I'm a dreamer at heart and often I like to fly by the seat of my pants.

I suffer from depression and have for most of my life. I am no longer willing to stay silent about it. My hope is to share with others about this disease so they might understand it a bit better.

"I dare to believe!"

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Depression: "One to Ten and Then Some"

Depression: "One to Ten and Then Some"

What are some of the things someone who is depressed can do that might be helpful?

Scale 1–10 system
Begin to become aware of your ‘daily levels’.  Create a scale from 1 to 10.
One (1) would be the low end level of how depressed you are feeling; for instance, you’re really good, barely aware of any feelings of depression etc.  Ten would be the top end level of how depressed you are feeling; extreme feelings of depression, complete hopelessness, feelings or thoughts of suicide.  The numbers in between one and ten would represent the various levels of depression.

This process really takes some monitoring are your part.  Being aware of your feelings; taking inventory or keeping a record (which I will cover shortly).  It won’t be long before you will recognize your levels and be able to rate it on the scale from 1 – 10 with very little effort. This will not only help you but also it can become a good tool for you to use when trying to communicate with someone how your depression level is going.

Begin journaling, this is a process of writing down (either by hand or typing it on your computer, recording it on a tape player if you are unable to use your hands well) of what you are feeling on a daily basis. This will also help you to learn to identify and relate those feelings to the scale 1-10 system I mentioned above. You can also review your previous day, week etc progress.  You may also begin to notice a pattern of depression according to your physical health or even the weather (some people suffer from SAD, Seasonal Depression Disorder, the sun light or rather lack thereof can affect your moods). You will also discover you will have the ability to share those feelings with your counselor or with the person you have agreed to become accountable to more easily.  This will also prove to be a great tool of recollection to see your progress as you move forward.

Setting Goals
Set reasonable goals for each day; write them down so you can see your progress.  Please remember keep it simple.  Try not to procrastinate; this only causes you to feel like you can’t “measure up”, which gives you feelings of failure… remember keep it simple!!!

If you are extremely depressed you first goal of the day, may be just getting out of bed and getting dressed.  So some of you reading this might say: “are you for real?”,  trust me on this one, those who deal with severe depression, just getting out of bed in the morning and getting dressed may be a major step.

Make some commitments
Ok so I KNOW this one is a huge step for some and I have been there more times that I would like to admit.
Some ideas of commitment to get you up and out might be:
Your job would be an obvious reason to get out of bed and out of the house. Perhaps help someone with a special project. Check with the local schools to volunteer a couple days out of the week.  Look into assisting elders to and from their doctor visits. Read to the elderly or the blind.  Maybe start a ‘morning coffee group’, just get together with friends several mornings a week to meet for coffee.  This could be at your home or at a local diner.  There are many other opportunities to reach out to others and lend a hand.  Get out and walk, run, exercise… but get out of the house even if it’s just sitting in the sun for a little while at first.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Depression: "Nurture or Torture?"

Depression: "Nurture or Torture?"

Where do we find nurture? 
Our families should be on the forefront of this list, yes I said SHOULD be.  Unfortunately not everyone has a close knit family who is understanding and supportive of someone who suffers from depression. Sometimes even your spouse is of no support.  That alone can be devastating. If you have a spouse who suffers from depression and you are not supportive, I say YOU are the one with the bigger problem and shame, shame on you!!! (This disgusts me and that puts it mildly!!!)

A trusted friend can be vitally important during times of depression, someone who is willing just to be there to lend a shoulder or give a hug. They are not there to try and “fix” you, there are simply there to encourage you and lend an ear.

Your church should also be on the list of those who will nurture and support you.
Yes, I know… we have just discussed in an earlier blog about the so called “Christian” support or comments given.  I have “been there done that, got the T-shirt”.  HOWEVER, hopefully as a church family becomes educated on depression and truly seeks guidance from our Lord Jesus Christ, they can and will become a means of support and love for those who suffer from depression.
IF you are in a church that the people do not nurture, support or encourage (for any reason)… I personally would speak with the pastor privately… and IF for some strange reason the pastor is the same… I would say, “shake the dust from your shoes” and find a church that does.

See a counselor.  There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with speaking to a counselor.  I would highly recommend a reputable Christian counselor. There are times when your family, spouse, friends and church have done what they can to the best of their ability, and it is best for your own sake for you to seek a counselor.  There are many advantages to speaking with a counselor.  They are unbiased, they are private, and you won’t hurt their feelings if you get angry and really “spill your guts”.  They are highly trained in dealing with issues of depression. 

Last and certainly not least… I recommend God… seek comfort in a relationship with God… I am speaking from my own experiences… if it were not for my faith in God, my trust in Him, His grace and for His care on my life, I would not be alive today to share these insight with you.

NOTE: please know, there are situations in life that go beyond what an individual(s) can handle. We are also not here to be taking advantage of. We are not here to be misused or abused, whether it is physically or emotionally. Do NOT allow anyone to misuse or abuse you, no matter how much you love them. Your own personal safety comes first. You are not doing them or yourself a favor. They need to seek professional help.

To be continue:

Monday, September 6, 2010

Depression: "Say What??"

Depression: "Say What??"

I’m here to ask, how do we as Christians treat others who may suffer with depression, and especially if the one who suffers with depression is a Christian?  Oh yes, I’ve heard a lot of things come out of so called well meaning “Christians” and here are just a few of the things they have said:

“I’ll be praying for you honey”  (said with a tone in their voice as if you just announce you have the plague, and ready to move on away from you).

The ever over used southern constant: “well bless your heart”

The holier than thou: “if you had enough faith in God you wouldn’t be depressed”,

The health fanatic who can cure anything: “if you ate the right foods, you wouldn’t be depressed”,  or “if you exercised more, the depression would go away”

The Bible scholar: “Poor thing just doesn’t understand the word of God and how to apply it to his / her life”

And those who have NO earthly idea what they are talking about:
“Well just snap out of it”,
“Pick yourself up and brush yourself off”,
“There’s no need to keep crying over a cup of spilled milk”,
“The past is the past darlin’, it’s time to move on” ,

and the list goes on and on and on.

Don’t take what I’m saying wrong, I totally believe God can and does heal. He not only heals physically, but emotionally, physiologically and spiritually.  But that is not always what happens.  Sometimes healing/relief comes in the form of medication to help ‘control’ your depression.

Do we (as Christians) ever stop to listen to what they (those who suffer with depression) are truly saying to you, or do you put a “mark” on them once you’ve heard the word depression come out of their mouth?  I’m here to tell you, people who suffer from depression need our love, support and understanding just as much as someone who suffers from a more “acceptable” disease such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer or any other debilitating disease. 

Let me give you a little insight to the issue:
One of the most difficult things to do when you are depressed is to actually
reach out and ask for help or to actually share the fact that they suffer from depression.

Often times people that suffer from depression, are great performers in front of others in public. They do this often as a means of survival, because of the labels that people put on them when they find out they suffer from depression.

People who suffer from depression often feel a sense of inadequacy or shame. 
There is a left over feeling in our society today of days gone by that you are considered to be ‘crazy’.  So when someone with depression finally is able to bring themselves to a point to reach out and say to you “I suffer from depression”, try to understand how much courage it took them to actually admit that out loud to you. Think before you speak…

To be continued: