Well here it is, the beginning of May again already! I live in California but we still have a ton of people who love to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Let’s face it, most Americans don’t really put a whole lot of thought into why they party, they’re just happy to have a reason to celebrate. Just last month millions of people put on green and turned Irish, now they’re fixing to abandon their Mulligan Stew for spicy food and become Mexican. ¡Olé!
The problem that I find in recovery isn’t Cinco de Mayo, but Sinko de Mayo. Depression is around us all the time. People struggle with it more than the general public realizes. The struggles that people have are very real and can be debilitating. I had a conversation with a dear friend this week who is going through a low swing. I had one such swing for most of the fall and winter of 2014. The part that we both really struggle with is that we are both people who are supposed to be upbeat and positive all the time. When either of us struggle, the people around us do not seem to know how to react to or handle it. This puts even more pressure on us to try and screw on a happy face and push through it. You’ve heard it before – “Fake it until you make it!”
That phrase kills me as a Ministry Leader in Celebrate Recovery. It seems clever enough, and at first blush even seems to make sense. The logic falls apart when I try to integrate it with denial. How can we tell people to become more and more real with their struggles, then encourage them to be fake in order to fit in? The math simple does not compute! So my friend and I find ourselves doing what so many other people do – we withdraw and seclude ourselves. This begins and continues a cycle of isolation that feeds our depression.
So how do we break the cycle? How do we jump start ourselves into a more positive frame of mind? I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me it is important to immerse myself in the lives of the people who love me and care about me. It is critical that I focus on the “Garbage In/Garbage Out” principle and be vigilant about what thoughts, ideas, sounds, and images I am allowing myself to consume. I need to work my steps every day. I need to talk to my accountability partners more. I need to keep my music and reading uplifting. I need to get off my island and set sail for the mainland.
I struggle with depression. I also struggle with co-dependency. I know that I cannot help everyone who struggles. I know that I can’t “be there” for everyone who goes through the darkness. But I do know that I can pray. I know that I can listen. I know that I can put one foot in front of the next.
Let me know if you have any thoughts or experiences to share.