According to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, “Major depressive disorder affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older, in a given year. (Archives of General Psychiatry, 2005 Jun; 62(6): 617-27)” (DBSA).
THAT IS JUST IN THE UNITED STATES! Perhaps you find yourself among those 15 million people. You are not alone.
I want to start off by saying, that I am by no means a psychologist or anywhere near being able to give medical advice for a clinical condition. But I do know that everyone at some point in their lives have been depressed or on the brink of depression.
For me, depression strikes when I am bored or only focused on myself. I tend to dwell on my circumstances or my identity too much and then bam! I feel the weight of it all and shut down. We were not created to carry heavy burdens alone. I know some people feel like they can’t even get out of bed most days, or that their life isn’t worth living. Again, I am not a psychologist, but here are 10 tips to Deter Depression. These are personal tips, as I practice these almost daily. As many of you know, I am in a stand still season of life right now, and my demons tend to sneak up on me when I am bored or alone. Hope these tips help!
10 Tips to Deter Depression:
1. Find a routine.
Wake up at the same time each day. Stretch, go on a walk or run, do yoga, open your Bible, journal, eat a yummy breakfast. Do this all before you check Facebook or Instagram. I promise it makes a difference.
2. Get involved in a healthy community.
You are the sum of the people you surround yourself with. Maybe it’s a gym (shout out to TFMelbz), maybe it’s a running group, yoga class, tennis team (my parents won’t let me join theirs’), or a Bible Study. (1 Corinthians 15:33)
Any sort of exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins are God’s gift to us! They are our “happy hormones”. They are our body’s natural morphine-like substance. Who doesn’t like morphine?! …I mean… ehem endorphins. I know nobody wants to work out, but afterwards you always feel better! Start off small! Maybe it’s a swim in the pool or walk in the park.
4. Discover new hobbies or set a goal to work towards.
Maybe it’s writing a book, running a marathon, starting a business, traveling to Australia, or maybe it’s finishing a 5,000 piece puzzle (me lol). Whatever it is, set a goal that you can attain small victories along the way! No sense in starting a hobby that stresses you out even more. If you like to fish, go fish.
5. Connect with a counselor or mentor.
Like I said before, we weren’t meant to carry heavy burdens alone. It always helps if we can share our struggles with someone. Especially someone who has been through what you have been through. (2 Corinthians 1:3-11) We all have struggles, no one is perfect. We just act like it, so that we don’t get embarrassed. Maybe that’s our problem. You will be surprised that when you share your crap with others, they often say “hey, me too!”.
6. Meet at least once a week with a friend or a group of friends.
This gives you something to look forward to! This is different than just joining a Bible study. I know this sounds sacrilegious. But not everything has to be a study of theology. Maybe you meet a friend(s) for coffee once a week or get a group together to go see a movie, or even a group of friends to go on a short camping trip once a month. I know we all lead busy lives, but prioritizing group time can really help defeat loneliness. (Jesus had His inner circle Peter, James, and John to escape crowds and isolation)
7. Be honest
…with those around you, tell them you are struggling. Stop with the pride and let down your mask. Holding everything in only harms you.
8. Find a church.
Church is not just a building, as you may know. Worshiping with other believers and listening to a Pastor teach on Scripture and speak life over you is very freeing. People in church are just as jacked up as we are, so it’s nice to see those people once a week ?
