In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
“I don’t think I’ll make it through this one.”
Have you ever been at a point in your life where there is trouble everywhere you turn? Most days it feels like you’re stuck in a pit with no way out, just holding on by a thread. For a lot of you this is what depression feels like. It feels like God has forgotten about you and has favored everyone around you. You might have even wondered why you were born and what your purpose is on this Earth. It’s like you’re in a storm with no life boat. So what do we do when it feels like you’re drowning?
Well first let’s examine how to know that you’re falling into a depressed state. For many people battling depression, they may have periods where life is great–fantastic even–and then they fall into periods where life seems bleak and meaningless. These changes in moods go up and down for months, even years. If I’m describing you or someone you know, take note of the following behaviors.
- Getting caught up in your thoughts
Spending time in your own head is normal, and every now and then our thoughts may get carried away. However, we have to discern between a healthy amount of thinking versus being in our own heads constantly. While in a depressed state, your mind is working overtime mulling over every single minute detail about your life, interactions, appearance, etc. It’s as if you’re not present when people are speaking to you because your mind is focused on so many other things. You can even feel your mood dropping throughout the day as you remember things from your past that have hurt you.
- Isolating yourself
Depression is tricky because your mind is constantly telling you that you are a nuisance/burden and that everyone else would be better off without your presence. With this in mind, it gets easier to stop hanging with friends and family and settle for being alone.
- Harsh thoughts about yourself
Take an hour or two and examine how you view yourself. When you speak about yourself, are most of the things you say negative? When you look in the mirror, do you first point out your flaws? Do you compare your life to others? Do you blame yourself when things do not go as planned?
- Less time spent with God
You feel stressed and overwhelmed and start slowly cutting out your time spent with God. Or maybe you feel apathetic about yourself or your circumstances so you cut out time with God because you don’t feel worthy enough to be in His presence.
- Reactive behavior
You feel like you need something or someone to help mask how you feel. Coping mechanisms can be in the form of drinking, smoking, self harm, getting into relationships, purging after eating, binge eating, restricting meals, over committing to plans, over working yourself, a need to prove yourself to everyone, a need to appear happy at all times to others, sleeping too much or too little, fighting, cursing, sex, etc.
**If any of the signs above sound like you, its best to take note so you can prevent a downward spiral in the future. After you’ve taken note of your behaviors, sit and think about what triggers you to act in this way. Ask people that are close with you (if you feel comfortable) about signs they may have noticed as well. Once you have pin pointed what triggers your depressed state, make a plan to either avoid or counteract your triggers. Reach out to your spiritual advisor or counselor and talk out your issues. You’re not in this alone. Communicating how you feel isn’t a waste of time. If this sounds like someone you know, please reach out to the person, listen and offer support/help in any way possible**
Did the quote at the beginning of this post resonate with you? It feels like you’ve been dealt the worst hand in life. It feels like there’s no coming out from rock bottom and that good situations are reserved for everyone else but you. Don’t be so hard on yourself. It may sound cliche at this point but God knew you before you were formed in your mother’s womb. Regardless of what you can see he has a plan and purpose for your life. You weren’t placed on this earth by chance.
God doesn’t hate you. If you take away nothing else from this blog post please know that this isn’t true. God isn’t a dictator waiting for you to mess up so He can punish you. He loves you more than you realize. I don’t know why you have depression, only God knows that. But what I do know is that we serve a God who is able to empathize with our weaknesses. A God whose arm isn’t too short to short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.
You don’t have to suffer in this storm alone. God is still here with you.
In John 16:33 God tells us that we will go through sufferings but we should be encouraged because He has already overcome them for us. Oh how sweet to know that when we call on Jesus, a listening ear is readily available. It’s tempting to be discouraged and blame God for our issues but being angry at God won’t change your circumstances. The battle has already been won regardless of what things look like. Depending on what type of depression you have, prayer alone may not be enough. However, that does not mean that we rule it out all together. Prayer + works = progress.
“God, my world needs You right now”
It’s okay to admit that. You don’t need to pretend that you can make it on your own or that you have everything together. You may not even be able to leave your bed right now but it’s time to fight back against depression. You can’t win a battle that you’re choosing not to participate in. Whether you like it or not, depression is coming at you, and it’s time to throw some punches. Here are some ways to begin your process towards wellness.
- Christian counseling
Reaching out to a professional helps. Talking to a total stranger about your innermost secrets seems scary but it does help. Bottling up your issues, internalizing them or unhealthy coping is not going to ease your pain. It may help temporarily but in the end you cause more damage to your psyche.
- Plugging back into church
Having a relationship with God is key to the recovery process. Make a daily decision to cultivate your relationship with God. One step at a time start reading your bible. If you’ve been baptized in the Holy Spirit start praying in your heavenly language. Don’t feel like you have to tackle the entire new testament in a week, start slowly with daily bible verses, chapters, etc. Make an effort to study what you’re reading and apply it to your life. Try reaching out to other believers, attending weekly services or even serving in your local church (When you are comfortable).
- Listening to music
Music has the power to transform how you feel about yourself. With this being said, try to avoid music that makes you angry or puts you in your feelings. Make a playlist that gasses you. Listen to it day in and day out. You deserve it!
For a lot of you, the last time you’ve ever drawn or written in a journal was in middle school. Well it’s never too late to get back into the groove of things. Dust off that old journal/sketchbook (or purchase one of your preference) and start writing. Use this book to pour out your feelings to God or to pour out anything that’s been on your mind lately. Drawing is therapeutic, let your imagination run wild.
- Taking up a hobby
Losing interest in everything that you once loved is a hard pill to swallow. Instead of dwelling on your lost desires, cultivate new ones. Try new things, learn a new skill, go to a new environment. Don’t get stuck in the same routine.
- Self Care
Make it a mission to do one thing a week that makes you happy. It doesn’t matter what it is, just do it and make sure that you don’t compromise on it. Here are some ideas to start with: opening the blinds and letting sunlight in, getting frozen yogurt, exercising, watching a TV show, dressing up, putting on makeup, seeing a movie, taking a bubble bath, etc.
- Support from church family
Depression is not a disorder that can be defeated by yourself. You need the support of close family and friends, especially your Christian ones! It’s okay to open up to people that you trust. It’s important to cultivate relationships with others. Find your tribe and don’t be afraid to lean on one another.