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Old 11-07-2008, 08:28 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Bill W and Depression

Concerning Depression
Bill W's Letter to a Member Concerning Depression
The following excerpts from a letter of Bill Wilson's was quoted in the
memoirs of Tom Pike, and early California AA member. Tom did not use the
name of the person addressed -- perhaps because he was still living.
Tom said:
Here in part is what Bill Wilson wrote in 1958 to a close friend who
shared his problem with depression, describing how Bill himself used St.
Francis's prayer as a steppingstone toward recovery:
Dear ...
I think that many oldsters who have put our AA "booze cure" to severe but
successful tests still find they often lack emotional sobriety. Perhaps
they will be the spearhead for the next major development in AA ... the
development of much more real maturity and balance (which is to say,
humility) in our relations with ourselves, with our fellows, and with God.
How to translate a right mental conviction into a right emotional result
and so into easy, happy, and good living ... well, that's not only the
neurotic's problem, it's the problem of life itself for all of us who
have got to the point of real willingness to hew to right principles in
all our affairs.
Even then, as we hew away, peace and joy may still elude us. That's the
place so many of us AA oldsters have come to. And it's a hell of a spot,
Last autumn, depression, having no really rational cause at all, almost
took me to the cleaners. I began to be scared that I was in for another
long chronic spell. Considering the grief I've had with depressions, it
wasn't a bright prospect.
I kept asking myself, "Why can't the Twelve Steps work to release
depression?" By the hour, I stared at the St. Francis prayer ... "It is
better to comfort than to be comforted." Here was the formula, all right,
but why didn't it work?
Suddenly I realized what the matter was ... My basic flaw had always been
dependence, almost absolute dependence on people or circumstances to
supply me with prestige, security, and the like. Failing to get these
things according to my perfectionist dreams and specifications, I had
fought for them. And when defeat came so did my depression.
There wasn't a chance of making the outgoing love of St. Francis a
workable and joyous way of life until these fatal and almost absolute
dependencies were cut away.
Reinforced by what grace I could secure in prayer, I found I had to exert
every ounce of will and action to cut off these faulty emotional
dependencies upon people, upon AA, indeed upon any set of circumstances
Then only could I be free to love as Francis had. Emotional and
institutional satisfactions, I saw, were really the extra dividends of
having love, offering love, and expressing a love appropriate to each
relation of life.
Plainly, I could not avail myself of God's love until I was able to offer
it back to Him by loving others as He would have me. And I couldn't
possibly do that as long as I was victimized by false dependencies.
For my dependency meant demand ... a demand for the possession and
control of the people and the conditions surrounding me.
This seems to be the primary healing circuit, an outgoing love of God's
creation and His people, by means of which we avail ourselves of His love
for us. It is most clear that the real current can't flow until our
paralyzing dependencies are broken, and broken at depth. Only then can we
possibly have a glimmer of what adult love really is.
If we examine every disturbance we have, great or small, we will find at
the root of it some unhealthy dependency and its consequent demand. Let
us, with God's help, continually surrender these hobbling demands. Then
we can be set free to live and love; we may then be able to gain
emotional sobriety.
Of course, I haven't offered you a really new idea ... only a gimmick
that has started to unhook several of my own "hexes" at depth. Nowadays
my brain no longer races compulsively in either elation, grandiosity or
depression. I have been given a quiet place in bright sunshine.
Tom said "Bill's word's of wisdom helped and inspired me and many others.
To those who have never been there, it is hard to describe the gratitude
that overflows in men and women who are delivered from the black depths
of depression into the light. As with delivery from the bondage to
alcohol, it is a hosanna of the heart that never ends."
In Bill's struggle with depression, he looks for help outside of the
Twelve Steps. What he finds in psychotherapy and his relationship with
Father Ed Dowling will change his perspective on the Steps.
After returning from a three month tour of the States, during which he
and Lois visited most existing AA groups, Bill collapses into depression
