What’s really going on?
She lay awake at night wondering if tomorrow will be any different than today. She fluffs her pillow and rests her head on it hoping this time she will drift off into a deep sleep. Still, nothing happens. She decides to slowly move closer to her mighty man of valor and finds comfort laying on his chest listening to his slow rhythmic breathing. Still, nothing happens.
She finally begins to call on the only friend she knows is still up and will not consider her call an interruption. In fact, this friend may just consider it a divine intervention. It starts out as a simple conversation but later turns into a cry for help. She yells as quietly as she can saying I don’t know what else to do. I’ve prayed, fasted, cried, prayed, fasted, cried…
What I was trying to avoid crept back into my life and I could no longer deny it’s presence. I was depressed.
Have you ever felt yourself falling into a pit and you’re trying to grab hold to the sides, but there’s nothing for you to grip so you keep falling? For the past couple of weeks, that’s how I’ve been feeling. I tried to deny what should’ve been evident, but this time it didn’t look the same. It didn’t feel the same. It didn’t sound the time. It…was…depression.
A few years ago I discovered that I get depressed during certain seasons. To be exact, fall and winter. The darker it starts to get outside the darker I start to feel inside. Each year I declare that I will not fall into the pit again, and will do a better job of coping, but what happens when you accidentally fall in because you didn’t see it coming or you have absolutely no control of it? I remember feeling good, doing good, and just happy for no reason. Then slowly I started feeling icky for no reason at all. I stopped wanting to get out of bed. I was very restless at night and exhausted during the day.
I remember hearing about Seasonal Affective Disorder during one of my graduate counseling courses and thinking to myself, “That’s how I’ve been feeling.” According to mayoclinic.org website, “Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer.”
You ARE NOT fighting alone
In my culture, speaking about depression or other mental illnesses used to be (and still can be) somewhat taboo, and receiving counseling is usually unheard of so you learn to cope alone. I was taught to just pray about it and believe God to heal me. However, now that I’m older, I realize that seeking help doesn’t mean that I’m faithless and do not believe God can heal me. I’ll always remember my graduate professors stressing the point that every counselor needs a counselor/therapist.
So, this year I’ve decided to try something different. Instead of coping with seasonal depression on my own, I’m opening myself up to speak with a spiritual advisor and/or trained counselor. Because I have trust issues and do not want to feel as if I’m being judged, I’ve decided against seeking counseling from someone I know. I will, however, speak with someone that has been highly recommended by others I trust. With that said, I encourage you to also seek counseling if you’re experiencing depression or any other signs of mental illness. Depression is real and you are not fighting it alone.
It’s better to step out into the light afraid than to remain in the dark alone.
– Tiffany Z. Williams
* I love getting out of the house to have lunch or some me time with like-minded people*
As promised here are 7 Ways to Cope with Seasonal Depression
1). Seek God/Pray
Reading the book of Psalms and Proverbs helps me a lot, but I also love to google “scriptures to read when you’re depressed” and recite/study those scriptures.
2). Talk to a trusted friend or make time to connect with others
When you’re depressed, you will likely want to withdraw and isolate yourself from others. Reaching out to close family and friends can be tough because you feel alone and that no one will understand you. This is not true. Be honest with your family and friends and communicate to them what you need. If you don’t know how to communicate what you need maybe you all can come up with a plan together to make sure you’re not going through this alone.
3). Keep the lights on
When you wake up, make sure you open your blinds. Aim for at least 15 minutes of sunlight a day to boost your mood. Try not to be in dark places if you do not have to. Surround yourself around as much light as you can. Sometimes I’ll go out on my front porch to do my work because my house is very dark and gloomy.
4). Exercise or enjoy nature
Lack of sunlight can make depression worse. Take a short walk outdoors, have your coffee/lunch outside, etc. Exercise helps to improve your mood and reduce anxiety.
5). Take a relaxing bath
Add Epsom salt or diffuse essential oils:
Epsom salt helps your body detoxify and absorb the magnesium, which is very helpful for depression and anxiety. Because I also deal with really bad mood swings during my cycle, Epsom salt has become a product I usually always have on hand to help me remain “balanced”. I also like to diffuse essential oils such as lavender and frankincense.
6). Challenge negative thinking
Challenging negative thoughts isn’t always easy, that’s why you have to make a habit of replacing them with truth. I engage in a lot of self talk and ask myself questions such as:
- Is this thought I’m having true or not true?
- How would I encourage someone else who is dealing with “stinking thinking”?
- How can I face the truth without feeling bad about myself?
- What’s a more positive way of looking at this situation?
7). Seek professional help
If you’ve taken steps to help yourself but find that your depression is getting worse I encourage you to seek professional help. This doesn’t mean you’re weak or a failure. It just means you need assistance with winning the war against depression.
Some people do not seek professional help because they do not feel they have the money to pay for it. I was in that place too, but I reached out to a friend who was willing to reach out to one of her therapist friends to see if she would be willing to talk with me for free. Also, most churches are equipped with staff members who are trained to help you through this process free of charge. Just remember people can’t help you if they don’t know you need their help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Before you leave, I would love to pray with you.
Heavenly Father, I thank You for Your saving grace. I thank you for the persons reading this and for knowing exactly what they need. Right now they’re suffering in silence and feel like they’re slowly slipping away from reality. Give them strength to keep going and to reach out to others for help. Infuse them with hope and cover them in your love and grace. Amen.
-In His love and mine,