Which Way Is “OUT?”

Do you ever
think about that verse, Romans 8:28, that says that God works all things to the
good of them who love God and are called according to His purpose? When I was
in the pit of depression my brain was not capable of imagining what that could
look like.
 Later, when I was out, I realized that depressed
people no longer bothered me. I was not afraid of catching it. I could sit with
someone who was depressed and not become depressed. In fact, I was asked to go
visit depressed people; that puzzled me until I realized that now I was safe to
be with a depressed person. I could commiserate and empathize and if the person
has the strength to look at me, they can see by my face that I am no longer there.
God brought me out and the depressed person could begin to hope that they too
could find a way out.
Now, having
said that, I need to also say that since the MS my capacity has changed. The
parameters of my playground had changed. I no longer have the stamina I had
before and I cannot do many things. My body has a degree of brokenness, I’ve
learned that I am different, but not ruined. I used to love to teach, but now
even people’s excitement to learn can leave me feeling drained. My capacity, my
energy is different now. So I have turned to writing and have found it feeds me
and has given me a way to still feel I contribute. I have also learned another
good thing–to have compassion on myself. Most of the time I don’t beat up on
myself for not being able to do what I used to do. Now I am careful about
social involvement and give support by phone or in writing rather than face to
face time in the same room. And even that I have discovered, I need to do from
time to time rather than daily or even weekly.
By showing
me the way out of the pit God worked good out of a bad thing. Having
experienced depression I can be kinder, more compassionate, and less judgmental
of those who struggle with this. I can crawl down in the pit and sit with them
and paint it purple. And now I can stand at the entrance to the pit with them
and point the way out! I just can’t do it for very long! : ) Those are good
things that came about because of being in a bad place.

So, how DO
you get out? The story of Elijah (First Kings 18-19) gives God’s prescription
for depression and burnout. Eat, sleep, and then put one foot in front of the
other–for fourty days. In Elijah’s case he got two rounds of the treatment!
Evidently 40 days was not enough to restore Elijah and that is good to know.
Each of us will have our own timetable so be kind to yourself. Do your best to
not compare yourself to anyone. God always fits the prescription to the
individual. Each of us is different so what happened for me to get out is not
necessarily the way He will take you out. Each of us must find our particular
way out.

Elijah’s story gives us three things that all depressed people will need to do
to walk out of the pit. I have added a fourth.

First Restore the Body…

nutritious food
. When you
are depressed you need help–angels came, touched Elijah and fed him
“angel food” and good, clean water. Both items probably had all kinds
of micro nutrients and minterals to replace and stabalize his electrolites and
whatever else was whacked out. Notice that the angel had to tell him to eat.
Like an NFL player, he had physically put out with an intensity for an extended
period. He needed a supernatural angel’s version of Gator-aide. So, when God
sends you an “angel” to help, do like Elijah and let them help.
Sleep. Some people can’t sleep and others
can’t stop sleeping. Both extreems indicate a troubled system. If you are
having trouble with sleep, please let someone know. Sleep is a blessing from
God and is meant to restore you.


Move. After the sleep and the food,
Elijah began his physical restoration training–a 40 day program to build back
some stamina. I imagine that he talked with God as he walked; I would. I think
he kept in touch with his trainer; God was so gentle with Elijah. Even the
attitude ajustment that let him know he was not the only one who was faithful
in Israel was gentle–no harsh condemnation. I think God saw that Elijah was
still in a rather fragile state. He was well enough to do something but not
well enough to do much of anything. God gave him an assignment, but also
prescribed another 40 days of one foot in front of the other before he did any
“prophet” work. This says to me that physical recovery takes a while
and that does not bother God.
After you
have some healthy food and rest, begin some mindless exercise like putting one
foot in front of the other. In my experience there were not enough brain cells
functioning to do anything more than that. Don’t take on a rigorous exercise
regimen,  like a synchronized dance class or something of that nature unless that is
exactly what you need. I characterize it as having one or two brain cells
functioning and you need more than that for some of those exercise classes.
But each of us is different, so find an exercise that fits you but rebuilds the
body and feeds the soul.

While you do this exercise that leaves your mind free, make the effort to keep in touch with God as Elijah did.
In other words, talk to God even if it feels like He is not there. On the other
hand, sometimes in depression it can feel so like God has abandonded you
that you can’t hear Him. Then it is easy to feel He doesn’t want to talk to you. That is a feeling and sometimes feelings are accurate and sometimes they are not. God does want to talk with you.

Although, the Lord sent Elijah an angel, he sent a squirrel for Agnes
Sansdford to watch. The Lord re-started her heart through that cute
squirrel. What helps one can be different than what you need. Keep in touch
with God as best you can, He is your trainer.
Talk to Him
even if it feels like He is not there.

A friend and
I were talking this week about the recovery process. She gave me a benchmark
for how to know when you are getting better. She said you know you are better
when you actually SEE the cobwebs on your windowsill. You might not be able to
do anything about them yet but that is okay. Before, you didn’t even see them;
so seeing them is improvement! There is hope.

Possible First Steps
  • Exercise as per God’s direction

  • Enjoy a cuppa and a healthy snack 
  • Take a shower and a nap
  • Watch the sun move across the lawn
    or the sun set or the moon rise. See something beautiful without demanding that
    you have an instant, dramatic WOW response because you may need to soak in
    beauty for a time before you feel a response.


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Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive