5 Things Depression Can't Do

Whether it floats or flies, hope always rises to the top. / Illustration by Cynthia Mendoza / Copyright 2015 - 2019

Depression is a thief and a bully. It can rob us of so many of God’s ideals for His children, namely joy, peace and sanity. And what it doesn’t steal, it tries to coerce out of us. But no matter how overpowering depression can be, there are at least five things that it absolutely cannot do.

It can’t force you to have a negative attitude 

Attitude is everything. It transcends mental health. Attitude can determine how you handle the journey and be the biggest determining factor in overcoming depression (or not). When I became aware of my very real issues, I determined that it would not ruin my life. That was years ago. It’s been an uphill battle with several downhill tumbles, but that one-time decision to take it by the horns and say, “I.Don’t.Think.So” was all it took to not let it have it’s way with me indefinitely. Neither can depression force you to be rude, obnoxious, demanding or entitled. Attitude. It defies further explanation. Simply put, it will make you or break you, depression or not. Be “selfish” and have a good one.

It can’t dictate what you put into your body

Along with attitude, what we feed our body is something we have complete control over. We’re so assaulted with an (over?) abundance of cheap unhealthy foods, we forget we actually do have choices. But no matter how out of control we may feel, depression can’t actually force feed you unhealthy food. But why does it even matter? For one thing, nutrition play a huge role in brain health. But beyond that, embracing the fact that you DO have control over your physical health is so empowering. Having said that, I admit that food has been one of my biggest struggles; it’s a vicious cycle of self-medicating and then feeling worse, which perpetuates negative emotions and behaviors. I get it. But the opposite is also true. There is a sense of dignity and worth that come from realizing that you DO have a choice, and that at least today, you made good ones, which then create a positive cycle of improved state of mind and healthier behaviors tomorrow. (More on brain health and nutrition here and here)

It can’t sever your connection to God

Our connection to God is the one thing that can never ever be taken away from us by external forces. The fact is, God is bigger than all of it. He can reach into the deepest recesses of our hearts and minds in spite of any neurological or chemical deficiencies. Even dementia or memory loss can’t sever us from Him. Shortly before she passed away at the age of 97 in 2007, my grandmother pretty much “lost it.” But the one thing she never lost was her love for and understanding of God, and the hope of His second coming, which she talked about frequently in the same way she always had. No matter what emotional or psychological issues you may be struggling with, just know that He’s right there with you, in the thick of it, all the time.

It can’t destroy genuine friendships or keep us from meeting incredible people (unless you allow it to).

The same way depression isn’t big enough to sever our connection to God, neither can it steal away our genuine heartfelt friendships. It doesn’t automatically prevent us from meeting incredible people or forging meaningful connections. In fact, sometimes the best friendships take root during the darkest days. And sometimes in the midst of it, vulnerability bursts forth and you realize there are people who love you, who understand... and you realize they have their own pains too. When the sun eventually shines again, we find these friendships forged in the valley of darkness have made us not only happier and healthier, but given us the added bonus of incredible people to share better days with. They’ve seen us at our worst (whether they realized it or not) and stuck around, so now they get to be a part of our best days.

But above all…

It can’t force you to quit

It can’t make you give up hope of better days ahead, or healing. It can’t force you not to dream or keep you from working to achieve them. Most of all, it can’t force you to give up on life. It wants you to think so, but it really can’t. Depression can be so overpowering it seems to control every aspect of our lives but by choosing to focus on the things you do have complete control over, all of a sudden the big bully doesn’t seem like such a big shot after all.