Prevention of Depression
FACTORS OF PREVENTION: When working to prevent depression, it becomes necessary to decide on a game plan before depression hits. Using the Clarity God brings through depression to guide me, I can use the time between bouts to prepare. This eliminates the element of surprise and builds strength and endurance!
Corinthians 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
If I put this verse into practice every day in my life, especially between bouts of depression, and become transformed by the renewing of my mind, victory is right around the corner! If I don’t, then I am well on my way when those first thoughts come to going into stage two. I need to be able to see my depression for what it is in the moment. Part of the key to seeing it in the moment is to see it now, before i get there, so that I can anticipate, prepare, and prevent it from going further! This is the way to stay off the merry-goround.
Walk with God (Matthew 11: 28-30 Learn of me…you will find rest for your souls.) Notice he didn’t say sit down and get out of the work and I will take over for you. He said take MY YOKE UPON YOU. Come and do what I am doing. Quit the job you are trying to do alone and come work on my project. I will bare the burden you walk beside me and I will impart my strength to you. What is the best way to learn from a master? Work right beside him. He will teach you all he does to get the work done. You are working on the same project (on different levels of course) but you are doing the same things and you are gaining from his expertise. The more you become like him the better you will be at the job at hand. If we are frustrated and weak and failing at our jobs, maybe we are working in the wrong place and for the wrong boss. Jesus says his yoke is easy and his burden is light. You are basically just allowing him to guide and control your life and he does the work in and through you. It is his work, his burden, his yoke.
Learn from each episode: So many times in my life i have experienced vivid clarity through my depression. Either during or after, though most times after. Those clear things are most often what i hold on to for the duration of my episode or what I meditate on after that help prevent another episode later. Whether it be a new trigger, or behavior that becomes clear to me, or a life line, or just truth (desperately) spoken in love from my husband, they are lessons learned that are so helpful!
Hang on to truth! I am the way the truth and the life, no man comes to the father except through me.
I remember one particular time when I was going through the “regurgitation” stage and all I could say through my sobbing was, “I am not worth it! I am not worth your love, I am not worth the time and effort it is going to take you to love me through this”. My husband just kept saying over and over “I love you! You gotta know i love you right? I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU! In that moment God was showing the beautiful truth of his love for me through the love of my husband. Even though, in that moment, I was too messed up to believe him, when I got to the next stage, and ever since I keep playing his voice saying those words over and over in my head because I know that whether i feel worthy or not, the truth is He loves me! When God shows me truth I hold on to it! I file it away for when the next stage comes and I am able to accept it, because my life depends on it! What are the ways God shows you his love for you in the midst of your depression? What are the ways his truth is manifested to you? Write them down, hold on to them, even if you can’t process them right then, keep them in your heart, because at some point they are going to sink in, you will believe them, and it can bring peace and victory over depression! That is the beauty of truth, you don’t have to believe it or feel it for it to be true, and that is just one lesson I learned from my depression.
Apply the lessons you learn The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” The Lord gave me this verse from Zephaniah 3:17 one day in the form of a card from a friend. The concept of God delighting in me under normal circumstances is awesome enough, but the thought of him taking delight in me during my depression is positively mind-blowing! God will, with out a doubt, give us great insight through our depression and can use it to show us things we might not otherwise have seen! When he does, we need to apply it to our lives and allow it to change us! God is faithful and the lessons we learn and apply will bring us victory over our depression! Applying the lessons I have learned about my depression and through my depression have reduced the severity of the episodes as well as the frequency! It is a testimony to the power of God that i am a different and better person because of it all! It taught me everything i have written here and brings me to the next part that has been so incredibly helpful in my life! The part about the triggers!
Recognize triggers: I have learned through much analyzation, that there are definite triggers to my episodes. They are not causes, but they are definite zones that Satan has used in the past to start me on the wrong mental path. I have learned that these things are not tied to my depression like Satan would have me believe. For years I thought these things were components. That made my depression look much larger than it was! Yours might be different than mine, but again, if knowing mine help you to identify yours it can only help. My triggers are situations that i find myself in, usually from no fault of my own, that can lead me into depression. Here are mine:
Being trapped in large crowds in small noisy places. I don’t deal well in these situations. However, I did not know this little fact about myself for a very long time. I didn’t get the fact that my anxiety during those kinds of situations is only linked to the situations them selves. I just thought it was part of an episode of depression. WRONG!
