Category Archives: Step 04

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.

Childhood messages: how are they working for you today?

In the  Depressed Anonymous Workbook, we are asked a very important question included in STEP FIVE.

AT 5.1 the question is asked:  As a child did you get a message that if you were good and did everything that you were supposed to do that you would end up happy and everything would go your way?  (The Workbook then asks you to write out your response.) For all of us, who are experiencing depression, this is a very important question. I myself have often wondered how the messages of childhood are working for us now that we are adults.

STEP FIVE is about intimacy and the sharing of one’s  innermost self with its secrets to that other human being. This is something that we hate that we would much rather snuggle back into our little corner and keep all knotted up in the addiction to our misery. In STEP FOUR we learned about getting it straight within ourselves so that we looked into every nook and cranny inside ourselves that kept us from being honest with ourselves, our God and all the other human beings that we have shared our story with.

For that personal experience of our lives, as we see it, can be obtained by spending time with the Depressed Anonymous Workbook. You will be amazed  by the feelings that come up and present themselves as we work through our lives using the Twelve Steps as a roadmap of life.

Re-membering

Thoughts from the Depressed Anonymous Workbook

The healing comes in the telling of the story, the literally painful ‘re-membering.’  As the story is retold and some of the old feelings which were denied and cut off are gradually remembered  and received by a supportive and empathic listener, healing starts to happen. The re-membering of the story, particularly if the trauma has been severe and deeply repressed, can be extremely painful, accompanied in some instances by sleep disturbances, nightmares, anxiety or depression. It is critical to let the individual loosen his or her defense of repression at a pace which feels safe, especially as trust is gradually developed.

What are some of the losses of the adult child? He or she has lost childhood in some real ways. Very often the growing up in a dysfunctional family means loss of trust and love in some cases and even loss of provision for basic survival needs such as food, shelter and physical safety… Sometimes this chronic depression is masked and defended against by compulsive activity and perfectionist kinds of striving. Becoming “tireless” and “limitless caretakers of others defends a person against his or her own neediness and yearning to be cared for.” (See: Adult children of alcoholics. Ministers and Ministries. Rea McDonnell and Richard Callahan,CSC.)

Regarding Self-concept and the Fourth Step  (  “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” )

Most of our lives we are involved in relationships of one kind or another. It is these relationships that set us up for being the trusted individual who sees the world either as a safe and secure place to live or we learn to see the world and the people in it as a place to be feared.

Dorothy  Rowe, always at her best at helping the depressed develop personal insights asks pertinent questions:

What kind of meaning do you need to find which would enable you to master your experience and to allow you to get on with your life?

What have you learned from your experience of depression which you feel would be helpful to other people?

Are you aware that your own program of recovery using the Steps can be a great source of help to that person who comes into the Depressed Anonymous Program of recovery.

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

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

Stepping Up To Hope

In Depressed Anonymous I have heard members of the group say what works for them is not to fight depression but instead do the dead man’s float — just let go and feel the sadness –don’t run away from it with lots of activity and doing — this can lead to mania — instead, admit our sadness, our despondency and face the feeling.
Don’t fight it and push it down but DISCUSS it –talk about it and see it for what it is. Since depression is a dependency issue it is only when we begin to surrender to the Higher Power or God as we understand him that we make it possible to recover from this experience. We choose to live, feel and think differently.
THE ANTIDEPRESSANT TABLET
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This approach to depression really works, as the many testimonies in our “Big Book” Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition illustrate. Yes, we know that running away from any difficulty or problem just digs the hole of our sadness deeper. Once we give up our shame or guilt for being depressed–basically our feelings powerless and being isolated –and start to share our story with others, we find our sense of mastery begins to return as our feelings of uselessness begin to evaporate. How often do members of the group, after coming to the group for some weeks, begin to look different–that is, they seem calmer and their faces become softer. The hardness disappears.
Hugh

Prizing Yourself

 

One of the activities that you might think about is something that you found fun or pleasurable before your present depression.  You might  give this activity some thought and then  write down this activity with any other fun things that comes to your attention. After a while, I think you will find that there are many  things that you could do when you are feeling especially low. At a time when I was especially feeling a total lack of energy I would go and lie down –why fight the fatigue?  But then I learned that if I would reject the thought of lying down  and instead interest my attention in an activity such as typing on my computer that I found my energy coming back.  The thought that I was too tired to do anything disappeared in a short while.  Weird, but it works!

Also, as for planning pleasurable  activities, you might want to start listening to the way you talk to yourself. Try to speak words to yourself as if you were talking to a guest in your home. Talk out loud if you wish – hear yourself say kind things to yourself. For once, say something good about yourself instead of listening to all those old negative tapes that always made you feel you’d be better off dead. Or else be someone else. You get the idea.

When  you start listing your strengths  as part of your Fourth Step Inventory, list all  the good things  that you like about yourself. (See the Depressed Anonymous Workbook). With every negative statement about yourself don’t allow yourself another statement about yourself until you are able to replace it with three positive statements. I mean. let’s be fair and balance this thing out.  I know that you might feel a bit uncomfortable about prizing yourself, but give it a try anyway.  One of the best ways to make sure you will have a pleasurable activity today is to plan for it the day before and then placing it on your calendar for the next day.  Don’t say you will do it “when I feel  better,” as you and I both know, we don’t usually do anything, no matter what we tell ourselves. I think we have all heard the saying “have a nice day unless you have made other plans.”  A lot depends on our attitude. If this isn’t enough, just know that Abraham Lincoln said that we are all about as happy as we make up  our minds to be. What do you think?

