Depression is a difficult concept to define, even for those who have suffered its effects. The struggles of depression are so diversified and the intensity so varied, it can often feel like a “whack-a-mole” scenario, where addressing one symptom leads to a series of others popping up.
But here are four abbreviated points from my book, Storm Breakers: Silence the Storm of Depression, to remember when dealing with depression:
1. “Depression is an appetite.”
What does food have to do with depression? Appetites don’t deal solely with our palates. Rather, they can be considered our preferences in how we respond to situations. Similar to our food cravings, a depressive appetite can be fed and encouraged, or starved and caused to weaken.
As humans, we don't gain weight overnight, and we don’t arrive at peak level fitness after a brisk 30 minute walk. It takes a decision to start the process. That same mentality applies to fighting depression.
Here is an example: For many, depressive episodes can mean laying in bed for hours on end or ignoring hygiene altogether. We can starve that appetite by doing things that oppose those behaviors, like going for walks or taking a shower. Even things as small as brushing your teeth can prove instrumental in starving a depressive appetite. Every victory counts.
1 Corinthians 9:27 “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”
2. Instead of “food for thought”, it should be “Thought is food… for behavior.”
Take a moment and try to do something without thinking about it. Give up?
It’s not possible.
There are things we do innately, like breathing, but if we are to accomplish something we specifically desire, it first starts as a thought. And using the appetite concept from above, let’s drive it a little bit deeper.
Thought is food, for behavior. Imagine each thought we have is like a morsel of food that feeds that appetite. We can choose to eat quick and dirty and easy, like fast food, or we can choose a healthy diet that requires more work and preparation but is far more nutritious.
If we actively choose to think beneficial thoughts, things that reinforce our self worth and encourage our growth, that is what will be fed inside of us. If we reactively choose to think about things that devalue us, then that is what will be fed.
If you really want to go deeper into this concept, imagine your emotions like seasonings, herbs and spices. Think of anger like hot sauce. Think of joy like sugar. Or bitterness like lemon juice. We add these elements to our thought patterns and it completely changes the dish. And sometimes, it can ruin them. We must be mindful of how much we add in.
Remember, thought is food… for behavior. And emotions are like seasonings. So think on the things written in Philippians 4:8, and watch the change.
3. You are not your thoughts.
Proverbs 23:7a says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:”
In the Hebrew, that word “heart” has a different meaning that we are accustomed to. According to Strong, that word is “nephesh” (H5315), which means “soul”.
In other words, as a man thinks in his soul, so is he.
In other words, there are two types of thoughts. Thoughts of the mind and thoughts of the soul. God has given us the mind as a place to challenge thought. To work through the iterations and veracity of it. If it is false, it is quickly thrown out. But if found to be true, it descends into the soul, where it is seeded, grows and fruits.
Here is an example: If I am pondering the thought, “I am worthless”, and find it false, I will quickly throw it out and no longer consider it. But if I find it to be true, it goes down into my soul where that “truth” now affects the way I see myself, the way I act around others, and influences the decisions I make.
This is why it is so imperative that we consider not just what thoughts we are thinking, but what thoughts we are falsely calling true.
You must remember that you are not your thoughts. You are who God says you are. In those moments of intrusive thought, you must dive into the Bible and find scriptures that reinforce who you are in Christ.
Here are a few to get you started:
1 Timothy 1:7
4. Self Care is vital and acceptable.
Self-care is not a four letter word, like some people treat it. It’s two four letter words!
All kidding aside, we must understand that we are valuable in the eyes of God. We are His creation. And that we are worth taking care of, even in our own actions.
Consider what external influences you are partaking of that do not reinforce faith and healing, like social media or television programs. It is an act of self care to remove those influences from your life.
In its stead, invite self value through activities that promote your worth. Small things like massages, manicures and pedicures or jumping in a hot tub. As a man, many of these pamperings are ingrained in me to be beneficial to women only. But, in their right place, they can serve a great purpose for both men and women.
As an example, I hadn’t been to a barber in almost 25 years. I just simply buzzed my hair off. But the moment I went and had someone style my hair for me, and trim/shape my beard, I felt a sense of confidence that I hadn’t in a very long time.
But if you simply can’t get past the idea of these things not pertaining to you, even enjoyable or repeatable mundane tasks like wood carving or gardening can go a long way when you do them to unclutter your mind. Again, it’s the small things.
And never be afraid to create space healthily. Things like taking naps, communicating your needs, taking people breaks, and communing with God, are all vital in promoting self care. Just remember that an hour-long nap is good, but staying in bed for 3 days is not. Taking an hour away from interacting with people is good, but avoiding them for a week is not beneficial to anyone. And it's always okay if you need a moment to process what's going on around you.
As someone who God has healed from depression, I know that it can be overwhelming and oftentimes feel insurmountable. But by changing a few behaviors and taking an active approach to this struggle, you can conquer it. Take these four ideas and put them into practice. And if you need more insight, feel free to set up a counseling session with me. I’ll be honored to help you Silence the Storm of Depression.
President/ Lead Counselor