Hallo! Welcome to my first blog series on Against The Stream. It is called Feeling Good and focuses on depression and the stages of moving through a very low or difficult time in life. Unless you are feeling well and able to function it is really hard to start living well and as God intends, so let’s start with the basics.
For Part 4 I want to share some resources that have been really helpful for me, both books to read and websites to visit.
Overcoming Depression: The Curse Of The Strong – Tim Cantopher
This is by far the best book I have ever read on depression, and I’ve read plenty! Straightforward and honest, its analytical and factual format really helped me understand what was going on with my brain during depression. It focuses of the kind of depression suffered by people who think and care too much, the strong people who suddenly get struck down and then tend to try to fix things themselves (me, basically). This book also finally made me realize that it wasn’t my fault and that there was hope for clambering out of this and staying out, although I had to make big changes to the way I think and live. The author explains the physical side of things as well as addressing treatment options and long-term solutions.
A Secret Sadness – Valerie Whiffen
Specifically for women, this author has spent most of her career collecting data about women with mental illnesses, especially victims of trauma, and their experiences of depression. It focuses on talk therapies and how they can help untangle the particularly female aspects of mental health problems.
Dark Night Of The Soul – St. John of the Cross
The classic spiritual work on the rough patches in life. Good for helping with the climb out of the pit and with spiritual crises that accompany episodes of deep depression.
Surviving Depression: A Catholic Approach – Kathryn Hermes, FSP
A good Catholic resource for those suffering from depression and bipolar disorders. It covers a lot of the basics as well as touching on some things that may be helpful for those who care for depressives.
Acedia & Me – Kathleen Norris
A memoir centered around poet and writer Kathleen Norris and her husband David’s experiences of depression and its spiritual aspect, traditionally called acedia. Helpful for recognizing the spiritual dimension and for contemplating and learning about the history of acedia.
http://www.mindyourmind.ca – A good first step or distress resource, this website has lots to offer. Besides its own resources, it also has useful links to places where you can get long term help as well as the phone numbers for you to talk to someone at a bad moment.
http://www.thequietplaceproject.com – Includes the Thoughts Room, a place where you can type anything and it explodes and disappears forever. Great after a frustrating day.
Neon Flames (http://29a.ch/sandbox/2011/neonflames/) – A calming art exercise, I found making my own nebulae (see cover picture) very helpful when I felt worthless and alone and couldn’t see anything good in my day.
http://www.rainymood.com – Two websites where there are calm weather sounds and visuals if you need some time out.
In addition, the Psalms, Job, the Prophets, the story of Elijah, Jesus’ Passion, are all good texts for the really dark times. The Psalms especially express some of the most common and deepest human emotions, stretching from joy and confidence to despair and heartbreak. Try Psalms 23, 31, 34, 43, 51, 55, 56, 69, 77, 88, 130, as well as 102, which is one of my favourites. Job is also a good book for times of questioning faith and wondering why things happen.
So, here they are – the things which have helped me the most when I have sat at home feeling down and very much alone. None of these things can replace a good counselor, medical help and drugs, but they are helpful for learning more about what is going on and for starting to look for ways to manage your depression and self-regulate.
In addition, Part 5 of the Feeling Well series should be out in a day or so and I’ll be looking more at management and what to actually do in those dark times.
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