Share your story and save your life.

Last night at a Depressed Anonymous meeting, a member shared how she felt that our members do a great service to those still depressed by sharing their story of recovery from depression. It was then  pointed out that Ralph, a member of Depressed Anonymous for 23 years now, had his own story of recovery published in the first edition of Depressed Anonymous(1998). The title of his story appeared under the title Depressed Anonymous is Ralph’s Guardian Angel. The story is a real tribute to that person’s faith  who  to this day continues to use  the Twelve Steps as a way to  stay out of depression. His story and  the many others in the Depressed Anonymous book, now in its  3rd edition, continue to inspire us and give us hope. We too  can have the same experience as Ralph. In fact, it was suggested at the meeting last night  that Ralph write and give an account for how his life has been  since the time that he penned that account (1992) of his own personal recovery from depression.

In Ralph’s personal account t of his recovery experience he tells us ” that the group has been my guardian angel who was speaking to me all the time. I learned that there was hope for me after all.  There is a new rebirth in me spiritually, emotionally and physically. I believe that I can go on with my life without all the fears that I bottled up inside  me.  As long as I have faith in my Higher Power and the Depressed Anonymous group, there will be no mountain that I cannot climb. I am forever grateful.”

(Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition.(2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.  Personal Stories section. Story #7 on pages 117-118.)

I might add that Ralph has been the staying force  in our community for facilitating a  Depressed Anonymous meeting, ensuring that the group has a place to meet,  and just keeping the door open for anyone who wants to find hope and fellowship which is the kind of hope that Ralph found when he entered that door of the fellowship for the first time. (I remember well. I was there./ Editor)

I can tell you that it is in the telling of the story that gives us hope–always. That is why at our Twelve Step meetings we have speakers who share their story of recovery for those not acquainted with the hope, healing and serenity that our recovery  journey provides, one  day at a time. Also, by having so many personal stories in our manual we know how important it is to show that what we believe  actually works. The  ” proof is in the pudding” as the old saying goes. At the beginning of every meeting, the  leader for that meeting shares with the group the way their life was before they found and put the power of the Twelve Steps into their lives, and now, how their life is today.

The more we come together and share our stories, that is our struggles with depression, the more we find the solutions just as did Ralph who found the Depressed Anonymous fellowship to serve as his guardian angel. And from the meeting last night I see that Ralph’s guardian angel is still very much on the job. I am grateful.

Sources:  Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition.(2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications.  Louisville.

Believing is seeing:15 ways to leave the prison of depression. (2015) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

A Power greater than ourselves!

Affirmation

I am conscious today that there exists a power who wants me to be free of my need to sad myself.

” Maybe there  are as many definitions of spiritual awakening as there are people who have had them.  But certainly each genuine one has something in common with all the others.  And these things which they have in common are not too hard to understand. When a man or a woman has a spiritual awakening, the most important meaning of it is that he now has become able to feel and believe that which he could not do before on his unaided strength and resource alone. He has been granted a gift which amounts to a new state of consciousness and being.  He has been set on a path which tells him he is really going somewhere, that life is not a dead end, not something to be endured or mastered,. What  he has received is a free gift , and yet usually, at least in some small part, he has made himself ready to receive it,.”

Clarification of thought

I have learned that people who believe in some power greater than themselves and surrender to it that these same people begin to find hope and start feeling better.

I no longer just have to endure like a passive victim but instead can get active in my own recovery and start  to feel hopeful about my day and my life. I don’t have to feel this way anymore.

Meditation

It is only by our prayer, meditation and self reflection that we will gradually be free of our despair and begin to hope. Our lives have been permanently changed by our understanding that we will get well today, bit by bit. ”

SOURCES: Copyright(c)Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of Twelve Step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Page 164. August 15.

Copyright (c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

IF MY LIFE IS JOYFUL, THEN WHY DO I CONTINUE TO GO TO DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS MEETINGS?

Today, as promised yesterday (7/22) in our BLOG, we shared how Lois declared that she  “no longer experiences those black, bleak, hopeless periods”. She says that “her life is joyful.”

If her life is so joyful  Lois needs to explain why she continues to go to Depressed Anonymous meetings 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 the depressed, and to practice these principles in all of our affairs.”  ” I am so grateful to Depressed Anonymous that I want it to be there for those who are still suffering.”

See pages 110-111 for a full account of Lois’ testimony in THE PERSONAL STORIES section of Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.

Also read the remaining thirty stories of the other members of Depressed Anonymous who found serenity and joy using the Twelve Step program of recovery.

