“Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me”
5 Things You Can Do To Bounce Back From The Blues
Something that may surprise those who interact with me on a daily basis is that I once suffered from debilitating depression.
I am not announcing this for shock value or to seek sympathy. It is a fact that I went through a period about six years ago when there were days at a time I did not even get out of bed.
There were multiple factors that contributed to this dark period in my life.
I do believe that I am genetically prone to bouts of depression. There is a history of depression on my father’s side of the family. In fact, my father suffered a great deal with chronic depression. I believe it is what ultimately contributed to his death.
The lifestyle I was living was not conducive to happiness either. I isolated myself with a close “family” of friends who were extremely toxic.
I made poor choices and eventually decided to cut all ties with this group. It was after this that I spiraled into my deep depression. Quite frankly, at that time in my life I didn’t care if I lived. If I continued down the path I was headed, I probably would not have.
I had some choices to make. Fortunately through prayer and my family, I got back on the right track. A series of what I know now were God’s plans unfolded and led me to the happy life I lead today.
Plan #1 – My little cousins were visiting from Nevada and talked me into purchasing the first of my two dogs. There is no way I was going to risk being uncool as an “aunt”. I could not say “no” to the adorable white ball of fluff they held in front of me. Little did I know Max would be the first step in making me feel I had purpose and a reason to get out of bed each morning.
Plan#2– I began attending regularly and serving in multiple ministries at Saddleback Church. One of those ministries was the Motel Ministry. We delivered food to those in need at motels in the Anaheim and Santa Ana areas. It did not escape me as we prayed for the residents that it easily could have been me on the receiving end of those prayers.
Plan#3– As mentioned in a couple of my previous posts, I was also led to serve in the Memorial Ministry. This is where I began to discover I had a heart for those going through grief. I had no idea what I wanted to do for work up until that point. My career purpose was being revealed to me.
Fast forward to the present and I am unbelievably happy. Do I still have some bad days? Of course! I am human. My mind can very easily wander to dark places and crave isolation. Fortunately I can push past it the majority of the time.
So what do I do these days when I feel the “blues” coming on? I have a series of steps that usually do the trick for me. I call them the “5 Things You Can Do To Bounce Back From the Blues.”
1. Acknowledge I Am Feeling Depressed and Pinpoint the Reason – This could be as simple as it being cloudy outside and I am suffering the effects of seasonal depression.
2. Set a Time Limit for Allowing Myself To Wallow In It – I remind myself of where I have been and how much I prefer the alternative of living happily.
3. Blast My Favorite Music – During this time I choose something upbeat. Singing along and dancing also lifts my spirits.
4. Go For A Long Walk – There is nothing like the fresh air to make me feel better. The endorphins from the exercise also help my mood.
5. Enjoy a Favorite Meal– I guess you could call it comfort food. I throw the diet out the window that day and go get whatever sounds good. It is an extra bonus if it is a restaurant with an outdoor patio.
The purpose of this post is not to minimize the effects of those suffering with severe and chronic depression. I am sure my suggestions sound ridiculous to those of you who are unable to pull yourself out of it without medication or by other means. These are merely suggestions of what I continue to find helpful and what I hope might encourage others.
My depression was a journey I needed to go through in order to appreciate the gifts in each day of life. Maybe you or someone you love is going through just such a journey. The quote comes to mind, “it is always darkest before the dawn”. Once you have experienced the depths of darkness, you embrace the dawn more than you ever imagined possible.
That is the point where you find something to be grateful for in each and every day.
Have you experienced bouts of depression over your lifetime?
What activities help you return to a positive state of mind?