I just returned from a combined (Edenton and Elizabeth City, North Carolina) Depressed Anonymous fellowship workshop which I was asked to give. It was an all day workshop, with morning open to the public and then the afternoon sessions committed to the two groups speaking to each other about their own personal experiences with the Twelve Steps and how their lives have changed since being part of these two groups.
These groups both were formed right before Christmas 2014. Both groups now have a strong presence in their communities because those in recovery now want to “carry this message to those who are still suffering from depression.” This is the bottom line for all of us who have found hope and healing in practicing and putting the spiritual principles of the Twelve Steps into our daily lives. Hope is what we are sharing. You don’t have your life parked in neutral.
“THE MOST COMMON FORM OF DESPAIR IS NOT BEING WHO YOU ARE! ” — Soren Kierkegaard
” Depressed Anonymous is a spiritual program where you will find people like yourself, honestly, openly and willingly dealing with their character defects (staying isolated) and gradually admitting that they have to change their lives and lifestyle, if they are going to be a whole and honest human being. The decision is yours. You make the choice! The Twelve Steps and your own personal story can now be shared with others and can help them in their own life’s journey. Give the hope that you have now with those who have lost hope. Build it (mutual aid) and they will come! ”
Source: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 108-109.
I witnessed the “miracle of the group” again this past Saturday in Edenton, North Carolina when the participants of both fellowship groups came together and shared their stories of how they moved into drive and out of neutral. I thank all you beautiful people in North Carolina as you continue to work your program of recovery! You are becoming who you really are and whom God means for you to be!
Brad Cohen, the main character in the powerfully moving film FRONT OF THE CLASS, makes this statement about his own efforts to change his life.
The following instructions, HOW DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS WORKS, is read at every Depressed Anonymous meeting.
“You are about to witness the miracle of the group. You are joining a group of people who are on a journey of hope and who mutually care for each other. You will hear how hope, light and energy have been regained by those who were hopeless and in a black hole and tired of living.
By our involvement in the group we are feeling that there is hope –there is a chance for me too–I can get better. But we are not the people with the magic pills and the easy formula for success. We believe that to get out of the prison of our depression takes time and work.
And so at every Depressed Anonymous meeting the group listens as we hear what it will take to escape from the prison of depression.
Also at every meeting of the fellowship we hear how by using the spiritual tools, our Twelve Steps, we can gradually find the path that will and can lead us out into the light of freedom. We come to believe that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity…”
SOURCE: (c) I’ll do it when I feel better. (2011) Hugh Smith. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Page 65.
I have hope that I can accept myself today and just let fly by all the old messages from old tapes of childhood.
“You desperately wanted people to love you, but you became very wary of giving your love to others. You reasoned that the less you loved another person the less it would hurt when the inevitable rejection came.” (3 )
I have been holed up for so long in my own little world of feeling hurt and rejection that to attempt to love someone else seems like the greatest challenge of my life. I desire so badly to be loved by someone else that this lack of another’s love makes my isolation from others so hurtful.
After having witnessed the miracle of the group in Depressed Anonymous, where depressed people come with their feelings of hurt and being rejected, I find that other’s love and nurture challenge me to hope once again. I can share with the group the fact that I haven’t measured up, that I am angry and that I just want to lay down and die.
I am open enough now to let the light of love from others, who like myself, realize that I am not alone and that I am beginning to feel better already now that I no longer need to be perfect. This means to be willing to affiliate and give of myself for someone else’s good. In the program I am starting to love –myself.
We are going to make a mental decision right now to let God, as we understand him, guide us and instruct us on how best to love ourselves. ”
Source: Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 Daily Thoughts and Meditations for 12 step fellowship groups. (1993,1999) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Ky. (p.47).
Please Visit the Store for more information about literature specifically geared to the subject of depression and the utilization of the 12 Steps for recovery.
For a further clarification of thought, do yourself a favor and read the Depressed Anonymous manual and the Depressed Anonymous Workbook.
I thank God for the group and the belief that I have every right to be here..
“Free and truthful discussions only possible between people who see each other as equal members of the human race. Joining a self-help group will be one of the most valuable things you can do. You will meet a group of people who know what it is to be depressed. You don’t have to explain it to them, or apologize, or pretend that you are happy when you are not. In a self-help group you give and receive friendship, and in sharing the responsibility for the group you build up your confidence and self-respect.”
I have learned that there is a miracle of the group that takes place when persons with the same needs and experiences of isolation get together. They discuss with each other how their lives were before they entered their particular Twelve Step group, and how they are now, now that they have a positive program which gives direction to their lives.
In the Fellowship I find that I can be as honest as I like. No one will look down on me for saying how I need to change the way I perceive my world, my life and my thoughts.
The spirit of God is in each of us as we become more conscious of the fact that that its spirit wants to be the leading light of our life. Our Twelve Step program help us see that when we consciously desire that God work in our lives, it is possible for us to admit that we are powerless over our depression. When we start to work the program, we start to find some peace.
See Step 1
In the Fellowship I find that I can be as honest as I lioke. No opne will look dopwnm on me for saying jow I need to change the way I perfceivemy world, my life and my thoughts.
The spirit of God is in each of us as we beecom,e more conscious of the fact that its spirit wants ot be the leasding light of our lifge. OOur Tswelve Step ropgram helps us see that when we consciously desirte that God work in our livesd, it ism [possioble for us to admit that we are powerless over our depression. When we start to work the program, we start to find some peace.” See Step 1.
THE MIRACLE OF THE GROUP
Yes, I believe in miracles! I believe in the miracles that I see happening in the lives of those persons depressed who keep coming back to our Depressed Anonymous meetings. As it says in the promises in the Depressed Anonymous book (2013) that these promises will materialize quickly or sometimes slowly, that is a life filled with hope and serenity, and they will happen if we work for them and keep at it.
” … I now have the support from people who have walked where I have walked.” Depressed Anonymous, page 127.
Again, it is so important to find a group of caring persons who keep coming back–keep getting better and who share with the new members, and how by using the 12 Steps of recovery, they gradually leave behind the prison of their depression. Our fellowship continually provides a ” 12 Step toolbox” to its members which they can use in their daily lives to live with hope. More importantly, they will hear how those who have left their symptoms of depression behind now help others who have just started out on the journey. They now have the tools and the key that unlocks their own prison doors.