I have battled depression for many years. I had my first foray into the crazy world of mixed-up emotions when my oldest child was a newborn. She will be sixteen in a few months, and in that time, depression has been just outside my door. And sometimes right inside the living room. Every day, I seek to overcome my anxiety without medication. I am not opposed to medication. I was on Zoloft for nine months following the birth of my fifth child in 2010 and it was just what I needed at the time. But like most people, I try to avoid medication of any kind unless absolutely necessary. I wanted to share some things that are helping me overcome depression, one day at a time.
1. Daily Bible reading. I formed this habit as a teenager, but I admit that I have missed some days here and there. I have now determined not to miss it (unless I am sick with a fever or something terrible), even if I must read it at 11 o’clock at night. Many days – more than I can count, really – I receive just what I need to get through a particular valley. Recently, I was thinking about my emotional struggles, and the Lord gave me Psalm 55 in my daily reading. What a blessing that chapter was to my heart!
2. Daily prayer time. This area is one in which I have not been faithful since my teenage days! Prayer is work. It takes discipline to clear your schedule and have quiet, uninterrupted time to talk to the Lord. I shared last September how my prayer life had suffered. I have since seen my prayer life bear fruit in personal ways. Not only have I worked to set aside a daily prayer time, but also to pray throughout the day. One of the verses that blessed me from Psalm 55 was verse 17: Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.
3. Regular church attendance. My flesh rises up and dislikes church sometimes. That is when I have to do the hard thing, and go against my carnal desires. I have never regretted going to God’s house! I am especially thankful for the loving church family I have. They pray for me, and even though I’m “the pastor’s wife”, they don’t hold me to a super-human standard. They let me be me: fallible, talkative, crazy, Valerie.
4. Regular exercise, preferably outdoors. For years I have done aerobic DVDs and indoor walking DVDs. They are okay for rainy or cold days, but being outside in the sunshine and fresh air in God’s creation just can’t be topped! Nothing is as invigorating as the great outdoors.
5. Keeping my thoughts on the truth as Philippians 4:8 says. I’ve written about this before, and it is still the case today. Reminding myself of what is true, or real, has helped me keep my mind on the right things. To do this, I try to have the following always close at hand:
- Good books. I have a list posted on Goodreads of books I want to read. I am constantly keeping my eyes and ears open for recommendations.
- Good music. The advent of the iPod, iPhone and all things “i” has made listening to music easier than ever before. I love having my playlists handy and my ear buds with me. For my birthday, my husband bought me a bluetooth wireless speaker that pairs with my iPhone. This has been a great way to listen to music while I do chores or get ready for the day. I have also paired my phone with my van, so I can drive and listen!
- Good sermons. Now that I have the aforementioned wireless speaker, I am able to listen to sermons from sermonaudio.com! I listen to my husband’s sermons there, or any preacher he recommends to me. One preacher who has blessed me is Bro. Don Fortner. But there are hundreds – probably thousands – to choose from.
Even when I’m doing all of the above, panic can strike at any time. If it does, I find a quiet place and offer a meager prayer or even a frightened cry to the Lord. Psalm 55:22 says, Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. I plead for His help, and He has not failed me.
Someday, I’ll be Home and free from depression forever. Until then, I will rejoice that in my weakness, HE is strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
From my heart,