Over the course of the last twenty years I have had some pretty serious bouts with depression. I fought against taking medication for a long time. I tried diets and herbs and even a cream. Eventually, I gave in and took some meds. I tried several different kinds. They helped me, and I believe that medication is a good alternative for fighting depression, especially in the short run. All of the meds I took had side effects that I eventually decided I would rather live without. Thankfully, I’ve been medication and depression free for more than three years.
Besides saving my life, the chemo for my lymphoma threw me into instant menopause and this, in turn, helped a lot with my depression. I also learned about grace. As my faith grew, I learned to deal with things differently than I did before. I came to truly believe that God is good and that God loves me. It’s been a long road, and at times a hard one, but I know I’m headed in the right direction.
I posted a couple of weeks ago about the list of gifts I’m making– a list of 1,000 things I am thankful for. I got the idea from reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. It is changing my life. Today was the last day of our winter break. I spent most of it planning a re-enactment of Pickett’s Charge. I also did laundry, re-made beds, and did some cooking. As the day drew toward evening, a deep depression settled on my spirit. I felt as if my chest would cave in from sadness. It’s been so long since I felt this way, that I began to panic. I told myself to breathe. I prayed. I picked up my little notebook and wrote, ” 107. An almost overwhelming sense of depression that reminds me what depression feels like so that I can empathize with others.” Then I started at the beginning and read through my whole list. It was amazing. It took me back moment by moment over all the blessings of the last few weeks. As the pictures painted by the words slipped through my brain, I felt the depression lift. Not all of the things on my list would be considered “good” at first glance. Number 88 is “Backpain–reminding me to trust.” The one that really shocked me was number 92, “Depression-reminding me that the world is broken and I need Jesus.” It surprised me because I don’t remember writing it. I had already thanked God for depression. All of the other things on the list brought back memories from the last two weeks. (I never realized what a great journal this would be.) But I have no memory of the depression listed as number 92. I think that this is proof that thankfulness is an antidote for depression. I’m excited! (I’m not talking about clinical, physical depression here. That’s something that needs medical attention.) Thanksgiving really does chase the blues away.
At the beginning of my little notebook, I wrote a quote from G.K. Chesterton. “The greatest of poems is an inventory.” As I read my list this afternoon, I experienced the truth of these words. My blessing inventory is a poem that soothes the soul. I wrote, “108. Reading this list and remembering God’s gifts–like Christmas revisited.”