*I am well aware of what clinical depression is and the seriousness of it. This blog is meant to be a personal expression. It is NOT a guide for how to heal depression. It looks different, with differing severity, for each person who suffers.*
I’m depressed, but I’m happy. It’s possible. Depression is physiological, as well as psychological. Physiologically, it runs in my family. We tend to be on a different page psychologically though. For some members, it’s externalized in anger. Others have trouble controlling tears. For me, it usually manifests itself in a mental fog. On the worst of days, it’s debilitating for any of us.
I have a list of ways to combat this state of being. Truthfully, I tend to start with indulgence. I eat comfort food, watch comfort tv/movies, and retreat from responsibility. When that doesn’t work (because it never does), I move on to the advice I give others. I get on a regular sleep schedule, I spend time in the sun, I find small ways to be productive, I spend time with people (extrovert), and I regulate my anti-anxiety meds better. This helps a little, but nothing improves my sad state like these two things: thankfulness and selflessness.
I’m currently typing this blog with one thumb, while I look out on a beautiful lake. The other hand is steadying a delicious cup of coffee. Bethel is passionately singing the truth of God on the iPad beside me. It’s not hard to be thankful while I’m enjoying the sun AND a cool breeze, as well as the things aforementioned.
Being thankful always begins with truth. A depressed person, or any unhappy person, may read the last paragraph and think to themselves: “Well of course she’s happy! Who wouldn’t be with that kind of morning?!” There’s almost always someone looking on to our life who feels they have it worse though. Without having to go deep, I can tell you that almost any person reading this blog is a fortunate person. Why? Well, because it means that you have a device on which you can read it, as well as internet. That’s pretty great. That doesn’t mean you can’t be dealing with something terrible. Rich people have real life problems too.
Even when I feel that I have nothing and that my life circumstances are bad, I know that I have Christ. I repeat scripture to myself over and over again, like a chant. Psalm 145 (sung by Shane & Shane), Romans 8, and Ephesians 1 (as well as the rest of the book) are the first places I go to for a reminder of the great love that I have in my life. I make lists of the blessings I know of. Sometimes I find myself writing without real appreciation. I know that it will take awhile, but I push through. Eventually, I am overwhelmed by the love that God has lavished upon me. Trust me when I say that I know that my life is great and that I have nothing to complain about. Depression isn’t about logic.
The second step on my road to recovery looks different from day to day. I won’t pretend that I am good at being selfless. In most cases, the things that I do for others are MUCH more gratifying for me than they are for them. In fact, I couldn’t even say that these acts of kindness were in any way selfless. I usually anticipate the pleasure that comes from doing things for other people. At the root of my deeds, I typically find a desire to be liked and needed. However, I do try really hard to put this aside. Romans 12:9 convicts me daily- “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.” If that wasn’t enough, Philippians 2:3,4 does the trick- “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” What I’m saying is that the apostle Paul really knows how to kick my butt.
Each of these steps is accomplished best through prayer and meditation. I cannot say that thankfulness and selflessness heal my brain, but they always help my heart. Thankfulness helps me find joy in the Lord by reminding me of truth. Selflessness gives me joy through expressing love and truth. I haven’t found the energy to be productive today, but I found the emotional energy to write this blog. That’s something.
Are you in need of some truth today? Music speaks to my soul. It’s a gift from God. These albums usually lift my spirits, even if they don’t clear my mental fog: