Dealing With My Depression #1: Muffling Its Voice

Three years ago, I would not have dared start a series such as this. No, I take that back. I might have started such a series, but it would have been from the outside looking in. Having wrestled with depression for a while now, all I can do is share some of my methods for dealing with my depression when it taps me on the shoulder. So, from time to time, you may see these types of posts on this blog.


I have learned to muffle the audience I give to my depression. Depression whispers something in your ear and it sounds as if it represents reality in the moment. But I have come to realize that it is representing a distorted reality that will soon pass.

I remember when depression first hit my sister Angie. All she could say was “This is just how I am now. This is just the way it is going to be from now on.” I could not understand how she could evaluate her entire future without any regard to the past. She was never this way before, why was she so certain that this current pain was to define the rest of her existence? However, I now know what a deceiver depression is. It is very easy when I am depressed to think that this is just the way that I am. This is reality. That is what eventually took her life.

The panic that “it will always be this way” brings about only serves to intensify the depression, making its bouts prolonged. It is not merely the robbing of joy that is the issue, but it is the robbing of hope. I can deal with life without joy for a time. But once hope is gone, life is unbearable.

Now, I do my best to keep my mind from going there. Often I just have to ignore the forecast depression gives if I am going to function.

How do I do this? It is not easy. Most of the time, I just have to go about the business of the day. Routine and responsibilities that go unneglected are a friend. But that is the catch-22. Routine and responsibilities are often the first things that go out the door when depression comes. On the other hand, sitting around, thinking about it, giving it the audience it is calling for are the worst things I can do.

Here are some things I try to ignore:

“Hey, just think about me.”

“Don’t get out of bed; things are too bad.”

“This is just the way it is.”

“Don’t go exercise; this is not a time for exercise.”

“Your life is really tough, Michael. You deserve to be down.”

There is now a separate volume control in my head. I put a Post-It label on it: “Depression.” I am learning to turn it down when begins to sound.

17 Responses to “Dealing With My Depression #1: Muffling Its Voice”

  1. Dear Michael,
    Thanks for sharing this. I related to this article all too well–as I have been in a severe depression for over a year now. Sometimes it DOES seem like “it will always be this way” (and the subsequent loss of hope). I just keep fighting with the hope that my depression WILL one day pass away. Blessings to you, Michael.

  2. Michael,

    Is it possible that the whispers in your head could also be demonic in origin? I hear whispers (for the lack of a better term) a lot…”You are a bad father”, “You are a worthless in your career”, “You suck at what you do”, “You are a poseur, your boss will find out that you aren’t competent”, etc. ad nauseum. I assume that these aren’t my conscience speaking, since they seem to be in the second person. Prayer usually assuages them temporarily…they usually come in times of stress. Thoughts?

  3. Wow, I never thought I would post anything like this, but I have fought mild depression for a large part of my life. Once again, this blog has caused me to open up a bit more; thanks for sharing.

    The way I won the battle recently: a good long run and multiple podcasts of Theology Unplugged :)

    CMP, we are listening and learning, keep it up.

    I am praying for you.

  4. I’ve been dealing with depression for my entire life. Thanks for sharing your strategies. It also helps me when I remember to think of it to note to myself what kind of thoughts I am having. “These are bad thoughts.” “These are good thoughts.” Objectifying them in this way seems to rob them of some of their power.

  5. You always manage to ‘nail it’ Michael, it’s quite uncanny.

    But I have come to realize that it is representing a distorted reality that will soon pass.

    This is SO vital and something I’ve only recently learnt.

    When we’re in depression – or mental anguish of any type – for some reason our brain tells us we’ve ALWAYS been in this mindset and ALWAYS will be. As you say Michael, this simply applifies the condition.

    I’m just surfacing from a period of mental….err…difficulty, the most severe in a long time. There was however one major difference between this, and previous episodes.

    This time I repeated like a mantra: “This will pass!” until i believed it.

    I have never recovered so swiftly, and I think it was due in part to constantly reminding myself this aboslutely VITAL message.

  6. Todd,

    “Is it possible that the whispers in your head could also be demonic in origin?”

    I don’t know about their “origin”, but most certainly demons love for us to be depressed. I think we often forget that the Bible starts with Satan in the garden and ends with his defeat. Throughout all the middle, he is lose and he hates us. I continually return to the Lord’s prayer these days. It is not a long prayer, but it includes “protect us from the evil one.” Wow. Of all the things we could pray about, God tells us this?

    But, unfortunately, we are often better at disguising him than he is!