The fear and inadequacy i feel in them, can trigger thoughts of how I am helpless in other areas of my life and boom! I am going down the wrong path again!
The night it all became clear to me was a balmy night in September when we took our youth group to a theme park where several Christian music bands were playing throughout the park. It was loud, and very crowded, and the stress of trying to be responsible for ten teenagers was intense. I freaked out. I was hyperventilating and I was not ok. My friend Claudina let me in on a very relieving secret: the chaperones’ lounge! I went in and was able to calm down. For the first time ever I realized that events like those trigger my depression if I let them, but they are not tied to it. It was the beginning of my “trigger” search, and the end of Satan’s combination plot in my life!
Long periods of stress. Being in a stressful situation for a long period of time can lead me to be depressed. More specifically the stress can wear me down so that when the depression comes I can’t fend it off as well. In these times, it isn’t the stressful situation that i feel depressed about, it is my lack of being able to deal with things while being under stress that gets me down.
Sudden life changes or additions. Babies, jobs, trips, needs, sickness, anything new that i didn’t have ample time to prepare for. It’s like getting knocked down and disoriented and getting back up might end up requiring you to deal with a bout of depression on your way up.
Staying in new places. Now I know that one sounds like fun and it usually is. You get to see and hear new things and get some excitement away from the monotony of life. However, for me, as much as I love to experience new places, it can trigger depression in me. See that is why this kind of depression is different. It isn’t that the place I am staying is depressing or horrible, it is that I feel disoriented and inadequate and dealing with the things that come up in new places. That is why I say it is a trigger not a cause. Now, this particular trigger I have figured out and now it doesn’t have power over me.
Here is what I have learned from this trigger: I see my new place as my home-base. I try to make sure when I travel I take as much as I can to be ready for anything. A friend of mine told me before I left on a trip “ah see this time will be different, you are taking your whole world with you” (ie my whole family, my car, and my new ipad that allowed me to stay connected to my entire world back home) and it was! I also try to make sure that as soon as I get to where I am staying I organize my room and my stuff and set up stations, so that at any given time I know where things are, so that i can be ready for whatever activities we are going to do quickly. I know now that staying in new places can trigger my depression so I can mentally beef up before traveling, that and being prepared as much as possible has virtually eliminated this trigger in my life! Now that is not to say that I don’t do a lot of praying and resting in the Lord, because I do, and I really believe that taking these steps was his provision for my life in this particular trigger!
Cling to tried and true methods of coping and escape: Take all that you have learned and put it into practice. Decide before you are depressed to take the steps needed to prevent, survive, and escape. Analyze the situations before during and after your depression and see what you can deduce. It has helped me immensely! Also, when you see something that someone else has done for you during your depression that helped or meant a lot to you, tell them! Talk to them about how they influenced you so they know to do it again!
Live moment to moment, taking care of each problem that comes up in stride. Make a list. I divide all the things on my mind into two categories. Things I can do something about and things I can’t. Then I let go of the things I can’t do anything about and start putting one foot in front of the others and working through the list of things I can.
Get help medically if you need it. Don’t be afraid to seek medical care. God gives doctors wisdom and sometimes he chooses to work through them. The main thing to remember is, though, that God does not want us to replace him with medication or doctors. If he chooses to use them in your life it will be as another factor of healing, justone of the things on the list that combine to bring us peace. Medication is not for every one and is not a fix-all. My sister put it to me this way: Circumstantial depression is a spiritual problem that comes when we stop trusting God and depend on our circumstances to get us out of depression or blame them for getting us into depression in the first place. Physical depression is a Physical problem in our bodies that requires medical attention. Chronic depression can be a strictly spiritual problem, one that happens when we get into the habit of looking to anything other than Christ for our happiness, security, and peace. It can also be a physical problem, when a glitch in our brains, or a chemical imbalance causes us to struggle with depression. Either way, both the spiritual problem and the physical problem need healing through whatever medium God chooses to use in our lives, and always requires a combination of spiritual and physical healing.