...but a walk in the park might help.
There's been much talk about depression for the last couple of days, enough to make any of us depressed even if we've been fortunate enough to have never been there before. About how it's like being in the grip of the worst darkness you've ever experienced, trapped in the worst place, with no chinks of light and no possibility of escape. These words from the Bible, from Psalm 18 (The Message version), seem to sum it up well;
The hangman's noose was tight at my throat; devil waters rushed over me. Hell's ropes cinched me tight; death traps barred every exit. A hostile world!
The thing about depression is that when you're in it, the way you used to feel and the responses you used to make don't come easily anymore. It isn't always dramatic either; you can be so slowed up that drama, which involves fast movement and quick thinking, is the last thing on your mind. There's distortion too, making thought processes illogical, making you feel that the world would be brighter without you in it, like somehow you are the custodian of the light switch for the world and as it's stuck at the bottom of the dimmer switch with you in control, it's time you handed over the reigns to someone with a more sunny disposition. Maybe permanently. The darkness emanates from you and only you can dispel it. Hell's ropes indeed. Depression is a dreadful thing, which isn't our fault, and can come when we least expect it.
As we read on through the psalm, though, something starts to shift;
I call to God, I cry to God to help me. From his palace he hears my call; my cry brings me right into his presence a private audience!
A desperate call to God, who is all ears. As a Christian, I know that God is waiting for me to seek him at dark and difficult times. He reminds us that the darkness doesn't come from us, that we're not in charge of it. That in life the trials come in many forms, and depression is one of them. I recommend crying out to God. I also recommend the following if you're depressed right now, or have been before and live in dread of it happening again:
Talk to someone, anyone. At the bottom of this blog there are some contact details of amazing organisations who want to help you. Get in touch with them, even if you think things aren't bad enough yet, because we all need someone to listen sometimes.
Go to see your GP. There's nothing they haven't seen or heard, and they will know what to do.
Have a walk in the park. Yes, really. Being outdoors and using your body, raising your heart rate, will help. If it's the last thing you want to do, ask a friend to gently encourage you. Or literally kick you out of the door if the days of gentle encouragement working are a distant memory.
Write your feelings down each day. It is so helpful to have a record of feelings to look back on, so you can see how much progress you've made. You will make progress, because getting better is a reality, it happens for so many people, and it can happen for you.
- Finally, don't put too much pressure on yourself. It may take a long time to be back to the fighting fit you, just as it may have taken a long time for you to reach such a low point. Rest, eat well, do things that give you energy. Try to find enjoyment and hope where you can and rely on those around you when you can't. Know that God loves you and is waiting to hear from you. Don't dwell on the knock backs, focus on the steps forward. The dimmer switch will start to rise again, and the sun will shine.
Organisations who can help
The National Christian Helpline
Phone: 0300 111 0101 The service is open from 9am to Midnight 7 days a week and is local rate from both landlines and mobiles and included in most contract packages.
Support and advice for people living with mental illness. Phone: 0300 5000 927 (Mon-Fri, 10am-2pm)
Charity for sufferers of depression. Has a network of self-help groups.
CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15-35.
A charity helping people living with manic depression or bipolar disorder.
Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair. Phone: 08457 90 90 90 (24-hour helpline)
Charity offering support and carrying out research into mental illness. Phone: 0845 767 8000 (daily, 6pm-11pm)
Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems. Phone: 0300 123 3393 (Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm)
Provides information and support for anyone with mental health problems or learning disabilities.
Information on child and adolescent mental health. Services for parents and professionals. Phone: Parents' helpline 0808 802 5544 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-4pm)
Young suicide prevention society. Phone: 0800 068 4141 (Mon-Fri,10am-5pm & 7pm-10pm. Weekends 2pm-5pm)