The second part of that silver bullet was a book called The Mood Cure. It addressed the amino acids in the brain, and the unhealthy fats, that wreak havoc on the moods of our generation. With a naturopath’s guidance, I began to experiment according to their system. One amino acid, in a low dose (had to figure that one out), put a “bottom to my cup” emotionally. That has generally remained. It’s a book worth the read if this is your battle.
The third part of this was identifying the foods that take me down and make me tired. Carbs, especially breads, desserts and alcohol—things that convert quickly to sugar—I treat like enemies (with occasional forays into their territory just because melted butter on bread or a frosty glass of Guinness is so darn good). When I went with primarily proteins and vegetables, much began to change. Egg whites for breakfast beats a bagel hands down for my moods.
The fourth part of this is weight loss and exercise. To be honest, the “buzz” others say they get from exercise, or the “clarity of mind,” has never been my experience. I hate exercise. I really hate it. My skin itches, my body hurts and sweating is miserable. But I do it anyway. Because it must be good. Do it anyway.
3. Surround yourself with positive reinforcements, and manage your influences.
This is short. I am, by nature, compassionate. But I have to watch my relationships. I need people in my life, like my wife, who are “can do” people. I don’t buy the folk philosophy you see on Facebook quote graphics that says you should avoid everyone who brings you down. Jesus walked into the mess, and we should to—to heal it and be healed ourselves in the process. But we can watch our diet and hang around the orbit of those who are waking up believing anything is possible.
I also have quotes up in my office, and images, that remind me of who I am and what I am here for. I keep a sheet of phrases in my drawer that I review each morning that helps me reorient to what is truly important in my day. While there are often no fireworks with this one, the steady diet of these words keeps me from The Drift in my calling and hope.
One day, when I was at my worst, one of my closest friends was with me in a car. I said, “I feel like I’m about to lose my mind.” He was matter-of-fact. “No. You won’t lose your mind. You’re going to be fine. That’s the truth.” It was all I needed. I still need words like that in rough moments. We all do. Someone can help us take charge.
4. Invite prayer unceasingly, and embrace a lifestyle of gratefulness.
This is another short, but no less vital, silver bullet in my arsenal. The power of prayer sits at the center of the universe, a tool given to us by God to invite Him into any and every concern we have. When my community prays for me, I am stronger. When they forget, or I forget to ask, I am weaker. I don’t understand the theology of it all. I just know it’s true. Humble yourself, and welcome God into the equation. (If you’re not a follower of Jesus, or not sure about God in general, I invite you to ask Him to show himself to you in your depression. In surprising ways, though the depression may not lift overnight, He will.)
Two little spiritual books have also helped me put a dent in depression. 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp has been a game-changer for me. I now see most of life through the lens of thankfulness, and have come, with her and my wife, to believe that cultivating the habit of thankfulness for every little thing is the key to a joyful life.
The second book that has served me well as an artistic personality and Christian leader is Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero. Using ideas in spiritual formation, which were familiar to me, I learned to face fears that were previously tucked away and to learn from them what my heart was telling me. Sure, we can get lost getting in touch too deeply with ourselves (in some folks’ view), but in my experience, leaders who stuff their emotions are far more broken and on a fast track to health issues than those who are listening to their heart daily.
I have a daily rhythm of personal prayer, reading and devotion that keeps me centered, and this also prepares me to step into the battle of my day fully armed and with my silver bullets locked and loaded for any challenge that may come.
This Is Just a Start
These are a few of my silver bullets for battling depression as a fellow journeyor and as a leader. I chronicle my path for keeping my spiritual passion alive in my book The Elemental Life: The Earth, Wind, Fire and Water of the Passionate Spiritual Life. In my experience, if this part of me is alive and well, I have the strength to apply all of the above in my changing life.
I encourage you to seek out support in each of the areas above, and find—with God’s help—the silver bullets that will matter for you. My prayers, today and as I read every comment below, are with you.
Question: Have you battled depression? If so, what “silver bullets” have helped you in your struggle?