To admit that there is a problem is the first step which can move us into recovery. The First Step of the Twelve Steps begins with the word WE. This is a WE program–a program about us as a group of hurting people. Since we have tried to tackle our problems alone and in the confines of our own mind we soon discovered that for most of us this was not enough. We still were saddled with a life destroying and unmanageable situation. There must be a solution we thought. Yes, there is a solution. For many of us who have traveled this path of recovery, living out the spiritual principles of the Twelve Steps and being part of the fellowship of Depressed Anonymous we have found peace and a new way of living,
I will be a better person today than the person I was yesterday.
“The first step to change is to see it is as possible in our scheme of things. The next step is to accept and cope with the anger and frustration that change bring ..coping with anxiety involves accepting it into awareness and permitting its full expression. This may not lead to a comfortable stare in the short run, but in the long turn it is a most effective strategy.(6)
CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT
I believe that all growth is gradual and that each day I have only twenty-four hours in which to live out my life. In these twenty four hours I can get a lot accomplished in my efforts to surrender my need to be dependent upon my depression. My depression will no longer be an excuse that keeps me from starting my recovery program.
I know from personal experience that my life is very different from the way that it was before I turned my life over to my Higher Power. (Step 2 of Depressed Anonymous) Now I can live with the belief that this power is going to walk with me. I can now be assured that life is going to get better for me. It is better already. Since this program of Depressed Anonymous is spiritual, I know that my healing of my depression is accomplished by my desire to let God, as I understand him, direct my life. (Step 3 of Depressed Anonymous).
The program of the Twelve Steps has no pat answers and it will not allow you to be comfortable where you are–in fact it will cause you to want to move out of the prison of your depression and into the light of daily efforts to change.
God, we are aware that this day and this day alone we are going to trust in you and we will commit ourselves to you so that we might commit ourselves to a positive change in our attitudes.
SOURCE: Copyright: HIGHER THOUGHTS FOR DOWN DAYS. Depressed Anonymous Publications Louisville Page 90. May 3rd.
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.
TO LIVE IS TO CHANGE
(March 12, 2015)
To live is to change. I choose to live with uncertainty today so that I can live with hope today. I choose to monitor all the negative and unpleasant things I say to myself today.
“TRUSTING MEANS ACCEPTING UNCERTAINTY, AND THAT IS NOT ONE THING THAT YOU ARE PREPARED TO DO.” (3)
CLARIFICATION OF THOUGHT
How often do I hear others who were once depressed say that it is only when they become vulnerable –that is, trusted others, that their lives took a turn for the better. So often, because of my need to completely control past, present and future, I can give my trust to no one else, including God. I must live my life with total certainty which the certain sad feeling of depression assures me, that what always has been (sadness) always will be.
To believe that my depression will never lift is to possess an irrational belief like saying the sun will never shine again because the sky has been overcast for days. It is living with certainty that gets me so depressed.
God, we want to begin today to trust you with our lives. We hear others who work the Twelve-Step program claim a new feeling of hope for their lives when they begin to live with trust in their Higher Power. We accept your plan for us today. We surrender our will to you now –we’ve only got our depression to lose. ”
Again we can’t promise anything about what will happen if you decide to change. I just can talk about my own experiences with depression. The only thing I knew was that I had to do something–I had to take responsibility for my life–I didn’t know for sure that my walking everyday and forcing myself out of bed a morning would make a difference in my mood. I didn’t know for sure that the Twelve Step Promises would work for me. I just knew that I was vulnerable and was willing to live with that uncertainty that possibly the sun would shine again for me. I just believed that if I moved the body–the mind would follow behind (which it did) and soon my own uncertainty about me ever feeling different than my everyday sadness–changed into hope as I did feel different. The fog of my depression did lift. I was almost caught up in one of those six immutable beliefs that Dr. Rowe speaks about, namely, “since bad things happened to me in the past, bad things will happen to me in the future.” The certainty of this belief will definitely hinder us from taking responsibility for our lives.
Copyright(c) Higher Thoughts for Down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 step fellowship groups. 1993, 1999. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. 40217. (p. 53))
HOPE IS CONTAGIOUS!
A great benefit of belonging to a fellowship is the power of hope. “If he or she can do it, then so can I.” This is a common belief for those who begin reading a book called Depressed Anonymous. This book, by the way, is written by folks who have felt hopeless and helpless. The many accounts and personal stories in the book fill one with hope and courage. The pages of this book help serve as a manual for those of us who want to embark on this personal journey of hope and recovery from depression. Now this book and all of the other books published by DAP are specifically geared to those of us who want to leave the prison of depression and are written by persons who were depressed — and who got better. What is better than to hear that the program works. Hearing how other people use the Twelve Steps and have them always available, is much like tools in your toolbox. The tools are there to help build a structure for one’s own life making it an adventure of hope–not a prison from which we felt we could not escape.
