Depression, pt. 2
There is a simple formula for dealing with depression; simple, that is, to understand and remember. It can be anything BUT simple to actually work the formula.
1. Face it: One of the most important parts of the pathway to wholeness is to admit that you are depressed. Too many look at their depression as a personal failure or a spiritual weakness (or even a sin!). That makes most people reluctant to seek help for depression. Others aren't even aware they are depressed. They miss the warning signs or assume they are just tired or maybe they have some mysterious disease... and it results in the suffering individual not getting the help they need.
2. Trace it: Why are you depressed? Do a survey -- preferably with the help of a trusted professional -- of the chemical, structural, and emotional aspects of your life, present and past. While being depressed is not a sin, sin can play a part in becoming depressed. When we have done something terrible, our guilt is compounded by how disappointed we are in ourselves. We thought we were better than that! Or, that we should be better by now! In my experience, sin is a causative factor in only a minority of cases of depression. Most people are depressed because of life, their chemicals or, perhaps, their genes, but not because they are evil or have done evil. Whatever the causes are (there is almost always more than one cause) they need to be traced and revealed.
3. Erase it: This is the step everyone thinks is the hardest... and it can be, but it often is much easier than the first two. As they say, your mileage may vary. Here is where the medicine and talk therapy kicks in. Generally speaking, to achieve healing, a change of mind, a different viewpoint, a new way of understanding will have to be brought to light and then accepted, owned. Medication might be required to give the sufferer enough strength or peace to get this viewpoint-shifting work done.
So where do you find a good counselor? The best way is to go to the Yellow Pages... but not to the therapist or counselor section. Go to "Churches" and call every church (any tribal affiliation) within your personal driving distance. People in rural areas might need to look at a one hour driving radius or more. Ask the secretary or pastor who that church trusts. Ask both about counselors/therapists and psychiatrists. Write every name down and highlight those who are mentioned by more than one church. Alternatively, go to www.aacc.net and get recommendations there by typing in your zipcode.
A note about medication: one of the most frustrating aspects of dealing with depression is the unlovable fact that finding the right dose of the right medication is mainly a crap shoot. Doctors generally go with the drug that has worked for their patients most often. They guess at a dose, usually going as low as they think they can go. Some people feel an immediate benefit from the medicine -- but they are the minority. Most people have to try three (on average) medications or dosages before the right combination is found for them. It can take a year to get it right. A medicine which worked wonders for 90% of those who took it might make the other 10% worse... and there is no way to know how it will work in your body ahead of time. Please, please, please be patient. Your doctor isn't failing on purpose. He/She wants to get this right as badly as you want them to get it right!
Other things you can do for yourself? That's for next time. Remember: depression is not sinful. God isn't disappointed in you. Your salvation is not in jeopardy. And if the devil tells you that you have failed or reminds you of your past, remind him of his future and walk on.