Category Archives: Step 01

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.

Stepping out of hopelessness

 

One of the greatest feelings  I experienced in confronting my depression was that I began to have hope. I began to believe   what others were saying about the Steps. They were telling me that the plan that they followed everyday of their lives was giving  them a positive feeling that they were going to step out of  the  swamp   of sadness and hopelessness. In fact,  those who spoke these encouraging words already  were  manifesting the strength and power of the 12  Steps in their own lives. I was one of these people.

A question that continued to cross my mind  during my period of pain and isolation was basically “is life worth living.” Many folks depressed still debate this question in their minds. And far too many have provided us their answer that “life is not worth it.”

This has been my mission over these past years to show by example of other’s recovery (plus my own) that with appropriate  faith, work and  the spiritual tools, life can be good again. There is a faith, a strong  indomitable spirit  at the core  of every human being, that hope is available to all who seek it.” What you seek, will seek you.” It’s almost akin to the  belief in Karma–as you give out so will you receive back–in some way, at some time in your own  life   experiences. I don’t know how or why, but I do know that it just works out that way.

When I was first introduced to the 12 Steps, I came to my first meeting, willing to learn what I could to  recover fully from my addiction. I had to have hope that something would work. It would have to work for me. And members of this 12 Step group presented me stories , facts and situations where persons completely down and out, physically, mentally and spiritually found hope in the confusion and despair of their own hopelessness  and became free.

No longer did we feel hopeless of finding a way out of what was killing us.  Yes, “we” found a way out. The plan was before us and the group was behind us as we plodded along , each of us supporting the other til we finally completed our Steps. We  now share how our stepping into hope continues to be the North star for me  these past thirty plus  years for my own life.

Is life worth living?  For many years now   I discovered how a faith, a strong belief in my Higher Power, and a bonded group of men and women have continued to travel the same  path as my own.

If you want more  information  about our group Depressed Anonymous please check out our website at www.depressedanon.com for a   full explanation of  who we are and what we do. You’ll want to step out with us.

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

Dep-Anon Family Support Group

 

Dep-Anon Family Group

When family members of a depressed loved  one were asked to prioritize, describe, and list which feelings they experienced most often and most intensely, the following are those which they documented:

  1. Feeling overwhelmed and burdened by a family member’s depression. 2) Feeling restricted around the depressed, feeling of something similar to the expression of “walking on eggshells.” 3) Feelings of helplessness 4) Anxiety about the situation and not knowing what to do about the feelings they were experiencing 5) Feeling emotionally drained 6)Feeling inadequate faced with a love one’s immobility and lack of motivation 7) Feeling anger and frustration at the depressed 8) Being an enabler 9) Feeling that one was living an unproductive life as one was stymied by the depressed   unproductive depression 10)  Having feelings of irrationality and impatience 11)  Feeling inadequate 12) Unhappy 13) Feeling betrayed in retirement by spouse’s late-life depression 14) Indecisive 15) Lack of confidence in oneself.

With the publishing and production of the 3rd edition of Depressed Anonymous the loved ones of the depressed will  not only  have a book written by the depressed, a fount of valuable information about the way the depressed live out their lives, but now with the DEP-ANON FAMILY GROUP GUIDE will have their own guide  with its suggested ways on how to relate to the  depressed family   members or friend. This DEP-ANON guide will, chapter by chapter outline a process whereby family members can understand depression and the various ways to cope with those who suffer from it.

DEP-ANON is also about how family members and friends of the depressed can find help and support. I believe now is a good time in the history of our Twelve Step fellowship to spend time refining and detailing strategies for helping family members and friends of the depressed.  In fact, the name chosen for this companion to Depressed Anonymous is DEP-ANON.  The  name and philosophy is much like AL-ANON, the support group for family and friends of the alcoholic.

DEP-ANON places its focus on creating a relationship with the depressed that is not only supportive, but also  creates an environment where the whole family can find healing. Also, we want to spend some time speaking about how we can help our depressed family member find the necessary support so that any future relapse can be prevented. There are a number of routes that can be taken to ensure that this happens and we will discuss them in the following pages . We hope that what you read here will not only be a help to you, but will help your  loved one recover and stay out of the prison of depression.”

SOURCE:   Copyright(c) Dep-Anon Family Group Manual. Pages 1-3

NOTE: .Comments about the  DEP-ANON recovery program will continue in  future blogs  at depressedanon.com.

