Category Archives: Mutual Aid

Fun? When was the last time you had some?

In Step Four of our Depressed Anonymous Workbook, we find the statement: “When was the last time you had some fun?” You could also add when was the last time you actually laughed or even had a smile on your face? In one of our early Depressed Anonymous meetings. Bob told the group that the DA meeting was the only place where he could actually find himself laughing.

At our online Depressed Anonymous meetings, we are presently sharing our thoughts and feelings about Step Four. As part of our inventory, there are a number of questions pertaining to our Family of Origin. The following section helps me to take and reflect on my own family of origins and the relationship that I had with all those persons who I shared my life in those early childhood years.

In order to make a good inventory I need to go to my roots and discover how I came to be the person that I am today. AS the saying goes, “WE are our parents.”
When we were small, we “swallowed” our parents, meaning “swallowed” their main personality characteristics. Even today parents, grandparents, a stepparent, or guardian all are now part of our personality -for good or for ill. For myself to escape from my depression I need to discover how I might have received certain messages from my depression I need to discover how I might have received certain messages about myself from those adults who surrounded me as a helpless infant and child. All of us have received messages as children -some helpful and others not so helpful. Some messages directed toward us might have made us feel worthless because we got the message that we could never do anything to please others.

Our Depressed Anonymous manual, with an excerpt from Step Four gives a detailed and traumatic account of one of my experiences as a 10-year-old child. This event had recurring consequences for my young life and into my adult years. We might want to take a deeper look into some of the unpleasant feelings that we have today, traced to their origins in our childhood. I know for a fact that these events, producing guilt and shame, were finally dealt with in therapy as a young adult.

“I still remember being embarrassed when my third-grade teacher told me in front of the whole class That I would never be like my brother who was much smarter than me. I used to feel my face get hot every time I thought about that embarrassing incident. But the more I share my shame of having been exposed to others about something that I had no control over, the freer I became of that fear. The same principle is at work here in the Depressed Anonymous group. We can take our own personal inventory of our weaknesses and fears and trust the group to hear us out and accept our stories of shame and hurt as we accept theirs. We begin to see how and why so many people feel bad because in their earlier years people made them feel they could never measure up to the way others expected them to grow up. By becoming our little child once more, we paradoxically grow up.”

More about our childhood experiences, pleasant and unpleasant in the days to follow. And since it is time for school to start again, it seems that our bodies, sensors that they are, remind us that the Fall weather and school both arrive at the same time of year.

(c) The Depressed Anonymous Workbook (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, p.29.
(c) Depressed Anonymous, (2011) THIRD EDITION. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, p. 55.

Willingness to Take Baby Steps

A common question in other 12 step fellowships is “Are you willing to go to any lengths to achieve recovery?” When thinking about willingness and my depression, I don’t know how well this applied to me. I mean, if I had the willingness to go to any lengths when I was in my deepest darkest depression, I would have just hopped out of bed, embraced the day, and ran a 5K! But that is not how it worked for me!
When I was in the depths of my depression, my willingness had gone out the door. “What was the purpose anyway?” I thought. I didn’t think I could get any better. But Depressed Anonymous showed me that there is hope, and there is a way out. For me, that path to recovery has been a series of baby steps. After coming to meetings, I saw people who were like me; people who really suffered from depression, and I saw that they were recovering. Once I had the realization that there was hope, I needed to ask myself a question. “Just for today, am I willing to take a baby step to help myself recover from depression?”
This was something that I could comprehend and that I thought might be possible. Yes, I can take a baby step and get out of bed. Yes, I can take a baby step and call someone from the fellowship. Yes, I can take a baby step and order the literature, then take another baby step and read a page of the literature. I can answer one question in the workbook today. Yes, I can do one little thing to help myself today!!
That is how my recovery began. That is how I climbed out of that 80-foot hole of depression-one baby step at a time. And the beautiful thing is that I don’t have to do it alone! Honestly, I don’t think I could have done it alone. I tried for years, and although I met with sporadic success, I inevitably fell back into that pit of depression. Today I have the DA fellowship surrounding me. I have a Higher Power. I have a sponsor and friends in the fellowship who help me along my path. I am also here to help others on their path to recovery. Today, I am grateful for the willingness to take baby steps.

DA fellowship as my scaffolding 

 

Some great advice I got from my sponsor was to “find my help and use my help.”  Often times my help comes in the form of DA members.  Over the last two years I’ve spent time at meetings and on the phone in between meetings with members of the fellowship, and they have become an important part of my recovery.  I have built up a network of people around me, much like one uses scaffolding to build a new structure.  I have been built anew by the steps and the help of the DA fellowship.  Now, when life presents me with problems and struggles that previously felt unmanageable and too overwhelming to deal with, I have a support structure in place that I can lean upon.  I have found my help and now I know how to use that help.  All I have to do is pick up the phone and reach out to my DA fellowship.  Through their help, the help of my Higher Power, and the steps, I will be guided to sanity and solutions.

I am depressed. I wish our families had a support group for themselves. – Depressed Anonymous member

Yes, all of us who are depressed or who have been depressed have said the same thing. I agree wholeheartedly. My family doesn’t have a clue as to the deep and hurting feelings that we experience. But how could they? They’ve never been depressed. I would never wish this on them or anyone, but my family needs are an understanding of depression and the power that it exerts over our lives.

As a depressed person myself., I know about the pain, the guilt, and the isolating nature of depression. Even though family members and friends are unaware of the life-threatening nature of our illness, it is a must that they begin to focus on themselves and their recovery. By getting involved in a fellowship with other families of the depressed, they learn of the nature of depression and the prison that keeps us immobilized. They also learn that we refuse to respond to their help, no matter what they say or do. In many cases, it pushes us away.
The Dep-Anon fellowship could be the depressed person’s best friend. The reason is that the family members learn how devastating this sadness keeps us in “lockdown.”

We learn that:

When one of the members of the family is experiencing depression, the family suffers. Attempting to free the depressed person from depression is of little help. They suffer but, they do not know what is happening to them; they make others suffer and, everybody feels betrayed, undefined and, abandoned. The family system is thrown off balance. Family members are conflicted about their loved one’s behavior. Conflicts and anger start to flare up – it is true that the family is the best therapist, but they must know that to be helpful, they must keep focusing on their mental health and wellness.
Dep-Anon, p.81

The point is that family members need to focus on themselves and not on the depressed. They are not able to change us. But what stands out here is that they can change only themselves. Dep=Anon will provide a program of recovery suited for their recovery, focusing on their own defects of character with a need for the support of other families who, like themselves, begin to understand the nature of depression (no more “snap out of it” comments) while gaining new insights into the power of the spiritual principles of the 12 Steps.

I can see how we are like Al-Anon, a group that has an alcoholic in the family, no longer keeping their focus and energy directed to them and their drinking, and efforts to stop their drinking behavior, but keeps the focus on their own lives, enjoying the support of their Al-Anon fellowship. The alcoholic has Alcoholics Anonymous, and I, as a depressed person, support Depressed Anonymous. Both of these 12 Step programs of recovery are on the same recovery page. I thank God for my understanding that now my family has the support of other families like mine. My family is learning so much about me and what I am facing. They are thankful that I have Depressed Anonymous, and I have a family that is focused on themself and not on me and my recovery.

The depressed person’s family plays a vital role in hastening his recovery or recovery. By understanding the nature of depression and offering the person the support he or she needs, the family can help him or her work through the depression. Together they can evolve a sounder system of relationships.

Resources:
(C) Depressed Anonymous, THIRD EDITION, (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville KY.
(C) Dep-Anon: A 12 Step recovery program for the families and friends of the depressed. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky.
(c) The Secret Strength of Depression. Frederic Flach. THIRD REVISED EDITION. 1988. Printed in Canada. Page 192.

