Category Archives: The 12 Steps

The Missing Piece

“There is a story about a circle that was missing a piece. The story centers on a circular shape-like creature missing a wedge-shaped piece of itself. It doesn’t like this and sets out to find its missing piece, singing,

Oh, I’m looking for my missin’ piece,
I/m looking for my missin’ piece.
Hi-dee-ho here I go,
Lookin’ for my missin’ piece.

It starts out on a grand adventure, searching for the perfect piece to complete itself while singing and enjoying the scenery. But after the circle finally finds the exact- sized wedge that fits it, it begins to realize that it can no longer do the things that it used to enjoy doing, like singing or or rolling slowly enough to enjoy the company of a worm or a butterfly. It decides that it was happier when searching for the missing piece than actually having it. So, it gently puts the piece down and continues searching happily.”


“The Missing Piece” by Shel Silverstein presents us with the lesson of the story that in some strange way, we are more whole when we are missing something.”

It is often said that the joy is in the journey. While most of us are on some type of journey or other, we admit that we also are searching for that missing piece. Our life is just not complete until that missing piece shows up, and of course, that could be one of a zillion things.

Remember, the circle finds happiness, not in the “thing” or “circumstance” that would make him happy and complete, but it is enjoying what lies surrounding him. It is right in front of him, in plain sight.

If we are seeking perfection in our lives, there is a strong possibility that we will miss what we are looking for. In other words, missing the joy of living in the NOW, the present. We gradually learn that What you seek, seeks you.

In my life today, I accept my own missing parts that I thought would make me happy. Surprisingly, just the joy of taking life one day at a time, living in harmony with others, plus walking everyday in what I believe is God’s will is for me, today.

I am part of a growing and positive fellowship, which is composed of hundreds of adventurers, each seeking their own missed part. The beauty of it all, is that we each have found what we are looking for, that is, a place, with others like ourselves, where there is no longer a need to keep rolling along, wanting it all, a perfect utopia. Instead, we are finding that wonderful acceptance from others in our live, just the way we are. This is the discovery of our grand adventure. It is progress that we are seeking, not perfection.

Hugh S., for the fellowship

Copyright(c) Dep-Anon: A 12 Step recovery program for families and friends of the depressed, Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. Pages 38-39. Quoted in (c) “The Missing Piece” from Shel Silverstein. (Children’s Picture Book) HarperCollins, 1976.

Service in Recovery

Today I’m truly grateful to be able to do service in my 12 step fellowships. Especially in DA, which has done so much for me. But I didn’t always feel that way about service! At first, I was very scared to make a commitment to chair a meeting. How could I, someone suffering from depression, someone unable to function successfully in daily life, someone who didn’t know if I could get out of bed or not on a particular day, how could I possible make a commitment to chair a meeting? Well, the group supported me and said “we’ll be here if you can’t make it. Just let us know! And we applaud you for being willing!” So I agreed. I also faced technology challenges. At the time the DA meetings were using Skype and I didn’t know how to use that platform (or any online meeting platform, for that matter).  So on a day and a time when a meeting was not going on, I logged on and pretended to chair a meeting. I went for a practice run to learn the technology. I asked someone for help, and they helped me. I faced my fears and I showed up for the first meeting that I volunteered to chair. I stumbled. But the meeting went on, and no one died! I made a mistake and it was okay.

I had feelings of anxiety, but I walked away with an inkling of a sense of purpose. So I kept chairing, and that sense of purpose increased. I started going to business meetings, and they needed people to do service there too. So I volunteered. As I continued, I felt more useful and my confidence grew.

The point I’m trying to make is that doing service has greatly helped my recovery! I learn lessons here in DA that I’m applying to other areas of my life. I’m growing. That is one of my goals – to stay green and growing. Doing service gives me that opportunity. And the icing on the cake is that doing service allows us to help DA as a whole and ensure that DA will be there for others who need it, just like I needed it and still need it.