9. Limit secular music.
I almost avoided this tip, but like I said these are things I do, and I am sharing them to help- not tell you what to do! I tend not to listen to secular music when I am alone. I am not by any means saying you are a heathen for listening to secular music… I mean c’mon… everyone knows I love Drake and Ariana Grande etc. (with discretion)
However, when I am alone, the subliminal messages seem to creep in my thoughts and my mind tends to wander. I personally recognize that in my own life, when I am with a group of people I am more focused on who I am with and having a good time, than the lyrics from a secular upbeat song. This doesn’t mean only play Chris Tomlin, Bethel, or even Lecrae when you are alone… Let me be clear, I am not talking about not listening to “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey…
I am mainly referring to songs like “rockstar” by Post Malone. Something about, these lyrics don’t help me when I am alone:
“Cocaine on the table, liquor pourin’, don’t give a d*mn Dude, your girlfriend is a groupie, she just tryna get in Sayin’, “I’m with the band” Ayy, ayy, now she actin’ outta pocket Tryna grab up from my pants”
***Not trying to shame anyone, or say I am perfect. This song has a great beat. Mind you, people have their own convictions. I am just trying to be raw and honest about my own struggles. When you are alone, anything can happen. (Philippians 4:8) Use discretion! And if you are a mom reading these lyrics and claim you’d smack your child for listening to this music, just remember who you were in the 70’s listening to rock ‘n’ roll and your parents thought you were going to hell. Take a deep breath!
10. Pray pray pray!
Praying sounds like some sort of chore or formulated response to God. But honestly prayer is a conversation where you can be completely yourself. The parts you want to fix and hide from others has already been exposed to your Heavenly Father, so drop the act. Save that for your Facebook posts. (Matthew 11:28-30)
Again, I am not saying these tips are a cure for depression, but these practices have helped me deter depression. If you are on anti-depressants, see a counselor, or are part of a support group please do not stop based on this post! I have a personality that is prone to depression, anxiety, and OCD… especially if I don’t have much going on. But these 10 things help keep me in check and focused on Heavenly Realms. As always remember that Jesus conquered the grave, not to pass judgment BUT to save us from sin, death, our demons, depression and our own self destruction. He is the ultimate Healer and Counselor. Love to you all!
I chose this picture to illustrate comparison, and I have to admit, I was tempted to “blur out” the blemish on my chin. Before I left for my second trip to the Philippines, I was knee deep in comparison. I had just graduated college, and I felt like I wasn’t going anywhere with my life.
I constantly look to the left and look to my right to see who has what and I why I am lacking. No job, no house, no spouse, and no “luck” on getting those anytime soon. When I was on the plane headed back, I came across this picture and immediately my eyes welled up with tears. This little girl is looking at me with a smile and wonder on her face. Without going into too much detail, every time we went to a school the kids would ask for pictures, hugs, and autographs (not just me, everyone on the trip). They shouted your name, yelled “You are beautiful!”, and “I love you”. They looked at us like we had it all. Lighter skin, money, education, you get the picture. And I was looking at them thinking how beautiful they were, their skin, their hair, their smiles, and their hospitality.
You know how we have tanning salons in America? To get tanner? Well they have salons to make their skin whiter/brighter. We all want something we don’t have. When that girl looked at me at the time of this photo, she wasn’t thinking “Wow, Brooke should get a job. No husband- no worth. No tan- not cute.” She saw me for what she thought I was. She thought I was beautiful. (I am not putting words into her mouth, she told me after pic). The point is, the standard of beauty is different in all areas of the world, we all compare, and we all want what we don’t have.
Like most of you, I have struggled with comparison. I almost feel like it is hypocritical for me to write a blog on this because I still struggle daily with this. When I read encouraging posts, I often read it as if the writer defeated their comparison issues. I have not.
Comparison has a way of making you feel isolated, inadequate, and less-than. As I write this, I am hoping to learn something as well. Let’s navigate this through, find out where comparison comes from, find out its various forms, and learn to combat these lies one by one.
Where does comparison come from?
The easy answer to this question is: “Not from God”. But honestly, as an inquisitive soul that answer isn’t enough for me. Let me clarify, God is enough for me, but the Sunday school answers don’t alleviate my deeper questions. I have always been this way, so I want to apologize upfront for the long explanations.
Let’s look at Peter and John. (John 21).
Many of you know, Peter denied Jesus three times before the rooster crowed just as Jesus predicted. Peter was also part of Jesus’ inner circle along with James and John. I paint Peter in my mind to have a controlling personality. When Jesus predicted that one of His followers would betray Him, Peter motioned John to ask who it would be (John 13:24-25). Peter was curious and inquisitive. He also doubted, we know how he took his eyes off Jesus when walking on water. Gosh, I sure identify with Peter.
