By John Thurman
Reggie had struggled with his severe, recurrent depression and his ten-year battle with alcohol abuse. He consistently complained about how lonely he was but minimized how much he was drinking by himself. He tried church support groups, Alcoholics Anonymous, going to the gym with friends, but each program seemed to fail miserably. Alcohol kept him from overcoming the isolation. Reggie eventually dealt with his addiction and then he began to recover from the depression.
Isolation is the double-edged sword of depression as it is both a cause and outcome. Isolation complicates depression in some people.Individuals begin drinking, gambling online, using pornography, or beginning other addictions to treat their depression.
So how do you move out of isolation?
For people with significant depression, the mere thought of getting out of the house can seem daunting. Here is an action plan that you can begin using today.
1. Connect Intentionally
Get up and get dressed. Go outside; take a walk. Let the sun kiss your cheeks. As you walk, observe people, children, and pets.
Nod your head and say, “Hi,” on purpose. The point is not to start a conversation but to make a brief moment of connection. Stepping out of your house or apartment and intentionally speaking are two fundamental ways of changing your perception. You will see that you are not a zombie-like presence in the world. Try this action plan daily.
2. Connect Online
Reaching out via email or some limited posting can be helpful in re-establishing contact with others. Be careful to safeguard your personal information and keep your expectations real. Start small.
3. Join a class, join a small group, or go to church.
In your community there are numerous organizations that center around a common goal. Perhaps you enjoy photography, sports, games, exercise, biking, writing, reading, poetry, animals, or genealogyThe connection with others will help relieve the pain of isolation.
4. Plan to Meet with One or More Persons.
As you connect with others, take a risk and invite one person to meet you at a local coffee shop or restaurant. When you arrive, smile, make eye contact, shake hands, and ask the person questions about his or her life. As you learn about and connect with others person, your feelings of isolation will go away.
Isolation is not your friend, but you can get trapped into being alone. Instead, embrace your responsibility to take action and push through isolation. #getagripondepression
From: Get a Grip on Depression by John Thurman pp 108-109.
The Second Tip for Pushing Back Depression is:
Depression, by its nature, fogs up your sense of self. When you are struggling in the negative swill of depression, it can be easy to find other people who are doing better in nearly every area of life.
For just a moment, I am going to reach way back into the vault and link you to a clip that is so old, you can probably find it on the RFD Channel, no offense to my farming and ranching buddies. It is a clip from a segment of Hee Haw which is an interesting look into how we can get caught up in the game of comparison when we are depressed. Give a 26 second listen to Gloom, Despair, and Agony
To combat this darkness, you stop comparing yourself to others. There will always be someone with better looks, more money, and greater status than you, but you do not have to be sucked into the trap of comparison.
Instead, choose to catch yourself the next time you begin to compare yourself to others. When one of those comparative thoughts starts, stop it, and replace it with one or two positive things about yourself.
Be deliberate about noticing what is good. “And now dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable (Philippians 4:8 NLT).
A new friend of mine, Holley Gerth has some comforting thoughts in her blog, When You’re Tempted to Compare.
Laughter, Joy, tenderness, and passion are things that come to mind when I think of Robin Williams. Another attribute I admired was his ability to be vulnerable. For years he talked about his struggle with addictions, depression, and open heart surgery.
He had struggled a great part of his adult life with a brain disorder which included severe depression, which in many cases co-exists with addictions. Even with treatment, support from friends and family and remarkably successful career, mental illness can still end up killing a person.
As a Christ follower, I have been somewhat discouraged by some of the “faith-based” blogs I have seen about suicide. As a seasoned professional, I have come to see that individuals who come to the edge of the black hole of suicide are not in their right mind. Isolation, depression, and hopelessness steal the individual of their ability to look forward to the possibilities of hope and relief. I believe in a God that is at His core Compassionate, one who weeps with those who weep, one who feels sadness, and one who mourns with those who mourn.
We need to respond to hurting friends, neighbors, and relative with compassion.
Here are some facts about suicide and depression. I trust that you will find this helpful.
The following is from my book Get a Grip on Depression:
Over 90% of people who commit suicide have clinical depression or another diagnosable mental disorder. Many times, people who commit suicide have a substance abuse problem. Often they have that problem in combination with other mental disorders.