In closing, the Responsibility Statement, revised for DA:

“I am responsible – when anyone, anywhere reaches out for help, I want the hand of DA always to be there, and for that: I am responsible.”

Step 2 and Hope

Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity

Hopelessness is common in depression. Many members identify with thoughts like “life is bleak and things will never change,” “I’ve lost the ability to enjoy life – I just endure it,” or “What’s the point anyhow?” Underneath all of these thoughts is the lack of hope. Hope is the principle behind Step 2. So how does a member work Step 2 and regain hope?  Let’s break it down!

Came to believe – This little phrase tells us that we don’t have to have hope when we come in the program. Instead, it is something that we develop over time! When we come to meetings and hear the stories of how others who suffered like us have found a way out of their depression, we start to think “Maybe, just maybe, there is hope for me too!” We don’t need hope to make a beginning.  All we need is to be open to the possibility of hope.

Power greater than ourselves – This program gives us the freedom to identify our own Power greater than ourselves, or our own Higher Power.  We don’t even have to use the word “God.” We can choose a term that suits us, such as Creative Intelligence or Spirit of the Universe. We can use the group as our Higher Power, or God as we understand Him/Her. The main idea here that we agree upon is that there is some Power greater than us in this universe.

Restore us to sanity – One definition of sanity is “soundness of mind.” When I am in the grips of depression, I am not very sound of mind. My thinking is distorted so that I view life through a dark depressive lens. I amplify the negative and don’t see any positive. This distorted view of the world is not rational. Furthermore, I cannot see the irrationality of it when I am in the midst of depression. What I need is some power greater than myself – some force for Good – to help restore me to sanity.

So putting the pieces together, if I am open to the possibility that there might be something out there that can help me get better, then I am on my way!  When I came into the program I listened to the stories of the members of Depressed Anonymous; I heard how they suffered like I did and how they gradually began to experience recovery. I started out with the group as a Power greater than myself that could help restore me to sanity.  Today, my Higher Power is something more. At first, I was skeptical. Later, I slowly opened up to the possibility that maybe this could work for me. Today, I KNOW that there is a Power Greater than myself that restores me to sanity on a daily basis. Today, I know hope is alive and real! I Came, I Came to, and I Came to Believe in Hope.

Is The Road That You Are Traveling, Taking You To A Place Where You Want To Go?

If you are going down a road and don’t like what’s in front of you, and you look behind you and you don’t like what you see, get off the road. Create a new path.
– Maya Angelou

When I was traveling down a road that led me into one brick wall after another, I made up my mind to find a new road–without all the brick walls.

The road that I am on now, a road which I have created, still exits with some obstacles, but no longer am I faced with unmovable brick walls. I got off this road.

What happened, you might ask. Well, to keep this brief, I ran into a bunch of people who were traveling on a very wide and level road, one which they said would lead me to where I wanted to go. (no, this is not the Yellow Brick Road of the Wizard of Oz). Amazingly, they all knew where I needed to go. This surprised me, as I didn’t even know where I needed to go.

With my God’s help, a fellowship of wonderful brothers and sisters, all fellow travelers, continuing to travel on this road, a personal path, filled with hope and serenity.

This path has a name, in case you are curious. It’s called the Twelve Steps of Recovery. This path is filled with signs of hope, those spiritual principles which are our guardrails, keeping us all headed in the right direction.

It’s even possible that I might even meet you on this path. I hope.

Hugh S., for the Depressed Anonymous fellowship

What is an emotional laryngitis condition?

Have you ever experienced laryngitis, that inflammation of the larynx, often accompanied by a temporary loss of your voice. Most probably you have have had that experience. It’s more of a nuisance than anything. But nevertheless, a problem that lingers around for a short time. This is a case which if you want to be heard, you have to whisper really loud.

Now how about your experience with an emotional laryngitis condition, a metaphor for being unable to voice unpleasant feelings, which causes you to be stuck in the dark pit of depression.

