Things that help

kittiesThe borders of Depression-Land are ill defined and so while I know I entered the territory at some point during the autumn, dwelled there for a time and now find I have left, there is no date stamp in my passport. I was probably there around five months, though it felt like longer.

If you are wondering, this latest low was a result of uprooting from Surbiton and bedding down in Bath, getting overtired and over-busy, the darkness of winter – nothing all that dramatic. Despite my deeply held belief that depression is a failure of chemistry not character, I burnt with shame to find myself in a pit again, still so fragile after all these years. I wondered how I’d make any new friends if this was the version of myself doing the introductions. All those awful symptoms smeared me in unattractive grey – brutal fatigue, loss of joy or interest in life, crippling self -doubt, endless tears. I have been a dreary, negative version of myself. I was terrified of damaging my children, of losing my job, of losing my faith, of this being the time I finally completely cracked (whatever that would look like).

Anyway, here I am on the other side. The sun has come out again.

These are some of the things that got me through:

Reading and working through ‘Overcoming Depression: A self-help guide using cognitive behavioural techniques’ by Pete Gilbert

I have known about CBT for a long time but never studied it in depth. This book was a revelation and although putting the theory into practice is hard work, I felt so empowered to have a simple, structured way to deal with my thoughts.

Meditating on the armour of God from Ephesians 6

There was an amazing sermon at church from a couple living through some horrendous circumstances in which the wife spoke about how she puts on spiritual armour each morning. You can listen here: (from 18.10)

Leaning on my inner circle

I am hugely blessed to have family and friends who know and love me enough to stay close and prop me up when I need it. Depression told me I was alone, rejected and worthless. Everyday I had hard evidence to the contrary. If you are wondering what it takes to be a friend to a depressed person, this clip on empathy from Brene Brown will really help: https://youtu.be/1Evwgu369Jw

Kittens

Our lovely 15-year-old cat died in November, and around Christmas we did an impulsive, late night dash to Swansea to pick up two eight -week -old kittens. Luna and Milo are velvet-soft bundles of gorgeousness and the best therapy ever.

Basic self-care

I’ve tried to do all the sensible things like having regular bedtimes, running, reading good books and all the rest. I also started taking vitamin D and went to the doctor to adjust my meds. I think all of those things helped.

I’d love to hear some of the things that have worked for you or that you are currently trying out. Much as I hope this is not the case, the probability is this won’t be my last visit to this particular place. As a lovely lady from my new church wrote to me, ‘I feel the word for you is acceptance. Accept that this is what you are – sometimes we have an imbalance within. Accept this is how God has made you. Accept that you are meant to be here. Accept the love that is all around you here, wherever you look. You react differently to others because you are you! Meditate on that!’

 

5 thoughts on “Things that help”

  1. Susan says:

    Yes all these things are good for depression.
    Also having regular breaks and plenty time for processing but then a definite decision to get immersed in something enjoyable and absorbing. People who suffer bouts of depression are often sensitive empathic and very helpful to have around when broken people find God.

  2. Celia malins says:

    Jo, such a lovely piece…you’re so good at describing it… I’m so glad to hear you are feeling better and sorry to hear what a tough start you had.
    you asked what has worked for others…. I know what worked for me; finding out what I need, and who I am, as opposed to what I want and who I want to be helped me…. this manifested for me finding work outside of the home that put a structure to my day… I fought and fought it believing I was a free spirit etc but as soon as I had a routine, and acquired some mastery (and pleasure) my self esteem grew. Cbt therapy and therapy also helps.

  3. Georgie says:

    “This too will pass…” and “I haven’t got this God… I’ll show up, you will have to do the rest” are my mantras if under the cloud.
    you are an inspiration and also fabulous at making the indiscriminate, non-descript darkness an objective outside pinned down thing… thank you.

  4. Robert Emerson says:

    Just a small comment. God didn’t make you like this.
    This is a result of our fallen nature, and, yes, you (and I) need to accept that until we meet the Lord in person, we are rather stuck with the hand we’ve been dealt!
    The lady meant only for your best, but what loving Father would make us suck that we would feel wretched, blank, lost, alone…? No. God isn’t the a author of your depression or mine.
    But until He pulls us out of this flawed life, He will give us both what it takes to struggle on and experience His love in our lowest places.
    Robert

  5. Robert Emerson says:

    Such! Not Suck. Sorry: autocorrect… Say no more!

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