Category Archives: Depression

Flawed and Loved

Here’s another insightful guest post. I’m so glad God loves me, flaws and all!


Guest Post by: Dorissa Vanover

“Duh!” “How Stupid!” “Dummy!” These words are the words that fly through my head when I’ve made a silly mistake.

I would never, ever talk to anyone else that way, but, for whatever reason, I feel quite free to berate myself soundly at any time or at any place. I simply cannot cut myself any slack – especially when I goof.

I would really like to blame my upbringing. Maybe my parents are the ones who turned this horrible voice on inside my head. No, it wasn’t them. They tried their very best to make me feel good about myself. This voice is one I developed all by myself!

“She’s just being kind.”  These are the words in my head when someone pays me a compliment. If someone says my hair looks nice, I run to the bathroom mirror to try to figure out what my hair has done with itself since I sprayed it this morning – didn’t look so hot to me then.  I love compliments, don’t get me wrong―it’s just that even if I was tempted to believe them, I probably couldn’t see what was worth complimenting. I mean really, my hair looks nice – um – must be something wrong with her eyesight! 

We’ve all probably heard that it takes 10 positives to outweigh one negative. I believe it.  If ten people complimented me on my appearance and one person looked straight into my eyes and said, “You look tired. Are you feeling okay?”,  I would run to the mirror to check out the tired eyes.

I don’t think I’m the only person in the world who looks for the flaws instead of the attributes when I’m evaluating myself. I’m trying to figure out how to stop it before it gets way too far out of hand.

The first step for me is to remember, “God didn’t make any junk.”  I’ve always known that’s true, especially when I look at my husband or my sons and their families. They are absolutely wonderful people and I’m so very proud of them. I need to remind myself that God created me, too. He loves me, even though I’m flawed.

The next step for me is to be as kind and gentle with my words to myself as I am to others. Have you ever tried to list five good qualities about yourself? I could list many more than that for the other people in my life, but to find five really good qualities about myself is a bit of a stretch. I’ll need to work on that.

The best step I can take is to trust that God has a plan for my life. He put me here for a reason or reasons that I may, or may not, get to know. If I stay focused on Him and His goodness, I won’t have too much time to worry about myself and my flaws.

The final step is to realize that the Bible is very plain about loving others as we love ourselves. Well, guess what? If I don’t have a healthy self-esteem, if I don’t value myself, how will I be able to value others? If I’m always looking inward at myself, how will I be able to hold my head high, look into the faces of the people God sends my way, and share with them all the love God has shared with me?

So, for today, my plan is to prayerfully focus on God and His mercy, treating each of His children, even myself, with the love He expects us to show.

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Filed under abuse, Depression, Guest Posts, Love of God, self-worth

Changing the Current

A Guest Post by: Isaiah41v10

I grew up as a missionary kid in a country in Asia where we could swim most of the year.  We were blessed to have a swimming pool at our house.  It wasn’t very big and it wasn’t very deep, and it was strongly chlorinated, but it was a great place to spend the afternoon when the temperature was climbing into the 40’s (Celsius of course).

One of the things we enjoyed doing in the pool when we had a group of friends over was getting a whirlpool going.  Together we marched around the inside edge of the pool, all going in the same direction, until we had set a strong current swirling. We would be carried along by our own current, around and around.

At some point we would decide to go in the opposite direction.  We all struggled to stop in the strong current, turn ourselves and work against the flow to get the current going the other way.  The water in the pool churned with the conflict of opposing currents.  Eventually everything was moving in the opposite direction and we were carried along as before, but going the other way.

I was reminded of this episode from my past recently, when considering my response to depression. I have experienced many episodes of depression, and have recently been overwhelmed by it again.  I started to realise that I needed to change my thinking and my response to the negative thoughts, but had very little will to do so.  It was almost like I wanted to remain in that current of negativity and despair. There was a current in my mind that was pushing strongly one way, and when I tried to change direction my self-made current acted against me.

Psalm 42 in the Bible points the way forward in this situation. The psalmist is downcast and miserable, “My tears have been my food day and night”, but he tells himself to remember God:

My soul is downcast within me;
    therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
    the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
    in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
    have swept over me.

It may not change how we feel in that moment, but somehow we can start to change the current of our thoughts, trusting in God’s ability to preserve us.

Recently John Piper had an article about depression on the Desiring God website. He wrote there about enduring depression with patience,

“Acknowledge that only divine power, and I mean mighty power, can sustain you and me through the tests like this.”

We need the power of God to change our thinking and reverse the negative currents in our minds.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Depression, Guest Posts

Doing, Being, and Identity

Two Questions

Would you take just a second and think about something? Take a second and think about the following two questions:

  1. “What do you want to be?”
  2. “What do you do?”

When would you ask these questions? I bet I can answer that for you.

The first question (“What do you want to be?“) is one that you would pose to a young child. It would be asked with the qualifier of “when you grow up.” I’ve asked kids this question many, many times, and the answers are always entertaining. Children want to be things like firemen, doctors, cowboys, baseball stars, movie stars, even school bus drivers. Some even want to become the mythical, like super heroes, monsters, or unicorns.