Adverse or traumatic life events in combination with other risk factors, such as clinical depression, may lead to death. But suicide and suicidal behaviors are never normal responses to stress.
Other risk factors for suicide include:
• One or more prior suicide attempts
• Family history of mental disorder or substance abuse
• Family history of suicide
• Family violence
• Physical or sexual abuse
• Keeping firearms in the home
• Chronic physical illness, including chronic pain
• Exposure to the suicidal behavior of others
Warning signs that someone may be thinking about or planning to commit suicide include:
• Always talking or thinking about death
• Clinical depression (deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating) that gets worse
• Having a “death wish,” tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death, such as driving fast or running red lights
• Losing interest in things one used to care about
• Making comments about being hopeless, helpless, or worthless
• Putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, changing a will
• Saying things like, “It would be better if I were nothere” or “I want out."
• Sudden, unexpected switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing to be happy
• Talking about suicide
• Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
• Prior suicide attempts (According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, between 20 and 50% of people who commit suicide have had a previous attempt)
What you can do if you have suicidal thoughts:
• Talk with trusted friends, family members, or others you respect who can assist you
• Talk with your doctor, mental health professional, or pastor. Many times, talking eases or removes suicidal urges. In some cases though, hospitalization is necessary until a sense of balance can be restored.
Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or a local hotline to speak with a crisis counselor.
John is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Speaker, and Author.
Here is an ancient thought that could provide encouragement.
Psalms 40:1-3 I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.
Click this link for a Free Depression Test
This is the third and final blog of the 10 steps for Surviving a Rough and Tumble world. Here is a quick review of the first seven.
1. Practice optimism.
2. Find a resiliency model.
3. Develop a moral compass and unbreakable beliefs.
4. Practice generosity and kindness.
5. Develop acceptance and cognitive flexibility.
6. Face your fears and learn to control negative emotions.
7. Build an ever-expanding tool chest of active coping skills to manage stress.
8. Establish and maintain a supportive social network to help you.
Dr. George Bonanno's research, in his book The Other Side of Sadness, points out one of the ways that people and cultures move beyond trauma, depression and other life events is through community, family, and other networks of people that give us courage, motivation, and shared history to move forward. His research also reveal how important family, friends, and community are in dealing with depression. Learn more about this is my book, Get a Grip on Depression.
Hebrews 10:23-25 - “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now...(NLT)
9. Stay physically fit. One I need to work on. Dr. Oz suggests starting out with walking 30 minutes a day. It is a start.
1 Corinthians 6:19 - 20 - “Don’t you realize that your bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” (NLT)
10. Laugh deep and often.
Whether it be some "Old School Comedy" like the Three Stooges or more modern comedians like Steve Harvey or Robin Williams, be sure to find something or someone that can help you keep life on the light side.
As sad as the loss of Robin Williams is, his humor and zany impressions, and his care for people will live on through the volume of work that he created over his life.
Proverbs 17:22 - “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” (NLT)
Author Ben Sherwood, The Survivors Club, was surprised when Dr. Charney shared the most-surprising insight of his career is "the hidden capacity most people to rebound from adversity."
One ancient Latin phrase says it best, Plus estem voius.” There is more in you than you know. Lean into life today.
My next three part series will include some thoughts about depression in men, Robin Williams, and practical things you can do to help someone who is struggling with depression.
As I begin this installment of 10 Steps, I wanted to let you know that on I will send out the third installment of 10 Steps Thursday evening and the next three to four blogs will be be very focused on depression, and things you can do to help yourself and others get better. Growing up watching Robin Williams, I am 62 and he was 63, it was very sad to hear about his suicide. While I strongly disagree with how some media outlets went into the gory details of his death. This sad story reminds us of the power of depression. The blogs will not be negative, but will contain principles out of my book, Get a Grip on Depression and out of 35 years of counseling.
Now back to the 10- Steps for surviving, which by the way, are key to pushing back depression and moving forward in life.
4. Practice generosity and kindness - unselfish concern for others, being kind-hearted, philanthropic.
Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. (NLT)
5. Develop acceptance and cognitive flexibility, meaning the ability to learn and adapt your knowledge and thinking to new situations.
