Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sunday Afternoon Tea - The battle against being depressed this time of year

Placed high to keep the plant from Victoria's teeth... I'm loving the greenery in the kitchen!
"...To bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, 
the oil of joy instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair..."
Isaiah 61: 3a NIV 

Every once in awhile as Autumn becomes Winter... and it is making the change earlier than usual this year... I have to fight the good battle of depression vs. joy.  Everyone goes through this, some more than others this time of year as we are on the cusp of the Holiday season.

If a Christian denies ever being depressed, I would look at them in disbelief.  If nothing else, they are fooling themselves.  For one cannot go through life without that garment of darkness coming on them.

Quite often I know why I feel darkness surrounding me.  I can point to the ground zero of circumstances.  Then there are days when darkness is nudging at me and I haven't a clue as to why I feel down, edgy, fearful... depressed.

It could be nothing urgent at all, just the fact that it is 5:00 PM and dark out the kitchen window.  Sometimes there was a reminder of "something" which brought sadness in the past and my current mood brings it all back.

There are even days when I never quite figure out the whys of being depressed, it just appears as a cloak over my shoulders.  And I'm pretty much a sanguine person.

Being depressed, getting depressed, feeling "down in the dumps"... they never mean we are not committed to Christ!

Do you remember when precious Mother Teresa passed away and the truth came out that she quite often dealt with heavy periods of depression, those "Dark Nights of the Soul"?  The secular press had a field day with the announcement for surely if this saint of a woman walked in darkness, how could there be a God?

But that truth had a far different outcome with me, and I believe many other people of Faith.  It showed us she was a human who felt deeply about the suffering going on around her.  I would have been more skeptical of her if she did not deal with depression in the midst of the world's great suffering where she ministered.

We knew God met her in her weakness and He became her strength.  He can do the same thing... and will do the same thing... for me and for you and for all of those who have accepted Jesus as our Savior.  The Holy Spirit lives within us and His strength shines in our weakness.

That cloak of depression is particularly easy to come upon us during the Holidays for that is when a magnified light is shown on the wounds of our life; the gift no longer received, the job that was lost, that the family now lives far away, the children are grown and at their in-laws house, the absence of longed for children around the tree, the empty space at the table.

Since I am by nature not one who likes being depressed (while the Puddleglums in my life do it so well), I do what I can to throw off the cloak of despair.  Does it work?  Usually.  It depends on the circumstances surrounding me at the time.  Some situations have been so deeply dark that I do well by just holding on.

But most of the time, when the trials are the "little foxes" nipping at my ankles reminding me we live in a fallen world... during those most common of days... I have found ways to free myself from doldrums that don't cost much or anything at all.
  1. Reading the Word, especially Psalms.
  2. Listening to music that inspires and draws me nearer Christ.
  3. Listening to music that is just plain wonderful like John Denver.
  4. Listening to Christmas music; the good, the silly, the saintly, the sappy.
  5. Reading great books.
  6. Treating myself to a cup of very good coffee... or tea... or apple cider.
  7. Surrounding myself with real plants.
  8. Watching sappy Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel.
  9. Watching favorite movies on DVDs.
  10. Tying on an apron and baking to Christmas music.
  11. Giving life by Creating: food, scrapbook journals, needlework, etc.
  12. Lighting scented candles.
  13. Writing or texting someone I love.
  14. Talking to God throughout the day.
  15. Listening for a reply.
So it comes down to this.  More likely than not you will experience a moment of depression these next oh... six or seven weeks.  But that will be normal.  What is not... and what as a Christian you should wrestle against... is letting darkness overtake you.

We still live in a fallen world, in the midst of an epic universal battle between Good and evil.  I think perhaps the enemy of our soul absolutely hates Christmas.  So his minions work overtime to remind of us of everything that would bring upon us a cloak of depression.

Put on some music (I don't think they like Handel's Messiah, either), light safely placed candles (a reminder to those of us with cats!), and do something that brings you joy.  Whatever you do... don't do nothing at all.  Fight the good fight of faith... and nibble on a piece of really good chocolate.


Anonymous said...

One of your best posts yet! I like the "little foxes nipping at our ankles." There always seem to be a lot of them at my workplace :)

Nancy said...