When you ask a child what he wants to be when he grows up, all you are doing is opening up before him a world of possibility – the sky’s the limit. The question doesn’t limit him in any way. On the contrary, it affirms his potential to be anything he wants to be.

The second question (What do you do?) is one that you would likely ask an adult. Think about it, you wouldn’t ask a 10-year-old, “What do you do for a living?” Obviously, the child is just a student and preparing for the riggers of future employment as a “safe space” attorney, not an actual lawyer, or doctor, or super model.

But when you pose this question to an adult, instead of offering him the opportunity to dream big and affirming his ambitions, you cause him to face the here and now, the cold reality, the fact of what his childhood dreams have turned into. Unfortunately, affirming and praising one’s potential is a whole lot easier than affirming one’s present state.

When you ask a child what she wants to be when she grows up there is the possibility her dreams will come true. When you ask someone what he does for a living the answer is what he is doing, not what he is dreaming, and what he is doing might be all he ever does.

Is Doing Being?

I have always struggled with the temptation to find my identity in what I “do.” In other words, I’ve never wanted to just do things, I’ve always prided myself in being things. Do any of you feel the same way?

I have been a pest control technician, an industrial engine builder, a Sunday School teacher, an adjunct professor, a Level I Nuclear Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) Technician, a sales manager, an eyeglass maker, an insurance salesman, a preacher, a pastor, a chaplain, a song writer, and an author. Right now I am a school bus driver and driver trainer, along with being a bi-vocational pastor.

No, I wasn’t a pilot. I just flew a lot when I worked in the nuclear field. (circa 1989)

I have always liked name tags, badges, lapel pins, and titles…because they give me identity.

But in reality, honestly, none of those things are really me, are they? They are only what I do. If I were to quit pastoring or driving a bus, would I cease to exist? Of course not! Even if  you were to take away my freedom, I might be labeled an “inmate” or “refugee,” but not even those labels would be me, only the condition of my existence.

Yet, I still find my deepest self wanting to be identified with something, to be known for something, to have a title, to find worth in what I have done or am doing.

I do what I do, but I am what I am. On the other hand, I do what I do because I am what I am. So, what am I to make of it?

What I Am

I am created in the image of Almighty God, so I am intrinsically valuable – my value is based on Who made me.

I am loved beyond measure, first by my Lord Jesus Christ (because He loved us first), then by my family.

I am a child of God, not by my own works, but by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ – that is my identity.

I am a soldier in the army of God, for He called me to serve in battle against the spiritual forces of wickedness in high places.

I am a Christian, because I’ve been given that title as one who identifies with Christ.

I am priceless, because of the price that was paid on the Cross to redeem me.

What I do doesn’t make me a child of God, a saint, or anything of the sort, but what Jesus did for me, on my behalf, thereby crediting those works to my account, is what makes me those things.

And all the things I do – whether it be drive a bus, be a husband, preach a sermon, mow a yard, or be a dad – I do for the sake of the one Who makes me His own, and I do it in His strength.

So, ask me what I do, and no matter what I end up telling you, I will no longer stress over the answer, for what I do is not what I am…

I do what I do because I am what I am, because of the Great I AM; my identity is found in Him.

10 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Depression, God, self-worth, Uncategorized

Let’s Talk about Depression, Part 3

A Depression Case Study

When September 11, 2001, came around, everybody forgot about anything else that had been in the news. But what took place in Houston three months earlier shocked the world. Frankly, it was easier to comprehend the crazed fanaticism of some Islamic terrorists, with all of their hatred for America, than what a young mother did.

On June 20, 2001, Andrea Yates drowned her 5 children (4 boys, 1 girl) one-by one in 9 inches of water in her bathtub. She had sat them all down for breakfast, then one by one took them to the bathroom to drown them. 7-year-old Noah, the oldest, went to see where everyone had gone, then saw his little sister, only 6 months old, floating in the bathtub. His mother then chased him, finally drowning him face-down beside the floating body of the infant.

Ultimately, after initially being charged with murder and looking at the death penalty, Andrea Yates was eventually cleared of the murder charges and on July 26, 2006, was declared not guilty by reason of insanity. Why was this verdict handed down? Because it became very clear that Andrea Yates had been experiencing depression for a long time (since age 17), but by her fourth child was suffering from full-blown postpartum psychosis (worse than depression, and far more dangerous is left untreated).

The Yates did not attend church, but held Bible studies at home. Their spiritual leader was an itinerate preacher, Michael Woroniecki, who regularly sent out newsletters, personal letters, and video tapes. After doing a lot of research into the case, it became very obvious to me that Andrea and Rusty (her husband) Yates lived a very secluded, paranoid, legalistic, religious life. And I believe this un-biblical, legalistic theology that the Yates practiced had a lot to do with a mother did to her own children.

