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Dear Anxious and Depressed Me .. There’s a Way Out!

I now believe that too many “normal” people struggle with depression, whether diagnosed or just a regular battle. I was sick and tired of letting it crush me and now I hate seeing it defeat others… keeping from their dreams, their positive relationships and their destiny.

Hoping this letter to "anxious and depressed me" can encourage, inspire or create hope in you and others.

Dear Anxious and Depressed Me,

I can already hear what you’re saying. Me? Depressed? In your mind, anxiety and depression are for weak people. And you're not weak.

I appreciate that. You’re not as bad as you could be and you hate labels like “depressed” or “anxious.” Ask me how I know? And you aren’t interested in simple solutions for the complexity of your life. Severe depression is often beyond description. But so is chronic depression.

But, I’m writing to share hope and just a bit of perspective and to let you know things can change. You don’t need to struggle with these thoughts that wake you up in the middle of night, battle fatigue at work each day or feel hopeless in your broken relationships. You wonder if “things will ever change” and you don’t think that question’s even relevant any more.

You don't need to accept that status quo.

It’s not normal or healthy to not like yourself, like your life and want to withdraw from others. It’s not healthy to let your brain’s chatter keep you from relaxation or anything resembling consistent peace.

You have gifts and good things to offer. And you can, like others you respect, see life as gift and see yourself as blessed.

What Caused Your Depression

So,you’re currently not sure whether what you’re feeling is something physical, emotional spiritual or just the way life is when you’ve been kicked and beaten. Things you expected to be different… aren’t. People you trusted let you down. And you feel like God didn’t answer your prayers. And you’re sick and tired of fighting battles and losing. You hoped others would be better, nicer and kinder. Maybe less selfish.

Allowing your mind to focus on the “crappy stuff” and the disappointments became an addiction to you. Each day became a reinforcement that things were’t what you’d expected. And you’d wake up in night and mull on it. You’d worry about money, about progress and if you could wake up and do it all over again tomorrow. You’d think God didn’t care and didn’t show up for you.

Other things that cause your depression were using carbs and alcohol as a way to relax. You stopped exercising and pushing your body the way you used to. You held grudges and couldn’t bring yourself to forgive those who’d let you down and even betrayed you. They did do those things. But, that’s not the whole story.

There’s hope… that’s not denial!

And I know what you’re now saying. “Come on? You know I’m tired of false hope or easy fixes. “Trust God.” Right? “Things will be better tomorrow.” Right? “Choose faith?” Right?

But, what I mean by hope is that the you tomorrow can have positive perspective without pretending. The you tomorrow can imagine a brighter future and have a vision of good things happening… that actually do.

It’s not abnormal to, at times, struggle with anxiety or depression. But, you need to learn and practice a different way of life. And it doesn’t make you weak, broken or hopeless. And it’s OK, not to label yourself with those.

Think of David in the Bible who said, 'I am forgotten by them as though I were dead.’ A “man after God’s own heart.” That’s the guy who also said, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.” Another Psalm (88) says “I am overwhelmed with troubles and my life draws bear to death,” and ends “Darkness is my closest friend.

Your symptoms are just that.

Yes, you need to treat your symptoms. And doctor’s and medication can help with those. But realize you’re just addressing symptoms. Your fatigues, chronic mind numbness and your inability to just relax can be alleviated short term.

What I want to help you address is what got you here in the first place. It’s not just normal to feel this way about life and about you. That’s the part that’s ready for spiritual transformation. What’s below the surface can change and change drastically. But, unlike a pill or any other drug, it’s not overnight.

However, it really is possible to wake up every morning after a good night’s sleep and say, “I love my life!” It really is possible to celebrate the awesomeness that exists and envision dreams coming true tomorrow without worrying about setting yourself up for a let down.

Developing Your "Habits of Hope"

I realize you’ve tried things that haven’t worked. But, there really are practices that work. They’re not rocket science and they’re not for the super spiritual and inaccessible to you. They’re also not also related to motivational hype and what you hate about self-help books. “Just be positive” or “Just trust God” have something in common. They totally miss where you are and what’s going on in you.

But, replacing the bad habits you’ve allowed yourself to slip into with positive and practical habits will change things. You’ll start to stop seeing what’s messed up and start seeing what’s really good. Over time, you’ll begin dreaming again and seeing God at work in other people’s life…and, believe it or not, in your life to.

Are You Willing?

Yes, though you may not see yourself as an addict, you do have something in common with the alcoholic and the drug addict. You're addicted to your own anxiety and depression. You’re addicted to your own “My life sucks” talk. You’re addicted to thinking you can control your life instead of letting it go and surrendering to God.

And like the first step of the 12-Step, you’ve got to start with admitting this isn’t working. “We admitted we were powerless over our addiction - that our lives had become unmanageable.”

Are you ready for something better? Totally better? Not just a quick fix but a whole new way of life?

I know you are!

Keep going!


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