Category Archives: Mutual Aid

We human beings have often been referred to as social animals…

“But we are not yet community creatures. We are impelled to relate with each other for our survival. But we do not yet relate with the inclusivity, realism, self-awareness, vulnerability, commitment, openness, freedom,  equality, and love of genuine community.  It is clearly no longer enough to be simply social animals, babbling together at cocktail pareties and brawling with each other in business and over boundaries.  It is our task — our essential, central, crucial task  — to transform ourselves from mere social creatures into community creatures. It is the only way that human evolution will be able to proceeed. ”

M.Scott Peck: The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace. (1987) TOUCHSTONE.

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The above quote presents fleshes out the realities of making community. Also, the critical need we have as social beings  to help build those forms of communities  where people not only just happen to live proximate to each other but instead see each other as brother and sister.  The question then arises how to transform ourselves into a community as Peck proposes?

Alcoholics Anonymous  and all 12 step mutual aid  groups present us with a model of recovery and the dynamic  experiences of community by each  persons effort to transform themselves. These 12 step groups have  given us a model on how to build community 1) by  first beginning the process of  transforming that individual  and 2)  by embedding   themselves as part of a caring and healing community. By  sharing our  vulnerabilities and committing  ourselves to the transformation of our live through the dynamic force of a caring community (12 step group) and  each of our lives is renewed and changed.

In the mutuality of a caring group of people we can add ourselves as one who truly has been part of building a community where trust, healing and respect take place.

Hugh

“I want to carry the message of hope to those others who are depressed.”

” I said what I so often said, that the best way depressed people can help themselves is to help one another. Form a group, get to know one another, support one another.” Source: Dr. Dorothy Rowe.

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

They who have never been depressed think that all I have to do is just be cheerful and my mind will automatically change. It’s like telling someone to stop their diarrhea as if they have control over it. My depression took time to develop and so it will take time and work to remove. The people who are the most support are those who have been depressed themselves, they won’t tell you to snap out of it!

I best support myself when I find other people like myself and try to help them.

MEDITATION

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

SOURCE: (Copyright)  Higher Thoughts for down days:365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 step fellowships. (1999)  Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

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++ VISIT THE STORE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE ITEMS LISTED BELOW.++

 Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression (2015) Depressed Anonymous Publications.

I’ll do it when I feel better (2015) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

   Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

The Depressed Anonymous Workbook (2001) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

A lesson from the geese

Have you ever wondered why migrating geese fly in a V formation?  As with most animal behavior, we can learn a valuable principle of mutual aid.

As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an “uplift” for the bird following. By flying in their V group formation, the whole flock adds more flying range than if each bird flew alone.

When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the resistance and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of that “lifting power” of the bird immediately in front.

When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back into formation and another goose flies at the point position.

The geese in formation honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

When a goose gets sick, wounded or shot down, two others drop out of formation and follow to help and protect. They stay until he is either able to fly again or dies. Then they launch out on their own, with another group, or to catch up with the flock.”

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Source: National Empowerment Center, Summer/Fall 1997 Newsletter, 20 Ballard  Road, Lawrence MA 01843. Reprinted with Permission.

Depression is the ultimate state of disconnection

“…Depression is the ultimate state of disconnection, not only between people, and between mind and heart, but between one’s self image and public mask, writes Parker J. Palmer in  Let you life speak.

“Then”, he continues, “there were the visitors who began by saying “I know exactly how you feel…”  Whatever comfort or counsel these people may have intended to speak, I heard nothing beyond their opening words, because I know they were peddling a falsehood: no one can fully experience another personal mystery.  Paradoxically, it was my friends emphatic attempt to identify with me that made me feel even more isolated, because it was  over identification.  Disconnection may be hell, but it is better than false connections.

Having not only been “comforted” by friends but having tried to comfort others in the same way, I think I understand what the syndrome is about: avoidance and denial.  One of the hardest things we must do sometimes is to be present to another’s pain without trying to fix it, to simply stand respectfully at the ends of  the person’s mystery.  Standing there, we feel useless and powerless, which  is exactly how a depressed person feels – and our unconscious need as Job comforters is to reassure ourselves that we are not like the sad soul before us.”——————————————————-

Comment.  It is extremely important for others to understand that not only is the person depressed feeling useless and powerless, so to is the person who is in the company of the person depressed. It is not hard to understand that this is exactly what happens with all of us when we cannot “‘fix” someone who we know needs help.  Our statements of the false disconnection type, do not build bridges between peoples, but widens the gap between them and us. I know and believe that it is the person who is present to us, as Parker points out, that is standing by, on the outskirts of an understanding  of our pain, and who  continues  to be there without a ” toolkit” to “fix” us.

