(To Read “Depression (Part 1)” please click on the link.)
(Because of the Independence Day holiday, Manage It–Victorious in Christ–Monday is appearing instead today, Tuesday, and Timely Tips on Tuesday will return next week.)
Definition or Description of Depression
Level 2 depression is characterized by periodic feelings of defeat and lack of self-worth, increase of negativity, depleted energy, difficulty planning or following through on normal responsibilities and routine tasks, desire to stay in bed and not get up at all, increased sloppiness in dress or lack of normal hygiene (what would be characteristic for that person), lack of self-discipline (what would be characteristic for that person), possible sudden weight-gain or loss, sometimes body aches and headaches, fatigue, sleep problems (feeling tired even after sleeping all night, inability to fall asleep, or sleeping much more than normal and yet being exhausted), periodic emotional outbursts of tears and/or anger, irritability, inability to concentrate, lack of energy or desire to be with people (even close friends or family) but sometimes enjoyment of them once together–tiring easily, becoming overwhelmed easily, difficulty or inability in making decisions and increasing forgetfulness, lack of mental clarity, “fogginess”; desire “not to think about or do anything”–sedentariness. These are only some of the symptoms. The defining characteristic in Level 2 is that these symptoms don’t go away. They last and they’re more intense. The quality of life for the person is affected, and those closest to the person may become aware of and/or affected by the depression.
Actions to Take when experiencing
Level 2 Depression:
All of the Level 1 actions (see Depression–Part 1) plus:
- If you are able to sleep, but not getting enough sleep, then you need to go to bed to get more sleep and institute more regularity in rising times and bedtimes.
- Eat healthy food–whole grains, fruits and vegetables; avoid sugar (yes, I know this is the thing you feel gets you through the day some days!) Especially avoid chocolate, because it’s addicting (and caffeine in other substances such as coffee). If you can’t eliminate sugar, reduce it. Insulin is a hormone, and every time you put sugar into your system, hormones are poured in, too! You don’t need extra hormones when you’re fighting depression!!
- Be More Responsible–I say this knowing that, in this level of depression, this can be really difficult, but, it will help your emotional and mental (and even spiritual) well-being to act responsibly; as much as is possible (pray and ask for help to accomplish this), don’t neglect your responsibilities. Being irresponsible will only cause you to feel guilty, think accusatory thoughts about yourself, and cause others to communicate and feel displeasure with you, because you are not fulfilling your responsibilities. I do not say this to make you feel worse. And if you feel that this is an impossible action, then you may need to go down to Level 3 Depression and read from there. But, in Level 2 Depression, keep your commitments and do what you are responsible for–I would recommend that you avoid signing up for or adding on anything right now. If necessary, ask someone to take over some duties for you temporarily. Pray for God’s grace and strength to help you to do what you have to do. Though it may be humbling, and very hard for you, ask a friend for help with even the most ordinary of tasks at this stage, if necessary. If you truly are not able to fulfill your responsibilities, it is possible that you have passed into the next level–in that case, read and apply the action steps below.)
- Keep a clear conscience. This is always important, but it’s especially important when battling depression. Ask forgiveness of loved ones and friends, and force yourself to do what you know is right; ask God to bind and rebuke satan that you might not meet undue temptation. Engage your will–in other words, don’t let yourself rationalize sinful behavior, no matter how difficult life is right now!
- Ask for Prayer! This is humbling, but humbling is the prerequisite for God’s grace, and others’ prayers for you can be the answer!
- CALL OUT/CRY OUT to the Lord for help! Get alone with God and do not be embarrassed to literally cry out for help as though you were being attacked physically! You’re not being attacked physically, but you are being attacked!! If you can’t find somewhere alone where you can do this, go in the car and drive somewhere, close all the windows, and CRY OUT! The Bible contains verse after verse proclaiming God’s promise to answer you when you cry out to Him for help! I can also testify to God’s faithfulness in helping me when I’ve cried out to Him.
These Psalms are excellent:
Psalm 18:6 In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.
Psalm 34:17 The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.
Psalm 102:1 A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed, (italics mine) and poureth out his complaint before the LORD. Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come unto thee.
