Category Archives: The 12 Steps

The three questions I need to answer

I have learnt that in order to do any sort of recovery, there are three questions I need to answer. Basically, the three questions are simple in nature and not complicated.

When the Depressed Anonymous Workbook was being considered for publication and to be utilized as a critical piece of the recovery process, the Workbook was the other piece amplifying the message of the Depressed Anonymous Manual. As I began to use the Workbook, I had to reflect upon my own feelings of depression, clarifying the effects of sadness in my life. Also, I am poised to examine my relationships with family, friends and others with whom I was in contact over the years of my life. It is in the circle of these friendship and relationships that my life has been lived. We don’t live as hermits.

I guarantee that you will find a plethora of information about who you are, and how you think about yourself. Your response to so many situations that have brought you to the point where you are today. I believe, having gone through the Workbook myself, question by question and chapter by chapter with those with whom I served as a co-sponsor. I am amazed at the self-awareness that is stimulated for so many of us when we put our energies into this personal and unique process of gaining a new self-awareness of the real me. Many are surprised at the Workbook questions and one’s own responses which the questions elicited from us. The whole Workbook/Manual helps each of us face the real me and not the person whom you believed you were. So many times I find the person going through the Steps, gradually replaces mistaken beliefs about themselves, while Slowly coming into contact with the “real” and not the “false” self that others have wanted us to be, even from our earliest childhood days. Now, by finding answers to questions which were never asked and if they were asked, were not much help. Not that we didn’t want to share, but that we didn’t have an answer. Now, we not only are providing answers about who we are, we also are finding ourselves empowered as we continue to empower ourselves with the right to feel, think, and behave in ways that fits who we know we are. The three questions and their answers are unlocking those of us who were in “lockdown” but now are free.

Here are those three questions that you will be answering, at your own speed, in your own time, in more depth, as you’ve move through the Workbook.

  1. Who am I?
  2. What do I want?
  3. And who is my God?

If I am depressed or a loved one is depressed-the depression doesn’t define all that I am. Even though I may feel depressed all over- this can’t define all that I am. Just as someone who has an eating disorder – this eating disorder doesn’t define their whole person, just as being an alcoholic doesn’t define the whole total person. We might call someone an alcoholic or an addict but the label never defines the whole person.

If you are in a recovery program, such as Depressed Anonymous, it’s obvious that you are seeking help to find a way out of the prison of your own depression. The Workbook will provide you with many questions, and answers, (many your own) to help you find what you REALLY want for your life. The entire Workbook is a process of turning over each and every rock of sadness and gradually provide you with the tools, the support and the faith to overcome a life built on fear, anxiety and misery. You have the solution with credible answers that can and will provide you with a way out – the problem is no one ever told you that you have a choice or gave you the tools to gradually work your way out.

Hugh S., for the fellowship

RESOURCES
© The Depressed Anonymous Workbook (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.
© Depressed Anonymous, Third Edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.

Both of these books can be ordered from the Depressed Anonymous Publications website Bookstore @depressedanon.com
These two book can be purchased as a combo editions at a reduced price. They are also available as eBOOKS, and are less expensive as you have the ability to print them on your computer.

Statement
All books sold here on our website, the monies go back into buying more books, so as to keep our organization functioning. All work is done by Depressed Anonymous member’s service work. WE receive no outside help as we are self-supporting.

Three Ways To Grow In Life

Our recently published book, Dep-Anon, a 12 Step Recovery Program for Families and Friends of the Depressed, the author quotes Jack Canfield, who shares with us the three ways to grow in life.

  1. Quit doing what you have been doing that doesn’t work;
  2. Start doing more of what does work;
  3. Start doing things that you’ve never done before and see if it works.

RESOURCES
© Hugh S., Dep-Anon, a 12 Step Recovery Program for Families and Friends of the depressed. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Ky. p.94.

See: https://depanonfam.godaddysites.com

Stick to the plan. A prescription for change today.

It took me awhile to put into practice a simple idea. That idea is to do the same thing, day after day, in the same place and at the same time. If you have trouble following through on ideas or commitments, then you might feel better about reading the next few paragraphs.

With different situations in my life, some upheavals, some turning points, changes in my life goals, plus trying to do to much at the same time. It was somehow never easy to do what I knew needed to be dome. I used as my mantra “I’ll do it when I feel better.” In fact, this idea seemed to express perfectly, what I was doing, so I titled one of my books after it. Gradually, procrastination, I sensed, would not fit into my recovery program. I had put off for too long to knuckle down and start to do the work that I needed to do.

