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Forum Home > Healing After Leaving AA > Depression and the 12 steps

tumbleweed
Member
Posts: 52

This will be my first post on this forum. I have to start by saying thanks to you people who started this site. It has been very helpful to spend some time here. I feel I would likely still be into the program and XA if it werent for the internet and the truth about AA and addiction in general one can find online.My first post will be about depression, what I have found being helpful in alleviating this illness and my experience with the 12 steps in connection to this.

I been suffering from depression since my childhood years. In my teens I became addicted to drugs first and, a couple of years later, alcohol. When I was 27 yrs old a set of circumstances landed me in rehab, and from there into AA. I considered myself a member for  5 years and left about 2 years ago. Been clean and sober for the last 5 years or so. Had a couple of short relapses the first three years upon entering rehab.

As above stated this post will be about depression, not alcoholism. Its been about a year now since my last bout with clinical depression has lifted. Ive come to realise during this time that I actually suffer from depression and that this is an illness in its own right. In rehab I was made to believ that everything "wrong" with me stems from the fact that Im an addict, which, according to them, meant I have a disease which only can be kept in check by abidance to a "higher power", "spiritual principles" and meetings with fellow sufferers on a regular basis for the rest of my life.

Seriously, thats the gist of what I got from treatment...I bought into it. But to be honest, If the center had been run by hare krishna I would probably hopped along given the state of total despair I was in when I first came. Maybe that would been preferable, they seem to be a more fun lot than your average stepper-group.

Anyway, I seriously felt there was something "wrong" with me, a feeling of despair and anxiousness always beneath the surface ready to take hold of me and  that feeling been with me since childhood. So when I got presented with a way, a program, and promises out of this, of course it got my interest.

The symptoms of depression is very similar to those described as "dry drunkeness", irritability, anxiety selfabsorption etc. But in my case, the craving for alcohol has never been that long lingering. Its only when I put the stuff into my body that craving occurs. Same with the mental obsession, it takes a week for that to fade away, after my last drink.

According to science, causes for depression are various, and often its probably a complex of different variables present that usher a person into it. For me, the major culprit, so to speak, has been a behaviour of over analysing, a kind of emotionally arousing introspections which lead to a spiral of negativity. This stress out the nervoussystem ( brain ) giving the physical and emotional symptoms of depression. Ive been doing this since my childhood, which probably explains a lot of why I enjoyed the effects of drugs and alcohol so much. And I been doing it uncounsiously and habitually, never really thought of it as something harmful or negative, I thought everyone did it.

When this was explained to me, and I finally realised how I participate in the process, it was just a question of reducing it. Find means to reduce the amount of daily introspection and let the process of healing will do its course. Because thats the thing with the brain, it heals itself...if you just let it. When depression starts lifting it certainly feels wonderful, and can be described something like "entering the fourth dimension", but thats not whats happening. Not really, your brain is just healing and starts to operate optimally.

The means has mainly been mindfulness exercises in my case, but there are a lot of different ways to approach this thing. Ive tried other things as well, such as exercise, eat healthy, take certain supplements...and all those things has helped up to a point and do its part for the healing process Im sure, but the most important thing come to depression has been to reduce the amount of introspection. Amongst the least helpful anti-depressant ctivities I engaged myself in is the 12 steps.

There is research on depression showing that therapy encouraging emotionally introspecion only worsens the symptoms of the illness. This is exactly what the programs of XA suggest to do. This might be fine or less harmful for someone who does not suffer from depression, but it will probably do a great disservice to those who do. And, from my experience in XA, depression seem to be present in something like one third of the members.And to be honest, all kinds of mental illnesses seem to be present in another third of them.

As the depression has lifted and times goes by, I seem to respond emotionally and mentally to events in life like most other people. There might still be certain, less helpful behaviours i picked up as means to cope with addiction and depression, but they are just that, behaviours, habits, which i can refrain from doing as I discover them and replace them with new, learned from other people whom I trust.

Writing about these things here is very freeing for me, since some of above mentioned less helpful behaviours stems from the 12 step ( second guessing, reading in "disease"status in myself and other people, guilty when Im engaging in "ego" stuff...etc )..but it saddens me deeply to know that other people with the same problem will be sent to the rooms of XA, where no real help is to be found.




March 15, 2013 at 3:18 PM Flag Quote & Reply

bitter
Member
Posts: 335

What steppers continually ignore is that Wilson suffered from depression all his sobriety sometimes bedridden for 11 years. He bounced from religion,steps,lsd,niacin, seances etc etc. A lot of steppers will tell you that the steps will cure everything but we know thats not true. Also the suppression of ones Ego is damaging as well as telling someone they are powerless & are diseased for life because their mind is sick. 

