We’ve all heard of Alcoholics Anonymous and their 12 step programme right? Did you know it can work for other problems too? In fact, it can work for just about everything. I re-discovered the 12 steps while reading Russell Brand’s book about addiction. It got me thinking I could try it for my depression – so I did.
I have had on and off depression for most of my life. Even as a child I used to cry myself to sleep at night. It sometimes went into remission, sometimes even for years and I felt fine, but never great. At the moment, I feel better than I have felt in years. I actually feel hopeful and optimistic. I am singing and humming throughout the day. So I’m going to share with you exactly what I did.
I started with the 12 steps idea but applied it to depression instead of alcohol or drugs.
I admitted I was powerless over my depression, that my life had become unmanageable.
It took me a long time to even get to this point but I did eventually. I was in denial that I had depression. I kidded myself that everyone felt like this. I hid it through busyness, alcohol and comfort food. At times, I would have a traumatic experience and go to the doctor to seek help. The same thing would always happen. They would tell me I was just reacting to a life event and I would get better. I didn’t even get pills. I got nothing. I went to see a hypnotherapist (not a very good one, and more about this in a later blog) and she said, ‘You don’t look like you have depression.’ So here was the key. I looked ok to other people so I must have been ok. Er, no. I went to CBT group therapy. It had a tiny effect but not enough. I tried a super healthy diet. I did yoga. I did exercise. I lifted weights.I improved but I wasn’t where I needed to be. I needed more.
So I said Step 1 out loud. I had tried to cure myself. I was powerless. I couldn’t do it on my own and doctors and therapists hadn’t helped me enough. I didn’t have a proper job. I had a failed business. I had written books that nobody read. My relationships were dysfunctional. Yes I think it was fair to say that my life was unmanageable. I finally admitted it.
That’s step 1 done and dusted!