Posts Tagged ‘depression’

The Blahs

May 3, 2016

For everyone who is having the “blahs” in their walk with God, I’ve been where you’ve been. If you’re just tired of reading the bible, church, and praying, you are being tempted to doubt God and give up. Until your eyes are open and you realize how much God has done for you, how much you owe Him, and how much He loves you, will you realize how awesome He is. You are listening to the voices of temptation–temptation to doubt, temptation to be lazy, temptation to be complacent, temptation to enjoy sin, and so on.  At any rate, when you are ready to hear Him, He’ll reveal Himself to you. Otherwise, why should He? Imagine your doubts were about you by someone you really love. He is bored with you, has no feelings for you, doesn’t want to be forced to care about you, doubts your goodness and your love. Meanwhile, you love him, and have done everything possible to show it.

Guarding my Heart and Mind

February 1, 2016

A man’s heart determines his speech.  A good man’s speech reveals the rich treasures within him.  An evil-hearted man is filled with venom, and his speech reveals it.   Matt 12:34-35

We all know what it feels like when we can’t wait to tell someone what is on our mind.  Our thoughts, good or bad, when connected with emotion, good or bad, are just bound to come out in our speech.  When we’re angry at someone, we can’t wait to get it off our chest.  When we want to complain, we have those who will listen.  When we are very excited by good news, we want to share that, and when we have what we think is a great idea, we can’t wait to show it off.  The best speech of all, is the one that comforts and encourages someone else, but even that has to come from somewhere.  We have to think about what to say, or at least draw on springs of compassion from somewhere deep within us.

So, if we want to be one of those people who always seems to have a good word for everyone, and great ideas to share, we have to do some serious work on the contents of our minds.  Many people have no idea they can control their thoughts.  They just let any and all thoughts wander through the living room of their minds like a herd of sheep, complete with dirty feet and scattered remains.  Counselors have long called depression the result of “stinkin’ thinkin'”  and if that is true, its time to clean the house of our minds.  We can train ourselves to periodically examine our thoughts.  We can ask ourselves, “whats been uppermost in my mind today?  Or what were the top 5 things I gave a lot of thought to today?”   Then we can examine whether these thoughts were productive thoughts, enjoyable thoughts, anxiety producing thoughts, or angry, resentful thoughts.  We can then consciously dismiss the negative, useless thoughts.  With practice, we can learn to recognize a negative thought right away and chase it out like we chase wildlife away from the house.

Since most minds ( multitasking is really whirling tasks around, not concentrating on multiple things as once) can only dwell on one thought at a time, there is limited space on the mental agenda.  If the agenda is full of positive thought, its harder for the negative to get in.

How can we get more productive, happy, useful thoughts into our minds?  Fill them with nourishment.  First of all, pray.  Thank God for all that is good and beautiful in your life.  Ask His help to be a positive person.  Ask Him what good and lovely things He wants you to work on today or this week.  Read good, inspiring thoughts every day.  Scripture verses, chapters of scripture, and devotionals are a start.  Biographies of people who led uplifting lives are good, as are “heartwarming” fictional stories and shows.  Try to spend more time around the people who bring you “up”, and less time around those who drag you “down”.  As you get stronger, you can try to tackle lifting those negative people, but you have to breathe the oxygen yourself first.

When Christians Get Depressed

March 8, 2011

When Christians get depressed, there are reasons unique to being Christian, and reasons in common with everyone.  I’ll include eight reasons here.  These are non-medical things and assume one has first been checked out for physical causes of the depression.

1.  Anyone, Christian or otherwise is not thinking clearly when depressed.  Things in life, both good and bad tend to be out of proportion to their actual importance.  Many things, both good and bad are forgotten.  The negative tends to be exaggerated and the positive is downplayed.  A sensitive listener who can interject the positive can help.

2.  Christians who are depressed aren’t on speaking terms with the Lord.  They may be angry with Him, or have the perception that their prayers aren’t being heard.  Faith at this time is very weak and fragile.  Lengthy time in the scriptures, especially the psalms can help.