The highest form of wisdom is kindness – The Talmud

When I share at our Depressed Anonymous fellowship meetings (online or virtual) my story is always met with kindness. No one tells me that I ‘shoulda’ or ‘woulda’ or ‘coulda’ done this or that differently. No, the group listens and shares their own thoughts on the issue at hand. The main feature of our fellowship sharing is for each of us to speak in the first person and share what has or has not worked for them.

Kindness kindles kindness. This is the strength of our fellowship. We are here for our recovery; we hope to be treated with the same respect as we would treat another. To tell our story – possibly for the first time – is quite a challenge for most of us. Depressed Anonymous, presents an important fact

“…that the more we share our story with other members of the Depressed Anonymous group, the more we can hear for the first time our own unique story. It is amazing how, when we speak to others about ourselves and our addictions, we begin to loosen up and release in ourselves a new sense of ourselves – freedom to express our true selves. It is at these times when we discuss our addiction at the Depressed Anonymous meetings that we get first-hand information and feedback on how others are working free of their sadness and hollowness.” (Depressed Anonymous., p.79.)

Resource
Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous, THIRD EDITION (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.

Journeys of Hope Depressed Anonymous meeting moving to Zoom

The Journeys of Hope Depressed Anonymous meeting is moving to Zoom given some technical challenges we’ve been encountering. Effective Monday 5 July 2021 both the daily meeting and the evening meetings are moving to Zoom. For more information please see the page: Online Depressed Anonymous Meetings for further information.

A Pressing Concern

My pressing concern over these many years as a practicing mental health therapist is to do more to help family members be part of the conversation with medical and mental health professionals when dealing with a depressed loved one. I continue to help setting up Depressed Anonymous groups, while encouraging Dep-Anon Twelve Step groups for those who have a depressed member in their family.

Dep-Anon, a 12 Step Recovery program for Families and Friends of the Depressed, was published on June the 24th, 2021, by Depressed Anonymous Publications. This 117-page book includes Chapter topics that can promote an understanding of the nature of depression, dismissing those negative beliefs that not only are incorrect, and damaging they continue to cast a stigma upon those who are depressed. These attitudes will do nothing but further isolate the depressed. NOT HELPFUL AT ALL!

The Dep-Anon Family group can be that healthy connection between the depressed and the family. The family members will learn to help the depressed; they must and not the depressed. Each of the book’s 12 Chapters will present useful information on the nature of depression while including a commentary for each of the 12 spiritual principles (Steps) of Dep-Anon. In addition, each Chapter will provide the family groups with discussion questions that will enrich the Dep-Anon fellowship. Finally, the groups will help each other cope with their own emotions and provide an ongoing pathway for their emotional growth and balance.

The depressed loved one has their own fellowship of Depressed Anonymous, which helps them focus on their own recovery, and their family has Dep-Anon, which helps family focus on what needs a focus in their own lives.

The Dep-Anon family group might end up being the best advocate/friend for the depressed, fostering understanding and acceptance instead of the negative beliefs that had once made the situation seem hopeless.

Hugh, for the fellowships

DA Virtual Conference 2021 recordings available

The conference ran successfully! The five sessions were recorded, but I have not yet received one of the recordings. I have posted the ones I have available and I will post the missing one when I receive it.

There is a link found under the Tools for Recovery menu item that reads Depressed Anonymous Conference Recordings.

Enjoy.

Yours in recovery, Bill R.

New additional meeting – Wednesday 7:30pm ET

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.

Same link as the daily 12:30pm ET and Tuesday 7:30pm ET meeting – https://join.skype.com/pKMshxPoV9nb

ZOOM EASTER MEETING SUNDAY AT 4-5PM /MOUNTAIN TIME

INTERNATIONAL ZOOM MEETING
12 Step Depressed Anonymous Meeting
HOPE FOR TODAY

zoom ID: 828-7881-3776 9 (No Password is needed).
EASTER SUNDAY – MEETING TIME 4-5PM Mountain time–every Sunday

contacts Randy & Mike @ 720.771.8414 /E-mail @ rev77@live.com

Website for all Depressed Anonymous meetings
www.depressedanon.com