Category Archives: The 12 Steps

Strands vs. Steps

OK we all know the metaphor of the steps. They are an ever increasing ascent into sobriety. But is that the only metaphor that we can use for recovery?

I think not. I’m a big fan of trivia, and I have a thirst for the esoteric. One image that comes to my mind about recovery is the act of rope making. Thread is woven together to make yarn. Yarn is woven together to make twine. Twine is woven together to make rope. As the strands come together the result becomes stronger and stronger.

We start off with Step One, our first thread of recovery. It is the beginning of our recovery and a necessary part of it. Admitting powerlessness is a difficult undertaking. I think I have power: I am the master of my domain. Nothing is further from the truth. We can quibble over whether powerlessness is 0% power or is it 1% power, or some other single digit percentage of power. The bottom line is that we have very little power in our lives. Admitting powerlessness is a turning point in recovery. Something, somewhere, a power exists, but it is definitely not within us. Powerlessness is not the same as helplessness or hopelessness. It means that we are fallible and flawed beings. That is not a condemnation of our state of being, merely a statement of truth that we are fallible and that we need help.

Step Two is then woven in with Step One. Step One is still there, but we are now adding the additional wisdom of another spiritual principle. The most beautiful words in the English language are “Came to believe”. We see that there is a way out of our pit of depression. This power, this Higher Power can restore us to sanity. What does sanity mean? Well let’s look it up:

sanity – the quality or state of being sane
sane – proceeding from a sound mind
Sourcehttps://www.merriam-webster.com

Can we say that being in a state of depression is “proceeding from a sound mind”? I would say it is not.

Step Three is then woven with the other 2 strands. Turning our will and lives over to the care of the God1 of Our Understanding is a very hard idea to wrap your mind around. There is a saying in recovery: “Surrender to win”. Surrender is not about giving up. It’s about accepting fully to your current reality. You need help and your Higher Power can help if you’re willing. Remember that it is God’s will and not your will. You have it within your right to ask for things, but it is up to God1 to decide what is going to come to fruition.

Step Four is then woven in with the preceding strands. Making a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves is a difficult task, but a necessary one. We need to put down on paper what we have done, both right and wrong. Don’t just include your liabilities, but also include your assets. You haven’t been all bad, and neither are you all right. Have the courage to write is all down. You won’t die because of it.

“Admitting to God1, ourselves, and another human being…” is necessary as well. Step Five is about humility and sharing deeply about ourselves with another. Some people say: “I don’t want to confess my sins to another”. Confessing is not about supplicating yourself on the alter of forgiveness to escape damnation. The origin of the word confession is “testifying to the truth”. State clearly and concisely what has brought you to the state of depression.

Now that we have taken our inventory we can follow the guidelines of Step Six and make a list of all of our shortcomings. We can surrender these to the God1 of our understanding and become entirely ready to have Him2 remove them. This is not about beating yourself up, it’s about having the humility to admit where you have fallen short.

Which brings us to Step Seven: “Humbly asked Him2 to remove our shortcomings.” We can ask to have our character defects removed, but it is up to Him2 to decide which character defects will be removed. When asking to have your shortcomings removed end your petition with “Thy will, not mine be done”. Which ones will be removed is not up to you, it is up to Him2.

Step Eight is about making a list of all persons we have harmed. We don’t have anything else to do just yet. We are merely making a list. Don’t get ahead of yourself, you are not at Step 9. Focus on making the list.

“Made direct amends to such people, wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others”. Step Nine can be very frightening. If you are afraid to start making amends then I suggest that you talk to your sponsor. You may have created a terrible situation in your mind that you discover after talking with your sponsor that you don’t need to make amends to that person. Don’t avoid this step – it has amazing healing ability. A weight will be lifted from your shoulders. Making amends is not about begging for forgiveness. It’s about admitting what you did hurt another person, and that you are striving not to make that mistake any more. You can start with the easy amends and work your way towards the more difficult ones.

Step Ten is the next strand: “Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.” The longer you are in recovery the more prompt prompt becomes. It’s all about not creating a further wrong that needs to be fixed with another Step 9. Admit you were at fault. You will be glad you did.

If you’re in a hole, quit digging.
– Will Rogers

“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God1…” brings us to Step Eleven. It’s all about seeking that deeper relationship with your Higher Power. The seeking is what is important. There will be times you feel connected to your Higher Power and there will be times that you are in a dark night of the soul and you don’t feel the presence of your Higher Power. Don’t beat yourself up that your relationship with your Higher Power ebbs and flows. That’s what it does.

