Healing: Isolating From the World’s Concerns

Anxiety & Depression

Isolating from the people we love and the passions and values that drive us during a depression episode is a not the best choice. Yet isolating from the world and its concerns can be healing.

For Christmas weekend I chose to isolate from the world. I focused exclusively on God, my family, and the pursuits that matter to me. Usually my anxiety compels me to stay aware of current affairs, so not satisfying the urge to look was quite difficult. Yet I didn’t give in. It was a battle to force myself to focus on what was the most valuable use of my time.

Not looking at the news – not devoting all my mental energy to what ails the world and my country – helped me in an unexpected way. I was struggling with an oncoming depressive episode – the gas was poured so to speak. All I had to do was light the fire by giving into my anxiety. However, for the first time in a long time, that did not happen.

Yes, it is important to stay aware of what is going on. However, there is a balance to be sought. I daresay what we value most and what drives us on should take up ninety-nine percent of our time. It gives less fuel to anxiety and depression, and it is far less time wasted on things we cannot change.

Depression Triggers: Insecurity

Anxiety & Depression

Insecurity: A Subtlety Dangerous Trigger

I am learning that insecurity triggers my depression. I often get distracted by what is outside of my sphere – by what has nothing to do with my life or what is important to me. I see what others have, or what they have accomplished, and the joy I have in my achievements diminishes. Insecurity rises, and I start to question the quality and worth of what I have accomplished. I question if my projects and passions are worth anything, and ultimately, if I do not make a conscious effort to stop myself, I spiral into questioning my self-worth.

Insecurity is not the most dramatic trigger I have, but the danger lies in how subtle of a trigger insecurity is, and how little it takes to activate it. My worst triggers – like certain kinds of headlines – I can easily spot and avoid. Insecurity is another matter entirely – it has a variety of causes, and it is not a trigger I can sidestep easily.

The Road to Getting Better

Insecurity is something I cannot avoid – I must face it and work through it for the overall improvement of my mental health. Some tactics I am using:

Conscious Distracting

I make a conscious effort to stop and take a moment to breathe. If needed, I switch to a different activity that will require my serious focus.

Detach and Refocus.

I remind myself of what is most important to me – being a daughter of God and helping/loving people – and how whatever has caused my feelings of insecurity actually has no bearing on my life and priorities. I do not have to let a moment of insecurity derail me. My meaning comes from what I value, and what I do to express those values. I am moving forward with what is important to me, and that is what matters most long-term and in this moment.

Leaning into the Word of God

I am a person of faith, and the Bible has been a major source of hope and comfort for me. I can focus on what I have yet not achieved, on the ways in which I believe I fall short, etc. or I can focus on God’s eternal words of reassurance.

Conclusion

It has taken me a long time to recognize insecurity as a trigger for my depression. However, being aware of the problem is the first giant step in solving the problem. I feel empowered to continue on my recovery journey, and using simple tactics like stopping and refocusing, I can overcome this.

Enduring Tough Days

Anxiety & Depression

For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17

Depression’s Daily Grind

Depression makes daily life feel like an endurance race that never ends – it only gets more draining over time. In my experience, this is because depression saps one’s energy and hope for the future. Thoughts of death intrude my mind and become dominate. Things that gave me pleasure in life loose their luster.

I have hope of remission for my depression symptoms, but sometimes that hope is not enough to comfort me in the daily struggle.

Hope From God’s Presence

The daily verse in my Bible app was Zephaniah 3:17 (displayed above). Certain phrases struck out to me and sunk into my heart. God is living with me, in my heart. His healing power is a reality in my life, especially when I choose to focus on His presence and the Hope He promises me.

If I shut God out and I focus on my depression and its negative effects on my life, I will be overwhelmed. If I choose instead to focus on my Mighty Savior, I have the strength to keep going, and I can see the path forward.

Hope From Promised Joy

He will take delight in you with gladness…He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” This part of the verse brings me great hope! Even when I feel despair about my own existence (and I am overwhelmed by negative thoughts and feelings), my Jesus is rejoicing over me!

He takes delight and joy in me, all the time. He has not rejected me because of depression, and I am not worth less in His eyes if I am not feeling the way Christians are “supposed” to feel. I can also take strength from the joyous love Christ has for me.

Loving Deliverance From Fears

With his love, he will calm all your fears.” Well-meaning people who do not understand or who have not experienced depression often wonder why one cannot just “get over it.” The same is true for the disorder that often accompanies depression: anxiety.

Thank God that He heals with love and gentleness. I have experienced this at some of the lowest points in my life. God is consistently loving and gentle. I can lean into His love and let His reassurance calm all my fears and anxieties. When I choose to engage with His beautiful word, and I believe in and lean into the comfort He gives me, my mental health improves. It can be the difference between a bad or good day for me. His Love is real and potent.

I hope this gives someone out there a bit of a comfort, and a reason to make his/her next step forward!

Seeking Help: An Act of True Humility

Anxiety & Depression

True humility and fear of the LORD lead to riches, honor, and long life.” -Proverbs 22:4

One form of true humility is the ability to recognize when one needs help, and then having the will to seek out help. I am not referring to everyday situations, but to those dark moments of the soul when one realizes s/he cannot continue on in the same, broken condition. These are the moments when one is confronted with the reality of how fractured one’s internal world has become;  how broken one’s heart truly is. Maybe there is still some hope left, but the light is faint. The tragedies and difficulties of life can hammer one’s soul into this downcast state, as can constant struggles with mental health issues. Once one is in the figurative pit, one needs a helping hand to climb out again.

On my About page, I discuss how 2020 was the year that brought me to my knees. Prior to 2020, I was subject to the ravages of severe depression and anxiety for ten+ years. A combination of personal circumstances and my own reserved, but stubborn nature made my depression worse. I rejected fully the idea of getting help, rather, I ignored my problems. This approach didn’t help me, and my inner world kept falling to pieces. When 2020 came, and the outer world seemed to fall apart, I had no emotional strength left to help me cope.

Seeking help takes on a variety of forms. For me, the first step was admitting that I was getting worse, and that I didn’t know how to fix myself.  The second step was changing my mind about seeking out resources to help me, including therapy and medications. I also had to cultivate a willingness to lean into my relationship with God. His Word is full of comforts, but I had never allowed myself to rest on those comforts. I now know that part of fearing the Lord is to submit to His help and comfort; and to let His infinite strength carry me. A long life, with dignity and honor, is a hope I dare to have again.

If you struggle with depression, and you increasingly wonder how you will get through today, much less tomorrow, please get help. Do it for yourself, and the people who love you.

Anxiety and World Chaos

Anxiety & Depression

This morning, I binged on the news. This is toxic for a person diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder, and predictably, I triggered my anxiety. I began to dwell on how twisted the wider world is becoming, and how little I, as one individual, can do about it. The dreaded feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness began to overwhelm me.

I tried to distract myself; I tried to focus on what matters to me most in life, but it is hard to ignore the chaos of the world, and to not obsessively worry about how it will impact me and those I love. I am always afraid of having a watershed moment where everything good in my life falls apart. If that happens, what will I live for then?

The world has been shaken. I cannot trust in governments or in the false security of the lifestyle I am used to living. Institutions and circumstances are fallible and changeable. One thing is clear: I need a new foundation for peace.

In Psalm 2, The nations gather to war in futility, and at the end of verse 6, the Lord’s sovereignty is reaffirmed. Today I choose to rest on this. In an increasingly unstable world, it is time for me to return to my Bedrock: my Lord’s Word.

1Why are the nations so angry?
    Why do they waste their time with futile plans?
The kings of the earth prepare for battle;
    the rulers plot together
against the Lord
    and against his anointed one.
“Let us break their chains,” they cry,
    “and free ourselves from slavery to God.”
But the one who rules in heaven laughs.
    The Lord scoffs at them.
Then in anger he rebukes them,
    terrifying them with his fierce fury.
For the Lord declares, “I have placed my chosen king on the throne
    in Jerusalem, on my holy mountain.”