and remains depressed for two years. He suffers from such episodes until
1953. Bill's depression is troubling to many AA's, some of whom accuse
Bill of not working the program. Bill himself also wonders if he hasn't
failed to practice the Steps. According to the official AA biography of
Bill believed that his depressions were perpetuated by his own failure to
work the AA steps..."I used to be rather guilt ridden about this...I
blamed myself for inability to practice the program in certain areas of
my life.
From: Pass It On
Bill may see his depression as a result of his failure to work the Twelve
Steps, but he does not turn to Stepwork to get him back on his feet. This
may be due in part to the influence of Father Ed Dowling.
Bill meets Dowling when the man came knocking at his door in 1940. At the
time Bill is down and out, but still four years from serious depression.
Dowling announces that he has sought Bill out to discuss the similarities
between the Exercises of St. Ignatius and the Twelve Steps. During their
conversation, Bill confesses his personal struggles. Dowling, author of
the article, "How to Enjoy Being Miserable," gives Bill a new perspective
on depression.
Father Ed quoted to him, "Blessed are they who hunger and thirst."
When Bill asked whether there was ever to be any satisfaction, the older
man snapped back, "Never. Never any." Bill was to be a person who would
keep on reaching. In his reaching he would find Gods goals, hidden in his
own heart.
The Soul of Sponsorship
by Robert Fitzgerald, S.J
Therefore Bill's growing despondency is not a result of his failure to
apply spiritual principles, but a sign of his spiritual depth and
giftedness. According to Dowling, God has blessed Bill with an ambition
and a desperation that cause his suffering, but will also lead Bill to
great things. The solution for Bill, then, is not to search deeper for
moral lapses and confess them, but to press on and accept the suffering
as an inevitable fact. Bill does exactly that for four years until his
depression becomes intolerable and he seeks help in psychotherapy.
In 1943, Bill enters therapy with Henry Tiebout, who specialized in the
treatment of alcoholics and introduced Marty M. to AA. Tiebout's
diagnosis of Bill was that:
both in his active alcoholism and his current sobriety he had been trying
to live out the infantilely grandiose demands of "His Majesty the Baby."
by Ernest Kurtz
The next year, Bill switches therapists, and begins seeing Frances Weeks,
a Jungian. Week's opinion of Bill is that his position in AA is causing
him to neglect his personal needs. Says Bill in a letter to a friend
regarding this insight:
Highly satisfactory to live one's life for others, it cannot be anything
but disastrous to live one's life for others as those others think it
should be lived...The extent to which the AA movement and the individual
in it determine my choices is really astonishing. Things which are
primary to me (even for the good of AA) are unfulfilled...So we have the
person of Mr. Anonymous in conflict with Bill Wilson.
The Soul of Sponsorship
by Robert Fitzgerald, S.J
Bill continues treatment with Weeks until at least 1949.
Bill's experience in psychotherapy has an impact on his understanding of
recovery and Stepwork. In two letters written in 1956, Bill suggests a
means for the application of psychotherapy to AA principles.
It may be that someday we shall devise some common denominator of
psychiatry...which neurotics could use on each other. The idea would be
to extend the moral inventory of AA to a deeper level, making it an
inventory of psychic damages...I suppose someday a Neurotics Anonymous
will be formed and will actually do all this.
In the second letter Bill suggests:
an inventory of psychic damages, actual episodes: inferiority, shame,
guilt, anger and relive (them) in our minds to reduce them.
both letters from
The Soul of Sponsorship
by Robert Fitzgerald, S.J
The end result of Bill's relationship with Father Ed Dowling and
psychoanalytic treatment is that Bill moves away from a Religious
Conversion View of recovery and adopts a Psychological View of recovery
instead. Bill's Psychological View will greatly influence his thinking as
he writes Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions , and so it will also affect
the future practice of the Twelve Steps.
It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential
is invisible to the eye.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
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Old 09-14-2010, 10:37 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Very interesting. Im sufffering from Sobriety Depression
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Old 09-14-2010, 11:16 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Sorry to know depression is part of your life.

