Depression is called the “common cold” of the modern era. That’s because so many people have it nowadays - even the people that appear the strongest and the happiest.
The reason I know this to be true is because in the past year, I've seen so many of my closest loved ones suffer from depression.
I didn't think it would be possible for people who were my pillars of strength to suddenly fall under the weight of burnout, emotional burden, grief, and/or disappointment.
Little did I know that while depression appears to "suddenly" take over the lives of people, it really is not a downward spiral that occurs overnight. It's a build-up of so many different things - different anxieties, different insecurities, different traumas.
People with depression lose all motivation for anything. Worst of all, they feel that there is no hope. Almost all of us have either dealt with depression or have close friends/family members affected by it.
But I'm writing to say that:
Whether you suffer from depression or not, YOU ARE LOVED. WORTHY. ENOUGH. PRECIOUS. VALUABLE. UNIQUE. TREASURED - REGARDLESS OF WHAT YOU HAVE DONE IN THE PAST AND REGARDLESS OF WHO YOU ARE IN THE PRESENT.
You must know that before you even begin to read the rest of this article. If you do not recognize your own inherent, God-given worth, you will never be able to recognize the worth in others. If you cannot recognize the worth in others, you cannot love them genuinely.
Hope begins with understanding how to love those who suffer from depression.
For those who suffer from depression, hope begins with understanding how to love yourself. Depression is never easy and feels like an uphill battle - but Love will ultimately prevail over darkness because it never fails (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
5 Ways to Love Yourself When You Are Depressed:
- Remembering there is nothing to be ashamed of | As human beings, we are all highly emotional beings who feel pain, grief, sadness, disappointment, and discouragement. We are all broken people inside who have struggled with the challenges of life as well as with physical ailments. Remember depression can not only be an emotional low-point but a hormonal imbalance in the body as well.
- There are people who care about you and want you to recover | You should never feel like a burden to them. Your family and true friends want to be there for you through the good and the bad. They want to help you. Your life and your happiness matter to them. Also, find a mentor you trust and look up to. Finding a good counselor to talk things through with will ALWAYS HELP. You need a good counselor who can walk beside you and carefully help you grow confident in working through issues from your past.
- You cannot do this alone | Don't suppress your feelings and maintain a facade of happiness and strength. It'll only make the fall into depression a lot more painful later on. Express your feelings with someone you really trust and/or with people who you know want the best for you.
- Realize there are things you can control and things you cannot | As weak or unmotivated as you feel while you have depression, you can exercise a lot of power over your situation! Instead of allowing depression to swallow you whole, focus on shutting out negative/self-destructing attitudes, center your attention on things that are uplifting/wholesome/pure, speak words of encouragement over yourself, and little by little, develop healthy coping mechanisms (physical exercise/activity, creative arts, meditating on the Word of God, setting small goals for yourself, prayer, helping others, being in the outdoors, etc. Most importantly, leave the rest to God. Submit those things which are not under your control unto the Lord. These things include: how others treat you, what others say to you, your physical ailments, your recovery time, etc.
- Don't try to rush the recovery process | Do not give yourself more anxiety by forcing yourself to get "fixed" by a certain amount of time. And don't compare yourself to other people either. The recovery process may seem long and irksome - but when you are recovered and look back, you'll be amazed at how much positive transformation and growth you've experienced and just HOW FAR YOU'VE COME. You are your own unique person,and always remember that God makes everything beautiful in its time.
5 Ways to Love People With Depression
- Never, ever belittle them with antagonizing questions like, "What's wrong with you? Can't you just go back to being normal?" | Seriously, it sounds obvious, but even I have been guilty of being insensitive. Don't speak abnormally or walk on eggshells around them, but just be conscientious. Remember, you are there to listen (and not ignorantly talk about how great your own life is and how things are just working out perfectly for you). Be sensitive. Think about how you would like others to talk to you if you were going through a particularly challenging time in your life. Also, do not try to use your own life experiences to justify the fact that you can "totally understand" how they feel. The truth is you will never understand how they feel. However, you can share your own stories and past struggles to point to the fact that there is hope.
- You cannot “fix” their problems | You are not their Savior - Only God can do the real fixing. But it doesn't mean you play a passive role in their lives. Be relentless in showing your love for them - and remember the smallest things make the biggest differences. It could be a simple reminder that you love and miss them. It could be a hug. It could be a compliment. It could be grabbing them lunch. It could be a cup of coffee. It could be sitting with them in silence and not saying a word.The little you do could really mean the world to someone.
- Keep reminding them of your love for them | This point is so important! Words have so much power, and the more you verbally affirm and uplift someone, the more they hear positive truths that can help dispel a lot of the lies that have been building up inside of them.
- Assure them that the healing process takes time | Don't try to hurry them along the process, and don't give up on them half-way just because you feel like you aren't seeing any positive results in their lives. Spend time with them regularly and genuinely show interest in who they are as people - not in how you can "fix" them. The last thing a person with depression wants to feel is forgotten. Therefore, make sure to go out of your way to make them feel remembered and valued. Pray for them and keep in touch. Show them that you sincerely are with them every step of the way.
- Encourage them to seek help from a counselor, mentoring group, and most importantly - from God | Remind them that plugging into a genuine, loving community is vital if one wishes to thrive spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Finally, acknowledging that there is a Great God who is the Author of Hope and who has the ability to take upon all of your cares and anxieties is SIGNIFICANTLY RELIEVING. God reminds you that He never wanted you to do life alone. He wants to do life with you and He desires that you live victoriously, not defeatedly!