Writing this post has been difficult for me. In almost four years of blogging I’ve never talked about this part of my life, but for a while now I’ve known it was time.  Writing this series about living Life to the Full has made me take a hard look at myself and the areas of my life that prevent me from living a full life.  All of my life I’ve struggled with periodic depression, usually set off by a negative event.  Childhood bullying, break ups, injuries, family losses and tragedies, any time something negative happens in my life I know I’m at risk for a bought with depression.  The feelings are familiar and I now know how to recognize them as they creep in.

I’m sharing this now because I’ve been struggling recently and know that I’m not the only one.  Recently we had an accident that could have been tragic and was completely my fault.  Thankfully no one was hurt, but the mistake and the “what ifs” are haunting me and causing me to battle my old and familiar adversary, depression.  My hope is that by airing what I’m going through possibly someone else will find light in the darkness.  I believe that when we talk about our struggles out loud and bring them in to the light, their power over us diminishes.  I’m hoping shedding light on this side of my life will bring light in to another’s.  I believe much of this struggle is spiritual, as well as physical and chemical.  I am a follower of Jesus, and my perspective here reflects that.  If you are not, know that you will hear no judgement from me.  I’ve tried to include helpful insights for those of all (or no) faith backgrounds to the extent that I can while remaining true to what I believe.

I’m not any type of expert on depression, just a fellow sufferer.  I’ve been medicated on and off through the years, but never found healing through anti-depressants.  I’ve gone to counseling on and off as well, and found much more healing there than through medication.  I’m of the opinion that everyone can benefit from counseling.  If you’ve never tried it, seek it out.  Many churches offer it for free.  I’ve never been suicidal, except for a few fleeting thoughts while on Zoloft, a prescription anti-depressant.  I then read that suicidal thoughts are a side effect of Zoloft.  What the?!?!  It seems irresponsible to prescribe an anti-depressant with a side effect like that.  When I felt those thoughts creep in I immediately reached out to my counselor and doctor, who had me stop taking the medication.  If you EVER experience thoughts of ending your life, please seek help immediately.  See the resources at the bottom of this post for more information.

In my own battle with depression, I’ve found five daily (some hourly) ways that I can choose to fight back.  Again, I’m no expert.  These choices are things that work for me and help me to get my head above water.  To me, depression feels like I’m in deep water and can barely keep my face above the surface.  It takes all the energy I have to keep from sinking.  Sometimes it feels like it would be easier to let myself sink, but that is not the life God wants for me.  John 10:10, the verse I keep going back to throughout this series, says that “The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy, but I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full.”  Depression is such an example of how the enemy’s lies can destroy the life God wants for us to have.  We can choose to listen to the lies telling us that God doesn’t love us, that we aren’t good enough, that who we are isn’t enough, and sink down into the dark.  Or, we can choose to believe that God created us for life to the full and get up and live it.    

1) Start the Day.
This one is practical, but also powerful.  When I get up before my children, make my bed, get dressed, grab coffee, and spend quiet time with the Lord, my entire day changes.  When I am struggling, my instinct is to stay in bed as long as possible, stay in my pajamas all day, avoid quiet time, not take care of myself, and wallow in  negativity.  Choosing to start my day has a huge impact on how I feel.  If you have children, get up before them.  If you don’t, set your alarm 15 minutes earlier than normal and take that extra time for yourself.  If you are a follower of Jesus, spend 10 minutes in the Bible, with prayer and reflection each morning.  If you are not a follower of Jesus, spend 10 minutes in quiet reflection.  The soul needs that time, no matter what you believe.

2)  Choose Gratitude.
Make a list of everything you have to be thankful.  Whether you are thankful to Jesus, a higher power, or the universe, choosing gratitude can be a powerful tool to fight off the darkness.  When you take the time to write down the big and the small, it changes your perspective in an incredible way.  Reading Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts was a game changer for me.  When I feel those “woe is me” feelings coming back, I look to my list and force myself to write more.  Choosing gratitude in the midst of a personal storm in my life is the toughest, but makes riding out the storm much more bearable.

3) Choose Joy.  
When the darkness closes in, part of fighting back is to look for joy and choose it.  Joy is very different from happiness in that it can come in the midst of pain.  Joy can be a reflection of the good in others, the smile of a child, the laugh of a friend, while happiness is more self focused.  Choose to smile at other people and mean it.  Choose to laugh and be around people who make you do so.  Enjoy the people in your life.  If you have kids, play with them.  Celebrate all that is good in your life.  Wallowing in discontent will cause me to sink lower and believe lies about myself that just aren’t true.  If I daily (and hourly) seek out joy, my entire perspective shifts.

