I have a very personal relationship with Clinical Depression, much more personal than I would like. I have actually been hospitalized once for what is called suicidal ideation. Basically this means that I was giving serious thoughts to killing myself, but did not actually attempt to. I actually had enough of me left to call my pastor instead. Together with my husband we decided it would be best for me to self-admit into the mental health clinic and get some more intense therapy than what I was already receiving. You can read that story here: Experiencing In-House Treatment for Depression
But once I came out of the hospital, I still needed something more than just a once a month meeting with my psychiatrist.
While in the hospital I was introduced to a support group called Emotions Anonymous. No the name is not a silly knock off of AA; it is based on the same program as AA.
Emotions Anonymous was founded in 1971. It is based upon the 12 step program; 12 steps, 12 traditions, 12 precepts, and 12 promises.
When I first heard this I thought it sounded strange, because emotions are not an addiction to break, nor is Depression; so I didn’t understand how I could benefit from a 12 step program.
But then the director explained something that made a light-bulb go off. (It has also given me much more compassion for those suffering from alcoholism and drug dependency).
Almost every person that is addicted to drugs or alcohol has the underlying problem of Depression. They just use the drug or drink as a coping device. While in the hospital, those of us there because of suicidal thoughts actually had group counseling sessions with those that were in for substance abuse and this was the reason why.
This makes a great deal of sense. If those of us that deal with Depression are completely honest, then we probably all have a coping device. It is just that many of us use legal substances, so it does not raise eyebrows. My personal addiction is food. As a teenager I was anorexic, and now as an adult I binge-eat. Others may shop to make themselves feel better, some gamble, and still others use sex to fill the void. But that is exactly what we are all doing; trying to fill the hollow feeling inside that our Depression causes us to experience.
For me it simply came down to two words though, “support group”.
I still needed support. I was not ready to face the world on my own. I still had terrible panic attacks, so much so that I was prescribed a medication for anxiety (on top of my regular antidepressants). So having a support base was very important to me in this weakened time.
The second part of that phrase is “group”. I mentioned in my last article that the best thing for me about going into the hospital was meeting other people who knew exactly how I felt! My husband loves me and is incredibly supportive, but he just cannot grasp the depth of my depression sometimes. The other patients in the hospital were there for the same reason as me – they got it.
So having another group of people was incredibly comforting. These were people who were not going to tell me to “just get over it.” They weren’t going to ask me “So what’s wrong today?” No these people helped me find solutions to the problems I was facing, and sometimes they just let me talk or vent and they listened and nodded and understood. That is an incredibly refreshing thing when you feel isolated and alone no matter how many people are around you.
If you suffer from Clinical Depression or Bi-Polar Disorder I strongly urge you to check out Emotions Anonymous. You can find a meeting near you by clicking on their website here: Emotions Anonymous
The one caveat I have about these meetings is this; they are made up of people, and people who are depressed. Sometimes you will run into a group that forgets the purpose is for healing, and they get stuck in a rut of pity-partying. This is not a group you want to join. So if you go for a month, and all you hear are sob stories with no hope or triumphs, go find another meeting close by. Also remember that you can only get out of these meetings what you put into them. If you never participate, then you will not heal. If you only give negative stories, then you will only remember misery.
Use this program to help yourself learn to move past the pain. Consider it a tool in your arsenal.
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