I struggled with depression when I was young. I probably would’ve been diagnosed as border line manic-depressive if they routinely diagnosed those things back then.
My parents responded pretty much, “Get over it.” Which actually worked ok in the short term.
I grew worse in college until one event I remember as a turning point.
I’d given my life to Jesus a few months before and discovered an underlying peace and joy. Yet, I still struggled.
One summer morning I was working at my father’s machine shop taking inventory, a job I just adored. He especially saved for me.
I was standing in the shelves mindlessly counting parts.
I’d started the day feeling good when suddenly a wave of depression swept over me. I felt numb and helpless.
I thought, “How can this be happening again? Can I ever escape it?”
I felt powerless to stop these onslaughts and that caused me to feel even more despair.
I stopped and prayed, “God heal me of this. Take away this pain.”
I struggled through the next hour and then the symptoms subsided.
This struggle went on but God answered that prayer and overtime I began to find healing.
I rediscovered more often the peace and joy I had experienced when I first gave my life to Jesus. A peace and joy which gives me a foundation.
That gave me hope that often helped counter-balance the despair.
My mood swings settled down. Oh, they can still attack even today but are much less severe and more easily managed. And they happen a lot less frequently.
I spent time reading and thinking to understand what sets off the mood shifts, learning techniques to keep it from happening.
And finally God gave me a wife who is my exact opposite. She is pretty much always up.
As my kids say, “Whatever the situation Mom has a song for it.” And that’s quite literally true.
I believe all of that is God’s answer, his healing and miracle.
A key verse that helps me says, “Rejoice constantly, pray continually, give thanks for everything.”
I practice that literally every day.
First, every morning as I’m getting ready, I thank God for everything I can think of.
I thank him for the beautiful day, my family, his blessings, our health and happiness. For our beautiful home and the wonderful experiences we enjoy.
That sets my mind up for the day ahead. This gets me focused on the positive first thing.
Second, I pray and ask God to bless the day and my family.
I ask for everything I’d like him to provide that he promises in scripture. This fills me with hope.
Often during the day when I feel challenged by some roadblock, instead of obsessing over it for the next hour like I used to, I pause for 30 seconds and pray. So instead of allowing despair a foothold I fill it in with confidence.
Third, I choose each day to be joyful.
I literally put on joy. This for me has been huge.
Some days I drag out of bed like everyone else but I put on joy anyway.
I choose to smile, laugh, tell jokes, kid my friends, encourage others and look on the bright side of the day.
I can live the next 16 hours happy or depressed. I choose to enjoy it.
I find when I’m doing all these things I trick my mind into thinking I really am happy. So it just goes along for the ride.
This has changed the trajectory of my life. Hopefully it will do the same for you.
*I Thessalonians 5: 16-18
Photo Credit: Moyan Brenn; Creative Commons