3.  Christians who are depressed aren’t remembering what God has done.  A simple list of blessings is difficult to compose.  With assistance from a friend in making one, a list may help a depressed person gain some perspective.

4.  All depressed people tend to be separated from nurturing relationships.  The isolation is usually self-imposed, and sometimes difficult to penetrate.  A good friend or two who “keeps knocking” can help.

5.  Depression is often the aftermath of great victory.  It seems the huge expenditure of energy needed to achieve the victory leaves one with a let down.  Reminders that this is normal and will pass, as well as a time of rest can help.

6.  Physical and emotional exhaustion are often components of depression for all people.  Whether the exhaustion is the result of fighting a battle and achieving victory, or fighting anything over time, rest is often a necessary part of recovery.  Depression used to be called “nervous exhaustion” in lay terms, and still is quite descriptive in many cases.  Again, physical, mental and emotional rest help.

7.  Self pity is also part of depression for all sorts of people.  Seeing only the negatives in one’s situation and feeling “life is unfair” are strong contributors to depression.  A good listener who can interject some balance can help.

8.  Comparing oneself unfavorably to others is also a big part of depression, with guilt and a “why try” attitude riding along.   One has to simply give up the bad habit of comparing.  No two people or their situations are alike, and no human is qualified to judge others or even oneself. 

All of us get off track, even Christians, and it takes the time of patient friends as well as time with God in prayer and scripture to regain perspective.  This of course, assumes one has already been checked out medically for something physical or chemical which must be fixed first before the rest will work.

The 45 Minute Solution

March 2, 2010

When confronting “the blues”, dullness, boredom and the like, I was once given a transforming recipe by a mature and wise pastor.  I call it the 45 Minute Solution.

First, spend 15 minutes a day reading the bible.  Ask the Lord to speak to you through the bible, and you can even ask Him what book of the bible to read.  Personally, I like the gospels, epistles and psalms, but I have never read a book of the bible where I didn’t find a little nugget of gold that met my exact needs at that moment.  Just be aware that God will speak to you if you ask Him and your soul is open and willing to hear Him.

Second, spend 15 minutes a day pouring out your heart to God.  Ask Him for everything you need, lay all your burdens before Him, and don’t forget to thank Him for all the ways you have seen Him help you.

Third, spend 15 minutes a day encouraging someone else’s faith, sharing the hope the Lord has given you.  You can do this through spoken or written words.  You can’t encourage someone else without the encouragement strengthening you, too.  As an old proverb says, the fragrance remains on the hand that gives a rose.

Try this for a couple of weeks.  I promise it will be life changing.

Spiritual Blahs

March 1, 2010

In this season of Lent, we take time for introspection.  Just as we take stock of our relationships and our financial condition, we should also take stock of our relationship with the Lord.  If we find, as many of us do, that we have been taking this relationship for granted, then it needs work in the same way a marriage needs work.  Our primary, close relationships fail for lack of intimacy.  We have quit talking to each other, and soon realize we no longer know what is going on with the other person.  Unlike our human relationships, God always knows what is going on with us.  God always loves us unconditionally, and we can hardly expect that of another human being.  However, there is a price to pay for lack of intimacy with God.  I call it the spiritual blahs. 

Have you ever felt that God was far away, and there was no one really listening when you prayed?  Have you felt uninspired, mildly depressed and just, well, dull?  God never changes, but people change.  We change.  Staying too busy for God leaves our souls in the same condition as a plant that has been left in the darkness too long.

What to do?  Well, the cure for human distance is to start talking , and also start listening.  We can, thankfully, go to God anytime  and apologize for putting too many things on our agenda ahead of our time with Him.  We need to take some time to thank Him for all the good things He has been doing in our lives and the lives of those around us.  Then we need to tell Him, openly, honestly, and thoroughly, what is going on in our world and in our head.  He already knows, of course, but He loves to hear us open our hearts to Him.  Then we need to listen.  Sometimes we will  hear some answers in our minds and hearts.  We just “know” its Him.  We just “know”, because its in line with what we have always known about Him, and it is also in line with our best, most Christlike self.  It doesn’t stroke or appeal to our small self– the selfish, cowardly, prideful self.

