Depression: Keep Me in My Right Mind
With the stigma surrounding mental illness, I was afraid to expose my inner turmoil. Twenty years ago no one talked about depression, especially in the church. I once asked a friend for prayer at Wednesday morning Bible study. She told me that if I just trusted God enough, I’d be okay. But, I was trusting God with all my strength and I wasn’t okay. So at choir practice when Carol asked how I was feeling, I answered, “Fine.”
However, she cared enough to inquire further, “Are you really fine?”
My confession spilled out, “No. I can barely function …”
She handed me her sister’s number. “Call Stevie. She can help. She understands depression.”
I called Stevie the next day. This beautiful woman told me of her own battles with anxiety and depression. She survived unscathed. For the first time in months, I felt a glimmer of hope. Stevie’s mission was to comfort others with the comfort she had received from God. I followed her wise advice: Visit a psychiatrist. They specialize in treating mental disorders and can prescribe the correct medication. Then, once you’re thinking clearly, see a Christian counselor to explore other factors which may have contributed to your depression.
I visited a psychiatrist. He prescribed an antidepressant. Within six months, I was back to my old self. I then sought Christian counseling. In the process, I gained a deeper understanding of myself and my Lord.
Still over the next 20 years, I experienced three more bouts of clinical depression. I’ve discovered many reasons why God has allowed it. Perhaps the most important is the way I view myself. I once considered myself a strong Christian woman. I had it all together. Like my friend at Bible study, I thought others who were struggling lacked faith. The thing about mental illness is that it’s incredibly humbling. It’s helped me see the reality of my own weakness and the need to rely on God’s strength. Like Paul, I’m learning to glory in my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
I am not alone in battling depression. One in ten Americans will suffer from it this year. People of faith are not exempt. The prophet Elijah, Martin Luther, Charles H. Spurgeon, Sheila Walsh, King David, Thomas Nelson, and even comedian Chonda Pierce have suffered from major depressions.
Are you seriously depressed? Pray. Speak with a pastor, but don’t be afraid to speak with a doctor. It’s a medical issue. Hope, help, and healing are available. You’re not alone.
Dearest Jesus, meet us in our emotional pain. Pour out your grace, peace, and healing on those who are suffering from depression. Direct their paths to healing. Amen.
Take it further…
- Chonda Pierce: A Comedian Fights Depression (4 min.)
- Listen to Midday Connection’s radio broadcast “Mental Illness and the Church” with guest Amy Simpson, vice-president of Christianity Today. (Other helpful links and resources are also listed on their website.)
- Article “Christians: Take Depression Seriously” by Tony Campolo.
- Video message by Pastor Thomas Nelson on “A Christian Looks at Depression.” (30 min.)
- Book: The Heartache No One Sees by Sheila Walsh
- Institute of Mental Health, Women and Depression website.