Category Archives: Step 02

#4. THE PROMISES OF DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS

Promise # 4: We comprehend the word serenity and know peace.

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

As with any attachment to negative behavior, serenity and peace were the farthest thing from my life. The new beliefs and thoughts which I heard at Depressed Anonymous meetings started to help me change the way I thought about myself, my world and my future.
I believe that it takes work, time and prayer with meditation to achieve the peace and serenity that we are talking about here.

Peace of mind is the result of:
1) A clear conscience
2) Living in the present
3) Gratitude everyday
4) The belief that the God of my understanding will get me through the problems of my life.
5) Forgiveness of myself and making amends to all persons I have harmed.
6) Hope
7) Doing God’s will- Neither grasping but instead “letting go.”

I 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.

I am firmly convinced that in order to continue my semblance of peace and serenity I will have to structure a daily quiet time into my life. This is an essential part of the prescription for getting well and staying well.

Also, I believe that when I am quiet, God will give to me all that is mine to have. My will and my life have to be attuned to God’s presence and love. We will know that in order for God to make itself present to us and to demonstrate its love we have to be still, be quiet and listen with a purity of heart. This is an important part of the formula where we will find success.

It is a belief of mine that God does speak to those who remain quiet and have a desire to listen.
Peace is defined as a “quality or state of mind of being serene, calm and tranquil.”
The quality or state of being serene all takes time and I might add work and discipline. What possibly might have taken years to accomplish, remember we have built a fortress with our defensive thoughts and behavior to reject any force that is deemed harmful on our path. We always sought the prison of isolation over the risk of doing something different.

I believe that the Big Book of AA says it best: ” When we sincerely took such a position, all sorts of remarkable things followed. We had a new employer, being all powerful, he provided what we needed, if we kept close to him and performed his work well. Established on such a footing we became less and less interested in ourselves, our little plans and designs. More and more we became interested in seeing what we could contribute to life. As we felt new power flow in, as we enjoyed peace of mind, as we discovered we could face life successfully, as we became conscious of his presence, we began to lose our fear of today, tomorrow or the hereafter. We’re reborn.” (Alcoholics Anonymous. Page 63.)

The particular section following Step Two which declares that we “came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” (Depressed Anonymous.Pages 39-45). This is an important part of our getting re-centered and renewed as we let the power flow into our lives.

“…We may have had certain spiritual beliefs, but now we begin to have a spiritual experience. We feel that we are on the Broad Highway walking hand in hand with the Spirit of the Universe.” (Alcoholics Anonymous.Page 39).

“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, Alcoholics Anonymous. Page 100)

RESOURCES
(C) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. Pages 39-45.
(C) Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. New York City, 1955. Pages 39,63,100.

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 Was On The Verge Of Sanity!

Yes, on the verge of sanity is the way I look at it. My life up to a certain point was not really insane –it just felt like it. You might recognize the feeling. You keep doing the same insane  things  over and over again  and expecting different results.   How is it that  you and I are so good at this, that is, allowing our mind to chase us around in circles never finding a way out .

If you have been in a 12 step program for any length of time,  you can see some of what I mean.  Just by reading and looking closely at each of the spiritual principles of the  12 Steps you gradually become  conscious of the dysfunctional way  that  you are living out your life.

The insanity begins  to show itself for what it is –it is as it were exposed  by the voices of the other members of the group.  These men and women   who have by now  are discovering the core issues of their own insane ways of thinking and behaviors.   As it states so pointedly in Step Two of the recovery program that we  “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

The members of the Depressed Anonymous group meetings have gradually  painted a portrait of what insanity looks like.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words. It’s when a  member of the group, in detail fashion, shares with us how growing up he was told over and over again how “He would never amount to anything.” And guess  what?  He believed it! This prediction was fulfilled   for everything that  he put his hand to in life.

How about this one handed  out to me by my teacher when I was in the third grade, namely  “you will never be smart like your brother or your uncle ( a bible expert).”

She was right. I began to live with the shame of being inferior, the prediction of this authority figure  gradually working its way into my subconscious from that moment on. I still remember feeling the flesh of my face turning red hot just thinking about that moment so many years back. Sharing this  with the group and a therapist finally removed the scourge that it became in my life. I must have unconsciously worked against this false belief because later I earned a Master’s Degree and later  a Doctoral degree.

Julia  calls Depressed Anonymous a miracle.  So far, she tells us that

“so far  the most grabbing element of Depressed Anonymous has been the parts of the book where the author  refers to the depressed person as a saddict, that is, a person attached or addicted even to sad and hopeless thoughts. Boy, did I ever see myself in these sections. Since then, I have learned to control my thought process. Now, very seldom do sad thoughts creep in. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say  the first time I saw the description of a saddict,  a light went on in my head.  The actual miracle took place at that moment. And the beauty of the whole thing is that thinking positive thoughts becomes easier and easier, automatic, then ecstatic at times.