To experience an emotional loss of your voice, usually starts at a young age. You remember the saying, “Children should be seen and not heard.” And as it works out, that is precisely what happened to so many of us growing up. We lost our voice. We couldn’t share our feelings of hurt and loss.
We stuffed our feelings. We buried the pain of growing up, where we felt abandoned and unloved. We tried to forget about them. Which we did. Buried in our unconscious.

When we wanted to have a grownup, a parent, a family member listen to what we had to say, nobody cared what we had to say. We felt invisible. Also, to cry was forbidden. The message that we heard was “Little boys don’t cry.” Or, “just get over it.” Or, “suck it up.”

I remember on one occasion, standing near my mom and dad, I tried to tell them something. They ignored me. I remember feeling hurt that they didn’t want to listen to me. Strange, it was that one time which I do remember and I still wonder why I remember that one time. Does this mean my voice was always heard and that this time was an exception? I don’t know.

How often do I hear adults tell me HOW their home life was chaotic, filled with anger and fighting parents.
Usually, it was because of one or both of the parents were alcoholics and they NEVER wanted or even suggested, that they wanted to know how we felt or what was happening in our lives. In fact, our whole family didn’t want to hear from us. They never seemed to make time for us in their lives. We didn’t feel safe, and definitely we did not feel love. And what do we do? We began to hide, isolate ourselves creating our own little fantasy worlds. We wanted to have someone hear our voice. But there was never anyone that would listen to how we were feeling. We were the lost child.

Fast forward. As adults now, we discovered we have been addicted to alcohol, or opioid or gambling.or pornography. Anything to remove the pain.The core of all of these addictions, both substance and process addictions, were my attempt to fill the hole in my soul. Not only had we lost our voice, but we almost lost our lives. We lost the purpose for our lives. Not being able to tell people who we are had robbed us of the one thing that might have saved me – my voice. I was too scared to use it.
I needed to tell my story. How I survived. I never wanted to lose my voice again. Today is a good day.

Not until I became an adult did I attend a Twelve Step Depressed Anonymous meeting. It was here that I would use my voice and tell total strangers about all the losses in my life. It is here, that all my feelings, both pleasant and unpleasant are voiced. They heard me. They heard my voice. They listened to me. They didn’t judge me. I had RECLAIMED my ability to use my voice. I could talk about my feelings. My worst life hurts could now be shared and voiced. i was no longer the lost child. No longer was I the victim, the martyr, a clown seeking attention. And, all the time seeking for someone to tell me that I was loved.

It is here that my emotional laryngitis, accompanying me throughout my life, would no longer keep me from voicing who I am and who I want to be. No longer were my feelings shut down and no longer was I invisible. I am here–deal with it!

If you, are having an emotional laryngitis condition, and need a way to use your voice, and share you feelings, then we have a group for you. We call ourselves the fellowship of Depressed Anonymous. You will always be welcomed into our fellowship.

For more information about who we are, click onto our website at depressedanon.com. Attend our Depressed Anonymous daily group zoom meetings and begin to hear the voices of hope. Come and share your own VOICE.

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

Hugh S., for the fellowship

The Circle Dance

If you have ever been depressed or are depressed at this moment, you are familiar with the Circle Dance.

I know the dance steps well, and in fact, I could share with you some of the basic steps, illustrating familiar dance steps.

First of all, let me say that you already know those steps that automatically get you to perform the “Circle Dance. You get caught up emotionally, the moment certain negative thoughts come bouncing across the dance floor into your mind. You know them as that painful hollowness in your gut, a desire to quit the dance and lay down, or to bash yourself with thoughts of how bad you feel.

Sometimes, starting with those life events from childhood, when your caregivers, be they parents or guardians, made you feel worthless and unwanted. These thoughts and feelings are constantly triggered by those with whom you share this life. You avoid people, think of yourself as unlovable –and the dance goes on and on in your head.

The Feelings of hopelessness produces unpleasant feelings. The feelings produce an unpleasant mood and the dance begins. The mood speeds up the dance and whisks you away into that painful circle with its attendant anxieties, sucking you down into the mental quicksand, swallowing you with all the terror and fright of losing all hope, much less your future. The Circle Dance will take you, everyday and in every way, to where you know you don’t want to go.

