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Keep your stick on the ice!

If you are a hockey player you know how important it is to keep your hockey stick on the ice. In fact this is one of the first lessons I learned when I started playing hockey. The reason was so that when a flying puck bounces around in the court and heads your way, you want to be ready. It might mean making a goal or losing a critical opportunity to score.

In Baseball we were told to “keep your eye on the ball.” Good advice. And in basketball the ball handler knows when he has a “good look” and needs to shoot the ball.

In our Twelve Step group of Depressed Anonymous, we have many short sayings like the ones mentioned that help keep us focused on our game. They are simple, direct and easy to understand. Not only do they help me continue to keep my life on track, but they also serve as “guardrails” reminding me of the various ways I can use them in my recovery. These short and pithy sayings are like my daily vitamins, providing some healthy immunity for fighting off all the negative thoughts that might be floating about in my head. What I am accomplishing by doing this simple activity is replacing a negative feeling with a pleasant one. I am replacing sunspots with darkness.


My advice to you is to keep your stick on the ice, get a good look, and keep your eye on the ball. You will score every time!
Have a great day!

Hugh S.


“The more I believe in this Power greater than myself the more that power begins to operate in my life. I am beginning to understand how life works – it is a paradox. The more I let go of my own perspective and turn it over to this greater power, I form a channel, a spiritual conduit by which this power can enter in and slowly and methodically transform my life. By my own life being transformed I find that the lives which I touch on a daily basis –they to begin to be transformed. Dep-Anon helps me focus my attention on what I need do. The attention is no longer on the depressed significant other but on where I am and how I will try and live one day at a time.” (Dep-Anon : A Twelve Step program of recovery for family and friends of the depressed. To be released for publication March 21, 2021.)

“The world breaks everyone. Then some become strong at the ‘broken places’.” Ernest Hemingway

In his novel, Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway shares with us a truth that has become our own reality. I am referring to how we can become strong even when our life feels like it is spiraling out of control.

Case in point: when I was depressed for more than a year I felt like a zombie on the loose. Wherever I was I didn’t want to be there.I just wanted to be alone. The best place for me was to just lie down and sleep.

Gradually I began to feel a lift in my spirit as my mood began to spiral upwards instead of sliding down that slippery slope of despair and aloneness.

And then I became strong. I was learning a great deal about living. I admitted that my life had been out of control. It was if someone had turned off the power switch in my brain.
Thanks to the fellowship of the Depressed Anonymous group which I attended regularly, I started to use the tools which were provided me for my own recovery by the members of DA.

I also possessed an understanding of how my life before recovery was responsible for my depression. I found out that it was my thinking with its mistaken beliefs about myself, and my relationships that caused me to suddenly feel helpless and clueless as to what was happening to me. I became totally immobilized. My bed was my “go to” when I felt that I was in lockdown without goals or anything to look forward to. There didn’t appear to be a solution for what was happening to me.

Now, let’s fast-forward to my finding help. Now that I have been depression free for many years now, I can attribute my new way of looking at myself while applying the 12 step spiritual principles of Depressed Anonymous to my everyday life and behaviors. With the support of the DA group my depression experience was closely examined. Now I have these “red flags” that can warn me of my old beliefs and behaviors that gradually and unconsciously forced me down to the ground. Because of recent negative events in my life and/or those of my childhood, which were brought to light by applying the 12 Steps to my life, past and present. Also by my sharing and participating in regular DA meetings, having a sponsor with whom I can share and get support outside of the meeting times.

Basically, I have become strong at my own “broken places” and become stronger every time I read the literature of DA, written by members of our DA fellowship, go to meetings, using all the many tools given to me and sharing with others. We believe that all newcomers at our meetings will also be able to heal their own “broken places” and discover a new life of hope and serenity. That’s a promise!

Hugh, for the fellowshiP.
Everyone is able to order online literature from our website Bookstore at


A few years back I was driving across a deserted stretch of highway in New Mexico. I noticed that my gas gauge showed that I was getting low on fuel. As I had no idea where the next gas station would be I began taking notice of signs, hoping to find a place to get gas. Having never traveled on this stretch of road before I was starting to get anxious. I didn’t want to run out of gas out here in the desert.

It wasn’t long until I could spot a small building a few hundred yards ahead. Lucky for ne, it was a gas station.I knew that I didn’t want to tempt fate, so I filled up my tank. I still had no idea where I was and so I asked the attendant where I was. He turned around and pointed to a large map on the wall. All the map showed was a long horizontal line across the face of the map. In the middle of the map there was a large X placed over the stretch of the road indicating YOU ARE HERE. My only problem was that I didn’t know where “here” was. My attendant was a man of few words and he said the next town was about an hour down the road. The map didn’t tell me much.

Just like many of us who are looking for some kind of support for our own lives, all we know is that a group called Depressed Anonymous was meeting today. This is the reason why you are here. We showed up today because our lives had come to a standstill. We were starting to feel there was no where to go. The man who is lost in the desert and running out of gas with no hope, can be a metaphor for all of our own lives. And at our first meeting of Depressed Anonymous today we don’t know what to expect – only that I am here and you are here. Let our recovery begin.
for the fellowship.

When you come to a meeting with oters attending a Depressed ANonymous meeting

The biggest disease…

“The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted.”
-Mother Teresa

I wonder how many of us telling someone that we are depressed — they either have an immediate solution for us or they say they don’t want to hear about it anymore. Or, maybe we are too ashamed to admit –to anyone–that we are depressed. Whatever the situation, I believe that we can finally make a breakthrough — without feeling ashamed or unwanted and pushed away from both family and friends.

