How to Love Your Depressed Friend

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I think it’s time I just come clean.

I have been suffering from depression and anxiety for as long as I remember. It’s always there, sitting quietly in the corner, letting me know that maybe today is the day he’ll take charge again.
I do my best to keep him there.

But wait. I’m a Christian. How can I call myself a Christian and also suffer from depression? Does this mean I am somehow a liar? Shouldn’t the sacrifice of Jesus be enough to heal me forever from this darkness that threatens to overcome?

Well, here’s the short version: the blood of Jesus IS enough, but sometimes, I’m still sick. Sometimes, God chooses to leave us in our illness. He’s still THERE for us, but he does NOT always heal us.

Even the best Christians get sick now and then, and I’m hardly the best. We don’t blame a woman for acquiring breast cancer. She is celebrated as a fighter. We don’t blame a child for acquiring leukemia. We pray for her healing and think of her fondly, hoping against hope that the tests will come back clean.

Why am I supposedly in charge of my depression? How is this different from any other disease? I’ve had it my whole life, and chances are slim it’s going away. If you are my friend or my family, here is what I need from you.

  1. You can’t really fix me. You can support me, call me, make sure I’m alive.
  2. You can watch my social media and decide if my posts have become too dark. It’s okay to reach out to me. It’s even okay to get angry with me. Just don’t expect me to “buck up” or “be thankful” or “move on” just because you think I’ve “wallowed” too much.
  3. Force me to go do things. Make me leave the house and get some sunlight. If I try to lose myself in my work, don’t let me. Tell me you love me and come over if necessary. If I can’t get out of bed, climb in with me.  Watch reruns of “Downton Abbey” until you can’t stand it. Make me shower.
  4. Make sure I’m taking my meds. No, you don’t have to parcel them out like a nurse or anything, but just ask me … gently…if I think they are working. By the way, DO NOT ask this if we are fighting. This is the equivalent of your husband saying “Wow–are you on your period or something?” NOT COOL.
  5. Love me anyway.

Thank you, Jenny Lawson, for your new book Furiously Happy which reminded me that I can be crazy and still hilarious and cool. You are my hero.

  What I Want My Daughters to Know: Part 2

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But I will win and give her my spirit, because this is the way a mother loves her daughter. Yin Yang. –Amy Tan

Note to the reader: Part 1 was published in a previous post. If you want to read it, click here.

What I Want My Daughters to Know: Part 2

My sweet girls,

I am so very proud of both of you. You have both worked so incredibly hard, sometimes through outrageous hardships and complications, to follow your dreams and to become successful women in your right. You both have giant hearts as well as the ability to recognize need in others and to try to help others.

I will never have the time to tell you everything I want you to know–there aren’t enough hours in an ordinary life. God only gives us a terminable view of eternity–and it’s fleeting at best.

I know I’ve told you much of what I want you to know already, and sometimes I have done the direct opposite of what I preach. I’ve had wrong priorities; I’ve made more mistakes than I can count. But I hope you know above all how much I love you both. Here are a few more things I want to pass on to you.

1. Don’t make anything (or anyone) your whole world. People are only human, and will inevitably let you down. It’s unrealistic and unfair to make a mere mortal the center of your universe–and doing this will rarely lead to happiness. This goes for spouses, parents, even your own children. Children SHOULD be the most important part of our lives when we are raising them, but they too will move on one day. They are only on loan to us, and the time with them is fleeting, but balance is everything.

In the same way, jobs are only temporary pieces of who we are–important pieces, yes, but merely fragments–and there will come a day when we can’t go to work anymore. The only thing that can make us whole is our relationship with God, and that’s not always easy either.

2. Nobody can take away your education. Whatever training or schooling you earn will only help you succeed in life. If you want that master’s degree–GO FOR IT. Want a Ph.D.? You can absolutely have one. Going to school is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, but it’s worth it to pursue your passion, but it’s time consuming and there’s always a cost, financially, emotionally, and with your relationships. That old saying that nothing worth having is easy is absolutely true.

3. Always save for a rainy day. It’s almost a law of nature that the worst things will happen when you don’t have a penny to your name. The one who controls the purse strings controls you.

4. Never let anyone break your spirit. This can happen suddenly, like an unexpected thunderstorm that leaves you breathless, or bit by bit, so gradually you don’t even notice until the day you wake up with an emptiness you can’t name. Always, always keep in mind your own worth. Your opinion–your happiness– matters. You are beloved by me and God. If you wake up, dear one, and find this has happened, it sometimes takes the help of others to heal. Don’t be too proud to ask for help.

5. It’s so important to have good friends. Always foster relationships with two kinds of friends: those who admire you and those you admire. It’s important to be an example to others, to teach what you have learned, to help other women find their light. It’s equally vital to find a mentor for yourself–someone you wish to emulate, who can teach you and advise you when your own view is cloudy and hard to navigate. There have been several times when you both have became my beacons in a cloudy harbor when I was too weak to swim to shore. You’ve stood by me in difficult times when I felt I couldn’t talk to too many people about my problems. In this way, you’ve both become my best friends, and this is the best gift you could ever give me.

I love you, my sweet girls.

You make me so very proud.

For more of Tina’s writing, get Cold Coffee and Speed Limits on Amazon today!

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