“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?
There is some depression in my family as well with a couple of family members.
I personally have suffered from a ‘Pollyanna complex” assuming everyone in my world was good and kind and loyal to one another. When mean, nasty, rude or cruel behavior rears its ugly head, I always seem to be blindsided. The disappointment in that person or relationship can put me into a mild depression. I am too old not to know better, but there it is.
What do I do to make it better? Several things.
One long term friendship, I chose to end. I verbally gave several warnings to my dear friend that she was well over the line. The whole affair made me terribly depressed for a season, but I made the healthy choice for myself.
Often, I just need more sleep, to improve my diet, put the matter to prayer, ask myself what I might need to do to change the circumstances that are bringing me down. Being more “other”-minded and less self centered also helps. Totally agree about walking, pets, music and volunteering. If you are ever having a bad day, hopefully I can be “here for you”.
Nice to meet you fellow “Pollyanna”. I have been blindsided a couple of times myself. Both times I was thrown back into a depression that lasted a couple of days.
Because I desperately fear ever returning to that place where I was, I won’t let it go on any longer than that.
One of the greatest lessons we can learn is when it is time to terminate toxic friendships. Because we love so much, we hurt to the core when this happens.
Thank you for your offer! I will definitely come to you for prayer when I am having a bad day.
I think so many people go through serious depression but it’s something we all hesitate to talk about. I had a fairly serious bout of it 5 years ago where after a series of deaths and the end of a significant relationship I lost about 20 lbs. & was at my lowest. I remember knowing what it was – knowing I was depressed but more than that knowing that I had good reason to be so. That said, I’ve never dealt with Chronic Depression although I have seen some of it’s effects on close friends & family members.
I’m inspired by your story, your courage & your recovery. Thank you for opening up this place to talk about those darker times. We’ve all had them and it’s a relief to have a place to share & come together over something so powerful and personal.
I am so sorry to hear about your bout with depression.
If you are like me, I am sure you thought that life was never going to get any better. It feels as though you are trapped in this dark room with no way out.
There is no desire to engage with others. All I wanted to do was sleep.
I agree it is wonderful to have a place to share our life experiences. If what we have been through can help others than I feel we have succeeded.
Again, you have written a wonderful blog that hits close to home for me. I know exactly how you felt and still feel because I battle it everyday as well. My family has a history with depression and it is very important to pay attention to the signs. I’ve also had the same feelings of “why am I here?”. There are days I just wish I was in Heaven not having to deal with everything going on in the world we live in today.
My Gramma Edna (who is 99) has battled depression her entire life and without medication she literally will shut down and not speak. When she is prescribed the right medication, she is the warm, bubbly, and funny Gramma we know.
Medication of course is not the answer for everyone, your “5 Things to Bounce Back” are super! The world we live in right now is pretty hard and we face battles around every corner, but walking with God and having the right people surrounding you to help you through it is priceless. Thanks for sharing Lor
You are one of the people who helped me through that difficult time.
I remember our daily phone calls as I began pulling out of it. You have always been the social planner to make sure I get out and do something fun.
You love me enough to be straight with me when I needed “tough love”.
For that I am forever grateful.
You have always been there for me too And I love you MORE…Biggg Lorrrrr