Fast forward to Jesus’s third appearance to the disciples, post resurrection, we see that Jesus restores Peter Threefold. This is important because Peter denied Jesus three times before His death, but he was given three chances at grace after the resurrection. Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves Him, and if so then Peter needs to feed and take care of His people. Then Jesus simply commands Peter to “Follow Him” (v.19). This is interesting because Peter was one of His closest followers, but Jesus wanted Peter to follow Him even after He ascends to heaven.
Look at what happens next. Peter turned around after this conversation and sees John behind them. Peter asks, “Lord what about him?” (v 21) and Jesus responds, “What is that to you? As for you, follow me.” (vs 22)
I am so much like Peter. I seem to always ask God, “What about them?” Comparison.
If you don’t think you have this problem, comparing your body, face, muscle mass, house, spouse, car, or kids are the same thing. We are always concerned with what someone else is doing. Poor Peter had to be the example for it.
Comparison comes from not being content with what God has given you. YOU. The unique you.
Instead of Peter being grateful for Jesus extending him three opportunities of grace, he was worried about John. Before Jesus’s death, Peter’s denial, and Peter’s comeback, Jesus placed a great call on Peter’s life:
“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:18-19).
Forgetting who you are, forgetting God’s call on your life, and ungratefulness are all utensils that shovel comparison into your mind.
Don’t lose heart though. You are not alone in this. Remember Peter walked on water with Jesus, lost focus, cut off a high priest’s servant’s ear to defend Jesus, then denied Jesus three times. Jesus is all about extending grace and preserving His call on your life. Just remember that you are unique, and He gives us what we need and has a relationship with us that is unlike anyone else’s. It’s personal.
Comparison and its various forms:
Comparison for me transcends the social media realm. Although, Instagram doesn’t help. I think I compare myself most to the person I want to be. I compare myself to the ideal Brooke Maratta. Sure, I covet some girl’s hair, or body, or ability to talk to boys without completely freaking out. But I mainly compare myself to the person that I feel everyone expects me to be.
This, my dear friend, is called unnecessary pressure. On the practical spectrum, people are not concerned with you as much as they are concerned with themselves. So, if you think that someone wants you to be a size 2, with clear skin, and a great job then you got it wrong. Or if you are a size 2 and people tell you to put meat on your bones, it’s time to regain confidence in the body God has given you.
Going back to my picture for illustration, that little girl didn’t expect me to have a career in TV by August with a nice apartment in a new city. That was all me who expected that. Good news is, Jesus didn’t expect that of me either. He already knew that wasn’t going to be the case. Jesus expects me to “Follow Him” …just like Peter.
Comparison also shows itself through working hard at fleeting pleasures. Working out, working hard, eating clean, tanning, etc. these are all good things, but it is important to check your motive. The richest and wisest man to ever live, Solomon, puts it this way,
“I saw that all labor and all skillful work is due to one person’s jealousy of another. This too is futile and a pursuit of the wind” (Ecclesiastes 4:4)
King Solomon isn’t saying to sit on your butt and do nothing to be a better version of yourself. He is isolating our motive. Jealousy of someone else’s story, money, talents, looks. Jealousy of the person you think you should be (who doesn’t exist), or jealousy of the person you think people want you to be, these bring about comparison and unhealthy thinking.
Lighten the load a bit, and just follow Jesus. If disappointment determined God’s love for us, well we would all be in deep trouble.
God granted you gifts, beauty, a personality, and skills that are all unique to you. He is creative! And get this, you are only accountable for that of which was given to you! No one else!
To close out, let’s go back to Peter. Peter had an exceptional call on His life. Jesus predicted his own death, own resurrection, and Peter’s denial. Yet He still spoke life over Peter. He gave Peter authority and purpose despite his shortcomings and future failures. Even when Jesus was extending grace to Peter, Peter was still worried about John. Jesus told Peter it was none of his concern and to follow Him. Maybe we should tell ourselves that the next time we are comparing ourselves to our friends (or strangers).
