Today my friend Tammie is here sharing about overcoming depression. My prayer is that this post is a ray of light for someone who needs it. May you hear Tammie’s message deep: there is hope!
I have lived with a diagnosis of clinical depression for more than 20 years – and that doesn’t count the two episodes when I was in my teens.
As a teenager, I would dissolve in tears at the slightest provocation, stopped doing things I enjoyed – like playing my clarinet and visiting with friends, and stopped eating. That eating thing reversed itself as an adult, so that my depression episodes came with many added pounds.
As an adult, I had responsibilities, so the crying was limited to after the kids were in bed, or when I was in bed – silently weeping beside my oblivious husband (oblivious because I was hiding it from him, not because he was clueless). As an adult, I managed to babysit a toddler and infant, and homeschool my own two young children while severely depressed. As an adult, just as a teenager, my depression was triggered by life events, and it came with 60 excess pounds, that I have fought ever since.
But there is good news here. I struggled and fought. I won some battles and lost some. But eventually, I learned how to cope with depression in a pro-active way. It wasn’t easy. It sometimes still isn’t easy. But it was do-able and, by God’s grace I’m still doing it. I’m here as a testimony to that grace and the success that He can give. And to share what I’ve learned along the way.
Rising Above the Fog: 5 Habits for Hope and Healing
How Depression Can be Beat
- Do not ever, under any circumstances stop meeting with the Lord. You need the wisdom, guidance, peace, strength, and hope that can only come to us through the Word, the Spirit, and prayer. Make it a priority to have time with the Lord, time in the Word, and time in prayer every day. You might have to give up something else: Netflix, TV, romance novels, or Facebook. But do not give up the Lord. BONUS: He never gives you up – or gives up on you – either!
- Measure success in small steps. Small steps like brushing your teeth regularly, getting dressed every day, making the bed, doing the laundry. Life can feel overwhelming when depression is staring you down. Taking charge of little things – and having little victories – can make the difference between hanging on to your sanity and slipping down the black hole.
- Move your body around. It doesn’t matter what you do, just do something other than sitting around all day and watching TV, or reading, or staring into space. Do housework. Go for a walk. Play with the kids. Walk the dog. Do something physical every day. Whether you choose gardening, running, or bike riding, it will probably be something you must make yourself do. And you will have a million reasons why you can’t, chief among them that you are too tired. Do it anyway.
- Don’t procrastinate. Putting off unpleasant tasks – whether at home or work, whether dishes or disciplining the children – only multiplies the unpleasantness. You not only have to do the unpleasant task, you also dread it for however long you procrastinate. In short, you get to suffer twice for one unpleasant task. However, not procrastinating also applies to pleasant tasks. If it’s a sunny day, work in the garden, blow bubbles with the children, or go on a picnic. The mopping and laundry will be there when you get back. But the sun will set, the weeds will overrun the garden, and the children will grow all too quickly. Don’t put off the unpleasant because you only suffer more. Don’t put off the pleasant because you rob yourself of good times and good memories.
- Limit your time watching TV or playing video/computer games. These activities are energy draining and you need more energy producing activities in your life. Limiting your TV and game time will free up time for other things that have greater potential for fighting the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness that accompany depression. Alternative activities might include playing board games with family members, bike riding, painting, baking, or engaging in a hobby.
Sometimes Self-Help Isn’t Enough
As I write this, depression is in the news because Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain just recently committed suicide. Those are tragedies, and I in no way wish to make light of the problems that drive some people to desperate measures.
This list, and the book I wrote about my experiences with depression and coming out of it, are not intended to give flippant advice to the severely depressed or suicidal. I suffer from chronic, moderate depression. I’ve never been suicidal. I’m not a mental health professional. I’m merely a survivor, a fellow-traveler on the road. If my book, or these thoughts, can help you that’s wonderful. If you need more serious help, I pray you get it. Reach out to someone. Be honest. Be transparent.
If you are having thoughts of hurting yourself, please reach out for help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255, or online at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.
I’ve written a book about my experiences with overcoming depression. Rising Above the Fog: A Christian’s Guide to Habits for Healing Depression, takes the reader through my experiences with depression, and how I managed to come to where I am now: not depressed, but always cautious. I have chronic depression. I’ve been told repeatedly that I’m at high risk for another severe depression episode in my life. I’m doing all I can to stop that from happening. Much of what I’m doing is in this book.
I wrote the book for myself, and others like me. Because I needed the accountability of having readers who would call me out if I gave in to the fog. Because I needed to share how I’ve managed to live with this for most of my life, but not be defined by it. You can get the ebook at Amazon by clicking the image below.
For those of you who live just above – or maybe just below – the fog: take courage. There is hope. I’m a living testimony of it.
Tammie Pittsley is the author of the book Rising Above the Fog: A Christian’s Guide to Habits for Healing Depression, and a blogger at Life, Love, and Jesus (www.lifeloveandjesus.com), where she writes about faith and family. By profession, she is an elementary teacher with a specialty in reading. However, she has taken a break from teaching to focus on writing and family.
Tammie’s family and her faith are twin priorities in her life. As a believer in the risen Christ, she endeavors to place him first in all things, but willingly admits that it isn’t always easy! Without a family background of faith, Tammie came to saving knowledge of Christ at the age of 17 and has tried to follow Jesus closer every year.
Tammie has been married to her college sweetheart for almost 35 years. She has two grown sons who are raising families of their own. Some of her greatest joys are her four grandchildren!