March 15, 2013 at 8:30 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Live_free_or_die
Administrator
Posts: 851

Hi tumbleweed, and a warm welcome to the site. Thank you for your post. I had to read it twice I liked it so much.

"In rehab I was made to believ that everything "wrong" with me stems from the fact that Im an addict, which, according to them, meant I have a disease which only can be kept in check by abidance to a "higher power", "spiritual principles" and meetings with fellow sufferers on a regular basis for the rest of my life."

Yep. The Magical Mystic Tour.

 

"I bought into it. But to be honest, If the center had been run by hare krishna I would probably hopped along given the state of total despair I was in when I first came. Maybe that would been preferable, they seem to be a more fun lot than your average stepper-group."

The AA Magical Mystic Tour is quite enticing to the individual looking for help. After all, everyone tells you that AA has the answer, and AA is willing to hood wink you into thinking they do. But AA does not have the answer, all AA is is praying to god for magical miracle.

The Hare Krishna's would have been a better choice.

 

"entering the fourth dimension", Oh dear, I have heard something similar to this somewhere. Was it Bill W. that rocketed into the 4th dimension?

 

"Amongst the least helpful anti-depressant ctivities I engaged myself in is the 12 steps." Yep. Absolutely true.

 

"but it saddens me deeply to know that other people with the same problem will be sent to the rooms of XA, where no real help is to be found."

It saddens me as well. It saddens me to know that some people will die due to the 1935 billshit that is still used today, in 2013.

 

I am glad you are here.

--

Pro Empowerment - Engage & Enable


March 15, 2013 at 11:15 PM Flag Quote & Reply

bitter
Member
Posts: 335

Every intelligent person howled with derision when Michelle Bachmans "gay" husband said that you can pray the gay away,  yet when the same principle is applied in AA to pray depression & other maladies away yet no one except us on here find it derisive.  AA can give people depression & anxiety with it's religious delusion & false promises. 

March 16, 2013 at 2:43 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Live_free_or_die
Administrator
Posts: 851

AA can most definitely give people depression and anxiety. AA can also give people low self-esteem and a warped view of the world.

 

Furthermore, for the individual AA newcomer, AA can increase a depressive state and even push people to suicide. Afterall, AA is simply confessing your sins (these sins having been defined for you) and praying to god to remove your desire to drink.

 

Here is an article from psycho today that talks about 12 steps inducing PTSD. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/addicted-brains/201301/does-12-step-treatment-work-inducing-ptsd

--

Pro Empowerment - Engage & Enable


March 16, 2013 at 11:29 AM Flag Quote & Reply

tumbleweed
Member
Posts: 52

Hi and tnx for the welcome Live_free. Glad you liked my post. I think a lot of the topics I will write on, in this site is not new knowledge to most of the blogreaders, altough hopefully it might be of help to some.

Yes, I too think that AA is being harmful in many ways. People arrive there with all kinds of illnesses and problems, other than alcoholism and being presented with only one "solution". I too am aware of the fact that AA officially has a stance of "only dealing with alcoholism" and that you must go elsewhere for your other problems. But the term "alcoholism" in AA parlour means "a mental, emotional, physical and spiritual disease" so its very easy as a newcomer to get the impression that all his problems is due to alcoholism, and that the only way out is to do the steps, which is heavily propagated from the rehab counselors, ( XA-members themselves most often). I could settle with something like "chronic long term alcohol and drug overuse impairs the person on the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual dimensions".

And thats very different from being a person who is constitutionally impaired mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually as XA informs you. Furthermore that only divine intervention from God ( made possible through the steps, of course ) can alleviate the sufferer from this state of being fallen from grace.

To belive that this is what mainstream addiction treatment still base their recovery models on is creepy to say the least. Its really on pair with "pray the gay away" as posted above. I laughed when I first red this, but then I realised that this is more or less the same thinking I been served with my problems.

Will read the article bro...Gawd bless

March 16, 2013 at 12:14 PM Flag Quote & Reply

BasicGoodness
Member
Posts: 17

tumbleweed at March 15, 2013 at 3:18 PM

This will be my first post on this forum. I have to start by saying thanks to you people who started this site. It has been very helpful to spend some time here. I feel I would likely still be into the program and XA if it werent for the internet and the truth about AA and addiction in general one can find online.My first post will be about depression, what I have found being helpful in alleviating this illness and my experience with the 12 steps in connection to this.

I been suffering from depression since my childhood years. In my teens I became addicted to drugs first and, a couple of years later, alcohol. When I was 27 yrs old a set of circumstances landed me in rehab, and from there into AA. I considered myself a member for  5 years and left about 2 years ago. Been clean and sober for the last 5 years or so. Had a couple of short relapses the first three years upon entering rehab.

