A Hopeless Life
EVERYTHING IN EMILY'S life seemed hopeless. She had often wished she could die. As a teenager, Emily took drugs...even hallucinogens once. She relied on pills or drinking to bring joy to life.
Thoughts of dying still invaded her mind. Years later, in college Psychology, a professor said, “for every high there is an equal and opposite low”. All principles of psychology may not be correct, but Emily experienced the truth of the highs and opposite lows. “Drug therapy causes an artificial high which depletes the brain’s natural ‘happy’ chemicals,” the professor taught. “When the drugs wear off, the low takes over.”
Once Emily heard a psychiatrist say that the same drugs that make you feel good are going to cause you to feel bad when they wear off, she could not understand why psychiatrists would prescribe drugs to treat depression. However, there is a more compelling reason to avoid drugs. Drugs do not solve the problems that are causing the depression.
In fact, depression may not even exist in some people who think they are depressed. As a young adult, there were occasions when Emily felt adrenalin rushes or other levels of excitement and elation.
At that time, she believed that her body was supposed to feel happy and bubbly all the time. She believed that if she did not feel elated, she was depressed.
She did not learn until much later in life that her normal state was rather sedate. Her metabolism was slow, not bubbly. Her brain functions best analytically, not socially. Few others were interested in friendship with an analytical mind.
When Emily was young, she did not accept her personal traits.
She wanted to be someone else, the life of the party. Emily had no desire to associate with “boring intellectuals”. Since she had no desire to socialize with others with similar skills, she joined the party gang.
Partying No Solution to Depression
IN THE PARTY gang, all a person needed to do to fit in was to drink or take drugs. Emily always needed to go over the edge to fit into the party gang, and did so willingly for years. Small amounts of stimulants were never enough for her.
When she was sober, she knew this gang was not for her. She would sit in bars, listening to them talk before becoming inebriated.
The drinkers repeated the same meaningless sentences over and over.
Some may have had a few good points, but for hours, repeated those few good points while no one heard, or cared.
Drunks would agree with each other or argue, but use the same few sentences. Nothing happened. Nothing changed. No one did anything to make anything better. The drinkers exchanged slurred speach, and the time in life to make a difference simply passed away.
Life did not appear to be worth living for a few slurred sentences.
The only thing that did happen was that everyone would become so drunk that no one cared. Emily knew she did not care. She did not care about herself, or any of those who called themselves her friends.
Lack of Self Worth
WHILE EMILY MAY not agree, when she was young, she was somewhat pretty. Emily had grown up an ugly duckling, but learned one summer how to hide her shortcomings and monopolize her assets. When she returned to school that fall, everyone thought she was a new kid in school. Since her schoolmates were now treating her differently, she was a new person.
However, for decades the same feelings of inadequacy remained.
Emily had become a new star in school, but she understood why even movie stars would not feel like life was worth living.
Her life had no purpose. She needed more. She found more in having a family. She may not have solved the world’s problems, but she was going to find happiness in having children to love.
Emily loved her children more than she loved almost anything... almost...because what she really loved most was herself, the children satisfying her need for love.
She also longed for peace and love in her relationship with her husband, but that was never to be. Even though Emily was able to make herself look pretty, she knew that underneath she was still the same. She knew all of her faults, and rejected as liars those who praised her. Therefore, rather than marrying a beau who idolized her, she married the first man who complained about her, thinking he was the only man who was being honest with her. For the next 13 years, Emily had to work hard to survive through his brutal honesty.
Yes, he was right. Emily knew she had faults. Wanting to have the perfect family for her children, she went about fixing each one of them. She fixed, changed, and worked until she was almost perfect.
The only problem was, by that time, Emily was totally broken inside. She felt more worthless than ever. She could no longer stand her husband’s constant complaints, and again, often wished that she could die. She lived for her children, trying to make them, and her husband, happy. Consequently, she was also losing any opportunity for joy herself.