Comparison is the thief of contentment. Before you get entangled in the comparison trap, ask yourself why you are not content with yourself. After doing so, journal all the things that God has given you. Thank Him for them and ask Him to release you from the unnecessary pressures of this world.
Our world needs you. The world needed Peter, and the world needed John. Heck the world needed Jesus, but Jesus used Peter and John separately to spread the news of His love for all. One wasn’t better than the other.
There is a unique call on your life that only your unique face, unique body, unique personality, and unique mind could fill.
As far as social media is concerned, “Don’t compare your behind-the-scenes to someone else’s highlight reel” (Idk who said this, but I stole it).
Find joy in your quirks. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need someone else to see something in you to prove that you have what it takes. God sees you and knows you.
I’m sure the other disciples looked at Peter as far gone. That he was past the point of return- denying Jesus that way. I would’ve probably said to myself, “I’m glad I’m not him”.
But Jesus did things vastly different than everyone. He forgives, He accepts, and He loves. You should try it on yourself.
“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10
In recent news, we have all been notified that designer Kate Spade took her own life on June 5 by an apparent suicide. Just three short days later, on June 8 celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain hung himself in his hotel in France.
Without going into much detail of their personal lives, I read that both struggled deeply with depression and had sought help. My heart was broken when I read of their suicides. Throughout this past week, I have seen more and more people post about their struggles with suicidal thoughts and depression.
I just want to start off by saying you are not alone, many people -even the strongest people you know- have struggled with the very same demons. I think suicide can be considered one of the most heartbreaking ways to die because it leaves the ones left behind wondering if they could’ve done something to prevent it. I didn’t know Kate Spade or Anthony Bourdain on a personal level, but I even felt helpless. I think to myself, what if I would’ve known them? Brought a smile to their face? Or even just told them how precious their lives were…
On a completely different note, I was surrounded by a lot of life this past month. On June 16th my baby nephew was born. My sister’s labor was intense, 30 hours plus, and I watched her cry and beg God to take the pain of childbirth away. Without going into too much detail of what the delivery room chaos looked like, baby Jude showed his face at 8:07 AM and instant tears streamed down my family’s face. It was like the pain, anguish, and fear of childbirth completely dissipated when that baby boy breathed his first breath.
After the initial excitement and emotion of Jude’s birth, my mind went crazy. I thought oh my goodness, to think people like Robin Williams, Kate Spade, and Anthony Bourdain all started out as a baby, full of life, innocence… breath… it made me wonder. What happens in between the start of life and death? My heart hurts every time I hear baby Jude cry so loud because he is hungry, or tired, or has a tummy ache. That’s when his mommy nurses him or rocks him and he is immediately soothed.
I think what happens between life and death (depression or suicide) is:
We mute our cries.
We shovel our insecurities deep down.
We mask our pain.
We lie to ourselves.
We hide in our shame.
We bask in our heartache.
We defend ourselves.
We go silent.
I realize a lot of people seek help for their anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. I also know people take medicine to aid in their depression, but I know people lose the art of living in the middle of it all. They look to cure their habits of distraught and release themselves from their demons. But, they forget that to combat death, they must embrace life.
The opposite of death is life. The opposite of darkness is light. The opposite of silence is sound.
The enemy, your demons, will convince you to seek death to release you from pain, seek darkness to hide from your past, and to seek silence to avoid rejection. My friends that is not how we all started out in this world. We all started off as babies and as children. Babies that cried when something was wrong, ate when we were hungry, slept when we were tired, and snuggled when we were held. Not every baby or child was raised with parents who cared for them deeply, I understand that. I understand that upbringing, alcoholism, drugs, and single parenthood may have affected our upbringing, but we have to be aware that somewhere between our first breath and our first depressing thought…we have lost something: life.
In the delivery room where I first held my baby nephew, Jude, I was reminded that Jesus was also born into this world as a little baby. A baby that cried, snuggled, nursed, bled, got sick, and grew up with a purpose. Just like you and me. Somewhere in between his first breath and his final breath he gained life for all of us. Something we consistently try to reject. As a Christian, I believe we have abundant life in Christ. Why? Because He conquered death. Death can’t hold you if you have life in the eternal Christ.
I know heads spin when someone we love commits suicide. I know there are no words for the pain we feel and the confusion we have when someone has the will to kill themselves. But I just wanted to encourage you that your Heavenly Father had the will to sacrifice his one and only son on your behalf, so that you too could have life abundantly. So that, somewhere between your first and final breath you wouldn’t battle these demons alone and submerge yourself in silence, but rather you would look to Him to snuggle you, soothe you, and give you true life.
So, as I sit here, staring at my Kate Spade laptop case and glance up at my baby nephew on the couch with my family, I am reminded that somewhere between life and death is the Savior of the world willing to grant us peace and everlasting life in Him.
“Therefore, Jesus said again, ‘Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep’”
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
When something has a purpose, they are being used for something. For instance, a microphone’s purpose is to amplify sound. The microphone doesn’t have to go out and seek its purpose, for it was already given to it by its creator. For when it’s used, that’s when its purpose is fulfilled. When it is being used for what it was created for, one would say its purpose is being fulfilled. You wouldn’t use a microphone to brush your hair because that isn’t what a microphone was created for…
So, what’s the point?
I think what I am getting at is, we are so quick to associate our purpose with a career, a relationship, a position in life, a race, a gender, and even a political party. Think about it, our Instagram bios are filled with what we do, but not necessarily what we are used for. Let’s go back to a microphone, just for fun. If a microphone’s bio read “Bon Jovi’s mic” would its purpose change if Bon Jovi gave his mic to Adam Levine? Well no! that’s silly! Its occupation would change, but its purpose would remain the same… to amplify sound. Purpose by definition is “the reason for which something is created or for which something exists”.
Many of you all know I was able to film my senior project for the University of Florida in the Philippines. It was incredible, and I will spare you all the details until you see the video, but I chose such a complex topic only to create a conversation. I know that even after watching this video, people will still have questions, they will still be uncertain if God exists, and they will still wake up in the midst of their struggles. But like always, I feel as though it is my purpose to encourage and love people as they face adversity. I hope this video encourages you and entices you to know your Creator, so He can show you His purpose for you. Circumstances, occupation, and location do not qualify in defining your purpose.
Just as a lightbulb was created by Thomas Edison, to illuminate places via electricity, you were created to do the same no matter where you are plugged in. Whether a lightbulb is in a nightlight to keep you from stubbing your toe in the dark, or a lightbulb is screwed into a lamp for your nighttime reading, its purpose remained the same.
You may feel too small, too lousy, too hurt, or too angry to fulfill anything worth a darn in this life, but your Creator says otherwise:
“For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
I love a good horror movie, which is funny because I am the world’s biggest scaredy-cat. I was the kid growing up who went to their parent’s room every night because I was afraid that Jim Carey playing The Mask was in my room. My parents decided to lock their door at night, so next up was my sister’s room. I had no shame. I was not about to sleep in a room with the boogie man in it.
There are a few rules I have with a horror movie:
NEVER watch one alone
Watch 70% of the movie with your hands over your face
Stay close to another person while watching
Have your phone near you, so you can scroll through Instagram when you’re getting too scared
Run a few laps around your dining room table when the suspense is too much to handle (I do this every time, I dart off the couch and sprint. My adrenaline is too high to be sitting there watching a bad guy prevail.)
Why do I watch them you ask? The only answer I have come up with is it’s the closest I will get to riding a motorcycle on the highway. It gives me a rush. Let me also set the record straight: I do NOT like horror movies with pointless gore and blood. I like a thickening plot thriller of a movie. M. Night Shyamalan is my fave (The Sixth Sense, Split, Signs). He always has a redeeming ending, and most of the time you can go to bed without keeping all of the lights on! Anyways, I’ll keep my nerd talk to myself.
