Although I’ve never suffered clinical depression, I do know the horrible emptiness that comes when it seems like a black cloud is not only hovering over you, but is steadily sucking motivation, joy, and hope from your soul. For me, the feeling usually disappears by morning, but many who suffer from depression spend days, weeks, and months being menaced by that black cloud.
There are medical and therapeutic solutions to help those who live consistently with depression. What I share in this post should not – and cannot – replace the value of therapy and medication. Yet, whether or not we struggle with depression for long periods of time, all of us face days when we’re down. On those days, it’s hard to think that anything will ever change. Even when well-meaning friends say, “Ah, cheer up. Things will get better!” we feel irritated by their positive spin on everything!
Let me share 3 tips that may help. These tips are not meant to dispel the melancholic feelings. Instead they are meant to allow the feeling of melancholy to lead you deeper into the heart of God.
First, Be still. Just go ahead and stop doing all the things you think you should be accomplishing. Let go of the guilt for lacking motivation or the urge to follow through on things. Just be still. This may be a time when you need activity, expectations, and demands to cease so that your soul can be re-calibrated. “Be still and know that I am God,” the Psalmist wrote. Think of it this way: Be still and know that I am God. Be still and know. Be still. Be...
When we become still inside, we touch our deepest center – the place where God dwells. In that space the distortions between us and God can be re-aligned.
Second, Doodle your way toward the heart of heaven. A friend of mine, and one of the holiest men I have ever known, was suffering from a rather severe and longstanding melancholic sadness. After the depression had lifted, he told me that what helped most in his healing was sitting at his desk and drawing mandalas. When we simply put a pen or pencil on an empty page and move it around in a doodle (or, for him a mandala), we drop down inside the non-thinking part of ourselves. In the silence of our being, we begin to experience the slow healing of God. Doodling is not focused on a result so we are freed from having to produce something, or be pressured to perform. We just doodle.
Third, Hold a rosary. There’s something important about touch when we’re feeling down. We may not be craving any human touch, yet, something like a string of beads can keep us grounded during those times when it feels like the ground is falling from beneath us. The cool beads in our hands assure us that while we may feel wispy and lost inside, there is substance around us. As we hold the rosary, our heart will begin to quiet. Without even knowing it, we’ll begin to pray and in the voiceless prayer, we will know the truth of the words of the prophet Isaiah, “before they call, I will answer, and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.”
When life is hard, when doom and gloom get the better of us, we have an opportunity to enter God’s presence in ways that may go unnoticed during busy and carefree days. While we wait for the darkness to turn to light, we can steep our souls in the loving presence of God. We may just find ourselves more fully whole than we were when melancholy marched so cavalierly into our lives.