I was a homeschool mom who suffered with depression for the first eight years of homeschooling. I hope sharing what allowed me to function and homeschool in the midst of depression and what brought me through it might be helpful to other moms who find themselves depressed, discouraged, or simply feeling down.
Depression wasn’t a part of my life until after I began having children. Then it was something I faced on a regular basis over the course of several years. Amazingly, the Lord called our family to homeschool while I was still in the middle of dealing with my depression.
A Schedule for Life in Depression
I know I say this often, but I will say it again. Having a schedule was a lifeline to me as I managed homeschooling with depression. I did not want to give up homeschooling because of depression. The schedule was a tool that allowed me to care for my young and growing family plus homeschool.
That schedule directed my time usage and alleviated many decisions that I know would have been overwhelming to me, and which I likely wouldn’t have been able to make. When we think of a woman and depression, we tend to imagine her curled up in bed all day. The schedule, along with a great measure of God’s grace, got me out of bed each morning and moved me through the things that needed to be accomplished every day.
Because of the schedule, even with depression we had meals at a set time. We were faithful with homeschooling, and the children excelled in their academics. I could keep up with laundry and housekeeping. Can you imagine how not doing those things would have fueled my depression because often depression can lead to a vicious cycle? Tasks aren’t being accomplished, and the feeling of failure and the increasingly-overwhelming list of things to catch up on leads to still deeper depression. If you want to know what I learned about scheduling and how you can schedule, that information is found in Managers of Their Homes.
Scripture Overcomes Depression
Part of my schedule was time in God’s Word first thing every morning. Does a depressed homeschool mom feel like reading her Bible? For me, the answer was no. To be honest, I didn’t feel like doing much of anything, except maybe crying—and I did a fair amount of that. Yet I knew the ultimate solution for my depression was in the Lord Jesus, and I was aware that His communication to me came through His Word. I clung to passages of Scripture that I could relate to and that gave me a measure of hope. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).
Not only did Scripture give me hope while homeschooling and being depressed, but it also directed my thoughts when they were consumed with negativism and gloom. I regularly read Lamentations 3, and I related to the descriptions there. These verses were something I could use to push out the wrong thoughts. “This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him” (Lamentations 3:21-24). Hallelujah!
Because my depression included worry, anger, and self-pity, that time in the Word each day was teaching me God’s way to deal with each of those. I certainly wasn’t a perfect student, reading a verse and applying it immediately and consistently to my life. However, in spite of my slow and stumbling spiritual learning style, the Lord gently taught and encouraged me.
Living the Word Helps Depression
Reading His Word had to translate to moment-by-moment action, which for me was harder than simply reading the Word. Sometimes I remember feeling spiritually uplifted and excited as I read my Bible, only to begin my homeschooling day in defeat if my mind was playing the same negative, broken record of depressed thoughts. Those thoughts needed to be replaced with Scriptural thoughts.
I found this verse to be very true: “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2). I needed to pair that with this verse: “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
“Learn and do” was the theme of my spiritual walk during those days. The doing was not so much physical, although many days it was acting differently than I felt. The doing was mostly accomplished in my mind—taking the wrong thoughts captive and replacing them with the truth of the Word.
My natural responses came from my life before Christ when I was walking in the flesh, filled with selfishness and pride. Those all had to be transformed by the renewing of my mind with the Word and then obediently using what I was learning.
Prayer Enables Through Depression
Does it sound like at that time I was a spiritual giant to be able read God’s Word, learn from it, take my thoughts captive, and be a transformed woman with no more depression? I was too weak to do that on my own so I was continually crying out to the Lord for His grace, mercy, and strength. Often I felt like it was a minute-by-minute prayer. “Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto thee daily” (Psalm 86:3).
I was bringing my failures to the Lord in repentance and asking for His help in overcoming them. Failing, repenting, and failing again in the same area heaped guilt onto an already fragile heart. These two verses were ones to which I clung: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:1). That was truth!
Exercise and Depression
Another priority we kept in my schedule was daily exercise. For me it was a walk. That put me outside in the fresh air, away from the environment that I struggled in, and gave me some time away from my normal responsibilities—all that in addition to getting exercise. I usually walked with my mom or with Steve so I had companionship and communication during the exercise, too. These days we read that exercise provides not only physical benefits but also mental ones by stimulating the production of endorphins. I think, for me, it had both those positive impacts.
I Didn’t Use Medication with my Depression
In my depression, I chose not to use medication. That was my decision, but my husband agreed and approved. There were several reasons I didn’t want to use medication. The main reason was that I wanted my healing to be from the Lord. The secondary reason was that I thought there was a possibility that if I started on medication, I might not be able to stop using it. I was concerned about the long-term health effects of being on a pharmaceutical.
Homeschooling with Depression
I am eternally grateful that the Lord allowed me to homeschool through my depression by giving me physical and spiritual tools to combat the depression and to be able to live life with it. Even though that depression lasted over the course of about eight of our thirty years of homeschooling, He gave me many more homeschooling years without depression than with it.
While living with the depression seemed long and tedious, I now look back and see all the work the Lord did in my heart to bring me out of the depression, to allow me to homeschool with it, and to mold me into what I am today. I praise His glorious name.
We have some resources that might also be beneficial to you in this area:
Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit
Each of those books have come out of my experience with homeschooling, depression, and the work the Lord Jesus was doing in my life. The testimonies we have received over the years affirm that they can help you too.
Here is a link to another article I wrote about my depression.