Was Emily depressed? She tried not to be. She tried to think of everything good and live for only the good thoughts. She tried to make excuses for her husband’s actions, telling herself that she was not really so bad.
She could never make herself believe it. As a child, adults told her that she was bad. While Emily’s parents did not mean to show anything but love, their favorite phrases consumed her self-worth. Her mother would say, “Why aren’t you more like the girl up the street,” or “Why aren’t you more like your best friend?”
Emily was never right. She was never good. She always needed to be something else.
She grew up depressed, and it stuck.
Pills could not get rid of this depression. Drinking could not get rid of her lack of self-worth. She heard all of the bad and none of the good, and believed it.
By the time Emily had been married 13 years, she longed for someone to hold her, love her, care for her, and accept her. She had changed so much in trying to be perfect to stop the complaints that she no longer knew who she was. She was nothing other than what her husband told her to be at each moment. Emily tried to be a good mother. Other than that, she felt she was nothing.
Christianity Doesn’t Stop Problems
DURING THE TIME she was trying to perfect herself, Emily was a Christian. She had heard many Christians say that you cannot really be a Christian and wish you were dead, but that is not true. Emily did know God and the Bible very well. She knew that her perfection would not save her. Emily knew Jesus saved her through His perfect life and death for her sins. She did not try to be perfect because she felt that it was a requirement, but because she loved God and wanted to follow Him.
Emily did have one big problem. She took some of God’s promises for help and expected Him to fix her life sooner than He was ready. Emily lived in persecution for 13 years and could take it no more. She had changed until she was falling apart trying to make things better.
She was a Christian and God did bless her in many ways. She was happy for her blessings, but they never took away her desire for peace in her family and her depression for not getting it. After 13 years, Emily ended up hating God for not saving her from her persecution. She blamed God for not helping her fight her depression caused by the complaints. She blamed Him, but Emily had missed three things.
One, she had missed the fact that God never forces anyone to change. He always gave people options and let them choose right or wrong for themselves, and then let them live with the consequences or blessings. God would not force Emily’s husband to change.
Two, God tells us to go to someone when they are sinning against you and tell them their fault so they have the opportunity to change. Emily was so busy turning the other cheek and trying not to judge that she missed trying to help her husband change. God says if you go to help someone in love, and he does not hear you that others are to witness to him to get him to change. That never happened. Finally, if that does not work, the whole church is to intervene. Emily did not do anything to try to get her husband to change. Other Christians just told her to become strong from her afflictions. Over time, Emily lost all of her strength.
Three, even if Emily’s husband never changed, she needed to know that she was OK as she was. While it is always good to improve, Emily did not need to be perfect or great to have self-worth. Our worth comes from the fact that God made us and, if we let Him, He will have a purpose for each of us. Not only will He give life purpose, He will guide us in putting what He wants us to do together so it will work out for His good.
Maybe Emily can help someone else find the way to God and heaven through Jesus rather than going to hell. Maybe she will not have the perfect house, family, friends, car, or garden. That is OK. Emily does not have to have what someone else has or to be what they are; all she has to be is what she is.
Maybe God’s purpose for Emily’s life will be big, or maybe it will be small, but whatever it is, it will be her unique, specific purpose for what He wants her to do.
DOES EMILY conquer depression? She conquers depression by doing her best each day, asking for God’s guidance and asking for His forgiveness when she fails. Then, she does it all over the next day. She accepts that God only gives her 24 hours in each day and that God made her body to need rest for about eight of those hours. Emily knows and accepts that she can do no better in each day than God guides her to do.
How does Emily deal with others who do not accept that she does not do more or better? She does not let them steal her joy. Emily had a client who, like her ex-husband, tried to steal her joy. He was also impossible to please. Emily began his project working long hours without sleep, trying to please him. He wanted something that was impossible, and was going to make her life miserable if he did not get it. For a year, Emily let him rob her of any joy in life. No matter how good the occasion, she would not stop thinking about him, which took away any joy in any occasion, even vacation.