In Depression: The way out of your depression. Dr. Dorothy Rowe.1996 (2nd Ed)., tell us that “Hope can exist only in a state of uncertainty. That certainty means total certainty. That security means to be without hope. The prison of depression is built with the bricks of total certainty.
Certainty. Security. No hope.
To hope means to run the risk of disappointment.
To be insecure means not to be in control.
Stay in control. Be depressed.
To be uncertain means to be unsure of the future.
Predict the future with certainty. Stay depressed.
Hope can only exist where there is uncertainty. Absolute certainty means complete hopelessness. If you want to live fully we must have freedom, love and hope. So life must be an uncertain business. That is what makes it worthwhile.”
So, when we gradually believe that in each life some rain must fall, and pain can come, we begin to live life with hope. That’s the way it is. We can gradually believe, like thousands of other pilgrims on this path of recovery, that having a spiritual program such as the Steps, hope is possible, hope is doable and our lives can take on new meaning and have purpose.
“I remember Fred on his first visit to Depressed Anonymous. He said that he had been depressed all his life. The group listened to Fred, and of course for the most part Fred said he didn’t have the foggiest notion what all this talk of God had to do with his sadness and how it was supposed to help him,. But it was the pain of Fred’s depression that brought him back time after time to the meetings and he started not only to feel better, but he began to look better. Then as he heard about the Twelve Steps, he saw that he could trust this Higher Power, and that maybe the depression that had been such a lifetime companion was not for him anymore. Fred took the plunge, came to believe that a Power greater than himself could restore him to sanity — and it did just that. Fred said he didn’t need his depression any more, got busy making amends to family, friends and co-workers for being such a negative person, and began to take inventory where he needed to Spring clean his house. In time, Fred began to reach out to others in the group and he began to understand how he had become like many others in the group – a saddict. Depression for many was an addiction to sadness. The only way out of Fred’s addiction was to let go of it, admit his life was unmanageable and start to work on himself and his character defects. Fred still keeps coming back to the meetings to share his story with others on the how of his recovery. He talks about the way it was before Depressed Anonymous, and the way it is now since he has been working the steps and handed his life over to the Higher Power.”
Source: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Ky. (pgs.96-97).
I can relate to Fred in such a personal way when I too came into the Twelve Step program of recovery. I belonged to a Church that professed certain dogmas and doctrines –not some vague, impersonal Higher Power that the group say they espoused.. I came back week after week to the meetings, and when I gradually weaned myself from all my negative thoughts about the Twelve Step program, I finally “got it” as they say. I, too, after all these thirty years as a member of Depressed Anonymous have the deepest confidence that the “God of my understanding” has everything to do with my own recovery from depression. And by the way, I still belong to my Church with its dogma’s and doctrines, while having a “spiritual awakening ” along the way, thanks to the spirituality of Depressed Anonymous. Now the God of my understanding is my Higher Power. Please go to our website here at the Menu if you are interested in finding hope and information on the way out of your own sadness. Please join us on this journey! You’ll be glad you did.
MY LIFE WAS A SINKHOLE!
If you know anything about a sinkhole you know one thing–you know that everything is gobbled up which sits on the sinkhole spot. I mean, houses, cars, buildings, streets, etc. And if you throw anything else down the hole it too gets gobbled up. Just recently, at the Corvette car museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, a number of their vintage cars ended up at the bottom of a sinkhole–ironically, it occurred in their showroom. There was no way anyone was going to drive these vintage cars out of there.
In our Big Book, Depressed Anonymous as quoted in our recent publication ” I’ll do it when I feel better,” it states that
The overeater, gambler, smoker, sexual addict are all driven by their compulsions. The emptiness of our lives is like a hole that continuously needs to be filled with some compulsive and addictive behavior. By letting go of our excessive tightfisted hold on our life, which paradoxically it causes us to lose hold; we start to face reality for the first time without the crippling crutch of our compulsion. We let go of our compulsion to repeat –the ritual of addictions.
…Gradually over time, and due to being able to say no to the impulse to smoke, or sad oneself, you feel stronger and so the pained withdrawal becomes less intense. The same applies to the addiction of depression in that at first it’s difficult to stop completely the compulsive repeating of sad thoughts, but with time and working our Twelve Steps, and by our active involvement with DA we have the strength to say no to these sad thoughts and begin to choose hope and serenity.”
