Category Archives: Mutual Aid

The protective wall of the community

 

I do believe the term “protective wall of the community ” is surely an apt and meaningful description  of those who are messengers of hope in the 12 step Program of Depressed Anonymous. The program and suggested principles of Depressed Anonymous serve as  a protection against the frailty  of us all producing  in each  of us a solidarity with other’s sense of futility and isolation.  We then  become  a wall against which our addiction(s) attempt to overcome and divide us. It is on the ramparts of struggle that we gain access to hope again. We, the group, now serve as a protection against despair. We know now, thanks to our active participation in our 12 Step program, that we no longer stand alone, isolated and vulnerable. We now stand together with those “others” who  are aware and conscious that some Power greater than themselves is to restore us all to sanity today.

Only by gaining an insight into my addiction to sadness and misery that I can be free from  this need to numb myself from the feelings of hurt and despair.

In recent   retreats many of the participants gathered there were in agreement that they could do something about their depression. In fact, one of the participants said that she was surprised and pleased that she could in fact take  responsibility fir her self and begin to work herself out of depression.

This was a revelation for her  that she could be an active participant in her own recovery process.

I think that too often people depressed mistakenly think that they had nothing to do with  their depression – and if they had nothng to do with it, then they think that they have no power to undo it. And like other problems in life, we have to consider our habitual attachment to those thoughts, behaviors and actions which continue  to keep us isolated  with the comfort of not making a decision on our behalf to escape the prison of our depression. We are NOT helpless.

Now that I am willing to assume responsibility for my depression I have begun to take a closer look at my life and the way in which I was living it. It now has become clear that I have to make some changes in the way I think, feel and behave.

I had to become conscious  that with the help of God, as I understand God and my recovery group called Depressed Anonymous, that I could in time free myself from my depression.

So often we want someone to take away our pain, our hurt and our grieving with out any effort on our part. Of course –life doesn’t work that way.  For more information about our program of recovery click onto the Depressed Anonymous menu and discover how you to can find hope .

Hugh

“Help is on the way!”

Learning some creative ways   to deal with depression, based on one’s  own personal experiences utilizing the   power of the Twelve Steps of Depressed Anonymous.  Our program is modeled after  the recovery program of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Many times a person depressed will look for help from our website,  hoping that we have something that will give them relief and present for them  a positive solution.  We  do our best to help them with our solution focused approach to overcoming depression. Most are thankful to know that we are here and have developed various avenues for one’s own  recovery from depression.

To understand who we are and what we do, we always advise that the seeker read each   of the items listed on our website menu. We also  point them to past issues of our published  Newsletters in the Newsletter Archives.

Our readers are treated to timely posts at our website  center (www.depressedanon.cm) which include those topics which are most helpful to a person depressed as well as for one’s family members and friends.

Recently, we initiated an ongoing program of recovery for those persons who would like to start their own Depressed Anonymous group This program is one in which our DA members (SPONSORS) work collaboratively with those who choose this HOME STUDY PROGRAM OF RECOVERY.  The program enables the person desirous of learning more about depression and their own unique experiences,  to  communicate with their sponsor  by email. The participant   answers  questions from the Depressed Anonymous Workbook and reading  from the Basic text of Depressed Anonymous.    Each of the Twelve Steps is    reflected upon as it relates  to one’s life past and present. The participant’s responses are then emailed to the sponsor and a return mail by the sponsor  answers   those questions which the participant may have during the  course study of  their ongoing Home Study  Program. The best part of the Home Study is that you can go at your own pace and  get feedback from someone who has lived the program in their daily life!

If you choose to start a group that is entirely up to you and there is no obligation to initiate a group in your locality.

So there you have it. You may discover  things about yourself that you never know existed. And  whatever questions you might have about the origins of your own experience may come to light during this program. The best answers are there in your own life experiences and your taking the time to reflect upon them by using the DA WORKBOOK and the DA BASIC TEXT.

A participant will need the two books  mentioned above for the program of Home Study and these are used in the group program.  You can purchase both books as a unit   from the Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore as well as purchase the books as eBooks from the Depressed Anonymous  Publications Bookstore onsite at www.depressedanon.com.

If for whatever reason you are financially  unable to purchase these  books, please send me  an email (depanon@netpenny.net)   and we will contact you privately about the matter.  Our main concern is to get these positive materials in the hands of those who want a way out of the prison of depression.

For an explanation of the HOMNE STUDY PROGRAM in more detail please click onto the Website Menu and click onto the drop down menu labeled HOME STUDY PROGRAM.