As above stated this post will be about depression, not alcoholism. Its been about a year now since my last bout with clinical depression has lifted. Ive come to realise during this time that I actually suffer from depression and that this is an illness in its own right. In rehab I was made to believ that everything "wrong" with me stems from the fact that Im an addict, which, according to them, meant I have a disease which only can be kept in check by abidance to a "higher power", "spiritual principles" and meetings with fellow sufferers on a regular basis for the rest of my life.

Seriously, thats the gist of what I got from treatment...I bought into it. But to be honest, If the center had been run by hare krishna I would probably hopped along given the state of total despair I was in when I first came. Maybe that would been preferable, they seem to be a more fun lot than your average stepper-group.

Anyway, I seriously felt there was something "wrong" with me, a feeling of despair and anxiousness always beneath the surface ready to take hold of me and  that feeling been with me since childhood. So when I got presented with a way, a program, and promises out of this, of course it got my interest.

The symptoms of depression is very similar to those described as "dry drunkeness", irritability, anxiety selfabsorption etc. But in my case, the craving for alcohol has never been that long lingering. Its only when I put the stuff into my body that craving occurs. Same with the mental obsession, it takes a week for that to fade away, after my last drink.

According to science, causes for depression are various, and often its probably a complex of different variables present that usher a person into it. For me, the major culprit, so to speak, has been a behaviour of over analysing, a kind of emotionally arousing introspections which lead to a spiral of negativity. This stress out the nervoussystem ( brain ) giving the physical and emotional symptoms of depression. Ive been doing this since my childhood, which probably explains a lot of why I enjoyed the effects of drugs and alcohol so much. And I been doing it uncounsiously and habitually, never really thought of it as something harmful or negative, I thought everyone did it.

When this was explained to me, and I finally realised how I participate in the process, it was just a question of reducing it. Find means to reduce the amount of daily introspection and let the process of healing will do its course. Because thats the thing with the brain, it heals itself...if you just let it. When depression starts lifting it certainly feels wonderful, and can be described something like "entering the fourth dimension", but thats not whats happening. Not really, your brain is just healing and starts to operate optimally.

The means has mainly been mindfulness exercises in my case, but there are a lot of different ways to approach this thing. Ive tried other things as well, such as exercise, eat healthy, take certain supplements...and all those things has helped up to a point and do its part for the healing process Im sure, but the most important thing come to depression has been to reduce the amount of introspection. Amongst the least helpful anti-depressant ctivities I engaged myself in is the 12 steps.

There is research on depression showing that therapy encouraging emotionally introspecion only worsens the symptoms of the illness. This is exactly what the programs of XA suggest to do. This might be fine or less harmful for someone who does not suffer from depression, but it will probably do a great disservice to those who do. And, from my experience in XA, depression seem to be present in something like one third of the members.And to be honest, all kinds of mental illnesses seem to be present in another third of them.

As the depression has lifted and times goes by, I seem to respond emotionally and mentally to events in life like most other people. There might still be certain, less helpful behaviours i picked up as means to cope with addiction and depression, but they are just that, behaviours, habits, which i can refrain from doing as I discover them and replace them with new, learned from other people whom I trust.

Writing about these things here is very freeing for me, since some of above mentioned less helpful behaviours stems from the 12 step ( second guessing, reading in "disease"status in myself and other people, guilty when Im engaging in "ego" stuff...etc )..but it saddens me deeply to know that other people with the same problem will be sent to the rooms of XA, where no real help is to be found.




Oh my God. I related to this SO much, especially the depression/anxiety part. It is actually making me re-examine my own history in a new light.

I always felt like I could never tell the honest-to-God truth in AA about how I felt towards alcohol, because they wouldn't believe me. I didn't believe it myself on some level actually, because it deviated SO strongly from what I was told. I kept quiet about the fact that it was truly possibly to drink normally at times. Or, that I could control it when I truly made an effort. I lost control whenever I was in a deep state of anarchy and didn't care about life or anything.

But the truth was, whenever I heard, "The obsession to drink never goes away" I would think, really? If I'm sober for awhile, then eventually it goes away. Usually never more than a few weeks. Then, it would actually seem unappealing. It ALWAYS became unappealing again. That's why it was relatively easy to stay sober for 2-3 years at a stretch WITHOUT AA. Yeah, I'd relapse, but usually at a point of utter despair and not caring if I lived or died. Not because I was obsessing about drinking. God. This is so freeing to admit this! I feel like I couldn't before!!

I always felt different, or like my story was different from AA speakers. They so often talked about how they loved alcohol the first time they drank, and then (I'm also realizing now that I knew, deep down, I could never tell my story from the podium, I always left before I got to that point, because I couldn't lie about my story, and I would have to, to talk the AA talk and sound like everyone else) it took off. I did not like alcohol the first time I drank, I was a totally normal drinker who didn't get too drunk in the early college years (I only drank socially to fit in and it would be kinda fun but I would feel HUGE relief in the morning when I would wake up, like "Thank god that's over with") until I started deliberately abusing it to escape into oblivion.