The other way to listen is to  read scripture till we begin to see a picture of what He is trying to say to us.  Reading the actual words of Jesus is particularly helpful to me, but so is reading psalms and epistles.  Often I will stop and ask, “Jesus, what are you saying to me, and how do you want me to apply this to my life?”  Then being quiet, the thoughts come again.  When I pray like this, I often find things happening in my circumstances, almost as if He created a special opportunity for me to do the thing He is drawing me to do.

When I take time to pray and listen like this, the blahs disappear, and there’s an excitement in day to day living that should be normal for us, and so often is not.

What am I Looking at?

October 28, 2009

There are endless things to look at every day.  Its always my choice where to place my focus.  I can choose to look at the sky or at the ground.  I can choose to look at the good in people or at the faults in the same people.  I can look at the good and beautiful things God has made and be thankful for them.  I can look at the sin and evil in men and be sad, angry and discouraged.  The bible teaches us where to put our focus.  I call this verse “the mental health verse”.  “Brothers and Sisters, think about the things that are good and worthy of praise.  Think about the things that are true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected.  Philippians 4:8  New Century Version.

In Winter

March 4, 2009

I have been praying a long time for a person who is very smart, talented, charming, and was at one time quite beautiful.  She has become bitter over her disappointment in life, depressed, angry, and seems to have little of her beauty left.  I pray for her daily, and my heart aches for what could be. 

I had a dream last night, and in my dream I was rubbing my hands over the stump of a rose bush.  There was not a trace of life left in it.  In my dream I heard God’s voice say: ” Can you believe in the roses inside?  When spring comes, the life will come back and this stump will once again bloom with beautiful fragrant roses”.   I understood, even though dreaming, this was God’s answer to my prayer for my friend.  I must have faith to believe roses are there in embryo form, although I can’t yet see them.  I have hope to believe  the life will come back, although I see no hint of it now.  I do know roses bloom every spring from lifeless twigs, and I do know God does bring renewal, to roses, to nature and to human souls.

Where is Culture in America?

January 28, 2009

There has been a lot of talk lately about the demise of the arts in this economic downturn.  People are concerned that the arts thrive only when there is plenty of money to support them.  And I wondered if that is true.   Many people have bemoaned the downturn of really good art, music and literature in the last 50 or 60 years in America.  The thinking of some philosophers is that art is borne out of struggle, passion, longing, love and compassion.  They argue that in a society where instant gratification reigns supreme, there is a dearth of all of the above.  Who can know real passion, love and longing when sex is readily and instantaneously available?  This is, of course, the cheap, tawdry version, where people use each other with little feeling other than the gratification of the moment.  How can such a situation ever allow for real feelings of love and longing to occur.  Can such a person ever fall in love?  How can you be in love with someone so cheaply available?  Can this be true in other areas of life as well?  How can anyone who has never struggled feel compassion?  How can someone whose every waking moment is filled with easy sensual gratification ever seek the beautiful and the transcendent?  How can a soul who is sated with cheap junk ever know longing for something deeper, more beautiful, more costly?   In this sense, perhaps a life containing more struggle and longing, will prompt people to the love, passion and desire for the truly beautiful, that leads to great art.  Great art, literature and music never came easily.  It was never cheap.  It reflects experience that has been a costly struggle culminating in the final triumph which is beautiful.

Things that lead to Depression

January 19, 2009

I once heard a counselor give some good advice on things that lead to depression.

1.  People who are heading down the road of depression are often not thinking clearly.  They don’t see their own blind spots, and don’t see the whole picture.  They are concentrating on a few things that aren’t helpful in their seeing reality.  They may be overblowing rather insignificant things, rewriting history to make themselves perennial victims, or generally putting themselves in a box.

2.  People who have no belief in a personal, caring God to whom they can call for help, are more prone to returning to depression.  Being “all alone” in the transcendent realm is a dark place to be.