Psalm 107:19 Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses.
Psalm 107:28 Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.
Psalm 5:2 Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray.
And finally, my favorite:
Psalm 55:17 Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.
Level 3 depression
is characterized mostly by degree. It’s all of the above, only more so, and longer-lasting. You’re pretty much beyond the point of helping yourself out of it. Now is when you need a good friend or family member to come alongside. You aren’t able to think clearly, and you really don’t care about anything. You feel hopeless. You feel like you’re the most miserable of creatures and don’t deserve any better than you’re getting. You are sure that you have brought this upon yourself, and you’re ashamed. You look at the mess around you and it makes you feel worse. You don’t have the energy to do anything about the awful circumstances that surround you, in part, because of your depression. You’re (almost or entirely) incapable of getting out of bed. “Going through the motions,” if you can go at all, would be how to describe it. You have no desire to talk to anyone or go anywhere. Even though you may be a fastidious person, you have no care for how you look, or no energy to do anything about it, and you don’t care what people think of you or your actions. (Or you may care very much and this only casts you deeper into depression.) You feel you’re only just staying alive, taking care of basic necessities: eating, sleeping–nothing else; and if the depression is severe, you may not even be doing those. You may be able to keep up appearances and look better than you feel, and fool some of the people some of the time. The pendulum in this spectrum may swing from fairly capable and functioning on a basic level, all the way over to totally incapacitated. This is a hard level to describe. But, if it gets to this level, you probably will need help from outside yourself.
Actions to Take when experiencing
Level 3 Depression:
Level 1 or 2 actions,
but, as I said, often at this level you need outside help because you are not able to do them;
Especially important, however: Read (or listen to) the Bible, and Pray.
If pride is keeping you from accepting or asking for help, swallow your pride: Ask someone to pray for you, and let them know that you need their help.
Actions for those Helping a person with
Level 3 Depression:
- Pray for them and with them
- Don’t judge them
- Read the Bible to them (don’t preach, just read)
- Without them asking, just go and do the things for them that they can’t do, like grocery shopping, cleaning, caring for children, etc. Just tell them you’re coming.
- Don’t ask them to make decisions, or ask them to tell you if they need help–they don’t have the mental energy, or capacity to figure out what would help, OR TO CALL.
- Speak words of truth and encouragement
- Treat them like a normal person, but be very sensitive and kind
- Be your normal, and cheerful, self–act naturally
- Visit them–often a depressed person is extremely lonely and feels very isolated and desperately needs people around them to love them, at the very same time they are pulling away from people! (Don’t expect a depressed person to act rationally. Also, calling them may be energy-draining, so a visit is more effective. It also gives you the opportunity to assess the person’s condition and needs better than a phone call could.)
- Display your love for them through physical touch–another reason for a visit. (Holding their hand, putting your arm around them, giving a backrub, brushing their hair. These are just some of the many ways you can show love. Serve them, give gifts, spend short times together (short, but frequent, visits, is better than long, but few visits.)
- Don’t expect anything from them at first. Don’t expect thanks, any response, anything at all.
- When they are ready, move to the next step, but don’t push them:
- When they’re ready, do things with them, instead of doing the above things for them, like grocery shopping, cleaning, caring for children, going on errands, etc.
- Help them to make more of the decisions, but don’t press them beyond what they’re able.
- Continue to display love, acceptance, and to be there for them. Don’t just drop out of the picture once they seem ok. Call and check up on them, and continue to show love.
Their depression may seem very tedious and tiresome to you; you may think they should be over it by now, and think they could do better if they just tried harder! You are wrong. It may seem as though it will never end. They feel the same way, and if they sense impatience in you, they will only feel worse. You may think they seem just fine, and at times, they may indeed be just fine, but then the next moment or day be sunk lower than ever, again. This is very difficult for them. Depression requires, and can build, a lot of faith in God, or it can break a person. A person recovering from depression is much like a person recovering from any other lengthy illness–it takes time to get back up to full strength, and back to being themselves again. Pray for them, and Give them time.
the Love of Christ.
It is not easy to be a depressed person or to
love a depressed person, but
who ever said life would be easy?