While ministering I have noticed a couple of common denominators, or characteristics that depression sufferers have in common.
- They tend to be relatively strong people. They are generally hard to knock down, productive and are quite relational. In other words, they are folks that you would least expect to suffer from bouts of depression. Knowing that they are strong often causes them to shrug off the early symptoms of depression thinking its temporary.
- Those who battle depression are often very emotionally sensitive. In fact, they normally operate out of their emotions. I am NOT saying that they are unstable or flighty. However, the manner in which they engage the world take cues is through their emotions. It is that wiring that makes them so good at managing relationships.
- These folks tend to be quite hard on themselves when projects don’t work out as well as expected. Especially when they are in places of authority that require them to operate on their own. They are wired by God to operate in close company with others, not as lone rangers.
Depression can be complex, but here are some suggestions in navigating it:
- You are sadly mistaken if you have come to adopt the idea that, “Time Heals All Wounds”. Passage of time does is to make you forget what is stealing life from you. If you are currently experiencing depression get help. If you are just now recognizing that you may be dealing with it, read on.
- Self awareness is an asset. We each of need it in order to become and remain healthy. We need to understand and appreciate what our normal emotional state looks like. This way we can quickly realize when something sifts. The sooner we recognize that something has changed, the more rapidly we can get help.
- We cannot defeat depression by failing to acknowledge our emotions. It is tempting for naturally emotional people to try and suppress their emotions because emotions feel overwhelming. God gave emotions to us for a reason. Even though that may seem to be counter-productive at times, trying to live without them will eventually lead us to a more emotionally desperate place. One of the keys to living in peace is pausing to define what we are actually feeling. Then we can move onto what has triggered us.
- Stress and loneliness are the two greatest factors in becoming and remaining depressed. Stress is created by very common factors; such as feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities, lack of exercise, or an improper diet. Typically, it is our inappropriate response to a heavy workload that feeds the other two. The reality is that ultimately, all three of these factors are within our control. Failure to act accordingly, will keep us in a prison of our own making. Dealing with these sources of stress will increase our connection to others.
- We have to understand that all the various facets of ourselves are interconnected and dependent upon one another. What impacts one area of our lives, will eventually impact all the others. Depression will initially affect our emotions only, but fairly quickly it will detrimentally impact us physically. Suddenly, it is difficult for us to fulfill our normal duties and responsibilities. This only puts more stress on ourselves mentally and emotionally, furthering the impact on our bodies. By the time that cycle is in full swing, your normal spiritual disciplines and daily pursuits are already in the toilet. When we are sick all we want to do is sleep and get well, forget reading our Bible or praying. Depression can be the same. Yet, it is our connection with the Comforter that will help us see where we are. It is Him that grants us the grace to make the physical and emotional changes necessary.
- Do not allow “spirituality” or the idealism of some “holistic” approach deprive you of medical assistance. Prescribed mood stabilizers can be a major help in the restoration process. It’s not a copout, you are still going to have to work at recovery. It is simply a temporary aid to recovery.
Remember, you didn’t get into this situation overnight. Make choices that will help you. They will become an encouragement for you to stay in the process.