4 Positive Things a Prisoner Taught Me About Depression

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Getting through depression can be tricky. You have to find motivation and encouragement from a variety of places. I’m studying Philippians in my quiet time right now. Paul’s attitude as a prisoner is admirable. He still has the motivation, the desire, to share the Gospel and encourage other believers. That was his mission in life, and it didn’t matter if he was in prison.

I can relate as I’m in my own prison. Please don’t get me wrong. I’ll choose my prison over his for sure. But the example he sets for us is still relevant.

Even in the prison of our mental health we can:

Have Goals

Paul had goals, and it didn’t matter where he was. He was going to get the job done. He was going to share the Gospel wherever he was. Goals are what drive us and keep us going through our dark days.

My goals are like a lighthouse in a storm. I can thrash around in my despair but when I open my eyes, I can still see where home is. My goals are lighting my way.

As someone struggling with depression, you must have goals. Even if they aren’t enough to get you out of bed some days, they’ll be there waiting for you and these goals will ultimately keep you moving albeit slowly.

Start by setting small, simple goals. Don’t pick something massive and unrealistic. Even if it’s just to leave the house once a week (that was mine once), your goals are what breathe some life back into your weeks.

Dream of the Big Picture

Yes, the goals are now small and simple. But that doesn’t mean those dreams are dead. Keep dreaming, keep sketching out that big picture for your life. Your goals are what eventually paint in that big picture so keep dreaming.

Our mental health often robs us of this. We’re scared to dream because depression already takes so much from us each day. We don’t want to dream because that’s just one more thing depression can steal.

We have to dream. We have to have big desires in our lives. That’s part of our humanity, and we can’t let depression take that from us.

Despite living in a horrible prison cell, Paul dreamed of being free and joining his fellow believers again. Don’t let the darkness of your current situation keep you from dreaming of the light.

Don’t let your depression steal your purpose

It’s easy to get distracted by our problems. They are the loudest things in our lives. They scream in our faces and won’t stop until we overcome them.

Paul was chained up in a hole somewhere. It would be hard not to wallow in your current circumstances. However, he didn’t let that stop him. He focused on what was most important. We have to do that in our lives too. What is your purpose? Keep pursuing that despite this crappy portion of the race.

Live in a way that encourages others

Paul writes that being in prison made other prisoners bold in their faith. In fact, they started preaching more as a result of Paul being around. We have an opportunity to live as examples to others dealing with this horrible illness.

We can be an example of hopelessness; where we live out our existence under the covers of our bed. Or we can show others what it looks like to thrive despite our challenge. Let’s do both. We can show people the bad days where we’re in bed and the good days where we manage to make it out of the house and into the world.

Most important, we can do it with a sense of hope and show people the very hope we have. I want to live in such a way that other people with major depression go, “Oh, it CAN be done. You can thrive despite this.”

I have a hard time with a lot of the depression blogs out there because so many of them just talk about the horrible dark things. I want to talk about those too. We need to do that, so people know what it is like. But I believe we can share it with a sense of hope.

There’s a difference between depression and negativity. I’m a severely depressed person, but I refuse to live a negative life. That’s the difference.

Paul is proof you can be down but never out. We can have goals and dreams despite our current circumstances. Most importantly we can be encouraging people who show others how to battle this horrible illness. We’re uniquely qualified to do it having gone through all this. We’re the right ones for the job.

Adam Weitz
Adam Weitz

Adam Weitz is a multi-discipline designer, business owner, and founder of Sad Runner. He is passionate about encouraging people with depression and works through Sad Runner to positively impact their lives.