Did I build my own prison of depression?

How could that possibly be? Build my own prison of depression?  Impossible. Wait. There might be a possibility if I go back to my childhood and think about some of the things that happened to me growing up.

The following are some of the examples that others (my clients)  might have experienced   unconsciously or consciously influencing their thinking, feelings and behaviors in their later teens and adult life.

EXAMPLES

*My  parents fought all the time and made me scared. (They added   a few   bricks to the structure of your prison).  I would go in my room and hide in the closet.  ( The foundation for our prison is being built).

*Because my Dad was a town drunk he would show up at my school and make a fool of himself…I felt shame and anger at these   times . (Put a few more bricks on that foundation.).

* I was bullied at school and I just wanted to die. I felt worthless. I felt no one liked me… (Bullies added more bricks   to my  prison. The walls are getting higher and higher).

*I was told that I was not allowed to get angry. I was not allowed to cry. I was not allowed to tell my parents how much I hated their drinking.  No expression  of feelings were allowed in my family.  I wasn’t able to trust anyone with my feelings.

*Another message that I always got was  “You’ll never amount to anything,” or “you’ll never be like your older brother.”  (An especially large row of bricks is laid here  when a Third grade teacher tells you this in front  of the whole class and your face  always turns crimson when you think about this shaming event).

*I was given the message that the world beyond  my family was dangerous and threatening. ”

*It was at this  point that my teenage years were spent behind the walls of a nearly finished prison. I was locked down and there was no way out of my prison. No one gave me a key.

*All these  building blocks that produced a prison  for myself all came with  early life relationships.  The messages that I got growing up gradually and effectively locked me down. I was   growing up with out hope. All the messages were  like  building blocks  which further imprisoned me.

Now that I am an adult, I have  begun to take  bricks away, one by one and the structure  is being dismantled,  one brick  at a time. And how did this happen?

It all happened when I became sick and tired of being sick and tired.   I needed help. I needed someone, something, other than the alcohol and opioids that I was abusing  to turn my life around.

Yes, I built my prison and I was not even aware that  each block carried to my structure was imprisoning  me. So many of my toxic relationships, growing up,   all came with another brick to put into my prison.

Taking the wall down, brick by brick we have to have a plan. We have to find ways to remove the bricks and free ourselves from those deadly feelings  of personal worthlessness and feelings that we  are unacceptable  to ourselves and to others. I know now that   I was not to blame for being in a prison and that  I had no idea that all those messages given to me when I was growing up,  influencing my life so directly,  they all were only  other people’s opinions of me. These opinions determined my future. They were responsible for building  my prison. No child or young person wants to live their life in a prison–especially which is not of their own making.  The tragic point here is that their imprisonment is not their fault.  For some youngsters and even older adults the tragedy is that they believed what was told them so that their pain is so great they take their own life.  They wanted  to be free, be  happy and have people around them who love them  and support them in every way possible. The real problem is that none of us  had  a choice when we got our parents,  teachers and relatives.

I think Bill W., the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous says it best when  gives us hope when he   wrote the following:

“We must never be blinded by the futile philosophy that we are just the hapless victim of our inheritance, of our life experiences, and of our surroundings –  that these are the forces that make our decisions for us. This is not the road to freedom. We have to believe that we can really choose.”  (c) As Bill Sees it. A.A. World Services. NY. 1967.

Now the plan that is working for many of us  is  to discover   that when we live out the solution in our lives,  that we focus on the solutions for removing those bricks from   the walls of our depression, that  it wasn’t our doing that the prison was built.  We didn’t choose to have the wall built. Who chooses to live in a prison  anyway? We didn’t know when we were young that these messages were never true but we believed them.   We do not take the blame today for our depression and feeling worthless and unacceptable. We know that blaming others doesn’t do us any good either.

What works for us is a well thought out plan of recovery.   We can begin to learn how to   prize  ourselves and  realize and celebrate who we really are and  the person whom we desire to become. The 12 Steps will get you there!  You will have the tools to rebuild and you will see results. That is a Promise. (See page 109 in Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition where it lays out the PROMISES of the Steps  for those who choose to use them).

By using the spiritual principles of the  12 Steps we have begun to choose to dismantle all those negative and hurtful messages from others  that were never true in the first place.

If you want to write your own story as how the 12 Steps helped you remove the blocks from your own prison, please let us know by writing to depanon@netpenny.net., as we would love to hear from you.

Also, please read the   personal stories of those who have chosen to  free themselves from the prison of their own depression in our Big Book:

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

Click onto The Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore at our website www.depressedanon.com. Online purchases of our literature is  available.

Depressed? Feeling all alone? Want support?

Want support? That’s what we all want for our lives, especially  when we are depressed. This is certainly  a fact as  we sink deeper into the quagmire of a melancholy mood. Without support from others when we  feel depressed —  even  hopeless — is   a critical time for  us.  It’s a do or die moment. It’s time to make a decision.  What do we want?

I think that for most of us who are or were depressed to have someone understand what we are living through–but let’s be frank–unless you yourself  have experienced the deadening feeling of depression it is quite a leap for others to try and understand our experience if they have never been there themselves. And really this is the reason we have a support group for those of us who can come together and get support. We are not alone. We have walked the walk where we were all alone and in  a continued isolation from family, friends and our world.

