Hi, my name is Karen and I am the girl who used to have a major depressive disorder. I’m the girl who lost 20 pounds because I couldn’t eat, who couldn’t sleep at night because I felt so hopeless, who…
Today as I (Karen) opened my Facebook account, the first thing I saw were memories. Everyday Facebook recaps things posted in years past on this same day. Often times for me, it is fun reflection of our kids’ lives, fun…
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.
ONE WORD – that was the challenge for 2014. Pick one word to focus on for 2014. After much thought, I chose the word FEARLESS. I was fresh off two years of greatness, as I perceived it, and was up for a challenge.
I had listened to God’s call and obediently adopted our youngest daughter, who has brought much joy to our house. I had tackled a mission trip out of the country without my husband. I had completed a triathlon. And now I was focusing my time and energy on a new challenge I felt God calling me to. I was ready to be even more fearless for God in 2014.
Then one week into the New Year on a Tuesday it hit me at 11am, the dread, the darkness, the fear, the stomach pain. By 2pm I had spiraled and depression had engulfed my whole being. I honestly thought I was immune. It had happened once a few years back, but I assumed it would never happen again.
I found myself angry at God. Why does He allow this to happen to me? Why isn’t He protecting me? Why would He choose to punish me when I strive to be obedient? Why, Why, Why?
This time when it happened, I didn’t try to live in hiding like I had previously. I informed my friends and family, who love me, and asked them to start praying. I knew from the last time, I needed to form an army to help me get through this.
Reflecting back on my most recent episode of depression, I wasn’t afraid to be honest. I wasn’t afraid to say, no I can’t be at the house by myself. I wasn’t afraid to call my friend and say I need to come to your house right now and ask her to pray for me. I wasn’t afraid to wake Brian up at 3am and say please pray over me. I wasn’t afraid to call my friend at 6am and say I need you to pick me up and take me to the doctor right now. I wasn’t afraid to go for a run at 4am; honestly, I was kind of hoping a bear would eat me to put me out of my misery.
I wasn’t protecting my ego. I wasn’t afraid of not being perfect.
Maybe when I chose fearless, God had different ideas for exposing my fears than I did. Perhaps He knew the deepest fear I needed to conquer was the fear of not always having it together, and He allowed me to suffer this so I could face it. I don’t pretend to understand all the reasons He allows us to suffer. I do know that through this, I have drawn closer to Him through reading truths in His word. Maybe He just wanted me.
Whatever it is, I am not going to abandon my one word; fearless. I’m sticking with it. I want more of Him. If suffering is what it takes to do that, I am fearlessly afraid to endure it.
For pretty much 99.99% of my life, I have been aiming for the goal of living a “balanced life”. I have used phrases such as “everything in moderation” and have aimed to live a life that doesn’t have too much or too little of anything. I eat healthy, most of the time. I try to get enough exercise. I try not to watch too much television and have pretty much cut out all trash TV and trash magazines. My husband might disagree with that last statement. I’ve even extended this to my children. I don’t let them watch too much TV, eat too much junk food or get them over-extended in too many extracurricular activities, but I don’t deprive them either. After all, it’s all about balanced living; some might even call me Zen.
This morning on my run, I was having my usual morning conversation with God. Did I mention I am also a master multi-tasker? I was talking with Him about what our small group had discussed on Sunday night. Our conversation in small group was about what the first disciples must think of current day disciples and how little the Holy Spirit actually worked in our lives compared to how massively He worked in the disciples lives. We are talking about uneducated men penning and speaking some of the most eloquent words ever written or spoken through the power of the Holy Spirit.
I’m more educated than the first disciples yet most of the things that continually come out of my mouth are completely ignorant. In glaring contrast, the disciples words were so powerful that they were bringing thousands to Christ. The first disciples are ultimately responsible for the spread of the largest religion in the present day world, all through the power of the Holy Spirit. I don’t know about you, but that blows my mind! What is wrong with me? Why isn’t the Holy Spirit working in my life like that?
BINGO! I figured it out. All this balanced living is like a Holy Spirit blocker. I am like the women at the well who has spent so much time searching for happiness in all the wrong places that I have completely missed the source of living water.
It finally hit me today … living a balanced life isn’t scriptural. Living a balanced life is a distraction implanted by the master of all lies. God doesn’t want me to live a life of balance; He wants me to live a completely unbalanced life focused solely on HIM.
Every night I’m sitting in front of a brain sucker (TV) when I could be communing with the maker of heaven and earth and I call that balanced. I’m on Facebook catching up on what food you ate for dinner last night when I could be reading His inspired word. Am I going to be one of those “crazy” people who doesn’t have a TV in their house? Probably not, baby steps, but maybe that is the key.
We have gotten the “crazy” switched around. I’m sure the angels in heaven are constantly in awe of how flippant we are in our pursuit of happiness when the source of joy, incomparable joy is right in front of us just waiting to be tapped into. For me, I’m going to not only start tapping; I’m going to start banging. I want the Holy Spirit to fill me up like the disciples were. I want to be so unbalanced people think I am “crazy”. I want to give and take all I can to my Savior. This is my story, this is my song … praising my Savior, all the day long. You can have the balance, I’m done with it.