Category Archives: Step 12

Do persons who are addicted have depression as part of their lives?

Many times I hear a person attending our fellowship, Depressed Anonymous, not only are they now attending another 12 step fellowship, but now believe that their depression is either a part of their addiction, or the cause of their depression.

Whether they are addicted to a substance (alcohol) or to a behavior (depressive thinking), they find that depression is part of their daily life. With depression being part of an addiction, it follows that these powerful feelings of helplessness and hopelessness need ot e addressed.

Co-morbidity is a term used in the treatment of addictions, as with the alcoholic who is depressed, exists as a critical factor in how alcoholism affects their specific addiction. Co-dependency also serves as fertile ground for depression to develop, as it takes over one’s moods, thinking and behavior. Both the depressed and the alcoholic find themselves out of control, unable to live a life free from their addictions. The one feeds on the other. That is why one will find the Depressed Anonymous fellowshiip a necessary and healing partner in one’s healing.

So, can we say, not only should an alcoholic deal with his/her addiction to alcohol, but need to look into their feelings of depression. The one affects the other negatively. In the case of seeking and getting help for their alcohol addiction, and staying sober, both AA and DA provide long term, positive effectS, on one’s feeling isolated and depressed. The more we use the tools of Alcoholics Anonymous and Depressed Anonymous, the more we will find the hope and serenity that comes from the strength and healing,
from both these spiritual programs of recovery.

Many times persons who join us in our Depressed Anonymous 12 Step program, find that our fellowship becomes a logical and necessary component for their individual recovery program.

If a person feels lost in their struggle to free themselves from the prison of depression, they simultaneously are struggling to stay sober, possibly denying their own negative and tortuous thinking causing a spiraling downward into a pit from which they are not able to dig out.

How many persons depressed come into a Depressed Anonymous meeting and find that there is hope for them too. They embrace and make part of their lives, the strength received when they apply the 12 steps to their own lives. If you are already part of a 12 Step Fellowship, and are seeking help for your depression. The fellowship of Depressed Anonymous is here for you.

Hugh S.

COPYRIGHT(C) Depressed Anonymous, THIRD EDITION, 2011. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Lousville, KY.

This book of Depressed Anonymous can be ordered online from the Depressed Anonymous website at Depressedanon.com. Other 12 Step literature is available from this Bookstore.

Two Questions

Many times I am asked the same two questions and I always give the questioner the same two answers.

The first question: “How come you keep coming to meetings, though you say you are not depressed?”

My reply to the questioner: “Let me ask you why you go to the gym three times a week”

His answer. “Well I go to keep in shape.”

My question: “Well you look healthy enough to me. I mean, you tell me you’ve never felt better.”
“Ok” I say, “but why continue to go to the gym, since you look healthy and you say that you feel so great.”

“It’s so simple” he says. “I continue to go three times a week to keep in shape and maintain the progress that the Doctor says I am making.”

“That’s interesting” I say. That’s the same reason I continue to go to meetings. I keep in shape, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, not to mention how I can help others find the hope that is now mine. My Doctor tells me I’m looking better, happier and that I should keep doing whatever I’m doing, ’cause it’s working!”

The second question is one I am asked time and again. “Doesn’t going to all those depression meetings get you depressed? I mean, listening to all those problems? That sure would depress me.”

Here is what I tell all those who ask this question.

I tell them “that no, actually I look forward to my meetings. I always feel energized by going to a Depressed Anonymous meeting. I feel, by listening to others, and hearing their stories, I feel they are telling my story as well. Here, I am not alone. I am with people just like me. Each of us attending the meetings are at different places in our lives. We are here because we believe there is a solution for me, using the spiritual principles of recovery. The more they read the DA literature, talk to each other, they find tools to overcome their depression. They feel the energy, the peace and hope which they receive from each other at the meetings.

The meetings don’t dwell on our depression, as much as we dwell on the power of the Twelve Steps. Here is what I love about the meetings, I see people growing with every meeting. Even their faces begin to soften – they have a smile now. A few weeks previous, they had nothing but hurt to feel.

Again, the reason I go to meetings is to get a boost. I get another dose of hope. I am only as isolated as I choose to be. I now can choose to live and feel differently.

Find your plan of recovery (find a Depressed Anonymous meeting), and stick to it. Get into action. Seek out a DA member to talk with, and you’ll be on a journey that will continue to bring peace, hope and a fellowship with you as long as you wish.

For more information, check out the Depressed Anonymous website at depressedanon.com. You’ll be happy that you did. So, this fellowship is the reason I keep coming back to my meetings. There are no fees. No dues. Just come and see. Virtual, Zoom group meetings are now online.

