When the Bad Days Come: 10 Resources for Depressive Episodes
Sometimes they come without warning, sometimes we can smell them a mile off. Either way, they come like storm clouds, thick and heavy with sadness and a whole host of reasons to despair.
One of the most valuable things I've done in my battle against depression has been collecting a set of tools and resources to turn to in the midst of the worst days. It's important to learn how to cope in a positive way when it comes to depressive episodes, especially if we're fighting against urges like self-injury or fleeing accountability.
This list is brief, and definitely not exhaustive, but it's a list of things that have been extremely helpful for me as "go-to's" for the hardest, most draining of days. I hope this list encourages you!
1. A List of Encouraging Scriptures
This is, without a doubt, the most powerful tool against depressive episodes. Speaking truth against the darkness will strengthen your mind, your soul and your body. The one thing Satan wants to keep you from during the onslaught of depression is the power of the Scriptures. Recite them aloud if you're able, read them over and over, or have someone sit and read them to you. Here are some of my favorite verses to turn to during hard days:
Hebrews 10:23, Psalms 3:3, James 4:7-8, Zepheniah 3:17, Psalms 103:8-12, Psalms 31:14-16, Psalms 34:5, Psalms 34:1-3 & 34:18.
2. Encouraging Music
One of my favorite albums to listen to when depression strikes is "Red Sea Road" by Ellie Holcomb. This artist was shared with me by a dear friend, and her song lyrics are so incredibly helpful to people in the midst of heartache.
The tracks, "Find You Here" and "You are Loved" are phenomenal.
3. Online Sermons or an Audio Adaption of the Bible
Feel like you only have the strength to sit and listen? I've been there. Sometimes it can't be helped. If it's all you can do to drag yourself from the bed to the couch, grab a set of headphones and start listening to an online sermon or an audio adaptation of the Bible. Sometimes, if you struggle with your darkest thoughts late at night or when trying to sleep, listening to the scriptures while you fall asleep is an excellent tool. Surround yourself with truth, fall asleep with God's words pouring into your ears and let them give you strength to face the next day.
4. Two Friends who can Come and Physically be with You
I can't stress this enough. When the worst of the worst days come, and you can't find the willpower to leave your bed or take a shower, have at least two people you can call who would ideally be able to come and physically sit with you as soon as possible. It's not weakness, and it's not attention seeking: this is one of the functions of the body of Christ.
If you struggle with self-injury or thoughts of suicide, this is doubly important. I had women in my life who would come and pick me up just to drive around, or let me sit on a couch at their home or take a nap. The point is that you're not alone, especially if you feel that you might be in danger of harming yourself in any capacity. Let your sisters in Christ love and serve you during this time. It will strengthen both of you and glorify the Lord!
5. An Uplifting Book
Media choices during depressive episodes are so influential. I still struggle with making the choice to fill my mind and spirit with holy and uplifting things during depression, but I can tell an immediate difference on the days I make the right choices.
Find a book that encourages or inspires you. There are a whole host of authors out there who have come out with devotionals or booklets that are full of wisdom and encouragement. Sometimes Christian blogs can even be a great resource to turn to!
6. One Food you find Easy to Eat and Keep Down
This is a big one. Oftentimes the first thing we do in the midst of depression is neglect our physical body. Find at least one food (something nourishing, ideally, not just a bag of chips or candy) that is easy to make and easy to eat. Soup, some kind of protein, a smoothie, anything. Be sure that you're nourishing your body at the same time you're nourishing your soul!
When I was struggling to eat and drink, a dear friend and mentor said to me, "Are you loving God with your food and water intake?". What a striking thought. Do you love God with your caloric intake and decision to drink water? Honor him by honoring the vessel He's blessed you with.
7. A Soothing Candle or Blend of Diffusible Oils
If anxiety plays a factor in your depressive episodes, take a moment to light a favorite candle or put together a blend of soothing oils in a diffuser. Make your surroundings as calming as possible.
8. A Space that is Clean and Uncluttered
Maybe this isn't as helpful to other people, but I know that a clean and uncluttered space always aids me in calming myself and creating a positive environment when I'm depressed or anxious. If you don't have the energy to clean, or you just can't stand being in your house or apartment, have a list of places on hand that you can go to. Coffee shops, a park, a library, etc. Make sure it's a place that helps you feel calm and relaxed.
9. A Set of Phone Numbers for People you Trust
This goes along with #4, but another tool that always comes in handy is a list of phone numbers or people you can call. Even if these are people who can't physically drop everything to be with you, it's a list of people who are willing to talk and listen. Ideally, this list contains people who are aware of your struggles with depression and know the extent of what's going on. Just hearing a friend or family's members voice is sometimes one of the most calming things we can do.
10. A Game Plan for when you feel Unsafe
This is another big one. Sometimes the bad days aren't just "regular bad days". Sometimes they come down like a cascade of boulders. As I said before, if you struggle with or have struggled with thoughts of self harm, suicidal ideation or reckless behavior during depression, this last tool is invaluable. Have a set, definitive game plan for what you will do, who you will call, and what steps you will take when you feel that you are in danger of harming yourself or others through reckless behavior.
Other people need to be aware of this game plan. Ideally, they have helped you craft it and are able to come to your side in moments of intense crisis.
Make it detailed. Who is the first person you will call? What situation will you remove yourself from in order to keep yourself safe? What steps will you take if, by some circumstance, the people you have on your call list are unable to answer or come be with you?
Be honest with yourself and your support network when you craft this plan. Allow them to love and serve you through being part of your battle towards recovery!
As always, if you struggle with depression or anxiety, reach out to me via the Contact Me page and allow me to pray for you and assist you in finding help to the best of my ability!
May your week be full of God's never ending grace & perfect love!