How do you talk about depression without it sounding, well, depressing?!
Winston Churchill referred to depression as a “black dog”.
“I think this man [a German doctor] might be useful to me – if my black dog returns. He seems quite away from me now – it is such a relief. All the colours come back into the picture.”
It’s coming up three years since my ‘black dog’ started following me around, but things are definitely better.
(I don’t want you to be confused by our literal black (and white) dog who is such a sweetheart and the picture for this page, though)
Instead of pretty much all of my time being filled with feelings like those mentioned below, it is down to certain moments, certain days, certain triggers.
It’s taken an epically, amazing husband – who I really just don’t have words deep enough with which to appreciate him – a seemingly endless number of days, multiple attempts, failures, and more attempts to improve my body chemistry, a great deal of pain, an incredible counsellor, a handful of other people, an awful lot of prayer and an Almighty God to get me to where I am today.
This journey has been hideous. It has been ugly. It has been exhausting, heartbreaking, and to me, the most painful, concentrated suffering of my life.
For me, my depression was/is fed by the consequences of my own actions. Coming from this perspective I felt that I had no one to turn to. No one who would understand my perspective. Who was I to be needing help? But this journey has also shown me that there are countless others in the same situation. There’s a saying:
“You made you’re bed, now you have to lie in it.” That’s definitely true, but when you’re lying in that (metaphorical sick) bed, it’s nice to have visitors
– to have people tell you stories about how it all works out ‘happily ever after’. Even when you’re staring blankly at the ceiling, it’s nice just to know there’s Someone else in the room with you, that you’re not alone.
If you are reading this, I want you to think deeply about the people you know – this might even BE you.
Think about the ones who have maybe silently drifted away – or maybe they’ve suddenly disappeared from your community.
The ones who bail out of social gatherings – the ones who answer the “How’re you?” with “Just tired, lately”, or “Getting there”.
The more we understand what people are going through, the more thought we can give to how we treat one another.
What Can Be Happening on the Inside:
- It’s not wanting to go out, but not being able to stand the idea of being at home either.
- It’s when you SO want to see your friends, but the thought of being around people gets you upset.
- And it’s when you want people to ask how you’re doing, but you’re afraid that you’ll just lie to them by saying you’re okay and then get yourself upset for lying to them.
- Or worse, that you’ll let slip a smidgeon of the truth and you’ll just want to cry right then and there.
- It’s getting upset really easily – this can be tears, anger, frustration, you name it.
- It’s having a short concentration span and then beating yourself up because you’d already forgotten that you had set the water boiling for dinner.
- It’s wanting to feel better, but not having the energy to get yourself up off the couch and over to your little pill container – that seems to be getting fuller and fuller as your spouse finds other vitamins and minerals that might help.
- It’s quantifying how sick you are by the number of pills you’re taking every day.
- It’s wanting to help around the house, but not having the motivation or the drive to actually do it.
- Then it’s feeling awful that you’re not helping out around the house, so you feel like that makes you an awful person.
- It’s laughing at something you found funny and then seconds later feeling like crying.
- It’s having a lack of emotion in relation to things that used to be important to you… and then getting upset about the fact that you don’t feel like you think you should.
- It’s not wanting to get into bed at night.
- It’s not wanting to get out of bed in the morning.
- It’s constantly feeling exhausted by things that used to be easy.
- It’s feeling like you’ll never be that “happy” person again.
- It’s counting the counselling receipts as if they’re currency, and again quantifying how sick you must be and how much money you might have saved if you weren’t so sick!
- It’s feeling happy for short periods of time and then feeling bad about feeling happy.
- It’s having a running commentary of truth mingled with lies non-stop in your head.
- It’s not being able to identify which things are the lies.
- It’s getting advice and not being able to bring yourself to apply it most of the time.
- It’s losing (or gaining) weight without meaning to.
- It’s feeling like you should get in touch with people you used to hang out with, but not having the energy.
- It’s forgetting to reply.
- It’s spending the entire day in your pajamas because you couldn’t bring yourself to shower or dress – for days at a time.
- It’s wanting to just watch movies or play mindless games all day.
- It’s trying to encourage others in the hopes that your spirits will lift.
- It’s blaming yourself.
- It’s blaming others.
- It’s blaming God.
- It’s inaction.
- It’s frustration about the inaction.
- It’s having those unfinished conversations running through your head a lot of the time…most of the time
- It’s avoiding social gatherings with people you used to call friends, because you don’t have the energy to be the person that they used to know.
- It’s finding simple things difficult.
- It’s finding difficult things utterly impossible.
- It’s sometimes coupled with anxiety. Which means…
- It’s worrying how others perceive you every moment you’re awake.
- It’s seeing things that are seemingly not related to anything, but your brain working overtime to make connections to people, places and things.
- It’s switching “on” and “off” depending whether you are around people or alone.
- It’s having your leg shaking up and down whether you want it to or not.
- It’s being anxious about going places where you feel you have to “act normal”.
- It’s feeling like you don’t belong anywhere anymore.
- It’s feeling like this would all be different if you would just “stop being depressed”.
- It’s crying and not knowing why.
- It’s crying and knowing why, then crying even harder because of that reason.
- It’s crying so much and so unexpectedly that you’re sure your spouse would rather be anywhere else, and your anxiety whispering he’d be better off anywhere that you aren’t.
