One of the most brutal executions ever was to be set adrift in the middle of the ocean and abandoned to die. You would experience a slow desperate death and chances were you would never be found as you aimlessly drift, slowly starve, and finally die. It was doubtful your body would ever be recovered.
No sails, no wind, no hope. If you add to all of this, an endless fog then you've got a pretty clear view of Depression.
I've had my share of blue days and can never forget the handful of black days I've experienced. Depression to me, feels like stale abandonment. Fortunately for me, my experiences with depression have only been occasional so, I'm not about to compare myself with those who struggle with chronic depression.
Depression can be very demanding and also physically draining. I have tremendous respect for people who struggle with chronic depression, who push through their day and manage to get up and keep going. I have no intention of minimizing their struggle, however, I've met with a few of those folks and we have discovered a few things that might help clear the fog and put a little wind back into your sails.
Most would say, depression is a bad thing. Generally, it is, but I believe good things can be found in bad times. Depression, for me, often serves a purpose. Once that purpose is complete, I believe my next challenge is to move on as best as I can.
Clearing the fog and getting the wind back into your sails is more difficult for some than it is for others, but I find it easier to rise above it when I'm able to discern a higher meaning and use some of these important steps.
1. Acknowledge That You Are Not The Problem
It is important to recognize you are not depression or the problem you face. There is often a temptation to equate ourselves with our woes, but that only plays into the hands of the problem. We can be challenged by depression, but we are not depression. Problems are problems, people are people, and people are stronger than problems. This reality helps clear some of the fog.
Folks overcome problems everyday and that truth is empowering.
What we are working at here is separating ourselves from our problems. This involves what is known as "externalizing". When you externalize depression, you begin to think in terms of seeing depression working on it's own, apart from you. This allows you to work against it rather than against yourself.
What we learn from this process is that depression (as well as most other problems), is not all that creative, it is all pretty much the same three downs and punt once you start to truly examine it. Knowing this, you can come up with a pretty effective game plan.
3. Recognizing the Voice of Depression
Before we get into your game plan, let's understand depression's game plan. Depression's game plan is to become stronger. Left to its own devices, it can take over your life. There is a science behind this whole idea involving serotonin and neurotransmitter uptakes, but I'm going to leave all that up to the doctors and get into the nuts and bolts of going after this thing.
One of the best ways to externalize depression is to recognize its voice. This is that voice that tells you to rest more than you need, avoid more than you should, and remain longer than you ought to.
There are times we need rest, but don't mistake the fog of depression with fatigue. When experiencing true fatigue, rest does a world of good, but when the fog of depression calls for more rest it becomes a bottomless pit and we become more sluggish. Depression is usually something we can't rest from; it is something we work through.
Healthy "Alone Time" should be reflective, restful, and refreshing. We should draw strength from alone time, but if your alone time leaves you with a sense of anxiety about being around others, run, don't walk, to people you know and trust. You are in danger of prolonging depression and possibly developing some kind of suicidal ideation. Go find a friend. Talk to a complete stranger if you must, but don't stay alone.
A kin to alone time and isolation is staying too long. Sometimes we keep our head down too long waiting for opportunities to come to us. Trust me on this; they are not likely to show up.
We stay in our room too long and wait for things to pass. Staying in this position is not a solution. Your brain needs novelty, change of pace and scenery.
Thinking others will come to your rescue or that opportunities will fall into your lap is usually only wishful thinking. It may happen from time to time, but you will be more empowered by looking up and creating your own opportunities. Initiate things! The things you do during low times are the things that will either keep you down longer or take you into brighter days.
4. Faith and Belief to Fill Your Sails
Let Faith Be Your Mast and Belief Be Your Wind.
Belief is a powerful thing. It is like a jet engine that can propel a person further and faster than just about anything out there.
Faith is an anchor that provides something to hold on to. When you work it right, faith is better than super glue.
When you add faith to belief you've got a dynamic duo that cannot be beat. The trick is the, "in".You've got to have "faith in" something, and "belief in" something. Plug into that and you're going places and once you get there you're well grounded
Belief in better days to come:
When it comes to reaching a goal or trying to acquire a skill, I have learned to get a little excited when the going gets tough. This is usually the point where I'm about to hit an ah-ha moment. Frustration usually shows up just before I crest a hill or reach a higher level. I've learned to believe in that. The same goes with difficulties in life. Once you work through something you gain your own truths. You attain a higher way of thinking.
Belief in the Truth:
When you take the time to review things, you begin to realize that the difficult time you now experience only feels like it will never go away. The truth is, we all have ups and downs moving in and out of our lives. Feelings are feelings and feelings are not facts. When you choose to "believe in" the fact that you will eventually come out of this fog, you are "believing in" and putting your "faith in" a truth that will clear the path.
Belief in you:
What you do during a down time effects how long you will be down. What you do during an up time will also have a lot to do with how long you stay up. You have abilities to get through tough times; sometimes you just need to "believe in" them. If you are struggling with believing in your abilities, find people you have "faith in" who believe in you. They will help set you right.
Faith in God:
Faith in God is the surest stronghold. I do not believe God gives us hard times as much as He may allow hard times to shape us. Hard times is just part of life. We learn our greatest lessons in the hard times. Take faith in that and the purpose of that difficulty will take root heart and soul.
It has been my experience that during my darkest hours, when I stare at a starless night looking for God, I don't find Him there. He is usually standing beside me, My Creator, my Sustainer, my Mighty Tower. He stands neither behind nor before me, He is at my side. "
“You are heading into uncharted waters,” He tells me.
“My purpose for you is out there”, He assures me.
"I'll be right here every step of the way" He promises.
"Ready?" He asks.Pushing off is your choice.