Have you shifted into a pattern of complacency and hopelessness? Do you find yourself asking this question, “Do I have what it takes to make it in this world?” I certainly understand because there was a period in my life that I suffered through hopelessness and depression, wondering if I had what it took to make it in this world. It was a dark period in my life when my marriage was on the rocks that eventually ended in divorce. There was about a two year period where I suffered from complete hopelessness.
My only way of coping at the time was to physically abuse my body through physical exercise at the gym. I found myself pushing myself to extremes to deal with the emotional pain I was going through. It provided a temporary escape, but I knew I couldn’t continue this pattern for the rest of my life. What is your escape from the emotional pain you are in? Is it drugs, alcohol, food, work, sex, porn or maybe performance addiction?
The National Institute of Mental Health estimates at least 6 million men suffer from depressive disorders including suicidal thoughts. I currently live in Larimer County in Northern Colorado where the suicide rate has reached its highest level in the past ten years. It’s a trend that is certainly going in the wrong direction.
Depression in men can show up in many ways, but it often shows up as anger, aggressiveness or some type of addiction. If that’s you, there is a way out of hopelessness and depression. Here are 5 things that I found in my life that helped me overcome darkness and despair in my life.
5 Ways to Overcome Depression
1. Become involved in a great church that you love:
Find a church that cares about people unconditionally and teaches the message that it’s all about having a personal relationship with God. It’s not about behavior or rules, but truly about loving God and loving others. It may take some time to settle in to finding that right church for you, but once you do it can be transformative. My life started to change once I found C3 Church in Orlando and truly understood what it meant to be part of a loving and caring church that was non-judgemental.
2. Use your pain to do good:
When you are in so much pain it is hard to think of anything but yourself and your circumstances. The best thing you can do to get over your emotional pain is to go help someone else. When I started to serve at my church and lead a community group the veil of darkness started to lift as I focused on helping other people. Find renewed purpose in your life. Find a transcendent cause greater than yourself. It was life changing for me.
3. Be in community with other Godly men:
When I started to develop a close personal relationship with a couple of guys who I could be completely honest and vulnerable with my life started to turn around. As men we often times feel like we have to keep our masks on and pretend to be someone we are not. That can only lead to disappointment and pain. Find a group of men you can be completely honest and vulnerable with. It doesn’t have to be many men, just a couple of good solid guys that will listen to you without judgement. When you surround yourself with men who truly care about you it can change your life.
4. Get regular exercise in healthy amounts:
Although I abused exercise during my depression, I believe exercise is still one of the best anti-depressants out there as long as it is done in balance. Exercise releases endorphins that make you feel good and actually work as an anti-depressant. Find ways to move your body every day even if you don’t feel like it. The mind and body connection is very powerful. Our mind controls our body and when we send negative emotions to our body, we feel sick physically and emotionally.
5. Seek professional help:
You are in a battle for your mind and mental health. Sometimes in life we need to seek out help. I saw a professional counselor while I was going through my divorce. There is no shame in this at all, in fact it is a sign of strength.
Men, we have a battle that we are facing. We must face the battlefield of the mind. We must look inward for peace and happiness. We must look to our Heavenly Father for our validation. He loves you unconditionally and He is ultimately the only thing that can fill the hole in our heart.
If you are struggling with depression and hopelessness, I want to invite you to a new possibility. I want to invite you to think about what it would feel like to be fully alive. To feel a sense of passion and purpose in your life. Take a chance on yourself. I would love to explore those possibilities with you to find renewed purpose, peace and joy. Please send me an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a time to talk.
Troy Ismir, MS
Spiritual Warrior Coach