I see now that it was always my severe anxiety and depression underneath everything. I do think my alcohol abuse did change something in me physiologically, however, because eventually I could never predict when I would black out *Russian Roulette.* Good thing I have no interest in drinking again, but, I am honestly realizing that there could be varying degrees of alcoholism. It's not all or nothing, perhaps after all.

There is no alcoholism in my family. None. Depression and obsessive compulsive disorder, yes, but no alcoholism. I also know for a fact that my family has never seen me as an alcoholic, but I always thought they just "didn't understand REAL alcoholism." My mom would always get silent when I would identify myself as an alcoholic. She didn't want me to drink ever again, but she didn't think I was an alcoholic. Wow. I was so brainwashed I thought my family "just didn't understand alcoholism." I would actually say this at meetings, "my family doesn't understand alcoholism." Oh dear god.

But, with the veil gone, I can see that they aren't fools. They know who I am, and they are sober, and they see things for what they are.

Thank you. Thank you thank you for sharing.


March 17, 2013 at 2:29 AM Flag Quote & Reply

tumbleweed
Member
Posts: 52

Youre most welcome basic. I think there is a need for many of us ex-steppers to come clean about ourselves from the years of parroting the partyline in XA. I was told to focus on the similarities not the differences upon entering XA. This was a bad idea, it became a hindrance for me to get to the bottom of what my problems really was about, and to seek other, real and tested solutions to them. Because there are other solutions out there, and some of them might acually work if you give them a go.

I think a lot of steppers knows about this too. I mean my sponsor found out trhough therapy that he was bi-polar. They put him on meds and he started to get better. But did he contribute his improvment in mood to the therapy and meds when he shared at meetings ? No, he kept talking about how important the steps were/are for "sobriety".

AA is not about helping your fellow human being, its about selling mr Wilsons solution and get paid by getting a weekly bump in your selfesteem by going to a meeting and get viewed upon as being someone who has deepseated esoteric wisdom about higher powers, the human condition and how to lead other to the promised land of "happy, joyous and free".

My hopes for you, if you still suffers from depression, anxiety and OCD is that you find your way out of it.

Cheers


March 17, 2013 at 7:17 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Live_free_or_die
Administrator
Posts: 851

I have referenced this website before, and I even had a brief email conversation with a person with the group here in Kansas City to assure myself that this group does not practice nor push the 12 steps and I was told that they do not.

 

I do not know if anybody here has ever followed up on using the support they offer although I do know at least one person here did contact them.

 

I came across this site in researching depression and suicide as it related to XA/12 steps. I myself do not suffer from depression or anxiety but I thought is was worth adding to our (Expose AA) site.

 

The site is listed under our "Additional Resources" page. The website is here >> http://www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=home

 

Cheers!

 

--

Pro Empowerment - Engage & Enable


March 17, 2013 at 8:26 AM Flag Quote & Reply

tumbleweed
Member
Posts: 52

Ive taken myself the liberty to compare what is known about depression in the field of psychology with how this relates to the 12 step-program.

Ive used the findings from Dr Richard O´Connors website as background for this comparison.

Of course Dr O´Connors ideas are not perfect or "the final truth" when it comes to depression. But as someone who spent 5 years working the program without any real progress on the illness, and after just 5 days working with some of the ideas Dr O´ Connor suggest, experienced a lift in the symptoms only alcohol and drugs previously made possible, I would argue he has at least some insight into the matter worth exploring.

Somatization. This is the use of the body to express feelings or aninterpersonal message. I think this can translate into adopting a beliefthat you are diseased spiritually, physically, emotionally and mentally as theprogram suggests. The process of somatization allows people to communicatefeelings without having to take responsibility for them. The idea of spiritualdisease can do someone with depression a great disservice by allowing him tocontinue to not having to own his emotions, which do nothing to relive him fromthe condition.

 

Negative self-talk. Thoughts like I can’t, I’m hopeless, I’llnever succeed, I’m repulsive, I’m trapped, becomes even further fuelled bythe program and its idea of being on constant look-out for ”character flaws”.Im a sinner, an asshole, not worthy or holy enough etc…which run through thedepressive’s mind like too-loud background music.  

Recruiting accomplices—restricting your social world to those whodon’t expect much of you or enable your depressed behavior. In the rooms itsnot expected much of you more than doing service, work the program ( i.e talkthe talk ) and recruit others to do the same.

·  Dependency,putting someone else in charge of your life. Such as a sponsor or a group.

