How to Stay Out of the Pit When Depression Threatens Your Joy
Here are some practical ways to stay out of the pit when depression threatens your joy and makes happiness seem like a distant memory.
This post is a bit different for me, as I typically share recipes, food, faves, and such. I hope those of you who follow will allow me to share a topic that is a bit deeper than my usual content but one that I hope might be helpful in some way.
Since losing my Cam a few weeks ago, I’ve been dealing with situational depression. Thankfully, I am getting better day by day. I want to share what is helping me so that it might help one or more of you who follow me.
Depression threatens our joy.
We all know this familiar bible verse from John 16:33, “In this world, you will have trouble.” At any point in time, all of us are in one of three situations in regard to “trouble.” We are either in it, coming out of it, or about to experience it. Although the latter part of this verse gives great hope for Christians, it does not eliminate the fact that on this earth, pain and suffering are real and ever-present. No one is exempt.
Situational depression happens to most everyone.
Situational depression, also known as reactive depression, is a short-term, stress-related type of depression. It can develop after you experience a traumatic event or series of events. Situational depression makes it hard for you to adjust to your everyday life following a traumatic event. Losing a family member, friend, pet or job can cause it. When life as normal suddenly changes, it throws most of us into situational depression.
Losing Cam threw me into situational depression.
When I lost my beloved golden doodle Cam a few weeks ago, it rocked my world for several reasons. First, it hit me out of the blue. An ordinary day where Cam was running and playing turned dark a few hours later when a nosebleed started what would be a downward spiral that led to my losing him. Second, it seemed untimely. Cam was only 6-years-old. Third, we had to make a hard decision to euthanize him~a a nightmare I don’t wish on anyone. Finally, we still don’t know the what or why behind his death. All of these factors have contributed to my battle to stay out of the pit and not let situational depression turn into something worse.
The pit of depression.
I’ve always heard that it is easier to stay out of the pit than to claw out of it once you fall inside. Since losing Cam, I’ve been fighting to stay out of the pit while still allowing myself to “do the work” of grieving. As my friend Dimy Mixon said in this podcast on navigating grief, “if you feel it you can heal it; if you share it, you can bear it.” So while letting myself feel the feelings, I am using several tactics to avoid letting the feelings overcome my joy.
Practical ways to stay out of the pit of depression.
For those of you who follow me, I want to share a few practical things that are helping me stay out of the pit of depression as I navigate life without my beloved Cam who was my sidekick for 6 years.
- Set limits on the feelings. I allow myself to cry a bit and ponder my feelings, but I don’t let this drag on all day long. One of the things I try to avoid is “chewing the cud” all day long. I learned this concept from Pastor Chris Hodges from a sermon based on his newly published book on depression~ Out of the Cave.
- Find helpful grief resources. My friend Dimy’s podcast on how to handle grief was recorded two days before I lost Cam. I had no idea how much I would need the advice Dimy was sharing. My pastor Chris Hodges’ book, Out of the Cave: Stepping Into the Light When Depression Darkens What You See. This is a brand new book that is FULL of practical and spiritual advice on navigating grief.
- Know when you are ready for the next steps. Four weeks after losing Cam, his breeder (who is still a friend after 6 years), allowed me to take one of his beautiful pups for a “trial run.” When I had the pup in my home but could only cry and think of Cam, I took him back to allow myself more healing time. We all need to allow ourselves time to be able to embrace new and wonderful things.
- Gratitude for the good. Being grateful for the good is hugely helpful in not falling into a pit. When I look at all the blessings and gifts that God has given me, it makes it easier to grieve well. Training my thoughts to focus on the good, positive, and beautiful things helps tremendously.
- Focusing on others. When I talk with others who are grieving, it helps on several levels. First, it allows me to develop empathy and be an encouragement to someone else. Second, it reminds me that grief is universal. Thirdly, it helps to be encouraged by others who have experienced a similar loss.
I hope this post is helpful. Thank you all for following Family Savvy. You mean the world to me, and I am grateful for you.