As many of you know, my story with depression brought me into this profession. While I still have my moments, they more easily pass as I’ve learned to recognize and manage them. A few weeks ago, I started to feel that once-familiar heaviness in my chest. The feeling was what I used to describe as "depression". It was confusing because my life was good. The old bully of “You’ve got a good life, shame on you for feeling this way” tried to creep in to make things even worse but I recognized the lie and cast it out (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). Further exploration into this feeling revealed an identified area I was trying to control but miserably failing at.
AHA #1: This was my M.O. and I was stepping into the cycle.
I try to control things (with good intentions of course).
I get overwhelmed because I cannot control things.
I fight harder because I’m failing at controlling things
The “failing feeling” begins to feel like depression so I fight even harder to resist it.
I physically and mentally exhaust myself to the point of give up and shut down.
Yep, that's my cycle. It's fierce and destructive. It's perfectionism. It used to be paralyzing. Once it sinks its talons in and I buy into the lie that I have to fight and resist failing out of self-sufficiency, it takes me down.
I hate this cycle with a vengeance. It lies to me. It hurts me and is a joy stealer. I refuse to waste another day in this damaging pattern. So, this time I saw it. I caught it early, surrendered it, and started to feel lighter. Days later the “overwhelmed” feeling started again and I identified another area of control so I did the same.
AHA #2: My depressive feeling ultimately comes from a need to control or the realization that I am failing to control.
I was never meant to control, I was meant to trust.
I was never meant to "give up", I was meant to "give it to God".
The fight is in the surrender.
Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
AHA #3: Resisting or stuffing emotions only leads to bigger emotions. Acknowledging your emotions and surrendering them to God allows them to manageably pass.
Surrender. If I can wrap myself around this word and meditate on it before my day starts, then maybe I could remember to catch my “control” issues at the onset. Oh, how life-giving it is to catch your control and release it to the Author and Creator. Releasing is bringing those big emotions to God and trusting Him with them.
We all have a destructive cycle filled with thoughts, emotions, and habits that lead to more thoughts, emotions, and habits. We all deal to some degree with depressive and/or anxious symptomatology from time to time. The goal is to identify your cycle and learn how to tackle it. Take time with the following questions using my experience as an example to identify and start tackling the cycle.
How do you know when you are in a negative headspace? What do you notice in your body (i.e. heaviness in chest)? Your mind (i.e. the temptation to shut down or ruminate on negative thoughts or feelings)? Your spirit (i.e. lack of peace)?
Can you identify a specific feeling and where it came from or why you feel the way you do? (i.e. overwhelmed because of my fear of failure)
Can you identify a negative pattern or habitual responses that the cycle produces? (i.e. push down, shut down, and avoid emotions at all costs).
Can you identify a common area or root cause that ignites the cycle? (i.e. control). What is the opposite of that? (i.e. surrender and trust). Take this identified area to God.
What does God's Word say about the identified area and/or the opposite? (i.e. google and identify verses to speak on surrender and trust).