Thanks for reading this message today. Please join us at Depressed Anonymous. You are always welcomed.

Hugh S. for the fellowship

Time to plant

To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.
– Audrey Hepburn

Submitted by Robin R.

I might not be planting a garden but I am watching the seed of my faith, service to others, grow as part of my next 24 hours. My efforts to be there for others has a relationship to how I am there for myself. I watch how I can thrive emotionally and spiritually when I believe in a power greater than myself. It is a known fact that when a person has a belief in some higher power, some purpose for living, it usually is due to a belief, that “there is a God and it’s not me.”

I believe in a tomorrow. I believe in living one day at a time. I also believe in keeping my life simple. I try and do the next right thing. As best I can I try to do what needs to be done. I try and do the possible. I have learned that trying to do the impossible, takes a little more time.

I want to live in peace with my neighbor. Treat others as I would like to be treated. Pretty simple and basic stuff. Agree?
I also believe in consequences for what I do or not do in this life. And, do I try and love my neighbor as myself. Yes.

As Bill W., a co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, left the hospital room of Dr. Bob, he heard Dr. Bob tell him, “Bill, keep it simple.”
It’s not that complicated. Though it does take work. Much like “weeding” the garden.

Depression made me think I was losing my mind, until I did two things that changed my life forever

“What is happening to me,” I asked myself, as I spent another week of struggling to get out of bed. It was like a 500 pound lead weight had dropped on top of me. I felt that whatever commands I issued to my body, “like get out of bed,” the message never reached my body.

The only thing that I knew what to do was to force myself to move the body and hopefully the mind would follow, be it reluctantly. And that is exactly what happened. Every morning after was a struggle, but I did manage to push myself out of bed and I got myself to work. When work ended, I went home and immediately hit the bed. What’s going on here? I asked. I had no clue that what was the matter was that my body was shutting down and that my mind gradually became powerless to make any positive changes in my behavior or thinking.

It was only as I started to walk five miles a day in a local mall, just to promote the fact that I was up and out and able to get to work. I want to make the point here that even though this walking continued for over a year and half, I still was forcing myself to get out of bed. Every morning the debate in my head started all over again. By now I had developed some resistance to staying in bed and just realized, if I was to save my job, I had to walk.

Eventually, the walking was a way out of the prison that my mind had constructed. Eventually, I learned that the way I was living my life and the negativity that I had embraced in my thinking, together threw me into a deep dark pit. Before I was able to figure out what was happening to me, I became depressed. The more I tried to figure out, in my mind, why I was depressed the more I became further depressed, isolated and alone. Then I did something that changed my life to this very day.

The first thing that I did was to force myself to get out of bed and walk, walk, and walk some more. (I still walk three times a week). I know first-hand, the potential life-threatening nature of depression.

The second most important discovery for my recovery was to find a group of men and women just like myself, all who were depressed and looking for a way out of their depression. It was this 12 Step fellowship group, Depressed Anonymous, that has been an integral part of the way I live my life today. If you are looking for what I found, namely, a way to quit saddening yourself, this support group may be your lifeline as much as it continues to be for me today. And I still attend this meeting, even though I have not been depressed for many years, I attend because I find that I can help others to find the hope and peace that it promised and provides for me today.

Discover important information at www.depressedanon.com for our online virtual Zoom meetings which meet every day of the week. Other DA sponsored groups also meet during the week. There are no fees and dues. Come and share or just come and listen. You will find that you are not alone. We are all on this journey of hope together…and we do recover.

For the fellowship, Hugh S.

SAFE PLACE TO FALL

i love when one of my Depressed Anonymous friends says that a Depressed Anonymous meeting room is a “safe” place to fall. She describes it as an all accepting place with friends who truly understand what you are talking about. A place where you don’t have to feel ashamed to have mental illness or discuss depression at length! She says when she walks into the room and takes a seat she knows that the love and the anonymity of the group will provide her a safe place to discuss what’s happening in her life with her son and the bizarre situations bringing depressive thoughts. No place else has she ever found such a place she says. The bonds made with new friends who can speak the language of depression has been an amazing blessing. She says she never knew there could be such a place. A place where she truly can give details of her life, shed tears and not feel ashamed. Discuss her meds, her dark thoughts and ask for help without ensuring failure! Thus she says Depressed Anonymous meetings are a safe place to fall! Bringing her a comfort she didn’t know before. Sometimes we just need friends who truly understand and can relate to our depression. Especially living in a world where people tell us to just get up and go out and we will feel better. It’;s a safe place to be with people who can relate to feeling suicidal or being so down and not wanting to get out of bed. This “miracle of the group” is what makes it such a safe place to “fall,”: Thank God for depression support group where we can meet wonderful friends who are there when we need the help, and who totally understands depression.”

