Members of Depressed Anonymous Speak About Their Recovery From Depression
What is the power of Depressed Anonymous? Well, first let me say that when I started attending D.A. meetings I went for a couple of months and then I stopped. Why did I stop you ask? I stopped going because my depression was so bad I didn’t want to leave my apartment. I just didn’t want to be around or talk to anyone. I didn’t want to do anything except crawl in a hole somewhere and isolate myself from everything. Then after about six weeks of isolating, I called the residential treatment facility where I had been a client to see if I had received any mail there and one of the members of the D.A. group where I attended answered the phone. I spent a few minutes talking to her and there was something in her voice that told me I had to go back to the meetings. For some reason it was important for me to be there. I attended the next D.A. meeting, and after the meeting was over, I suddenly realized the importance of Depressed Anonymous and the power of D.A.
So, what is the power of D.A.? Well for me, it’s just like attending that first meeting. I was a little scared and apprehensive at first. But then I found the D.A. meetings was a place to go where there were other depressed just like me and they could relate to and understand what I was going through. They didn’t judge me or think of me as crazy. I was accepted.
Another power of D.A. is the miracle of the group and what each person brings to the group. I have seen our fellowship get stronger and grow. I have developed many friendships that I can depend on for support and understanding. Some of the newcomers that have kept coming back, I have watched them grow and seen improvement even something as simple as a smile when there was none before.
The miracle of the group empowers and energizes me. The most important power of D.A. is hope. We have a newfound hope that we will not be locked in the prison of depression forever and that there is a way out for each one of us. A hope that our higher power will work the miracle through us and that we will find our own happiness. Hope that our hearts and mind will know love and peace like we have never known or felt before. The power of D.A. works for me. I have hope and I pray it works for you. Keep coming back!
– Ray C.
#1 – I no longer experience those black, bleak, hopeless periods
My life is joyful. The blackness – the despair – withdrawing more and more into myself – the hopelessness – there was NO joy and I could no longer pretend. My husband said, “You need to get some help.” I knew that he was right, but I was always the one who helped others. Our newspaper carried a listing of all of the support groups in the community, and I found the notice for a 12 step Depressed Anonymous group. I had never heard of it before, but I knew it fit. The group was just forming and was there when I needed it. I had knowledge of 12 – step programs and actually believed that I lived that life. Today I know that I previously had a head-knowledge but today I live the 12-step life.
It was December of 1992 that I made that decision and I knew that I was “powerless over depression -my life had become unmanageable.” I was willing to do anything that DA offered. I wanted to get rid of the pain. If DA had told me I would get well if I stood on my head three times a day -I would have done it. Daily, I read from the book and consciously worked the 12 steps. I worked them one at a time, from 1 through 12. ‘Working the steps’ to me meant posting the step I was working on and consciously pondering it throughout my day. Unlike other established 12-step programs, there was no evidence e of recovery at these first meetings. The group was just forming. There was no one there with longevity in the program. The book gave me a formula on page 59. It promised me that I would feel better if I “attend meetings, work my twelve step program, eat properly, get an exercise program and talk about my sadness with others.” I also began to journal – not just to state my woes but with the intention of finding a solution. Each week I articulated my unhappiness and my story to people who listened and, over time, inner wisdom began to unscramble the mess.
Step three (Made a decision to turn my will and life over to the care of god as I understand god) required much time and thought and daily meditation. My Higher Power no longer was a permissive parent whom I begged to give me what I thought I wanted. All of the love, the caring, the intelligence was there, I just had to accept it for myself. Today, the god of my understanding is different than when I began this journey. A professional, educated woman, spiritually I was still in kindergarten. I badgered Hugh S., for a guide to assist me in taking my 4th Step Inventory. I wrote for months and then quickly moved to Step 5 before I could rationalize it all away. The therapist who is responsible for beginning DA in our area became “another human being” from our 5th step. I no longer experience those black, bleak, hopeless periods. My life is joyful. Then why do I continue to go to DA five years later? The Twelfth Step of this program: “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry the message to others at the meetings and I am so grateful to DA that I want it to be there for those who are still suffering.
