My Default is Depression
- August 22, 2019
- Lori Travers
Though I hate to admit it, it seems that I got the short end of the stick on happy hormones. I don’t know if the medical community truly understands exactly how serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins work, but we do know they motivate us, they cause us to want to be more social, they can make us feel loved and secure, and they can even reduce the sensation of pain. And I do believe mine have always been out of balance.
Looking back on my formative years I can see a pattern of sadness frequently coupled with some behavior to reduce the effects of this negative emotion. Sometimes I’d play the clown trying to be a silly as I could. Sometimes I’d hide away playing solitaire for hours on end. I frequently talked with my dog to ease the home front stress. As the teenage years unfolded I simply found ways to numb the dark cloud. Drinking alcohol, smoking weed, and using other illegal drugs became a viable pastime. Of course the lack of joy always returned when the morning came. Partying with “friends” could only take me so far until the reality of my state of mind returned. Viscous cycle for sure.
I’ve been a Christ-follower for over 35 years now. Along with an assurance of God’s everlasting love for me, I have understood the concept of renewing my mind because, after all, things just don’t change 180 degrees overnight. But still at times I struggle with feelings of hopelessness. Apparently my Christian, “daughter-of-the-King” status doesn’t exempt me from negative feelings. And though I know I’m secure in the love of God, there still remains a feeling of shame that I haven’t had complete victory over this.
And so SOMETIMES I HIDE.
Regret is a major bummer in life. To look back and feel a sense that there could have been so much more if only you could have seen how fast life goes and made wiser choices is disheartening to say the least. Yeah, this is where my head is going and I need some encouragement. So where do I go?
Jesus had asked Peter if he was going to leave too after He said some hard-to-swallow words to His disciples. Peter replied with the mantra I’ve been saying to myself for decades, “To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)
So where do I go when my serotonin seems to be sinking? When my dopamine dipstick is down? When my focus is totally unfocused? Or when I need words that will “stick”? Encouragement from friends is highly valued by me and it’s truly good medicine for my soul. But the bottom line of truth needs to be said and the only place I see this constant is in the Word of God.
As I lamented the frustrating state of mind I’ve been in, I found my way to Psalms as they reminded me that this condition is common and that the answer is always putting my hope back in the place of my initial Hope and that is the promises of God and the demonstration of His of His love and the power in His Spirit to “rise with wings like the eagle’s” as I wait on Him for my own personal restoration. And while I was in there flipping to the Psalms, this word in the book of Hosea reached out to my aching heart: “Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge Him. As surely as the sun rises, He will appear; He will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” (Hosea 6:3)
Can you feel the softness of that rain washing over the pain and regret of past decisions, depressive thought processes, and anxiety?
Psalm 42 has drawn me into its sweetness more than once. It repeats, “Why are you downcast, my soul? Why so disturbed in me?” These are honest words from an introspective psalmist. He is in a bad place and he’s not hiding from it. He’s talking to himself and he’s talking to God and basically he’s remembering the good that God had done for him and his people in the past. And even though he’s in the pit of despair he is choosing to remember. The psalm begins with a thirsty soul asking for water like a deer panting for streams, then later on he gets breakers, waves, and waterfalls from God!
So, what’s my point? Only to say that I fight depression and if you do also please know that you’re not alone. The very issue of depression makes it hard to get the help you need simply because you lack motivation to receive the help. Seek counseling, take meds if that’s necessary, but please let the Word wash over you!
I don’t know if my brain chemicals will ever be at healthy, strong levels. My default may very well be depression. But living in the Promised Land promises victory through the battles. Even if I fight this battle till the Lord returns, my ultimate default will be to fall at the feet of Jesus where all of my emotions will finally be in perfect balance.