If you or a family member are battling depression, let me be blunt, your struggle is quite real. Like heart disease or diabetes, depression is a condition that ranges in degrees of ferocity. For some their depression is mild and short-lived, while other people have a long, hard, and almost constant battle. In either case, depression is painful and debilitating.
There was not an argument from my wife, son or grandson when a gall-bladder attack had me curled in a fetal position praying for healing or death. Nor was there an argument when Norma was diagnosed with cancer.
She received an exceptional outpouring of compassion, concern, and help. Thank you for being kind, praying for her and joining in the struggle. She was not well.
Such kindness can be a marked contrast to the treatment those who are depressed may receive. Actually, some people's involvement with the depressed person may make things worse.
Along the way, some interesting insight has been shared with me about depression. These would be funny, if they were not so tragic. In parenthesis is what I was thinking and desperately wanted to say. Restraint won the day.
- Depression is the Spirit of Slothfulness (Do you mean I'm lazy?)
- Depression is all in your head (Maybe so, but if that is the case, it would sure be nice to get it out of my head.)
- Demonic (Can a Christian Pastor be demon-possessed?)
- Just get up and get over it! (I'd get up and go into attack mode, if I had the energy to do much more than breath.)
Those insights have all come from intelligent, well-meaning people who would never speak of someone's migraine as though it was, "All in your head."
Clearly, mental, and emotional struggles are not always treated with compassion. This is unfortunate. Because that lack, can result in a downward spiral into an acceptance of depression as the new norm of life.
While searching for titles for Light in a Dark Place - Encountering Depression, which is my first book on depression, potential titles were bounced off various family members and acquaintances. One title included the sub-title “Overcoming Depression.” Our son, Chris, responded with a question, “Dad are you sure you have overcome depression?” After thinking about it, I didn’t use that title.
Be prepared! Depression is not always a single battle it is more often a war. And getting better can take time, effort and the “will to fight.” There are extended seasons of peace, and in my case, there have been extended seasons of darkness.
Like cancer, the coronavirus, and numerous other conditions, depression does not behave in a rational way.
Our life is good. Norma’s diagnosis is positive. Calvary is growing. The pastoral transition is moving along in a healthy way. Home Bible Studies are being taught and now for more weeks than not we have someone born again. What do I have to be depressed about?
Yet darkness sweeps in. It is like a total eclipse of the mind and emotion. Energy disappears. Mental sharpness is more like a butter knife than a steak knife. Focus scatters. A cloud full of tears gather but the rain never falls. So it is with depression. Can anybody relate?
Options for Help
Not all types of assistance or therapy are the same. What helps one person may not benefit another person at all. Where there is a major depressive disorder, praying through does not always help. An extended fast is spiritually beneficial but it may not lift a person out of their swamp of despair.
Depressed? Ignore the Nay-sayers and Get Help!
Depression is debilitating and destructive. At its most damaging the result is taking one’s own life. What a tragic waste. And the ripples of hurt are as a large stone thrown in a calm lake. The waves last a long time.
Reaching out will validate your challenge. You are not losing your mind. It is real.
The one who helps, may lead you to discover behavior that is contributing to your depression. Someone looking from outside may be able to help you see what makes you feel hopeless, and to discover what (if anything) has triggered your depression. In such an instance, knowledge is power that helps you combat this infirmity.
Talk to a wise-hearted soul. Perhaps your pastor can guide you to further help. At times my M.D. has given me a strategy to help overcome my depression.
Decide to Do Something
Don’t just “take it” imagining that there is no help or hope. Dozens who have read my book Light in a Dark Place – Encountering Depression have told me how the book validated their feelings and gave them actions they could take to fight back.
Of late, I’ve been trying to apply my own instructions. Not sure about your own situation or perhaps you are concerned for someone you love?
A simple tool for diagnosing depression is here.
Thousands have benefitted from my own experience and the book Light in a Dark Place.
The Kindle version of Light in a Dark Place – Encountering Depression is $6.99.
For the print version.