-Anonymous

“Depressed Anonymous meetings are a safe place to fall.”
(c) A Medley of depression stories. Debra Sanford. (2017) pp.57-58. With permission

Having had a spiritual awakening …

Step 12 is about having a spiritual awakening. Remember, Step 12 is the last Step of our 12 Step recovery program. The 12 Steps are the 12 spiritual principles, the core of what we believe and what our lives and daily actions are based. The following remarks are mine and express the belief that has carried me personally through a time of darkness and hopelessness. Until, I had a “spiritual experience…an awakening.” I woke up to a new way of living my life. My old way of living brought me to the edge of personal disaster. That is, until I walked into a meeting of people who were just like myself. Let me explain. They WERE like me. They welcomed me. They shared how the God of their understanding gave them a new way of looking at themselves and others. They had an experience that changed their lives. They had a “spiritual awakening.” Their lives were no longer consumed by the devastatingly presence of fear and aloneness.

The text following is found in the Introduction to Depressed Anonymous, our 12 Step recovery program where the author extends an invitation to be part of this fellowship.

We now have a solution to offer those who want to reach out and grow into the new way of life, a life that is now focused on recovery and a feeling of hope. With this offer and solution daily before our eyes, we are beginning to see that the depressed have to depend on a spiritual experience to really be free from that debilitating scourge of depression. It is this spiritual experience, coupled with the power of the fellowship of those who like ourselves where we neither need to explain of excuse ourselves or apologize for being depressed that is the basis for our recovery.
You must want to begin this journey seriously enough to actually begin the recovery program of Depressed Anonymous. Someday I hope to know you as a kindred spirit in recovery.
Depressed Anonymous, 3rd Edition, p. 23

Again, I would like to share a quote from A Meister Eckarte (c. 1260-1328) who shaped his insight for us about the nature of knowing God and how our knowing, comes from God himself. Here are his thoughts about the Spiritual awakening that comes to those of us and are “willing to turn their lives and wills over to the care of God as they understand God to be.”

This work then when it is perfect, will be due solely to God’s action while you have been passive. If you really forsake your own knowledge and will, then surely and gladly God will enter your own knowledge shining clearly. Where God achieves self-consciousness, your own knowledge is of no use nor has it standing. Do not imagine that your own intelligence may rise to it, so that you may know God. Indeed, when God divinely enlightens you, no natural light is required to bring that about. This (natural light) must in fact be completely extinguished before God can come in with his light, bringing back with God all that you have forsaken and a thousand times more, together with a new form to contain it all.
Depressed Anonymous, 3rd Edition, p. 161

In Depressed Anonymous, you can read the stories of those who have had their lives changed by letting go, letting God, and willing to do what it takes to recover from depression. Please join us.

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

Do not ask what the world needs

“Do not ask for what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and do it. For what the world needs is people who are fully alive.”
Howard Thurman

This thought got me thinking. I have asked myself the very question many times over. I always had an answer to the question. For many years, the same answer continued to take me down the same path. It was a gentle path. It was like going to work in the morning. You know, getting on the bus, or driving the car to the same place every day. There it was the same faces, the same tasks. After a days work it was back home again. End of story.
It was a good life. I felt alive doing what needed to be done. And yes, I think I was fully alive. But then at a certain point(I can still feel it) life started to spin out of control. If you have had this experience you definitely know what I am talking about.

Long story short. My life was falling apart. I started isolating from friends and family. All I needed was to get away from the world and try figuring out what ws happening to me. I did not need a world that looked so gray, forbidding and threatening.
I only wanted to live in a world of which I could control. Now, I was moving slowly in a world that gave me no promise of direction. I was a walking zombie.

Then gradually, a light went on in my dull and darkened spirit. I discovered a new and exciting path. It was a new world for me. I was no longer alone. It was my gradual awakening to a new reality. I was no longer alone. I was part of others who are on the same journey. It was a journey of hope. I had a direction. It is called recovery.
My depression was gone. The fog had lifted. I came alive with the help of the group. It is better called a fellowship.I am needed. My experiences of recovering from depression is needed. I am called to give hope. My life’s ultimate concern, my purpose is to walk with others just like myself–once wounded –now wounded healers. I am fully alive.

I believe that the world truly needs me–needs you. What once made me think I was worthless and useless, now I am alive. Depressed Anonymous helped me come alive. Now I have no doubt what makes me fully alive. It’s those others, just like me at a time in my own life, who said, we need you. We need you to help others become fully alive. Now we know what the world needs.

