My husband saw the article – a brief blurb in the newspaper telling about the group. Depressed Anonymous, meets Mondays at 5:30pm at the Franciscan Spirituality Center. “Have you seen this?”
I hadn’t, but it sounded interesting. And I was feeling a little desperate, alone, isolated – “I’m the only one who feels this way. ” So the idea of meeting other like-minded, or like-mood, folks sounded encouraging. Terrifying, but encouraging. I decided to go the next week.
That Monday, I worked later into the afternoon than usual. I tried to plan so that I would have a little time to find my way to the room and look around a bit; I didn’t want to feel completely unprepared. It wasn’t far from work – just down the road, maybe a mile. I drove to the Center, and found a spot to park across the street. I walked up the cement steps to the building and pulled hard on the front door.
The door made a funny swishing sound, and it clicked loudly when it latched behind me. I climbed the inside stairs – covered in a green-blue carpet – and opened the inner door to a quiet but well lit hallway. To the left was a bathroom (I didn’t see it until the next week) and a wood paneled wall with a small rack to hang jackets. To the right was a large open window with the same wood trim into an office area. There were several desks and filing cabinets, and a couple of older women chatting. One asked if she could help, and I told her I was there for the Depressed Anonymous group. (How does the anonymous part work, since now someone knows I’m here? But won’t everyone in the room know I’m here? What’s anonymous about it?) She gave me directions to the room.
I wandered down the hallway, up a few stairs, and across the hall from the Rose Room was the conference room. The overhead light was on, and there was a large boardroom table with chairs all around. There was a TV on a portable stand, a podium pushed to the side, and a couple of other small tables with books on them. There were no people.
I was early, and so I walked back down the hallway toward the receptionists, trying to figure out how to kill some time. There were large banquet tables lining the hall, covered in mostly old books, so I perused the titles, picking up one here and there, trying to focus on anything other than my anxiety in the pit of my stomach. I’m not Catholic – will that be ok? The ad did say it was open to anyone. What’s in the Rose Room? How many people would there be? Will I feel out of place? Should I plan to say anything?
I stood at the book table for a long time, and several other people came in, some stopping to look at books too. I heard some greetings from the receptionists, and thought those might be people in charge of the group. A few folks passed me and I watched them walk toward the room. When it looked like several had gone in, I made my way back up the small steps and into the confernce room.
I was greeted with a very cheerful “Hello!” from a lady at the end of the table. She had a small box in front of her, and some papers. She welcomed me to Depressed Anonymous, “or DA, as we call it,” and invited me to sit anywhere. I headed to the right side and middle seat at the table, so as not to stand out as the newbie (yeah, right). Others in the room said hello and smiled. She told me she had papers for me about the group, and slid the pile down the table. This gave me something to look at as more people came in and sat down, until 5:30pm. Then a large man said it was time and got up from his chair, looked down the hall to see if anyone else was coming, and closed the door. Starting on time. A good indicator of structure. Maybe this would be more than a misery-loves-company complaint session.