Today is all that I have.

Simple enough. All I have is this 24 hour period staring me in the face.  What to do with it? Well, for one thing I am about ready to go to my work. A few people are there waiting for me to help them with various activities.  Each day is a little different. Each day I encounter various persons with various needs.  All of my encounters  starts with a greeting and a smile. You see, I spend most of my day interacting with persons who live in a nursing facility. I know most of them by name and so I spend a little bit of time sharing with them about the day ahead as well as how their day is going.  Because of their own response to their dementia of one kind or another, and living in the moment, they assure me with their smile that they are doing OK.

The amazing characteristic of dementia is that you live in the moment. The present, as the word can denote, is truly a present from God. This is the only place I can live–in the now. Yesterday is really gone forever–can’t bring it back  (only by memory as faulty as it may become)  and tomorrow isn’t  here yet. Obviously, the only place to live is here, now, today, these next 24 hours.

Am I living in the present or is my mind onto to something I have to do tonight? Or after lunch?  I think you get the message. My thought is that when I meet a friend (resident) in the nursing home I am going to be really present to them and  have all my attention focused on the person. It is going to be an I-Thou relationship. It is as only the person that I encounter is the only person with whom my entire attention is given.  And at that moment something special takes place–two people become as one–joined together in the communicating  of a true and present relationship. Both of us are now in each others presence — in the now –fully  being the loving  person that God desires all creation to be —aware that we are all together in this. Today is all I have to make this relationship grow, in this manner, in this time, with this person.

Our relationship with other people improve: Promise # 9 of the Promises of Depressed Anonymous

Why wouldn’t our relationships with  other people improve?  After we have begun to put into place our daily program of recovery, through prayer and meditation we now are expectant and hopeful. We reflect upon each Step, and we complete a piece of the structure that in time will be the new me. I think that one  of the more critical areas to mend in our lives is the thinking part of ourselves.  Depression appears to start with the way our minds react to and perceive events outside of ourselves.  So, from the start we need to promote to those persons depressed to get involved in as much physical activity as possible, namely., walk, express personal feelings to others, go to meetings, talk on the phone with supportive people, in other words, get connected as much as possible.  Most importantly we discover at our  group meetings that there are many persons, much like ourselves and at the same level of recovery. We know we are not alone.

One of the immutable truths, according to Dorothy Rowe, who wrote the mental health award winning book, Depression: The way out of your prison. is “that other people are such that I must fear, envy or hate them. ”  If we believe that we are bad and valueless then it follows that we must  fear other people because they can find out how bad we are and so reject us.

Once newcomers hear  the before and after of our lives it will make it easier for them to believe us when they  experience our own enthusiasm and cheerfulness.”

SOURCE: Copyright (c) I’ll do it when I feel better. (2015) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. (Pages 46-47).

HOW DO I GET WELL? LET’S START WITH THE SMALL STUFF.

Here are some ideas  about leaving the prison of depression that just might work for you. They worked for me.

I hope that the following ideas and cautions work as well for you as they do for me. I have paraphrased  a few of  the  thoughts of Dr. Aquilino Polaino-Lorente, Chair of Psychopathology  at the Complutense  University of Madrid Spain.

1)  He says that the more time that we spend in bed when depressed the more difficult will be the recovery; 2) Physical exercise or some kind of sport are ever useful on addressing the illness that one suffers from; 3) He/she should not stay at home watching television but must go out and walk down streets or go to the mall, and begin to take up those small things that made him/her feel happy;4)  NOT talking to other people is not a good travel companion for this illness: he/she must retrieve the relationships and social relationships of his friendships; 5) He/she must try to have a full day, even if  this amounts to various kinds of small activities.”

SOURCE: Dolentium Hominum. Is Depression Solely a Matter of Medical Intervention?

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I especially feel that talking to other folks about the way we feel is really a good place to start. Our Depressed Anonymous group can build healthy relationships. The Depressed Anonymous group gets us out of our isolation and a group solidarity focusing on recovery  promotes a persistent effort to learn and live multiple ways to feel differently. Even though the gains might appear small at first, they in fact have an accumulating effect for  living life  with hope and vigor.

WHAT DO I BELIEVE ABOUT MYSELF?

Yes, what we believe about ourselves can and does make all the difference in the world. Yesterday we were sharing how certain people, places, situations and things have had power over our lives. Even those earlier and long forgotten relationships with significant others are still kicking around in our psyche’s.
As we continue to work through these relationships and attitudes about ourselves (less than) the following quote from our Depressed Anonymous Workbook says it best:
” We have given ourselves over to the belief that this growing feeling of helplessness is what must govern our lives, moods and behavior. We have given it license to run roughshod over every part of our life and over our relationships. Most people can’t see inside us and discover the pain that makes up every waking moment. For the most part we are able to hide how miserable we feel.” Depressed Anonymous Workbook, Step 2/ Page 12.
What power have you given over to others that you are willing to reclaim? And speaking of power–what Power greater than yourself are you able to turn to when you feel hopeless and helpless? And this power, has it been able to help you feel more in control of your life? Just some things to ponder today.

WHAT DO I NEED TO BE HAPPY?

Sigmund Freud was once asked what people needed to be happy? The questioner no doubt expected a long, complicated answer reflecting Freud’s years of deep reflection on the matter. His simple response, however, was “arbeiten und lieben,” –work and love. Happy people feel connected to others at work and through their intimate relationships. When those connections are threatened, diminished, or broken, people suffer. Today, millions of Americans are suffering from what my colleague Charles Derber calls “double trouble.” Those in double trouble have neither meaningful work nor sustaining intimate ties. The withering of community life in both domains fosters a rootless and social disintegration that unquestionably contributes to the growth of emotional disorders.” Speaking of Sadness. David Karp. Page 178.

Reflection
I believe that in the midst of the pain of depression I just wanted to pull the plug on life. I wanted to be alone. I just wanted people to keep their distance. I was not happy. I was unhappy at a job I began to hate. I do remember how hard it was even to lift up the phone to talk to a family member, an old friend or whoever intruded into my isolation. Truly I was suffering from “double trouble.”
But as the pain deepened I began to look for solutions–where was the key to unlock my depression. I found it in a fellowship, a 12 Step Recovery group. I was able to form intimate relations, work a program which was solution focused and then gradually get back into the light, into meaningful relationships. I also recovered the energy I needed to find a career that today (30 years later) still gives me joy and sustains my hope.

OUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHER PEOPLE IMPROVE. PROMISE # 9 OF THE 12 STEP RECOVERY PROGRAM

“Why wouldn’t our relationships with other people improve? After we have begun to put into place our daily program for recovery, namely through prayer and meditation we now are expectant and hopeful. We reflect upon each step, and we complete a piece of the structure that in time will be the new one.

I think that one of the more critical areas to mend our lives is the thinking part of ourselves. Depression appears to start with the way our minds react and perceive events outside of ourselves. So, from the start we need to promote to those persons depressed to get involved in as much physical activity as possible, namely, walk, express to others, go to DA meetings, talk on the phone with supportive people –in other words, get connected as much as possible. The point where we hope to enter into the life of the depressed is at the point of hope –be it at different stages of recovery.

…I believe that our involvement with other people like ourselves in the group gradually broadens our perspective in the area of hope. We learn to utilize new found tools that help us live with hope as well as enable us to learn that we have to be active in our own recovery.”
THE PROMISES. DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS PUBLICATIONS LOUISVILLE, KY. Pages 19-20.