From April 9, 2014
An hour ago, I lit some candles, threw some Epsom salts in the tub, put on the most depressing station I could find on Pandora, and I sipped a beer and ate chocolate. I was quickly sinking into the spiral that has known me since childhood- that ominous “D” word that no one wants to admit they have, but we all experience a taste of at some point. Depression. Ugly, dark, scary, seemingly bottomless depression.
I don’t think that many people in my life know that I’ve struggled with this, because it rarely shows its face to me these days. However, we were once very well acquainted. I know how it feels to be a human puddle on the floor and cry for hours—HOURS. I know how it feels to lay in a tub in a dark bathroom and feel like you just want the water to consume you. As a teenager and young adult, I was sinking into this pit of depression and it was sucking the life out of me. I can tell you now, with JOY, that I don’t struggle like this anymore. Praise God. However, it still sneaks an attempt at my ruin every now and again, and tonight as I lay in my tub of despair, I almost succumbed. And then, something happened. I pulled myself out of it, and as I did, I could see the steps I was taking to pull myself out. I started thinking of all of the things that have helped me to overcome this unspeakable D word, and I immediately wanted to spat them all over this page in the hopes that they may help someone else who feels suffocated. From one overcomer to a future overcomer, I hope this helps!
My Steps to Freedom from Depression (not in any specific order):
1.) Let yourself be loved. This is so important, friend. I know it is so much easier to isolate yourself, but don’t. Let me give a very recent example of a simple act of allowing others in. Last Wednesday I was having a horrible morning, but I went to my Bible study anyhow. I sat in a huge room of women I didn’t know, and as we sang an old hymn called “I Surrender All” before the lecture began, I lost it. Sobbing, snot, sniffling, MESS. The old lady next to me leaned over and asked if I needed a hug. I wanted to say “ef no”, but instead I just nodded and continued to wipe snot all over my cute, spring scarf. I allowed myself to sink into the arms of this adorable old woman, who held me like I was drowning and whispered, “it’s going to be okay, baby.” Let me tell you, I have never seen her before and I may never see her again, but in that moment, I needed to be loved by someone and I snatched up the opportunity while it was there. After the hug and several pages of scribbles in my journal, I was okay.
2.) Allow yourself to laugh. Tonight, in the middle of my bath, I got a text from my 5 year old nephew that said, “Etc, well Usmc webcam I Tampax Westrich mmmmm.” Reading a text from a 5 year old that included info about tampons was a delight for my heart. I permitted myself to laugh. The old adage “laughter is the best medicine” is especially true of depression. If you need something to laugh about, I can find a zillion ridiculous things on YouTube to email to you. The next time you’re feeling down, watch the Kristen Bell/sloth segment from Ellen. If you can watch it without laughing I will give you $4.
3.) Serve others. I once read an illustration about depression that has stuck with me for years. One man asks another how he can overcome his depression and the second responds, “Go to the other side of the tracks and find someone who needs your help.” That’s all I need to say about that. Serving others is healing for the soul.
4.) Find your purpose. What are you passionate about? What gives you purpose? You may not come to this answer quickly; it may take a whole year, but keep pressing on until you know. And then, DO IT. It may be something as simple as running a race, or it could be something like learning to play an instrument. What’s YOUR thing?
5.) Pull up your bootstraps and carry on. I am hesitant to include this step because I don’t want you to think that I take depression lightly. Please hear me when I say, I absolutely do not discredit it, because I have endured it; I know how much it sucks balls. However, I also know that sometimes we just need to say, “okay, enough is enough. I’m done with this today.” Easier said than done, right? I triple dog dare you to try it. Tonight, during my sad bath, I heard the song “Colorblind” by Counting Crows (I told you I picked a dismal station). Well, here’s what the chorus says: “I am ready. I am ready. I am….fine.” There are days when I have to tell myself ALL day, “Jo you’re okay. You are okay. You can do this.” Sometimes the best thing to do is to carry on and it’ll pass.
6.) Find a guy named Jesus. Don’t scoff until you hear my story; then you can scoff if you still need to. This will be the very brief version, so don’t get scared. I became a follower of Christ in high school, and let me tell you…my world has been rocked ever since. No, it has not made life easy- this is crap and I hate it when Christians say that all of your problems will go away when you love Jesus. No, instead the Bible assures us that we should expect MORE problems when we follow God. BUT, you get to face all of the suckiness that life throws your way with a really amazing Friend and Father. I can say with 100% certainty that if I did not know God, that I would have sunk under the weight of my depression. God has rewritten my story and though I still struggle (and always will), I know that I won’t sink. There is freedom to be found, people. If you are seeking, start with the book of John. And don’t be afraid to bring your questions to God. He can handle them.
That was my last point because I would have lost most of you if I added it any sooner. Sneaky sneak, I am. Let me just say this: depression is not to be trifled with. It sucks. And it’s scary. And it’s real. Please seek help, however that looks for you. Don’t be afraid, friend. If I can conquer this, YOU can conquer this!! Ready to start?