I no longer try to make it a secret that I have wrestled with depression on and off throughout my life — sometimes to the point of (to use a clinical expression) “suicidal ideation.” I have no fears that I would actually act on the impulses, because I settled those issues in high school. However, depression is a very painful state in which to exist, and I don’t live there any longer than I have to.
When I do find myself slipping, I have several things that I do to pull me back out of it.
- I call and talk to one of a handful of trusted friends. This is actually a hard step for me to take, because I hate the feeling that I am imposing and disrupting another person’s day. (Why it bothers me so much when I don’t mind when people call or visit unexpectedly is probably something I should examine in a later post.) However, it is often one of the most helpful, because it forces my heart and mind to recognize that there are people out there who love me and who value my contributions to their lives.
- I focus on cognitive restructuring and “guarding” my thoughts. This is hard to do alone, but I can do it. When I am slipping into depression, the negative emotions hijack my thoughts and overrun my mind. I find myself having mental arguments with myself as I counter the emotional side of me with the reality that exists in my rational side. When I start obsessing and thinking in circular patterns, I try to channel my thoughts into more positive avenues, such as taking delight in the sunshine, or even the sensation of a long, slow, deep breath.
- I use music. Music is one of the top passions in my life, which means that songs touch me deeply. I use music to soothe the aching and focus my mind on the good that exists around me.
A couple of months ago, I compiled a list of songs for the bad days. I’d like to share them with you.
I first heard Twila Paris sing this song back when I was in high school, and it became one of my theme songs. I discovered it again after I divorced. It is still one of my enduring theme songs — and a reminder that I can run home to my Savior to find strength and peace.
“You can come as you are.” When depression overtakes me, I feel worthless and unlovable. This song reminds me that I am always loved, that I don’t need any special qualities or qualifications. To turn to my Savior, all I have to do is give my heart.
My Savior loves me so much, that he considered me “someone worth dying for.” When depression distorts my vision of my eternal worth, this song reminds me that I am a child of God, that I am eternally beautiful, and that I am loved and valued.
“Who Am I” is another song that reminds me of my divine importance and worth — as well as how much my Savior has done for me.
I saved “Praise You in the Storm” for the near end of the list, because I have to experience some healing before I can muster the courage to remind myself that I can and I will. In the end, I know that I have been sent here to learn and to grow and to become an instrument in the hands of God. No matter what comes my way, God has allowed it because he knows that the experience can be turned for my good. Therefore, I will praise him, no matter what.
I saved “The Voice of Truth” for the end of the list, because it is the thought I wish to end on. Depression and negativity are not true voices, they distort the truth. In the end, the voice of truth comes from my Heavenly Father, who calls himself “Love.” He loves me, and he is watching over me. I am important in his eyes, and he has given me divine work to do on this earth. He is all I need.