 

What You Think Is What You Become

 

 

” Our real identity is emerging from the sadness as we try to live one day at a time. Of course I am still testing it out but I feel better and for the first time in 14 years I have hope. It’s not that hard to find something positive about my life now. So, I remind myself of something positive everyday and that’s what I’m going to do until I don’t have to remind myself anymore because I’ll know.   Remarkable things happen to us when we are willing to admit defeat and talk about our powerlessness over our depression and how our lives had become unmanageable. The first step is the beginning of the flight of steps that takes us up and into our new way of living. At our fellowship of Depressed Anonymous we talk hope. We are hopeful, and we think hope. We learn that our thinking depressed and negative thoughts might have got us in the shape that we are in today. What you think is what you become. For us who find sadness our second nature, we at times continue to revert to the old comfort of our old familiar negative thinking and are in actuality returning to self-destructive activity. Sadness is overcome by hope.”

SOURCE: Copyright (c)I’ll do it when I feel better. (2016) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 69-70.

No pain – no gain! We pay a price to free ourselves from any and all addictions

 

First of all we know that the first step to freeing ourselves from the deadly clutches of any and all addictions is to ADMIT that our life is out of control, unmanageable and that  we are powerless  over what has us by the throat! Our lives have hit the wall and there is no place to go but to seek HELP. Humbling it is. To ask for help. But it is absolutely necessary if we are to free ourselves from the pain of any addiction.

I am speaking from my own experience with that deadly and scary reality that we all know as  depression. I finally came to the frightful reality that if I wanted my life back then I would have to do something that I had never done before.  I had to admit that I was beat. I had it. My life was a mess and I had created it by gradually drifting away from taking care of my mental, emotional, physical and spiritual life. Just by my admission that my life was in shambles, I realized, begrudgingly, that I had to take full responsibility for cleaning up the mess. And where was I to find that  solution to the cancer-like illness  which was eating me up with each depressed and hopeless breath?

From Alcoholics Anonymous I found my solution. They told me that my pain was the door that I had to go through if I was ever to find any peace for my troubled life.  And so I went through that door which opened me up to hope and belief that there truly was a way the  out of the daily mental grind of sadness and despair. It came  to me that the fellowship of those using and working the 12 Steps of recovery  had all found a home.

“There was a time when we ignored trouble , hoping it would go away. Or, in fear and in depression, we ran from it, but found  it was still with us. Often, full of unreason, bitterness, and blame, we fought back. These mistaken attitudes, powered by alcohol, guaranteed the destruction, unless they were altered.

Bill W., continues sharing,     “Then came A.A. Here we learned that trouble was really a fact of life for everybody – a fact , that had to be understood and dealt with. Surprisingly, we found that our troubles could under  God’s grace, be converted into unimagined blessings.”

“Indeed, that was the essence of A.A. itself: trouble accepted, trouble squarely faced with calm courage, trouble lessened and often transcended. This was the A.A. story, and we became a part of it. Such demonstrations  became our stock in trade for the next sufferer.”

Because of my own terrible pain of an insufferable depression I founded a group centered on the 12 Steps  and which made these spiritual principles part and parcel of my daily life.  This group is aptly called Depressed Anonymous.

Yes, I still have troubles, but now I can help others by sharing my own story of hope and serenity . Even though we may not be alcoholics, we can have a hope that these Steps can help me as well to leave the prison of depression.

For more information about who we are and what we are about please take a look at the menu that appears on the first page of our website Depressed Anonymous.

The Depressed Anonymous Workbook  tells us  how “Where humility had formerly  stood for a forced feeding on humble pie, it now begins to mean the nourishing ingredient which can give us serenity.

This improved perception of humility starts another revolutionary change in our outlook. Our eyes begin to open to the immense values which have come out of painful ego puncturing. Until now, our lives have been largely devoted to running from pain and problems.

We fled from them as from a plague. We never wanted to deal with the fact  of suffering. Then in A.A., we looked and listened. Everywhere we saw failure and misery transformed by humility into priceless assets.  We heard story  after story  of how humility  had brought strength out  of weakness. In  every case pain had been the price of admission into a new life.  But this  admission price  had purchased more than we expected. It bought a measure of humility, which we soon discovered to  be a  healer of pain. We began to fear pain less and  desire  humility more than ever. ”

Are you will to pay the price?

