All of us have bad days from time to time. All of us experience the grief that comes from losing a loved one or going through a traumatic event. We may even have seasons where we just don’t seem as chipper and happy as we once were.
So, how do we know that we are truly suffering from depression and not just having a bad day? How do we know when we should seek help or begin looking for ways to help with our struggles? How do we know when to speak up? When to ask for help?
This can actually be a tricky thing to answer because truly there is no one size fits all for how people handle depression. I can only share from my personal experience and the experiences of those I love.
I personally suffered from depression for several years and eventually sought help from my family doctor, a Christian counselor, and a psychiatrist. Each of them helped me in different ways.
Even though each of our bodies is unique, there are some symptoms that seem to be common in most depression sufferers.
You wake up each morning with a sense of dread. A bad day is usually just that, a bad day. One day. Not day after day after day after day. If you’ve been having bad days for weeks on end, it is time to consider that it might be more than a bad day. When you wake up with that hopeless feeling that you’re never going to feel better again, that is more than a bad day.
The things that once were fun for you are no longer fun. What are your hobbies? What do you love doing? Where do you serve in your church? Have those things lost their joy for you? Do you no longer enjoy your very favorite things?
Your motivation for normal, everyday things is gone. This was a HUGE one for me. I could not find motivation to fix dinner, wash clothes, even smile and make small talk. And it wasn’t that I just couldn’t “muster up the energy.” Depression makes these normal, everyday things feel flat out impossible. Like in my brain, I was thinking, “there is no possible way I can get these dishes loaded into the dishwasher.” It wasn’t laziness; it was a mental block. My body would not let me move forward.
You feel lonely even though you are surrounded by people who love you. This is a hard one for many people. I have friends that love me and would ask how I was doing. Some days I could be more honest than others, but it took me awhile to get there. Probably a long while. It was a long time before I could even say “depression” out loud. I had to remind myself that I. Was. Not. Alone. But those reminders didn’t feel real to me. I was overly sensitive and borderline paranoid that people didn’t want to be around me. So, I would withdraw even more. One of the things that happens to me when I’m at my lowest is the racing thoughts of anxiety. Just walking into a room of people would feel overwhelming to me. I just knew no one wanted me there. I was highly irrational. Those irrational, racing thoughts were a big part of my struggle because they led me further down the spiral of despair.
You don’t feel like going anywhere or doing anything. Some days it isn’t a matter of want to, it literally feels impossible. I would dread appointments and even cancel them. Getting myself and the kids out the door literally felt like an impossible feat. My head would be clouded, I would look around and literally not know what to do to get us all ready. It can be crippling, really.
So, I don’t want to leave you with all the difficult things that go along with depression. I want to leave you with hope.
What can you do if you find yourself suffering?
First of all, please ask for help. Please talk to someone. Tell your husband. Tell a friend, pastor or counselor. I know that first step is so very hard. But the people you love most will want to help you and ensure that you receive the help you need. I promise you that once you say it out loud to someone, it will get easier to talk about.
Let others in. You are loved. Don’t stop going to church… even if you don’t want to go anywhere! Let others pray for you. Share your heart. Chances are, others have walked this road and will open up and encourage you as well!
Dig deep into the well of God’s Word. He is your living water. Don’t give up on God. We may not always feel His nearness… but remember, our feelings do not equal truth. We know without a shadow of doubt that God is always with us. We know He has a plan for our lives. We know He sent His son out of love for us. Keep repeating truth to your heart. Preach the gospel to yourself. Remind your heart and mind that Christ is your hope and HE IS ALIVE. That means our hope is alive! We may not feel an ounce of hope in us, but Christ is there and He is our hope.
Candace Crabtree is just a broken mama thankful for grace and new mercies every morning. She and her husband live in East Tennessee where they homeschool their 3 kids. Candace also enjoys teaching piano, coffee, good books and blogging at His Mercy Is New. On her blog she shares encouragement for weary women from God's Word along with resources for learning to pray the Scriptures.
Publication date: June 13, 2016