3.  People who can’t be thankful, for whatever reason, are prone to depression.  Depression contains a prevailing negativity that can be cut off by thankfulness.  Thankfulness also gives hope.  If things were good before, they can be good again.  It also helps one see the whole picture–all of life contains both good and bad–every day.

4.  Depressed people “hole up”.  They become separated from nurturing relationships.  Their negativity extends to significant relationships and they pull away–or their negativity causes others to avoid them.

5.  Sometimes depression is the aftermath of a great achievement.  It seems to make no sense, but the excitement and the bodily chemical output resulting from the “mountain top” can cause a physically and chemically depleted state.  Knowing this, and knowing that giving oneself permission to pause and just “rest on one’s laurels” for a period of time can allow time to recharge. 

6.  Physical and emotional exhaustion can also be related to frustration and defeat.  Taking time out and doing those things that are known to recharge ones batteries might help.  Also just taking time away can sometimes allow for regaining perspective, seeing things in a new light, or just getting some new ideas.

7.  Self pity puts you in overdrive on the road to depression.  Envy reframes life into a picture of everyone doing better than oneself or having more than oneself.  “Nothing good ever happens to me” is not only untrue, but can become a somewhat self-fulfilling prophecy.

8.  Comparing oneself unfavorably with others, where one  begins to believe others are more beautiful, smarter, more talented and have more achievements leads nowhere except into depression.   It only helps to look at others in order to learn things that can work for oneself.

In short, as much as is possible, get away from whatever is dragging you down.  Find some nurturing people and ask for help.  Do those things which you know from past experience build you up.  Have some fun.  Set a couple of realistic goals for yourself and take at least one step toward each one.  Make at least one change away from negativity and towards growth.  Ask help from God, get some sunshine, think a thankful thought, talk to someone and do one good thing today.

How to Quit “Singing the Blues”

September 4, 2008

I realize much has been written about depression by people far more educated about it than I am.  I also realize there is much that is chemical and can be treated by antidepressants.  However, I also believe there is an old garden-variety depression we always just called “the blues”.  Its also called “the blahs” and the baby boomers (my sons generation) used to call it “being in a funk”.  Whatever you call it, there are some things in common:  You don’t experience any positive emotion.  You don’t even experience any negative emotion–not sadness, and definitely not anger.  You don’t even have the energy to be angry.  You just have a kind of low grade, flat mood.  What you do feel is a kind of disappointment, either regarding people in your life, your current situation in life, or both.  You may notice your thoughts tend to be negative, and you have kind of “pulled in” to yourself.

Its kind of hard to pull yourself out of this, but I have learned in my long life to do several things–

1) Take better physical care of yourself, including healthy eating.

2)  Get good sleep, even if you have to take a benadryl or an actifed for a couple of nights to break the cycle of waking up in the wee hours and lying awake ruminating about things.

3)  Take long walks in a pleasant place.

4)  Enjoy some beautiful things.

5)  Talk with the most nurturing people in your life.  Don’t be afraid to share that you are struggling.

6) Read something inspiring every day.

7) If it helps, do some journaling.  Let it all hang out, knowing it will end up in the shredder where it can never be used against you.

8) Make a list of things to thank God for, and thank Him every day.

9) Tell God all about your struggle, and ask His help

10) Make yourself reach out and do one nice thing for somebody else every day.  It will certainly get your creative juices flowing, and get you turned around from “pulling in”.

11.  Make a list of 10 things you have really wanted to do (things you WANT to do, not things you SHOULD do, the latter doesn’t help right now). 

12.  Make a plan to begin to do some of the things on the list.

This reminds me of the Greatest Commandment:  Love (appreciate) the Lord Your God with all your mind, with all your soul, with all your heart and all your strength, and love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.  What a mental health program! It incorporates thankfulness, self-care, prayer and reaching out.  This will eventually begin to bring more joy and love into your life, and the “blues” will fade.

I’m so glad I wrote all this down–in case I forget, I may need to remember my own advice one of these days!