But it is not all that easy. I followed the Steps also. I work at them often. For just as sure as your mind is on the automatic positive gear, it can easily slip back to negativism without the proper maintenance , which includes weekly( not just regular)  attendance at meetings, and the knowledge and practice of the Twelve Steps as well as for those that need it, medication plus therapy as recommended by your doctor. ” (C) Julia, Depressed Anonymous Personal Stories

Good luck! And if just one other person reaches the point where I am,then there is a hope that life can be different for you as well.”

Note: When I became aware of how to live on the verge of sanity and then start living a live of serenity I began sharing with others about the miracle of Depressed Anonymous.  Now that I am feeling sane I just hope that you put this plan. that works, into your daily life.

Submitted by Julia, a member of Depressed Anonymous,  writing her Personal Story in the Personal Stories section of Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY Page 122.

For more stories please click onto the Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore at our website www. depressedanon.com.  You can order online.

 

The total surprise of living.

 

I’ve finally found how to live.  I guess you could say it was pretty much a round -about- way.   Surprisingly, it all came about with my face to face struggle with the dark forces of depression.  Included in these  waves of darkness appeared  the demons of shame, guilt, fear and isolation.  All these foes of serenity and happiness entered through the  door of my life and settled in. I was imprisoned.  It took all my energies to mobilize my will to even get out of bed in the morning.

I reached down deep into my soul and made a commitment to myself and to my wanting to live.  I discovered a “power greater than myself” in a belief that told me that I could free myself from this strong attachment to sadness and despair. I moved my body. I began to force myself to get up and walk. Almost like Jesus telling the man paralyzed from birth to get up, take up his mat and walk.  And that is what I did. I got out of bed and started walking.

Later I realized that I had put a goal into my life. I had a purpose. It wasn’t some grandiose plan to free myself from the demons of fear–it was  a simple action that put meaning in my life. I lived every day  with a purpose to survive whatever had me by the throat.

“I came to believe that a power greater than myself could restore  me to sanity.” That was Step Two of the Twelve Steps of Depressed Anonymous. That was the moment I made a decision to trust that the God of my understanding would give me back my life. This is indeed what happened.

As it states in our  Manual, ” We found God does not make too hard terms with those who speak seek its guidance. To us, the realm of the spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive, and never exclusive or forbidding to those who earnestly seek it. It is open, we believe to all men and women.

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 the 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 that the only safe way to  make this life bearable and predictable was to  continually sadden ourselves, withdraw into our little shell 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.”

Scott Peck, in his best selling book, The Road Less Traveled makes the statement in the first sentence of his book  “That life is unpredictable.”  Yes, life is definitely unpredictable. That is what can make it an adventure of discovery instead of  completely removing all spontaneity  and joy because of our being imprisoned in that small, painful, and ongoing total isolation of depression.

Break free! Push on!  In time you too will live and enjoy the daily adventure of living life.  Be surprised by the daily joys of living life!

SOURCES: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY. Pg. 97.

Please VISIT THE DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS PUBLICATIONS  BOOKSTORE FOR MORE INFORMATION.

 

I accepted that God, as the God of my understanding…

The Second way out of the prison of our depression states that “I accepted that God, the God of my understanding is loving and forgiving. The 12 Step group and our God is the pillar  of our strength and healing.

LIVING A HALF-LIFE

In depression the first thing that we must do is to take charge of our lives and incorporate a planned pleasant activity in our lives. If I don’t, I will continue to linger on  alone and live a half-life. Nothing beyond my reach can absorb my pain of isolation and feeling worthless.

This is especially true for many of us in mid-life where the dreams we once thought possible  remains stillborn. We seem to have  lost the time to do something positive with our lives. We feel stuck. I want to get involved with a fellowship of persons who  are learning new ways of living with a sense of purpose. We want to live our lives with hope. Step  Two of Depressed Anonymous states that “we came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”  We will “let go and let God.” P.11.


Check the menu here  at our site and discover if there is a Depressed Anonymous group in your community.

SOURCE: Copyright(c) Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression.(2014) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

…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.”

__________________________________

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.

Came To Believe That A Power Greater Than Ourselves Could Restore Us To Sanity

This quote is Step Two of Depressed Anonymous.

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

  1. What or who is the Power greater than you who is able to restore you  to sanity?
  2. Do you HAVE a Power greater than yourself?
  3. Do you actually feel powerless and helpless over your feelings of depression?
  4. Can you think of a time from your past when a Power really was allowed to restore a sense of equilibrium to your life?
  5. Have you made use of this 12 Step program of recovery and have you discovered it to be THAT Power that restored your life to sanity?

Does Mid-life = Half-life?

I accepted that God, as the God of my understanding is loving and forgiving. The 12 Step group and our God is the pillar of our strength and healing. The #2 STATEMENT OF BELIEF  of Depressed Anonymous.