Beautiful post Brenda and especially appropriate for me as we move into the holidays and the colder months of the year.

rebecca said...

I agree with your observations about Christians and depression. The suggestions you have listed are good ones and are best employed before the depression becomes so overwhelming that one can't even make the effort to do any ONE of them. (Can you "hear" the voice of experience speaking here????)

suzanne said...

I would categorize the way I sometimes feel around the holidays as melancholy, but you expressed the particulars perfectly. It is a comfort and a tool against the sadness to know that MOST of us experience those same bleak times once in awhile. Thanks for the solutions...even reading them gave me a lift.

Vee said...

I don't mean to depress you further, but have you read about the decline in chocolate production? Greater demand than ever before and not enough cocoa to meet the need. Sigh. I may have to switch to caramel.

This is a wonderful, practical approach to the gloomies. If the news of the day doesn't get us... Must find my John Denver cd.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for this post.Unfortunately there is a feeling of guilt to Christians who feel depressed.Any suggestions about books and movies?

Annabel said...

brenda I know exactly what you are talking about. I have had this at the end of some winters and a few times badly. The last two winters I avoided it with a mass effort.But it was so bad two years before I could barely get out of bed or function.
The last two winters these things I think made the difference... I had projects I absolutely adored to work on, one was a huge crochet blanket I did that took 3 months and I adored it. Plus other projects I loved. Every day possible I spend some time outside and if the sun came out I was in it. I cooked beautiful winter foods and soups and had soup everyday.I took vitamin D tablets one a day for a month for the last month. Oh my goodness they made so much difference after taking them for a week I had so much more energy. I will do that from now on. I hope you can largely escape it this year. It is tough and it seems so many of us get

Anonymous said...

What a beautifully written post. you touched my heart and I am sure many others. Thank you for your suggestions..they are all wonderful in the help to battle the enemy! Blessings for a wonderful holiday season, Jill

Deb J. in Utah said...

I love this post! Thank you. I struggle with depression (and her twin anxiety) at times, as I am sure all of us do. This year will be empty nesters alone for Thanksgiving and I am actually looking forward to it, but just in case, I have a stack of fun movies to watch and help me through the day. Thanks again, and you have a great week!

Judy said...

A whole extra reason for us all to pull out Handel's Messiah!

I find that doing small kindnesses for others lifts my spirits. A little surprise note on a family member's pillow, writing out a few verses of Scripture on small cards and tying them up with pretty string for a friend going through a hard time, or taking baking to work, are all small deeds by which my soul is renewed.

Thank you for another thought provoking post, Brenda.

Mary said...

Another wonderful post, Brenda with lots of good suggestions esp. at this cold and often dreary time of year. Reading your blog is a great way to feel better. :-)

Morning's Minion said...

I think that living where winter is cold and rather bleak can sap our energy. November has never been my favorite time of year. With age I'm trying to be a bit kinder to myself, to accept the times [regardless of the calendar] when I am weary or anxious.
Your remedies are all good ones. Perhaps the biggest challenge is in adjusting to the difficulties that are beyond our power to change--and it can be a daily challenge!
It seems overly simple to recommend enumerating our blessings, but to do so is an encouragement.

Barbara said...

Thank you for such an insightful and helpful blog post about depression. The list at the end was especially good.

I enjoy your blog posts so much! It's homey and friendly, cheerful, and full of practical counsel that can be trusted because it's based on God's Word. Keep up the good work!

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

I don't tend toward depression during this season, but I have had times of it, and my husband would is a melancholy so he tends to have it at different times.

All your suggestions are really good ones, and wise too. Keeping our eyes on Him is always a good thing!


Anonymous said...

Very good suggestions Brenda. I think anyone with health issues and not feeling up to par is going to naturally feel somewhat depressed. And this time of year too. This past summer hubby and I were able to see an old doc we used to go to when we lived in that area and he upped our thyroid. Both of us have felt better, more energetic and not many times of depression, though we could as this year has been "the year of the doctor" for us. It is difficult we have found to find a doctor who will give you enough thyroid however. For some reason. They give you enough to keep from dying, but not for optimal health. And most people do not know to demand that they test both the T3 and T4 levels and determine if all are working correctly (ours were not). Even though we have 3 kids, not one will be with us on Thanksgiving Day this year...but still we are feeling fine...such would not have been the case in years past. The majority of our family are on the opposite coast and we will not see them at all this season. But we are fine with that too...and while faith definitely helps I think the higher level of thyroid has as well.