Here is my plan. I know it can work for you as well. There is no particular time limit on how long your prayer time is to be.

1. Everyday, I have found that morning works for me, I go to the quiet place that is best for my time alone with God, and start with a daily reading of Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 Daily Thoughts and Meditations for 12 Step Fellowships. This reading begins with an Affirmation, then a reflection, and a final meditation. I have my notebook handy and I write down a positive thought that I want to carry me through my day. Most of the time this is a simple single sentence.

2. I then read and reflect on a paragraph or two from our Depressed Anonymous manual.This is coupled with the accompanying Depressed Anonymous Workbook, where personal reflections, in the form of questions, help me clarify how I think about myself. These questions continue to uncover issues which I might have never encountered, becoming the positive basic building blocks, helping with an understanding of the nature of my own depression experience, and developing in myself strategies, the 12 spiritual principles of growth, for my personal recovery, day-by-day.

It’s not complicated. It’s a plan. This time of prayer and meditation is a powerful way to make “conscious contact” with the God of your understanding. (Check out Chapter 10 in “I’ll do it when I feel better.” This chapter discusses more fully the topic of prayer and meditation.

Resources

(c)Hugh Smith. Higher Thoughts for Down Days:365 Daily Thoughts and Meditations. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Ky.
(c) Depressed Anonymous, THIRD EDITION (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY
(c) The Depressed Anonymous Workbook, (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications.Louisville, Ky.
(C)Hugh Smith. I’ll do it when I feel better. (2020) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Ky.

+ These works can by ordered online at www.Depressedanon.com. Click onto The Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore.

The ways we can make a “conscious contact” with our God.

For many of us, this might be the first time that we have run into information on how to make a “conscious contact” with God. In our program of Depressed Anonymous this is what we actually accomplish as we work through the 12 spiritual principles of recovery.

In Step 11 of our mutual aid group, our recovery program, Depressed Anonymous, has a clear and succinct method for making this a strong possibility for those of us who are willing to follow God’s path to freedom.

In Step 11 we learn how to get in touch with the God of our understanding.

“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry it out.”

The major words that stand out in this Step are prayer, meditation, doing God’s will for us and the and the power to carry it out.

On pages 95-96, Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition we read

“That when we are especially depressed, it is hard to keep our mind on things such as prayer, but with continued effort and practice, we can come to believe that whatever we are doing just might be better than sitting in our pool of self-pity. If we haven’t ever been big on ‘organized religion’ we have a good chance that this new approach in being with God is much less judgemental, and that this God of the Twelve Steps is much more accepting than other concepts of God that we might once have held. Sometimes we have found that our religious background has filled us with a large amount of crippling guilt, shame and hopelessness rather than the complete acceptance that we will receive from the Higher Power.”

By now, here at Step 11 we have made some great strides in not only understanding the nature of our depression, but also to spend some time on what brought us to this point in the first place.

Our journey of hope begins with Step 1, where we admitted that we were powerless over depression and that our lives had become unmanageable. This admission is what brought me into our fellowship, Depressed Anonymous. It is here that my life began to change for the better. I became part of a fellowship where I learned that it was my belief that this Higher Power, who greater than myself, could finally restore me to sanity.

Throughout the process of living with the 12 spiritual principles in my own life and becoming part of the life of all those who are the DA fellowship, I gradually learned the more I placed my trust in my Higher Power,and kept in contact with his will, my life, thinking, feelings and behaviors changed dramatically for the better. The closer I stayed in contact with God, took part in my fellowship meetings, talked with my sponsor on a regular basis the more serenity became big part of my life.

THE YEAR 2022
How to continue CONSCIOUS CONTACT with God and making your life a daily retreat.

In 2022 my daily life will start with prayer and meditation each morning. I will sit quietly, get my mind quiet, start at the same time and be in the same location every day. This regular schedule helps us stay focused on our time with God.
The following is my plan and I hope it might be yours as well. You can use those prayers and meditations that best suit you.

1. I will read my HIGHER THOUGHTS FOR DOWN DAYS: 365 DAILY THOUGHTS AND MEDITATIONS FOR 12 STEP FELLOWSHIP GROUPS.
2. i will focus on a paragraph or two from reading our DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS MANUAL,THIRD EDITION.
3.Answer a few questions FROM THE DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS WORKBOOK

Following the daily retreat I will make an entry into my Journal about any inspiring thought that I can carry with me throughout my day.
Hugh, for the fellowship

ALL DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS LITERATURE CAN BE ORDERED ONLINE FROM OUR DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS BOOKSTORE.