The final situation that brought me to my knees and to DA has not improved. In fact, it appears to be deteriorating. Our book says, in the section which discusses step six, that many would “no longer depress themselves if they could be sure there wouldn’t be any more pain.” No one can be promised a bed of roses – no pain.
During my recovery there were times when I would begin to interfere and I would remind myself of what it was like when I was attempting to run the show. Aloud I would say, “Oh! I turned that one over to you and I trust you. I don’t need to take it back.” Today I view the situation as “unfolding” and my spiritual journey is unfolding with it.
My Higher Power is in charge.
#2 – I depressed myself, I can undepress myself!
My name is Linda and the first time that I read “Depressed? Here is a Way Out! I did not like it and I 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! H ere it is god! You take it! No more depression! But then came the part about a moral inventory, short-comings, and the big one is that I depressed myself.
“What’s he talking about” I said to myself as I read the book. I had tried to undepress 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 the word STOP just like the book suggested to do. “I depressed myself, I can undepress 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 thinking about the book, and what it said did make me feel a little bit better. Then a piece of a song popped into my mind. “Seek you first the Kingdom of God, and He is righteousness, and all the others will be added unto 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 undepress myself! So Hugh was right! 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 12 steps and with the help of the HIGHER POWER, I can have a brighter future. And 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 I need them. I put up the STOP sign, and bring out a SUNSPOT to carry me through…”
#3 – The way it was and the way it is now for Frances
I joined DA in 1988. At that time, I was totally depressed, with no interest in anything or anyone, and especially no interest in myself. I felt I had no worth, a feeling I had for many years. I am sure since a child, very young. Having lived with this feeling for so many years, I guess I thought this was normal, and probably most people felt the same way. I had all the symptoms of depression, but I knew nothing about the sickness except to live with it, which I found to be a terrible fate, until I discovered Depressed Anonymous.
I attend Depressed Anonymous meetings quite regularly. I have found that if I can attend the meetings regularly, I get the support of the members, who I have found to have about the same kind of problems as I have, maybe not quite as bad as mine, but I guess each of us feels that our problems are worse than anyone else. I know mine are. But with the regular meetings and my friends support, I find that I am able to manage pretty well from week to week. I have more faith in myself since I work the Twelve Steps the best that I can and trust my Higher Power (God Almighty) with all my heart. I pray to the fullest extent that I will continue to have faith in myself and others. I have become a more whole being than I have ever been. I work a lot, I volunteer a lot and have a far better outlook on life than I have ever had, and I attribute all of these good feelings to Depressed Anonymous.
I just hope that I will always be able to attend Depressed Anonymous meetings regularly and wish more people had the opportunity to do the same. Depressed Anonymous has helped me so much. I cannot begin to explain sufficiently the support the meetings can give one who is depressed. Depressed Anonymous has been and is my salvation and I know the Twelve Steps program is the only way to go to get one on the right track and it takes the meetings to keep you there. They are also a “Godsend” for me and I know for a lot of others who are depressed. I thank Depressed Anonymous and my Higher Power for a life worth living.
#4 – Depressed Anonymous is Ralph’s Guardian Angel
I felt I had to sit down and write you this letter H ugh to let you know how you and the Depressed Anonymous group are helping me through my troubled times. I was thrown into my deep depression by the notice of our plant c losing which I had worked for 24 years. I felt my whole world as I had known it had folded in on me. I could not visualize my working at another place. I thought of all the negative things about starting over (my pay would be less, lousiest job, 3rd shift, first to be laid off, etc.) it went on and on.
This was just some of all the living hell that was going through me inside. But then my eyes and ears started to open through the Depressed Anonymous group here in Louisville, Kentucky. I just knew that god was speaking to me through them. He started letting me know that he hadn’t deserted me or let me down. That my life wasn’t over, but going through a new phase, a new rebirth. He told me I must first forgive the company I had worked for over 25 years. This was the greatest hurdle of all, but somehow I did it. From the moment I did it, my depression started to lift from my body. Next he said I must have faith in him, that he was going to take care of me and make me happier than I have ever been in my life. So, he did just that.