- It’s flinching away from your spouses attempts to comfort you because you worry you might hurt them simply by being around them in this way.
- It’s thinking that all the crying/frowning is leaving physical marks on your face.
And as a Christian…
- It’s shaking/wriggling when your spouse is praying with you.
- It’s not wanting to pray.
- It’s crying any time you step inside a church.
- It’s feeling like you don’t belong there because everyone else is so “put together”.
- It’s feeling like you’re a ‘bad’ Christian, because ‘real’ Christians wouldn’t suffer depression or anxiety.
- It’s knowing that those two statements above are untrue, but feeling that way anyway.
- It’s having to remind yourself that churches are hospitals for the sick, not resthomes for the saints.
- It’s lacking faith.
- It’s wanting to have faith.
- It’s lacking trust.
- It’s wanting to trust.
- It’s getting angry with God.
- It’s getting angry at yourself for getting angry at God.
- It’s slowly (and quickly, sometimes) watching your friends disappear – not because they are bad people, but because you’re not around them to remind them that you exist.
- It’s feeling that everyone must surely be talking about where you have gone, then feeling disappointed when only a couple of people follow up on you.
- It’s when you do make it to church and you finally hear the assumptions that people have made about where you’ve been (“you live too far now”, “petrol prices”, “you needed a break”, “we over worked you”).
- It’s wanting to set their assumptions in their proper place, but knowing that saying “you’re wrong” would require more explanations, so instead, settling for the middle ground of, “it’s just what’s best for us for now”.
- It’s feeling torn between wanting your church family to ask after you, and wanting for them all to just forget you and who you were.
- It’s expecting them to expect you to be the same person you were around them and knowing that you just can’t fake happiness.
- It’s making some wrong assumptions about them too.
- It’s seeing hypocrisy in the actions of those around you and getting angry about it.
- It’s realising that the ‘speck’ that you’re seeing in their eyes is obviously not as big as the ‘plank’ in your own (Luke 6:41-42).
- It’s not wanting to talk to God about the things on your heart.
- It’s knowing that He knows everything you’re going through, but still feeling like He doesn’t care enough to change it.
- It’s realising that He does care enough, but it’s you that isn’t trusting Him.
- It’s beating yourself up about this.
- It’s hearing hymns/songs at church that talk about how loving He is and just wanting to run out of the doors because all you want is for Him to give you the biggest hug there ever is, that He’d wrap His arms around you and hold you while you cried and cried and cried, until you just fell asleep there in His arms.
- It’s wanting the peace that we are promised, but trying so hard to create it yourself that you wear yourself out before ever turning to God who is the only One that gives it.
- It’s knowing Scripture but struggling to apply it to your own situation.
- It’s Satan’s voice whispering/screaming lies at you.
- It’s wanting things to be different.
- It’s feeling powerless to change.
But it’s not YOU.
You may be depressed, but you are not depression.
It does not make you.
It’s chemical. It’s emotional. It’s mental. It’s physical. It’s spiritual.
I was having a conversation with someone at one point in this journey. They asked how I was and I mentioned that I wasn’t feeling very motivated lately. They said, “that’s not like you”. Unbeknown to them, it brought me to tears. It was such a relief to feel that somebody noticed!
God notices. He cares. When it seems like there’s no one who can possibly understand you, or how you’re feeling, He does!
It’s taken me a long time to even be able to say that again with such certainty and belief.
What You Can Do (for yourself, or in support of another person):
1. Seek God.
2. Seek counselling – sometimes we don’t have the tools within ourselves to deal with the issues we’re facing, we need help.
3. While you wait, get St. John’s Wort, Vitamin B and Ester C tablets from the chemist/supermarket – follow the dosage instructions.
4. Drink water.
5. Adjust your diet to include (more) Tryptophan (found hugely in tofu, roasted pumpkin seeds, gluten flour, sesame seeds, almonds…), Omega 3 (great sources are flaxseed/linseed oil, ground flaxseeds, walnuts…), Folate (black-eyed beans and lentils are a great start) and B6 (capsicum is a great way to add this to your diet).
6. Avoid speaking negatively.
7. Go for a walk (or some sort of exercise), get some fresh air.
8. Have a shower – this is a remarkably huge action you can take.
9. Try to have regular sleeping times.
10. Listen to classical music – just set some playing in the background when you can (eg. in the car, in the shower, when you first get home…)
11. Talk to someone you trust – they will ask the typical “How are you?” stuff… answer them honestly.
12. Remind yourself of scripture (even if you’re struggling to apply it to yourself, like I did); it’s one of the best things you can do.
Verses that I kept close to me:
Romans 8:28 – And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Isaiah 58:9-11 – Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ “If you take away the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, 10 If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday. 11 The Lord will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
2 Corinthians 4:16,17 – Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,
Romans 12:12 – …rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;
He is with you through each peak and valley of your life. And if you need me, I’m here too.
Deuteronomy 31:8 – And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.
If you want to talk about what you’re going through (be it for yourself or someone you know), you are welcome to message me on Facebook or add your own comments at the bottom of this page. I moderate them, so they are automatically private (and can stay that way if you wish).
I want this blog to be a safe place for you.
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
– Romans 15:13
Let’s be there for each other xx
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as a pathway to peace;
Taking, as Jesus did,
this sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it.
Trusting the You will make all things right
if I surrender to Your will
so that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
and supremely happy with You forever in the next.
– Reinhold Niebuhr