I use the analogy of a sinkhole because it truly expresses what happened when I was depressing myself. I couldn’t stop these incessant flow of thoughts that continued to gobble up my serenity,my peace and/or the desire to do anything positive for myself. All I could do was to sit in a room, look at the four walls and reflect on how hopeless I felt. As my pain intensified ( like a total body toothache) I found myself getting more isolated from life: meaning family, spouse, friends, groups, you name it.
How did I get out of the sinkhole? The first thing I had to admit was that I was IN A SINKHOLE. If this is where you find yourself today, you might want to go back to the Menu of this Website and read all the stuff there that tells about the” what” of Depressed Anonymous. And if you want to begin your own personal home study program for a further clarification of thought, you can get the Depressed Anonymous Manual and the Depressed Anonymous Workbook. I believe you’ll be happy you did. You’ll get some answers. It happens to be written by folks like you and me. That’s the good part.
Source: I’LL DO IT WHEN I FEEL BETTER, (2013) Smith, Hugh. Depressed Anonymous Publications, Louisville, Ky 40217.(p.60).
HIGHER THOUGHT FOR TODAY
I want to watch the way my thoughts reflect on other people and their actions. I will try today to detach from envying or hating other people today. I want to accept myself today.
We had to abandon the idea (Who is the Greatest Sufferer in the world?) since we could not work out a way of giving a prize to the Greatest Sufferer since one of the necessary attributes of the Committed Sufferer is that you never win.” (3)
My great aunt loved to tell us what a Great Sufferer she was and how her whole life was spent in being rejected by family and friends alike. She did get our sympathy and she did indeed seem to be a Great Sufferer. She appeared at our door infrequently, and as children we used to marvel at the stories of her pain and past operations –all very much like the old Ace telling of sorties over enemy territory.
Just as at our Twelve Step meetings I do want to hear how life was before the Twelve Steps and how life is now that one is trying to get healthy and live with hope. The only prize that I get from being in recovery is living in the unpredictability of my life and finding hope that I can and will feel differently. I am now committed to finding a way out of depression.
God, grant us an avenue in which we can begin to see the light of day and the end of our darkened living where we could only live in despair. We know you are always available to our asking for your help and the peace of your presence. In your peace there will be found a community.
SOURCE: Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for Twelve Step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, Kentucky. Pages 40-41.
“If I were asked what in my opinion was the most important factor in being successful in this program besides following the Twelve Steps, I would say Honesty. And the most important person to be honest with is yourself.” Big Book of AA as quoted in our DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS WORKBOOK, 12th STEP (p.86)
Remember this saying and repeat it often during your day today.
TO THINE OWN SELF FIRST BE TRUE!
That’s right, I am ready for a life turn-around.. I am not a victim. The First step of Depressed Anonymous says “We admitted that we were powerless over depression and that our lives had become unmanageable. ” We know and believe how we are no longer victims. Instead, we are learning how to be survivors, and much more. We refuse to be victims.”
Now that I have admitted that I am powerless over my depression and that I don’t do myself any good blaming myself with those daily reminders of how bad and unacceptable I am. I now am conscious of a new path out of my misery.” BELIEVING IS SEEING: 15 WAYS TO LEAVE THE PRISON OF DEPRESSION. Smith, Hugh ( 2014) DAP, Louisville, Ky 40217 (p.54).
One of the best parts of being a member of Depressed Anonymous (Online or f2f group) is that we don’t have to be alone if we don’t want to be. That might sound strange to some of us but we have to admit that what keeps us depressed is our need to keep apart from others…to remain disconnected and isolated. We have a need to be by ourselves and to stay apart from human contact. For to be in contact with others means that we will have to take some risks and to make some choices. But when I am depressed and alone I don’t have to make many choices or take any action except to keep isolating myself and staying apart.” THE DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS WORKBOOK. DAP. Louisville, KY 40217. (p.4)
Until I could put a label on the feelings of pain, shame and need to be isolated from others — all I could do was to think how hollow and empty I continued to feel. And, the feelings grew stronger day by day…” I had to make a decision. I had to do something. I believe that this is where many of us begin our journey out of depression. We know we have to do something. We will not just lie down and die. We will not be a victim.
As it states in our Big Book, DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS, (3rd edition ) 2011. (p31).
” But don’t get me wrong – I do not believe that you can snap out of your depression or suddenly and dramatically get your life turned around by going to one Depressed Anonymous meeting or reading the Twelve Steps five times an hour. We know it just doesn’t happen that way, especially if you have lived with your depression any length of time…”
So, here we are. Decision time. What to do and where to go to find help. For myself and others, I have found it in a program of recovery that works (HOME STUDY PROGRAM AND/OR DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS MEETINGS)). It works for me. It has provided me with a “tool box ” of ways where I gradually can loosen up the tight and deadly grip of depression on my life and begin to live with the belief that I am going to get better and feel differently. ARE YOU READY?