I am going to take a fearless and moral inventory of myself today and list on paper my strengths as well as my weaknesses, that is those characteristics in my life that might keep me fearful and depressed,
“Step Four and Five really have to be faced head-on if our depression is to go away. Steps Four and Five are all about cleaning house. We must square off with ourselves and begin the rooting out process that will in time, free us from our sadness and our identity as a depressed person. So often a person depressed is afraid, panic stricken really, in facing some issues that were never their fault in the first place.”
I see so many people are liberated from their depression the moment they begin to look themselves in the eye and reflect on their character defects. These persons are the ones who are not afraid to make a list of all the persons they have hurt by their isolating depression and by the thought that they are unacceptable to others and to themselves. By working Step Five which states that “we admitted to God, ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” I am assured by another person’s acceptance of me that I will get through this time of pain and hurt.
Bill W., the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous had a spiritual awakening on night as he truly was at the lowest point in his life and begged God to help him. God’s love lit up the room for Bill and he was never the same after that. He was a changed man. I need to make restitution to my family, my friends, my spouse and to whomever for my withdrawing from life and hiding from my responsibilities. This is the work that is needed if I am to get free of the shackles of sadness.
God, shine the light of your wisdom into our hearts so that you might help us find the way out of our depression and get on with living our lives the way you would have us live them. Our fears and anxieties are definitely not the way you would want us to live. You have shown us the way out of our misery by bringing us close to those who once were depressed, but now in recovery, are doing better.”
SOURCES: Copyright (c) Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for all members of 12 Step fellowships. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Page 224/ November 10th.
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Copyright (c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.
Antidote: “A remedy to counteract a poison.” This is the definition as given by Webster’s dictionary. Fear is truly a poison in some ways and in others it is a gift. We need to fear only that which will keep us locked in the prison of depression. Sometimes our fears are of what tomorrow might bring or might be the fears from the past. One of the better antidotes to fear is trying to live, just for today. Today is all I have.
So often I hear others say that they have been depressed all their lives until – let me repeat- until they hear other stories as to how with work, time and belief in a power greater than themselves that they did and are feeling better now. I need to trust that once I have made my conscious decision to turn my life and will over to the care of God as I understand him, that my life will indeed begin to change.
“I am no longer alone in my suffering depression. I believe that by getting more active in my recovery that my life will begin to brighten up.”
“We of (AA) and Depressed Anonymous find that our basic antidote for fear is a spiritual awakening.” Bill W.
Copyright (c) Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for members of 12 Step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. May 10. Page 95.
Copyright (c) Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression. (2015 ) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.
Copyright (c) I’ll do it when I feel better. (2013) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.
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.
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.
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.
Greetings and a warm hello to all. So many persons, from so many different cultures, race, spirituality and national groups come here to find a bit of light and hope. I welcome you all. I continue to write from my own experience with the darkness and invite you to share whenever and however you would like your own experiences.
In my own life, my own brokenness brought me into another 12 step fellowship years ago. It was truly the dark night of the soul for me. The darkness for me was like being in a dark cave, paralyzed by my own blindness – unable to find a way out. Then, because there was a lighthouse (12 step group) in my small rural community, I slowly came into the light of hope and found my way out.
Then once again, my life needed another shot of hope when I slowly slid down a slippery slope of hopelessness. It was then that I came to see that a group, which I had already formed, using the 12 steps for melancholia, came to my own rescue. I then began to help others form Depressed Anonymous groups. And gradually and slowly other depressed persons started groups in their own communities. Now here we are today, attempting to light and ignite hope in those who themselves want to discover how to leave the darkness of their own helplessness and darkness. For those who come and see how others have been able to climb out of the cave’s darkness into the light and use our spiritual recovery program of the steps, know that they too can have the light of hope in their own lives.
I often tell those in our groups that my own darkness and my coming into the light has been a gift. A gift for others. How often do people know that when I speak about my own experience in the darkness, there is no doubt that my experience is in many ways similar to their own. It takes one to know one.
In fact, the 12th step of Depressed Anonymous suggests that “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to the depressed, and to practice these principles in all of our affairs.” (Page 159. Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Kentucky. )
When you have some good news in your life –especially joy and hope –that is something to talk about! I continue to carry on.
I will affirm myself by getting in touch with my feelings and expressing them.
” To know how to behave you have to rely on other people’s opinions, and so you live under the tyrannies of ‘they.’ What will they think? is the thing that accompanies every action and determines ever decision.”
I am so accustomed to living my life on the basis of others feelings, thoughts, and decisions about myself that in the end I feel de-selfed. I feel empty and horribly alone; I feel saddened over the loss of my identity as a person.