Yes it is important that you have had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps. The critical thing with Step Twelve is “..we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all of our affairs.” Be of service to others. Help someone else. Not for accolades, but rather to pay your blessings forward that you have been pardoned from the prison of depression.

You have woven a rope of recovery. It is so much stronger than the single thread that you began with. You are free from depression, and with this rope you can move great obstacles in your life.

Notes:

  1. Here I mean whatever you conceive your Higher Power to be. It could be God, or Jesus, or Allah, or Buddha, or Universal Truth, or Love, or any other conception. Your conception of your Higher Power is yours and yours alone. It is just a whole lot easier to write it in the shorthand term God. Please don’t be offended.
  2. Using the pronoun Him does not mean that God is definitively masculine, it’s just a shorthand way of referring to your Higher Power. Please don’t be offended.

I will make a daily inventory of all my strengths

Believing Is Seeing: 15 Ways To Leave The Prison Of Depression – Eleven

I will make a daily inventory of all my positive strengths. I tended to magnify the worst in everything in my life and make mountains out of molehills. I will focus on my stars and not my scars.

“One of the problems of being depressed is that every circumstance and situation is filled with potential hurt and disappointment. The depressed person has a tendency to think in patterns of despair, hurt, and disappointment. It appears to be a proven fact that the more a person keeps their fears and anxious thoughts to themselves, this can cause the mountain to grow larger. But by sharing these fears and thoughts with others, either by writing them out, as in a daily journal, or group discussion (like on SKYPE and ZOOM) we soon discover that our fears are not as big as we thought. The expression of fear many times decreased the size of their fear. Now that we are accepting ourselves we can begin to see that we possess the strength and persistence to tackle whatever obstacle lies ahead.

One of the features that stands out in our lives when depressed is we see everything in dark colors. Nothing looks hopeful. There does not appear to be a light at the end of the tunnel – except that it might be an oncoming freight train. We feel that we do not have a friend in the world. We feel that we’ll never feel good again. The list goes on and on.

What may be of some help is to take out pen and pencil and begin writing down your good points that you feel are your strengths. We have already done this, but it still remains an excellent exercise no matter how often you do it.

What do you remember as strengths before being aware that you are depressed? Going to Depressed Anonymous meetings has the potential to restore your sense of proportion about your strong points. At the meetings your friends in the fellowship will begin to tell you are showing improvement the more you are participating in the meetings. To listen to those who themselves are working the program and who share their lives week after week, you begin to realize that you too can begin to feel differently. Today can be a new start and yes, you do have it within yourself to be that person who is reversing old negative patterns of thinking and replacing them with thoughts of hope and optimism. You now believe that there is hope for yourself. Right now your strength seems to be that of maintaining a habitual way of thinking thoughts of hope. By the fact that you are reading this, takes the strength to want to feel good and continue to maintain a positive recovery. Begin now and reflect on your strengths. Believe that you have a way to maintain a personal persistence and desire to continue with gratitude for this new feeling of hope.”

NOTE: Take your pen and/or pencil and begin writing your thoughts down in response to the questions posed in the DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS WORKBOOK. Depressed Anonymous Publications.

Resources

Copyright © Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression. (2020) Hugh Smith. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY. Pages 57-59.

Copyright © The Depressed Anonymous Workbook. (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.

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

These basic books of the Depressed Anonymous Fellowship can be ordered online.

See: www.depressedanon.com

Literature Available

To receive a mailing of Depressed Anonymous literature, send a Self addressed stamped envelope to: DAP, Box 465, Pewee Valley, Kentucky. 40056.

The material can be used as “handouts” at your local Depressed Anonymous meetings.

Recovery people delight in how they are becoming more assertive

 

“Responsibility is the name of the game in recovery and it is here that we need to focus our attention. As we get into a discussion with other people who are depressed – much like ourselves – we see that they talk about feeling better while at the same time acting on their own behalf. These people who are doing better are also taking responsibility on their own behalf. Those   who are doing better are also talking about taking charge of their lives and doing things for  themselves   instead of constantly trying to please others.  In fact at DA meetings the  recovering people often delight at how assertive they are becoming now that they have gained a sense of recovery  over their lives. They are now committed to their own recovery.  People who want to change begin to swallow their pride and ask for help. They begin to   get in touch with their feelings and feel!  This is truth and this is getting in touch with one’s own best self.”

COPYRIGHT(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY 40241. (Page 91. Step Ten)

Our whole outlook and attitude upon life changes. A sense of purpose transforms us.

To  really believe, possibly for the first time in one’s life that I can free myself from the  prison  of depression and begin to feel better. I know  I’m  needing  to be proactive in my efforts at self recovery. But what causes our outlook and attitude to emerge?