Having had a spiritual awakening …

Step 12 is about having a spiritual awakening. Remember, Step 12 is the last Step of our 12 Step recovery program. The 12 Steps are the 12 spiritual principles, the core of what we believe and what our lives and daily actions are based. The following remarks are mine and express the belief that has carried me personally through a time of darkness and hopelessness. Until, I had a “spiritual experience…an awakening.” I woke up to a new way of living my life. My old way of living brought me to the edge of personal disaster. That is, until I walked into a meeting of people who were just like myself. Let me explain. They WERE like me. They welcomed me. They shared how the God of their understanding gave them a new way of looking at themselves and others. They had an experience that changed their lives. They had a “spiritual awakening.” Their lives were no longer consumed by the devastatingly presence of fear and aloneness.

The text following is found in the Introduction to Depressed Anonymous, our 12 Step recovery program where the author extends an invitation to be part of this fellowship.

We now have a solution to offer those who want to reach out and grow into the new way of life, a life that is now focused on recovery and a feeling of hope. With this offer and solution daily before our eyes, we are beginning to see that the depressed have to depend on a spiritual experience to really be free from that debilitating scourge of depression. It is this spiritual experience, coupled with the power of the fellowship of those who like ourselves where we neither need to explain of excuse ourselves or apologize for being depressed that is the basis for our recovery.
You must want to begin this journey seriously enough to actually begin the recovery program of Depressed Anonymous. Someday I hope to know you as a kindred spirit in recovery.
Depressed Anonymous, 3rd Edition, p. 23

Again, I would like to share a quote from A Meister Eckarte (c. 1260-1328) who shaped his insight for us about the nature of knowing God and how our knowing, comes from God himself. Here are his thoughts about the Spiritual awakening that comes to those of us and are “willing to turn their lives and wills over to the care of God as they understand God to be.”

This work then when it is perfect, will be due solely to God’s action while you have been passive. If you really forsake your own knowledge and will, then surely and gladly God will enter your own knowledge shining clearly. Where God achieves self-consciousness, your own knowledge is of no use nor has it standing. Do not imagine that your own intelligence may rise to it, so that you may know God. Indeed, when God divinely enlightens you, no natural light is required to bring that about. This (natural light) must in fact be completely extinguished before God can come in with his light, bringing back with God all that you have forsaken and a thousand times more, together with a new form to contain it all.
Depressed Anonymous, 3rd Edition, p. 161

In Depressed Anonymous, you can read the stories of those who have had their lives changed by letting go, letting God, and willing to do what it takes to recover from depression. Please join us.

RESOURCE
Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd Edition, (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville KY

Learning from the Learners

This is how I change my thinking and the behavior that goes with it. When I change my thinking, my behavior begins to change. I learn from the learners. Those who come to meetings regularly share what is going on in their lives and illustrate how the 12 Steps are creating healthy changes in the Way they live out their daily lives. They shared how life was before they participated in the DA meetings and how life is today. They have continued to learn from the learners.

I am a learner. I learned how people who once were depressed now come forward and show how their lives have been changed positively by this fellowship. WE become positive learners and begin to share our life with others.

Our friend, Dr. Dorothy Rowe, illustrates this “learning from learners” and points out how vital sharing is for each of us who have learned how to use some life-saving tools for our recovery. These are learned by reading DA literature and especially by the sharing that is expressed at our meetings.

Sharing means being prepared to reveal your own weaknesses. Listening means accepting the other person’s pain. Don’t push it away, saying, ‘No, it’s not like that or ‘don’t worry about it. It’s not as bad as you think. Everything will be all right. You’ll soon be better.’ Don’t run away from the other person’s pain by belittling or denying that it exists. Accept the pain, stay with it, and offer, not advice but a comforting hand or a shoulder to cry on.

Have the courage to face the pain and the courage to accept change. Have the courage not to be afraid of one another. Have the courage to take the world as it is, and one another as you are, in all your strengths and weaknesses. For we must love our loved ones for all their sins as well as their virtues, for their weaknesses as well as for their strengths. We must love them as they are, and not as we want them to be. And we must hold them in the same Way as we hold a rose – gently-for if you hold a rose tightly, the thorns pierce you and the petals are crushed.