    In short, whether or not Satan is the origin, I don’t know. But he loves it and will do all he can to instigate it in our lives.

  7. Having been chronically depressed, I’m not entirely sure that debating/denying one’s feelings is a valid approach. I have other chronic illnesses as well and there’s nothing whatsoever to debate about them. They just remain a thorn in the flesh until God takes me home. God is greater than my problems and he will take me through them all despite my ability or lack of it to do anything about them. It’s our inability in ourselves that drives us to the throne of grace. His grace is sufficient. My ability is not.

  8. Mike said:

    His grace is sufficient. My ability is not.

    I like that….

  9. When I was in Bible College I found myself severely depressed. It didn’t make sense to me at all. There was no reason for it. I didn’t have a reason to think suicidal thoughts. Father had allowed me an opportunity to go to College when I had had no future before coming to Jesus Christ and being saved. I could hear the external voice echo in my head in the midst of this extremely wierd crying fit in the middle of the night, “You want to kill yourself. It will make it all better.” By God’s grace, it was revealed to me that my depression was spiritul in nature, and I could say, “No!” I prayed and asked the Lord for help, and He saved me. He always sends help, even today. I pray and my depression leaves for a time, but I know that my enemy will return to attack again another day. It is a way to bind us and keep us outofthefight. The demonic forces watch those of us who witness and call upon the Lord Jesus Christ for help. It is tough, but we need to be prepared. Prayer partners help!

  10. I have struggled with depression for over ten years now, and I applaud you for starting a series focused on how you deal with your own depression. I haven’t yet reached the point that I can “muffle” my depression, but I’m so glad that you put the idea into my head. Please keep sharing the various ways you deal with this struggle—you’re an inspiration to all of us.

  11. Is Paul not refering to spiritual depression in 2 Chronicles 12:7-9 (ESV)?

    “So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But He [the Lord] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.'”

  12. My appologies: 2 Corinthians 12:7-9.

  13. Michael,
    I’ve delt with depression on and off for about 7 years. I have my up times and during these times I pray for them not to end, but eventually I know they will. I am constantly trying to ‘figure it all out’ and often feel that if I do, God will finally let me have some peace again. I really don’t think that we will ever ‘figure it out’. We just have to hold on to the verse, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not depend on your own understanding.” I hate it that we’ve both had to go through this, but just think of the people we were before all the trouble started. You are so much more humble than you used to be, God can use you so much more than when you just knew all the answers. Now you know you don’t know any of the answers and I often feel that if Michael can make it though everything he does, than so can I. God is working our lives together for good, just not in a way that feels good, it’s so He can use us.

  14. Thomas S. Barnes June 7, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    I have struggled with depression for about 3 yrs. I am in the middle of a bout now. I get freaked out by some of my thoughts and just have to lay there and trust God to intervene.

    It doesn’t sound like most of yall have resorted to medication, I have, not sure if that is the right thing to do but nonetheless I have. I hate the depression & I hate the medication but I like being alive.

    Michael, please keep these posts coming …. they are uplifting. In these dark places it is sometimes hard to to see Christ and to hope.

    I cling to verses like Romans 8:18 “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. ”

    In Christ,

  15. I could not understand how she could evaluate her entire future without any regard to the past

    Because it’s not about “time”, it’s about the “things” that compose our life/lives.

    Once you decompose your life into these basic elements, and analyze each one of them, and see the emptiness and circularity of each and any single one of them, you REALIZE something. You REALIZE the utter emptiness and futility of it all.

    [And “realizations” cannot be fought or denied: I cannot deny my existence (or your existence) once I REALIZE it].

    Just like, for instance, all colors of the world are composed of only three. In like manner, our entire lives are composed of actions, persons, feelings, and bodily sensations. — And each of them being empty, any of their seemingly-infinite combinations are equally-empty.

    That’s the basic break-down of depression. The only way out is self-giving (goodness, kindness, love, alms, charity) and dispassion (struggle with addictions)

  16. It is always good to hear from other people that suffer from depression as it at least lets us know that we are not alone and that we are not unique. I have suffered from depression most of my life, as early as age seven I can remember suffering from depression. Over the course of fifty years I have thought and attemped suicvide many times. I do believe that God has had his hand upon me to use me as an example for others. I am now coming back out into the light after a bout of deep depression that started about 15 years ago, about three years ago I was going to end it all, however God chose once again to intervene.

    Three tools that I use to keep me grounded, are the Lord’s Prayer, “Footprints in the Sand” and Reihold Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer “God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.”


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