Now, I am hopeful as I see that one of the best ways to defeat my sense of nothingness is to seek out the presence of this force bigger than myself and be willing today –just for today, to let it work its power in my life. My identity as a person is going to grow slowly and spiritually.
When depressed, it’s hard to make up my mind. Just knowing that this is part of my depression makes it less painful as I make a mental decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God, as I understand him.
Our God is consciousness and is knowledgeable of everything in the universe. Our God is at the center of our lives, replacing the sadness around which our world revolves. The more conscious we are of God working in our minds and thoughts, the more we are going to feel like some one we can love.”
“MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU! Again, we are back to the conviction that the God of my understanding will guide me down the path that best suits me and my recovery. How many times have I reflected upon comments made at Depressed Anonymous meetings by members who speak freely about God’s work in their lives. It is amazing how often the thought pops into my mind how frequently people speak about God’s power operating in their lives. The comments made by members originate in their own “spiritual awakening” resultant of living out the Steps in their own lives. Anyway, it’s heartening for me to know and believe that God will work in one’s life if one trusts this power greater than oneself.
— SOURCE: Higher Thoughts for Down Days: 365 Daily Thoughts and Meditations for 12 Step Fellowship Groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Ky 402i7. Page 49.
” Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to the depressed, and to practice these principles in all of our affairs THE TWELFTH STEP OF DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS
The only requirement for membership in Depressed Anonymous is a sincere desire to quit sadding ourselves today. Just for this twenty-four hour period. We want to try for this short period of time to let go of our sadness. But since we are saddicts, we need to know that we can’t just snap out of our sadness in minutes or even days. To get to feeling better takes time because our learning to sadden ourselves goes back over months, possibly years and one doesn’t just snap out of feeling bad in a few days when the whole way of living has taken years to develop. As was brought out in another Step, it’s not so much our addiction that we need to focus on as our whole life – which we now admit is un-manageable. By practicing the principles of the Twelve Steps, we now know that we need to make an inventory of our whole life. We can leave no rock unturned if we want to live with serenity and hope. Our sadness, like any other addiction, is merely a symptom of some deeper compulsion that manifests itself in our need to seek comfort and safety in sadness. But this is the nature of our addictive behavior and thinking. Our thinking has been compulsive. Every time someone hurts our feelings, and said something that wasn’t pleasant, we withdrew into the dark hole of our depression. We shut down our feelings by numbing ourselves against future hurts. Depressed Anonymous wants you and me to try for one day at a time not to withdraw compulsively into sadness when we come up against a stressful situation.”
—–Read more about the Twelfth Step in the DA Manual, 3rd edition, (2013) Depressed Anonymous Publications, Louisville Ky. Page 104.
It takes one to know one is true. Following my own depression experience and the setting up of Depressed Anonymous groups did I realize that I had an experience which could be used to help others. I knew what it felt like to suffer the physical symptoms of depression. Following the attainment of my Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology, I discovered many in my practice came seeking help to overcome their depression. Gradually it dawned on me that I could be a source of support to others — just by sharing my own struggle with depression. Once I shared with my clients my own battles with the dark monster, it became clear by sharing my own story that they began to open up about their own battle with the dark monster. My clients found someone who could not only relate to their own story about isolation, shame and the continual physical pain caused by depression–but they heard how helplessness and despair had given way to hope! My own story validated their story. That it takes one to know one is so true.
This is where Bill W., (co-founder of AA) learned the greatest lesson, namely that an addict will be more open to listen to some one who has or is fighting the same battles that you are fighting. And the best is that by using the program of recovery that we have used and still use today, might find life starting to be lived with serenity and hope.
It is not complicated. Here it is, laid out simply and to the point. I was once severely depressed and now I am not. How did this happen one will ask? It happened by believing that by being part of a fellowship of people just like myself and following a way of life, marked out step by step, that I, like Bill W., and all other addicts will see how with our belief that I can get better, get better. It does take work and time. We learn to not live in our past -it’s gone forever- and not to live in the future–but to live in the now, today. All we have is this 24 hour period. As the Yiddish saying goes, “to share my story is to save my life.” It’s so true. When I discovered the 12 Steps, shared my story and made prayer and meditation a part of my daily routine, I began to taste the freedom that comes with that ‘spiritual awakening’ which occurs when we are able to share our story with those still suffering. The depressed newcomer will know that you are the “real deal.” And if you are fortunate enough to find a group in your locale you then will find out what we all have all discovered–it takes one to know one.