Depression is a dark, complex cloud. It is a burden that takes time to work through and is usually a snare that those who struggle with it, struggle their entire lives. While the counseling is being done, while the heart is being examined, while the gospel is being applied, and while the local church care is being extended, what can a depressed person do to fight against the darkness every day? 2 Suggestions that come from the playbook of my dear friend and mentor, Jackson Boyett. Since I was especially missing him this week (see my tribute to him after his sudden death), I thought it would be helpful for me to share his wisdom with you.
1) Force yourself to verbally acknowledge one thing you are grateful for to someone else. The common posture for a depressed person is that they see no good in them or the world. They are the poster child for the glass being half empty. Yet, Paul tells us in “everything give thanks” which does not exempt the deep darkness of depression. If you are struggling with depression, force yourself to honestly and sincerely speak something you are grateful for. It could be the smallest, simplest thing or person, but make sure you are experiencing gratefulness in your heart for it and someone else hears you speak it.
2) Force yourself to go and serve someone else. In my experience in caring for those struggling with depression, it is very natural and easy to sit around, do nothing, and think about how horrible your life is. Fighting for joy means going against the grain of what you feel like doing, and doing that which would be good for you and others. The best way to take your eyes off your own struggles, is to go and bless someone else in the midst of theirs.
A way to combine these two is to write a card, or personally deliver a small gift to someone and tell them it is because you are grateful for them. In my experience, most do not wander out of depression. As the heart is being examined for the cause, we also have to establish actions in our lives that cultivate a grateful, thankful heart.
I have cared for many struggling with depression throughout the years, including my wife at different times in her life. These things never fix that which eats them up deep down inside, but it can be a means of grace to them and others while they battle it.