After a year, he did not change, so Emily did. She did not accept his actions and say they were right. But, he was a client, so she tried to do her best for him. She did her work, and then let go. Emily refused to say another bad word about him. She accepted the fact that he was not going to change and that the situation was not going to change. No longer would she let him rob her of joy. He would complain, but she would not take it personally, as she knew she could do no more. She also knew that she was not willing to misuse anyone else to make his situation better. Emily knew she would then have to answer to God.
In addition, Emily’s mother had a stroke at that time, and she knew she could no longer work long hours. Emily accepted the fact that others may not like it, but she had to do what she knew was right. The acceptance or rejection of others was not going to rob Emily’s life of joy any longer. She would change her life to let the buck of bad news stop at her. No longer would she dwell on what was wrong, nor would she feel required to change or fix it. She would only do her best with the time and talents God gave to her each day and accept the fact that she could not expect to do better, no matter what anyone else said or thought.
Emily now knew that she could not please everyone, therefore, she quit dwelling on it. She instead began to dwell on what was right and spread that. Emily made it her personal mission to try to bring joy to each person she talked to each day.
Even if she felt sick, she would answer the phone with a cheerful, yet honest greeting. Immediately she discovered that, not only did she make the other person feel happier, but Emily also felt much happier. Emily knew what could happen in her life. Her boss could fire her. Her husband could leave her. Her children could die. Any numbers of bad things can, and do, happen in each person’s life. She needed to change so none of the things that happen would ruin her life.
Dealing with the Bad Times
WE MAY NOT have a choice in what happens to us, but, as Emily learned, we do have a choice in how we react to it. When my mind begins to fill with everything that is wrong in my life, I tell myself to stop. Then I look around and begin to be thankful for everything I do have.
Even when I had no job, no money, and no food, I still had the love of my children. I never really had to worry, as God promises to those who love Him and are trying to follow Him that He will take care of them. He brought us food, but not until we had nothing left. He always seems to wait to see if we will trust Him or worry. I worry a little, but mostly, now I trust, as He has always come through for me. I know I may lose some things, but if I lose them, I did not need them, as God promises to give me everything I need. He also is smarter than I am, so whatever I get will be best for me, even if it is not what I have chosen myself.
I think the biggest things that depress me have been feeling like I am not good enough or feeling like I do not have enough. However, I do not have to be good enough because God tells me, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” All I have to be is who I am and do my best, and then God will do the rest. I do not have to be what someone else is. All I can ever be is who I am. I do not need to have what someone else has. I only need to have what God chooses to give to me. If someone else chooses to look down on me for what I do not have, that is his or her problem with God, and I have to choose not to make it mine.
Choosing Not to Be Depressed
DEPRESSION IS OFTEN A choice. But we cannot consciously get rid of depression when we refuse to accept the fact that things are not going to be different. Emily was depressed with her first husband because she expected him to change, and he did not.
God says, “In all things, give thanks, that your joy may be full.” Like Emily, I did not give thanks for things I expected to change, for things I knew were wrong and should change. I did not accept the fact that God does not change everything and He especially does not change people. He allows every human being to have free will. We may work to help others better themselves, but we should never expect results. We should only rejoice if something actually does happen. If we are in an awful situation, sometimes we may try to change to attain a better situation. However, when considering the change, we should realize that the change would never be better if it is not God’s will. We also should realize every place and every situation has its bad side. Learn to be happy in a bad place, and you can be happy anywhere.
Accept yourself. Build on your strengths. Ignore your weaknesses. Ask God into your life. Accept Jesus did enough to cover your faults when He gave His life for you on the cross. Apologize to Him when you fail and accept His forgiveness. Then, follow His guiding for His purpose in your life. Read the Bible daily to be sure to stay on track. And, choose life…choose to spread a little joy to all you meet each day (and do not expect anything in return from them). Be patient. Praise. In all things, give thanks. God can turn your depression into joy.
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