When you are feeling depressed your mind produces thoughts that steal your joy. These thoughts then overpower you and it takes over how you feel. It’s like part of your soul was stolen and you have no clue how to get it back. Many people do not understand depression and think you can just snap out of it. They also don’t realize that depression is not a choice.
I’ve suffered with depression for about 20 years. Depression can be very debilitating. You have zero motivation for life, your enthusiasm diminishes. Your image of self-worth is devalued; it is hard to remain positive. A simple task like getting out of bed is monumental. You have no motivation for house chores. Above all depression drains your energy and affects the clarity of your thinking.
There have been many times in my life where I have been unable to make decisions, even something as simple as my children asking me for something. I would get stressed out and yell at them because I didn’t know what to do and I was so confused. It was just too much for my mind to cope with. I have also missed a lot of opportunities because of my depression. I would get so wrapped up in what the devil was trying to tell me that I would believe I wasn’t good enough and not even try at all.
Depression also affects relationships. Friends may no longer want to come around because your ability to socialize, maintain friendships, call people back, or showing up for important events is very difficult. I remember my brother used to joke with me every time he asked me to come over. I would say “can you come to my house today? I don’t feel like going out.” He would then joke and say “what do you have agoraphobia?” (a type of anxiety disorder in which you fear and avoid places or situations that might cause you to panic and make you feel trapped, helpless or embarrassed)? I would laugh at him, but I knew it was true. I don’t ever like to go anywhere where I feel like I can’t escape if my anxiety intensifies. I feel trapped. It’s an awful feeling.
Looking back I remember a few years after the abuse had happened was when I stared to get really depressed. I had spent most of my time secluded at home in my bedroom. That was my safe haven. If I was not at work, I would spend most of my time in my room just lying in bed. I tried to socialize as much as I could, but there were many days where I just wanted to be alone. I felt alone. Nobody knew what had happened to me. I was too shameful to tell anyone, so it left me feeling really lonely and depressed.
The next 18 years were repetitive. I always woke up feeling the same way. It was just another day, a different month, and a different year trying to deal with my past and my depression. I really felt like I had no reason to live and would it ever get better? It had to get better right? I couldn’t fathom living like this for the rest of my life. What kind of life was that?
My mindset did really start changing until I decided to seek professional help. I then realized what had happed to me was not my fault and I didn’t have to let the feelings of shame and guilt, overpower my life. I also had to make the decision that I was not going to let my depression control my life. I had the choice to sit and cry all day about what had happened to me or face truth about how my attitude and behaviors were affecting my growth.
When I first became involved in the church and started talking about depression I remember somebody saying “if you managed to make it out of bed and get dressed, then consider it a positive thing and don’t look at what you didn’t do.” I really began to resonate on that and on my bad days I would try not to beat myself up for not accomplishing everything I wanted to for the day.
Another major thing that helped me through was reading the bible. Whenever I was depressed I would read the book of Psalms. I could relate to King David and how he was feeling. Even in the midst of his darkness David had a close relationship with God and his faith did not waiver. I had desired to be more like King David. He knew that God was his strength and he would deliver him from his darkness. Even in his distress and being tormented he called out God and not out of desperation, but because his hope was in God alone. King David taught me that no matter what I am going through or how I was feeling I could still praise God for all that he has done for me.
Our joy comes from how we think and the choices we make in life. Although depression is not a choice it’s a disease, we still have the choice to not let it control our day. Joyce Meyer’s states in her book Seven Things That Steal Your Joy that, a lot of times, people make other people responsible for their joy. They think “You’re not making me happy, you’re not doing this, and you’re not doing that.” Our personal joy is not somebody else’s responsibility. It’s your responsibility. We cannot live a selfish, self-centered lifestyle where we expect our joy to come from somebody else or what they can do for us.
Once you are confronted by the truth of God’s word, you then can apply it to your life. And that’s what I started to do. I began to realize that I was unhappy because I wasn’t really reaching out to anybody else. I was just sitting back, hoping it was all just going to go away.
Joyce also talks about in her book about a woman she knew that was extremely depressed. The lady talked to her pastor about her depression and he explained to her that she needed to start doing stuff for other people. The woman was confused and stated, “How in the world is that going to help my depression?” The pastor then told her “Because you have your mind on yourself. You need to stop thinking about everything that’s wrong in your life.”
How true is this story? The bible tells us we reap what we sow. If we sow into other people’s lives whether it’s encouragement or helping them with a financial need or giving them a ride or babysitting or whatever we might have to give, we then receive a harvest of joy in our own lives. So, instead of letting depression steal your joy, make the decision to being as positive as possible and try to help someone else in need. I often find myself helping others when I am feeling depressed. It really does make you feel so much better. This is a Godly principle. Even if you aren’t necessarily Christians, but you operate on this principle, then you will still get good results.
One of the biggest challenges that we face is getting up in the morning and saying, “OK God, what can I do to help somebody else today, how can I be a blessing to somebody else?” When you’re depressed that’s probably the last thing on your mind but, do it anyway. Don’t spend the day being depressed. Take positive action and do not let your thoughts rule you. Then there’s a joy released in you that you’re not ever going to get anywhere else.
Talk it over:
What are some ways in which you can cope with your stress?
What do you wish was most different?
Is there anything you can do to change it?
Does anyone know how you are feeling? What help do you have?
Meyer, Joyce. (2004) Seven Things That Steal Your Joy: Overcoming the Obstacles to Your Happiness. Nashville, Tennessee, FaithWords.