The Ocean Called Depression

Jim Still-Pepper

“They say I am bipolar (a form of depression), but I think what that really means is that I am stuck in the ocean of life, waiting for the next wave to either take me up or take me down. Sometimes I try to ‘swim’ to where I want to be; but the waves are too big, and I just let them take me—like I have a choice anyway.” —Mike, 17

Mike is not alone. Think about the average classroom in America. At least one student in the room is clinically depressed. Though girls are twice as likely to be depressed, approximately four percent of all boys get depressed as well. Girls tend to look sad when they are depressed. Boys tend to look angry or irritable.*

Common Symptoms of Depression

You may be depressed if

  • nearly every day for at least two weeks, you are sad, irritable, or tired most of the day;
  • you are not interested in things you used to enjoy;lonely depressed teen2 TSP 185911283
  • you pull away from other people;
  • you gain or lose a lot of weight;
  • you sleep too much or not enough;
  • you experience a big change in your physical activity;
  • you feel worthless;
  • you struggle to concentrate;
  • you think about or try suicide;
  • you struggle with grades and relationships.

The more of these symptoms you have, the more likely you are to need help. All of these symptoms can be dealt with. None of them needs to ruin your life. If you are concerned about the symptoms you are experiencing, please show this list to at least two people you trust—a friend and an adult—and be honest with them about your feelings.

Important Stuff You Need to Know

  • It is OK to be depressed.
  • Being depressed does not mean you’re crazy.
  • You can get help for depression.

Man to Man

Guys, if you are experiencing symptoms of depression, here are some things that might make a difference:

Abused Guy2 TS 115723721M-ake a list of your strengths, and try to use them every day.

A-ctivities that are positive are good medicine. Stay involved.

N-egative habits and friends need to be changed.

L-ook to a trusted friend or adult who can walk by your side during this difficult time.

Y-es, you can handle this. Remember, depression is not for sissies; real men get depressed.

Getting Help Is Hard

The good news: Most teenagers who get help get better. The bad news: Sixty-one percent of depressed youth do not receive help for their depression.* Please seek help.

Mike says, “Getting help was weird more than hard. It did not stop me from being depressed. I still go swimming in the ocean of depression. But now I know how to swim in it without drowning.

* Statistics from The National Survey on Drug Use and Health, May 11, 2009.


Lighthouse Ftr TSP 152533490DIG DEEPER

Read John 8:12. Take heart from the words of Jesus. If depression is like being lost in an ocean, then Jesus is like a lighthouse.

Use a concordance to look up scripture passages that include the word light. Memorize one that speaks to you. Come back to it whenever you need help battling the ocean waves of depression.

Jim Still-Pepper , a counselor who works with teens, spends lots of time talking to God and to loved ones and walking in nature as his way of “swimming” in the ocean.

—from devozine (January/February 2011). Copyright © 2011 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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