Editorial: Defeating Depression

pretty fingernails

This time of the year either makes people depressed or encourages them to wallow in depression. For those who don’t struggle with it, it’s a hard thing to understand. So let’s talk about it.

WHAT IS IT?

The absence of emotion. No anger, no happiness, no joy, just emptiness.

WHAT CAUSES IT?

Just about anything can be a contributing factor, but the worst offenders are:

• Guilt

• Disappointment

• Disillusionment

• Loss

• Stress

• Creative Blocks

• Hopelessness

• Uselessness

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

• Anxiety or Fear

• Over-sleeping

• Loss of appetite

• Moodiness / irritability

• Loss of interest in things

• Anti-social tendencies

• Problem concentrating

• Boredom

CAN WE FIX IT?

Yes, there is hope! There are two kinds of people (those who struggle with depression and those who know someone who does). Let’s talk to each group individually.

FOR THE DEPRESSED:

Be Humble: confide in someone you trust, and ask for help.

Speak Out: if you feel depression coming on, talk about it. Don’t wait!. Start when those feelings first come over you.

Get out of the House: be sociable, even though you don’t feel like it. Solitude worsens depression. Go out with friends, walk the dog, just break free of the rut!

Make “Happy Albums”: collect everything you love and put it in a scrapbook or photo album, to remind you how much you’re loved.

Pay Attention: keep a journal so you can see what events, people, place, or things make you sad. You may find out you shouldn’t have family photos up on the wall or watch war movies.

Avoid Redundancy: this is very important for “creative” personality types. Boredom with a task you used to enjoy will bring on guilt and confusion (“did I waste my time?”) that can lead to depression. Try new things. Mix up your routine. Have variety in your day.

Change Something: paint a wall. Move a piece of furniture. Something as small as changing your environment can break a habit of melancholy.

Get Help: if depression happens a lot in your life, get help. If you need anti-depressants to stay happy, take them. There’s nothing shameful in it. Some people have bad eyesight, arthritis, hair loss or depression. It’s treatable and nothing to be ashamed of.

FOR FAMILY & FRIENDS:

Don’t Judge: this is real. It’s not imagined. They need you to accept, love, support, and help them, not tell them to simply “get over it.” And don’t EVER shame them.

Pay Attention: know the symptoms. The worst thing you can do is ignore it or not realize what’s happening. If you catch it early, you can ward depression off.

Talk: depression can be caused by “bottled up” emotions. Get them to confide in you until you figure out what’s really wrong. Sometimes just rationalizing a situation can make it less scary or depressing.

Tough Love: force them to socialize, and don’t take no for an answer. Try out new and exciting things that may peak their creativity and/or interest. (Get them to a class where they can learn something new.)

Accept Reality: we can be in denial that anything is wrong. This helps no one. If someone in your home needs medical help, get it for them.

Pray For Them: to see the truth in their situation and themselves. Pray for the love and kindness they’ll need from you at this difficult time in their life. Pray for wisdom for their family and friends. Pray God will show them every day how much He loves them.

Depression is a part of life, but it doesn’t have to BE your life.

21 Replies to “Editorial: Defeating Depression”

  1. I will tell you that we used to go to a church where they preached from the pulpit nearly constantly that there is no such thing as depression or mental illnesses like bipolar disorder, that they are nothing more than sin in the life of a believer. They said it was sin to be on “prescription drugs” for depression. They guilt-tripped people into getting off their meds…with disastrous results. Needless to say, we found that to be dangerous teaching, and we left that church. Seems like Christians are often the hardest on their own, or, as the saying goes, “they kick their wounded.”

    In my own life, I struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder. For most of my adult life, I lived in Florida, where it’s warm and sunny nearly all the time and where I spent much time outdoors. Now living in a winter climate where I am trapped inside for virtually 6 months (because I hate being cold), I find my mental/emotional state severely challenged. Vitamin D therapy has not improved my symptoms. Light is what I need. When the sun is shining, my symptoms are less severe, but too many gray, sunless days (and there are many here from October through April) affect me very negatively. Too often, people have said supposedly helpful things like “Well, winter is part of life, so just accept it and move on.” That’s rather like saying “Get over it.” We would never tell someone with cancer to “just get over it,” so why do we treat people with depression that way.

