Stopping for Help (depression, part 2 of 5)

“We run fast from sadness and anger because of their bad reputations, but why? They’re emotions the same as joy and serenity.” S. Kim Henson (Photo by S. Kim Henson)

“We run fast from sadness and anger because of their bad reputations, but why? They’re emotions the same as joy and serenity.”
S. Kim Henson (Photo by S. Kim Henson)

According to Merriam-Webster Online, depress means (de) do the opposite of (press) steady pushing.

In other words, stop pressing on.

I never thought to break down the word until I was in the middle of my own breakdown, which gave me plenty of time to think.

Depression, especially during its lowest point, naturally shuts down our bodies, minds and spirits to some degree. It seems a defense mechanism because we won’t willingly stop.

Come to think of it, maybe that’s the purpose of depression.

However, people are quick to point out depression is a waste of time. Until my last bout, I would agree, which is one reason I hid it. Even the slightest sign of feeling sad, I berated myself and said, “Not again.”

Family and friends ignored undesirable emotions in general. When I tried to talk about mine, they suggested a quick fix.

The problem is, emotions are for feeling, not fixing.  

Their advice echoed what I told myself for nearly a decade after I identified my depression. I tried to figure out what to do to put to rest my uncomfortable emotions. Stopping to feel them never crossed my mind.

Without realizing it, I set out to eliminate a chunk of feelings most of us label negative.

“Keep smiling. Fake it till you feel better.”

“Try harder.”

“Do something for someone else.”

“Go to Jesus and let him heal you. Pray more.”

“Get to work. Find something meaningful to do, then you won’t have time to be depressed.”

We joke now, but it wasn’t funny the day friends suggested yet again I keep a gratitude journal.

“I’m grateful I don’t have to be grateful for anything,” I said.

I sounded angry and probably was, but more than that, I was exhausted from searching for ways to get over feeling pathetic and apathetic. And tired of counsel that didn’t work, and discouraged over hearing it from people who hadn’t been where I was or weren’t admitting it.

I wore myself out acting happy, all the while I spent hours and days where I felt safest, in a closet/laundry room with the dryer running to cover my crying.

Like Ecclesiastes 3 says, it was “a time to give up.”

I’m not suggesting you quit your job to curl up in a closet and wallow, or alienate from family and friends because they don’t understand. However, in the course of my depression, I did both and both proved necessary.

I wonder what would happen if we stopped on our own, or at least slowed down, and gave ourselves permission to feel? If we heeded forewarnings like exhaustion and discouragement, and depressed voluntarily?

What’s stopping you from stopping, or at least reducing your pace?

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – To overcome depression, I gave almost every suggestion a try before I tried stopping. So far, it’s been the most helpful. Stopping to acknowledge depression. Stopping to share and write about it. Stopping to feel it.

Related posts:

What’s Your Secret? (depression, part 1)

Depression: A Waste of Time? Or Worth the Time? (depression, part 3)

The Cure (depression, part 4)

We Need To Talk (depression, part 5)

14 responses »

  1. yes i do understanding DEPRESSION. i enter into that occasionally. especially in the season of thanksgiving and christmas . IT is hard not to you think of all the past people and joys in your life. so yes i do at times get emotionally for the memories of the past. God is my strength and he helps me thru anything.

    • Thanks for stopping by to comment, Barbara. Holidays can be the hardest times of all, especially when there’s so much pressure for them to be happy and celebratory. God does make each day gentler and easier to get through. I’ll be thinking of you through this season.

  2. Maybe because depression can be a very scary place. I’ve seen too many people disappear into it. I’ve never had more than bouts of anxiety or melancholy myself, but I’ve seen enough to take depression seriously. Nobody gives somebody bleeding to death a box of band-aids and says, “Will yourself to stop bleeding”. So I hope anyone living with it gets medical help for it, because it is a health issue.
    That said, I think you could be onto something if you’re addressing plain old normal lows. Surely exhaustion is a warning to slow down, rest, and sleep. I’m a huge fan of being still, and just being. I have chronic vertigo – so I find it crucial to unplug from noise, lights, distractions, and even my lovely little smartphone, and center myself. When I get my land legs again, I can hit the ground running.
    I’m with you SKim – stopping is important, and much, much kinder than crashing.

    • I really like the last sentence of your comment, Stephanie … “stopping is important and much, much kinder than crashing.” It is kinder. I love that word, and being kinder to ourselves should happen more often. I hope readers take your comment to heart and add being still, unplugging, and kindness to their lists for self care. And everyone needs a slinky dog so they should add that as well. 🙂

  3. Kim, I love this post. It sort of sums up my reason for starting my speaking ministry – Life in Balance. After my stroke, I learned to slow down, take time to examine (and get honest) how I was living my life. God helped me realign my life, but He didn’t offer any quick fixes. It was my responsibility for thinking I could do it all and always be everything to everyone. It took some time, but I did achieve some balance in all aspects of my life. I’m still a work in progress, but I now accept me for who I am and give myself permission to be imperfect.

    I am passionate about telling my story and hopefully help other women to not make the same mistakes I have made. As I talk, women in the audience often unknowingly nod their heads, some hang their heads or wipe away tears. One time, a lady jumped up and shouted out, “Do you have a camera hidden in my house? Cause you know all about me.”

    It’s difficult to admit we are not the facade we offer to the world. I admire you for having the courage to do what was necessary in finding your way. Stopping to share and write about it. Stopping to feel it. I know this will help your readers. Thank you, my friend!

    • Agnes, I feel so fortunate to have you as a reader and friend. Thanks for understanding.

      I’m like you, I thought I could do everything for everyone. I remember a friend saying, “Your husband and kids have a God and you’re not it.” I liked the saying, but kept right on trying to be in charge. I really didn’t want all that responsibility, but I was too afraid to let go. Depression made it impossible to keep on and for that, I’m grateful.

      I always relate to whatever you post. One of these days, I hope to hear you speak. That would be a special gift.

      Love ~

  4. Kim. Your insight to such a deep issue with many of us is very important. I do believe we are made with natural God given abilities to cope and to help each other when the task is too great. There seems to be a tendency today to take a pill or shot for everything, when what we need to do is deal with it naturally as much as feasible. Miracle drugs and remedies often mask the real health issue further injures mind body and spirit in ways that were never intended.

    • Joel, your comment is so well put. Thank you!

      Several friends suggested medication, and I thought about it. However, my side of the family is riddled with addiction to prescription drugs and the like, so medication scares me. I’m also afraid of numbing out and not feeling anything … more afraid of that than I am of feeling all that comes along with depression. It’s a personal preference, I know. I have friends who have been helped by medication, but i wasn’t sure it’d help me. I figured it’d just mask what I knew I needed to deal with.

      It seems now that the way I dealt (and am dealing) with my depression was right for me. Hope it helps others to read about what I learned.

  5. I keep my eye on my real destination in life. An eternal place of Joy with my loving creator.

    God is Love. He could have created a world without me but He chose to include me.

    If I did not truly believe that I would be depressed 24/7.

    Letting God have His way in my life is not easy but it pays happiness dividends.

  6. Pingback: What’s Your Secret? (depression, part 1 of 5) - S. Kim Henson

  7. Pingback: Depression: A Waste of Time? Or Worth the Time? (depression, part 3 of 5) - S. Kim Henson

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