- Pray. Seek God first and foremost! God cares. He wants you to pour your heart out to Him. He wants to hear from you. And if you have no words, simply sit in His presence and cry. Romans 8:26-27 says this "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God's people in accordance with the will of God". Isn't that crazy? Even when we have no words, the Spirit knows just what we need and will intercede for us. A dear friend calls this the "ugh prayer". It's the prayer where you sit down, have no words and just say "ugh". You know God has the rest.
- Read God's Word. Searching scripture for verses relating to depression and anxiety can be very encouraging. When you find the verses that encourage you, write them down! Post them around your house as a reminder if you have to. Memorize them so that they will be in your heart and mind for the time when you need them again. Never underestimate the power for God's Word. It is living and active.
- Seek Professional help. If you find yourself to the point where you are without hope and you know that this is something you need assistance to conquer, talk to a counselor, your pastor or a medical professional. I was of the mind years ago that if I couldn't handle it between God and myself I was a failure and wasn't Godly enough. I thought I lacked faith. Would you chastise someone for seeking help who was diabetic? Who had cancer? Who had a broken leg? Yet somehow we think that when it comes to our mental health, we need to do it all on our own. I believe God has given us these individuals to help and to guide us. He uses many Godly men and women to counsel and treat those who struggle in this area.
- Tell others! Maybe you aren't ready to write a blog post for the world to see. It's not for everyone. But, God does want us to share our burdens with others! Tell a friend, your spouse, your parents, a teacher. Be real and honest. We can't be totally raw and uninhibited with everyone. Can you imagine pouring your heart out to every person you run into? But God has placed loving, caring people in your life who want to know and want to be there for you. Not too long ago I opened up for the first time the depth of my current struggle with two very dear friends. I sobbed and stumbled through explaining. They didn't judge. They didn't find me weak. They embraced it, felt closer to me and encouraged me. And beyond them, you all have encouraged me! I want to encourage you as well. If you struggle, I want to know. I want to pray for you. You are loved and those who love you want to share in your journey.
- Find things you enjoy and do them. The last thing you want to do when you are hurting is be in the world. Do it anyway. You will want to close the door, shut the lights and be alone. Force yourself to get out. If you have a bad day and can't, it's okay. Move forward. We all have bad days. But when you can, get out. I love to play tennis, do crossfit (new to me and I'm loving it!), listen to music, write, have coffee with a friend and teach youth group. These are some of the passions in my life. What are yours? Find them and keep doing them.
Every day is a choice in how you want to live it. Some days are hard and some are filled with more joy than we can imagine. I hope that on the hard days, some of these things will encourage you. God loves you and cares for you. He knows your every struggle and He hasn't left you alone to suffer. He has given us so many things that can encourage and lift us. Thanks for allowing me to share my own journey, for walking alongside of me and for allowing me to be a part of yours!