Friday, October 19, 2012

Battlefield: Depression

For those who aren't aware of my family's story about how we moved to one income, I must pave that foundation before getting into the "meat" of this post because it is the reason we experience God's amazing provision and blessings on a daily basis, and it is the reason I am battling what I am battling today. Let me also be clear that I am speaking only from my own experiences and I am, in no way, trying to diminish or make light of any battles that we may face in life. In this blog, I only convey the lessons God teaches me from the experiences He walks me through.

First, Josh and I began praying for a way for me to stay at home with our daughter since before she was conceived.  We prayed for a total of three years before we actually committed to it, blindly stepping out on faith.  When we finally decided that I would not return to the classroom the following school year, we both felt the strongest conviction we had ever felt, but there was no feasible way we would survive on Josh's income. However, the conviction to move to one income was so strong that we had no doubt that was what God was asking us to do.  He was asking us to step out on faith and trust Him to provide EVERYTHING we need, even though we did not know HOW He would provide.  Two weeks later, He provided a job for Josh that would support our household.  That was the first way we witnessed God's provision on one income and we have been experiencing it ever since.  Additionally, we have been experiencing Satan's attacks on our walk of faith because he does not want it to happen because taking that step has led to a continuous growth in our faith.

I have never been clinically diagnosed as being depressed, but I experienced what I believe was a slight depression this month.  I have noticed that I have experienced feeling down periodically the last couple of months, but this month was rather difficult, and I did NOT walk through it gracefully. I am so very thankful for all of the ways God provides for my family and me when we are in need, and this time He provided a loving and patient husband and my church family who cares for me deeply.  I would not have had the courage to continue getting in the Word and ministering to my family and friends if they had not encouraged me.

In this particular season in my life, a lot is changing and has changed for me, so there has been a lot to get used to.  I have moved from working full-time (for 6 years) to staying at home; we have moved to one income, so I don't get to experience "retail therapy" as often :); and my body has been changing, without me being able to control it.  Josh and I are also in a waiting period for a couple of major life events and decisions.  Consequently, I let all of that get to me this month, and my "depression" lasted about 2-3 weeks.  I felt down most of the time, I couldn't see many positive things in my life, I didn't have energy to exercise, I wanted to eat foods that were bad for me all the time, I was very cranky toward my husband, and I did not want to get out of bed.  I learned that all of it boiled down to taking my eyes off of Jesus. I started looking at things around me, situations and things I didn't have, instead of all the blessings God has given me.  I started to lose focus of the real reason I am a SAHM, and more importantly, I started to doubt the One Whom I serve, my God Who is sovereign and knows the number of hairs on my head.  He knows me so intimately and passionately and He cares about every facet of my life, and I started to doubt His plan for my life.  And Satan loved it! I am sure Satan had a ball those few weeks that I was wallowing in self-pity.  He knew that it would be very difficult for me to get out of the rut and he knew that as long I was in bed or moping around, then I was not ministering to my family, praying for my friends, serving my neighbors, or discipling Nora-Kate to my best ability.  Praise God He led me out of that one!

With that said, I believe many women suffer from depression.  Our depressions may begin with different catalysts, but they all produce a similar result: we are not being used for God's glory, and that is just what Satan wants.  So, the purpose of this post is to pass on the advice of my friends and some tips that God has taught me personally during my battle with depression.

1.  Reach out. We are not the only ones who have experienced depression, and there is power in prayer.  Even if our friends, family, and loved ones can't do anything physically to help us, they can diligently pray for us.  Prayer changes everything!

2.  Get sunlight every day. Get outside, or at least open the curtains/blinds and let sunshine in the house.

3.  Turn on worship music or listen to sermons via the Internet.

4.  Do something nice for other people.  During my depression, Nora-Kate and I served our neighbors.  It was all we could do because of gas money, we were confined to our home and the neighborhood.  We wanted to serve someone and do something nice for people, so we started with the people God gave us access to.  Most of our neighbors are retired, and they enjoy seeing Nora-Kate on a regular basis, so they enjoyed our visits.  We also made cards and baked cookies.

5.  Make sure we are making time for ourselves each day, time to get in the Word and in prayer and time to do something we enjoy.

6.  Ask for help when we feel overwhelmed.  I asked my husband to help me around the house and my in-laws to take Nora-Kate for a few hours while I got something accomplished.

7.  Exercise.  Participate in a physical activity, or several physical activities, throughout the day.  Nora-Kate and I would dance to praise and worship music, play outside, and/or I would run on the treadmill while she was sleeping.  I also tried to think of physical games we could play together.

One of the most important things God has proven in my life is that He is always with me, that means He with me on the good days and He is with me on the ugliest days of my life.  He will walk with me through every valley and always provides ways out of the valley.  I just need to make sure I am doing everything I can to stay connected to Him so that I don't miss the awesome blessings He has in store for me, even blessings during the valley.  Additionally, walking through the depression has taught me to appreciate EVERY blessing from God, small or big, and to take advantage of every opportunity He presents to me for fellowship, prayer, growth, or help.

If anyone has any more tips or advice for walking victoriously through a depression or to be on guard for the next time Satan brings a depression my way, please share.  I want to be prepared for the next one!  :)