Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A letter for Sandy

A couple of days ago, Sandy left the following comment on my last post:

"I don't know if this comment belongs in this section, but I did want to ask a question. What are some your hints to "keep going" when you really feel depressed and just want to stay in bed all day but know that you can't because of family responsibilities? I take Prozac daily, but because I'm 47 and perimenopausal, I don't think it is working too well at certain times of the month. My kids are 21 (in college), 17 ( a senior) and 15...and I can't just lay down and say "out of order" today. But that's the way I feel.
By the way, I appreciate your faith-filled posts very much. I sometimes feel guilty that being a Christian, I don't always feel or show "the joy of the Lord" because of depressive feelings and I'm not always that good at hiding them.
Sandy M"

Dear Sandy,

I think the most important thing you need to remember is that you have an illness and, though it's the nature of depression to make you feel guilty, this is not a justifiable feeling. Christians are not beyond getting depressed, just like they're not beyond having other illnesses. It has nothing to do with your relationship with God and you're not any less of a Christian. Please remember that God loves you, no matter what. And there will be times that you will have to allow Him to carry you - without any feelings of shame or guilt. Just let Him take care of you.

Nevertheless, you will feel better if you can manage to do some of the things you would normally do. It would be therapeutic to do so. Moving around and being active off and on through the day, even if you do spend a good part of it in bed, will be helpful.

Why not ask your children or husband to help you with some of the chores? When I've been severely depressed I've found that having my husband help me make dinner or wash the dishes, helped energize me. There's something about working alongside someone that makes the job a lot easier. The social interaction that then happened often boosted my spirit.

In my book, Riding the Roller Coaster, I listed the following for times when absolutely nothing seems worth the effort (now this is for a really deep depression):
  • Change the scenery - move to a different room
  • Take a sip of soda - let the bubbles dance on your tongue
  • Wash your face and comb your hair - see how good that will feel
  • Listen to gently music - become a part of it
  • Eat a piece of sweet juicy fruit
  • Hug your pillow - pretend it's your best friend
  • Pick a flower from the garden - study its shape, color and texture
  • Take a refreshing shower - Enjoy
  • Bask in the sunshine - ten minutes will do the trick
  • Point your face to the sky - let the rain wash your cheeks
  • Write a description of your feelings - get poetic if you wish
  • Watch a comedy on TV - the sillier the better
  • Make a list of everything you're thankful for
  • Beg a hug from someone close to you - squeeze hard
  • Lie under a tree - look into its branches - listen to the whisper of the leaves
  • Have a cup of tea with a friend
Maybe the above list isn't the one for you. Maybe you're not as depressed as all that. If so, going for a good walk each day would be better. They say that walking is as good as taking an antidepressant. And try to get out with people a little every day. Or talk to a friend on the phone.

In any case, for most people there will be times of brightening - windows of opportunity when you feel like doing more. Take advantage of those windows, but without overdoing it. Eventually you'll have more windows and gradually you will find yourself in a brighter place.

I hope these suggestion will help. And perhaps others will comment here with their own suggestions.


bipolar_girl said...

Don't forget to take a cold shower--the colder, the better. This has worked for me.

Jim said...

For me, humor, no matter when it comes, helps me bear the unbearable. Sometimes we are our own worst enemies when we don't use humor when needed.

Anonymous said...

Marja, thanks so much for your very kind and helpful message regarding my post to you. I am feeling much better the past few days. I think one of my main problems is eating too many sweets, and not enough exercise. I am trying to do better with both and I do believe it helps. Some days I just know I have to "live through" the day the best I can, and usually I will feel better within a day or two. I know I should just listen to the "voice of God" and not my own inner voices when I'm depressed, but it's difficult. I appreciate all of your helpful comments and I've already printed them to keep. I do believe the added guilt about being depressed is what truly bothers me. I'm blessed that my husband doesn't mind helping with household chores everyday (even when I'm not depressed). My children could do a little more though, but that's my fault for not requiring more of them.
Thanks to all of you for your helpful comments.

Dancer said...

I am a Christian also, and for years I kept feeling like if I just "believed" more or tried harder, the depressive episodes would not exist. Marja's point about how Christians are not exempt from illness (including depression) is so true and FREE-ING!
I found that learning to let go of guilt and remember the message of Christ re: taking His yoke for it is easy and His burden is light. That is such a peaceful verse to me and it reminds me that He knew that there would be a gazillion times in my life where things were just too much.
Also, during depressions, I have found that breaking up large tasks--such as looking at the entire day--became helpful to me. ie: make a few small goals for the day even if all they are is brushing your teeth and your hair, and then taking a nap.
**and treat yourself GENTLY**

marja said...

Thank you all.

Bipolar Girl: Really? A cold shower? For me it has to be hot.

Jim: Thanks once more for your comments. I still need to get to your site. Maybe when life normalizes for me.

Dancer: Yes, I believe too that we need to be good to ourselves. And that Bible verse from Matthew 11:28-30 has done wonders for me as well.

Sandy: I'm glad you've been feeling better and I'm glad you've found these suggestions helpful. Take care.

Syd said...


What a wonderful response to Sandy and a great list of suggestions. Thanks!

My list includes sleep, movies, peaceful music, being outside (if the weather is warm and sunny) and knitting if I have the energy for that.