Like Lois, there are many of us who today continue to carry the message of hope to those still suffering from depression. Like myself, they all want to share with others that there is hope — there is a day coming that a light may shine and give them a way out of the darkness of their depression. This website and BLOG is just one way that I am taking the message of HOPE to others. Just yesterday a Depressed Anonymous group leader tells of how she is sharing her story OF HOPE to a man who intends to take his life, Another man in the group who worked his way out of despair using the Twelve Steps of recovery is also sharing his own story of despair and hopelessness with the man. That is what Lois is doing–bringing hope to others even though her whole life took a dramatic change.  Even though she is no longer imprisoned in depression she still sees it her mission to continue telling people her story. I told my story tonight at one of our local Depressed Anonymous meetings. At each meeting that I attend,  gradually, as Lois puts it, I  unscramble a part of the mess that brought me to my knees in the first place.

NO MATTER HOW FAR DOWN THE SCALE WE HAVE GONE, WE SEE HOW OUR EXPERIENCE CAN BENEFIT OTHERS.

This is another one of the Promises that helps promote our purpose in life as well as gives our life  meaning.

“Some of us have attempted suicide. A few of us more than a few times. We had despaired of ever finding peace or hope.  We believe that we had no future and that our yesterdays were as hopeless as our today’s.  It was hard to attend our first Depressed Anonymous meeting. We felt horribly alone. We just know that no one in the group has been through what we have been through. But as we listened and watched the older members of the group speak we saw ourselves in their stories.

Personally, I believe that whatever you give out to others is the amount that comes back to you. Our experience can usually help someone else. As the  experience of depression is so isolating, so predictable in its misery that it is bound to have made such impression upon us  that it changed our life and the way we think about our life. And then when our life is changed for the better –thanks to the fellowship of DA, this precious gift of hope needs to be with those still suffering. Ironically, it appears that the farther we have gone down in mood and up again in our recovery,  the more powerful can this experience be.

New members of our fellowship see the “after” of our lives lived in recovery and so they themselves get involved in the fellowship. The fact that we have recovered so completely is in itself a message of tremendous hope for those who are newcomers to the group. Isn’t it amazing that those who can do the most for those still suffering are those who have worked themselves out of the pit of isolation and began sharing their story of hope and personal empowerment.”

Copyright(c) I’ll do it when I feel better. (2013) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 39-40. PROMISE # 5.

YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE YOUR LIFE PARKED IN NEUTRAL!

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!

I THINK THAT I AM DEPRESSED!

In the mutual aid group, Depressed Anonymous, we make it OK to say “I think I am depressed.”

In Believing is seeing, an effort is made to help  persons depressed as well as the  friends and families of the depressed to know that there is a group that is there for them. In fact, once people come to the group and experience a meeting focused on the power of the Steps working in the lives of the fellowship, they soon come to  believe and know the group members are speaking their language. It’s much like going to a foreign country and finding someone who can speak your language.

“Thank goodness, people can now go  and find help –namely, the Depressed Anonymous group.  Persons need to be educated about depression and that one is  not losing their minds when the symptoms of depression begin to take over their lives.  Their own depression experience and the symptoms that comprise it may enable them to seek help faster. They may be relieved to know what it is that is happening to them. I believe that a doctor or nurse practitioner would be more than happy to help de-stigmatize such a common and universal problem as depression or as some have called it in an earlier time, melancholia. In time and with our own advocacy as a mutual aid fellowship we will help make it OK to say “I am depressed.” We hope by that fact to help de-stigmatize this common and natural response to loss. Remember, to admit you’re depressed is the first step in recovery and the first step in getting yourself undepressed.”

Copyright (c)Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression. (2013) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 17-18.

I HAVE CHOICES

Depressed Anonymous bases its healing and recovery on the premise that once depressed persons admit that they are out of control, even for some to the point of having attempted suicide, they then come to believe that a Power greater than themselves can restore them to sanity, while  at the same time making a decision to turn their minds over to the care of God, as they understand God.

The important thing is not so much whether depression is or is not an illness or a mental disorder, but that people have to take responsibility for themselves and their feelings.  So many people think that since they are patients of a doctor, they must just sit back and wait for the medicine to kick in.  The doctor will be doing these people a great favor to ask them what has been going on in their families, their work, or with those whom they love.  The depressed consumer of medical and mental health services might then get it that maybe they have a choice on whether they stay depressed or not.  The consumer might also begin to work on themselves, knowing that everything they can do to take care of themselves will gradually eliminate the symptoms that we call depression.