IF YOU SERVE PEOPLE BREAKFAST IN BED, THEY’LL NEVER LEARN TO COOK THEMSELVES.

How to start a  Depressed Anonymous Mutual-Help group.

“Think “Mutual-Help” from the start.  Find a few others who share your interest in starting (not simply joining) a self-help group. To do this, first distribute some flyers or letters that specifically cite your interest in hearing from those who would be interested in “joining with others to help start” such a group. Consider including your first name and phone number. Xerox copies and post them at places you feel most appropriate, example., people whom you think would know others like yourself. You can also have a notice published in your local newspaper or church bulletin.  When, hopefully, you receive a response, discuss with the caller what the interests are, share your vision of what you like to see the group do, and finally ask if they would be willing to share the work with you for a specific period of time (e.g., a few months or so) to try to get the group off the ground…Once a couple of people have said yes, you have a “core group” or “steering committee”  — and you won’t have to do it alone.

It is much easier to start a group if the work is shared…if you don’t involve others in leadership and work from the very beginning you won’t get them later.  As one self-help group leader put it, “if you serve people breakfast in bed, they’ll never learn to cook for themselves.”  Lastly, consider obtaining the help of any professionals who may be sensitive to your needs and willing to assist you in your  efforts. They may be helpful in various ways, from providing needed referrals and information to locating resources and providing suggestions. Remember, everyone in the group is a leader.”

SOURCE: Copyright(c) Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression. (2015) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 81-82.

Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

EMPOWERMENT AND PREVENTION

Being part of a group gives a sense of empowerment

Depression is a horrible experience. I believe that it is truly a defense, as Dorothy Rowe claims. It is more a defense which we have learned how to use, many of us, since our childhood days. It is more a defense than a disease.  Too often persons depressed come to me  and say that their depression really is a comfort because it protects them from something far worse than what they have.  They would hardly call a disease a comfort. I wonder what goes through a person’s mind when they learn that persons much like themselves are gaining strength from persons just like themselves. I talk with  them about Depressed Anonymous. They seem interested. They tell me that they will attempt to make a meeting.  They are hurting so bad that they are willing to learn – to come and see – to experience first hand how being part of a group may give them a sense of empowerment — a sense that they have it within themselves to gain an exit from the prison of their depression.

EMPOWERMENT AND PREVENTION

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Copyright(c) Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression. (2015) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville Page 112.

I Think That I Am Depressed!

In the mutual aid group, Depressed Anonymous, we make it OK to say “I think I am depressed.”

In Believing is seeing, an effort is made to help  persons depressed as well as the  friends and families of the depressed to know that there is a group that is there for them. In fact, once people come to the group and experience a meeting focused on the power of the Steps working in the lives of the fellowship, they soon come to  believe and know the group members are speaking their language. It’s much like going to a foreign country and finding someone who can speak your language.

“Thank goodness, people can now go  and find help –namely, the Depressed Anonymous group.  Persons need to be educated about depression and that one is  not losing their minds when the symptoms of depression begin to take over their lives.  Their own depression experience and the symptoms that comprise it may enable them to seek help faster. They may be relieved to know what it is that is happening to them. I believe that a doctor or nurse practitioner would be more than happy to help de-stigmatize such a common and universal problem as depression or as some have called it in an earlier time, melancholia. In time and with our own advocacy as a mutual aid fellowship we will help make it OK to say “I am depressed.” We hope by that fact to help de-stigmatize this common and natural response to loss. Remember, to admit you’re depressed is the first step in recovery and the first step in getting yourself undepressed.”

Copyright (c)Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression. (2013) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 17-18.

Higher Thoughts for Down days: 365 Daily Thoughts and Meditations for 12 Step Fellowship Groups

May 15

  AFFIRMATION

I will forgive myself for my past faults, mistakes and live just for today and try not to be afraid.

