” The sanity of the Twelve Step program is what will eventually help you change how you look at yourself and your experience of depression. The program shows that just because you have always felt miserable is no reason to remain miserable for the rest of your life. The sanity of placing your trust in a Power greater than yourself opens up great possibilities for your personal happiness and success. If you have felt that you have to be in total control of every situation in your life, then coming to believe in a power greater than yourself might be a frightening experience. What would happen if suddenly you couldn’t control your unhappy situation with the comfort of sadness or self-pity? Haven’t our sadness and thoughts of unworthiness been our last refuge from having to face ourselves, take charge and accept responsibility for our own lives?
The escape into feelings of worthlessness and resignation over my depressing feelings is no longer an acceptable way for me to delay the hard choice of being responsible for me. This statement is not made to make you feel guilty but only to help you see that, with time and by working the Twelve Steps on a daily basis and having the ongoing fellowship and support of the Depressed Anonymous group, you can begin to choose a way out!”
SOURCE: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Page 42-43.
What is a speed bump? A speed bump is simply a slight rise in the pavement to alert car drivers to slow down. Most of the speed bumps can be found in residential areas/ neighborhood streets. In some areas they are marked with yellow stripes .Depending on the necessity for motorists to drastically cut their speed, these bumps are built with more height and force the motorist to come to almost a stop to prevent damage being done to one’s vehicle.
I find the speed bump to be a metaphor for my own experience with symptoms of depression. I do know that as my symptoms grew more in kind and strength I gradually reduced my activities. My mind was filled with obstacles which grew larger and more formidable as time went on. I found myself sitting alone and stalled. I found my personal speedometer registering 10mph instead of the normal 50mph. The more I perceived the speed bump ahead, rising out of the ground like a brick wall, I knew that I couldn’t go any further. I was like the sail boater on the lookout for any breeze to get me moving again.
No matter how hard I tried to get over the bump, I kept telling myself it was a hopeless task. There was no way to get over it. I felt helpless. I kept telling myself that I might as well just stay where I was and so I shut off the engine. It was like I was terrified with fright. I thought of a thousand options but none of them appeared manageable. I just believed my situation was useless.
Well, this metaphor doesn’t end there because I am no longer helpless. In my real world I thought, I’ve got a serious problem here ( symptoms of depression: fatigue, anger, feeling worthless ) all of which I have to deal with. So, I admitted that I was powerless over my depression and that my life was unmanageable. (Step One of Depressed Anonymous). And then “came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” (Step Two of Depressed Anonymous) Then I made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of the God as I understand God. (Step Three of Depressed Anonymous).
If your speed bump keeps you from moving in life know that many of us have been there like you. There is a solution, and just begin to believe that you are NOT l alone. It really helps to know that you can join our fellowship and find hope. Been there, done that!
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 THINK I WAS A CONTROL FREAK!
“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 him or herself from a chronic and compulsive behavior such as depression, the Twelve Steps can be your stepping stones to the path of a hope-filled life.” (8)
My thinking is what has been keeping me depressed these many years. I haven’t thought of myself as being addicted to sadness or that I might even be a saddict. Now the truth is becoming clear to me as I work the Twelve Steps and attempt to change the way I think and feel. I no longer want to be a victim of my past, but I am becoming a person filled with hope and a new found zest for living. I am finding that my expectations for myself have decreased as my need to be perfect is yielding to a greater acceptance of myself as I am. Being perfect is such a bore. By letting go of my need for perfection it seems that my self-acceptance is beginning to grow.
One of the great freedoms I am experiencing in my life today is that I don’t have to be in control of everyone’s life or behavior. One of my character defects has been a need to always have everything and everybody under my control. I have even tried to control God until I learned that it is only when I surrender to God that my life can be filled with hope and peace.
We will no longer allow ourselves to continue to obsess about hiow bad our lives are when all we need to do is learn how to find our peace by allowing God to guide our will and our life on a daily basis. We don’t have to choose to live a life of misery –we can make different choices which restores my sanity.
SOURCE: Higher Thoughts for Down Days(c)
What do you give your power to in your own life today? What can help you to greater sanity?
Various powers have played a critical role in our lives in the past. If you wish, please name and list the people, places, situations, and things that have exerted the greatest power over you and your life in the past. These places, persons, situations and things can have a positive or negative power over you and your life. Please list below.
Depressed anonymous Workbook/ Depressed Anonymous Publications/Page 11/ Step Two.
In tomorrow’s post we will list some of the thoughts about Step 2 and how our beliefs can produce sanity in our lives.