Drinking Depression: One Man’s Story Of Recovery From Alcoholism And Depression

 

DRINKING DEPRESSION:  One man’s story of recovery from alcoholism and depression and the parallels between the two. 

By Steve P.

“I have had experiences with alcohol abuse since childhood. I have also struggled since childhood with depression. I quickly learned to rely on both.

I call  this paper “drinking depression” because that’s exactly what I did when I no longer had the alcohol. The following thoughts will express my feelings and the parallels that I have seen between these two addictions.

RELIANCE

There was always an excuse to drink, mostly I was upset with something –I should say angry, for it was anger at the root of my depression that I was trying to suppress in medicating myself with alcohol. Later, I learned to do the same thing with my depression except to be in a depressive state high.  I didn’t even have to leave the house and after awhile I didn’t want to break the cycle of reliance that dependency had begun. Where I was absorbing alcohol into my blood stream  I was now   injecting the depression into my soul and absorbing it like a sponge

FAMILIARITY AND COMFORT

As a recovering alcoholic, I can look back on my drinking and see where I took comfort in being drunk because   eventually   the numbness became the only way I could feel better.  When I was drunk I could retreat into myself and not have to deal with everyday life.

The same escape tool was used in the form of depression. I could ball up like a wooly worm and the outside world was not going to hurt me. However, the more I wallowed in the darkness of my depression the deeper I got stuck  in the mud of despair and hopelessness.

DESPERATION

In order to deal with alcoholism and depression I had to hit rock bottom. I had reached a point in both that I had to call out for help or drown in my addiction.  I called on my Higher Power to help  deliver me from alcohol and he led me to a counselor  to  also help me with my depression. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit I am harnessing my talents now and I am seeing incredible results. My recovery has not been overnight but it is a day by day and step by step recovery process.

THE PHYSICAL

After some time had passed,  the drinking affects the physical body breaking it down. Once I saw a film in which the brain of an alcoholic was compared to the brain of a heroin addict and they were very similar. The depression I  experienced also had physical implications. For over twenty years the way my body would respond from too much emotional stress was to pass out. Instead of blacking out from alcohol I was using depression to numb myself and my brain.

THE SPIRITUAL

When I was drinking I felt alienation and guilt. I felt professing Christians did not drink. The more I drank the more guilty I became. I felt  much more distant from God the more I drank and spiraled further down into a cycle of despair.

In my depression,  I felt God had no time for  me and that I was unworthy of his love. Again,  it was a carousal filled with guilt and anger going round and round so that I couldn’t get off the merry-go-round.

SELF-ESTEEM

When I was drinking,  I was sure that no one cared or could understand what I was going through, so I had many pity parties and I was the guest of honor. Why should I care if no one else cared? This was my way of thinking.

From painful experiences in my childhood I felt  I was of no worth and just taking up space. It has taken therapy and the support of family and friends to finally look in the mirror and begin to like what I saw.

HOPE

I have been sober over two years although I often have the desire to drink I daily call  on my Higher Power to help me and march on one day at a time experiencing serenity and a release from my need to take that first drink.

I have been in therapy for almost a year off and on, although in order to recover one has to stay with it. I have to take my emotional and spiritual healing, like my drinking —one day at a time knowing   I can make it.  It is only by opening the door of the past that   the light of the present can get rid of the darkness  today,  providing  hope for the future.

It is my hope and prayer that this has helped you,  in some small way.  It has helped me by writing about my experiences. May God put walls of protection around you so that the way ahead for you may be crystal clear so that today may be your first step towards recovery.”

God bless.

Steve P.

+This article first appeared in THE ANTIDEPRESSANT TABLET, Spring 1994.

 

 

I want to believe

 

AFFIRMATION

I can do most anything to feel better and more alive. All I need to do is believe that I can do it. I want to believe.

“Through this 12 step program   I have been on a journey of transformation from the familiar life of drudgery, gloom and desperation,  to discovering a new freedom and a new happiness –something I didn’t know existed.”

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

This is the real  world-the Twelve Step program for healing and a gradual abstinence from hiding the pressure that builds from inside and pushes me to want to withdraw. I am more sure today than I was yesterday the more I work my Twelve Step program,

I know that like the others who work their program, I will begin to feel better. I also believe that the more I begin to take charge of some area of my life, like exercising, getting a hobby and moving about, the speedier will be my recovery.

From childhood, I had a sparse amount of love and nurturing. I know that I can find the freedom to live and feel differently than I did in the past. Today presents me with a clean slate and a new beginning, if you will. Granted my yesterdays are always there ;  my today is what really counts like the exciting part of living with hope. Life is a challenge and I need to forgive myself for all my yesterdays and live right now as if it is the first day of my life.

