It’s just been one of those days.
Well, it started last night. I was getting ready for bed, doing my usual nighttime routine; and as I washed my face, it just hit me in the gut. That sudden nagging feeling of sadness, almost loneliness, for no reason. This morning was fine, but then it just popped up again.
I don’t really talk about my struggle with anxiety or feeling “down.” I don’t want to make it a big deal, or for it to become part of my identity. And, if I’m being honest, sometimes I hope that if I don’t talk about it, it will just go away.
But I’ve been inspired recently by reading some articles about struggles that are harder, deeper, and longer than mine. The honesty and vulnerability it took to write these articles makes me want to be more honest about my struggle.
Most of the time, I’m not sure what causes it. I don’t always know how to handle it. Sometimes it goes away by itself. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes I blame myself, sometimes I blame the devil. Sometimes I blame God or the circumstances He allows or puts me in.
The point of all this is not to make you pity me. Hopefully, for some people reading this, you can relate. Not that I want you to struggle the same way I do, but I want you to know that you’re not alone. Some people don’t struggle with annoying feelings like this. Some people do; some do much worse than others.
Here’s the thing though, and this is the real reason I’m writing about this: I must remember, and so must you, that depression is not who we are. Our feelings do not define us. Defeat is not permanent. It’s ok to feel the things we feel . . . as long as we don’t let them influence our every thought and action. It’s ok to have a rough day and go to sleep feeling defeated . . . but don’t stay there. Don’t stay in defeat. We are still responsible for how we handle ourselves in spite of overwhelming feelings. We cannot cower and crumble and never fight again. That means the devil wins a tiny victory. No, we must rise up, move forward, keep fighting the good fight.
I don’t have answers for why you feel the way you do or how to fix it. I can tell you some things that help me get out of my funk, but it takes persistence. Sometimes it takes a combination of some or all of these things; but it always takes prayer, and picking up my foot to take another step.
I write. I feel a little better now than I did at the beginning of this blog. Do you keep a journal? I know jokes are made about how diaries are for homeschoolers or wimps; but sometimes I don’t even know what I feel until I write it out.
I talk. Usually to my husband. Keeping everything bundled up, or even just between you and the paper/blog, isn’t healthy. Get it out. Be honest, but be reasonable. Sometimes I let him give me counsel and advice, but sometimes I just need him to listen.
I listen to music or hum. Music is powerful. I love a good pop or CCM song to get me pumped up or energized; but when I struggle with deep gut-feelings, instrumental or quiet worship/hymns is the route I take. This is often when I take time to pray. (“You’re Gonna Be OK” by Jenn Johnson, “I Am No Victim” by Kristene Dimarco, and “Prince of Peace” by Hillsong are three of my favorite worship songs when I’m struggling.)
I cry. I cry when I feel basically any emotion (oops) but especially when I feel low. Sometimes the crying goes too long, but it usually does help to just get it out.
I read or recall scripture. Seriously guys, this is one of those times when having scripture memorized is so vital. Psalm 91 and 121 are two of my favorites. Many Psalms are filled with David’s worry or lament as he cries out to God. Read some of those Psalms, and find where David starts to turn his eyes from his own feelings to the God Who made him. (Read a tremendous blog about spiritual depression in Psalm 42 here.)
I count my blessings. I know it sounds cheesy, but it helped me calm down and fall asleep last night. (True story: my husband sang part of this song to me, and I did in fact fall asleep counting my blessings.) “Gratitude is the antidote for fear and thankfulness is the cure for worry.” (Robin Sharma) Paul, a prisoner inside a dark, disgusting prison, was still grateful. He didn’t let anxiety and fear overtake him. In Ephesians 5:19-20 he wrote, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” When I start to feel down, I usually start thinking of things I don’t have, or things I wish were different. Gratitude puts a stop to that because I start thinking of all the things God has given me.
I know it all sounds really simple when I put it like this. But the main things to remember are keep moving, and lean heavily on Christ. He can carry your burdens, and He will never leave you or forsake you. Hold tight to the anchor of Truth even in the midst of stormy emotions.
Something else I sometimes do is throw myself on my bed, either to cry or to try to sleep it off. But there is a quote by Charles Spurgeon that I always think of now when I’m tempted to drown in my despair and ignore my Creator: “Throw yourself upon God’s faithfulness as you do upon your bed, bringing all your weariness to His dear rest.” I need that reminder nearly every day.
If this is something you struggle with, know that you’re not alone. Others struggle with this as well, and some of our great heroes of the Bible did too. Most importantly, remember that as a child of God, the Holy Spirit, our great Comforter, will never leave you. I’m clinging to that today.