Today I want to share with you my personal story of dealing with depression. As I reflect from the quiet chair, I encourage you to do the same.
I hear the geese flying overhead on their way back to the wildlife sanctuary, just four miles west of our yard. I see birds perched on a stray self-planted sunflower near the birdfeeder. And I ponder the words on my lap in my journal as I sit in silence. This is my morning ritual – spending time in the “quiet chair,” tucked in the northwest corner of my kitchen.
It was a quiet morning before eight. After two poached eggs and the quick news update on the radio, I noticed the ad for a book, “Just One More Day” by Beverlee Buller Keck. This wonderful book is a 40-day journey of meditations for those who are dealing with depression and anxiety.
Dealing with Depression: My Personal Story
Do you know anyone in your circle who battles with negative thoughts, worry, and a deep sense of hopelessness? I bet you do.
In late 1984, I experienced my healing from a very serious postpartum depression. I lost most of 1984 to psych wards in Winnipeg and later at Eden in Winkler, where I experienced a very gracious patient staff, and concern for my complete healing journey.
Depression can be particularly tough for women. Women on the farm typically are the Chief Emotional Officers (CEO’S) of their families. We want to nurture, encourage, and balance the family’s emotional bank account harmoniously.
When I am getting ready to speak, I look for clues from my life stories that will support the theme of my key message.
Depression is a huge part of my family story in my family of origin, and in my husband’s family as well. The genetic code combination of our marriage birthed the possibility that our children would also be dealing with depression and anxiety. And yes, that did happen.
Reflection in the Quiet Chair
The ritual of spending time every morning in my quiet chair continues to help me find a place to reflect, read Scripture, pray, and ponder the people’s names who pop into my head…along with the grocery list and other distractions that are duly noted on post-it notes before going back to the main thing I’m thinking about.
I keep a prayer journal. I’m surprised that sometimes 10 days have passed since the last entry. Was I in the quiet chair? Yes, but the phone may have rung, I might have been called to jockey someone to a field. Or I may have been on the road. I don’t beat myself up for not making entries. I pay attention to what the entries are telling me about the journey of life.
The real learning is reading entries from the previous year, same season. Did I learn to trust more? Am I seeing answers to healing prayers for friends and family? What has my friend’s death taught me to value?
Some of you don’t find solace or comfort in reading the Word of God. But you’re still searching for some answers to having a peace of mind. Perhaps your reading pile is different from mine. But our common yearning is to find wisdom in handling the bumps of life.
Instead of God, you might use a meditation class or play music to create calm.
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Help for Dealing with Depression Has Many Forms
After a tough season of crop failures or tight margins that many farmers and rural businesses will feel the ripple effects of, the financial strain may be causing “circumstantial” depression. When bad things happen to good people, they sometimes cannot take the chronic stress and strain.
Perhaps you’ll book an appointment to get confirmation from a doctor that dealing with depression is a real threat to your well-being. Or you may take a leap of faith to see a counselor for some issues that have surfaced.
I’ve been in group therapy and reflected on tough questions in private counseling.
Some women just need a good cup of tea with a confidant to feel like “they’ve been heard” and their emotional well is renewed and refreshed. After you‘ve spent time in your quiet chair, pick up the phone and invite a friend for a chat, either long-distance, on Skype, or across your kitchen table.
Ask yourself: Do you think you need some professional counseling to help you find relief from your anxious thinking and help with dealing with depression?
If you’re dealing with a particularly tough season on the farm, as many of us are, you might be feeling burnt out. Here are my six tips for avoiding (and managing) burnout on the farm.
The Quiet Chair: A Bridge to Help You Reconnect
The quiet chair routine brings people to mind whom you may need to reconnect with.
Keck’s book has many examples of how we, as women who care, can be bearers of the “covered dish” to bring meals to those folks who are depressed and need practical help and encouragement. Who needs to taste your homemade casserole and relish in the visit that follows?
The news comes that another woman in our circle is dealing with breast cancer. We talk openly about supporting her. Yet sometimes the women who are dealing with depression don’t think they can share “their secret.”
It’s time to stop hiding behind the stigma of depression.
Please do not call it a “nervous breakdown.” Call it depression.
It may be one of many types, but it is an illness that needs to be listened to and journeyed with.
Who in your circle of influence needs your listening ear? Who needs a letter from you in their mailbox?
Give yourself the gift of time in your quiet chair. Have a journal, pen, Bible, devotional book, post-it notes, and cards handy.
Words are powerful when they soothe the soul and bring hope. I kept the stack of 1984 cards for over 20 years. I can still recall the faces of the faithful women who sent words of life and encouragement.
As we discuss encouraging the women in our lives, I’d also like to remind you of this post where I discuss supporting our farm fathers as well.
Supporting Loved Ones with Depression
I suspect we’ll continue to hear many stories of woe on the prairies as people cope with the pressures of farming. This is especially true with the added stress of the coronavirus pandemic.
Will you hunt out opportunities? Will you be intentional about listening to the tales of possible depression around you at the hall, the store, or your kitchen?
I choose to speak life into those who feel that all hope is gone.
Depression is a treatable illness with various ways to find healing. Every family knows somebody who is dealing with depression, sadness, and anxiety. Please don’t ignore the pleas for help. Offer a non-judgmental ear or practical help like a home-cooked meal.
Are you ready to draw strength from your time reflecting? Find the women around you that need to know there is hope for them.
Live intentionally. Embrace the lessons of the quiet chair.
Would you like to talk about farming relationships, handling farm difficult farm transitions, and inheriting farmland? Contact me today to learn about my farm succession planning and farm family coaching.
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This article was originally published on July 28, 2016, and has been updated.