This post has been on my mind for some time now. I wanted to address the topic, but it is a topic that is tread on very lightly in Christian circles. I even find myself not wanting to speak about it for fear of condemnation from other Christians that may feel that depression is a sign of spiritual oppression. And then there is the question of qualifications? I feel so inept at offering anyone any advice about something I struggle with so often.
I am writing this to all of you out there struggling to let you know that you are not alone. I don’t have all the answers (in fact I have very few), but I do have hope in Christ alone and I know that He is enough to share with you all.
I have suffered from bouts of depression on and off for as long as I can remember. I was married when I was sixteen years old and most of my memories for that first year of marriage are filled with me crying. Over the years, I have had periods of time that I would be fine, then it would come on me again like a storm cloud rolling in.
I think the hardest thing for me is the fact that as a Christian, I know I should be joyful. I have more to be joyful about than most people. And yet, at times, I find it so hard to experience joy.
As I said before, there are many that believe depression is entirely a spiritual issue. I believe there is more to it that that. As human beings, we are created with three parts: body, mind, and spirit. I believe that depression affects all three of these areas. When I become depressed, my body shuts down and just wants to be still. There is sadness and dispare in my heart and I have a hard time praying and staying in the Word.
Over the years, I have found that I am more aware of “triggers” or situations that facilitate depression.
- lack of rest – One of the biggest factors (for myself) that can lead to depression is being overly tired or overwhelmed. I am getting better at recognizing my need for rest and trying my best to rest when it is available. I have found that it is especially important to rest on the Lord’s day.
- pull of the world – As a homeschooling mom with six children, I live in direct opposition to the world and it’s values. However, this doesn’t mean I am immune to the pull of the world. Sometimes, even “good” things can have a worldly pull on us. This happens when we covet what the Lord didn’t intend on us having/doing. We must make sure that the Lord’s desires becomes our desires.
- expectations – When reality doesn’t meet our expectations, it can leave us feeling torn inside. There have been so many times that I have been disappointed, not because of the situation, but because what I expected didn’t happen. In instances like these, it is important to take a look at our expectations and replace them with God’s promises. He doesn’t promise that life will always be rosey, but He does promise never to leave me or forsake me.
- self-pity – There are times I find myself dwelling on my circumstances or the trial I am in. To counter self-pity, I must choose to be thankful and content. This reminds me of the “glad game” in Pollyanna. However, we don’t have to just pick arbitrary things to be glad about, we can rejoice and be thankful…if for nothing else, for our salvation through Christ Jesus!
- lack of seeking – This is a big one for me. I have given up seeking joy in the world, but I have neglected to truly seek joy in the Lord. I must wholeheartedly delight myself in the Lord!
There are many things I have found to help combat depression before it begins. I have found that depression creeps in when I am not being diligent at doing the things I should be doing. (These are not scientifically proven methods, just things that have helped me.)
- reading the Word daily – even meditating on a few verses will greatly help
- running to the Lord – as soon as I start feeling overwhelmed, I need to bring it to the Lord
- going outside – just sitting in the sunshine is wonderful, or walking, playing with the kids, gardening, (I have found that visiting my chickens have been so therapeutic!)
- taking vitamins – I am still taking my prenatal vitamins and have noticed a huge boost in energy when I do. I have chronic anemia, but as long as I continue to take my prenatals I am doing good.
- routine – I don’t do good with schedules (they overwhelm me), but I function so much better when I follow a routine. Sometimes it is difficult, but if I get out of my routine one day I just pick up and try again the next.
- de-cluttering – If my house gets too cluttered and messy, I start feeling heaviness. Each morning, as soon as we get up, the kids and I start working on picking up the house, cleaning, getting ready. If we linger and don’t get things done, I can tell that it makes my day not as pleasant.
- listening to my body – I had mentioned that I am learning to realize when I am getting too tired, but I also have to watch for signs of hunger or times of being overwhelmed. As a mom, I think we are sometimes so busy serving others that we forget to take care of ourselves. It is ok, even preferable, to stop and rest, to eat, to recharge! When I nurse my babies, I try to lay down with them so that I get some stillness in my day.
Final Words of Encouragement
Here are some specific verses I find helpful to be reminded of, not necessarily when I am depressed, but rather to help me avoid depression.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
One last thought…I wanted to add that while I have mentioned many things that can help fight depression, there are times that the Lord still allows us to walk through the valley. Whether He has lessons we need to learn, or is just sanctifying us through our dark times, I don’t know. But I trust that He loves me beyond my comprehension and will be with my always.
For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
I would love to hear your thoughts. Do you struggle with depression?
I am looking forward to reading how the other moms have found “joy in the morning”!
Keri Mae at The Happy Home
Stacy at A Delightful Home
Brandy at The Marathon Mom
Andie at Happy Andersons