading all parts of my life, and will never quit on my musical masterpiece. The 12-steps was my leap of faith to put my trust in God, and now I don’t question why I must play this inaudible sound, because I am not in charge anymore.

My happiness is a beautiful melody and it consists of many tiny sounds and noises. I don’t have to understand to partake in it anymore. I just have to do what I have to do, one day, one hour, one second at a time, and be joyous about making that one part of a whole happen.

I am humbled by this program after being helped so many times, and I am still learning new things every day from my fellows. I am filled with gratitude to be a part of this DA symphony, with all of our strengths and weaknesses, coming together, playing the most serene music I have ever heard.

Yours in Recovery,

Anna T

At least someone listened to me

I have heard this comment a few times after a new member shares some of their personal story at a Depressed Anonymous meeting. Can it be that many people feel so isolated and alone contend no one wants to stop and listen to what they have to say? I am afraid this is true. This is especially true for those of us who come to a meeting, professedly for people depressed, and discover we are welcome to share who we are and where we have been on this life journey. Possibly for the first time in our adult life, there are people like myself who are able to share their story. And people listen.

Just like children, emotions heal when they are heard and validated.
– Jill Bolte Taylor, My Stroke of Insight

Spiritual Malady: A spiritual unmanageability.

I have seen so many people come into the meeting rooms over my 25 years of attending 12 step meetings and they stay for a few weeks, a few months, even a few years and they leave. Then they come back and leave again. A few months or years pass by and they come stumbling back to the meeting rooms, tired, exhausted, sick of life, and desperate, in need of help and support. I have also seen people who are consistent with meetings fall into the Spiritual Malady trap. The “syndrome” or repetitive pattern, is truly an indication of a “self will run life.” In other words, I got it all together now and I don’t need this mess anymore. God and these amateurs are wasting my time talking, so I am not coming back. I can figure out my life without any one’s help or shared wisdom! That includes God’s help! Thank you very much! Guess what? That was me! I was the ‘self will run life’ works better than the 12 steps for me.” I went several years, where I stopped attending meetings. I was just too busy. We had finally achieved our goals in our life financially, so I didn’t need the support group, of any kind I thought! I didn’t realize until years later how the support groups and meetings could have helped me greatly through those years! A spiritual malady formed inside of us when we place God on the back burner or up on a shelf. All the while, going on with our life and problems in full force with little or need of spiritual guidance from the Great Creator. We soon come to realize we are in a mental and spiritual sickness. We are running as fast as we can. We are making flipped decisions for our life that had requirement and seeking consent from God. We are on the fast track and there seems to be so many problems and situations that we have to fix them right now. Thus a Spiritual Malady develops. A Spiritual Malady on its most basic level, is spiritual unmanageability. It has taken loose and ran on its own. It’s a horse with out the cart! Without higher guidance or wisdom, we’re just making life decisions like water poring out of the spout! Thoughts are spouting out of our mouths without any self-care as to the consequences! This is a Spiritual Malady and most often wreaks havoc in our life. The fastest and best way to pull out of this self-will-run-riot is Step 3. It will take us there every time. The daily taking of Step 3 prayer cannot be overemphasized to protect us from a Spiritual Malady. It assures us, that a Higher Power is in charge over our life every single morning. We have asked God to take the reins and guide us today. When we take Step 3 every day it is very hard to fall into that worldly Spiritual Malady.

-Debra, NC
Copyright(c) Debra Sanford. A Medley of Depression Stories. (2017). pp. 15-17. ( Used with permission). This work can be ordered online from Amazon.com/books. We recommend it!

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.

SAFE PLACE TO FALL

i love when one of my Depressed Anonymous friends says that a Depressed Anonymous meeting room is a “safe” place to fall. She describes it as an all accepting place with friends who truly understand what you are talking about. A place where you don’t have to feel ashamed to have mental illness or discuss depression at length! She says when she walks into the room and takes a seat she knows that the love and the anonymity of the group will provide her a safe place to discuss what’s happening in her life with her son and the bizarre situations bringing depressive thoughts. No place else has she ever found such a place she says. The bonds made with new friends who can speak the language of depression has been an amazing blessing. She says she never knew there could be such a place. A place where she truly can give details of her life, shed tears and not feel ashamed. Discuss her meds, her dark thoughts and ask for help without ensuring failure! Thus she says Depressed Anonymous meetings are a safe place to fall! Bringing her a comfort she didn’t know before. Sometimes we just need friends who truly understand and can relate to our depression. Especially living in a world where people tell us to just get up and go out and we will feel better. It’;s a safe place to be with people who can relate to feeling suicidal or being so down and not wanting to get out of bed. This “miracle of the group” is what makes it such a safe place to “fall,”: Thank God for depression support group where we can meet wonderful friends who are there when we need the help, and who totally understands depression.”

-Anonymous

“Depressed Anonymous meetings are a safe place to fall.”
(c) A Medley of depression stories. Debra Sanford. (2017) pp.57-58. With permission