This dance is familiar. It is like the helpless insect caught in the web of the spider. The why of this hellish addiction to sadness, is never fully addressed with any solutions or answers. We want to know how to stop it. How to control it. We ask ourselves, how is it that I am depressed? How did I get into this terrifying circle, this loop which keeps me locked in a mood of hopelessness and despair. Where did all this sadness, anxiety originate? Will I ever find a way out? Is the dance, on automatic pilot, going to destroy me? Am I, a victim, without a source of help? Is this the way life is for me to be–forever filled with misery?
So much of the time I feel like I am on a train, heading toward a precipice, with no way of stopping it or escaping disaster?

Through all this, pain and confusion, you become an expert dancer, in fact, you know of others who like you, are expert dancers — trapped in dancing within their own Circle Dance.

The dance, it is so familiar. It is a defense, a comfort. We gradually learn to use it to protect us from the pain, without ever having a clue as to how it took over my life.

“A famous psychiatrist, a Dr. Freud, once theorized “that the reason a person continues to do the Circular Dance within themselves, is an effort to touch an unpleasant early life behavior or that long since forgotten event, buried in one’s unconscious. The Circular Dance promotes our addictive nature and the compulsion to repeat, is an effort by our mind to remember what it was that is the cause of our present cycle of misery, spinning us around and around – looking for answers as to what we do and why we do what we do and feel the way that we do, but never able to unlock the prison of our sadness.”

The Depressed Anonymous 12 step fellowship provides us with a possible solution to this question of no longer allowing the Circular Dance to determine the our life’s direction.

It is my belief, after participating in Hundreds of Depressed Anonymous meetings, over three decades or more, that the compulsion to repeat these sslf-destructive thoughts and images, may be linked to early childhood periods, accompanied with their painful, traumatic events. It is in those early days, that our Circular Dance took root and began to keep us locked down in its circular loop.

It is here, in the 12 Step Fellowship of Depressed Anonymous, that those unpleasant feelings, resultant from physical. emotional and mental abuse by significant others (parents and/or guardians, others) can be shared, voiced and talked about safely, and confidentially in the light of the accepting fellowship that we experience in all of our mutual help meetings.

It is possible that with time, patience and work, that these early feelings of hurt and feeling worthless, to name just a few, can be identified and shown how they have affected us negatively in the way we feel about ourselves today. With the help and work of the group, we are able to locate and make conscious those early life experiences that have been pushed aside. Because the feelings were too powerful and painful to examine and so they were buried in our unconscious. Basically, we can say, that there is no longer a need for that compulsive and addictive Circular Dance that our mind had used to punish us with guilt and shame. We now have the freedom to live life, recover from the wounds of the past, and live life today with hope and purpose. That is my wish for you this day.. And for myself.

No one puts me down, for saying that I am depressed. We never hear a “Snap nap out of it” at our meetings. If we could “snap out of it” there would be no need for our meetings. With work, time and the fellowship we no longer need a dance that goes nowhere but down. Now we are spiraling upward. We thrive!

Hugh S., for the Fellowship


Copyright(c) Hugh Smith (1986, 2013) 2nd Edition. I’ll do it when I feel better. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.
Pages 64-65.

In Control

The following is a passage from the Depressed Anonymous Workbook. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY Pages 7-8.

Surrender and accept.
I want to admit that my life has been out of control for many years, but now that I am in touch with truth, I believe that my life can be lived out differently.
I can begin to use the Twelve Steps and begin the task of working myself out of the pit of depression. I believe that with time and with patience, plus the group fellowship and support, that I will be able to make some positive strides in feeling different about myself and my world.

A question: How many years, months, days can I remember being depressed? How far back in time can I remember always feeling sad and wanting to withdraw. Write out your experiences about these experiences.