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

In a social diagnosis made by C. Lasch,  (La cultura del narcissimo (Andres Bello, Barcelona. 1999). “who typified  our contemporary culture as a culture of narcissism – a culture in which every person relies on himself alone and is horrified by old age and radically  marginalizes the elderly.” (Dolentium Hominum. Church and Health in the world. xix. 2004.)

Social support for   those of us who are or have been depressed has  saved many of us from those deeper and life threatening  forms of addiction, such as alcoholism, gambling,  pornography, hoarding.  We  have become a materialistic  throw away society,  craving more things to consume and  more things  filling  up the hole of our emptiness.

While having already personally experienced the power of the 12 spiritual principles  of the 12 steps, plus a powerful social support  of the fellowship of Depressed Anonymous, I know of the power of being with others who just like myself, who find unconditional acceptance from the group. I also continue to learn about and use the many tools that keep me from relapsing back into depression . In Depressed Anonymous we all speak the same language of hope and recovery.

Dr. Aquilino Polaino-Lorento, a psychopathologist,   in his  article Is depression solely a matter of medical intervention?  tells us   “the absence of social support  is not  a cause of depression but is its consequence….less social support meaning a greater expression of symptoms.”

Here are more of his thoughts on social support and how that can be a predictor in a depressed persons’ response to therapy. He shares the following;  Depressive illness in elderly patients is higher the lower the level of the social support they receive.The speed of the response to therapy correlates in both sexes with  the social support they received.  The higher the level  of social support the more rapid the response.

Social support for many who are depressed is just not there. Period. It is a sad fact that there is even a stigma placed on persons depressed.  A depressed person has need of other depressed persons who can give them hope that their experience doesn’t have to go on.  The  social support of a mutual aid group can give exactly this–support and hope. As  persons depressed have a tendency to isolate themselves — and  the less social support they receive the deeper the spiral into darkness.

So what we have here is that more persons in our modern societies are isolated and remote from others.  We have become nomads looking for more things, more experiences that deepen a focus  on oneself, pushes  us away from the community however large or small, and contributes to an attitude of “it’s all about me.”

So is all we are left with is a society filled with isolated narcissists? No, that doesn’t have to be at all.  But if we want help for those of us who are depressed, we learn that the greatest help can be not to judge, not to tell them how to live, but instead,  listen and be present to them as friend.

In our Dep-Anon Family Group Manual we have a section titled

    WHAT TO SAY TO SOMEONE WHO IS DEPRESSED.

“It is more tempting, when you find out someone is depressed to immediately fix the problem. However, until the depressed  persons has given you the permission to be their therapist (as a friend or a professional) , the following responses are more likely to help.

The things that didn’t make me feel worse are the words which 1) acknowledge my depression for  what it is (“No, its just a phase.”) 2) give me permission to feel depressed ( “But why should  you be sad?) .

Here is a list  of things that might be said to a depressed friend or family member. “

“I love you.”

“I care.”

“You are not alone in this.”

“I’m not going to leave you or abandon you.”

“Do you want a hug.”

“It will pass, we can ride it out together.”

“When all this is over, I’ll still be here (if you mean it) and so will you.”

“You are important to me.”

“We are not primarily on earth to see through someone –but to see one another through.”

“I am sorry that you’re in so much pain. I am not going to leave you.  I am going to take care of myself so that you don’t need to worry that your pain might hurt me.”

“I listen  to you talk about it, and I can’t imagine what it’s like for you. I just can’t imagine how hard it must be?”

“I can’t fully understand  what you are feeling, but I can offer my compassion.”

If you need a friend…” (And mean it).

Here we are. There is hope and there is social support available.

___________________________________________________________________________

For more information please read and learn about the HOME STUDY KIT which one can use as an individual with their therapist, family member  or a friend.

The two works which comprise the Home Study Kit are:

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

and

The Depressed Anonymous Workbook(2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. These two works comprise the Home Study Kit.

Depressedanon.com (here at this site) has a daily blog from which information and inspiration can be experienced.

VISIT THE STORE for other   available literature. Remember, our literature is written by those of us who were depressed.

 

 

youI lov

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.

 

Promise # 11: I can live in hope and not despair.

Promise # 11 of the Promises of Depressed Anonymous shows us that with work and  a commitment to oneself that I will leave the prison of my depression.

Starr tells us in her personal story in Depressed Anonymous that it was when she opens up and shares her story with others in the group that she feels relief.  It was here that  she learns how to handle situations that at one time  baffled her. We all have learned that whether we share in a face – to – face group or online, our ability to trust others begins to grow.  We begin to feel empowered. We now know almost intuitively that trust of others can lead to trust in ourselves. We tell ourselves If others can grow and get well so can I. We also find ourselves doing less and less of the self-bashing that we once did. Now we find that we  can be free of the prison that we have constructed,.Our negative feelings about ourselves get gradually replaced by feelings of positive regard.  We find that the guilt and shame that once shadowed our every move  now begin to be diminished. How is this?  It happens because someone like ourselves has shown us that we too can live without depression.  We have become believers in what can be done with hope, work and time.

SOURCE: I ‘LL DO IT WHEN I FEEL BETTER. (2014)  Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.