MEDITATION

God, make peace and serenity the operative word of our lives and efforts. We know that you are here- closer to us than the light that is in  our lives. We again trust you to help us to live unpredictable lives with your hope and trust in us now. (Your own personal comments).

SOIRCE:  Copyright (c)  Higher Thoughts  for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 Step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. April, 30. Pages87-88

I will face my fears!

I will take another small step in my own recovery  and face any uncomfortable  fears that arises. I will face it and let go.

“I had to surrender to God, quit controlling everything and everyone, including God.  Let go and let God.” (8 )

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

To think of letting go of my depression is like telling a drowning man to let go of his life jacket. When we have been depressed for so many years and this is all we know, we don’t know what to make of someone telling us to let go and surrender this experience to God.

I also know that for me to be in control, either by my sadness at home or my attempts to control every member of the family, I know that this keeps me from having to face all the pain in my own life. My thoughts don’t flow the way other peoples’ thoughts flow. My thoughts continually flow in a stream of heavy blackness. The blackness has always been part of my life and I feel that there is no way to escape it.  The only way out for me now is to “admit that I am powerless over my depression and that my life is unmanageable.”

I know that in the program there is much talk about giving over one’s life to a Higher Power and letting it guide us.  It’s somewhat like we are going down the road of life and we see a large narrow bridge which is spanning a river before us. We see the bridge and  can even see the other side but instead of crossing over we get out of our car, go down the embankment and begin to swim across to the other side. Depression and our own feelings of unworthiness won’t allow us to risk a way out of our sadness. Like so many life situations, the answers are hidden there in plain sight.

 

MEDITATION

We used to believe that our God was a God of wrath. We needed to believe that,  because we were feeling so bad, evil, worthless and unacceptable about ourselves. Now we believe God’s supply of love is endless. (See Step #3).

There are always alternatives

“The prison is the way we define the parameters of our lives. We do this in a way that we leave ourselves with only one outcome. We say “I have no choice”, when what we mean is that the alternatives are unacceptable. We refuse to accept that that there are always alternatives, because if we do accept this , we would have to acknowledge that we have made a choice. We would have to acknowledge our responsibility for ourselves.” Rowe continues, “Our willingness to hand over to other people and organizations the responsibility which is ours (just as the color of our eyes is ours) stem from our inchoate desire to sink into the mindless bliss of being totally cared for, totally supported, our original wanting and getting everything. We do not want to accept that, just as our sense of time is ordered to perceive time only as progressing, never as standing still or going backwards. No matter how great our longing, we cannot return to the womb of the Garden of Eden.” Pages 333, 336. Dorothy Rowe. Wanting Everything: The Art of Happiness. Harper Collins, 1991. London.


COMMENT

It’s my belief that when someone is depressed and seeks out help for their depression, the first person they think of seeing is their physician (if blessed enough to have one) or psychiatrist. They also may consult with a counselor or psychologist. This I think is the normal route one would take. These are some of the routes a person might choose. But for most persons depressed they either suffer in silence, talk with a friend, or just go it alone.

In the past (recent past) there is an alternative way to get help and this is the self-help way. Most mental health practitioners in the past would see a client or patient on a one to one basis. Possibly, they would involve them in a group therapy program directed by a therapist who would lead the group. All fine and good. But then there appeared the Depressed Anonymous mutual aid group. Not a therapy group per se, even though many therapeutic benefits would accrue to the participants. So, what we have now is a peer to peer support group. It is people who have the same disability, and need that special feedback from a group of people and a sponsor who talk the same language of those who live with the pain and isolating behaviors that have kept them depressed.

Mutual aid groups are truly an alternative whose time has come. Not only because this process of group works well, it is also a strong support for those persons who have always heard “to snap out of it” in reference to their depression and now have the necessary tools to leave the shackles of depression. “If others can get free,” they say, “then so can I.” And, now they know. They are not alone.

Hugh

Drinking Depression

Drinking depression: One man’s story of recovery from alcoholism and depression and the parallels between the two.

I have had experiences with alcohol abuse since childhood. I have also struggled since childhood with depression. I quickly learned to rely on both.

I call this paper “drinking depression” because that’s exactly what I did when I no longer had the alcohol. The following thoughts will express my feelings and the parallels that I have seen between these two addictions.

RELIANCE

There was always an excuse to drink, mostly I was upset with something. I should really say angry, for it was anger at the root of my depression that I was trying to suppress  in medicating myself. Later, I learned to do the same thing with my depression except to be in a depressive state High. I didn’t even have to leave the house and after awhile I didn’t want to break the cycle of reliance that dependency had begun. When I was absorbing alcohol into my blood stream I was now injecting the depression into my soul and absorbing it like a sponge.

