Before I start, I want to say that I’m not trying to diminish anyone’s struggle against depression. I wrote some posts a while ago about my victory over anxiety, and I feel like it only frustrated people. So I want to clarify that I don’t think issues like depression and anxiety are simple things that you can just easily move past. I also don’t naively assume that what works for me will work for everyone.
But for the love of God, don’t you think it’s worth a try? What do you have to lose? The best thing you can do is keep an open mind and try not to be be intimidated by the fear of disappointment.
So, if anyone’s still reading after that …
I’ve had seasons in my life since I was young where I would wake up daily depressed, and it was like a weight on my chest. I’m a spiritual person; I go to church, I’ve been in ministry since I was young, I seek God regularly in worship and prayer. Sometimes, however, I just couldn’t snap out of it.
Since getting married, incidents of depression have been more rare. I did experience post partum depression after my second child. It was then that I began to term it “irrational sadness,” as I realized it wasn’t necessarily caused by anything, it was just there. Call it a chemical imbalance, spiritual warfare, or whatever; it’s real and hard to beat, but it is possible. At least most of the time.
STEP 1: acknowledge the monster.
The first step for me to push back the monster is to realize what it is. For many people it manifests itself in different ways, but for me it is often self-pity. Once I realize what is happening, I have to become pro-active. As my mind becomes threatened by thoughts of feeling sorry for myself, together with my daughter I go through a list of things I’m thankful for. Perspective is so crucial in the battle against self-pity! I also need to stop accusations against the people I love in their tracks. The blame game only feeds depression.
STEP 2: control my thoughts.
It’s important to right away get ahold of my thoughts. Philippians 4:8 says to think only about the good things. Usually, if I can get my thinking under control, that is half the battle. So I need to get the nasty thoughts OUT of my head and the lovely thoughts IN. This is where reciting my thankfulness helps. Also remembering all the things that God has done for me, and how faithful He has been. If I’m angry or bitter with someone, it also helps to meditate on their positive attributes.
STEP 3: worship God.
Isaiah 61:3 talks about the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. I can’t tell you how many times this has worked for me. Music alone lifts our soul up; music that is outpoured to our Creator does so even more. The best for me as a singer/songwriter/musician is to sit in front of an instrument and pour my heart out in song, but if I can’t do that, I can at least put some worship music on my phone.
Journaling is very helpful in your fight against depression. What has been even more helpful than that for me has been writing with the intent to help someone else. Since June or so of last year I have been working on writing a book titled “Gloriously Happy in a Broken World.” In this book I chronicle my journey towards joy despite all the challenges life has thrown me. Through writing this book and meditating on the Bible and what God has shown me through the years, I find myself greatly encouraged.
There is a purpose for what you are walking through. God doesn’t take joy in watching you suffer. His intention is that you should have victory and share with others your story and your path to completion. As you seek Him for understanding and answers, write it down. Share what He gives you with others. It is through giving and lifting others up that we, too, are ultimately encouraged. One of the best ways to get out of yourself and your self-pity is to stop focusing on your problems and how you’ve been wrongly treated and to start thinking about how you can help others and make a difference. That is an excellent path to joy.
Sometimes you can do all the steps and maybe get partial victory, or none at all. It’s important to remember that even when you can’t beat the sadness that God is there with you. The Bible says that He is close to the broken-hearted and that the Holy Spirit brings comfort to us in our trouble. Even if you can’t get out of it, He is there in it with you, and will bring you peace even if the other bad feelings don’t go completely away.
Do you have any keys to overcoming depression and anxiety that you would like to share? I would love to hear what works for you, so leave me a note in the comments if you feel like it.
If you liked this post, you should check out The day my anxiety left part 1.
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