Anyone who has ever heard my story knows that I struggle with depression. In the best of times I would describe it as a mild annoyance. In the worst times I would say it’s absolutely terrible, a dark and lonely place, miserable, and hellish. It was during my teenage and early college years that it was at its worst but since then God has helped me deal with it. So much so that most people who meet me today would not know that I struggle with it at all. Because of my struggles with depression I have an urgent desire to help others who also have been affected and hopefully help them find help and healing.
Before I go any further, I want to note that I am not a psychologist. I have been trained in pastoral/biblical counseling, which can be extremely helpful in dealing with depression, and I am speaking from my personal experiences. However, there is no shame in a person needing professional psychological help and even medication to help with their depression. Personally, I believe that the best care for depression is comprehensive in nature (meaning that it includes physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects). By God’s grace I have learned to deal with my depression without medications or treatments but every person is different. I hope that what I share in these posts will help but if you are struggling with depression please get whatever help is necessary.
What is Depression?
The American Psychiatric Association defines depression as, “a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed.” It’s important to note that there is a difference between sadness and depression. Also the difficult process of grief (though it may lead to depression) is also not, in it of itself, depression.
From my personal battle with depression, the best way I can describe it is a sense of utter hopelessness and loneliness. If you can imagine a filter covering your mind and heart that only allows the negative, the discouraging, the painful, and the darkest thoughts and emotions to enter. That is how depression feels. It’s as if you can only see failures, hurts, and loneliness. It is miserable. Perhaps, the worst part of depression is, because of that negative filter, a person battling it cannot even imagine any hope of ever being happy or healthy or prosperous.
Who Struggles with Depression?
One in six people will struggle with a season of depression in their lifetime. Among women, the percentage is even higher (1 out of 3.) There is a misconception that depression only affects weak-minded or unsuccessful people. The truth is that some of history’s greatest men and women including Martin Luther, Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Emily Dickinson, and many others dealt with depression. Even in the Bible we see that Elijah and King David showed signs of depression.
What is the Point?
At this point, you may be wondering why I’m writing this or why you are reading this. My goal is simple: I want to help those struggling with depression and I want to help those who love someone who does. I certainly do not have all of the answers but I believe that God does not desire anyone to live in the hellish despair of depression. It is painful to share my story so openly, to let people see hurts deep in my heart, and to remember the days of darkness in my life. However, I know that there are hurting people everywhere who are lost in the darkness and cannot find any light. Over the next few weeks as I continue this journey I want to share how God helped me and continues to help me with my depression.
Today, though, you only need to know that God loves you, you are not alone, and there is always hope in Christ! You may not see it. You may not feel it. You may not even want to believe it. You may be out of faith and out of fight but you are not out of the bounds of God’s grace.
For time's sake I will add to these posts over the next weeks. Please don't give up. I will walk along side anyone who is hurting and I believe that there is a way out. I'd like to share it with you.