Yes...the info above is interesting
but many strides have been made in treating depression
since those experiences/thoughts of Bill's were written.

I certainly hope you will find something that addresses your
particular type of depression......

I was diagnosed with situational depression from alcohol.
It seeon lifted with sobriety.I was very fortunate.

Many members of my AA home group take various medications
to deal with their mental conditions.

Blessings to you and your wife
Each Day Sober Is A Victory!!
Joy In AA Recovery!

Last edited by CarolD; 09-14-2010 at 11:38 PM.
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Old 10-11-2010, 05:39 PM   #4 (permalink)

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I just posted this on 3 other threads. I've got to get this information out! I have cured myself of life-long depression.

Please my friends - Watch this 'you tube' closely.Turn it up and listen carefully. If you want to know more after watching it, I will direct you to the books - I have been studying this issue for a long time. Bill Wison got rejected from his own medical board for trying to promote this and so do I so I. (that's why I don't talk about it!)

I will only tell those who are really interested - why some people continue to relaspe and stay depressed. They say iF Bill had lived another 10 years - this would have been in the Big Book!

It's NOT just about doing the steps and Bill W knew this! Although doing the steps is a very important part of the program. They have learned so much more in the last 50 years about addiction. Let me know what you think? I hope this helps at least one person and I'll be happy. Margee

YouTube - Dr Abram Hoffer
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Old 10-12-2010, 07:10 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Margee, although your methods worked for you they do not cure a chemical depression. When body and brain chemicals are not at the right levels no amount of positive thinking is going to do much of anything for that depression. This I know from personal experience.

Addiction and depression are not the same thing. I am an alcohol as well as bipolar, chronic depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Positive thinking is not going to fix that. The Steps of AA are not going to fix anything but my alcoholism and since I have not drank in nearly 10 years and work the program of AA daily I do believe that the Steps help me treat my alcoholism. But they still do not relieve my other mental health issues. Those are caused by brain chemicals being out of wack.

Thank you for your advertisement but I will stick with what my doctor prescribes.
NOTE: All BB quotes are from the 1st Edition of the Big Book
Depression is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of being too strong for too long.
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Old 10-13-2010, 03:27 AM   #6 (permalink)

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girls, this is not an advertisement . It is all about how to fix your brain by using nutrition. I am glad that you are feeling better with your medications. I also, go to the AA meetings for support for my alcoholism, but I found a way (though much research) how to cure my depression naturally. If anyone was interested - I was going to write out the whole program for nothing $00.00, because I care about suffering people - but you see the rejection that comes my way? You did not listen to the you tube carefully, because it is all about nutrition and how Bill w tried to help others, after he found a way (through Dr. hoffer) to cure his own depression. He too was rejected by his own medical board. Chemical depression can be helped with the proper nutrients. they are healing Schizophrenia's now with nutrition.

I really am so sorry that you took this the wrong way. My purpose is to help others. Maybe it will help somebody else that that is looking for a natural way to cure their depression.

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Old 10-13-2010, 07:59 AM   #7 (permalink)

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it seems that I upset some people with this post. that was not my intention.

I did not even mention positive thinking in the post? I know that positive thinking only works to a certain degree. My intention was to share my experience, strength and hope with other women. This posting was supposed to be to help others because I suffered from life long depression and I wanted to share with you how I healed myself. I really get so sad to see woman suffer.

I have been feeling wonderful now, for a long time ( I suffered life long depression and that's why I posted this) and I just wanted to help others who were suffering. I sincerely hope you all Have a great day. Margee
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Old 03-03-2012, 07:15 PM   #8 (permalink)

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I am willing


I am also suffering from depression and I am off work presently trying to deal with it. The antidepressants do very little.