4) Run Away from Darkness, Towards the Light.
For me, this means running away from the things that bring me down and towards God.  Are there negative influences you keep running toward?  They may be a person, a website, an activity, a substance.  While you can find incredible encouragement and positivity online, you can also find hatefullness and evil running rampant.  I have to limit my exposure to Facebook because all of the hateful political posts and fear mongering shares really cause me to sink.  A friend stopped using Instagram because it caused envy and discontent to creep in to her heart.  For a while I visited a forum that was drowning in darkness and negativity.  In the midst of a dark time I wanted more of it, wanted to feel bad.  I had to stop going all together because of the way it cause me to sink deeper.  When I run towards God, I choose time with Him first.  Before I check my email, before I do anything, time with Him wins.  Running towards the light may mean banning negativity from your life from tv, music, movies, social media, and even some friends.  Choose uplifting things.  If they bring you down, run.

5) Run to Community, Away from the Shadows.
Negativity thrives in the dark, in the hidden.  When I find myself avoiding friends, running towards lonliness, refusing company, I know I’m in the midst of a depression battle.  My instinct is to run to my bed and wallow in the bad feelings.  To fight it I must force myself to reach out and grab community.  Say yes when someone invites me out.  Answer the phone.  Have real conversations.  Let people in.  God can use people powerfully in my life if I let them in.

In Genesis 16:13, Hagar gives God one of my favorite of His names. She says, “You are the God that sees me.”  She is in a dark place, has been mistreated and suffered, but in the midst of it God comforts her.  God sees us.  He is the God who sees me.  I’m choosing to believe that.  I believe and know that He loves me.  He wants real life for me.  He sees me.  He sees you.  He knows you and loves you.  His heart hurts when yours does and breaks for you in your suffering.  He is the God who sees you.

What are you struggling with right now?  How do you fight back? 
If you suffer from depression, how do you fight it? 

Resources:
For Help:
To Write Love on Her Arms
National Suicide Prevention Hotline
For Starting the Day, Running Toward the Light, and Devotionals:
Jesus Calling
Hello Mornings
She Reads Truth
Ann Voskamp
Flourish

51 Comments on Life to the Full: Depression Will Not Win {Five Ways I Am Fighting Back}

  1. Thank you for stepping out and sharing. I too suffer from depression as well as anxiety. I agree that counseling can be so beneficial, but unfortunately for me, counseling isn’t enough. I have to have medication to allow me to be the kind of person I need to be for my children and my family. It isn’t ideal, but I have learned in the past 4 years that medication is what I need. It’s hard to cope with and it is different for everyone, but remember – you are never alone!

  2. Good for you for sharing your own story and how you’re dealing with things. There is always someone out there who will benefit from you sharing your experiences. These are great tips to looking at life in a positive way. I particularly like number 1 – how you start the day really does have a knock on effect for the rest of it! To get up a little early , have some time to yourself and get organised is (I think) the best way to start!
    Keep up with your great positive attitude – and keep on inspiring others.

  3. My husband has struggled with severe depression from time to time and has even been hospitalized at times. However, he is dealing with his depression, and we are making it through. I am glad to hear that you are too.

  4. I can be my own demon and be a “debbie downer”. I don’t have much confidence in all aspects and I get pretty negative about that. And because of that, when there are opportunities, I get happy and then doubt myself and back off and the opportunity is lost. I need to transform my life and believe in myself. Thanks so much for sharing.

  5. I really love your tips to avoid depressions and to live positively. They are really awesome. Even I am not depressed and none around isn’t depressed, I think those suggestions are worth for everyone who wants to start the day positively. Thank you very much for sharing and I wish to keep in touch.

  6. I love these tips and use quite a few of these. I battle with depression constantly. I love your tip for starting your day. When depression hits sometimes all you want to do is sleep. Sleep and pray it’s better when you wake up. My husband is an alcoholic, so it’s really hard to break away from the situation. The best things I have done are to focus on the positives. My love for my children and my family. I try to get out and spend time with my mom and my aunt to keep the negative thoughts away.

  7. Bravo! I’m so glad that you are getting the help you need for depression. And I’m know it took a lot of courage to write this. I’ve never struggled with it, but as a pastor’s wife, I’ve talked with several people that do struggle. Thanks for being so brave and sharing these tips. It will help me to help others.

    PS – Love the name of your blog!!! 🙂

  8. Thank you for stepping out of your comfort zone and sharing these tips. These tips are useful for all of us even if we don’t struggle with depression and it also makes us more sensitive to those that do. Thank you for sharing this with us!

