I have been battling depression and thoughts of worthlessness for the past five months. I would be lying if I said I had the same strength to fight it as I did five months ago... yet the fight continues.
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. - Romans 8:37, ESV
Many of my peers battle the same thoughts. I want you to know that you are not alone. Those words start to feel cliché after a while... but the truth remains.
You. Are. Not. Alone.
Here are three things that help me fight the good fight against depression and take back what the enemy has stolen:
1) Establish A Routine
I know it is easier said than done to do things we know will help us fight our depression because our motivation is at an all-time low. With that being said, if we do not set ourselves up to succeed before we are suffocating in an ocean of self-doubt and emptiness, we will never be able to swim out.
We must set ourselves up to succeed.
In order to do this, I establish a routine and give each day a goal. Here is my routine each day:
Wake up at 7:30
Spend a minute praying
Watch youtube videos until 8:30
Take Theo on a walk until 9:30
Spend Time Alone With God from 9:30-10:00
Go to work from 10:00-4:00
Free Time until Dinner
Cook dinner with wifey at 5:30
Eat dinner until 6:30
Watch TV show (currently Family Matters) with wifey until 10:00
Go to bed at 10:15
This routine has been one of THE BEST things I have ever done to fight depression. I know what to expect next and what I need to accomplish every day. If I force myself to stay busy and eliminate downtime (minus time alone with God), I eliminate the opportunity my mind and heart have to fall into depression.
Granted, we always can convince ourselves to sleep in a bit longer, call-off work, ignore time alone with God, but we're only hurting ourselves in the long run.
Temporary pleasure isn't worth it when fighting depression. Establish a routine and force yourself to follow it by setting reminders on your phone and having a friend check in on you to see if you have completed your tasks for the day.
2) TAWG Time
I can't stress enough how important spending time alone with God each day is. If we aren't leaning into what God has in store for us every single day, then we are missing out on the peace that God provides when we dwell in His presence.
TAWG Time looks different for each person. In fact, it should look different for each person.
Some people love to read. Some people love to journal. Some people love to pray. Some people love to run (bless your heart). Some people love to paint. Some people love to write. Some people love to sing. Some people love to listen to music.
No matter how you connect with God best, use that to spend time alone with God each day. I encourage people to start with 10 minutes a day and then increase as needed. I personally like to do my TAWG time in the morning so it sets me up to succeed.
Don't overthink it. This time is between you and God. It doesn't need to look perfect.
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. - Psalm 119:11, ESV
3) Pursue Your Passions/Gifts
I recently narrowed down my areas of focus for ministry: Mental Health and Racial Reconciliation Awareness/Advocacy. As I have focused my energy on these two areas, I have noticed my depression coming in fewer waves than usual. I believe there is a connection between how we feel and what we pursue.
So I ask you... what are you passionate about? Furthermore, what are you doing to pursue those passions/gifts?
It is no surprise that our joy increases as we do the things we love... but figuring out what we love and what to do in those areas can be difficult. However, I believe it is so important when fighting depression for us to lean into our passions and gifts.
What excites you? What brings you joy?
I personally have been reading, writing, and listening to podcasts about mental health and racial reconciliation every chance I get these past few weeks. And guess what? My depression has been minimal if present at all. I have also been following advocates in these areas on social media am partnering with different movements and ministries that raise awareness.
The point is this, if you do not know what you are passionate about you will never find joy in life. I strongly encourage you to check out this personality test here to see the ways you are gifted.
Depression sucks... but it doesn't need to rob you of your joy. I encourage you to lean into what you are passionate about and spend time doing those things... even if you have to force yourself to do them. It will also be beneficial for you to find a friend or family member who is passionate about the same things and is willing to spend time with you pursuing those areas.
Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you. - Deuteronomy 31:8, NLT
As I sit here and write about depression, I have Leanna Crawford's new song: Truth I'm Standing On, playing on repeat. The chorus goes like this:
"This is the truth I'm standing on. Even when all my strength is gone, You are faithful forever
and I know You'll never let me fall. Right now I'm choosing to believe, someday soon I'll look back and see... all the pain had a purpose. Your plan was perfect all along. This is the truth I'm standing on..."
I truly believe there is hope for us. I truly believe we do not have to feel this way forever. Just as Leanna sings perfectly, right now I am choosing to believe. Some days are easier than others, but each day I trust that I am NEVER ALONE.
Neither are you.
Please don't stop fighting.
I pray these three things are helpful for you as you continue to combat feelings of worthlessness and emptiness.
But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. - Isaiah 40:31, NIV
Stay strong friends. Reach out if you need someone to walk with.