Depression Isn’t a Bad Word

Posted by Jennifer on March 10, 2011 – 6:41 am

image Photo by Aelle

This fall I was encompassed about by dark clouds. Thank you to those who took the time to comment or email me, sharing encouragement and personal stories. Sharing our stories brings depression out of the dark and into the light. There is no shame in depression, nor is it a bad word! I did promise a follow-up post so here it is.

I don’t know a whole lot about depression. Though there is a wealth of information online, it seems that each person and situation is different. As a result of that uniqueness, there is nothing that can tell you in absolutes what caused your depression or burnout and no magic formula to tell you precisely what steps to take to overcome it nor how long it will last.

I can’t say for certain what sent me on my downhill spiral but I think it had a lot to do with the morning sickness, extreme fatigue and hormones of pregnancy. I don’t know that was the cause exclusively but because it was a large part of it, I think that in time, the dark clouds began to clear of their own accord. I hesitate a bit to share because these things may seem too simplistic, like I am making light of depression but when I made a conscious effort in each of these areas, I saw the difference. You may need more. We’re all different. But these are a good place to start!

That being said, there were a few things that I did that I feel helped me through that period of time.

Pray!

Honestly? I found prayer really hard during this time. I have no idea why. I sent the prayers up and felt like they bounced back down on me. I persisted anyway. I felt like God was far away, though I knew that He was unchanging, ever-present and it was me who was far away. Feelings can’t be trusted, they change.  I felt like He wasn’t listening but knew that, regardless of how I felt, that wasn’t true. Sometimes it felt like it took too much mental energy to pray. But I tried. And He heard. And He answered. Because He loves me and is always faithful!

Saying No to myself, to tasks, to others.

I had no energy. I was exhausted and some days, just getting through the day seemed like a monumental task. I’m one of those people who want to be able to do everything. Yes, I know I can’t be but I still aspire to be Superwoman. I had to be ruthless; saying no to myself and my ideals, no to additional tasks and anything above bare minimum and to decline any outside activities and responsibilities. I was in survival-mode in all aspects of my life.

Sleep, Rest, Sleep!

I was tired. Physically and emotionally. I took in all the sleep I could get whenever I felt like I needed it. I would sleep during the littles naptimes and at night often go to bed at the same time as them. When my husband came home from work, I would ask him to watch the littles and I would go lie down. Often, I couldn’t sleep but would just lie there resting. Sometimes I felt guilty for being lazy, for not accomplishing more. It took a lot of work, but accepting where I was and allowing myself that rest time was very helpful.

Drink Water. Eat Food.

I have sweet tooth and often when I am not feeling well, I turn to junk food and convenience foods. Though satisfying in the moment, neither of those is particularly beneficial. With no energy, preparing even the simplest of things seemed like a whole lot of work. When I start to really focus on eating nutritious foods, making sure that I ate at regular intervals and drank adequate amounts of water, I could really feel the difference.

Get Out!

One day I was feeling particularly awful when a friend called. She wanted me to go skating. The last think I felt like doing was bundling up a 2 year old and a 3 year old, driving to the rink, then getting those little feet into skates and out on to the ice. Did I mention that neither of them can skate? Both do well standing, holding on to something for support and both can walk/slide a bit but neither can really skate yet. Can you say exhausting?!?! But I went, and amazingly enough, though it was exhausting, I enjoyed my morning out. {Then came home for a nap!}

When I couldn’t muster up any energy, I pushed through it and went for a short walk with the littles anyway. Not every day or even every second day but as often as I could, aiming for once a week, we got outside for a bit.

Reach Out!

It’s understandable to be cautious about who you share your inner most self with, but find someone! Your spouse, a friend, neighbor, family member, another Christian, an older Titus 2 women or your pastor’s wife are all great places to start.  You might be surprised at who else around you has been through some sort of battle with depression. Often just the reassurance that you aren’t alone, that you aren’t a “bad Christian” and that there is hope has an amazing effect! Also, the prayers that they will no doubt send up on your behalf will be a great blessing. Your Pastor is another great resource. He can pray with you, and offer you wise counsel. You also may want to consider making an appointment with your doctor for a full check-up. Often there may be something physical that could be causing or at least contributing to the situation.

Some Links:

Some links that I stumbled upon and found encouraging or helpful. I especially liked the panel discussion linked below because Crystal Paine, a blogger I have read  for 5+ years and have grown to admire and respect greatly, talks about her personal struggles as well.

Nothing revolutionary. Just a lot of focusing saying no to extras,  nurturing myself and allowing time to help heal me. It sounds selfish and is often hard for us as women, wives and mothers but we have to put ourselves first sometimes.

I’m feeling great. Big from pregnancy, tired from pregnancy but I’m feeling very much “back to normal”. But I’m still saying no to a lot of extras. I don’t have to have a packed schedule or take on every new task offered.

Comments and links are welcome! Do you have a story to share? Did you blog about your experience? Have you read an article or a book that was particularly helpful to you?

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  1. 1. JanPattersonRN Said:

    Years ago I found two books that between them helped me with a bout of severe depression: Beginning to Pray by Metropolitan [Archbishop] Anthony Bloom and Trusting Ourselves: The Complete Guide to Emotional Well-Being for Women by Dr Karen Armstrong.

    Between them I found the science I needed as an RN to understand the biochemistry of what happened when the last of my life-long compensatory methods failed me, and the quiet space [I was raised in Quaker Meeting] to be brave. As Metropolitan Bloom says, “The realm of God is dangerous. You must enter into it and not seek information about it…The day when God is absent, when he is silent-that is the beginning of prayer”.

    It worked for me. But the most useful thing was to hear from other women who’d struggled with the “black dogs” of depression. To know that I wasn’t alone here, on this plane, while I was learning to reach out, reach UP, was lifesaving.

    Bless you for writing about it. People like you saved my life.

    [references, for anyone interested]
    http://www.radiancemagazine.com/issues/1992/trusting_ourselves.html

    http://orthodoxbookstore.ecrater.com/p/3018774/beginning-to-pray-metropolitan-anthony-bloom

  2. 2. Alise Said:

    Thank you for sharing your story! These are so very important.

    I’ve actually just began working on a project where we’re collecting stories about depression. If you or any of your other readers are interested in sharing your stories, you can read more about the project here: http://civitaspress.com/not-alone-stories-of-living-with-depression/

    Thanks again for this piece! It’s so important!

  3. 3. Janmary, N Ireland Said:

    Thanks for sharing.

    I shared about my experiences about post natal depression (postpartum depression) on my blog and found it a very positive experience.

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