*Disclaimer: We are not trained professionals in the area of mental health. We are not trying to replace the advice of doctors or counselors. We have members in our YWAM Family who have struggled with anxiety and depression and our heart in this post is to share with you some of the things they found helpful in fighting this. We recommend seeking advice from professionals for anxiety and depression if this is something you know you battle.
Sometimes it comes in waves, sometimes it’s constant. Either way, it can knock the wind out of your lungs and invade every single part of your life. Call it anxiety, call it depression, it feels hopeless, lonely, and, very often, beyond your strength. Invisible but very tangible hands silently crushing, breaking, and drowning you. Words an enemy you seem to no longer be able to fight. Sound familiar? Whether depression and anxiety are a full blown storm or the beginning of the slippery slope for you, there’s three things we want you to hear today.
Whether depression and anxiety are a full blown storm or the beginning of the slippery slope for you, there’s three things we want you to hear today.
First of all: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. In your struggle, in the battle, in the longing and despair, you are not alone. There are those among us who are all too familiar with this, who bear the scars of the fight and the healing, and we understand. The enemy would have you believe differently. He would rather convince you that if you truly were a follower of Jesus you wouldn’t be dealing with this, and he will always try to shame you into silence and isolation. Don’t let him.
Second, there are some practical steps you can take to help you not be overcome by this.
- Exercise. When you are overwhelmed with fear, worry and feelings of hopelessness all you want to do is hide. Sleep all day, lay on the couch and binge watch a show, get lost on your phone… you name it. Doing some exercise probably does not sound appealing at all, but you’d be surprised how much it helps! It releases endorphins (happy hormones) and gives you an outlet for your stress, worry and frustration.
- Fresh air. There’s just something about being outside that makes us feel more alive. Natural sunlight increases your levels of vitamin D, which helps fight depression. Plus, sometimes we need to get outside to help bring fresh perspective and get our mind stimulated. Sit outside for a few minutes, take a walk, go on a run… fresh air and sunlight are your friends.
- Choose wisely what you’re being filled up with. French fries, pizza and ice cream might sound comforting but if that’s the only thing you’re fueling yourself with it will make you feel worse in the long run. The same is true for your heart. If you are filling yourself up with shows, movies, music, and social media instead of Jesus, it might help numb the pain and worry for a while, but, in the end, it will always disappoint and leave you empty.
- Turn the worship up. Turning our eyes to Jesus in worship changes us. Are you filled with anxiety? Are you overwhelmed by fear? Are you crushed in spirit? Do you feel hopeless? Invite the Lord into that moment and sing what your heart needs to believe, declare what your soul needs to be reminded of. There’s such power in this!
- Remain in Scripture. The word of God is alive and full of power. It doesn’t just offer you a few nice words to cheer you up, but it’s an anchor strong enough to help you weather any storm, a rock unmovable and unshakable to stand on no matter what. So, dive into your Bible, let scripture fill your mind, let it comfort you, lift you up, and carry you through.
- Reach out. When you bring your struggle to the light it loses power over you. You don’t have to fight this on your own, and you need the encouragement, accountability and truth that comes from community. Pick up the phone, send a text, have a video call, reach out. Don’t let isolation convince you that you are safe alone, because the reality is that when you separate yourself from others you are the most vulnerable.
Ultimately, there’s an invitation for you to run to Jesus. He is not untouched by your struggle, He isn’t frustrated or angry. Instead, He is always tenderly calling your name, moved with compassion in your distress. In the low moments, in the dark days, in the overwhelming feeling of failure, remember: You have a King who stands before death undefeated. You have a Defender whose voice cannot be drowned by the accuser and his lies. You have a Father whose goodness will CHASE YOU DOWN all the days of your life. You have a Friend who is unwavering in His commitment to you. You have a Savior who carried the weight of your sin and pain as He hung on the cross. You have a God who is near in your brokenness and whose love will faithfully carry you back home.
In the low moments, in the dark days, in the overwhelming feeling of failure, remember: You have a King who stands before death undefeated.
This Sunday will be Easter, and we rejoice, for on the third day Jesus rose up from the grave. He kept His word, He overcame, and He is our living hope. Friend, no matter where you’re at in this battle, no matter what enemies have risen up to overtake you, no matter what this season is looking like for you, lift up your eyes and see it for yourself: the tomb is empty, and Jesus is victorious. Take heart, there is hope, His name is Jesus.