It has been about two weeks since I wrote my blog about my latest struggle with depression. The texts, private messages, calls, emails, etc … received from people struggling with this same issue have been overwhelming. My heart breaks for those who have to suffer with this. While I was in the shower this morning, I was praying for each and every individual who has reached out to me and the thought came to me to share some of the tactics I have used in this battle. They might be helpful, they might not, every person is different, but I pray everyone who struggles with this finds solace in the fact that YOU ARE NOT ALONE! You never were, but our enemy is a trickster and tries to convince us otherwise.
Don’t be scared to tell people who love you what you are going through. It is my belief that people genuinely want you to be real. They want to help you; they want to pray for you; they want to be a blessing to you. Think about the personal satisfaction you get when you do something nice for someone else. It feels pretty awesome right? Don’t take that blessing away from those who love you. I’m pretty sure Jesus knew what He was talking about when He said “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” If you don’t ever need to receive anything, you rob people of the blessing of giving.
Shut up the constant chatter in your brain. It is negative, self-defeating and untrue! It is impossible to do this unless you purposely put other thoughts in your mind. To shut my mind up, I memorize scripture. It is impossible for your mind to be talking if you are trying to memorize anything. Your brain gets focused on the task it is working on. Another tactic is to replace lies with truth. My favorite verse to do this with is Philippians 4:8. This verse has an onslaught of good thoughts to focus our attention on, which are things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. Take those words and fill in the blank. Here is an example: True: My children love me, Noble: How my husband sticks beside me even though I am going crazy etc. If none of those work, play candy crush! That keeps your mind off anything, and now you know why I am on level 350!
When it is 4am and you can’t sleep, and I know you can’t because you can’t turn your brain to off, get up and exercise. What good does it do you to lay there and focus on not being able to sleep? It is scientifically proven that when you exercise you release feel good chemicals called endorphins. You can’t sleep anyway, do something productive.
Don’t be alone. Do something! I try to stay busy and productive. One of my favorite things to do is Yoga with my BFF. I have an army of BFF’s who “babysit” me during this time. We lunch, we shop, we put together crafts for church, we get our make-up done etc. It keeps me focusing on something else other than my miserable state.
See a Counselor
See a counselor. Sometimes it is good to talk to someone who doesn’t know you and has no vested interest in you. It is also good to have an unbiased perspective. Counselors exist because you are not alone, other people go through this.
See a Medical Doctor
See a doctor. Sometimes depression is caused by chemical imbalances and the chemicals need some help getting balanced. There is no difference in taking an anti-depressant than there is in taking blood pressure medicine or any other type of medicine that regulates your body. If you are embarrassed about what your friends will say, don’t be. The people that love you want you to get better. If your friends think that taking an anti-depressant make you less, get new friends. They are probably also the same people sitting on the couch, eating a Big Mac and popping cholesterol pills.
There is Purpose
I get so mad at God when this happens. The problem is, my enemy never misses a good tongue lashing at God, and he is there to cheer me on. Go to the scripture and see what it says about suffering. Typically all the things I am mad about and think God should be doing aren’t scriptural. God doesn’t promise me a bed of roses. We are supposed to rejoice in our suffering. We actually grow closer to Christ through partaking in the fellowship of His sufferings. It’s not fun, but knowing there is a purpose for the pain does make it easier. It is important to remember in this time, and all times, if there is ever a debate between what you are feeling and what Scripture says, Scripture wins…..ALWAYS! Your feelings will lie to you.
Accept the fact that this might be “the thorn in your flesh”. Paul talked a lot about the thorn in his flesh that God didn’t take away. I like that Paul never revealed what the thorn was. I think he did it so we could all relate to him, we could all assume that he shared the same thorn that we do. We must be aware though, this could be something that won’t go away. It could be a pruning process, it could be used to make us stronger, or it could be just because we live in a Fallen World. Whatever the reason, accept it. Your job is to glorify and enjoy God. So in this, find a way to do that, and ask God to show you what He wants to reveal through your suffering.
Do something for someone else! It seems like when I am in the middle of depression I am so self-absorbed with how I am feeling that is all I can think about is ME, ME, ME. Doing something that serves someone else not only keeps your mind off yourself, it glorifies God, which is our purpose!
This Does Not Define You
Depression does not define you. My sweet husband sent me an email, yes we send love notes via email, last time I went through this cycle and reminded me “depression isn’t who you are”. It is something I might have to deal with forever, but it’s not me. Remind yourself who you are, and if anyone sends you a note of encouragement, keep them and read through them to be reminded of who you really are.