Depression isn’t all in your head

Column Post by Lisa Easterling

No one in depression should ever be told to just get over it. What most people don’t know is that there is more than one way to say, “Just get over it.”

Sometimes it sounds like other things. Well-meant things.

“Well, if you’ll just pray about it, you’ll be fine.”
“Just go get meds.”
“Stop thinking about your past!”
“Counseling will bring you back to your real self.”
“Pour it all into your journal and let it go.”

I’m not knocking all aspects of these suggestions, necessarily, but I do wish people could understand what I discovered when I went through clinical depression 14 years ago:
Depression isn’t all in your head.

I also discovered that the best advice I can give someone in depression is to find what helps him/her specifically, and do it.

All that said, while I didn’t write myself out of depression, I did find great comfort in wording my heart, my questions, my confusion.

RAINING

it’s raining outside and inside me
the siren is crying like I wish I could
and my joys are out there in the rain
drowning like I sometimes do
there’s a steady screeching from another room
relentless, though it fades now and then
pitched in such a way
that I cringe at the sound
but I guess it’s all part of it somehow
almost like helplessness
almost like sorrow but not quite
music from somewhere tries to soothe
and I wish it could
I wish it could
I reach a limp hand toward something, anything
in a poor attempt at gaining strength
God, it’s raining
if only I could lie my head on my pillow
and rest from the pressing in
the expectations
they’re counting on me
I could never let them down
the tree outside my window looms over my world
not bringing me fear but comfort
its giant branches poised willow-like
to hold me
and though it bends in the wind of this storm
it is strong enough for both of us
why does music search my soul thus?
would that I could escape such knowing
the cello and dulcimer see inside this heart
if only the pain would float away with the notes
and the rain could wash away the worry
I need to be alone
listen to the music
listen to the rain
rest under my tree
feel almost free
it’s raining

Writing didn’t cure me. Attention to my health from all angles (physical, mental, spiritual, emotional) is what pulled me through the deepest, darkest time of my life and let me live to tell about it. Writing helped me to process what was happening in my head and heart so I could understand it better and share it with you.

And now? I continue to word my story so others will have the courage to word theirs.

. . . . . . . . . .

P.S. We’d love to know your thoughts, so please be sure to comment below. Each of our commenters will be entered in a drawing for this month’s FREE book giveaway, Mothers & Daughters: Mending a Strained Relationship by author Teena Stewart. 

Lisa Easterling is a lifelong resident of the Tampa Bay area alongside her husband Steve, five children, and two grandchildren. A pioneer for home education in Florida, she has served in various areas of Christian ministry for the past 32 years. Lisa is a lifelong writer, editor, creative writing coach, and Site Director for Write Where It Hurts. Her favorite place to write is near the ocean, and she particularly loves helping others to fall in love with words. Lisa blogs at www.lisaeasterling.com and can be reached by following @writepraylove on Twitter or emailing blue@lisaeasterling.com.

Read more encouraging stories from brave-hearted women here. Be sure to grab your free copy of inspirational quotes and writing prompts while you’re there. (Look over on the right hand side!)

13 thoughts on “Depression isn’t all in your head

  1. Hi Lisa,
    That was very beautiful. I went through a major depression about 35 years ago. I felt suicidal and I could not help those thoughts. During this time I lost my brother to suicide, which put me over the edge. It is also what brought me to Christ. While that time in my life is strangely beautiful because of my newfound knowledge of the Lord and what He ultimately did in my life, it is ridden with pain-filled memories of just the sort of thing you mentioned. In fact, I can think of three different times I believe the Lord intervened when I was getting close to taking my own life because of what well-meaning people were telling me. I can tell you from experience that telling Satan to “get thee behind me!” did not work, and left me thinking I did not really have a relationship with the Lord at all. If I did, why didn’t this kind of thing work for me? Everyone made it sound so easy, as if I could wave a magic wand. So, therefore the Lord was not with me, did not love me, and I was on my way to hell anyway so I might as well get going rather than live with that knowledge. That is what I thought!! Thankfully, the Lord was bigger than all that and I survived. He did bring healing into my life and now I am in the business of helping others on that road. Thank God! Thank God for you Lisa, and for what you do. God bless!

    • Your encouraging feedback means more than I can possibly tell you, dear Linda. I remember thinking if I could just find ONE person who had been through it and could tell me I wasn’t dying or going insane, I could make it through. My response was a little different from yours in that I was terrified I was dying and was scared to be left alone. I figured out that my seratonin levels were tanking (hence the panic attacks) and when I addressed the physical side of my symptoms with herbs, vitamins, and acupuncture my healing quickened markedly. It was the oddest feeling, though, like someone had taken every sensitivity knob in me and cranked it to the max. As for “just get over it”, I would have given ANYTHING to do that! I hated being in that place and would never willingly go back there. I am so glad you came through yours and lived to tell about it. Sadly, I also lost my brother; we can’t prove it, but we are convinced his death was caused by psychotropic drug misdiagnosis. These losses pock our lives and leave craters where the rightness used to be. But praise be to God for His amazing grace and steadfast love–He never lets us go and always holds us in the palm of His hand. May He bless you, my friend.