So often, those depressed are living out of step with their own expectations or the expectations of others, sometimes stemming back to early childhood.  It would be great if the many people on antidepressant medication would start talking about why they depressed themselves in the first place. The pain might disappear with the medication, but the experience is still part of their lives and memories. Unless one talks about the experience then the depression symptoms will indeed re-appear.”:

SOURCE: Copyright (c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd Edition. (2011)  Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville Ky   Page 168.

KEEPING OUR DARK THOUGHTS OUT INTO THE OPEN

” Most of us need the fellowship of the group to keep ourselves honest and in recovery and our dark thoughts out in the open.”

I believe that keeping our dark thoughts in the open  is a must for those of us who are depressed. How often when I was feeling sad and without motivation to just go to my bed and sleep.  I couldn’t continue with  the dark thoughts that kept cycling around in my head. They each would take me right back to  where they started. I always ended up back at hopelessness and despair.

This being open, willing and honest with others  in the group is the beginning of a new adventure. The fellowship provides us with that opportunity to get out in the open those very same dark thoughts that forced us down and into the pit. Were they thoughts of guilt, shame or despair? Where they the hopeless thoughts of killing ourselves? Whatever the dark thoughts, I know from my own experiences in recovery that by bringing them (dark thoughts) into the light — the shame that they once made us feel begins to be diminished. When I tell members of our group that I once tried to kill myself, no one falls out of their chair. No one looks down on me–because, just possibly, there are other members of the group who have had the same experiences as have I.

By coming week after week to the group and feeling that those gathered in the group are in the same boat or have the same experiences, does make it easier for me to  trust them with my story–no matter how dark and shameful.   And as it says in our Depressed Anonymous (3rd edition)  big book, “Remarkable things happen to us when we are willing to admit defeat and talk about our powerlessness over our depression and how our lives had become unmanageable. This first step is the beginning of the flight of steps that takes us up and into our new way of living. At our fellowship of Depressed Anonymous, we talk hope, we act hopeful, and we think hope..” Pages 106-107. Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications, Louisville.

SPOON FEEEDING IS NO USE TO YOU. YOU HAVE TO FEED YOURSELF.

Dorothy Rowe sums it up splendidly in her work, The Way out of your prison, where she states how we have to learn to take care of ourselves. It takes time and work. And  this applies to learning ways to work our selves out of the pit, the prison of depression. She  promotes the solution that joining a self-help group like Depressed Anonymous is a way to do this. This of course entails work and a persistence in keeping one’s hand to the plow and focused on our own recovery.

She states that   ” …joining a self-help group will be one of the most valuable things you can do. You will meet a group of people who knows 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.

….you can get help, provided you are prepared to go out and find it and to work with what you are offered.

 Spoon feeding is no use to you. You have to feed yourself.”

Comment:  To work on any aspect of one’s own life it does take work as Dr. Rowe suggests. In our own recovery program of Depressed Anonymous we are provided a “toolbox”  where we can step by step learn and use the various tools of the fellowship to overcome our isolation and pain.  All this can be accomplished in the context of the group as well as in the literature provided by the group. By our working the Twelve Step program of recovery, designed specifically for those of us depressed, we can and do leave the prison of our depression. One can read the many personal stories of those who have used the Steps and are free of the bondage of sadness in Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition.

DEPRESSION ALMOST COST ME MY LIFE

A HIGHER THOUGHT  FOR TODAY

I am able to beat loneliness by repeatedly being with other people in recovery.

“I’m sure many sufferer’s could find a lot of comfort and support by coming into a group as I have done, to help beat the terrible loneliness which is felt by many of us and who find lasting friendship with lovely people.”

CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT

In the group, I established myself and I got some positive feedback from others who watched me grow and who have seen the genuine changes I make personally. I am gradually throwing off my personal war with sadness. The real support comes when I begin to learn that members of the group have the same problems that I have.  That helps me trust others with the story of my life.  These people are the ones who want to hear my story of how depression almost cost me my life. Now, my life is freeing me from my need to sad myself.

I feel I am  able to attach myself to the group now that I know that they are struggling with the same depression that I struggle with.  I no longer have to fight this battle on my own.

MEDITATION

God, you are our rock and our refuge, on you I place all my trust. We know and believe, easier now than before, that God has something good in store for us today.”

SOURCE: Copyright(c) Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 Daily Thoughts and Meditations for 12 Step Fellowship Groups. (1993, 1999) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville  Pages 84-85.