I remember well how a person’s personal narrative describes their experiences with depression. I hear it almost daily; read about it almost daily; and respond to it almost daily. As a victim, survivor of depression, I have gradually morphed into a communicator of hope for the depressed, family members and friends. Because they believe in heir own narrative of hoplessness and helplessness and all the while discounting the fact that things will ever be alright. I can tell people all day long that it is “gonna be alright” and the response usually is,”great, but when?” Let me tell my story.
Since 1985, as a person depressed myself, and using tools that I learned along the way to becoming a survivor, I gradually learned of a plan. It was a simple plan. It was based on 12 simple spiritual principles. By spiritual, I mean simple spiritual principles, that there is a God that loves me. I call this my Higher Power, that deep inner loving force which gives us the power to respond, especially in our deep personal crises, giving us strength, making it possible to use our mind and heart to trust in its power. Our trust and our own surrender to its will for us, that divine guide, will lead us out of the darkness. After a time, I was more and more intent on listening to the voice in my head that said, “you are going to make it!” Not the voice that said, I was hopeless and worthless.
I have dedicated much of my life, always with hope that you and I and all the depressed, can survive the isolation, self-hatred and helplessness that we have built and creating the prison of depression which afforded us no escape. We really believed that we had been served a lifetime sentence of being in an emotional and mental lockdown . Gradually , our own thinking and deepening moods of hopelessness and helplessness became life threatening.
Once free of the depression shackles I began to share with the depressed my plan! Actually, I had nothing to do with formulating this plan of recovery and survival.
The plan was developed by two guys, one a stockbroker and the other an MD. Both came from being victims of alcoholism to being survivors. They lived out their recovery plan by sharing the route, their own experiences with each other and those others who were gathering around the message of hope and that power that led them. This plan is spelled out in what is now called the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Their plan worked for the alcoholic in the late 1930’s and it continues to work its power in the 21st century.
We have applied the Steps and have found the plan works equally well for the depressed. As we well know, many, have faced life with despair and without hope–they had no plan. For some, suicide was the only way out of this endless agony.
So, let’s consider what each one of us can do. Look at what each of us can do who are depressed or who have been depressed. For myself, I have shared my story of being victim, a survivor. As a victim, I had no knowledge of what was wrong with me, no way of knowing what to do to get out of the mental mess I was in and so I did only what I knew–to run away from it. Like Forrest Gump, I began to walk, and walk some more, every day, each day. Finally my mind cleared, and I sought help. I knew that since the Steps worked for the hopeless alcoholic they had to work for someone like me, who was filled with shame and guilt and despair. This is when I found that working the Steps, one after another would produce not only sobriety but an enduring hope, one day at a time. And the way to get this hope and to strengthen its power in our lives was to gather others around us who feel the same as I did. We were no longer alone in our struggle. Others spoke the same language as did myself. They got it!
I have spent the last three decades of my life, sharing my story, attempting to to give hope to those still suffering. That is my mission. I believe that is why God provided Bill W., and Dr. Bob with that spiritual awakening, lighting up their own path in recovery. They made it possible for all of us who wanted this light, this plan, and then to take this light and help others find what we have found.
I follow a roadmap-a plan developed by two guys who saw no way out except by helping other men and women who were looking for someone to give them hope and a path out of their addiction to alcohol. They both knew, as do we in the program, that to live out the plan in our daily lives it is essential that we carry our message of hope to others. That is the message of the plan. Give it away. Don’t put your treasure under a basket. Let the light shine. I really think that Bill W., and Dr. Bob were the two angels god sent to give all of us, those of their own time, for us today and for the future, a reason to stay alive. They had a simple plan. They each told their story to the alcoholic of how life was before and then how life was being lived now-with sobriety and hope. They shared how their life was before their recovery and then shared how their life was now. They didn’t preach. They had their story. And they told hurting men and women that they could be free.
I too have my story, I have a message of hope, and like the 12 Steps of AA, on which Depressed Anonymous is modeled, it is slowly beginning to reach people who can now hope. Depression is in epidemic proportions effecting every nationality and region of the earth. Later this month a Depressed Anonymous group from Russia is sponsoring a Webinar about depression and mutual support.
I have a story to tell. A story that provides hope and a way to live, every day of our lives. And this is my story.
This is my passion. With gratitude!
Thank you for reading this story of hope and healing. Please share with that person who needs hope–included with a plan that works!