Terra said...

You mentioned two things that I thought about in church today; the sermon was about putting on the armor of God for the spiritual warfare we face, and then I thought about Mother Theresa and the dark night of depression she faced. I like your 15 suggestions and for me, I would add another; help other people. I filled an Operation Christmas Child shoebox with toys etc. today and took it to church as part of the Samaritan's Purse program; now that is a spirit lifter.

jAne said...

Thank you.

Thistle Cove Farm said...

Very good post with lots of truth. I never knew Mother T suffered from depression but it makes could she not, considering where she lived and worked and from whence she came? Since Dave's death, I'm not crazy about the holidays and hope when the farm sells and I move closer to my parents and siblings, depression won't be so overwhelming.

Ashlee said...

I think this is the post I most related to out of all of yours, and I do not lean towards depression often. I think your advice works well for overwhelmedness (Making up a word here.) I have 4 little ones, 8 and under, so this time of year is a high point. There is so much to do and keep up with, that the mountain of work gets me down. I am going to try a few if not all of your tips. I am a little younger than you, so I am not sure how into John Denver I could be. Do you have a favorite song? I will at least give one a go! :)

Thickethouse.wordpress said...

Very good advice, Brenda. I seem to be struggling with this more than usual this year.........

Nancy said...

We read to know that we are not alone! Thank you from someone who can feel winter's darkness.

Anonymous said...

This is a much needed reminder for me today. Thank you!
Cyndi in MN

Anonymous said...

Nice post. I agree that most do get hit with depression at some point. I know I've dealt with it. The Christian community tends to spiritualize it and make it sinful. Some may be caused by sin but much is physical and not sin at all.

What a laugh I enjoyed by Vee's comment about chocolate. Walking down Wal-Mart's candy isle you wouldn't know chocolate was getting scarce. Maybe the really good stuff is??

Pam (SD)

Selina said...

Thank you, Brenda. This was a timely message for me today. Thank you for the suggestions. They encouraged me today.
Please pray for my family. The Lord knows all about it.
Blessings! <3

Anonymous said...

Thank you for another beautiful and timely post. I, too, get "down in the dumps" when I want to see my two grandchildren so badly and know that the other grandparents get to spend so much time with them and do so many fun things with them. But we have to enjoy the time we do have with them and be grateful for that. It's a beautiful season and I want to keep "the joy of the Lord as my strength." Thank you, Brenda, and may you have joy and peace this holiday season.

Simply Shelley said...

I fight daily, and fight back using some of the very same methods you suggested. Reading Psalms always works for me :) Thanks for sharing this helps to know, I'm not alone in this battle......blessings

Sarah said...

Love love love this post. I am one to get down during this season as well. I always think I shouldn't be allowed to be depressed since I am a Christian, but like you say, we are only human. Very good suggestions that I will put to use when it rolls around. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

During a particularly down time, I typed out John 1:5 and framed it.
"The light shines in the darkness and the darkness can never extinguish it."
A reminder to me to shine His light in all the dark corners of my mind. It really does help me.

Anonymous said...

Mamma mia!!
how inspiring! you are marvellous!
thank you so much

God bless you always

br. Freddy

Homemaker' said...

So well written, Brenda!!!!!

Brenda Leyland @ Its A Beautiful Life said...

Beautifully said, Brenda. Could have penned a few things you shared myself (in my own words, of course).

I'm all for finding the beauty and joy in the midst of the darkness of our world... you give your readers such lovely signposts to help keep our hope topped up.

Blessings galore....
Brenda L.

PJ Geek said...

thank you for this post. Last Christmas my cat and dog passed between November and December , so last year was a bummer. It seemed like all the Christmas music was sad or super junky, and I had to turn it off. Then it seemed like Christmas was over and I never enjoyed the music. This year has to be better.

I have my own list being formed and I will take another look at yours as I do it.

Front Porch Grace said...

Such a wonderful and inspiring list. Blessed me even after the holidays.
These are the things I do daily-minus the Christmas music now.
Those things cost mostly nothing more than time and it is most certainly time invested in our Savior and the moment.