SOURCES:    As Bill sees it: The A.A. Way of life…selected writings of A.A.’s co-founder. Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Inc., New York.

  The Depressed Anonymous Workbook (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. pg.60-61.

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

For more literature please VISIT THE STORE. Also note that the HOME STUDY SELF HELP STUDY combo can be purchased together. All purchases can be made online at this site.

 

A Rock In A Rocky Sea Which We All Hold Onto

“Remarkable things happen to us when we are willing to admit defeat and talk about our powerlessness over our depression and how our lives had become unmanageable. This first step is the beginning of the flight of steps that takes us up and into our new way of living.  At our fellowship of Depressed Anonymous we talk hope, we act hopeful, and we think hope. We learn that our thinking depressed and negative  thoughts might have gotten us in the shape that we are in today.  What you think is what you become. For us who find sadness our second nature, we at times continue to revert to the comfort of old familiar negative thinking and are in  actuality returning to self destructive activity. Hope is overcome by  sadness.

When we become convinced that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity, we found ourselves turning many times during a twenty four hour period to that power.  It is a rock in a rocky sea that we all hold onto when we find it easier to just give up and sadden ourselves instead of facing the storm and living through the fear. What Bill W., said about the alcoholic applies equally to the saddict: “He or she can settle for mediocrity and self-satisfaction even though this may indeed prove to be a precarious perch. Or he/she can choose to go on growing in greatness of spirit and action.”

You never stop using and following the steps of the program. We are  in recovery all our lives. You don’t graduate. When we return to saddening ourselves, we return to the old compulsion that can again reduce us to that bankrupt individual who is bereft of peace and hope. We want to grow in the conviction that the Higher Power will restore us to sanity. One of the best ways to grow out of our  saddiction  is to start acting the healer instead of being the passive victim.  We are under the care of no one except our God.

This spiritual awakening is enhanced even further when we make a decision to turn our wills and our minds over to the care of God. Without a doubt this is a very big step for many people to trust anybody – and now especially to trust a God who they have spent a lifetime fearing. It is this decision which allows us to feel freedom when  we start to practice the daily turning over of our will to God. It frees us up and as we pray and listen in our meditation times, we find that our spiritual capacity to connect with the Higher Power is greatly magnified.”

SOURCE:  Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition.(2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. Page 107.

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” It has to be that what one believes is what one can become. Actually it is a self fulfilling prophecy  that how we conceive of our self is what we can become. This having a dream and setting out some life goals can lead to a life filled with hope and promises.  And for those of us who take our 12 Step fellowship seriously and stay actively involved one day at a time, soon discover the joy and serenity that this spiritually rich recovery program provides.”

SOURCE: I’ll do it when I feel better. (2016) Hugh Smith. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.KY. Page 85.

 

Depressed Anonymous Had Been The Ultimate Key To A Successful Life

Depressed Anonymous had been the ultimate key to a largely successful life for me. Prior to entering the program, I had no money, no driver’s license, and had dropped out of college  due to poor grades and a personal breakdown for which I was hospitalized. I had not then worked Step One because I wasn’t aware that I was powerless over my depression, that my life was disorganized as the mess in my closet.

During the first night in the hospital,  a member informed me of a support group known as Depressed Anonymous. I decided to give it a try. By telling me about this wonderful, miraculous and very spiritual program, this person had not only worked the  Twelfth Step, (Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to the depressed, and to practice these principles in all our affairs) but has also given me a key which would open many doors for me. Walking through these doors was like admitting defeat. I was playing first base in a  ball game in which I would eventually win. If I struck out, I was back on Step One. By playing ball with a positive attitude, I was allowing my Higher Power to walk the Steps to recovery with me. With the help and positive sense of fellowship that I enjoyed in the group, I began to understand God’s will for me.  With the love, support, and true friendship of three faithful members in the group, I began working on my driver’s license, which had been another step toward my independence  for me. Within a year, I earned my license when two members of the group took me in for a road test. A new sunnier life had begun for me. The worst was finally over.”

Lena, in  PERSONAL STORIES (#2): “We never talked about our feelings. ” Pages 112-113.

SOURCE:  DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville .

Just Get On Base!

These few words are ones that all base ball players hear when they go to bat. “Just get on base.” If a team is to win the game they must get on base. They have to be able to score at home plate and rack up points needed to win the game.