I have a new job which I love, and the pay is great! He said to quit bashing myself and to believe in myself, that I can conquer all. But he never did ask me to forgive him, and now I can understand why. There was nothing to forgive. My Higher Power knew what he was doing all the time. I believe now I have become much closer to my God and have a greater amount of faith in Him, namely a faith that He will take care of me till the end of time.
I have come a long way since that first day I walked through those doors and into all of your open arms. It was good to know that other people had the same feelings that I had experienced. The feeling of loneliness and despair, no way out of the living hell that was going through me inside. At that time, it was like my heart and my soul had been ripped out of my body. I felt that my own mind was my worst enemy and its mission was to destroy me. I had many sleepless nights and my mind was forever racing with negative thoughts of gloom and doom. I did not think I would ever function like a normal human being again. I felt my negative thoughts would win the battle and I would forever be condemned to the eternal hell.
But you and the Depressed Anonymous group have proved me all wrong (thank god). You have been my Guardian Angels who were speaking to me all the time. You showed me that there was hope for me after all. There is a new rebirth in me spiritually, emotionally and physic ally. I believe now I can go on with my life without all the fears that we bottled up inside me. As long as I have faith in my Higher Power and the Depressed Anonymous group there will be no mountain I cannot climb. I am forever grateful.
#5 – I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning
When I first came to Depressed Anonymous, I was so depressed, I didn’t even want to get out of bed in the morning. I hated the world and I didn’t want to deal with it. Just going out in public was a major ordeal, even the grocery seemed like an overwhelming task. Ultimately, I lost my job due to my inability to function at work. I prayed that god would let me die.
I felt as If I carried this tremendous load of emotional pain around in my chest all the time. I wanted to put it down, I wanted to get rid of it, but I didn’t know how. I thought god had forsaken me because I violated some sac red c ode without knowing it and I believed I would never feel the sunlight of the spirit on my face again. That belief forged a bitterness and resentment toward god that grew day by day. I could not believe that life would ever be good again or that I could be happy. I felt emotionally dead. I have had depression for years, although I didn’t know that’s what it was. Being an alcoholic and an active member of AA, I thought my depression and sadness was normal. I hit bottom last year in the spring, after 8 years in recovery, when I started to have “flashbacks” of sexual abuse from childhood. I didn’t understand how god could have allowed this to happen, since it had happened so long ago, why did it have to come out now?
All my life I had this feeling that I had a deep dark secret; but I couldn’t remember what it was. I lived in constant fear that people would find out that my terrible “secret” was out. Gradually I realized that the big black secret was out now. I had not died. The world had not stopped moving. As I began working on the abuse issues in therapy, the pieces of my life began to fit together in a way they never could have before, as I had never dealt with this catastrophic event. In Hugh’s book, Depressed? Here is a Way Out! he talks about how people find their time of depression to be one of the great gifts in their life. The first time I read this I thought it was the craziest thing I had ever heard. Yet, during this time of depression I have learned, and I have grown. I have come to understand myself and my god in a way I never could before.
It’s been nearly a year now. Life is starting to come together for me again, one day at a time by the grace of god and the fellowship of this program. From the very first time I walked through the doors of DA, I knew I was in the right place. Having been an active member of AA for so many years, I was already a firm believer in the 12 steps. I did what you people told me to do, even when I didn’t believe it would help. I attended meetings. I worked the steps with my sponsor. I used the DA phone list and talked to people about my pain and my day to day problems. I read Hugh’s book and followed the suggestions given in it.
God, through DA, this program and fellowship literally carried me through the darkest time in my life and god did not let me die, despite my best efforts to. I have truly experienced the “miracle of the group.” I promise you it will work. I have heard it said that sometimes god’s greatest miracles are unanswered prayers and I believe it, after all that I am one.
#6 – I was sexually abused!