I watched the video you recommended and started Niacin thearpy two days ago. I hope this works. I am depsperate for relief. I have a form of biological depression that no psychotherapy can remove and no amount of step work or spiritual devotion can cure.

Do I understand you have or had this type of depression? And that you are now relieved of it? Would you please share with me how you did this? My private email is available on my profile.

Many thanks. Robert.
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Old 03-04-2012, 06:13 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I watched the Utube video closely as well as the one about bipolar (I have bipolar, PTSD and GAD and have been clean and sober 27 years.) I think the Doctor speaking referenced alot of his successful findings on his past career of 40-50 yrs ago. Interesting he started out on a research team studying psychodelic drugs. Also interesting he surrendered his medical license to pursue the "vitamin therapy" model.
It was a very generalized interview with Bill saying he" found a group of friends" and gave them niacin therapy. Would love to have know the specifics and backgrounds on the people he gave it to.
This doctor seemed to really find his nitch with "niacin therapy". I thought its an important note that he said to also use medications as well as nutrician to treat pyschiatric disorders such as bipolar and shcizophrenia. It must be the Canadian health system particuallary that he commmented as being "in trouble". Here in the U.S. I have a very competent psychiatrist and we have MANY follow up treatment programs for people exiting the hospital so they dont "drool in front of the TV" as he stated.
I think he really overrated the benenfits of niacin for treating/preventing alot of disease.
Watching the video didnt "help" me persay but gave me a crumb of food for thought, and I did find it entertaining.
Good luck in your efforts for promotiing your cause.

I wish it was as simple as taking a niacin pill for me. Unfortunatly, the biochemistry of the brain (not blood tests) is still something being studied and so much of psychiatry still boils down to the question "And how do you feel?".
One Minute At a Time....We can Recover.
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Old 03-05-2012, 08:58 PM   #10 (permalink)
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EMDR helped me with PTSD
Innerbonding helped me open my heart
Non resistance as taught by Gangaji finally cleared the chronic depression, I still get depressed but it does not last. use google and youtube to learn more. this site doesn't like links...
It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential
is invisible to the eye.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
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Old 03-05-2012, 10:27 PM   #11 (permalink)

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I don't think anything will completely cure my depression. I never, ever remember a day where I want sad about something..even as small child..old photos of mine show a frown on my face. I've kinda given up. My meds only help me function and hold down a job. I hate being this way. Most the time though I don't even know why i'm sad...just a horrible sense of hopelessness.
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Old 03-06-2012, 06:04 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I'm sorry you are having such a rough time. When I was diagnosed, my shrink kept asking are you sure you are not suicidal? He thought I had been depressed since the age of 6 and then it got worse.
It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential
is invisible to the eye.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
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Old 07-26-2014, 12:32 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I watched the video and am going to take the vitamin. Is there a certain MG I should take? Thank you I hope this works because I have been suffering from depression for a long time now though I am sober over a year.
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Old 07-26-2014, 01:20 PM   #14 (permalink)

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that st Francis of Assisi prayer really does work
i dont belive in god but i use that prayer as my set of instructions that i have to follow in my own life
it doesnt mean i follow them all the time to the letter as its impossiable to do but i try in short its just an instruction set for me to be good today instead of a selfish bugger : )
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Old 07-26-2014, 04:18 PM   #15 (permalink)

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He was depressed cause he took acid and cheated on his wife.
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Old 07-26-2014, 04:25 PM   #16 (permalink)
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At least you are working and that is a good thing. I am struggling too. I can't even work right now and haven't for a long time. I take meds too but know and feel more comes by me working on myself. If there is anything I can do for you let me know! I am right there with you.
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Old 07-29-2014, 01:12 PM   #17 (permalink)

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Before anyone decides to do niacin therapy please read up on the possible side effects. A flush is not uncommon and at high doses you can develop liver problems, GI issues, and glucose intolerance.
I am a big fan of supplements but you really need to do your homework
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