No, I’m not talking about being a Republican or Democrat. I’m talking about being one of those seemingly rare people….A Christian who suffers from depression. It is possible to be a sold out, living for Jesus, I’ve got the Joy Joy Joy, Christ follower who suffers from depression.
It really is. And you know what? It stinks. And it stinks even worse when other Christians try to help. I know that they are only speaking out of love, but if you have never suffered from depression, don’t try to tell people who do how to improve their attitude….it doesn’t help.
Some of the advice I have gotten over the years from well-meaning friends and family (Christian and not) that just don’t help:
You have Jesus, so start thanking Him and you will feel better. Other versions of this are “you’re not thankful enough”, or “be thankful for what you have”, or “make a list of things you’re thankful for and just start praising Him”. Yes. Wonderful. I have Jesus so my eternal life is not in question. And I do thank Him every day for things I have – including random things like my dishwasher and washing machine. And I am incredibly, unbelievably blessed. I truly am. I have an amazing husband, wonderful children, a huge home, clothes on my back, and a gigantic pantry and freezer filled with food. I took (or will take) a hot shower this morning, and then stay home teaching my kids. And even though I spent several minutes this morning thanking Him for all of these things, I’m still down in the dumps.
Spend time in the Word, it will make you feel better. Yeah, think again. The second or third thing I do everyday (after starting a load of laundry and getting my coffee) is to open my Bible and read it for a solid 45 minutes or so. There are days I spend up to an hour and a half just reading God’s Word. And I still want to go back to bed and put the covers over my head.
Start serving. Or, “stop being selfish”, or “that’s a very selfish way to think”. Yes, I know. I freely admit that thinking suicidal thoughts or wallowing in depression is selfish. Serving people does help. But sometimes, it doesn’t. After all, I do serve in my church. But there are times that I just don’t have the energy to get out of bed, let alone go work in the nursery, holding someone else’s bundle of joy. And do you REALLY want ME in charge of rocking that baby to sleep if I can’t stop crying myself??????? I will also (gulp) freely admit to having suicidal thoughts. And I don’t act on them. I know full well I have children, a husband, and a mom who depend on me…and I’d never hurt them like that.
OH! And by the way, though I know you don’t mean them that way….all of the above comes across to me like you are calling into question my salvation and my devotion to God.
Start Exercising, the endorphins will kick in. So I’m supposed to go for a temporary high to make me feel better???? In that case, pass me that bottle of wine…it’s easier and I don’t have to sweat. No, I’m kidding, kind of. I do work out. At least I try to. And I do feel good after. But see above…it’s really hard to work out when you are struggling not to break into tears.
You just need to change how you think, see things has half full, not half empty. Yes. And can you change your primal reactions to things too? I have suffered from depression off and on since I was a child. And when it is a normal day, I am happy and bubbly and positive. When the blahs hit, everything goes gray. It’s not a matter of seeing the cup as half full, as it is seeing the cup at all!
Everyone has those days. Yes. Everyone has days where they just don’t want to get up. But my depression is not your depression. I have been battling this since i was a child. This is not just one of those days.
Now, before someone tells me to go on medication, or that I need to see a doctor. I don’t. I don’t get to the point of actually wanting to try to attempt suicide. I will not commit suicide. I have people who depend on me, and I will never leave them. I don’t actually spend days in bed – I just wish I could, yet those little people need me. My depression is not cyclical, it’s not tied to PMS. Though I did have Postpartum Depression with Barbie and with BAM! and saw a doctor and went on medication for both. I take vitamin D, I’m on thyroid medication, I eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies, and I’m in the process of adding whole grains. I drink lots of water. And I’m not always depressed. I’m not bipolar or manic-depressive. But every once in a while…..
So I’ve given you a couple of things NOT to say, here’s a really brief list of things TO say:
What can I do to help? This is a really sweet thing to say. It lets me know that I’m not annoying you, and that you are there to support me. Even though there is nothing really you can do to help except…..
Give me a hug. Hugs are good. Hugs that are actual hugs, not hello hugs (if you live in the south, Europe, or Latin America you know what I mean), and that allow me to possibly cry a little on your shoulder are even better.
Tell me you love me. Yep. But only if it’s true. If you don’t even like me…please don’t fake it. I can tell and it just makes me worse. And showing me you love me by bringing me soda and Hershey milk chocolate with almonds…or brownies (yes,please)…well, that is always good!
If I have offended anyone that suffers from depression by anything I’ve written, please accept my deepest apologies.
If I’ve made you think a little about how you’ll handle it the next time someone around you is going through depression, Yay me!
If I’ve completely angered you because you think I’m just another wah wah blogger that wants YOUR deepest sympathies. You’re dead wrong.
Many blessings to you all. May Christ show His love through you to someone else today.