Volume #1 Fall issue, 2017

Volume #1 Fall issue, 2017
++Formerly called the Newsletter++

The following is a testimony from Kim who is presently sharing her gratitude for the HOME STUDY RECOVERY  PROGRAM which she has found to be a way for her to work the Depressed Anonymous program. She has a  Sponsor who helps guide her progress as she sends her responses to questions from the Workbook and readings from the Manual.  By utilizing the DA Workbook and DA Manual she has found a new life for herself and has been depression free for a whole year. All this is done via emails with her sponsor.

What it was like

It’s pretty confronting to tell you what it was like. Because it was bad. Really bad. I became depressed when I was 13 years old. One day I woke up feeling like someone had thrown a blanket over my head. You know these old fashioned heavy, woolen winter blankets? I had one like that over my head. And it was heavy. Suddenly everything I did cost me an enormous amount of energy. Getting up cost me energy. Going to school did so too. Talking to people, listening to people, getting myself through the day; everything took up so much energy! This blanket really was in my way. I couldn’t see clearly anymore, missed a lot of the things that happened in school, didn’t understand my schoolwork anymore. I had always been able to express myself in music. I loved playing the cello. But suddenly the cello made a screeching sound when I attempted to make music. I couldn’t play anymore. The blanket was heavy, but I tried to continue my daily life as well as I could. That worked for about a year. Then I became exhausted. I started to malfunction. I was tired all the time, had to repeat a year of school, lost my friends, and finally had to go to a school for less talented children. And still the blanket was there and I just couldn’t figure out why this blanket was there all the time. It made me angry and powerless. I started to cut myself. After a while, I stopped going to school, stopped making music, stopped seeing people. I spent my days crying in bed. Sometimes the crying changed into screaming. Then my parents rushed up the stairs to calm me down, and I was surprised because I hadn’t even noticed that I was screaming. Did I go crazy? They sent me to a social worker first, then they made me attend a teenager support group, later they brought in a child psychiatrist who wanted to institutionalize me. To me that sounded like a swell idea: I could be depressed the whole day there and nobody would bother me there. But my mother prevented it. I thought: The problem must be school because I was bullied at school. So I changed schools. But the blanket did not move. Then I thought: the problem must be my parents. So I ran away from home and came with a foster family. But still, the blanket did not move. I figured it must be the whole school concept. So I dropped out of school. But I stayed depressed. Then I figured it was the whole family concept and ran away again. So there I was, 15 years old, alone in the big city with nothing (no place to live, no school, no work, no friends, no money) but a depression. I was an easy target. Was raped, threatened, manipulated and used, some guys made me take drugs over the border. Like I said: it was bad. Really bad.

What happened

When I was 20, an American street performer told me about the Twelve Steps. He had discovered that there were meetings in Amsterdam and he took me to a meeting of Codependents Anonymous. I remember my first meeting as if it was yesterday. The room was overcrowded, people sat in the windowsills. We read step 1: We admitted we were powerless and our lives had become unmanageable. They were talking about me, about my life! I burst into tears, but no one seemed to mind. Tissues and handkerchiefs came my way, and I received a lot of encouraging smiles. It felt like I had come home. People shared their stories but I didn’t listen. I was reading step 2 and then step 3. I needed to know what this was all about. And after seven years of depression, I felt hope: I knew that the Twelve Steps would rescue me. ‘I can’t, God can, so I will let Him do his work’ became my new motto. I went to a meeting every day, sometimes multiple meetings in a day. Because there was no program for depressed people, I went to all the meetings I could find: AA, OA, EA, SIA, NA, the Norwood groups, CA and sometimes Alanon. Often I was not allowed to share, then I listened and read. I became active in CodA: I was leading meetings, joining business meetings, found a sponsor, got sponsees, worked the steps, made amends, started to daily meditate and went into therapy. My life got back on track. I found a job. I found a house, I made friends. I even tried to study psychology in the evenings, which failed completely because I was still depressed. But I could handle the depressions much better. After six years in the program, my depressions lessened. I had weeks without depressions. I was on the right track! So after I finished the CodA workbook, I started working the workbook of Emotions Anonymous.Then after that, I started to work the Overeaters Anonymous program, because I had an eating problem too. I made a career, met my husband, got children, did therapy and more therapy and more therapy. I did body-oriented therapy, videotherapy, shamanistic rituals, EMDR, Gestallt therapy, The Journey, The Work, Family constellations and I visited numerous psychologists, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, and hypnotherapists. But the depressions kept coming. Ultimately the therapists didn’t want to help me anymore. They said I was ‘damaged beyond recovery’. While all my program friends had gotten a full recovery, the Promises of Recovery had not materialized for me. I would stay depressed forever. This destroyed me. I quit the program and started to take antidepressants, but even that didn’t work: the depressions got more intense and more frequent. I didn’t want to live anymore. One day I found the Depressed Anonymous site on the internet, but there were no meetings in Europe. There was a book though. So I made a deal with God: I would go through the Twelve Steps one last time. And after that, I could jump in front of a train. It was now or never. So I bought the book and the workbook, and I begged Hugh to become my email sponsor. That was three years ago.

What it is like now

I never expected this, but I have been free from depression for a whole year now. The next depression will kill me, so it is very important to stay out of it. Every SundayI sit behind my computer and answer the questions from the workbook. I send them to my sponsor, who reads them, gives me feedback and stimulates me to keep going. I discover important things about myself. Very early in my life, I concluded that I was different from other children. I tried to hide the lifestyle of my parents in order to be like the other children. This cost me a lot of energy. When I became depressed, my life got more complicated: not only did I try to hide my background, I tried to hide my depressions too. When I lived in Amsterdam all by my self, a lot of bad things happened to me. Finding a new place in society, I hid my odd background, my depressions, and the whole terrible Amsterdam-experience. I pretended to be ‘normal’ and people believed me. But often it was so difficult to hide all these things, and I felt so lonely, that I became depressed, which made me feel ‘different’ again, so of course, I tried to hide that too. This set me off into a negative spiral, out of which I couldn’t escape.

In Depressed Anonymous, I discovered that my conclusion was wrong. I do belong to the group. Indeed, I have always been part of the group. People with odd parents are part of society as well, and so are depressed people and people that did really stupid things. There is nothing to hide. I am human, no more and no less. Nobody will judge me the way my parents lived, my depressions or my mistakes. The only one judging me was me.

The gap I felt between me and others, was made by myself. I am the way God made me and I belong here. Since I realized this, the chronic chest pains are gone. The black gap that burned in my chest for over 30 years, is starting to heal. In the past, I used to observe and analyze my own behavior the whole day. Did I give anything away on a subconscious level? If I had said something ‘stupid’, I panicked. Did anyone notice? Was my cover blown? Every sentence I had said was examined and reexamined, and often I beat myself up so bad, that I had to escape into a new depression. I could compulsively ruminate over mistakes I had made 20 years ago. They would give me enormous shame attacks. Most of that is over now. There is less noise in my head. I used to avoid people, I was always so afraid of them finding out how bad I really was. Now I feel I need people. I am only at step six now. What else will happen in the upcoming years?

I made a deal with my Higher Power; one more time I would do the steps. I am so happy I did

******Submitted by Kim, a member of the Depressed Anonymous fellowship.

How to Start a Depressed Anonymous Meeting
If there is a Depressed Anonymous group operating near where you live, you could go to one of their meetings. But if yours will be the first in your area, you might find it helpful to attend one or two other self-help groups just to see how they operate. Most self-help groups, as well as Depressed Anonymous, have literature about their work which you will find helpful. You can click onto the website at www.depresseedanon.com for a full explanation and information about our Depressed Anonymous group.

Once you have three or four people, who, like you, are struggling with depression and who want to set up a Depressed Anonymous  group which will follow the Twelve Step program, you can form, a core group to work out how to contact other people as to where you will meet, and when and how you will all share the work and the responsibility of the group.

To contact other likely members, draw up a notice which states the aims of the group, who the group is for, the time, day, place of meeting, and the name and phone number or email  address of the person whom you can contact for more information about the group, and who will arrange to meet and welcome new members.

When you are depressed, it is often very difficult to go into a room full of strangers, so having someone meet you beforehand can be a great help. Send copies of this notice to all those in your community who would know of persons who might be helped by this Twelve Step program of recovery.

For starters it is recommended that Mental Health Centers are always a good place to start as well as local religious communities.   Many people believe they are the only ones going through  this painful experience that we call depression. When they discover that there is a group of people who feel as you do, this in itself can provide hope.  In time and with regular attendance at Depressed Anonymous meetings, they will no longer feel like victims, but will reach out to others.

If surrender of our wills to the “care of God’ is of the essence of the spiritual life, for anyone who truly desires to free himself/ herself from a  chronic and compulsive behavior such as depression, then the Twelve Steps can be our stepping stones to a path of a hope-filled life.

The following is a list of publications produced and made available by Depressed Anonymous Publications.  A total of 12 Books have been published including e-books. For more information about these books, you visit our website www.depressedanon.com and do online ordering of our literature. The following is a complete listing of available books.

  • Depressed Anonymous
  • The Depressed Anonymous Workbook
  • Higher Thoughts for Down Days:  365 Daily Thoughts and Meditations for Members of 12 Step Fellowship Groups
  • Teen Care:  Helping Teens Prize Themselves
  • Seniorwise
  • How to Find Hope
  • Depressed Once-Not twice:  An Autobiographical Spiritual Journey of the
  • Founder of Depressed Anonymous
  • How to Find Hope
  • Shining a Light on the Dark Night of the Soul
  • The Promises of Depressed Anonymous
  • Dep-Anon Family Group Manual
  • I’ll Do It When I Feel Better
  • Believing Is Seeing:  15 Ways to Leave the Prison of Depression

We believe that what we think, what we say, and what we do impact our depression. We believe that depression can be managed by applying the principles of the 12 Steps. All are welcome!