In our world, we know that to recover from any problem, disaster or misfortune, we have to get back on our feet and get to work. The longer we wait to get the help we need the longer will we suffer with whatever ails us. In my own life, I know that this to be true. When I started to slide slowly down that slippery slope of sadness, I could feel, in an analogous way, my feet slipping out from under me. I was losing control. It was when I finally lost all control and could no longer get up the energy to do anything-except force myself to go to work- that I got on base. If I was to win this battle then I had to do something. It was when I admitted to myself that I was losing  it that I did something to help myself.

Because of my involvement in another 12 Step program of recovery I now knew that I had to admit that I was in trouble, physically, emotionally and every other  way. So, with the urgency that my situation demanded,  I got on base and started to walk miles every  day  I had to shake off this inner hollowness and jitteriness  that had my whole existence in its teeth. By remembering the 1st Step of the program, that “We admitted   that we were powerless over depression and that our lives had become unmanageable.” Yes, my life was more than just unmanageable-I was  totally frozen in place. I could only think about me-what was happening to me? It was a brand new experience and totally foreign to me.   I always was “in control”   and now I was totally “out of control.” Something else was running my life. I felt like the proverbial prisoner locked down in the small confining cell of my despair.

To cut to the chase here, I finally got back to a feeling of lightness in my spirit, after having  walked miles for weeks. By admitting that I couldn’t go on the way I was, I made the  choice to do something.- get on  base (work the Steps of the program of recovery). With the help of my belief in a  Higher Power, God as I understand God, I finally got moving and got better. It was slow process of recovery but it worked.

I want everyone to know who is reading this now and feeling alone that there is hope for you too. It does take time and it takes work-there  are no magic wands waved over our head and presto! we are back on the playing field of life again. No, it takes time, work and a day by day, Step by Step  program of taking care of ourselves coupled with the belief that I too can get better. With that attitude you will not only get on base but you can win the game.

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NOTE: If you would like to start your own program of recovery  having a roadmap out of your own prison of depression it would do you well to read the  Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition Manual and the Depressed Anonymous  Workbook. These two excellent sources of self help are published by Depressed Anonymous  Publications and titled the HOME STUDY KIT.

To learn more about the helpful publications offered please VISIT THE STORE at this website, DEPRESSEDANON.COM.  You will be glad that you did.

…Change Always Involves Uncertainty

 

   Dorothy Rowe wrote:

“Dangers, perhaps even greater dangers, threaten you if you if you leave your prison of depression for the ordinary world. There you might have to change, and change always involves uncertainty. The good thing about being depressed is that you can make every day be the same. You can be sure of what is going to happen. You can ward off all those people and events that expect a response from  you. Your prison life has a regular routine, and like any long term prisoner, you grow accustomed to the jail security and predictability. The prison of depression may not be comfortable, but at least it is safe.”

In Depressed Anonymous we read that:

“We believe that to be conscious is to have been able first of all to listen to someone or something that expresses God’s desire to free us from our misery as soon as we are willing to turn  our minds and our wills over to it. Somewhere along the way, we were convinced that the only safe way to make this life bearable and predictable was to continually sadden ourselves, withdraw into our little shell  (prison) and make sure that our own small world was completely under our control. It was a perfect little world, this world of ours. It was dark, gloomy and painful, but at least we knew what we had. It is this predictableness that makes life inescapably hell for all of us, even though we’d rather have this than the total surprise of living.”

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COMMENT:  One of the things about this life is that it is hard to predict. We call this the  surprise of living. And for us to really get into living we have to face the fact that it is unpredictable. We must give up trying to control other people in our lives.

I have found that the spirit of mutuality which permeates all mutual aid groups, such as our own Depressed Anonymous fellowship, promotes that feeling of security which enables us to live with all sorts of unpredictability. We look forward to living our life,  with whatever comes. “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” Step Two of Depressed Anonymous.

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SOURCES: #11.19  in The Depressed Anonymous Workbook. (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Page 84.

Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Page 97. Step Eleven.

NOTE: These two books, The Depressed Anonymous Workbook and Depressed  Anonymous,3rd edition, can be purchased together as the HOME STUDY KIT. Please VISIT THE STORE on how to order.

I’ve had it living with feeling out of control

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

____________________HELP IS ON THE WAY! ___________________________

SOURCE:         Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Page 32.