I have to begin to believe that hope and healing is possible. Once we have gone through some painful inner changes, such as dealing with our character defects and our isolating tendencies we see there is a way out. We have to have a positive attitude that will move and motivate us to want to go get to the next step.  Watching someone actually take these steps week after week and watch that feeling of wellness rise up in them and can promote a belief that with work and time, their lives do improve. Soon we see  that a sense of purpose begins to manifest itself the more time and work, into our personal recovery.

A door opens ever slightly, and there appears a potential route to freedom. A way out! I do believe that when my hope and faith and recovery rises, my symptoms of depression go down.”

Resource:

(C) I’ll do it when I feel  better. (2017) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville,  KY. Page 46.

Order online from  The Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore at our website www.depressedanon.com.

How to work the 12 Step program of recovery and put them to use in your everyday life

When someone new comes to a Depressed Anonymous meeting they will hear    about people  in the group working on the 12 Steps. What this means is that since the group of people are into working the 12 Steps  they intend to live out what the Steps mean.

The first Step that all of us make when we walked through that door into our first DA meeting was our admission that we were helpless over our depression. We needed help.

We need to admit that at the present time our will power is powerless over this constant sadness and emptiness that we have been carrying around most of our lives. We just need to talk to someone who will understand us and respect us and not tell us to “snap out of” our depression.

Working the 12 Steps means reading all we can about the Steps and  how these Steps relate to my own sense of aloneness and sadness. The manual, Depressed Anonymous is specifically designed to help the depressed person learn about  each Step  is treated with it’s own chapter in the book.

In order to have a change of feelings we have to work the Steps, which means putting them into practice  in all our daily affairs. It means that we have to try and live out the message of the Steps one day at a time.

A person needs to take each Step and reflect on how that particular Step speaks to our own life. If a Step that we are  studying is unclear as to how it applies to us then  we need to bring that up in a group discussion so that other members can share how that Step has been applied to their own lives. Sometimes persons who have been in recovery for a long time have more experiences with the Steps and they can share how this or that Step has helped them. We know that at the DA meetings there are people  who are each  at different levels of the understanding of the Steps.

Steps Four and Five really have to be faced head-on if our depression is to go away. Step four and five are all about cleaning house. We must square off with ourselves and begin the rooting out   processes that will in time free us from our sadness and our “feeling less than”  as a depressed person. So often a person depressed is afraid, panic stricken really, in facing some issues that were never their fault in the first place.

It is possible that our anger hasn’t as yet been released over some things that have been done to us as children.

Step Twelve speaks about practicing these principles in all of our affairs – that means exactly what it says – we have to practice these Steps day by day. We have  to say I’m sorry as soon as I am aware that I have said or done anything that is out of the way. We again need to study each Step, tear it apart and get every ounce of truth from the Step  as it relates to ourselves. We then write down how each of them has  a special application for my life. We also have a practice of finding quality time everyday of our lives for making room to listen to our Higher Power, or God as we understand God and how that power is going to operate in our lives today and everyday. It is like we must learn  to let go and let God operate in our lives.

For all of us who have had a dependency on depression and sadness, it is hard to let go of the sadness and thinking that somehow gave us an identity to our lives. Depression can serve as a safe defense  and haven againt the uinpredictableness  in our lives.

Practicing these principles in al our affairs or as we say  “walking  the talk and working the Steps”  means that we have to be ever mindful through our times of prayer and meditation, which is a way to find out  what God’s will for us is for my life. Hope appears on the horizon.

Practicing these Steps, for me,  means they will promote an ever growing awareness that the Higher Power is leading me  according to its will and promise.

RESOURCE:

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

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

Ordering online is possible through this website  at www.depressedanon.com.

 

My Feelings Are Becoming Unfrozen

AFFIRMATION

“I pray that God will give me the courage to live today with hope – hope that God’s leading will take me past the dead end of despair.

If we want to live life fully we must have freedom, love and hope. Life must be an uncertain business. This is what makes it worthwhile.”

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

I  know how the feelings of depression, and the deadness and greyness of my sadness keep me holed up in the narrow confines of my dark past. Today my  feelings are gradually becoming unfrozen as I attempt new things, new connections with other persons. These cause me to reconsider that a life lived in unpredictableness is a risky but nevertheless a healthy way to live my life.

Since I hold on to the  belief that since bad things happened to me in the past, bad things will happen to me in the future.  I need to live each new day with the belief that I can change the way I think, feel and act.   I know now that I am not mentally ill nor am I losing my mind when I am depressed.  I want to live just for today to try to learn how to face the uncertainties of today.  Life is unpredictable . To have any certainty that it will  be other  than that  is clearly an illusion, and for sure one is being set up for many a disappointment.