  9. I haven’t struggled with this in a while. Lately, things have been pretty good. However, when I was struggling these things would have been wonderful. I was so young then that I really didn’t know what was going on with me. I appreciate you taking the time to write this. It is a very important post.

  10. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I’m sure many can benefit from hearing your story. The best advice is from people who have experience with what you are going through. I hope others who struggle with depression will find ways to cope and eventually overcome by reading this post. I said a short prayer for you! God Bless!

  11. WOW!!! I am so glad you shared your testimony. I suffered from a little bit of depression after I had my second baby. I prayed a ton. GOD has always been my light. My family was so wonderful. It was only for a short while. BUT I can truly understand how hard it is to have absolutly no desire or motivation.

  12. Depression is the classic disease of women. If we fail to express what we are feeling in a constructive healing manner, the result is often depression. It is like a fog that settles over us, limiting our ability to see what we are really feeling. Often when we are depressed, there is something we need to do and we are afraid to do it. Feeling depressed when we have had a loss is normal and healthy in the grieving process. Depression can be a sign we are hiding from something or avoiding action. Often it is hidden and inverted anger. Many women do not recognize that feelings are not right or wrong–they just are.

    Rachel recently posted What Entrepreneurs Can Learn from Elephants

  13. What a beautiful, inspiring post! This is such a delicate situation and needs to be shared… I especially agree with seeking community – such a very important part of life. Thank you for the enlightening reminders 🙂

  14. Wow! I love this post. I love that you are so open about your faith in Jesus and have publicly displayed that here. I never battled with depression until after my daughter was born last year. Not sure if it was the hormones or what, but ever since then I find myself acting strangely- getting upset easily, being very negative- it’s almost like I am having an out of body experience. I am so thankful I am not the only one. I really loved your tips on how to deal with it. Just overall love, love, loved this post! Thanks for sharing!

  15. I appreciate how open you are in this! It is very difficult to discuss depression and you’ve done it beautifully. This strikes a chord with me because blogging about flexibility and pole fitness is just one coping mechanism I have developed in dealing with my own depression. I also found it refreshing that you talk about your religion openly without trying to “impose” it on anyone–kudos!

  16. That must have been a really hard post to write. I’m so glad you have found ways to help yourself. I think your tips are relevant to everyone and I will certainly start practising number 1 tomorrow. Thank you for being so brave and sharing that with us.

    Linsey xx

  17. It is so important for this to be a conversation we have on the public stage. Thank you for sharing a little bit about your story! I am terrible at being the last person out of bed in our house in the morning, and you are totally right that it does not start the day out smoothly. Thanks for the reminder that there could be a better way!

  18. Wow – #4 really stuck a cord with me. I too struggle with so much discontent on FB. I finally decided that I would just go into my account and search my family updates, an let the rest of the “world” bicker back and forth, about anything and everything.

    Thank you for sharing.

  19. Thank you for sharing! 🙂 It really takes a lot of courage to admit that you have or are undergoing such trials in your life. But yes, the load becomes lighter when you share it with people. I don’t know you personally but I sincerely hope that everything is or will be okay 🙂 Keep the faith!

  20. Thanks for your lovely post. I’ve struggled on and off with depression for over a decade myself. Some of the ways I combat it are via prayer, diet, and keeping myself to a schedule. I really liked your section on choosing joy…that’s a particular area I’ve been working on as well. Best to you!

  21. Thank you for sharing this difficult part of your life. About 3 years ago, I experienced depression when my husband and I found out that the possibility of us having a baby is unlikely. It literally broke my heart and was a loss I have never experienced before. The dark cloud hovered over me for about a year. At first I bottled all of the hurt and sadness inside. (Not wise – it’s good to get it OUT!) Then I started doing searches online for others who have experienced this as well…what a revelation! I wasn’t alone! I had people to talk to and share my stories with. It helped me so much. In addition to praying, talking helped me the most. Eventually, the cloud disappeared, and I was able to move forward with my life. We are now on the adoption waiting list and eagerly awaiting a little bundle of joy.

    Praying for you. 🙂

    • I have a friend who lived through over 4 years of miscarriages and just a couple weeks ago brought home the baby girl that she and her husband adopted. I hope that will be you soon. 🙂 I just wanted to encourage you that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and all of a sudden you get that call and your life is forever changed.

  22. All your points are great. I never thought of joy and happiness in that way. God is my first go to and then gratitude. Last year I could feel the darkness reaching out for me and each day I wrote down what I was grateful for and why I was grateful for it. With in a matter of days I started looking forward to my daily grateful session and could feel my outlook becoming much brighter. Thank you for sharing.

