What you read on Struggle to Victory covers one of the ways I keep from falling back into the pit of depression. I get into the details of topics I am struggling with, find out what Scripture says about them, and process them by writing about (i.e., reflecting on) them. Doing this helps tremendously in capturing thoughts and not letting them hold me captive, which is what happened when I didn’t know how process feelings. At some point, I just determined not to let my thinking exist without boundaries and structure anymore, and writing gives me a way to establish the boundaries and structure I need to keep well away from the pit.
Writing isn’t all I do. I’ve discovered that one thing rarely does exactly what you need in any area, at least not for very long. Writing simply provides an outlet for my very busy inner life. Being an introvert, my inner life is as busy as the outer life of most extroverts. Writing gives me a way to order that world and to deal with it in a healthy way.
In addition to, or rather alongside and within writing, there are various ways I keep from going in the direction of pit dwelling.
First and most importantly, maintaining a daily, consistent relationship with God through Bible study and prayer is essential. I’m not saying this as a high and mighty “look how spiritual I am” statement; instead, it’s meant to simply say that I know I am completely and utterly unable to stay out of the pit of depression without him. Without the Holy Spirit working in my life, and without God’s mighty power active in and through me, I would not be alive today.
Staying physically healthy also needs to be a priority. This happens by eating healthy, exercising, and getting plenty of quality rest. I’m willing to try different approaches to health and wellness because I’ve learned that limiting yourself to the approach of traditional medicine only limits and may even inhibit your ability to overcome depression and become healthy. Integrative medicine provides an essential avenue for healing.
Staying aware of personal triggers is important too. I know the signs of my getting overwhelmed (e.g., digestion issues, sleep problems, anxiety, and general grumpiness), and I make adjustments as soon as I realize what’s happening to prevent any more veering off into bumpy territory.
While I need routine and structure to some extent, I must balance them with flexibility and variety. Otherwise, I get into a rut of boredom that also leads to depression. Fortunately, my family and friends help tremendously with this area not just with their busy schedules but also with their zest for discovery and adventure.
Knowing what to avoid is also key (e.g., include sugar, romance novels, and being along for too long). One area of thought that I need to be extra careful with is absolutes. Saying “I never…” or “I can’t…” or “I always…” usually takes me down a very narrow and precarious path. I’ve learned to leave the absolutes up to God who has the capacity to follow through with them simply because He doesn’t change, and I do.
Some ask what I would have done differently now that I am able to look back on depression with some objectivity. Let me simply say that I just would have done all of this sooner.
“If I had to live my life again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner.” (Tallulah Bankhead)
I would have taken the small steps needed to get out of the pit sooner. I would have asked God to help me sooner. I would have let others help sooner. I would have let my pride go sooner. Nothing really done differently since all were necessary parts of the journey. They just all could have happened sooner.