·  Counterdependency.  This refersto a kind of phony independence, acting as if you don’t need anyone. Its easyto se how this could be done by adapting to a ”higher power of choice”, whichmight continue to keep the depressed from his much needed basic need forhealthy relationships with other people.

·  Impossiblegoals, low expectations.  We believe we should be able to attain greatthings ( consciuos contact with God for example ), at the same time as webelieve we’re incompetent and inept ( spiritually diseased ego ).  Thissounds to me as the cliffnotes on the 12 step program for spiritual awakening.Not at all surprising that the dude behind this program, mr Wilson, himselfsuffered from chronic depression all his life. In a wierd way, the 12 step programfeels as an account of the workings of a depressed mind.

·  No goals, lots of guilt. Conversely, we may avoid setting goals for ourselves entirely, to avoiddisappointment.  But depressed people are not the laid-back happy sort whocan coast through life without feeling guilty about not doing our best. Settinggoals for ourselves is seen as being self-centered, if the goals isn´t incompliance with the will of God ( whatever that means ).

 

The cycle of exhaustion/collapse.  Your high standards andInner Critic make you work far beyond what is reasonable; then you collapse andit takes weeks to recover. The spiritual principles behind the program is in ofthemselves good and wholesome principles, at least how I see it. But when theyare presented as they are in the 12 step program ( that is, ”do or die” ), theycan mess up the depressed even more.

 

Emotions and depression

Below follows views on emotions which differs greatly from the views of the12 step program.

 ” According to Alice Miller, “The true opposite of depression isnot gaiety or absence of pain, but vitality:  the freedom to experiencespontaneous feelings.” The ability to experience the full range of humanfeelings in response to what’s happening to you—to be joyful when good thingshappen, angry when your toes are stepped on, sad when you’re disappointed, warmand loving with your family—instead of the dull gray curtain that separates thedepressive from reality.  As patients learn from their experiences inpsychotherapy and in real life that the breakthrough of suppressed emotions,however painful or upsetting, can be counted on to lift depression, they beginto change how they handle feelings.  Specifically, painful or upsetting feelingsare no longer avoided, but experienced.  This leads to a reconnection withthe lost parts of the self, a reintegration, and recovery.  ”

”Anxiety is your friend.  It’s your body trying to tell you something,and you ought to listen.  Most likely, it’s telling you that you’repushing yourself too hard, pushing yourself into something you don’twant.  Of course there are times when anxiety becomes the problem itself,and you may seek therapy to help you with it.  But even in thosecircumstances a smart therapist is likely to find that you need to change yourexpectations of yourself, to make more room for the effects of stress.”

”Anger is your friend too.  Anger is telling you that someone isstepping on your toes, that something is going on that’s endangering somethingimportant to you.  Anger is how we’re supposed to feel when our boundariesare violated.  You may have gotten the message that anger is dangerous, orugly, or unacceptable:  not so.  The people who told you that mayhave had something to gain from convincing you that anger is bad.  Intoday’s culture, perpetual stress may have you feeling too much anger (becausethere is really a lot to be angry about) and as a result you may act out youranger mindlessly, hurting those who love you.  This is a real problem, andyou have to get skillful about what you do with anger.  But don’t denyyour anger; instead, pay attention to what it’s telling you.”

”Accept the unacceptable:  lust, greed, envy, hate, murder. Feelings like these are just as much a part of you as anything else.  Wemay not be proud of it, but we can’t help it, and it doesn’t help to pretend itisn’t there.  We’re social animals, and feelings about our status in thetribe, our access to the best mates to pass down our genes, are hard-wired intous.  We want to control how we act on these feelings, but we don’t have topretend they don’t exist.”

The accounts above is the exact opposite of what the big book and the roomsteaches and preaches. Anger and fear are emotions to be eliminated according tomr Wilson. As long as someone suffers from depression and addiction at the sametime, its terapeutic malpractice to impose the 12 steps upon that person.

 

 


March 17, 2013 at 11:40 AM Flag Quote & Reply

bitter
Member
Posts: 335

It also seems that Wilson's mind was coming from a depressed perspective regarding the AA Program.  I know when I was suffering badly from depression& anxiety I thought I was a bad person with a lack of moral fortitude. 

March 17, 2013 at 3:29 PM Flag Quote & Reply

BasicGoodness
Member
Posts: 17

bitter at March 17, 2013 at 3:29 PM

It also seems that Wilson's mind was coming from a depressed perspective regarding the AA Program.  I know when I was suffering badly from depression& anxiety I thought I was a bad person with a lack of moral fortitude. 

Brilliant observation. Totally.