Recently, I watched the movie “The Boy”. This movie is about a young girl who is fleeing her ex-boyfriend and moves to the UK to be a nanny. Upon arriving to the UK, she finds out she is babysitting a porcelain doll named after an older couple’s dead son, Brahms. Seems creepy, and I sure as heck know that I did not just sell you on watching it either. Stay with me here… I watched the movie, and I loved it. I was scared senseless, but the best part is this movie had, in my opinion, a great ending. It was one of those “ahhhh the person I loved most didn’t die, and the bad guy isn’t in my house right now”. Comforting, I know. Naturally, I became a huge advocate for this film. I told all my friends to watch it, and I convinced my best friend and her mom to watch it, too! Except… I had to watch it again with them, but it wasn’t a big deal at all. Besides, I liked the movie, I knew when the scary parts would happen, and I knew the ending. I was the perfect person to watch that movie with because the whole time I was able to say, “Trust me, keep watching, it’s so so so good!” or “You won’t be disappointed!” or “Pay attention here, this matters later in the movie”. It is ALWAYS better to watch a suspenseful movie with someone who has already seen it. There is something very comforting about having someone next to you who has experienced the unknown before you have. Much like Jesus in our lives, right?
Did I really just go there? Oh yes, I did boo boo.
You see, I am at the tail end of a chapter right now. I graduate in just 4 short months, I have no freaking clue where I am moving to, I have no idea who will hire me, and I’m nervous. Before any moms or old folks try to throw this line at me “It’s okay honey, God has a plan”, it doesn’t work. I wish it did. I wish simple one liners tricked my brain into believing life is going to be okay. While it encourages me, and I appreciate everyone who invests in my life, it’s just not enough. My heart needs more. Perhaps you feel the same way. Perhaps there is something in your life that scares the crap out of you, and words like “I am praying for you” don’t suffice. Personally, the only words that satisfy my heart’s cry is “I died for you” and “It’s finished”.
Back in the day, Moses (the kid who floated in a basket) wrote to Joshua (the kid who actually led the Israelites into the Promise Land) “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” (Deuteronomy 31:8). You see, this is the same God who goes before YOU. He came and lived a life here on earth, so that He can walk along side of you and say “Hey, I know this seems scary and unsettling, but I know the ending! I’ve seen it all. You will not be disappointed”. I absolutely love that after Jesus ascended into Heaven after the resurrection, He sent the Holy Spirit down to walk through life with us and to comfort us (John 14). The One to battle the scary parts and the unknown with us.
Encouragement: As one of God’s children, He will not allow you to be alone. The unknowns in your life are NOT a surprise to your Heavenly Father.
One of my favorite passages in Hebrews talks about this very idea I am trying to convey:
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find graceto help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16). Take heart in this.
I plea with you not to give up. Remember, a lot of times comfort is most felt when someone has been through what you have been through and conquered it. Jesus conquered it all, and He is with you whispering, “Just wait, I promise you, I know what happens next. I go before you”.
One last verse to encourage you with. My mom put this verse on my bedroom door after one of my scaredy-cat episodes, and I’ve been dwelling on it ever since.
“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power, love and discipline”.(2 Timothy 1:7)
I’ve learned that when I am most confused or uncertain that I can look at creation and be reminded of my Creator’s attention for detail and concern for me.
I’ve learned that age 21 was the year (so far) that I have grown the most.
I’ve learned that God is willing to stop me in my tracks. He will always act when I grow complacent, He will always rise to the occasion, He will always lead, and He will always love me. Therefore, He will never let me down.
This next season of life I am about to enter is exciting and nerve racking at the same time. I graduate college, I will hopefully accept a new job, I could possibly move to a different city, and so much more! I know 22 will rock my socks off (who even says that anymore lol) because all of my other years of living have been truly astounding and adventure filled!
“And as You speak A hundred billion galaxies are born In the vapour of Your breath the planets form If the stars were made to worship so will I”