DA – A Truly Life Changing Journey

My first psychiatric hospitalization was at age 15. That began two decades of waves of major depression, later called “treatment resistant depression.” I tried just about every medication and therapy there was. My depression lied to me saying I was not good enough (in reality, I was a straight A student and won numerous awards). In my mind, that was not enough, I was not enough. Depression told me “the world would be better off without me.” I found alcohol and other substances to escape my pain. That worked for awhile, but ultimately plummeted me into self-hatred. I had periods of functionality working and pursuing activities I enjoyed. Then depression took over, I couldn’t work anymore, I just could not get up. This depression was a tsunami that swept over me, consumed me. I let everyone down and I hated myself.

Because of my depression, I went on disability with help from my Mom. I made it through one semester of college, then the drinking, the depression and the eating disorder took over. I was hospitalized again. I withdrew from school. I was suicidal and made attempts.

Eventually, I found AA, got sober, worked the steps and found a new life! I still struggled with the eating disorder and the depression but I graduated college and started a career. Depression arose again. Everyone in the rooms of AA was happy, joyous & free…. so what was wrong with me?

After I had my daughter, things were better for awhile. She was the light of my life. Depression kept coming back, even stronger than ever. I was still sober in the rooms of AA, but depression was going to kill me. I tried something new to me: ECT, 6 series over the next 6-8 years. It hurt. A lot. Hellish to go through. It initially helped but the last session put me in a zombie state, unable to speak properly, vocalize or even write my thoughts. Something happened that should not have happened. It scared the hell out of me and my family. Over time I regained my function but I still have memory issues. ECT was no longer an option for me.

Ketamine helped for a while but it felt very addicting and so I stopped it. Suicidal feelings came again and I felt completely hopeless. I might live in an institution for the rest of my life. Even in sobriety I was helpless and hopeless and victimized by depression.

In desperation I googled “depression and 12 steps.” I found the Depressed Anonymous website. I was too afraid to go to a meeting but spoke with a member. I was desperate, utterly despairing. This DA member said he had also felt like that and there was hope for me. HOPE. For Me? I wept. That phone call saved my life. It launched a new life for me, it launched a new path. I got the courage to attend a meeting, I didn’t feel so alone after that. I met people across the globe who experienced depression, understood how I felt and yet they were doing better! I got the DA literature and a sponsor and started doing the work. A few months into DA, I had another severe depression and hospitalization. But I didn’t give up and I kept coming back. My willingness renewed, I worked through the steps with my sponsor and learned I am responsible for my recovery. I am powerless over depression but I am not hopeless. Eventually I started chairing meetings. Service helped me so much! It started to give me the sense that I was just a little capable. I took baby steps. All growth is gradual.

My recovery is like a puzzle: DA is one huge piece of the puzzle. Along with my Higher Power, connecting with my Higher Power, medication, AA, working the steps, eating fairly healthy, weight lifting and going to the gym. There is also puzzle pieces of outreach and service and more. I am off disability for over two years now, and excelling at a great job that I love where I can be of service. I am both a devoted, loving Mother to my daughter and a caring, giving daughter to my Mother. I am capable of being there for myself and others. Yes, I can balance work, life, recovery, service AND learn to have fun again, too!

I have so much gratitude to my DA sponsors and friends, our amazing founder, and all those in this fellowship. This has been truly a life changing journey for me. Life still presents sadness, challenges, fears and “life on life’s terms.” But just for today, I am capable, I have hope and I am not alone.

Yours in fellowship,

Stacy S., March 2024

3 thoughts on “DA – A Truly Life Changing Journey”

  1. This is a beautiful and inspiring “herstory”. I’ve seen how DA has helped many and I’m thankful for this program and the group that I met and meet. I no longer attend as I did and I think I’m suffering as a result. Being reminded of the help I got by reading about the help someone else got (in this case someone I’ve spoken with) may be just the reminder I need. I’ve added the daily meeting back to my schedule and hope to say hello again at the earliest time that doesn’t conflict with my current cardiopulmonary treatments.

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