Don’t you just love August!
It’s my birthday in a few days, however, for almost two decades, I slip into depression a few weeks before my birthday. It usually lasts from June-October and I am generally somewhat lacklustre for almost 5 months.
Nothing is exempt- Everything suffers from my work, to my faith, to my creativity, finances, academics, all my relationships including the fellowship I have with God.
This year, I was confident that I would not have it but I knew the signs and kept pushing myself because I had competing demands especially academically and I was on a short leash.
However, as soon as my exams were over, I knew that it was only a short while before I caved in because I was literally spent, I had gastric ulcer flare-ups, and I just generally didn’t have any fight left in me.
I was in some sort of pain I couldn’t explain and I just fell into this black hole. I would sleep, wake up, cry, binge, watch movies (which is completely unusual behaviour for me) and repeat the cycle.
By the beginning of the third week, I was calm enough to read one of my books on Apologetics that attempts to answer the question of God and human suffering and it cut me like a light saber (lol) – Jesus was not called the Man of Sorrows for nothing.
It was as if I time travelled and my mind was filled with imagery of how Jesus had his fill of the pain of human experience; “from being a baby refugee with migrant parents (imagine the instability they must have felt) to being a virile single man who felt lonely at times, to being misunderstood by those he loved that he had to find a company of disciples, to moving everywhere and not having a home to himself, to being falsely accused, to losing his cousin and the one person who understood his ministry from the beginning, the total grief!”
He understood and felt what I felt- the entire range of emotions. I saw that I had His attention and He was with me.
In that moment, it was like the warmth of fire on a cold night- the kind of fire that brings a soft glow that sends darkness to the fringes; That’s exactly how I felt.
Immediately I picked up the Psalms and slowly recited it to myself and I felt reprieve like soothing balm over a wound. I had a warm quiet delight slowly bubble up that had nothing to do with any improvement of my current circumstances. My heart started to burn again with thoughts, images, and visions of hope, meaning, and a preferred future.
I knew this was God at work giving me a priceless gift and gratitude surged through my being. I knew what I needed was a rebirth experience and I am currently on that journey.
One of the most important elements of this rebirth is to build a culture of Joy in my life.
Then, He started to teach about the fruits of the Spirit being character traits of the Spirit that become our character when we consistently submit ourselves to the leadership of the Holy Spirit. The building blocks of Character are Habits; this implies that to develop the character of Joy, I need to cultivate Joy Habits.
Joy Habits are activities or events that can be incorporated into our daily routines, and regimen to help us build a culture of Joy for the long term.
I told the story above to show that I am also a newbie student in the school of Joy and as an invitation to walk this journey of Joy with me.
For the next couple of weeks, I will share specific Joy Habits I am cultivating, how it works, and what it does for/in me.
Joy Habit No. 1.
Shouting/ Screaming without any apparent or obvious reason.
So you feel out of sorts; having a bad day, in a frenzied gridlock, feeling like you do not know what to do, maybe you are quietly battling self-doubt, or even at an impasse with a loved one or experiencing some sort of friction in your relationships…
Go to the bathroom …anywhere…fill your lungs with air, and let out the largest and longest scream/shout ever!
Follow it up with shouts of praise- (Phrases like Glory to God, Praise the Lord, Hallelujah, or even ABBA apply).
If you can, scream out a one line affirmation (I usually do “I am empowered to succeed, I am loved, or I know what to do” depends on what’s coming at me that day)
In fact, I think we should have specialized soundproof shouting cubicles in offices.
You will first feel a surge of anger, followed quickly by either laughter, smile, or sob, which all turn out to be relieving, energizing, and exhilarating.
Is shouting the new fancy cure all- NO!
Will it get you to Joy- YES!
Remember Joy is the Goal!
Going forward, I do not wait for pressure, pain, or a bad experience to choose Joy- I choose to choose Joy always!
In personal practice, I have dedicated screaming timeslot every six hours where whether I feel outta sorts or not, I Just Scream!
What I love the most is how it immediately clears out a certain mental fog, lifts my perspective, renews my courage, announces to the universe that I am a fighter and I ain’t backing down, aids catharsis, and most importantly reminds me that I am alive so I’ve got a purpose that fills my heart with hope.
Caveat; You may be perceived as a nut case for screaming without purpose or any apparent collective reason but feel free to give them a mental health education- also invite them to try it too.
So let me know in the comment section:
Have you tried this before?
Did it work?
Are you going to try this?
How was your experience?
What safe place do you suggest people can scream?
What are you waiting for- Go on this week and be a JOY “Nut-case”!
P.s: This is the shortest depression episode I have ever had in my life- It lasted less than 3 weeks and I am well on my way to a rebirth and having the “EPIC-est” year yet!
With Love, Joy, and Peace,