I have a close circle of friends and within that circle; one of our friends has battled over the past three to four years, with depression. There are so many people who struggle with depression. They feel isolated, as if they don’t matter, trapped, invisible, can’t find hope; they can’t seem to look at themselves; they battle with feeling unpredictability, fear, laziness, pain, suicide, they feel that they don’t fit in this world and it is too challenging to try. I once heard our friend try to explain that she felt as though she was living in a deep black hole, that she was an empty shell and that everyone had left her to herself (when in reality she had isolated and had begun to stay away from her family and friends). She would always focus on her failures and the things that she had not yet accomplished or even tried. She felt that life was too hard and that she was the only one experiencing it. At one point she stopped caring for herself and had the attitude of whatever happens – happens. She found it difficult to get up and join the world every day and sometimes she wouldn’t. She could sleep for hours and sometimes days to isolate from life. She felt that every moment lasted forever and she just couldn’t deal with it all. As her friend, I can tell you that not all of us understood – the mood swings, her not wanting to hang out with us any longer (pushing us away) – it was upsetting and hard not to take personal. She on one hand felt as though others had placed her in a box when in reality it was exactly what she was doing to those around her, but I don’t believe that she could see that. I have seen depression in others family members and friends and can recognize some signs but I am not an expert and cannot know them all, however, I have seen those who hide behind alcohol, pills, social media, spending uncontrollably, being abusive to themselves and others but regardless of it all, I know that there is way out. I don’t know what you are going through or if this is a challenge for you. There are many people, this time of year, that feel that they are in it alone and they sink into depression. Depression will not be the end! It will not have the final say in your life. You may not understand exactly what you are going through right now but you will make it through. I am praying for your personal peace. I want to encourage you to know that you will live in spite of the storms of life. I don’t know one place in the world where storms don’t exist but I do know that life, hope, joy and existence continues regardless of the storms. No matter what is hindering you at this moment, I have faith that you will make it.
You don’t have to fear. You will have to work at making it through. At some point you will have to push yourself, be determined, be strong, utilize all that you have within. You may not be able to do it on your own; get support from family and friends. They can help to get your life back. As I have watched my friend over the past couple of months in her recovery – I want you to know that it can be done. She over the past few years has undergone a hospital stay, spent time in an outpatient clinic; she tried out a few counselors until she found one that best suited her needs. She didn’t want someone who was just into taking her money and giving her a little time and asking her to come back in an endless cycle. There will always be opportunist in every profession – she knew and understood that and was able to move on quickly. She went with a Christian counselor, who could understand her spiritual, physical and emotional needs. For those friends who remained – we were able to help push her. We didn’t treat her special but continued to live and show her life. We did, however, keep an eye on her. With most of us – she had reduced us down to texting and would never reach out. Texting is not the best way but you can still reach someone even utilizing that method. I text her cerntain things that would happen during my day and uplifting quotes and scriptures. Many times she wouldn’t bother replying back. I would remind her in the hard times that yes it might be difficult to get up but I pushed her and encouraged her to push herself. I daily reminded her that it is ok to release her feelings. When you’re down you will definitely feel your feelings well, even if you don’t want to. I also encouraged her to fight for her life and some type of normalcy. I would tell her that she might have to try a number of things, since there may not be one fix-all. It has been a struggle for her but as she has come out of it, victory has been her result. She has learned a lot about herself, especially her strengths and weaknesses. Things have slowly changed, there is no quick answers. Everyone’s recovery will be different. My friend’s recovery has been slow and deliberate. The miracle for her is when little things began to have meaning again and other things began to get a little easier. She would occasionally slip back but her desire to heal was greater. She eventually wanted to help others and just recently she began wanting to help herself. She made a choice to work through it by any means possible.