    1. I’m always sad to hear that about a church, or a body of believers — in reality, I think that kind of preaching is just holier-than-thou, because no one teaching it has ever experienced mental illness or depression. It’s very easy to sit on a high horse and sneer at those who suffer through things you do not, and dismiss it as a “sin” or a “weakness” in their life. Fortunately (or perhaps, unfortunately) — God usually has a way of challenging these views in those kinds of people, like giving them a child who suffers from a mental illness or depression.

      That’s a pity, that you suffer from SAD. It’s really incredible how sunlight can make a difference in some people! I enjoy rainy days, but I have a sneaking suspicion that if I had a lot of them in a row, I’d be melancholy too!

      My moods seem more based on my creativity and my blood sugar — I’m a lot more melancholy early in the day than I am later on, probably because I’ve not eaten in 14 hours!

  2. Thanks for your honest post Charity. It has lots of valuable information and comes straight from the heart.

    **And after your “happiness” post, I chuckled at the fingernail polish in the picture ;P How cheerful!

  3. I, too suffer from depression. At one point, I actually did (like one of the posters before me) have a crisis of faith. I am genetically predisposed to depression (my parents have it). I’ve had my ups and downs but I haven’t had a major depressive episode in years, thanks to faith and medication. My worst depressive episode was in college about 10 years or so ago; it had me crying almost all day, every day…for no particular reason. God got me through it and I am thankful for that.

    1. Hi. I remember days like that too, where I’d walk around doing my daily routine while trying not to burst into tears every 10 minutes. Ah, fun times -_- I’m so glad you’ve found a way to manage yours that’s really working, and that your faith has made that transition with you. It’s amazing how much these things shape us in hindsight.

    2. I also had a crisis of faith — that led to my salvation (prior to that, I was a mouth-serving Christian, but God hadn’t changed anything in me), but it was a hard time for me. Times of doubt are always difficult.

      That’s wonderful that you’re so much better now! =)

  4. Keep your chin up, girl. You wrote such a lovely blog post about “embracing happiness,” and now this,which is well written. 🙂 Being happy is a state of mind so much of the time but I don’t dispute that for some, it is a very real and serious issue.

    Just looking at those bright fingernails makes one smile. 😉

    1. Thank you! I wrote this for our business but as always, decided to share it on the blog, since I know there are a LOT of people out there who struggle with this. It’s hard to climb out of on your own, so the more awareness in the world, the better. And yes, I LOVE those fingernails. I so must do that to mine!

  5. Bravo, Charity, for tackling this. I have been purposefully staying more busy and being on the computer less. I know I can’t make depression stay completely away, but I am actively battling it and so far things are going well.

    1. That’s great! And you know you can always turn to me, if you need encouragement, or prayers, or a phone call, or a care package in the mail, or anything — right? (( hugs )) Praying for you!

  6. I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (or what a lot of people call ‘winter blues’). A couple of winters ago, I began taking Vitamin D, 2- to 3,000 units a day, and I began feeling better, not just less “down,” but also more interested in daily activities. I also noticed an increase in overall well being. While there is no clear answer, there have been numerous studies that suggest Vitamin D therapy may help depressive symptoms.

    1. Thanks for sharing that! I’ve also heard that doses of 5-HTP can help people — I’ve even known someone who was suicidal on anti-depressants to go off it and start taking that all-natural vitamin and feel much better.

    2. Thanks for sharing. That’s interesting to hear. A friend of mine who’s a nutritionist was speaking recently about Vitamin D and it’s possible benefits to those with depression. It’s something I’m considering looking into, especially in the winter when it’s harder to get outdoors.

