7 Ways I Have Dealt With Depression

“Suck it up,” I would have probably said a decade ago. Then I went through a few spats of depression, the kinds not so easily shrugged. My empathy for those who suffer with it changed.

I have had to deal with depression. "Sucking it up" isn't one of them.

I have dealt with depression in many ways. “Sucking it up” isn’t one of them.

There you have it. I get depressed. Telling me that I have no reason to be depressed doesn’t help much. I have in my mind’s eye little judgmental adversaries who are telling me I’m being overly dramatic. I’m just not positive enough, I should pray more, or I should get my act together. These gremlins are all telling me to “suck it up.” A talented and most richly blessed guy like me should get over it.

Then Robin Williams commits suicide. Good grief, one of the most talented and wealthy individuals on the planet takes his own life. A year ago, Rick Warren’s son did the same. It shook me. If the writer of the wildly bestselling Purpose Driven Life can have a child who commits suicide, I sure can, too. Busy parents aren’t immune. Just last month I posted about the death of a mother of a dozen children — my Facebook post went viral — and I discovered later that she hadn’t died of a car accident, but of suicide. I have a couple of coaches — extremely blessed and beautiful people — who have shared of their personal struggles with depression. I’ve learned much from them and their desire to help others who struggle.

Depression is everywhere. And I’m included. I wouldn’t count myself a clinical case, and I do not have suicidal tendencies, but I have experienced extremely low emotional ruts that haven’t been easily escaped. And you know me: I’m a rhetorical geek. I can talk myself in circles of how awesome life is and how blessed I am, but at times the feeling cannot be reasoned or prayed away.

I can’t explain it. Worse, I cannot afford it.

I’m self-employed with business partners, customers and vendors with responsibilities to each of them. I’m the bread-winner for my family. I can’t just call in sick or take the day off of parenting. My depression puts me and many others in precarious situations, so I’ve had to deal with it the best I can. In a way, I had better suck it up or else other people (not just me) will suffer.

I suspect millions are in my shoes. We know we suffer from depression, but we haven’t sought clinical attention. We’re on the edge — should we seek help, or should we not — kind of like the hesitation you feel before going to the doctor for a migraine, seeing the chiropractor for a pain in your back, or seeking financial help trying to keep from going broke. We may not trust the medication, advice or handout — not all are trustworthy — so we bear the pain.

We just do our best to suck it up.

I’m no expert in this, but I wanted to post on my blog on what has helped me. Depression is no sin, it just is, and I have had to deal with it just like anyone else. I have found the following seven anecdotes helpful in dealing with my depression. I hope these resonate with you or a loved one who struggles, too.

  1. Seek Friendships. I have a few people in my life whom I call when going through tough times emotionally. My wife, my parents, and a couple really good friends (the kind who won’t tell me to simply “suck it up”). In fact, be proactive and develop these connections before you fall into a depressive state. We all need friends that can give strong counsel in life, whether you suffer from depression or not.
  2. Exercise. This works for me. When I can’t shake it, I go for a run. This isn’t just mental. Research shows that physical exercise create endorphins that run through your bloodstream and help alleviate depression. We all know this to be true, but we just need to get up and start getting in shape.
  3. Routine Meditation. I have found myself most depressed when I’m out of sync from my daily routines. It’s really easy to find yourself out of your normal state when you’re self-employed. Routines like reading, silent meditation, prayer, coffee or tea in the morning while watching the sun rise, etc., etc. These are all extremely helpful to set a pattern on non-depressive rhythm.
  4. Cut the Crap. I find myself habitually jumping on Internet news way too much. I also have an artistic love for deep — but depressing — music (Pink Floyd and Evanescence are two of my favs). When depressed, I need to just turn it off. I can only deal with depressing news and complex musical poetry when I’m in a healthy state of mind. When I’m depressed, the crap doesn’t help at all. It sometimes makes it worse.
  5. Call Out the Trigger. For me, situations will trigger depression. An overwhelming debt, a relational conflict, a disappointing result from some project I’m working on — these are common triggers for me. When problems arise that aren’t easily solved, I take the time to articulate them to help alleviate depression. Writing is a most therapeutic way to call out the trigger, pull my thoughts together, and come to resolution that I am able to put into action. (Come to think of it, this very blog post helps: I’m calling out depression as a personal problem of mine.)
  6. Learn. I hope this doesn’t sound overly simple, but I have found this to be a helpful focus. Here’s what is tough when I’m depressed: I must focus on what I need to learn, and not what others should learn. I can get myself wound up pretty tight when an actual person is the trigger (see #5), but I need to dial back and ask myself what I need to learn in the situation. This could be what Jesus was getting at when he told us not to judge one another and quit focusing on the speck in another’s eye. “Stop focusing on what they should learn…focus on what you should learn.” This is often a heavenly reminder for depression like the kind I experience.
  7. Take on What Is Next. This is tough for a dreamer like me. I cannot stop thinking big, and I get depressed when my dreams are cut down to reality. Instead of worrying about depressing results, I will force myself to just take the next step. Live in the moment, you might say. I ask myself, “What simple task or project can I do next?” Like exercise, just the simple act of motion helps get those mental endorphins flowing and pull my thoughts out of depression. When I’m back to my optimistic, jeubulant self, I can then get back to the bigger things in life.

Depression is a tricky subject, and I have to admit that I’m no expert. But I’m learning — probably just like you — to deal with it and get back to a life worth living. I hope this helps you, and if you have other thoughts, please add them to the comment section below. Others would probably find your ideas helpful.

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Karen Bettison

    These are helpful suggestions. I too have found myself struggling with depression for no reason, and trying antidepressants only made me feel worse, so it has been a life-long quest to find natural ways to combat it. First, get sleep, avoid stress, eat healthy (and a Vitamin B supplement doesn’t hurt). But I think many times there are triggers that bring it on in spite of our best efforts. We can not always avoid those triggers, but we can often slow down our interaction with them and step back to get some distance and time to recover. I have also found that when I get depressed I must remind myself that my emotions aren’t real, not to trust them, and that they will pass and sometimes I have to “wait it out” or “sleep it off”, because with time, nutrition, and rest, the mind does heal, just like the body does. In the meantime, reflecting on what I can learn from it is helpful. Sin only enters into the equation when we doubt what we know to be true in the midst of confusing emotions. Truth, and meditation on truth, comes in most effectively at this point. It gets us through those dark times until we can “feel” well again.

  • Tracie Upham

    I am right there with you… I know I should suck it up, be thankful for what I have, and smile because the kids need a happy mother. But mostly my job description seems to be, “Try to make teens do the things they don’t want to do” and I get tired of being the bad guy and hearing all the complaints. Sometimes, I just need to get out of the house. The problems are still there when I get home, but at least I’ve had a little time to chill.

    • Thank you, Tracie!

    • terry jones

      Traci, Just wanted to say that i identify with you. I started this strange thing i call “Difficult Conversations” with my teenage son. When he wants something big, i tell him that we need to have 10 or 20 or 30 difficult conversations first. He usually starts out reluctantly and it is unpleasant, but i try not to argue. When he realizes he is making progress towards his goal, he wants to have more conversations. Today we had 5 conversations about things that have been bothering me about him/what i have been teaching him. …. I think of things all the time and jot them down. Some things are easy/cheesy, but some things are important (like sex stuff). …. I just saw your post and thought this idea might help you. …. yeah, i hate always being the bad guy too. Very frustrating.

  • Lydia Childress

    Thank you for writing on this. Realistic and (highly) relatable.

    • I think this is my all-time favorite comment. Thank YOU, Lydia.

  • Jennifer Pepito

    This little book written by my twelve year old son has lots of practical advice for fighting depression. He watched a family member go through it and learned from what he observed.
    Finding Joy in a World of Sorrow: What is Joy and How You Can Find It by Ethan Robert Pepito et al. http://www.amazon.com/dp/1492269190/ref=cm_sw_r_udp_awd_pKf7tb0V8NSMB

  • Anonymous

    Dear mr Jeub,
    Over the past 3 years I have dealt with a clinical case of depression. It has been quite severe. I am choosing to post this comment anonymously for the sake of privacy, but you know my dad, and have met me. I wanted to let you know that a friend of mine told me about your blog post and it has given me a lot to think about. I’m not very old. (In my teens) and I have even gone so far as attempted suicide. I want you to know that I am praying for you and I am so grateful that you have shared your story.

    • You are always welcome.

    • edsonm1973

      Keep fighting! Try to remember that you are fighting an illness just like a cancer patient has to fight the cancer. You cannot do this by yourself. Seek help from friends, family and, if you can, some professional help. Stay strong! I’ve been fighting severe depression since my teens and I’m still here fighting at 41! Take care! xXx

  • Rachel Campbell

    Depression is a medical condition that is often a symptom of different diseases and deficiencies such as thyroid disease, low vitamin D and low iron. If anyone is suffering from it, I highly encourage getting these three things tested! Depression should not go untreated, and by that I mean looking for the root cause.

    Taking an adaptogen such as Rhodiola Rosea is also a holistic alternative to medication. Adaptogens help your body regulate stress and moods.

  • NG

    The question is, what can you do when you cannot avoid the tiggers? The loss is always in the front of you – no amound of praying can take that away. Those who have had a miscarriage, or death of a child, at least have the hope to see them in Heaven – the love is not dead. But those of us who have had a death of a relationship and thus our dreams dashed, cannot console ourselves that ‘One day in Heaven’. Unless God sends me someone else, I will never have the joy of a sacred union of marriage and children.
    Yes, God is the ultimate comfort – but that does not mean the pain is easier to carry.