Monday, January 9, 2012

Dealing With Depression Part Two

Please, if you have not read Dealing with Depression Part One, do so before going any further.

Psalm 139:7-12

New International Version (NIV)
 7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
   Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
   if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
   if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
   your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
   and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
   the night will shine like the day,
   for darkness is as light to you.

 The Lord found me in the depths and showed me in a tangible way that He heard my desperate cries for help.  The darkness that surrounded me started to have pinholes of light and over time, those pinholes grew bigger and brighter.

Isaiah 42:16

New International Version (NIV)

16 I will lead the blind by ways they have not known,
   along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;
I will turn the darkness into light before them
   and make the rough places smooth.
These are the things I will do;
   I will not forsake them.

The Lord is always so faithful to His promises.  He lead me along gentle paths as He helped me to see where I needed to change.  He helped me set up firm boundaries so I could create a safe haven for myself and my family.  In taking small steps I was able to accomplish big things with God's grace.
Summer sunset in the boundary waters. by minnepixel, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License    by  minnepixel      

I would love to tell you that I was changed overnight but that is not the case.  Keeping depression at bay can be a daily battle.  I now know the signs of what sends me into a downwards spiral but it took time.  I had the consistent prayers of my husband to undergird me and I had to make a conscious effort to change my attitude and thoughts and rebuke the lies that would try to steal my joy/hope away.  So make sure that if you are struggling with depression that you are patient with yourself... it will take time to heal and to learn what you need to do so you do not repeat the same cycle.

I am sure everyones triggers are different when it comes to this battle but here are the four things that are vital for me to remain "stable" so to speak.

1. A relationship with my Lord and Savior.
I need to be in daily communion with Him, it keeps me grounded and focused on that which is true.  I am not perfect by any means, but I do what I can.  Daily Bible reading, whether it be a verse, a chapter or four chapters... I get in what I can because the more I know God's Word the better I can replace the lies with truth.  I also find time to pray, this may be while I am in the shower, while I am doing dishes, or before bed but taking time to thank the Lord for His blessings, to pray for those who are hurting around me, and to bring my petitions before Him really is calming to me.

2. Intimacy with my husband both physically and emotionally.
It takes time at various stages in our lives (especially with little ones) to set time aside for each other but when we go a while without connecting then I feel it, and I begin to spiral. It helps us to set a regular date night, either in or out of the house depending on our financial situation at the time.  I also have found it necessary to have daily time to connect and talk without interruption.

3. Time to myself.
I have discovered that I do not normally enjoy being alone.  So "time to myself" does not necessarily mean I need to be alone... often times it just means I need some "me time".  I will call up a friend and invite them over for a movie or out for tea.  Sometimes I do want to be alone in which case an uninterrupted shower so  I can shave my legs or a leisurely bath complete with candles, chocolate, hot tea and a good book are so therapeutic.  Whatever it is, I make sure to schedule some "me time" weekly.  My blog is therapeutic for me so I tend to blog about that which I am working on and that which I am passionate about.  

4. Set healthy boundaries.
At the same time I was in the pit of despair I was working the night shift as a waitress, I had several very needy people in my life who would call all hours of the day/night and some of those would drop by for unannounced visits and stay for hours on end pouring out their problems and wanting me to fix them.  It was extremely draining and weary.  I have learned how to set up boundaries that are healthy for both myself and my family.  Sometimes it is the simple things like not answering the phone and letting it go to voice mail or welcoming unexpected company in but setting a time limit.  For example "Hi Lucy, it is so good to see you.  Would you like to come in and have some tea, I am free until 3:00."  This seemingly small step has probably been the hardest one for me since I am a peace maker by nature and desire to help others however it has also been extremely rewarding and freeing in my battle with depression.  I tend to take on other people's problems and we were just not designed for that.  There is a reason we have a Savior to turn to and it is alright to help others but if it is consuming your time and energy then a line needs to be drawn.

I have found it to be of utmost importance to surround myself with that which is pure and good and that includes people.  Keeping a close core of friends who can encourage and uplift me, whom I can trust with both the trials and joys of life, and who can build me up and hold me accountable has been mind blowingly beneficial.  It does not need to be a group of 20 friends... just one or two other than your spouse will work out nicely but it is important to have people who you can pour out your heart to and vice versa.  Healthy people who will encourage you and not drag you down. For more information on setting healthy boundaries click here.

Another thing that helps me to keep life in perspective is to have inspiration around me.  Someone sends a card in the mail with an encouraging verse or nice compliment, a picture that makes me smile, a quote that reminds me of what is true or gives me a laugh, I keep these within eye level.  I have a kitchen cabinet that I access daily (I like to cook so it is my spice cabinet) and on the inside door I have some of these items tacked up.  In the hallway outside my bedroom door I have a quote wall with different pictures and quotes where I can see them daily when I step out of my bedroom door.  It is the simple things sometimes that can make a huge difference.

2 Corinthians 4:8-10

New International Version (NIV)
8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.

This life is going to be painful and dark at times but keep in mind the verse above, beloved.  The walls may close in on us but we will NOT be crushed.  We do not need to despair and when we are struck down, we will not be destroyed because we have a Rescuer who came to bring a light that will dispel the darkness, a conquering hero who has bound death in chains and will one day wipe away every tear.  He has come to set the captive free... and I am living proof as one who was bound in self-made chains but who has tasted the freedom of redemption.  May the God of PEACE be yours today as you go about this journey towards freedom.

By His Grace,

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