March 18, 2013 at 3:54 AM Flag Quote & Reply

CritiCoolThinking
Member
Posts: 203

aa's main idea is that something is wrong with you, so when i said i felt sad or bad they would start up the fix it machine and rationalize my feeling into irrelevence or pray it away cause god died on the crosss or will send you to heaven so my complaint should be gone over ok - but it wasn't. it felt ignored deminished betrayed. i wanted empathy someone to just be with me and feel my pain too with empathy as valid honorable not to  be sent away but to be brought deep into my heart to be satiated until it slept in the vast exceptance of my universal soul. integrated not gotten rid of or expunged. all my feelings energy kept and  radiating forever into eternity making me more and more emotionally whole and connected - not less and cut offf and empty and finished how i felt went i finished sharing in aa's rational feeling fixer.expunger.

--

-> brainwash -> relapse -> repeat-> 


March 18, 2013 at 8:52 AM Flag Quote & Reply

tumbleweed
Member
Posts: 52

Yes, the idea that something is wrong with you because you harbour emotions is really not helpful to anyone. If anything, some of us might need to learn how to interpret our inner language of emotion in a healthy way in order to grow stronger as people. Not rid ourselves from them because we for different reasons lack these skills. Thats something a nazi sociopath would do. It just perpetuates the view on the emotional dimension one had as an addict, where she/he could change the emotional state at will with help from drugs. Now you just switched from drugs to a "higher power" to keep up with the behaviour. Its beyond me that terapists doesnt se these things with the program of XA. They would never encourage these things to their clients, but they ( or most of them ) will gladly send their clients with substance abuse problems to meetings.

March 18, 2013 at 9:50 AM Flag Quote & Reply

tumbleweed
Member
Posts: 52

http://www.stlukeshealthcare.org.uk/your-psychological-wellbeing/overcoming-depression


Connecting dots ?


The part titled "Depression and faith" was a specially interesting read...


Its time for health care professionals to wake up, quit encuoraging people to this depressing program

April 6, 2013 at 9:25 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Bella
Member
Posts: 13

bitter at March 16, 2013 at 2:43 AM

Every intelligent person howled with derision when Michelle Bachmans "gay" husband said that you can pray the gay away,  yet when the same principle is applied in AA to pray depression & other maladies away yet no one except us on here find it derisive.  AA can give people depression & anxiety with it's religious delusion & false promises. 

That article makes total sense to me and its something I'm looking further into. This site is great. I hope it grows 

May 4, 2013 at 8:36 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Bella
Member
Posts: 13

tumbleweed at March 15, 2013 at 3:18 PM

This will be my first post on this forum. I have to start by saying thanks to you people who started this site. It has been very helpful to spend some time here. I feel I would likely still be into the program and XA if it werent for the internet and the truth about AA and addiction in general one can find online.My first post will be about depression, what I have found being helpful in alleviating this illness and my experience with the 12 steps in connection to this.

I been suffering from depression since my childhood years. In my teens I became addicted to drugs first and, a couple of years later, alcohol. When I was 27 yrs old a set of circumstances landed me in rehab, and from there into AA. I considered myself a member for  5 years and left about 2 years ago. Been clean and sober for the last 5 years or so. Had a couple of short relapses the first three years upon entering rehab.

As above stated this post will be about depression, not alcoholism. Its been about a year now since my last bout with clinical depression has lifted. Ive come to realise during this time that I actually suffer from depression and that this is an illness in its own right. In rehab I was made to believ that everything "wrong" with me stems from the fact that Im an addict, which, according to them, meant I have a disease which only can be kept in check by abidance to a "higher power", "spiritual principles" and meetings with fellow sufferers on a regular basis for the rest of my life.

Seriously, thats the gist of what I got from treatment...I bought into it. But to be honest, If the center had been run by hare krishna I would probably hopped along given the state of total despair I was in when I first came. Maybe that would been preferable, they seem to be a more fun lot than your average stepper-group.

Anyway, I seriously felt there was something "wrong" with me, a feeling of despair and anxiousness always beneath the surface ready to take hold of me and  that feeling been with me since childhood. So when I got presented with a way, a program, and promises out of this, of course it got my interest.

The symptoms of depression is very similar to those described as "dry drunkeness", irritability, anxiety selfabsorption etc. But in my case, the craving for alcohol has never been that long lingering. Its only when I put the stuff into my body that craving occurs. Same with the mental obsession, it takes a week for that to fade away, after my last drink.

According to science, causes for depression are various, and often its probably a complex of different variables present that usher a person into it. For me, the major culprit, so to speak, has been a behaviour of over analysing, a kind of emotionally arousing introspections which lead to a spiral of negativity. This stress out the nervoussystem ( brain ) giving the physical and emotional symptoms of depression. Ive been doing this since my childhood, which probably explains a lot of why I enjoyed the effects of drugs and alcohol so much. And I been doing it uncounsiously and habitually, never really thought of it as something harmful or negative, I thought everyone did it.