I don’t remember ever not being depressed, even as a small child. My grandmother always said that I was too “nervous.” I was sexually abused and picked on in my childhood. I was picked on because to the other kids my ears were too big. I was told that I was ugly, and a substandard human being and I believed it. I was the butt of the jokes and didn’t feel like I was worth defending so I didn’t defend myself against the neighborhood bullies. Around the age of 12 I began passing out. I was told by doctors that it was “emotionally” triggered but my parents did not believe it. I was into adulthood with these feelings of shame and inadequacies and even attempted suicide once. Then after over 20 years of passing out I hit rock bottom. I was tired of the strangle hold depression had on me. I began therapy. I realized through therapy sessions that my fainting spells occurred during periods of personal loss, loss of loved ones, and the loss of my childhood. I am learning that I am worth saving from depression and so what I think is important and is what matters, ultimately. I will strive for recovery from my addiction to depression one day at a time. One day at a time will help me get over my depression. I will conquer my fears. I am a good person and I care about me and I will resolve today to quit whipping myself over my past life. Today is all I have to make the most of and I plan to do just that.
#7 – I am Bi-polar (manic-depression) and found the Depressed Anonymous fellowship to be my miracle
I, being diagnosed as a manic depressive in 1981, have been in therapy and on and off medication for approximately thirteen years now. Don’t think that all that therapy and medication didn’t do me any good. They say to take things one step at a time. Well, if I could count the steps that I have taken with medicine and therapy, I’d say from 1981 to August of this past year 1993, I took some big, adventurous steps toward my progress… But this year my progress has already surpassed all the progress that went before – it is because of my discovery of Depressed Anonymous. I call Depressed Anonymous a miracle. So far, the most grabbing element of Depressed Anonymous has been the parts in the book, “Depressed? Here is a Way out!” (Harper Collins, 1991) where the author refers to the depressed person as a saddict, that is, a person attached or addicted even to sad and hopeless thoughts. Boy, did I ever see myself in these sections. Since then, I have learned to control my thought process. Now, very seldom, do sad thoughts creep in. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say the first time I saw the description of a saddict, light went on in my head. The actual miracle took place at that moment. And the beauty of the whole thing is, that thinking positive thoughts becomes easier and easier, automatic, then ecstatic at times.
But it is not all that easy. I followed the steps also. I work at them often. For just as sure as your mind is on the automatic positive gear, it can easily slip back to negativism without the proper maintenance, which includes:
- Weekly (not just regular) attendance at meetings
- Also, a very important part in one’s recovery is the knowledge of and practice of the twelve steps and for those that need it, medication plus therapy as recommended by your doctor
Good luck! And if just one other person reaches the point where I am then there is a hope that life can be different for you as well.
#8 – The more meetings I attend the better I feel!
Like everyone else who had never done it before, I had no idea what to expect when I entered the room where a Depressed Anonymous meeting was about to be held.
I was instantly greeted by some women who introduced themselves by first name only and I responded, I believe, with my full name. I didn’t know if I’d broken any rules or not, but I learned later that many others do the same thing before they learn what’s going on. I suppose it’s because the idea of not giving your last name is so new that you just blurt out your surname without really thinking. I did feel like a stranger for a few moments as more and more people arrived and jumped right into discussion with the others. But when the meeting started, I began to hear how other people’s stories applied to me. I knew it was where I belonged. We each took a few minutes to talk about the proceeding week and how we fared.
I had just finished a series of outpatient group sessions at a hospital where we really spilled our guts and the other people gave their opinions and offered advice. So, naturally I spilled my guts. I didn’t realize until everyone else had spoken that I really didn’t need to tell everything. I also found that no one was giving me advice or being critical or prying. They were just willing to listen. I was aware that others were nodding in agreement at some of the things I was saying as if to say “I know. I’ve been there.” Or, “Yes, we understand completely.” I was somewhat surprised that some people cried as they spoke of their painful lives, although I had a lump in my throat myself when I spoke. My heart leaped out to them immediately. I wanted to hug them and tell them everything was going to be all right.
I didn’t really get the complete feel of Depressed Anonymous at that first meeting, so I took the advice given me as I was leaving and came back the following week. I kept coming back and the more I attended, the better I was able to handle my depression. Depressed Anonymous did more for me in a month than the hospital group did in three months and the Depressed Anonymous meetings didn’t cost anything (although after the first meeting we voluntarily toss in a dollar at the end of each meeting to pay the light bill). I couldn’t believe that Depressed Anonymous was run by the people who participated in it. I thought there had to be someone, somewhere making big money off the poor souls who so desperately sought help. Boy, was that a stupid assumption.
