Developing a personal game plan of recovery is a vital part of dealing with depression.

Depression creates a deep sense of hopelessness and therefore would tell us that there is no use planning to recover from it. So one of the ways we can fight against and not feed our depression is developing a logical and systematic approach to working to overcome these deep feeling of despair.

So let us review some of the steps we have mentioned previously (see earlier posts on Learning How To Deal with Depression).

1. Admit you are depressed or at least that you could be depressed.

2. Seek professional medical help by getting a general physical and also seeing a psychiatrist. See if medication is needed. Change in diet and exercise may be of help.

3. Seek a counselor who can help provide a spiritual, mental, and emotional process of dealing with depression and having a safe place for you to “talk it out’.

4. Seek to define the “life stories” by which you are interpreting life and how they may be adding additional pain by an overly negative interpretation of the “facts” of your life. Your interpretation is not the “facts” but only one perspective on those “facts”.

5. Have a regular schedule to your day. Add structure and routine to your life.

6. Develop a ‘nurturing self” list and do things that help you physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually

7. Journal to get the feelings out and to process them outside of you.

8. Seek to have a deep “aha” moment when you see God loves you in Christ Jesus and has a specific plan for your life.

9. Do activities like letting the sunshine in and going outside that fight against the depression and don’t feed it. Listen to music that calms and lifts up your soul. Even when the depression inside wants you to go in a dark corner and away from all helpful stimulation.

10. Remind yourself that most people go through a time of depression and that there is no reason to think that you will not be able to deal with this difficult time in your life. Preach to yourself a “reality check” that debates the dark and hopeless interpretation of life.

This is an overview of some things that could be in your plan to deal with your depression. (I would recommend you see the four posts, which came before this one to give you more details about what is found on this list).

Now it is time for you to develop a detailed and personal plan to deal with your depression. Write this out in detail in a journal.

Make this personal plan of recovery from destructive depression a “S.M.A.R.T.” plan.

What is a “S.M.A.R.T.” plan? A plan that is:

Specific – Plan need to be written and detailed to be effective. The more exact the plan is the more likely it will be done. An example would be “I will call Dr. Smith to get an appointment with him and talk to him about my depressed feelings.”

Measureable – The plan needs to be defined in such a way that it can be determined objectively and concretely if it has or has not been done. In the case above either we have or have not called Dr. Smith so this is a measureable goal.

Action focused: The plan needs to have you actually “do” something inter outwardly or inside yourself. But it should be clear in the plan that you need to do actions and connect these actions with the goal of dealing with your depression. Here this is a specific action, which is “call”

Realistic – The goals need to be things you will actually do and not idealized extremes. It is better for the recovery goals to be little so they can be attained instead of overly ambitious. Overly ambitious goals can wrongly be interpreted to mean that we have “failed” and then be used to fuel depression. So we need to see these goals as a process and not as a “succeed or fail” framework. It is direction not perfection that matters.

In the case of calling Dr. Smith I need to be honest and see if I have reasons why I may not want to call Dr. Smith. What are the pros and cons of calling Dr. Smith? Do I need to change this to say, “I will call Dr. Smith when I visit my pastor this week so that the pastor can encourage me to make the call”. Realism means that we don’t pretend we can do more than we can do while not being unrealistic by telling ourselves there is nothing I can do to help me deal with depression.

Time defined – The plan needs to be within a specific frame of time to get done. In this case “ I will call Dr. Smith to get an appointment on Monday of this week.”

Notice that success or failure in reaching this goal has nothing to do with Dr. Smith. The goal is to “call” and this is fully under your control. Always set goals only for things that you fully control which is ultimately just what you think, do, and say.

This week begin working on developing your personal plan for dealing with depression in your life. More to come…..