Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Two things that help when I'm feeling depressed!

These last few years have had so many good times that have involved lots of laughter, memorable moments and accomplishments but there have also been hard and often darker days than I like to admit. Days where I felt stuck in a fog that made it hard to see the goodness of life. I have sat in sadness, cried until my eyes were swollen and my hearts ache seemed too much on most days. I have doubted God's love and goodness, questioned myself, struggled with regret and felt like hope was lost. I found myself struggling with depression again, a place I had never hoped to revisit.

But one thing I never did was actually give up. I kept getting out of bed in the morning. I kept opening my heart to God, even though I felt like my heart was dead. I kept reading God's Word each day. I kept working out. I kept doing chores around the house. I kept living even though it hurt and it was hard.

I finally decided to listen to those who knew what I was going through and began seeing a counselor. I think pride kept me from going sooner. I thought I could just try harder. But I'm so glad I started going because I have learned and grown  so much these last few month..

Depression is depressing.... I really hated waking up every morning with the dread of the day staring me in the face. What would I do, how would I do it, would I figure out how to overcome the sadness, how long could I pretend? Would I ever feel like myself again? 

I want to share two things that have helped me these last few months as I seek to experience the fullness of life my soul longs for. They have helped me to get unstuck when I start having those depressing days.

Learning how to move from desolation(distress/sadness) to consolation(peace/joy).  Something I learned in counseling is there are several reasons we can find ourselves in desolation. Maybe we are just overworked and tired, maybe we are just having a blah day, or maybe we are struggling with sorrow over a loss, many reasons can leave us in a place of desolation. It isn't a sin to be in desolation but the problem is that desolation can lead to sin. If we allow our thoughts to take us deeper and deeper into desolation we often start acting in ways that are opposite of how God designed us to live. So we need to learn how to chose to do that which will help us move toward consolation. Often this will be the last thing you want to do when you are feeling depressed. Because when we are depressed we often feel stuck and the things that seem appealing are usually sleeping, eating, crying, self-harm, complaining, arguing, etc. And these things just lead to more sadness.

The first step is to make a list of those things that when you are doing them you experience peace and joy. For me they are things like: working out, trying out a new recipe, cleaning, craft project, helping others, going on a date with my hubby. This list will be different for everyone.

Then when those times of desolation sneak up on you pick something of your list and do it. Like I said it will be hard and most likely it will take a little time to realize the state you are in and that you need to get out your list and move in that direction.   It really works if you can bring yourself to do it. Last week I found myself laying on the couch feeling pretty sad and as I laid there the sadness grew more and more heavy as I let my thoughts wander in the wrong direction.  Hopelessness quickly started rolling in but all of a sudden I said no I'm not going down this path tonight.  I got up went to my computer and found my pintrest boards and decided to pick a new recipe to try out and also found a craft to make. Before I knew it I had one mitten sewn, yes only one is finished and not sure I even like the one that is made but what I do know is that choosing to get up and do something saved me from a night full of tears. We also enjoyed some pretty delicious homemade strawberry ice cream that night. Also, the time of being crafty and making ice cream allowed my heart and mind to refocus and that is when i was able to pray and seek God's help in understanding why I got triggered and what led me down the path of desolation.

The more you practice moving from desolation to consolation the easier it gets.

Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

Mittens made from an old sweater

Going on a date with my hubby

Finish what you know needs to be done before trying to figuring the next thing to do
Often when I'm experiencing times of depression/desolation I feel overwhelmed and anxious. I often feel anxious about everything I need to do and jump from one task to the next before even finishing the first. But I'm realizing that if I finish one chore or project at a time before beginning with a new one I find a lot more peace and less anxiety. For example the other day I felt somewhat anxious and knew I had a lot to do; dishes to clean, bathroom to clean, clothes to fold, sweat shirts to find for a future project, bread to make...... So I started by making the bread but thought I will just leave these dishes for later when all of a sudden I realized that if I completely finished with cleaning up the dishes before moving on to the next thing I wouldn't have that chore hanging over my head and it helped so much. So I've been trying to apply this habit each day. I'm trying to finish one task completely before moving on to the next unless I absolutely have to stop.

Also I'm trying to do the things I know need to be done before spending time looking for something else to do. The sense of knowing I accomplished something that day helps me feel less overwhelmed and anxious.

Psalm 23

A psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
     He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, 
     he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 
 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

So thankful God walks with us each day no matter what we are feeling. He is faithful to all His promises.

He is able to accomplish what concerns us today!

1 comment:

  1. Love reading your posts Jen. Thanks for the reminders to replace hard times with God's Word and positive outlets. Love you