Depressed Anonymous meets Mondays at 5:30pm at the Franciscan Spirituality Center.
At 5:30pm, one of the members closed the door to the room, and the meeting came to order.
Everything I needed to start was on one of the pages that the leader lady had given me. We began by reciting the Serenity Prayer, then reading the Statement of Concern, the 12 Steps of Depressed Anonymous, and the Guidelines, taking turns around the table – read aloud if you want to, or “Pass” if you don’t.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
12 Steps of DA:
1. We admitted that we were powerless over depression – that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
That was all easy enough, though I kept thinking that if someone with dyslexia came, or an illiterate person, how humiliating it could be to say “Pass.” Even in this room, what kind of assumptions would be made? I judge myself; wouldn’t others judge?
The leader lady greeted us again, and since we had just read in the Guidelines about the process of the Round Robin, she began. “Hi, my name is _____, and I struggle with (battle against, am defenseless against, am powerless to fight – however you want to introduce yourself),” followed by “It’s been a _____ (good, bad, hard, sad…) week,” and she shared her most recent story. Sharing wraps up, “and with that I’ll pass.”
The whole group responds with, “Thanks, _____.”
One person at a time, the Round Robin came closer to me. I tried to focus on what the others were sharing, but kept wondering what to do when my turn came. My palms were sweating, my breathing shallowed a little, and huge butterflies danced all over my stomach. Do I say anything? What do I say? Wait, I should be listening, not distracted by my own words. The butterflies danced faster. I had jotted down some notes – do I share those? Or maybe I should just listen this first time and “Pass.”
Finally, to my left, “and with that I’ll pass.” “Thanks, _____.”
“Hi, my name is Peggy, and I have depression. I learned about this group from the newspaper, and decided to check it out. I moved here five years ago, and was originally diagnosed with Adjustment Disorder. But I didn’t get better, so it became depression. Last month (February) was a really hard month, especially last week. I’m having a hard time focusing at work and being at Bible Study. I have some anxiety again – it comes out of nowhere and I can’t always just breathe through it. I don’t cry when I’m depressed , which is really tough since I want to. I feel like if I could just have a good cry, I would feel so much better. At the end of last week, I went on a three day personal retreat – slept, napped, journaled, prayed, read, knitted. It was so quiet and peaceful. I even took an onion with me to see if I could manipulate tears. I’m glad I’m here. And with that I’ll pass.” Whew!
“Thanks, Peggy.” A couple of people made intentional eye contact and smiled – I felt welcomed, not judged.
We finished our way around the table, then picked up a book the group was using for discussion and read a few paragraphs, with folks commenting their thoughts on the author’s views. This part was a little more “free” – less structure in what was said – conversation bounced around the table a bit instead of going around the room. A bag was passed for donations – not for the first timers, though.
At 6:25, the lady leader said we would stop, we closed our books, stood to hold hands, said the Lord’s Prayer and the meeting was over. Someone opened the conference room door.