MEDITATION

We see that it is only in risking., that is, getting a different map, a map that shows a number of different routes instead of the one that leads us down the road to narrow isolation and despair. I ask the God of my understanding to lead me according to it’s guidance. Hopefully the road that leads to hope and serenity.

RESOURCES

(C) Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations  for members of  12  Step fellowship  groups.  Depressed Anonymous Publications . Louisville. KY. (January 5th).

(c) I’ll do it when I feel better. (2018) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.

(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition.(20ll). Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.

Check out VISIT THE STORE for more material that can be ordered online.

Walk day by day In the path of spiritual progress–If you persist remarkable things will happen.

“Being depressed means feeling disconnected, isolated and separated. Truly, depression or melancholia is the illness of our modern society. Our desire to isolate ourselves  from everyone and everything when we are depressing ourselves, isolates us from ourselves as well.

To recognize how it feels to be depressed, more people will be able to tolerate  and unfetter themselves from their own depression.  Lives will be saved as well.

People describe their experience of depression as being in some kind of prison. One man said that he was in a pit where the walls were of soft clay. One woman said  that she was in a brick maze where there was no exit and the walls were closing in on her. “I’m in an infinite desert” said one man, “the bars are thick and a lone scrawny tree.” “I’m in a cage” said one woman, “the bars are thick and black and there is no door.”  In side this prison the person has intense feelings of self-hatred..

Frequently, depressed persons imagine that they are going crazy, are crazy, or being afflicted with some mental illness.

One of the beautiful things about a Depressed Anonymous  group is that everyone has the same symptoms, feels the same pain and is relieved that they are not the only ones in the world with this experience. They don’t have to go it alone. They also don’t hear people saying: “Snap out of it,”

The following provides a guide for those of you who are attempting to see whether you are depressed or not. If you  feel that you have a good number of these situations going on in your life at the same time and for a number of weeks, your melancholia  might be indicating that you need to get in touch with persons like yourself by the fellowship of Depressed Anonymous.

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Do I have some or all of the symptoms of depression?

+Wanting to isolate and be alone.

+Changes in appetite.

+Shifts in sleeping patterns (too much/not enough sleep).

+Waking up early in the morning.

+Fatigability or lack of energy.

+Agitation or increased activity.

+Loss of interest in daily activities and/or decreased sex drive.

+Feeling of sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness, guilt or self-reproach and possible thoughts  about killing myself.

+Weeping/Not being able to cry.

+Lapses of memory.

+Hard time making decisions.

Fear of losing one’s mind.

+Reluctance to take risks.

+Difficulty in smiling or laughing.

IMPORTANT NOTE: All the   symptoms   listed above don’t necessarily  include all symptoms, but enough of them, together,  point to a serious response needed  from an  individual to seek  help. also believe that my own serenity is constantly being assaulted during the day by all sorts of problems and situations that cry out for my immediate care and attention. 

The Fourth  of the Promises of Depressed Anonymous, tell us how we will be able to “comprehend the word   Serenity and we will know peace of mind.”

Agitation, anxiety and jitteriness were all part of my life as I muddled my way through -day after day, one foot in front of the other. Serenity was not a part of my life.

As with my attachment to negative behavior, serenity and peace were the  furthest thing from my mind.  The new beliefs and thoughts which I had expressed at Depressed Anonymous meetings started to help me change the ay I thought about myself, my world and my future.

I believe that it takes time, work and prayer, and sometimes with medication to achieve the peace and serenity that we are talking about here.

Peace of mind is the result of:

A clear conscience

Living in the present

Gratitude everyday

Belief that the God of my understanding will get me through the problems of my life

Forgiveness of myself and amends to all persons I have harmed

Hope

Doing God’s will. Neither grasping  but letting go

 

As Bill W.,  co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous tells us in the AA Big BOOK,

“Both you and the new man must walk day by day, in the path of spiritual progress. If you persist –remarkable things will  happen. When we look back, we realize  that the things which came to us when we put ourselves in God’s hands were better than anything we could have planned. Follow the dictates of a Higher Power and you will presently live in a new and wonderful world no matter what your present circumstances.”

 

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RESOURCES FOR HELP.

Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. Pages 166-167.

Copyright(c) The Promises of Depressed Anonymous (2002) Depressed  Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Ky. Pages 9-10.

Copyright(c) Alcoholics Anonymous. Page 100.

 

I can’t do anything to remove my compulsive behavior until I choose to live without it!

