What Does Resiliency Look Like When You Are Depressed?

“Be Bop” the clown was one of my favorite toys. Give him a “Bop” and down he went and then he came up still smiling.

Be Bop was resilient.

What does resilience look like when you suffer from depression?

First, you have clear boundaries. These boundaries include: taking your medications regularly. They include guarding your sleep schedule, protecting your energy level, learning how to manage ruminations and putting those principles into practice.

When feeling well a relapse plan needs to be developed. This plan should include: your maintenance medications, other treatments you take. Listing your personal early warning signs, of friends, therapists, and doctors to contact.

For example some of my early warning signs will be nonconformity with the medicine regimen. Your sleep schedule gets thrown off. The season of the year influences my illness. Staring off into space, thinking of nothing can be one of my first signs depression has returned.

If you are unsure of your symptoms, you can research the internet for a list of common thinking/behaviors which you may identify with.

With your psychiatrist and counselor put an action plan into  work when symptoms begin to emerge.

A self scoring inventory of depressive symptoms, like the Beck Depression Inventory, can give your doctor helpful information. It can also provide you with objective information.

Secondly, resiliency does not play the victim role. It takes responsibility for behaviors done in a manic or depressive state. There may have been situations in the past that legitimately play a role in your depression. But when we play the victim role in every day life, not accepting responsibility and not taking appropriate action, it erodes resilience.

You may suffer from perfectionism or a sense of over-responsibility. This may be part of your disease. Discuss with your counselor to clarify when you have been victimized or playing a victim role.

Thirdly, resilient people develop a sense of purpose. Viktor Frankl taught that our primary drive is to discover and pursue what is most meaningful to us. A life’s purpose may be a cause to which you give yourself. Purpose may come from the people you love.

For example, as a pastor my cause is to give people hope in Jesus Christ. I am fortunate to have a love for my family that keeps me going when the times get particularly difficult. Together those two purposes have enabled me to go on when in the depths of depression

Fourthly, resiliency has a sense of self-autonomy. Self autonomy believes we can impact our circumstances. Without that conviction, when we believe we have no control, our self-esteem is shattered. Self-efficacy reflects confidence to exert control over our behavior and to our environment. Self-efficacy is part of resilience.

Finally, our spirituality can give us resilience. Here are some of the Bible verses that move me toward resiliency when I am depressed.

We can be assured of God’s love regardless of how we feel.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

“God is here to help us with our fear.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

And remember that just as Be Bop bounced up, your depression is not forever.

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. “1 Peter 4:12-13

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