So many times during long Minnesota winters, I find my friends discouraged and down, and even walk through depression myself. Here’s the truth, whether you live in the dark days of Minnesota, Michigan or Wisconsin, or you’re walking in the sunshine of California or Arizona, every single one of us faces depression at one time or another.
My daddy used to put life’s struggles into three different columns. He’d say the first column is for everything that is circumstantial. What’s happening in your world? Are you sick? Did your spouse lose their job? Do you have a lot of bills piling up? That creates stress and depression.
Then he’d say that we live in Minnesota and so that was column 2. Was it because the winter was long and dark and you weren’t getting enough sunshine? It’s a proven fact that up to 90% of our vitamin D comes from sunlight. Vitamin D is required to help prevent bone diseases, muscle weakness, and some internal cancers. It can speed the healing process. If we had colds in the summer, Dad would say, “Get outside with a book and sit in the sun and read.” We need sun and light. Plus it makes us feel more motivated and energetic.
Column 3? Well, that’s the one where it’s a chemical imbalance. Something isn’t right within your system and it’s creating the depression. You need to see a medical doctor for treatment and at times, get into a counselor for sessions.
Mostly, for me, it was column 1-circumstances. I’d get discouraged over some big car break down that wasn’t planned. I’d feel mopey over a friend moving. I’d get depressed when things weren’t going right with the kids, or I had ministry issues with clients or staff.
Once and awhile, I would become depressed in the winter, and as I’ve gotten older, I really dread Januarys in Minnesota. Dark and dreary days tend to get me down.
Although I have never experience column 3, I have had friends and relatives walk through the dark days of depression. I have listened. I have learned.
I remember a time in my life where I felt headed from column 1 to column 3 and tried everything in my power to stay out of that column.
I entered the process of going through a divorce. Dark days enveloped me. And the circumstances were overwhelming. I didn’t have enough of me to help my children much, and they plummeted into all 3 columns quickly. I fought hard to stay above water, but quite often, there is nothing you can do.
After sitting in front of a counselor, I remember he said, there are things that can help you to slow down the emotions …. get plenty of rest, drink lots of water, eat 3 times a day healthy foods, avoid sugar, except eat dark chocolate as that helps provide serotonin to the brain, an important chemical in our system that relays happiness to the brain.
Although I felt like I was at the bottom of the pits of despair, I eventually was pulled out and life became more balanced. That doesn’t happen for everyone.
Whether you are feeling the discouragement of something sad happening, or dark winter days, or you’ve plummeted into the depths of despair, there is hope. God is near and He loves you more than you’ll ever understand. There is hope.
Start looking at your life. Put things into columns and see where it all works out. Bad things pass. Trials are endured. Clinical depression needs medication and a great doctor. But in the end, we’re never … ever … alone. God walks with us.
“The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8