The Apostle Paul illustrated the importance of this principle in Romans 8:38-39.
"I'm convinced that nothing-living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable-absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us." (The Message)
6. Face your fears and learn to control negative emotions.
2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (NLT)
Philippians 4:6-8 - “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus...Fix your thoughts on what is true, honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (NLT)
7. Build an ever-expanding tool chest of active coping skills to manage stress.
2 Peter 1:5-7 - "So don't lose a minute in building on what you've been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, and no day will pass without its reward as you mature in the experience of our Master Jesus." (The Message)
I'd love to hear what you think. Feel free to comment.
So, what will reading Get a Grip on Depression do for the reader?
by John Thurman
Depression negatively impacts your personal life, relationships, and business. Recent studies indicate that 16% of Americans will have at least one episode of Major Depression in their lifetime.
The sad news is that few will seek help for it.
The purpose of Get a Grip on Depression is to help you better understand depression and to learn proven, effective ways to manage depression using a combination of the latest research and the ancient, but still relevant, principles of Scripture. Practically speaking, this workbook is designed to help you:
• Boost your mood naturally
• Understand the cause of depression
• Lower the risk and impact of depression
• Review meaningful stories and principles from Scripture
• Overcome mild depression
• Increase a sense of purpose, well-being, and mission
• Supplement your depression treatment
• Prevent relapse
• Relieve the residual symptoms of major depression
• Incorporate biblically-based, spiritual practices to alleviate and reduce the impact of depression
You’ve heard the old saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different outcome.” Maybe it’s time to stop doing the same old thing.
This resource will offer a fresh perspective to depression. Some readers may believe this approach is too indirect and not “clinical” enough. My encouragement to you is to remember that depression constricts your opinion of your capabilities and keeps you in a comfort zone of weak and slow. Get a Grip on Depression is about trying something a little different. If you are currently being treated with medication or counseling, then please continue. This resource will supplement the hard work you are already doing.
One of the principles for getting a grip on depression is personal responsibility and agency, which simply means you are an active player in your own recovery. It is important for us to focus on responsibility and to be forward-looking. Seeing ourselves as perpetual victims of childhood or adult trauma tends to make us a prisoner of the past and gnaws at our sense of responsibility. All successful counseling has two things in common: It is forward-looking, and it requires assuming personal responsibility.
Excerpt from Get a Grip On Depression p 17
6 Thinking Styles to Avoid
by John Thurman
Have you ever noticed how quickly your mind can get distracted? Things seem to be just fine and then out of nowhere you begin to have these intrusive, negative thoughts? Thankfully, it is a problem nearly every human being experiences from time to time.
Today, I am going to give you a quick overview of the Top Six “Stinking Thinking” patterns that I address in my book, Get a Grip on Depression. I will also give you some key questions to ask as well as practical things to do to lower the impact of these negative thinking patterns.
Here they are:
Jumping to conclusions: Being confident about the situation despite having little or no evidence. Action Plan:Slow down: Do I have any evidence to show I have been wronged or am I jumping the gun?
Mind Reading: Assuming you know what the other person is thinking, or expecting him or her to fully understand what you are thinking. Action Plan: Speak Up: Did I express myself fully, so the other person didn’t need to try to read my mind? Or did I ask for information from the other person rather than attempting to read his or her mind?
Me, Me, Me: Believing you are the sole cause of every problem. Action Plan:Look outward: How did others or circumstances contribute to my current situation?
Them, Them, Them: Believing other people or circumstances are the cause of every problem you encounter. Action Plan: Look inward: How did I control or fuel my situation?
Always, Always, Always: The belief that adverse events are unchangeable and that you have little or no control over them. Action Plan: Grab control: What can I change? What can I influence?
Everything, Everything, Everything: Thinking you can judge a person or your own worth, motivation, or ability on the basis of a single situation. Action Plan: Look at behavior: What specific behavior explains my situation?
2 Corinthians 10:5 ...we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (NLT)
For a more in-depth look at these patterns as well as some scriptural stories that illustrate them check out pages 77-93 in Get a Grip on Depression. Also available at Amazon and Kindle.
John is a Counselor, Author, Speaker and Photographer that helps people "Get a Grip on Life."