Life continued to happen around her. One thing that truly seemed to bother her was the fact that she was a certain age and she had the feeling that she should have made it by now. She wanted kids, husband, stability, etc. She felt that she was the only one in the entire universe who had these thoughts and disappointments. But regardless of her feelings she pushed harder against the things that seem to make her want to quit. She pushed for her very survival. I want to share with you some of things that I have seen her try over the years. Not one thing worked alone but together with other things she has been able to pull through. She is still pulling through. She began to eat healthy, exercise, meditate (she found meditation a bit weird at first but she soon embraced the peace that came from it), I would share various music with her and sometimes would visits and we would dance until we were too tired to move – we would then laugh like crazy. She now has such a great love for music. It is therapy in itself. We would go out (museums, movies, out to eat etc.) and sometimes she would go out on her own to find those things that she liked to do. She struggled with sleep most of the time so every night she began to turn everything off, make her home nice and cozy and ready for sleep and she worked on getting a good nights sleep. Sleep might be something that some take for granted. She really did have to work at it. Sometimes she would conference us all in on a phone call to tell us how her mind began to work overtime – thinking of things that she should be doing, etc. We had to get in the habit of telling her to tell us all about it in the morning after she rested. She had to learn to quiet her mind, which is where meditation came in. She also decided to get professional help (hospital and out patient clinic). She found out that severe depression is sometimes heredity and she felt that the depression that she was overcoming was the same type of depression that her mother also struggled with it. Her mother had taken her own life when my friend was just a little girl. She has shared with us some of the things that she has gotten from counseling and we now know that there could be chemical imbalances. After her run in with some counselors who were not really there for her well being, we encouraged her to research everything and we tried to help her so that it would not become overwhelming. Things such as these resulted her feeling stuck all over again. It is a process and it not always an easy one. Some things might help and other things might not be as fruitful. Medication, for our friend, did help to regulate her imbalances, but with medication she had to be careful. We must do everything in moderation and realize that it may take a while for the doctors to find what works best for you. Her medication had to be tweaked and it didn’t work all of the time. We have another friend whose depression stemmed from menopause and her medication proved to be very expensive and it was not always covered by her insurance. This added extra pressure on her. Her insurance was already a hefty price to pay, the co-pay was outrageous and it seem that the doctors never took that into consideration as they consistently informed her to come back in and they would try a different dosages or a different mediation and each time she suffered an outrageous price. This led to her taking more of the meds that were not working for her and that resulted in life threatening problems. The take away, here, is we have one body and we must take are of it. We have to be good stewards over everything that we have. Take medication the way it is prescribed and if something doesn’t seem right about that speak with your doctor(s). Again, I encourage you to research prior to putting anything into your body, realize that works for some may not work for all (it may not work for you), and there will always be side effects – know the facts. You are worth it. You know your body more than the doctor does – be honest with yourself in what you feel and take nothing for granted. One other thing that is good to know here is that there are plenty doctors in the world. There are some who still care about your well being. Do not feel that you are stuck with going to one especially if it becomes more of a frustration for you. I am not good with journaling however, our friend journalled when she began a new med or something changed. This helped her and her doctor to target certain things about her health. Another thing that she tried that proved to be a tremendous help and that she still seems to be benefiting from is therapy. Talking about her feelings – getting them out in the open to deal with them. She would verbalize them and put a face to what she was dealing with to help her get back on track. This proved to be easier than attempting to do it alone. Family and friends may always give their best advice but it may not be the best advice to help you do better, be better, or feel better. They may give you what they know and are familiar with (just as I am doing here) but there are professionals who are trained in the area of depression who might be better able to provide you with what you need. Seek the journey of wholeness (wellness) that works best for you. It may not be easy but you must live life. Depression can be difficult to get rid of, but you can do it. Our friend also tried various self-help approaches. She began to say, “If I feel positive, maybe I will become positive”. Again this only helped some of the time. We all were grateful the times that it did help. She still practices positive thinking.
More people commit suicide this time of year. They may lose loved ones, feel alone, have no job or possibly need a better one, there could be a number of things that they are going through to make them feel hopeless, etc. There are some who have been healed of depression however, during this season it may show up again. If that should ever happen – the next time you will be a little stronger. You will already have some tools that will equip you to deal with your circumstance a little better. If you made it through before, then you can do it again. Your life will be worth living again. It is time to exhale the negative and inhale a better life, a better you. Everyone has to work through life in his or her own way. A wandering mind can destroy your peace. We tend to give other things and people our best and leave scraps for ourselves. It is time to give your best to YOU. Hold onto to those things and people that you know to be real and stir up life within you. While there were a few other things that our friend tried the final but most important thing for her and us is that she latched onto her faith in God. She, through some of her rough patches, had begun to doubt everything and waiver but there were things that she finally remembered to be true that she ran to with all of the might when nothing else would bring comfort or restore her. She started looking for that peace that surpasses all that she was familiar with or could understand. She realized even more that through it all, God (and later her friends and family) had not abandoned her. God loved her and helped her walk through the most trying time of her life. There is one scripture, in particular, that she shared with our other friend who had her own bout with menopause and that was, Philippians 4:4-9 ESV
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. …
Even now, as the rest of us girls through life and it happens around us, she will give us that scripture to hold onto. Life is not always easy and it is not always hard, but it is always life, while we are here in it. We can succeed in it one day at a time. We will have to sometimes, recharge, make changes, dig in, pray, and do what it takes to make every moment count. Being whole, just as everything else in life takes work (action on our part). There will be times when you feel that you have no action left, but I know that you do it and I know just as our friend has made it; you will too. Reach out when you can’t find anything else to do to help your situation. Reach to those who love you and that you love, reach to a professional, reach to God and you can even drop me a line. I am not an expert, but I always have a listening ear. Others may not always notice a problem but you know who you are and when help is needed most of the time. Pay attention and make yourself a priority. You are worth it. You are enough. Do all that you can to live. Push with all that you have.
Special Note to my girlfriend . . . We all have been friends for so long and I thank God for you. I am glad for every victory that each of us has pulled through. Even in your time of giving up – you didn’t fully give up and I speak for all of us when I say, we are proud of you. You are never alone. Although we don’t all live close any longer in location, we are still as close as a phone call. I am glad for our friendship and I never take that for granted. I love you and wish you only the best! To your wholeness and health (Shalom dear friend).
Quiet By Nature