“Even without using not forgiving as a way of controlling people, taking other people’s thoughtless slights and bad temper personally and vowing never to forgive them soon leads to loneliness….If you see forgiving as something you ought not do, then when you do something wrong, you must not forgive yourself.” (7)

CLARIFICATION IOF THOUGHT

Today, I am becoming more aware of how I cannot control life because life is so broad and expansive.  The area that I do control is quite small when compared to all areas of my life. To live means to let life happen and life is spontaneous. The more we try to control our relationships, our friends and what happens  to us we short circuit any serendipitous intervention into our life today by our Higher Power.

The best place for me to experience  life and the stories of others like myself is at Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings, Al-Anon meetings, Dep-Anon Family  Group  meetings, Depressed Anonymous meetings and the many other Twelve Step program meetings.

One of those absolute truths that live in every cell of our bodies when  we are depressed is that I can never forgive myself – nor anyone else for that matter. It is this absolute truth that we hold about ourselves that continually imprisons us in our depression.

MEDITATION

Just for today, we are going to really attempt to forgive ourselves for what happened to us yesterday and act as if today, the first day and only day of our lives, that I will be a new me. We are beginning life all over today. God, let your peace fill us now, and forever.”

Copyright(c) Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Kentucky  Page 99.

HOW DO I GET WELL? LET’S START WITH THE SMALL STUFF

Here are some ideas about leaving the prison of depression that just might work for you. They worked for me.

I hope that the following ideas and cautions work as well for you as they do for me. I have paraphrased a few of the thoughts of Dr. Aquilino Polaino-Lorente, Chair of Psychopathology at the Complutense University of Madrid Spain.

1) He says that the more time that we spend in bed when depressed the more difficult will be the recovery; 2) Physical exercise or some kind of sport are ever useful on addressing the illness that one suffers from; 3) He/she should not stay at home watching television but must go out and walk down streets or go to the mall, and begin to take up those small things that made him/her feel happy;4) NOT talking to other people is not a good travel companion for this illness: he/she must retrieve the relationships and social relationships of his friendships; 5) He/she must try to have a full day, even if this amounts to various kinds of small activities.”

SOURCE: Dolentium Hominum. Is Depression Solely a Matter of Medical Intervention?


I especially feel that talking to other folks about the way we feel is really a good place to start. Our Depressed Anonymous group can build healthy relationships. The Depressed Anonymous group gets us out of our isolation and a group solidarity focusing on recovery promotes a persistent effort to learn and live multiple ways to feel differently. Even though the gains might appear small at first, they in fact have an accumulating effect for living life with hope and vigor.

Listen To How You Talk To Yourself – Do You Like What You Hear?

AFFIRMATION

I will let go of the negative thoughts about myself as soon as I am conscious that I am experiencing them.

“…try to live one day at a time.. We know from experience that our sobriety , our disappearance from sadness is due to letting go, admitting our powerlessness  (Step 1) and coming to believe that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity (Step 2).

REFLECTION

I know that I have to continue to work on myself and the way that I speak to myself on an ongoing and daily basis. My letting go and letting  God take over my life doesn’t mean that  I’ll just sit back and let it do all the work, no, it means that I will work on myself and leave the outcome up to my Higher Power. I know that my life can be lived differently if I just make an effort to choose to be conscious of the thoughts  that I let myself ruminate and think  about during the day. The more I monitor my thoughts, the more I am able to filter out the negative thoughts and have them replaced with positive and constructive thoughts. We call them SUNSPOTS (Depressed Anonymous).

So often when I am depressed I continue a thinking style that was learned as a small child. I am not even conscious as to how I would  always select the negative attributes about myself to reflect upon instead of attempting to think positive and hopeful thoughts about myself and relationships. The more I believe that I have a choice as to how I am to feel, the more I become conscious of the thoughts that influence the way I feel.

Going to a mutual aid group, which focuses on depression, enables us to share with others how we talk to ourselves and what we tell ourselves, day after day. Do we like what we hear when we share with others our continued negative thinking? I would think not.

MEDITATION FOR TODAY

God, let us just for today, dwell on your mercy and kindness. Your are not the harsh judge of my childhood. You are the God who loves us just the way we are. God is like the Mother who continues to love the child of her womb.

SOURCE: HIGHER THOUGHTS FOR DOWN DAYS(C) December 14.