I just feel led of the LORD to write another post about depression. There are so many people that suffer from this mental illness and several of them are christians. I know because I am one of them, so is my mother, and so is my daughter. Some day, I believe, the scientists and doctors will discover that almost, if not all, mental illnesses are genetic. It is my hope and prayer that this post will bring some encouragement to those christians who do suffer from mental illness, especially depression.
It was very hard for me to admit that I had a problem with depression especially after hearing from so many other christians that it is the most selfish of all emotional problems. For those who don't have depression and may not understand, let me give you a little insight. It isn't something that I want to have nor is it something that I desire. It is a chemical imbalance that happens to my brain. It occurs whenever things get out of whack. Why and when it happens, is not something that I can just control. If I could, I would just wish and work it away. But that is impossible. I have heard from others, "Just think happy thoughts and then you will be happier." Okay, how does that work for someone who has heart problems? How does that work for someone who has pancreatic problems? How does that work for someone who has hearing loss? I do agree that there are times when I do need to change my thoughts, and if I can, I do try. But there are other times when there is nothing that seems to help and I just have to wait it out. And for those of you who still might think that mental illness is demon possession or oppression, where do you get that idea? If it is from the Gospels, then you must also believe that blindness, deafness, and physical crippledness are also from demons...because that is what it says in the Gospels.
Here is what I believe. I believe that most mental illness is genetic. I also believe that it is influenced by sexual hormones and that is why so many women suffer worse when their hormones are fluctuating. It is also a fact that more people who live in the "darker" areas of the world have more of a problem with depression. I heard that suicide among teenage Alaskans is 10 times higher than the national average, especially during their dark winter months. I sure know that I feel much worse during the shorter, cloudier days here in western Washington.
So, I do have some good news. There are some ways to help yourself. I am going to list the things that I do that help me and maybe they can help you too. I am not an expert, I just offer my suggestions.
1. Go see your doctor and get a good check-up to make sure that there are not other problems that may be causing your mental illness.
2. Be honest with yourself and with others. If they don't understand, that is their problem. There are others who will.
3. Take medication if the doctor believes that it will help. It may take several different ones and many months or years before you find one that works well for you. I use Savella, which is not an anti-depressant, but it helps my fibromyalgia and my mood.
4. Realize that anti-depressants do have side effects and may cause you to need other medications to help. All the anti-depressants that I tried gave me high blood pressure. I now take a very low dose of Benicar and am back to normal.
5. Exercise. You must do this! I ride a recumbent bike every day and when I feel really bad, it gets a good work-out. I tend to get angry when I am depressed and riding that bike helps work out that anger. I can get up to 20 miles an hour for about 10 minutes and by then I get to feeling better. I also do water aerobics and am very busy in my yard.
6. Take vitamin D. This really helps some people. I take 3000mg a day and so does my daughter. I have seen it help her.
7. Move to a warmer, sunnier climate if need be. I would if I could, but I can't so I don't.
8. Eat less fat. I have lost almost 50 pounds by eating less than 20grams of fat a day. Eat smaller meals of about 300 calories each and eat more often. If you eat 300 cals. or less a meal, you can easily have six meals a day. I tend to have three smalls meals and three snacks. It has worked for me. I no longer eat high fat, high calorie foods. I still eat most everything I like.
9. Take magnesium. I don't, because I no longer have any internal female organs. I have heard and read that magnesium can help those who have PMS. Look it up online.
10. Get in your Bible. Find many verses of encouragement. Write them in a book, put them on cards, memorize them, do whatever you can to have them close by when you are feeling really bad. I especially encourage you to memorize John 17:17, "Sanctify them through thy truth, THY WORD IS TRUTH." When those stupid thoughts try to overrun your brain, cling to God's Word because it is the truth. It is the only truth in this world. It is the only truth in your life.
11. Remember that "THIS TOO SHALL PASS". While you are in the depths of depression it may feel like you will never feel better, but you will. You have before and you will again. It will take time, but God is with you for He promised that He will never leave you nor forsake you.
If you would like to talk to me more about depression, please do. I know how awful it is and I know that there are times when I don't want to have anything to do with anyone, but the rest of the time, I want to pray for you and help you.