With a gratitude that I am alive.

Hugh, for the fellowship

You can be the “good news” of hope for a person depressed

HERE IS YOUR HIGHER THOUGHT FOR TODAY

AFFIRMATION

I want to carry the message of hope to those others who are depressed.

Quoting Dr. Dr. Dorothy Rowe who tells us “what I so often said, that the best way that depressed persons can help themselves is to help one another. Form a group, get to know one another, support one another.”

REFLECTION

They also think that all I have to do is just be cheerful and my mood will automatically change. It’s like telling someone to stop their diarrhea as if they have control over it. My depression took time to develop so it will take time and work to remove. The people who are the most support are those who have been depressed themselves, they won’t tell you to snap out of it.

I best support myself when I find other people like myself and try and help them. Form a group, get to know one another, support one another.

MEDITATION
“God grant us the serenity to accept the things that we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can and the wisdom to know the difference.” (The Serenity Prayer recited at all Depressed Meetings.)

RESOURCES
(c) Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 Step fellowship groups. (1993) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. (Reading for October 7th.).
(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.
(c) The Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY

* All Depressed Anonymous publications are available for purchase online.

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.

The Prompter

The prompter  is a person who prompts; specifically one who cues performers when they forget their lines.  Other speakers use Tele-Prompters, which enables the speaker to read their  speech from a screen.

In the Depressed Anonymous program of recovery, we  find ourselves listening to a spiritual Prompter —  an inner  voice, a Higher Power, providing us with a brand new line of thinking. An action oriented  prompt, where we come to believe in a Power greater than ourselves nudging  us to change the way we think and behave.

But who is this Prompter? What is its name? And why  am I hearing it’s voice now. I am hearing it now because I am ready to hear it. Fair enough?  I have surrendered.  Once beat down by my addictions, I now no longer follow the cues which produced for me  a life of negative moods and behaviors. I told the  God of my understanding that I’ve had it! No more beating myself up   with blame and  negative thinking.  Negative thinking  produced those painful  moods  spiraling me   down into feelings of hopelessness and depression.  I had the  feeling that all my efforts at finding hope were futile.

The  Prompter which I have been  listening to in the inner depths of my soul has been leading me towards serenity and filling me with a powerful meaning for my life. After having been introduced to the spiritual principles of the Twelve Steps I continued to listen  to the Prompter in the quiet of those daily moments of meditation and prayer.

It was my decision to put my life on a brand new trajectory of wellness and healing. I had a spiritual awakening, ever so gradually. I just knew it was the Prompter itself who was placing a new life script into my heart.

Each and every day of my life I pray, I quiet the chatter in my mind, and draw near to the God of my understanding.   When we draw near to God, God draws near to us. What you seek, seeks you.

I believe that  my daily conscious contact with  God in prayer and meditation  I am able to  discover that we  are no longer dependent on our will but on God’s will for us. And just as Bill W  tells us  in Alcoholics Anonymous that when we are faced with the indecision about something, we then ask God for inspiration and we let go  of struggling for an answer.  He tells us that you will be surprised at how the right answers will come after we have practiced  this way of living. It also comes to pass that our hunches are more right than wrong. We also pause throughout the day when we are fearful, puzzled or anxious. We pray to the Higher Power for which direction to take. I like the suggestion the best when AA  says,” We are then in much less danger of excitement, fear, anger, worry, self pity, or foolish decisions. We become more efficient. We do not tire so easily, for we  are not burning up energy foolishly as we did when we were trying to arrange life to suit ourselves..”  (Depressed  Anonymous, Page 101).    We  all know that our new life script which  the Prompter has provided us  gives our life  direction and meaning.

Depressed Anonymous   shares with us Meister Eckart’s thoughts on that  Vital Spiritual Experience which comes to each of us when we surrender our lives and wills to the  God of our understanding.

“This work (birth), when  it is perfect, will be due solely to God’s action while you have been passive. If you really forsake your own knowledge and will, then surely and gladly  God will enter with his knowledge shining clearly. Where God achieves self-consciousness, your own knowledge is of no use, nor has it standing. Do not imagine that your own intelligence may rise to it,  so that you may know God. Indeed when God divinely enlightens you, no natural light is required to bring that about. This natural light must in fact be completely extinguished before God will shine in with his light, bringing back with God all that you have forsaken and a thousand times more, together with a new form to contain it all.” (Depressed Anonymous, Page 161).

“Made a decision to turn our will and lives   over to the care of God as we understand God to be.


SOURCE:  Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011)  Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.  Page 101, 161.