(January 15, 2008)

A couple of days ago, Sandy wrote the following:  “What are some your hints to “keep going” when you really feel depressed and just want to stay in bed all day but know that you can’t because of family responsibilities? My kids are 21 (in college), 17 ( a senior) and 15…and I can’t just lay down and say “out of order” today. But that’s the way I feel. I appreciate your faith-filled posts very much. I sometimes feel guilty that being a Christian, I don’t always feel or show “the joy of the Lord” because of depressive feelings and I’m not always that good at hiding them.”

Dear Sandy,

I think the most important thing you need to remember is that you have an illness and, though it’s the nature of depression to make you feel guilty, this is not a justifiable feeling. Christians are not beyond getting depressed, just like they’re not beyond having other illnesses. It has nothing to do with your relationship with God and you’re not any less of a Christian. Please remember that God loves you, no matter what. And there will be times that you will have to allow Him to carry you – without any feelings of shame or guilt. Just let Him take care of you.

Nevertheless, you will feel better if you can manage to do some of the things you would normally do. It would be therapeutic to do so. Moving around and being active off and on through the day, even if you do spend a good part of it in bed, will be helpful.

Why not ask your children or husband to help you with some of the chores? When I’ve been severely depressed I’ve found that having my husband help me make dinner or wash the dishes, helped energize me. There’s something about working alongside someone that makes the job a lot easier. The social interaction that then happened often boosted my spirit.

In my book, Riding the Roller Coaster, I listed the following for times when absolutely nothing seems worth the effort (now this is for a really deep depression):

  • Change the scenery – move to a different room
  • Take a sip of soda – let the bubbles dance on your tongue
  • Wash your face and comb your hair – see how good that will feel
  • Listen to gentle music – become a part of it
  • Eat a piece of sweet juicy fruit
  • Hug your pillow – pretend it’s your best friend
  • Pick a flower from the garden – study its shape, color and texture
  • Take a refreshing shower – Enjoy
  • Bask in the sunshine – ten minutes will do the trick
  • Point your face to the sky – let the rain wash your cheeks
  • Write a description of your feelings – get poetic if you wish
  • Watch a comedy on TV – the sillier the better
  • Make a list of everything you’re thankful for
  • Beg a hug from someone close to you – squeeze hard
  • Lie under a tree – look into its branches – listen to the whisper of the leaves
  • Have a cup of tea with a friend

Maybe the above list isn’t the one for you. Maybe you’re not as depressed as all that. If so, going for a good walk each day would be better. They say that walking is as good as taking an antidepressant. And try to get out with people a little every day. Or talk to a friend on the phone.

In any case, for most people there will be times of brightening – windows of opportunity when you feel like doing more. Take advantage of those windows, but without overdoing it. Eventually you’ll have more windows and gradually you will find yourself in a brighter place.

I hope these suggestion will help.