    • You are so welcome. One of the most important things we all need to know is that we are not alone in this. We have God, and we have one another. Gathering strength and courage from each other with God as our Source takes the teeth out of depression like nothing else can.

  2. Lisa, thank you for posting this and reminding us what things we might say that can accidentally hurt those who are depressed. I have been struggling with depression since I was a teenager. But because I am a Christian, I never dealt with it completely. Today I am in counseling and on medication. I have finally accepted that these two things might be a part of what I need to do to heal completely. And that it doesn’t mean God is not the awesome Almighty Healer. It just means that in addition to prayer, journaling, forgiveness, etc, I also need to rely on the wisdom God has given faithful men and women in developing medication and counseling that can help me heal. Very appreciative of your post!!

    • Thank you so much, Lisa! You are so right–the last thing a person in depression needs is more condemnation on top of what is already being heaped by the illness itself. I am so glad you are addressing it directly and getting the help and treatment you need. Grace and love to you, dear friend!

    • Lisa,
      That’s right. God, as the Great Healer, has given us many tools etc. that we can use. I believe he uses a different combination for each of us, and he can do that because he knows each of us intimately and knows what we need. No matter what he chooses for our healing, it’s from him. So, even if medicine is a huge part of someone’s healing, I still say “praise God” because all good and perfect gifts come from him.

      • I totally agree. I personally didn’t want to go the pharmaceutical route (but then I rarely do unless I absolutely have to!) so I chose the natural route–but I chose to take action with God’s help and a lot of prayer, and I journaled the journey. Looking back over my writings during that time gives even me more insight into what was going on. It’s amazing how fuzzy memories can become, even from such pivotal times in our lives.

  3. So good to read others’ stories – today i listened to bbcradio4.com 4 people talking about depression in relation to religion. Very interesting and unbelievable to hear how so many people are still so ignorant about this illness particularly in the Church. So often suggesting that our depression is catchy, one sufferer actually was told by the clergy to stand at the back in church and not to mix with the rest of the congregation because depression was contagious. These people claim to be Christians and yet show no love. No wonder we feel so isolated in our churches. But to balance the conversation, I find Confession is so thereauputic, one can enter without an appointment; no waiting list; can enter into it with complete confidence and receive non-judgemental listening; it is also FREE !
    So I will not knock the churches after all it is run by humans with all their frailities, some do have compassion and love, so we need to be patient and open so that others can learn about Depression from the sufferers point of view.
    Today I chose to stay home all day in my nightdress avoided thoughts like ‘i should go for a walk’ or ‘i should have gone to bible study this morning’! sometimes it is good to JUST BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD. We are so programmed to BE BUSY that one almost feels guilty if not rushing out to some meeting or other. I even overloaded my week with almost everyday filled with church and bible studies. Soon i was on information overload with its detrimental effects. I am still learning that it is ok to stay home and DO NOTHING which today lead me to this blog so IT IS GOOD TO WRITE.

    • Such great points, Carmelina! Your wisdom is refreshing, my friend. We are blessed here at Write Where It Hurts that next week Beth Cranford will begin a new column focused primarily on the topic of depression. Be sure not to miss her column on Wednesdays beginning next week!

  4. Hi Lisa , thank you for that. I have suffered with depression for years. The first time I went into therapy, the counselor suggested that I try journaling as a means of helping me cope with my feelings. Since then whenever I have really bad days, I pick up pen and paper and write down my feelings thought dreams. It’s not a cure but it helps.

    • I’m glad to hear that writing has been therapeutic for you, Vikki. It always has been for me, whether in depression or not. There’s just something freeing about pouring it all onto paper/into a book/onto the screen. Blessings, friend!

  5. Several years ago, I struggled with depression and relentlessly sought all forms of help. Unless someone walks in my shoes, they simply can not fathom the darkness consuming oneself in depression. The most challenging issue involving clinical depression is isolation. How can individuals work through depression and heal when they are not validated? Where is the church who insist they show compassion? Why must depression and mental health be taboo?

    What sincerely helped me overcome depression was journaling, affirming God’s love, going to therapy where I could safely share my feelings, having a family who supported me, and reminding myself daily that I would get better. Gradually, the sun began to shine and I regained my zest for life.

    Thank you for sharing your personal journey with depression. Your beautiful poem was very touching.

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