Doesn’t that salad look good?
Last year I had the fortune of traveling to Marseille, France to work with some friends who are connected to a group that helps people who are relocating.
One night they took me to a local restaurant, La Crepe Au Carre', my friend said, “You have to eat this salad, it will change your life.” His comment threw me off a little because, I thought you go to a crepe place to eat crepes. He insisted that I try this salad, and I did.
Take a look at my image of it. It is a toasted brie and almond topped salad made with fresh, local greens, and local cheese. The dressing was reduced balsamic vinegar with a hint of strawberry. As the waiter placed the salad in front of me, a warm, sweet, aromatics of the dressing, the toasted cheese and almonds stimulated both my imagination and my appetite. As one of my old Georgia friends would say, "That looks almost to eat pretty.
Well, I ate it. And I consumed that delicious blend of cheese, nuts, and greens in a slow, deliberate manner. I felt like I had a Mardi Gras in my mouth. My friend's words were true; it did change my life. That wonderful evening of food and fellowship, a time of savoring food, and hearing about the work that God is doing in people's lives never gets old.
To savor something is to taste or smell it. It means to linger over or dwell on.
Having traveled a little bit in Turkey, Israel, Jordan, and France I get a little frustrated at how fast we live our lives in America. Fast food, constant connectivity, speed dating, always rushing. While I would never trade off the blessings of living in this great country, I am reminded, at least when I travel that there are times that we need to slow down. Times when we need to break bread with friends and family. Times when we can intentionally savor our relationship, our blessings, and yes, delicious food.
One of the easiest tools we use as we continue to look at ways to regain our vision and overcome depression is to savor pleasant memories; past answers to prayer; a meaningful Scripture verse; and positive, meaningful words spoken to you. When we purposely reflect and meditate on these types of good, positive things, our brains begin to move toward health.
Take a few moments and think about it.
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“Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your blessings, see what God has done…” are words from a hymn I remember from my childhood while attending the First Baptist Church of Fort Valley. It is an old song with modern psychological and spiritual implications.
G.K Chesterton said, "Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder."
“Can you see the holiness in those things you take for granted–a paved road or a washing machine? If you concentrate on finding what is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.” — Rabbi Harold Kushner
Gratitude makes your life happier and more satisfying. When we feel gratitude, we benefit from the pleasant memory of a positive event. In addition, when we express our gratitude to others, we strengthen our relationship with them.
An exercise called the Gratitude Visit will help you experience relief from depression.
Close your eyes. Imagine the face of someone still alive who did something or said something that changed your life for the better. Got a face?
Your task is to write a letter (handwritten) to this individual and deliver it in person. The letter should be concrete and about three hundred words; be specific about what they did for you and how it affected your life.
Once you have completed the letter, call the person and let them know that you would like to visit them, but be vague about the purpose of the meeting. This type of exercise is more fun when it is a surprise. When you meet with the individual, take your time reading your letter. Notice their reactions as well as yours. If they interrupt you, gently tell them that you want them to listen until you are done. I promise you that you and the recipient will be much happier and less depressed.
Of course, if you cannot hand deliver the note, mail it, but follow up with a call.
Added Monday morning
My pastor, Todd Cook, Senior Pastor of Sagebrush Church in Albuquerque, shared a message Sunday on Psalm 90. One of the quotes I took away was, "If God leads you to it, he will lead you through it. Here is a link to the message, Boom Box if you want to hear it all. It was timely. Warning: this my be a little "out of the box" for you.
You can find this and more tips in my book Get a Grip on Depression. Obtain a personally autographed copy from me. In Albuquerque, you may pick up a copy at the Sagebrush Church bookstore, or order a copy through Amazon/Kindle.
Push Back Depression Tip # 5: Re-energize
Depression is an energy eater. If you have ever struggled against depression, you know that it can suck the life right out of you. It drains your energy, heart, mind, body, and soul.
The good news is, you can fight back, and you do not have to let the darkness pull the life out of you.
One of the best ways to re-energize yourself is to monitor your mouth. Depressed people tend to talk depressed using sad words and sad tones--much like Eeyore.
Using negative language when you talk to yourself, especially when you consistently feel helpless and hopeless, is a sure-fire way to keep feeling depressed. Multiple studies on negative self-talk show how gloomy and unhelpful words and thoughts increase depression and anxiety. Making small changes in the way you verbalize can have an enormous, positive impact on the way you feel. And the best thing about this idea, it doesn’t cost a penny. Here is a couple of examples.
You can feel better if you drop the phrase “I can’t.” Instead, try saying, “I won’t.” This tiny shift in language, changing one four-letter word for another, can have a huge positive impact on your mood. Learn to say it loud and proud.
Instead of saying, “I can’t get out of bed,” say, “I won’t get up in the morning.”
“I can’t feel enthusiastic about my business,” becomes, “I won’t become enthusiastic about my business.”
These small shifts in your verbiage will have a powerful impact on how you feel. When you do this, you move from a position of impotence and powerlessness into choice, which opens up possibilities. When you make this subtle shift, what you are saying is, “My thoughts and my actions are under my control.” That is a powerful statement.
Proverbs 18:21a says “The tongue can bring death and life…” (NLT)
My challenge to you is to be intentional about re-energizing yourself with your words.
John is a Licensed Counselor, Speaker, Publish Author, and International Crisis Response Specialist who lives in Albuquerque.
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.
Robin Williams’ memory, his acting, his stories and comedy sketches will live on through video clips and the internet. Hopefully, we will take some lessons from the loss of this extraordinary actor, comedian, and exceptional communicator.
Depression can be a quiet killer. It is a disorder that is widely experienced and yet few people seek treatment for it.
According to the CDC, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death for all ages in 2010. The CDC report also states that there were 38,364 suicides in the U.S—an average of 105 each day.
In looking at gender issues, the same report stated that males are four times more likely than females to commit suicide, and represent 79% of all U.S., suicides.
While suicide prevention and intervention programs are a must, we can take better care of ourselves and others if we know how to push depression back.
The next several blogs will give you tools you can use to battle the blues, to push back depression. These concepts are found in my book Get a Grip on Depression. It is also available on Amazon/Kindle and can be ordered through your local bookstore.
Depression robs you by making you feel inadequate and worthless. As bad as robbery sounds, you and I always have choices in how we respond to what life throws at us.
Suggestion # 1 Stop saying bad things about yourself.
There is a great line from Kelly’s Heroes, a Clint Eastwood anti-warwar movie where Donald Sutherland’s character does an excellent job confronting the negative ways-check out this clip.
One of the things you can do for yourself is to focus on what you appreciate about your life, yourself, and your situation. While this is a simple concept, it may be a difficult task, particularly if you have been under the heaviness of depression. Part of getting better is to begin to stop speaking the nagging, negative thoughts that so easily slip into your mind when you are depressed.
In the place of negative thoughts and words, try noticing what you do appreciate about yourself. No matter how bad you feel, there are good things about you.
Try this assignment. Make a list of at least three things that you appreciate. Here are a few suggestions to consider adding to your list:
A good listener
A loyal friend
A fresh, warm chocolate chip cookie
The purpose of this exercise is to help you begin to push back the dark, consuming, negative thoughts and focus on the good around you.
I love the line from Kathryn Stockett’s book and movie The Help, “You is smart. You is kind. You is important.” These are keeper phrases because you are all of those and more. Here is the clip.
Monday, I will have the next tip for pushing back depression.
John is a licensed counselor with over 35,000 in the people helping business. He is also a speaker, author, and crisis response specialist.
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.
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
John is a Counselor, Author, Speaker and Photographer that helps people "Get a Grip on Life."