Hugh, for the fellowship

RESOURCES

Copyright(c) Rowe, Dorothy. Depression. The Way out of your prison. Second Edition. Routledge. London (1986). P.165.

Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous. Third Edition. (1986) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.

The Second Arrow

The parable of the second arrow is a Buddhist parable about dealing with suffering more skillfully. The Buddhists say that any time we suffer misfortune, two arrows fly our way. Being struck by an arrow is painful. Being struck by a second arrow is even more painful.

The Buddha explained:

“In life, we can’t always control the first arrow. However, the second arrow is our reaction to the first. The second arrow is optional.”

Picture yourself walking through a forest. Suddenly, you’re hit by an arrow. The first arrow is an actual bad event, which can cause pain. But it isn’t over yet. There is a second arrow. The second arrow brings more pain and suffering. Can you avoid the second one? The second arrow represents our reaction to the bad event. It’s the manner in which we choose to respond emotionally.
Source: https://grandrapidstherapygroup.com/second-arrow-of-suffering/

We can’t control the first arrow. Bad things happen, even to good people. It sucks, but that is life.

I do however have control over the second arrow. I don’t HAVE TO sadden myself. If I apply the spiritual principles of the Twelve Steps I can have a daily reprieve from saddening myself. That portion of my depression I have some level of control over. The rest of my depression could be caused by a chemical imbalance in my brain, trauma that has occurred in my life, heck it could be caused by gremlins. I just have to accept that certain things are outside of my control.

Yours in recovery, Bill R

Making gratitude my attitude helps keep Robin out of depression

Through the Depressed Anonymous program of recovery, which utilizes the Twelve Steps, I have been on a journey of transformation from the everyday life of struggle, gloom, and desperation to discovering new freedom and new happiness – something I didn’t know existed. My entire perspective is changing. Other people who I thought were judgmental are now considered as all being a child of God- all created equal. What a provocative pence tool this is! Really! It helps me lift those negative attitudes and places them with affirmations. This is undoubtedly the most valuable technique offered in Depressed Anonymous to acquire an optimistic attitude towards life itself or simply “making gratitude my attitude.” So many of us were only familiar with the sham and the drudgery of life, but even with all the sham and drudgery in the world, it is still a beautiful place to live. We learn to change not the world but how we view the world and all its intricacies.

Using the Twelve Steps allows me to begin the journey of hope and to admit that I am powerless over depression. There is the time when depression overwhelms me so intensely that it nearly cripples me altogether. These emotions of failure, shame, and “feeling less than”, become so uncontrollable that I have to stop and simply admit that I am powerless over them. But now, I genuinely believe that there is a power greater than myself and greater than those emotions.

The Higher Power (whom I call God) is there to help me any time I ask Him. And you know what? He rescues me every single time.

Resources
Depressed Anonymous 3rd Edition, © 2011, Depressed Anonymous Publications, Louisville KY. (Pages 115)

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.

Keeping my Higher Power Highest

Throughout my life, different things have been my Higher Power.  A certain job that I loved and prioritized above all else, or the person I was dating.  When I was in active addiction, different substances were a higher power.  Before recovery, the looming black cloud of deep depression was a higher power.  

Once I got into recovery and the steps, I was encouraged to find a true Higher Power, or God of my understanding – a Power greater than myself that could restore me to sanity.  In other words, Step 2.  I can honestly say that after many months of praying and working the steps, this Power relieved me of the obsession to drink and helped me to recover from the hopeless dark pit of deep depression. 

My challenge today, now that I am not in that deep dark hole of depression, is to keep my Higher Power the highest priority in my life.  For example, I recently started a short term job in a field that I am very passionate about.  It has been very demanding and time consuming, and I’m finding that this position is consuming my thoughts, actions, and life.  When I talked to my sponsor about this, she asked “So, has this job has become your Higher Power?”  I realized she was right!  Where was God in my life?  In my thoughts?  How can I be working Step 3 if I am not cognizant of my Higher Power and turning my will and my life over to His care?  I realized this job had become my priority in life, instead of my Higher Power and my recovery.  I am grateful for this reminder, so that I can get back on track.  I know that when I don’t place my Higher Power and my recovery first in my life, I start to slip back into old thinking patterns and old behaviors, which for me will lead me back into depression. 

Thank you, God, that You are always there for me, ready and willing to help me, no matter how many times I stray.