Saturday, 11 July 2015

Bite-Sized Advice for Days of Darkness

If someone asked me (by the way, they didn't) for some amateur and non-revolutionary advice on how to deal with depression, based mainly on my personal experiences, this is what I would say:

1) Go to things you don't want to go to.
Planning your weekend?  Or your holiday? What you will feel like doing is nothing. So try to plan with your head rather than your instinctive feelings about it. Plan with the facts of: "where there are people there is reality", "my mind alone is not good company right now" and "my friends are my friends".

2) Try to enjoy the teeniest of things, even if it's just for that moment.
Sitting in the sun's warmth? Cherish that goodness. Have time for a cup of tea? Enjoy each sip.

3) Downsize your expectations of what you can/"should" achieve- then big yourself up when you achieve them. 
Did you eat fruit today? Achievement. Did you exercise? Achievement. Did you go to something you did not want to go to? Achievement. Did you not knock out that person who asked you why you were sad when the Bible says be joyful? Achievement. In fact, you get double for that.

4) Use the energy spurts you have to love people.
Pray, when you can, that God will help you with this- and that He will use you even when you're unaware of it. 

5) Interrupt the "airtime" of the dark thoughts
Listen to music to drown them out (I found bass-heavy headphones worked most effectively), and inhabit the lyrics- if the lyrics are too much like the harsh hissing of your mind, find something else to listen to. Read books with short chapters - and big yourself up chapter by chapter. Watch TV that makes you laugh: things like Mock the Week or 8/10 Cats are better than more emo-heavy sit-coms.

6) Read the Psalms.
Even if it's just a few verses a day- even if it's Psalm 88 every day for many, many days.

7) Call out the depression, and try to laugh at it.
Try and see the funny side of yourself- and once you know what the symptoms are, try laughing at them. Try laughing at your mind's amazing way of making everything about you. Of blaming everything on you. Of reading your failure in to every situation imaginable. There are probably some things that have happened that are not your fault (!!). Depression can be outrageous and occasionally, you might be able to find it hilarious. This won't always be possible- but it's worth a try.

8)  Remember that your friends are your friends.
Some may tell you that what you are believing about yourself is not true. When they tell you this, remember that you can trust them. They are your friends; what they are saying is more trustworthy than what your mind is currently shouting at you.

9) The cross is atonement enough.
I realise this isn't a piece of advice. But it's just a fact that I feel needs throwing in somewhere: Jesus shed his blood for you, he suffered for you, he felt shame for you and was destroyed for you. There will be dark times when you may want to hurt yourself or cause yourself to suffer because you feel so ashamed, so desperate, so sad. But the cross is atonement enough. It is atonement enough.

10) Remember Jesus- without trying to find a connection to you.

Jesus is powerful
Jesus is at work
Jesus is reigning
Jesus is humble
Jesus is generous
Jesus is kind
Jesus loves the poor
Jesus will come again
Jesus is bold
Jesus is a warrior
Jesus has the victory
And so many more...

You might not be able to see any of this in connection to you right now, but rejoice in Him because of Him.

11)  Hold on to the promise  of the final day.
Darkness will get swallowed up: even this darkness.  This darkness will not be able to overcome the light of Christ. Oh that the night might give us joy in how glorious the Morning will be! Try to see the depth of your pit as evidence of the power of Jesus to redeem . Even in this pit, this darkness, this gloom: He is with you. And the Morning Star will rise!

12) Find it impossible to believe or do any of the above? 
Be assured- He will do good anyway.

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