SOURCE: Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression. (2015) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.   Pages 43-45.

STOP SIGNS AND SUNSPOTS

My name is Linda and the first time I read Depressed Anonymous,   I did not like it and got angry. The first part of the book about turning over our minds and life to a Higher Power sounded good.  I was ready to do that. ” Hey, here it is God! You take it! No more depression.”  But then came the part about a moral inventory, shortcomings, and the big one is that I depress myself.

“What’s he talking about?” I said to myself as I read the book. I had tried to un-depress myself many times. I put the book down, and went to work . But as I was walking around at work that night feeling very depressed, bits  and pieces of the book kept popping into my head and I started to think of the  word “stop” just like the book suggested to do.  “I depressed myself, I can un-depress myself” I said to myself.

Look for “SUNSPOTS”, memories from the past that were happy times and ones which bring back happy feelings from years gone by. I tried, but none came to mind. But I did find that just  by thinking about the book and what it  said made  me feel a little bit better.  Then a piece of a song popped into my mind: “Seek you first the Kingdom  of God and His righteousness , and all the others will be added to you.” “Hey! A SUNSPOT!” I said to myself.

Then I felt a warm glow and then I did feel better –I did it!  I made myself feel better. I can un-depress myself! I had mixed feelings. I wanted to feel better, but admitting I depressed myself was not an easy thing to do.  I went back and reread the book, but now with an open mind. I have started to follow the Twelve Steps and with the help of the Higher Power, I can have a brighter future.  I am making and putting in my memory a lot of SUNSPOTS for those times when I am feeling depressed and which I can choose to draw upon when I feel that I need  them.

I put up a “stop” sign and bring out a SUNSPOT to carry me though.”

SOURCE: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011)  Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Page 114. Personal Stories section.

TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE

“To  thine own self be true.”  is an old axiom that has much merit for those of us who work the spiritual  program of the Twelve Steps.    Often in therapy I ask people to list as many strengths as they can, and for some this is a difficult task when they are depressed and the world appears to be a grey and fearsome dark place.  But this is a n inventory that we must make– we must begin to look at  our strengths and stop wallowing in the self-pity which denies the new directions and progress occurring in our lives through the life of our depression, namely that we can’t seem to see the gracious goodness in ourselves that has been placed there for all time by the Higher Power. This in itself is the attitude that keeps alive our depression, sadness and self-deprecating attitudes.  We need to look at our assets and list our strengths as we gather together time after time in our Depressed Anonymous group or our individual working ( HOME STUDY PROGRAM)  of the Twelve Step program  in our lives.  We  need to remove as quickly as possible all the old excuses and reasons that we cling to which  keep us depressed and out of healthful recovery. Let’s be objective about ourselves and admit that just as we possibly have caused ourselves to be depressed, we likewise can un-depress ourselves in the same way.”

SOURCE: DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS, (3rd Edition, 2011).. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Ky 40217. (p. 56)

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Only when I had taken a complete inventory of my own life (Step Four) did I realize that certain ways of personal  thinking, feeling and behaviors gradually spiraled me physically into the painful pit of my own personally  manufactured  melancholia. (Some depression experiences can also be the result of physical illness/diseases. That is why it is best to talk to a medical professional before we diagnose ourselves. )  Now here is the part that people can’t quite understand –that we caused ourselves to be depressed. How could that be? Why would I want to cause myself so much pain? Good question. The real issue here is that I discovered over time that because of emotional issues that were mine, mostly unpleasant to reflect upon, such as guilt, shame producing isolation from family, friends and the world, plus the grief over lost employment and relationships. And then, because of this continued mental and emotional beating myself up it all came crashing down  as no longer could I think of anything but disaster, grief  and gloom. I became paralyzed emotionally, physically and spiritually and mentally. My body responded by not responding so that in time it was a battle just to get out of bed. So, there you have it. I caused all this by the way I thought about myself. In Step Four I was able to take each issue by itself and then to see how I might restore myself before my experience with depression. I learned how to un-depress myself. Remember, most of the things that come “out of the blue” are  the rain, snow and lightening. And now that I know where my melancholia originated and why, I am un-depressed today.

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Treat Yourself Kindly Today!

AFFIRMATION

I will try to learn how to relax today.

Be kind to yourself. Don’t push yourself too hard. Relax. Enjoy yourself.

REFLECTION

One of the signs that I see when I gradually leave my depression is that I am beginning to be kind to myself.  I am seeing to it that my diet is more nutritional, that I get myself to the dentist or doctor for a regular checkup and I  begin  to  take stock of my life and the direction that it is taking. (See Depressed Anonymous Workbook /Step Four for a detailed analysis of this process). Many times in the context of the self-help group we are able to support each other with our ideas of how we can take better care of ourselves.

When I was  sadding  myself, I was always to tired to do anything for myself. I could never muster up the energy to do that something special that might lift my spirit or take my mind off my problems.  To relax was anathema to me because I  was always judging myself by the amount  of stuff I could produce. Now, in the program, I gradually let go from my clutched hand  all control and let the Higher Power run my life. Take some deep breaths, take a walk and think in images of those favorite places which always brightened your life.

MEDITATION

God, you will not be displeased with us because we might be enjoying ourselves. You know of all the things that we need today is to see some funny movie, or to be with a friend who might make us laugh.

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