When this was explained to me, and I finally realised how I participate in the process, it was just a question of reducing it. Find means to reduce the amount of daily introspection and let the process of healing will do its course. Because thats the thing with the brain, it heals itself...if you just let it. When depression starts lifting it certainly feels wonderful, and can be described something like "entering the fourth dimension", but thats not whats happening. Not really, your brain is just healing and starts to operate optimally.

The means has mainly been mindfulness exercises in my case, but there are a lot of different ways to approach this thing. Ive tried other things as well, such as exercise, eat healthy, take certain supplements...and all those things has helped up to a point and do its part for the healing process Im sure, but the most important thing come to depression has been to reduce the amount of introspection. Amongst the least helpful anti-depressant ctivities I engaged myself in is the 12 steps.

There is research on depression showing that therapy encouraging emotionally introspecion only worsens the symptoms of the illness. This is exactly what the programs of XA suggest to do. This might be fine or less harmful for someone who does not suffer from depression, but it will probably do a great disservice to those who do. And, from my experience in XA, depression seem to be present in something like one third of the members.And to be honest, all kinds of mental illnesses seem to be present in another third of them.

As the depression has lifted and times goes by, I seem to respond emotionally and mentally to events in life like most other people. There might still be certain, less helpful behaviours i picked up as means to cope with addiction and depression, but they are just that, behaviours, habits, which i can refrain from doing as I discover them and replace them with new, learned from other people whom I trust.

Writing about these things here is very freeing for me, since some of above mentioned less helpful behaviours stems from the 12 step ( second guessing, reading in "disease"status in myself and other people, guilty when Im engaging in "ego" stuff...etc )..but it saddens me deeply to know that other people with the same problem will be sent to the rooms of XA, where no real help is to be found.




Hey tumbleweed. I'm Bella and I'm new posting here. I can fully relate...the level of introspection is crippling. It's great to hear your thoughts :)

May 4, 2013 at 8:39 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Bella
Member
Posts: 13

tumbleweed at March 17, 2013 at 11:40 AM

Ive taken myself the liberty to compare what is known about depression in the field of psychology with how this relates to the 12 step-program.

Ive used the findings from Dr Richard O´Connors website as background for this comparison.

Of course Dr O´Connors ideas are not perfect or "the final truth" when it comes to depression. But as someone who spent 5 years working the program without any real progress on the illness, and after just 5 days working with some of the ideas Dr O´ Connor suggest, experienced a lift in the symptoms only alcohol and drugs previously made possible, I would argue he has at least some insight into the matter worth exploring.

Somatization. This is the use of the body to express feelings or aninterpersonal message. I think this can translate into adopting a beliefthat you are diseased spiritually, physically, emotionally and mentally as theprogram suggests. The process of somatization allows people to communicatefeelings without having to take responsibility for them. The idea of spiritualdisease can do someone with depression a great disservice by allowing him tocontinue to not having to own his emotions, which do nothing to relive him fromthe condition.

 

Negative self-talk. Thoughts like I can’t, I’m hopeless, I’llnever succeed, I’m repulsive, I’m trapped, becomes even further fuelled bythe program and its idea of being on constant look-out for ”character flaws”.Im a sinner, an asshole, not worthy or holy enough etc…which run through thedepressive’s mind like too-loud background music.  

Recruiting accomplices—restricting your social world to those whodon’t expect much of you or enable your depressed behavior. In the rooms itsnot expected much of you more than doing service, work the program ( i.e talkthe talk ) and recruit others to do the same.

·  Dependency,putting someone else in charge of your life. Such as a sponsor or a group.

·  Counterdependency.  This refersto a kind of phony independence, acting as if you don’t need anyone. Its easyto se how this could be done by adapting to a ”higher power of choice”, whichmight continue to keep the depressed from his much needed basic need forhealthy relationships with other people.

·  Impossiblegoals, low expectations.  We believe we should be able to attain greatthings ( consciuos contact with God for example ), at the same time as webelieve we’re incompetent and inept ( spiritually diseased ego ).  Thissounds to me as the cliffnotes on the 12 step program for spiritual awakening.Not at all surprising that the dude behind this program, mr Wilson, himselfsuffered from chronic depression all his life. In a wierd way, the 12 step programfeels as an account of the workings of a depressed mind.

·  No goals, lots of guilt. Conversely, we may avoid setting goals for ourselves entirely, to avoiddisappointment.  But depressed people are not the laid-back happy sort whocan coast through life without feeling guilty about not doing our best. Settinggoals for ourselves is seen as being self-centered, if the goals isn´t incompliance with the will of God ( whatever that means ).

