How to Stay Afloat in the Depths of Depression: Part 1

sad girl

 

{This week, I bring you my battle plan. Living the depressed life can be demoralizing; I know all too well the debilitating drain. But we must not give up the fight–there is hope for us, sisters. It’s all about scrupulous self-care. Read on, and be well. XOXO, Leslie}

Depression.

I’ve spent much of my life treading its murky waters.

Plunged unwittingly into its depths more times than I’ve preferred, I’ve lived the breathless existence—gasping for hope’s oxygen, buried under a heavy cloak of darkness. Living in the shadows, missing out on my own life. The oppression that characterizes depression can be altogether joy-snuffing. Sunshine-stealing. And suffocating.

Twice delivered from its grip, I’ve entered and exited, only to reenter seasons of depression over the last 17 years, like cycling through a revolving door…

And so, with a propensity toward the rapid, swirling descent down the depressive drain, I’ve had to come to terms with this reality in my life. In the process I’ve learned a few tricks to keep me afloat—on the sun-lit surface of perspective, bolstered by God’s truth. Emboldened by my faith to fight with every bit of my being against the undertaker’s undertow.

No, he will NOT have me again. My daily resolution…

If my mental shipwrecks can help one of my sisters tread water in the midst of her own depressive storm, then my journey has been worthwhile–every salty swallow. Every torrid tear.

So will you come with me, battle-worn friend? I’ve walked it, fought it too. Let’s uncover answers together on a Creator-led quest for wholeness and health, if depression is your reality. We’re women—each of us an exquisitely hued, hand-hewn tapestry, whose underside reveals a tangle of hormones and emotions…the likes of which only the Artist could straighten…

…And therein lies our answer: The Great I AM. He’s the Great Physician. Only He possesses the solutions to our depressive puzzles. It’s our job to seek them out prayerfully, and them implement the strategies proven to transport the afflicted to calmer waters. Michelangelo’s famed fresco The Creation of Adam depicts God’s transfer of His Divine life breath to His creation’s crowning glory: man. And there’s life breath in His touch today, just waiting to be tapped into by His most precious creation. But first, we must ask ourselves a question…

ocean at sunset

 

Do you want to get well?

I’m going to be frank here. This is a question we must wrestle with–as in, dig down deep, and answer with unrelenting candor. It’s when you’re ready to fight—and I mean, really do the work wellness takes—that you’ll possess the chops to get well. If you don’t believe me, take a peek into the book of John:

“One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.” John 5:5-9 NIV (Emphasis mine)

I talk to a lot of women who are depressed. And my heart breaks over the excuses I hear–the resignation; the defeat in their voices. Pained echoes from deep within their weary souls. Believe me, I get it—the way the battle wears on you. The sheer will it takes some days just to lift yourself out of bed…

This summer, after several late spring snows, two of our trees, a cottonwood and a willow, began to wither. Yet despite wearing death on their barren branches, we noticed both trees started sending up healthy green shoots, wreathing their trunks. They were desperately seeking sunlight—in a last ditch effort to survive. Even after my husband chopped down the towering corpses, the shoots continued to pop up, hope-filled.

One day as we were working in the hot sun, I paused to pay my respects to one of our formerly thriving trees, and shaking my head, commented almost sarcastically, “Well, at least it hasn’t lost its will to live.” That moment transported me back to a time when I didn’t. As a college sophomore, so deeply had I plunged into depression’s depths, that I lay on my bedroom floor wishing ardently for my end…

…As with depression…even when cloaked in incapacitating darkness, we must resolve daily to send up shoots, never abandoning our quest for the light. This gift of life is worth the fight.

Together, as women prone to depression, let’s resolve to shed the victim mentality. To stop making excuses like the paralytic, wallowing, sedentary in our dark places. God is calling us out. Calling us to move. To run towards hope and health, eyes fixed Heavenward. To FIGHT relentlessly for this life He’s given us—for every breath.

{Join me tomorrow for How to Stay Afloat in the Depths of Depression: Part 2}


Depression Series

{Navigating Depression: What Every Woman Needs to Know} is a month-long blog series devoted to the disorder. Read stories of women who have traversed its stormy seas. Receive encouragement and be equipped for your own battle against the darkness. Garner understanding, bleeding empathy for afflicted loved ones.

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