Perhaps the thing that has impressed me most about Depressed Anonymous is the wonderful friendships that develop. Depressed Anonymous members really care about each other. I thought that I had one personal friend outside my family, but after I’d been to a few Depressed Anonymous meetings I found that I had many friends, all caring and, most importantly perhaps, understanding. Sometimes we go out for coffee after meetings and get to know each other even better. We occasionally have a party and find that we can be completely relaxed and at ease because there are people who absolutely understand each other. We know what depression is all about in Depressed Anonymous. We know how it takes the group to start to feel better. It may require medication and other things, but it absolutely requires Depressed Anonymous.
#9 – I found that my drinking and depression didn’t mix!
During the time of 1983, my mother had died – which put me into severe depression. I felt overwhelmed and suicidal. I never did actually attempt suicide because the alcohol came into my life. Even more so it dulled my senses and made me oblivious. Alcohol also at the same time gave me this feeling of empowerment and happiness but at the same time resentment because I knew what was bothering me didn’t quite want to address the issue.
It wasn’t until 1993 that I joined AA, got into therapy which has been amazingly helpful. I’m growing and dealing with the death of my mother and with alcohol. My hobbies like gardening and my writing give me great joy and are therapeutic. I’ve been working the twelve steps with an open mind that everyday things will get better and if a problem does occur the Higher Power will give me the answer and the strength to deal with it, and not to run away or shut it away like before.
Depression is something that’s so overwhelming. For myself, it’s like crawling from beneath the earth and facing the light, with fear that no one would understand how I truly feel. When in depression, isolation would follow being my only friend but actually it was my own worst enemy. I should have been opening up to someone, instead I shut myself off from the world. Through therapy and a belief in myself and encouragement, facing the days don’t seem as difficult.
Working my 12 steps of Depressed Anonymous and referring to “Higher Thoughts for Down Days,” gives me reassurance e that we are not alone. I now appreciate what I do have when I work through the program. Through prayer and appreciation, I realize that there’s more to life than alcohol and that I kissed a c hunk of my life away because of it. Now I’m gaining more through life than ever before being sober, I see my life as a gift and not as a heavy burden.
#10 – Today, two very depressed people called me for help
As I sit here late at night, I think of the two people who called me today and who said that they are depressed. Both, one a man in his late forties and the other, a woman in her late sixties are both troubled. They both feel alone and stuck. I talked with both of them and tried to get a fix on how much hurt they are feeling. How hopeless are they feeling right now?
I wonder if the lady will take my suggestions, go to her library and pull out a book
recommended for persons depressed. I wonder if she got out today into the beautiful warm autumn air. The gentleman said that he had recently lost a job and was out of work for a few months. Finally, he’s back at work and things are a bit better for him he thinks.
I pray for both these folks tonight and wonder if they feel that maybe there is hope for them too? I wonder how I sounded to them? Did I actually promise hope and did they really believe me when I said that their despair would lessen the more they came to our Depressed Anonymous meetings?
Depression is a horrible experience. I believe that it is truly a defense, as Dr. Dorothy Rowe claims. It is more a defense which we have learned how to use, many of us, since our childhood days. It’s more a defense than a disease. Too often persons depressed come to me and say that their depression really is a comfort because it protects them from something far worse than what they have. They would hardly c all a disease a comfort.
I wonder what goes through a person’s mind when they learn that persons much like themselves are gaining strength from persons just like themselves. I talk with them about Depressed Anonymous. They seem interested. They tell me that they will attempt to make a meeting. They are hurting so bad that they are willing to learn – to come and see -to experience firsthand how being part of a group may give them a sense of empowerment – a sense that they have it within themselves to gain an exit from the prison of their depression.
Empowerment and Prevention
I pray tonight that whatever happens that these two folks find peace and hope. Life is too short and the pain too great for our one life to be brought down by a pain so devastating that only by sharing it can I ever hope to reduce its size. I wonder to myself if he and she will be at any of our meetings tonight?
In a few hours the dawn will be upon me and another day will roll around. I wonder if my friends are worried, hopeful or still afraid that their new day will be like all the rest – or, I wonder, will they pursue their hope and present their needs to our fellowship -with its promise of a new birth – a new hope and new friends. I wonder?