  7. Well done Charity. A tough subject, but an important once to bring up. I suffered from a major spell of depression a few years ago, and it was horrible. I went through all the classic signs; under-eating, over-eating, insomnia followed by over-sleeping, constant feelings of hopelessness, pointlessness and anxiety, a panic attack in a high street shop caused by practically nothing at all, and being emotionally unable to handle simple household chores like washing the dishes. At once point I even contemplated suicide. In my case it was largely down to a crisis of faith I was having at the time. With hindsight I can say it was one of the most intense times of questioning I’d ever had with God, where I had to disassemble everything I thought I knew and rebuild from the bottom up – reproving from scratch truths I’d always taken for granted. At the same time I was doing the final year of my university degree, and the two made a killer combination. Needless to say my first semester went completely to pot.
    The feeling that I somehow *ought* to be more capable at coping with life than I was was very crippling, so I didn’t tell anyone (my housemates from the time still don’t now) and I didn’t identify it as depression for nearly six months. It just didn’t occur to me If it had I probably would have gotten help faster.
    I’d agree with you Charity, one of the main things is finding someone to tell. I had one friend, a little more mature than me, who I eventually ‘came out’ to after a particularly bad night. She didn’t hassle me, but sat with me and prayed for me and sent me texts now and again to check how I was. She was an absolute lifeline and I don’t now what I would have done without her.
    The fear afterwards is that you know how low you’re capable of sinking, so you worry it could hit you again someday. That bothers me still. I have odd periods of a few days where I’m ‘down’, usually every couple of months, but now I’ve learned to recognise it I know how to alleviate the worst effects and wait it out. Getting outdoors helps for me, being around people even though you feel like terrible company, and bizarrely so does watching gratuitously gory movies (usually 300 or Sean of the Dead)! Never let me watch anything supposedly heart-warming at those times; you’d think it would help but it just makes it worse.
    I’m actually having one at the moment, and reading this article has cheered me up a little, which is why I wanted to share 🙂 It was three years ago last autumn since I got over the big one, and I treat it a bit like an anniversary.

    1. I’m sorry you have to deal with depression — I’ve been there, I know how crippling it can be, how frustrating it can be to have people dismiss and/or ignore it, and how hard it is to admit it to anyone. People look at you funny once you own up to it — but how is it any different than needing glasses, or medicine for allergies, or anything of that sort? =P

      Living alone in town a few years ago, I reached a similar place to you during your worst time — I barely ate, I didn’t go out, I was insanely lonely, I’d been confronted with some harsh realities of life, and it took a long time for anyone to notice. I STILL battle depression on an ongoing basis — I have up days, and down days, good weeks and weeks where I feel nothing at all. I’m coming to realize that for me, that is semi-normal. Sometimes, I think I’m depressed and I’m really not — I’m just in INTJ mode. =P

      Since then, my worst battle with it was when God did some major reconstruction in my life — I felt “homeless” in a spiritual sense, I didn’t know who I was or what I should do anymore, and it’s been a learning process ever since. The big question is — did I get depressed because of what God removed from my life, or did I remove it because I was depressed?

      All that to say — if you never need anyone to talk to who totally gets it, I’m here. If you pop me an e-mail through Femnista, I’ll respond on my personal e-mail.

      Keep the faith! Praying for you!

      ❤ Charity

      1. Thanks. I didn’t talk about it for about a year after it started, so now I’m more ok about it I try to make a point of speaking up when I get the chance. And likewise, I’ll be able to pray for you, and the others who have the same issue too. Support has been so important, and the more we feel we can speak about this, the more support there can be.

        1. I think sometimes there’s a stigmata in talking about it, often in Christian circles, because of the blanket religious belief that if you have enough faith, you’ll never be depressed. That’s just not true!

          Paul said he had a “thorn of the flesh” that God allowed him to fight his entire life — I often wonder, was it depression?

          1. Yes, it’s as if Christians should be superhuman and someone not subject to the problems of the world, when we know that even now we only “see through a glass darkly”. The world still isn’t what it should be and someday will be, and it’s only then that we’ll finally see the end of all this.

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