 

The cycle of exhaustion/collapse.  Your high standards andInner Critic make you work far beyond what is reasonable; then you collapse andit takes weeks to recover. The spiritual principles behind the program is in ofthemselves good and wholesome principles, at least how I see it. But when theyare presented as they are in the 12 step program ( that is, ”do or die” ), theycan mess up the depressed even more.

 

Emotions and depression

Below follows views on emotions which differs greatly from the views of the12 step program.

 ” According to Alice Miller, “The true opposite of depression isnot gaiety or absence of pain, but vitality:  the freedom to experiencespontaneous feelings.” The ability to experience the full range of humanfeelings in response to what’s happening to you—to be joyful when good thingshappen, angry when your toes are stepped on, sad when you’re disappointed, warmand loving with your family—instead of the dull gray curtain that separates thedepressive from reality.  As patients learn from their experiences inpsychotherapy and in real life that the breakthrough of suppressed emotions,however painful or upsetting, can be counted on to lift depression, they beginto change how they handle feelings.  Specifically, painful or upsetting feelingsare no longer avoided, but experienced.  This leads to a reconnection withthe lost parts of the self, a reintegration, and recovery.  ”

”Anxiety is your friend.  It’s your body trying to tell you something,and you ought to listen.  Most likely, it’s telling you that you’repushing yourself too hard, pushing yourself into something you don’twant.  Of course there are times when anxiety becomes the problem itself,and you may seek therapy to help you with it.  But even in thosecircumstances a smart therapist is likely to find that you need to change yourexpectations of yourself, to make more room for the effects of stress.”

”Anger is your friend too.  Anger is telling you that someone isstepping on your toes, that something is going on that’s endangering somethingimportant to you.  Anger is how we’re supposed to feel when our boundariesare violated.  You may have gotten the message that anger is dangerous, orugly, or unacceptable:  not so.  The people who told you that mayhave had something to gain from convincing you that anger is bad.  Intoday’s culture, perpetual stress may have you feeling too much anger (becausethere is really a lot to be angry about) and as a result you may act out youranger mindlessly, hurting those who love you.  This is a real problem, andyou have to get skillful about what you do with anger.  But don’t denyyour anger; instead, pay attention to what it’s telling you.”

”Accept the unacceptable:  lust, greed, envy, hate, murder. Feelings like these are just as much a part of you as anything else.  Wemay not be proud of it, but we can’t help it, and it doesn’t help to pretend itisn’t there.  We’re social animals, and feelings about our status in thetribe, our access to the best mates to pass down our genes, are hard-wired intous.  We want to control how we act on these feelings, but we don’t have topretend they don’t exist.”

The accounts above is the exact opposite of what the big book and the roomsteaches and preaches. Anger and fear are emotions to be eliminated according tomr Wilson. As long as someone suffers from depression and addiction at the sametime, its terapeutic malpractice to impose the 12 steps upon that person.

 

 


Excellent post....wow...I am welcoming feeling the appropriate feelings after keeping them in for so long. Especially the anger I needed to feel.  This is how I am recovering. My anxiety was horrendous and strangely AA made it worse. Lol...I wonder why. 

May 4, 2013 at 8:47 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Live_free_or_die
Administrator
Posts: 851

Bella at May 4, 2013 at 8:36 AM

bitter at March 16, 2013 at 2:43 AM

Every intelligent person howled with derision when Michelle Bachmans "gay" husband said that you can pray the gay away,  yet when the same principle is applied in AA to pray depression & other maladies away yet no one except us on here find it derisive.  AA can give people depression & anxiety with it's religious delusion & false promises. 

That article makes total sense to me and its something I'm looking further into. This site is great. I hope it grows 

@Bella - I would love to read anything you might find on this subject.  I know, without a doubt, that XA & the 12 steps are harmful.  The types of issues that XA and the 12 steps dogma brings with it can be:


depression, anger, broken or strained relationships, grief, anxiety, low self-esteem, panic, abnormal fears, resentment, jealousy, guilt, despair, fatigue, tension, boredom, loneliness, withdrawal, obsessive and negative thinking, worry, compulsive behavior and a variety of other emotional issues.


And yes, we hope the site grows, although, and this thought just hit me as I write this, I truly hope that at some point in the future this site would not be needed.

--

Pro Empowerment - Engage & Enable


May 4, 2013 at 10:09 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Dayann
Member
Posts: 27

I also suffer from clinical depression and since I have been out of AA I have had no second doubts about going to therapy for my personal issues and taking my prescribed medication. Six straight years of doing that and I have not had a compulsion to drink. But when I was in AA, there were periods of going off my meds and being told to listen to my sponsor instead of a licensed therapist, and I would eventually spiral down into a terrible bout of depression. I find that instead of helping me be well, AA hindered my recovery from depression, and from drinking.

May 4, 2013 at 11:10 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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