FAMILIARITY AND COMFORT

As a recovering alcoholic I can look back on my drinking and see when I took comfort in being drunk because after awhile the numbness became the only way I could feel better because when I was drunk I could retreat into myself and not have to deal with everyday life.

The same escape tool was used in the form of depression. I could ball up like a woolly worm and the outside world was not going to hurt me. However, the more I wallowed in the darkness of my depression the deeper I got stuck in the mud of despair and hopelessness.

DESPERATION

In order to deal with alcoholism and depression I had to hit rock bottom. I had reached a point in both, that I had to call out for help or drown in my addiction. I called on my Higher Power to help me with my depression. With guidance of the holy spirit I am harnessing   my talents now and I am seeing incredible results. My recovery has not been overnight, but it is a day by day and step by step recovery process.

THE PHYSICAL

After some time had passed, the drinking affects the physical body breaking it down. Once I saw a film in which the brain of a heroin addict and the alcoholic were very similar. The depression I experienced also has physical implications. For over twenty years the way my body would respond from too much emotional stress was to pass out. Instead of blacking out from   alcohol I was using depression to numb my brain and myself.

THE SPIRITUAL

When I was drinking I felt alienation and guilt. I felt professing  Christians did not drink  and the more I drank the more guilty I became. I felt that much more distant from God the more I drank and spiraled further down into a cycle of despair.

In my depression I felt God had no time for me and that I was unworthy of his love. Again it was a carousal filled with guilt and anger going round and round so that I couldn’t get off the merry go-round.

SELF ESTEEM

When I was drinking, I was sure that no one cared or understood what I was going through so I had many pity parties and I was the guest of honor. Why should I care if no one else cared- this was my way of thinking.

From painful experiences in my childhood I felt I was of no worth  and just taking up space. It has taken therapy and the support of family and friends to finally look in the mirror and begin to like what I saw.

HOPE

I have been sober over two years although  I often have the desire to drink.  I daily call on my Higher Power for help and march on one day at a time experiencing serenity and a release from my need to  take the first drink.

I have been in therapy for almost a year off and on, although in order to recover one has to stay with it. I have to take my emotional and spiritual healing like my drinking.– one day at a time and know when I can make it because it is only opening the door to the past can the light of the present get rid of the darkness today and have hope for the future.

It is my hope and prayer that this has helped you, the reader,  in some small way. It has helped me by writing about my experiences. May God put walls of protection around you so that the way ahead for you may be crystal clear and that today be your first step towards recovery.

God bless.

—Steve P.  A member of the Louisville Depressed Anonymous Group.

 

The healing shows on the faces of all those who keep coming back to meetings

THE TENTH  WAY to leave the prison of depression. #10 of 15.

I know that with time and work I will get better and out of my depression. I believe that though I might feel helpless, I am not hopeless. I will make a decision to get better today!”

One of  the most heartening phenomenon of our 12 step program for persons depressed is to see how quickly healing becomes apparent to those who keep coming back to meetings. The healing shows on the faces of all those who keep coming back to meetings.They commit themselves to getting better. The work that one has to engage in is a deep desire to quit sadding  themselves. This means that a person depressed really must make a commitment to themselves, that with time and work, they can leave the prison of their own depression.

This statement of belief is so important that it, like the rest of the 15 ways to leave the prison of depression provides hope for those still suffering from depression. Just by coming to the meetings, even when we don’t feel like moving out of our isolation and comfort zone. This is in itself an investment that must be made if we are to reap the dividends of healing which can be ours. The program works by investing your time and energy in it.

Depressed Anonymous provides a step-by-step program of recovery and doesn’t talk in vague generalities about your own depression experience. Actually,  the program offers a map where you can walk out of your past filled with negative thoughts and  behaviors  creating your own new hopeful lifestyle. The Depressed Anonymous mutual aid  group is the  “miracle”  incentive for getting ourselves motivated   and living with hope. The group provides a continued acceptance and support for your life. The purpose of the 12 steps is to free ourselves from the debilitating isolation and pain of our sadness. We realize now that it is by accepting responsibility for our physical, emotional and spiritual care of self that predicts the hope filled long-term effect of a life lived without depression.