Write down the number of people you have admitted to that you have been depressed.
Write down their reactions to your admission.
When you feel depressed what do you say to yourself? What action or behavior do you do when you feel this way?

Does it promote more isolation or being more connected with others? Please write these out.

Is your life more unmanageable now since you have admitted that you are depressed? Can you tell a difference now that you are admitting that depression is and has been a big problem in your life? YES? OR NO? Please write out these experiences.


These are just a few of the many questions that you may want to answer as you go through this Workbook.

Each of the Twelve Step chapters has a number of questions that will help you discover how you feel about certain areas of your life. Positive solutions are included in each chapter and can aid in your efforts to escape from your own prison of depression.

You can answer these questions, possibly some of which have never crossed your mind before now. The Workbook, can be answered in your own privacy. Or, you may want to answer them with a friend or sponsor.

You can discover more about our fellowship of Depressed Anonymous and discover you can be part of a growing group of those persons like you, who are also searching for a way out of their depression.


Our website is https://depressedanon.com with listings of daily DA meetings (no fees or dues) online as well as literature, like this Workbook, which may be ordered online.

101: How to eliminate wild weeds (Negative Thinking)

Eliminating weeds from our gardens or from the Spring beauties who show their marvelous colors every year, makes it our major task to dig the weeds out, cutting down these thriving seeds of destruction. They become a pest when allowed to grow and take over what was hoped to be something beautiful and bountiful. Negative thinking is likewise that noxious weed- It yields no good fruit!
Our strategy, is to knock them out before they can get a root- hold, destroying our hard work and handiwork. Seeing the first sign of the noxious weed (negative thinking) tells us that more are on the way.

This I believe, serves as a metaphor for when a mind has been taken over with negative thinking and accompanied by a sense of hopelessness.
Our mind, if filled with uninvited negative thinking, cycling us down with a feeling of loss and hopelessness, we find it’s time to get into action, take a crack at that first negative thought–before it even gets a chance to sabotage our thinking, our feelings and motivation to change.
When the negative thoughts begins–say STOP–don’t go any further with a debate about that first thought. We refuse to get entangled with this tangent thought, always leading us to places where we don’t want to go. We have been at this point of thinking far too many times. We know now how to dismantle this crippling form of negative thinking. Change the script. You do the managing of what you think about.
First, cut the thought down to size–don’t let it scare you, but tell it “I’m not going to believe this anymore.” Another reccuring negative thought, for example might be, “You are worthless.” When this thought appears, we can replace it with a positive “sunspot.” This “sunspot” can be a positve recent mental image of a past event or a positive affirmation of ouselves. And with your own weed control operation, tell yourself as many good things about yourself as you want. What you can accomlish at this point is to see the weed (thought) for what it is. Cut it down, like a bad weed, and dig it out. Have an affirmation ready at hand, to replace each and every negative thought. Positivty thinking is what you are all about!

AFFIRMATION
“Making direct amends and using a personal inventory continues our progress and helps free us from all the hurts of the past. We know now that we can’t afford to think long about real of imagined hurts, or we will throw ourselves back into saddening ourselves once again.”

REFLECTION
One of the things that is toxic for the depressed peron is negative thinking. This thinking continues to grow, once nurtured by my attention into a large and uncontrolled wild weed, taking all the attention from the good things happening in my life. I know that I can no longer give into that first thought allowing to pound me to the ground. My negative thinking is very much akin to drinking for the alcoholic. Once I give into that first moment of self-bashing, the cycle of depression begins. There can be no second negative thought!
Hurts from my past continue to grow stronger the more I allow them to dominate my thinking and my behavior. Hurts are best eradicated (Seep 4 and Step 5) when I deal with them openly and honestly.

MEDITATION
The spirit hopes in God as we begin today with a prayer and a belief that this day can be a good one, like the days that I have had in the past.”

Copyright(c) Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 Step fellowships. Depressed anonymous Publications.Louisville, Ky. Pages 153-154. (September 17)

Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous. Third Edition (2011). Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.