“It is my belief that the experience that we call human depression, can very much be like the early designation of alcoholism as partly an allergy as well as being a mental obsession. And depression is very much like alcoholism, in that it very much causes the sufferer much the same symptoms, namely, feelings of being isolated, lonely, angry and in a deep dark pit, hopeless and helpless. Also, the depressed who decides to become more isolated and alone likewise digs a hole just a little more deeply. The fellowship of the program is combined with a belief that a power greater than oneself is ultimately what is going to save the person depressed from killing themselves or floundering in a morass of self-will, resentments and self-pity. Many depressed basically are afraid of people and so tend not to trust others. They also hold a negative view of themselves and think themselves unacceptable to others and to themselves. (P.3)
In primitive human kind there was a system in one’s physical makeup that helped a primitive relative of ours flee or fight when danger approached. In those days the person faced with a mortal danger got the adrenaline flowing that enabled the pursued to evade his/her captor. It also gave the pursued victim the energy to fight and overcome the adversary. In today’s world the days of being pursued by some ferocious tiger or beast is not our problem. But we are still pursued and the fear of the consequences of being caught by whatever is pursuing us shoots the chemicals into our blood stream just as it did in our ancestors – with one major difference — our fears, anxieties, continual worries keep pumping those juices through our system until we are too tired to flee or even to fight. However it happens, the result is that our bodies suffer the damage of the stress of continual unpleasant emotions and feelings coursing through our veins. We are at war with ourselves and depression is the last wall of defense in which the body says I need to take a rest from all this stress and so I surrender. I am closing down. I don’t want to fight any longer. And when one begins to feel a little better and the energy of one’s spirit starts to flow back into us again and we start to feel renewed and it is here that our old ghost of fear starts to feel renewed and it is here that our old ghost of fear starts speaking to us saying “Hey, don’t trust this feeling of beginning to feel better. Stay with what you have — at least it’s predictable. At least you know what you have. Don’t try to change anything as you might get something far worse than what you have now.” (P.5).
SOURCE: Depressed Once -Not Twice: The autobiography of a spiritual journey out of depression. (2000) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. (Pages 3, 5).
Comment: In this important work, the founder of Depressed Anonymous the author shows us that even in the midst of the pain, isolation and a mental paralysis of will, the 12 Steps provide a plan,, a program of recovery. The author shows how by using the Steps himself in overcoming his own experience of depression that these same Steps can now be used by those “still suffering from depression.
Most of us think this awareness of a Power greater than ourselves is the essence of spiritual experience. Our more religious members call it “God – consciousness.”
Most emphatically we wish to say that any alcoholic (or a person with depression) capable of honestly facing his problems in the light of our experience can recover, provided he does not close his mind to all spiritual concepts. He can only be defeated by an attitude of intolerance or belligerent denial.
We find that no one need have difficulty with the spirituality of the program. Willingness, honesty and open mindedness are the essentials of recovery. But these are indispensable.
“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance — that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”
— HERBERT SPENCER
Source: AA Big Book. Page 184. THIRD EDITION 1976.
For myself, I have found a way out of my pain. As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, it’s not complicated. I found a program that is neither hit nor miss. It is what you choose to make it. It is a steady ascent, if you will, into a life of sanity.The program of recovery lets you start at A and go all the way to Z. It persistently confronts you with yourself, your own pain and a way to relieve yourself of that pain–one day at a time. One step at a time. No need to rush. No need to hurry. We are now operating in God’s time. The Twelve Steps of recovery, based on Spiritual principles, is a map that can lead you out of the wilderness of doubt, anxiety and fear. I know. Been there. Done that. And, almost immediately following the admission that I need help in the 1st Step, we read in the 2nd Step of Depressed Anonymous, that we “came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” As it say in the AA Big Book, God either is, or He isn’t. What was our choice to be?” This Power is the God of your understanding. That isn’t complicated is it?
In the latest publication of Depressed Anonymous we read in Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression which states in the 5th Statement of Belief that we want to “Remember that an oak tree was once an acorn –recovery begins by taking one step at a time and accepting responsibility for moving from depression into peace and serenity.”
For a personal home study program to compliment your group work you can use the Depressed Anonymous Workbook and the Depressed Anonymous Manual. You’ll be glad that you did!
A POWER GREATER THAN OURSELVES: OUR GO TO PERSON
The more time that I spend in daily prayer and meditation the closer I feel to this Power greater than myself. Now, let’s be honest, it isn’t everyday that I feel this or think this way, but for most days I feel energized by my time in quiet listening. It was when I first joined a Twelve Step recovery program that I I knew that I was truly home. I had always been looking for a home where I could feel acceptance, nurturing and fellowship. It was at my first meeting, 32 years ago, that in all my brokenness, guilt and shame, that I felt I had made it home. It was here that I could reveal who I was, who I thought I was and get a plan for my life, just one 24 hour period at a time. My own feelings of being totally accepted in this new fellowship created in me the belief, without doubt, that sanity would be restored to me. How did I know this? What made me a believer? Simply the fact that the members of the group had pretty much the same story as my own. But for all of this, what stood out was the basic belief among all of the members, that there is a Power, and it is greater than me. And that this Power, whom we understand as God, is my GO TO person every day of my life. And the two things this group taught me early on, is that THERE IS A GOD, AND IT IS NOT ME!
If today you are feeling alone, lost and frightened, please join me here everyday, as I speak about spirituality and the Power greater than myself, and what it has to do with my recovery, and how it impacts on our search for that serenity that we are all seeking. Remember what you seek, seeks you!