First of all, what gains consciousness is to be aware of  one’s  own need to discover what there is about myself that I do not find acceptable, good and  wholesome. Secondly,  preparation. I am aware of how I have depressed myself by the faulty beliefs that I’ve held about myself over the past years. I now know that part of the way I feel is due to the way I have automatically talked to myself throughout the day. I now realize that my feelings about myself have continually been very negative and emotional laden. Now I take action. I intend today to replace all negative statements that I make about myself, they are like waving a red flag  before my eyes. Every time I call myself stupid or put myself down mentally, I will substitute  affirmations such as the following:  I will build a new life for myself. I am strong today. I have the courage to go through this experience. I will no longer blame myself or others for my depression. I do not have to wait for someone to make me feel better, as I can do this myself if I choose to do so. And this will   sustain me and not just for today but every day of my life.  I’m going to tolerate my imperfections while at  the same time refusing to feel sorry for myself.  I am going to make myself accountable for how I feel… and not blame it on someone else.”

————————————————————

Sources: The Depressed Anonymous Workbook. (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression. (2017) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. pages 51-56.

Please VISIT THE STORE where all publications of Depressed Anonymous can be ordered online.

Let’s Get Real – The “Snap Out Of It” Advice Doesn’t Get It!

Let’s get real!  How often do we hear people who’ve   never been depressed  tell people depressed to just “snap out” of their depression? Answer? Too many times.

In our Manual,   Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition  we read  “I don’t believe you can snap out of your depression, or suddenly   and dramatically get your life turned around by going to one Depressed Anonymous meeting, or reading the  12 steps  five times an hour. It just doesn’t happen that way, especially if you have lived with  your depression for any length of time. Even though we  emphasize  that  depression is not a disease, we do want you to know that depression over a long period of time can cause physical problems and upset the metabolism of the human organism. More and more, doctors see how  positive feelings, attitudes and emotions can help cancer patients maintain a remission and stay free of a recurring cancer condition. Unpleasant emotions such as fear, anger, resentment, tension and depression all work against recovery.

I would call the sadness  that  has  been with us for as long as we can remember,  a learned way to respond to certain negative stimuli. What you will be doing when you come to a Depressed Anonymous meetings is to get involved in your own healing. You will find other men and women who are struggling with the same pain as you are. You will discover that the first step in coming to grips with depression that won’t  quit is for you to surrender it,  quit fighting it.  Let the God, as you understand God  take over your life and help let it restore you to sanity, peace and understanding of the way in which you can find the path  out of your depression and pain. Depressed Anonymous works if you begin the work of the spiritual program that we’re going to outline in this book.  Depression is a moral problem and as such there needs to be a moral solution,  one part of which is to admit that we are responsible for ourselves and that we can’t blame it on genes, psychological predispositions or one’s spouse or some other situation.  We are going to take charge. We choose to un-depress ourselves. Today! One day at a time!

…But let me warn you — it isn’t easy to do something different from what you have been doing  most of your life. This is especially true when it comes to the way we see ourselves, our world and others. There are no magic pills and no easy answers to bring us immediately out of this inner pain and anguish. It does take time and work.

If you really want to leave behind your painful sadness, the daily tears, and the feelings of worthlessness, then begin now to admit the unmanageable mess 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 you like it, but that you’re just too afraid to risk doing 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  feel there is no hope for you. “I can’t pull myself up by my bootstraps and start to feel better,” you tell yourself. Most the time, we tell ourselves that we will do it when we feel better. (See reference to” I’ll do it when I feel better”   below). Folks, let me tell you something – you will never feel better until  you begin to physically get moving! We all know that we feel better only when we get into gear and get busy – distracting ourselves  from those ever present miserable  thoughts which whisper how bad we are and how hopeless life seems to be.”

_______________________________________________________

SOURCES: (c)Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011). Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pgs. 31-32.

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

(c) The Depressed Anonymous Workbook, (2002)(Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

VISIT THE STORE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON DEPRESSION AND THE HEALING POWER OF THE 12 STEPS.

ALSO LEARN HOW TO USE THE HOME STUDY KIT FOR YOUR  PERSONAL RECOVERY PLAN OF ACTION!

Friends are good medicine

 

Research continues to show how friends or social support can play a significant  role in maintaining good health.  One of  the studies published in 1992,   in  the  Journal of the American Medical Society, examined 1,368  heart patients over time. The Duke University study found that those persons who lacked a spouse or confident were three times as likely to die within five years of diagnosis than those who  were married or had a close friend.

In an article on the study, ( in New York Times of February 5, 1992, page’s C – 12), it was noted that the Duke University researchers had concluded, ” a support group may be as effective as costly medical treatment. Simply put, having someone to talk to is very powerful medicine.” American self-help clearinghouse, Denville, NJ 07834.

As any member of a 12 step support group, or mutual aid group can testify, just being able to share one’s own story with others like ourselves,  can produce healing and hope. To know that we no longer have to suffer alone is in  itself a great source of hope!