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 let God take over my life doesn’t mean that I’ll just sit back and let God 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 make the effort to choose to become conscious of the thoughts that I let myself ruminate and think about during my 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.

So often, when I am depressed I continue a thinking style that was learned as a small child. I am not even counscious as to how I would always select the negative attribute about myself to reflect upon, instead of   thinking  positive and hopeful thoughts about myself and my 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.

BECOMING MINDFUL

God, let me just for today, dwell on your mercy and kindness that you desire to bestow on us. We pray that our awareness of your love for us will free us from our sadness.

Resources:

(c) Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 Step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous  Publications. Louisville, KY  December 14th.

(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd ed., (2011)  Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville KY.

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

Put a HIGHER THOUGHT in your life every day. A spiritual vitamin will increase your spiritual metabolism so that you  begin to replace negative thinking with thoughts of hope and serenity.

You may order online from the Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore at www.depressedanon.com

A secure base providing recovery: Depressed Anonymous.

 

One of the areas of my life, when I was depressed, was to begin looking for that personal and secure base    providing me with  hope  and resources for a complete recovery.  My first attempt at finding this refuge and secure base was preceded by a search for answers. Why was mind  always distracted? Why couldn’t I remember anything? I would read a paragraph and within no time I couldn’t remember a word of what I had just read. I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning. I was always tired and just wanted to sleep. Coming home after working all day I would hit  the sack. My mind was like in a dense fog.  I felt like I was driving a car at night with my headlights on off. I was lucky just to be able to get to work. For me it was do or die. No job -no  Master’s degree. My job paid for my education. It was that simple.

What can I do? What is wrong with me? I have never in my life felt so filled with anxiousness. Constant jitters.  I even began feeling tremors in my hands. That is when I got worried.  I didn’t have a doctor to consult. Since I lived back in the “stone age” there was no Internet. So, here is what I did. I forced myself out of bed every morning and I started to walk. I went to a mall located where I lived  and walked. I mean I walked miles around that store. Early morning walkers, like myself, were allowed to walk before the store opened. I  can relate to Forrest Gump in the movies. It was boring but I did manage to do it for over a year.  And then it  happened.

A feeling of lightness came over me. Wow! I almost wanted to shout with joy.  That horrible jitteriness stopped for a moment. I felt a cheerfulness that I thought would never come back. My mind was clear. Momentarily I began  reflecting  that something good had just happened.  And then the words, flashing across my mental screen, began spelling out  the words, It won’t last!”

And just as quick as the words flashed in my mind, with it’s lifting mood, it too disappeared.  I retuned downcast to my walking. And then slowly everything started to feel different for me. My mind cleared, my mood spiraled upwards and I began to feel like my old self–now, a renewed guy with a deep gratitude that all my walking paid off. I gradually began to see everything coming back into place.  Whatever it was (it was only later that I could put  a label on my experience and call it what it was, depression.)

Eventually, I designed a pilot project at my university using the 12 spiritual principles of Alcoholics Anonymous to determine if those depressed persons gathered in the  program would respond to the power of the Steps.   The Steps continue to help the alcoholic to recover from alcoholism.   Now we learned  that the 12 Step discussion groups, would also help others  make  progress, like our depressed participants in the study,  as their moods lightened over the 10 week pilot discussion period.  Today, the group that we call Depressed Anonymous is spreading worldwide and its Big Book (Depressed Anonymous)  is now translated into Spanish, Dutch, Russian, Farsi and English.

If you are looking for a secure base, that is a group, where everyone speaks your language of depression, and where you can be accepted and introduced to  a program of recovery that promises healing  and a brand new start in life.

 

RESOURCES

(C) Depressed Anonymous 3rd ed., (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY. Louisville. KY.

You can check out our literature at The Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore at www.depressedanon.com.  You may also order books online.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can get out of this mess!

AFFIRMATION

I am not going to let my mind drift out of where I want it to go.

 

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

I know from the way that I live out my life, the way I think, act, and believe, my life is far from simple. I have created this monster called depression because of my fears, anger and general feelings of disgust  about myself. I do know that it is by admitting that my life has been very complicated, my thinking centered on my unworthiness, that I became depressed.  I want to learn how to keep my life simple. I plan to do that by, first of all, admitting that I am powerless over my depression and that my life is unmanageable. I also believe that I can get out of this mess by focusing on respected and workable solutions  rather than keeping focused on my ever present difficulties.”

COPYRIGHT (C)  Higher Thoughts for Down Days:365 daily thoughts and meditations for member of 12 Step fellowship groups. Louisville, KY. June 26th. Page128.