In  depression the first thing that we must do is to take charge of our lives and incorporate a planned pleasant activity in our daily lives.  If  I don’t, I will continue to linger on alone and live a half-life. Nothing beyond my reach can absorb my pain of isolation and feeling worthless. This is especially true for many of us in mid-life where the dreams we once thought possible  remain stillborn. We seem to have lost the time to do something positive with our lives. We feel stuck. I want to get involved with  a  fellowship of persons who are learning new ways of living with a sense of purpose. We want to live our lives  with hope.  Step  Two of Depressed Anonymous states that “we came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. We will “let go and let God.”


Comment: I am thinking this  morning and attempting to clarify some of my thinking about having a purpose for my life. I remember that it was at the  mid-life point of my life (45 years) where my life  gradually screeched to a   halt.  That is when my life, plummeted down to the   half-life point. My life’s meaning, instead of providing hope and purpose drew my resources down until the only purpose that I could envision was to try and get out of bed in the morning.  My concentration was focused–but only on my pain. Another way of looking at it is using  the   metaphor of looking at the gas gauge on your car’s dash and seeing that it reads empty.

When I discovered a group of people, just like myself, in the 12 Step recovery program  did my life began to happen. My experience with depression and living daily  the recovery process has provided me with a wealth of purposeful living and meaning. My half-life became a very full  life. Everyday I am blessed to be able to communicate with person depressed, be it locally or from the far corners of  the world. Whether it is with emails, SKYPE or to meet  face to face with fellow members sharing their  experiences and who are  desiring a  way out of their depression.

I know from personal experience that mid-life or really any part of one’s life  there may be a need for a reexamination of what our life is about and possibly for it to take a more purposeful direction. And no matter where our life stands today we are always poised on making it purposeful and filled with meaning. A full life is one filled with hope, service to others while embedded in a fellowship of persons like ourselves. For myself today, I know it is my fellowship group, Depressed Anonymous.

Take the plunge if you like and find out how you too can have a life filled with purpose, service to others like yourself, and part of a dynamic Depressed Anonymous 12 Step group.

SOURCES:  (c) Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression (2015) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

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

Overcome our need to be compulsive about everything…

Affirmation

I will be fearless as I take my personal inventory and uncover those thoughts that I sad myself with on an ongoing basis.

“The most common symptoms of emotional insecurity are worry, anger, self-pity, and depression. These stem from causes which sometimes seem to be within us, and at other times to come from without. To take inventory in this respect we ought to consider carefully all personal relationships which bring continuous or recurring trouble.”

Clarification of thought

I am seeing how my attitudes of worry, anger, self-pity and depression can keep me imprisoned. Working with my program has been and is part and parcel of my every waking minute.  The Steps that I put so much faith in are the road signs that keep me on this shining path which I call God’s will for me. I am reminded of not sticking my nose always into other people’s business so that my serenity is lost.

I am mindful that this program is mine for the used.  I believe that this program deals with the way we respond to our attachments and compulsions.  The Second  and the Third Step help me realize that there is a God larger than me. Once I am in his will, I can move on and be changed for the better. It is a simple reality to realize that to work on my program is to let God work through me.

Depression sometimes is a symptom of something inside me that I have lost. It is a sadness over something gone out of my life.  This loss could be the reality of never being good enough, never doing enough or being les than perfect. The symptoms disappear when I can learn to live with the belief that I will find hope and begin to feel better.

Meditation

God will help us today to overcome our need to be compulsive about everything negative that we say to ourselves. God will help us say Stop to all those compulsive and self-defeating thoughts.”

Sources:

Copyright(c) Higher Thoughts for Down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Page 168.

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

             Hope to hope. Depressed Anonymous Publications. (2000) Louisville.

God Is The Rudder Of My Boat. I Am Going To Put My Oars In The Water!

 AFFIRMATION

I will have the peace I desire as I continue to pray to do God’s will.

“Being in God’s will is the beginning of peace and the beginning of the end of your depression with its hollowness and jitters.” (8)

 CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

Most people don’t understand this who have not been in the program very long. What it means is that I must attempt to work and live this spiritual program. I need to let myself be guided by God’s hand in my life and so become open and ready to fiollow his guidance.

The beginning of wisdom is to hear the voice of God. It is imperative that I take an active role in getting better. I often say that God is the rudder of my boat and I have to put my oars in the water if I am going to get to the shore. I believe that one of the best ways for me to start to feel better is to take each step (Depressed Anonymous, Third Edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications) and try to do what it suggests.  Keeping a journal lets me know what I am feeling for each day. I have come to believe that a power greater than myself can restore me to sanity.   I wonder sometimes if this hollow feeling inside myself isn’t more of a longing and hunger for a spiritual food that nothing in my life now can and ever will provide.

MEDITATION

We pray that God will show us the way out of our depression by living and following the program that  has healed other people who have been addicted to a behavior or a substance and which  continued to bring them down instead of up.

SOUIRCE: Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for Twelve Step Fellowship Groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Page 71.