When we tell someone who is depressed to “hang on” it seems trite and unhelpful and just plain cheesy, but at the same time they are the only words that really sums up what you have to do……you have to HANG ON. It is the very thing you have been doing every day you have survived depression; you have been hanging on. Each time you forced yourself to get dressed….you were hanging on. Each day you slept all day and all night…you were hanging on as best as you knew how while hoping for the day you could make yourself get up and do something. “Hang on” is a simple phrase used by well meaning friends, but it is good advise.
There are healthy ways to hang on and unhealthy ways to hang on. We all know that deep down. If you made a list of unhealthy versus healthy, you could see that you know the difference between the two. The unhealthy ways to hang on are the ways that only offer temporary solutions to our problems. Let’s face it; the unhealthy ways are just easier and they are rewarding…for awhile.
I don’t want to go into all the details of our unhealthy techniques to hang on because I don’t want to trigger their use in anyone, but I do want to mention a list of healthy ways to make our feet go forward. These things are NOT EASY. They do not give instant relief, but they can help eventually. So, here it goes….
1. Find music that moves you or soothes you. Not some depressed, dark music, but some music that speaks through the depression. It can be music that questions, or voices our mindset, but yet it must call out for hope. Personally I turned to the songs of Rich Mullins. Some of his songs were deep and reflected a person who knew depression, yet he was able to offer flickers of hope somewhere in the lyrics. He sang out of his depression, but he always turned toward hope in some way. One of my favorite songs was “Hold Me Jesus.” In this song he says, “So hold me Jesus, cause I’m shaking like a leaf. You have been my King of Glory, won’t You be my Prince of Peace?” (A Liturgy, a Legacy, & a Ragamuffin Band, 1993, Rich Mullins) Find the music that speaks to you.
2. Take chances. That sounds weird, I know, but here is what I mean. Take chances by going places when someone invites you. Don’t think of all the energy it will take to get up and go…just go! You never know if it will actually help you in someway. Take a chance and play a game with your child when they ask. Take a chance and smile at someone when you don’t feel like it. Take a chance and be truthful to your counselor for once…you know, that truth that you are afraid to release into the air. Release it.
3. Write, write, write or draw, draw, draw. Write or draw what is in your heart, but, here is the challenge; no matter how dark your writings or art may be, add a glimmer of hope somewhere. For example, if you draw yourself holding on, who has the other end of the rope? Someone has to have it if it is holding you up while you hang on! Maybe you don’t see who that is. Draw a hand holding it. You don’t have to know who the hand belongs to, but the hand gives us hope.
These are three healthy ways to hang on or hold on…which ever phrase you use. However, I do know the energy it takes to do these things, but I also know the hand that held the rope I held on to. No matter how angry I got at that hand, or how much I cried out to that hand, HE HELD ON as tight as I did…even tighter. He called out words of encouragment that would break through my depression at times. At other times, He held on silently while I hurt, but He never let go. That leads me to the final way to hang on. Hang on by honestly talking to the One that holds you. Yes, I am talking about God. Even if you don’t believe in Him, try talking to Him. He has big shoulders so you can cry or rage, either one…just try it. What do you have to lose?