  23. I’m a mental health professional, and I appreciate how difficult it can be to be vulnerable like this. I’m not interested in religion, but I think your tips to seek out community and positivity are valuable to anyone, keeping in mind that people struggling with depression or any other mental health issue should seek out counselling and/or medical intervention as soon as possible. Don’t wait for things to get worse.
    Thank you for sharing your story. I hope the dark clouds begin to lift soon.

  24. Your very brave for putting this out there, I think it will not only help you, but others as well. These are good tips even for people not suffering from depression, but just having a bad day or stuck in a rut. I like your line that says when we talk about our struggles their power over us diminishes, I completely agree. You will feel much les alone when you can share your feelings & experiences with others.

  25. Thank you for sharing your personal struggles with us – I know how hard that can be! I think starting your day our right in God’s Word and have the right mindset can help a lot. I know many people who have benefitted greatly from going to counseling sessions at Church. Being able to talk about how you are feeling always seems to be such a beneficial thing. Memorizing favorite verses that help uplift you can also be a great thing – being able to recall them when you are starting to feel down.

    Thank you again for sharing!

  26. What a wonderful and well-written post! I’m so happy to hear that you’re recognizing your triggers and precursors and finding a way to stop the process. I’ve shared your article with a friend and hope it will resonate and encourage her.

  27. It is not easy to share something so personal, and I really appreciate that you had the courage to let your weakness show so that others may be strong. When things are difficult, I too want to wallow in my pain sometimes, and it can be so hard in those moments to choose to see the joy in life again. I love how you distinguish between joy and happiness, by the way. I will pray for you as you make your way through this latest challenge. I can tell that you have the strength of character to withstand the storm.

  28. Thank you for sharing your story! I find that thinking of others and putting yourself out there seems to help as well. When your mind is full of helpful, positive thoughts it’s easier to distract yourself from dwelling too much on yourself.

  29. Very brave of you to share your story. You’ve taken a big step in winning the daily battle. I feel like a lot of us keep things to ourselves rather than share because we feel like others will not understand or may judge. But, you have a lot of support. Thanks again for sharing. Bless you.

  30. Thank you for sharing and being so open about this. I like #2- Gratitude, and use it daily. I try to stay away from all the negativity in my life and the stuff that is posted on Facebook- too much drama, that I can do w/o! I struggle w a lot of health issues of trying to get answers. I have a good support system w my family so this helps. I try to stay positive and focused!

  31. I don’t know that it’s depression…rather frustration that I’ve dealt with over the past year or so…almost on the verge of hopelessness with regard to finances and it seeming like no matter how hard we try we just can’t get ahead (daycare, student loans, etc., etc.). I think that many of the points you make and #2 Gratitude, are big in keeping a positive outlook. Things may not be perfect, but they could be worse.

  32. Amen. I’ve struggled with depression my entire life – part of the family genetics, unfortunately. I have to remind myself every day to not give in to it, but I also have to be very in tune with my mind and my body and know when I need to take a break. If I don’t take that break immediately, it’s never good, so I just do. Might not be a long break but I do something to put things back in perspective.
    bethany@teachingnook.com

  33. Lovely post here… I just so appreciate your beautiful encouragement and faithful (and yet NOT judgmental) perspective. Praise God He meets us exactly where we are, and knows us best. Your post reminds me of so many posts I have shared in this same theme.
    🙂

  34. It’s so brave for you to share this. Thank you. I think medication can be beneficial for some, but there are so many paths to recovery. Congratulations on your journey and sharing your story.

  35. This is such a powerful post! I appreciate you sharing your personal story. This is not an easy thing to do but it means the world to others who are also struggling to know that they are not alone.

  36. Hi Becca, you don’t know me, but I found your blog through a mutual friend and I was a YL leader with Jed in college. Totally random, but I felt the urge to comment on this particular post. Have you studied introversion/extroversion much? Apparently, there are many “symptoms” of being an introvert that mimick depression. A book titled “the introvert advantage” was life changing for me. Brain chemistry is different in introverts, being social can exhaust introverts (email and texting are introverts best friends because talking can drain them), introverts typically over analyze things and can get stuck inside their heads, introverts haver lower energy generally, introverts need far more alone time than extroverts and because the majority of people are extroverts, introverts feel isolated and ‘weird’ compared to everyone else. It is far more complex than just being shy or social. any of that sound familiar? Just thought I would give you a heads up to check out that book if you weren’t already aware of how introversion is linked to depressive symptoms. It honestly blew my mind. I used to think I struggled with depression, then realized I was just very introverted

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