Well, there is a solution for you–and for me –I have found a group of friends –actually a fellowship of friends –who come together and share their stories and struggles with depression. By doing so, they hear how there is hope and recovery. And initially, the really big surprise, is that members of Depressed Anonymous want us to share our own story. When we do share our story, lo and behold, some of our story happens to be like everyone else’s story. They share with us a plan., A plan that holds promise of recovery for our own lives. The plan is called the Twelve Steps of Depressed Anonymous. This plan is modeled after the Alcoholics Anonymous program of recovery.

Initially, We all have felt alone and helpless. We all have felt that no one understands our pain, struggles and despair. This is so true if you have never felt depressed before. In fact, our sadness comes unannounced. It doesn’t send an email or warning that there is something that is about to swallow me alive. And like myself, it was only when I found myself being sucked down into that deep pit of aloneness– feeling no way out, that I found Depressed Anonymous. I admitted that I needed help.

At my first meeting, I knew that I was home. I felt welcome and a warmth from all the members of the fellowship. Even though I was a newcomer, I was welcome. They even told me to come to at least six meetings to see if this group was for me. Now I felt that I was wanted –that everyone was there to accompany me along this new path of hope and life.

If you want to know how to find the same help as I am finding, click onto website and see what meetings are available to all those who are seeking hope. Presently, there are online International Skype meetings everyday of the week. Just sign on to and click onto the link. Also, click onto for more assistance. I hope to see you at a meeting–soon.

Hugh, for the fellowship

“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

Depression, depression. What an oppression.

Depression, depression
What an oppression

And how can this be explained?

My pills are to my rescue
My basic needs are fully met
One is convinced that I am in paradise
A woman, married happily with wonderful parents,
children, lovely family, and all.

But what a waste of time!
I hear! Why aren’t you happy?
You are more fortunate than others!
What are you missing? I’m told!
What am I missing, really w=hat?
Since what I need is very little
Just love and peace for all of us.

It’s tortuous to witness pain
and around people’s suffering
It does not help me, knowing that
others are less fortunate than I’m.

One might think that I am just lazy.
And difficulty getting off my bed —
is simply crazy…

Why do I feel so miserable, helpless?
Depression, depression —
What my oppression?

I can’t bypass the homeless
and poor, like many others do
on streets each day.

I’m told to close my eyes and ignore.
I am scared by vehicles sirens,
by bitter odors, children screaming,
by peoples fighting, their rudeness.

How do I support that pain?
I want to help myself feel happiness again.

God knows, I ‘m desperately trying to play
the game of happiness, I can’t own.

A temporary relief is achieved
A sip of freedom so sweet, but
not for long, it quickly leaves.

The witch-depressions’s back again
to haunt me more, to torture me again.

“Be brave, collect yourself”
I hear others.
But that’s so hard for them to get.
That happiness cannot be forced.
That only unable to eat and
sleep when sadness suffocates one’s soul…

Depression, depression,
What an oppression.'”
Submitted by Irene S., a member of the Depressed Anonymous International Fellowship

With permission.

I think I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree

“Trees” by the poet Joyce Kilmer has always been a favorite of mine over the years. At one time I could recite the poem by heart. It ranked near the top of my favorite poem list, only to be topped by Psalm 23, the Bible’s Good Shepherd Psalm.

I always thought that Joyce Kilmer was a woman – wrong – he is a man. Now that was sort of a surprise. Anyway, being a country boy from rural Indiana, trees were part of our lives, and much of our hunting experiences. Squirrels lived in trees. We hunted squirrels. Trees were all sizes and all kinds. Lots of trees. My Grandpa, could name any and all trees that were part of the Southern Indiana forests. Trees were so much of his life as a child and young man. We learned how to tell the kind of a tree just by looking at it’s bark. Yes, beautiful trees.

Now, during this pandemic I knew I could not sit self-quarantined at home 24/7 (not until middle of March did I begin to realize this might go on for a spell. I was right). I decided to write a book. I did write a book and it has kept me busy all these months. I hardly go anywhere, maybe for some groceries or walk around a neighboring park. I have been visiting with friends on one of our 12 Step ZOOM and SKYPE meetings. I kept in contact that way. So, now I am about ready to finish up the book and get it ready for publication. So I didn’t waste my time. I have something to show for it.
But my latest effort has been to take up the pencil and learn how to draw trees. Thank you Joyce Kilmer. Not just stick type trees. Trees that are beautiful and have leafy branches and the limbs are well shaded and all so perfect. My wife bought me some great Walmart $1.98 special colored pencils. I was excited. That is, until I tested out my innate, so I thought, ability to draw. Well, it hasn’t turned out so good. My trees just don’t come alive like the ones shown on the Computer screen.

I’ve learnt a lesson here. Try new things, and if you feel you are not successful – give it up! But seriously, I intend to get back to the trees some other time. I think I will use my camera and take pictures of trees. At least what I end up with are pictures that look like trees. Not stick trees.

One final thought. I at least proved one thing to myself. I don’t have to always be perfect and succeed at everything. Life is like that. We at least know that God has given me another day – another 24 hours – to give thanks for. I don’t have to be a great poet, writer, or artist. But I can be a man of gratitude for all of God’s blessings. In my book, trees point my thoughts heavenward to God who made all creation and is an expression of his love for you and me.

My favorite tree is an Autumn Blaze Maple. What is your favorite tree?

Hugh Smith © 2020

A Therapist’s view of Depressed Anonymous



“The spiritual program of Depressed Anonymous is its greatest strength. People come together and hear from one another how their higher power is  healing and guiding  their lives. They realize that in being part of the group  they are not alone, and also encourage true healing.  Depressed Anonymous has been a wonderful healing tool in the lives of many depressed persons I’ve worked with. It will always be one of the greatest resources I use in my work. It is true that “it works if you work it.”

Denise List    M.Ed  Louisville, KY