You see, as a former follower of Michael Woroniecki, David De Le Isla, said, “In her thinking she was doomed to hell, her kids were going to hell, and that the only way she could save them was by killing them.” From the things that Andrea Yates had been hearing, both from her husband and Woroniecki, depression was a sin, therefore her depression and any connected medication, were nothing more than evils which needed to be repented of. Andrea Yates, in her pitiful state of untreated psychosis; destitute of a caring group of friends and family – particularly a church family; indoctrinated with a false gospel bereft of grace; literally acted out of love for her children’s eternal souls and drowned them.

And some people wonder why I hate legalism.

And other people wonder why I worry for people who call themselves Christian, yet “forsake the assembling of themselves together” and shun the value of motivating each other to acts of love and good works (Hebrews 10:24-25).

Medicine and the Bible

Should a Christian take medication? Should a follower of Jesus Christ, one whose faith is in Him for all things, resort to taking medication for depression? If it’s needed, then yes!

God has ordained physical means to health. Sometimes there are physical, biological issues in play, and simply depending upon God to take care of them may cross the line of presumption. When the Lord has designed us in such a way that water quenches the thirsty throat (Mark 9:31), or wine calms the stomach (1 Tim. 5:23), or a balm heals the wound (Jer. 8:22), or oil heals the sick (Ezek. 16:9), is it out of the question to then accept that a modern-day “apothecary” could create/develop a medicine to aid in the mental functions affected by biological/physical/natural deficiencies?

We must depend on God for all things, but we must give thanks to God for all things. We can thankfully accept, using discernment and wisdom, those things, like medication, which may help with depression, should the cause be physically related. However, great caution must be taken to determine beforehand whether or not the depression from which one suffers is the result of something biological or spiritual.

Taking medication, even for depression, is no more a sin than taking an aspirin, applying an antibiotic,  or using a bandage.

Depression Is NOT a SIN – Lack of Faith Is.

Depression and a Lack of Faith are not the same, even though a lack of faith might contribute to depression. In the case of Andrea Yates, depression was already at work, but it was exacerbated by faulty theology, a lack of support, and a complete lack of grace.

Romans 14:23 states that whatever “is not of faith is sin.” There are plenty of reasons why people can become depressed, but that doesn’t mean they are committing any kind of sin. As a matter of fact, I can’t help but think of Job in the Old Testament as a great example of this fact. Job had multiple reasons to feel depressed, yet he never lost faith. Even in his pain he cried out, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him…” (Job 13:15).

But interestingly enough, the word “depression” is not in the Bible (unless it’s in a new translation). However, some biblical words that describe the same thing are: words such as downcast, brokenhearted, troubled, miserable, despairing, mourning are all linked to what we would understand in the modern context to be circumstantial depression, at least. Base on what we can read of the lives of not only Job, but several others, depression was not uncommon, even among the most faithful.

Depressed People in the Bible

Sometimes we may wonder how God could use someone who battles with depression. Sometimes we may even wonder how someone who is actually being used by the Lord can get depressed.

For further study, why not consider the following people in the Bible? Consider how the Word of God describes their emotions in each situation, and then try to determine if the feelings being expressed were sinful, acceptable,  or a reasonable reaction to the situation.

  1. David – 2 Samuel 12:15-23 (his newborn); 18:33 (Absalom)
  2. Elijah – 1 Kings 19:4
  3. Job – Physical pain, personal loss, even persecution from friends. See Job 3:11; 3:26; 10:1; and 30:15-17.
  4. Jonah – see 4:3 and 9
  5. Jeremiah – “The weeping Prophet” See 20:14-18

“The LORD [is] near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.” – Psalm 34:18 NKJV

“He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds.” – Psalm 147:3 NKJV

“He heard my cry…brought me out of the horrible pit…” – Psalm 40:1-3

Even Jesus!

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to depression, I don’t have to feel alone, even if no one else understands what I am going through. When all else fails, I can still hold on to the truth that Jesus Christ knows exactly what it feels like to be me! He knows exactly what it feels like to be YOU!

First off, Isaiah 53:3 spoke of the coming Messiah as “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.”  Mark 14:34-35 speaks of Jesus as “exceedingly sorrowful.” So, even though the Son of Righteousness was God in flesh, Emmanuel, He still understood what if felt like to have “the blues.”

But secondly, and even more importantly (in my opinion), Jesus understands what it feels like when our depression IS sin, or at the very least a result of sin. How is this possible?

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” – Isaiah 53:4-5 ESV

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” – 1 Peter 2:24 ESV

It never fails to amaze me how so many of our questions can lead us straight back to the Cross.

A Word from C. H. Spurgeon

Around 3,000 years ago King David wrote, “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again–my Savior and my God!” –  Psalm 42:11 NLT

A more recent (1834-1892) author and preacher, the “Prince of Preachers,” the great Charles Hadden Spurgeon, wrote something very similar, and I personally find it very encouraging. Few modern pastors or Christian authors – even secular ones – could hope to reach the pinnacle of success that C. H. Spurgeon reached; yet, even though he fought bitterly with unexplained fits of debilitating depression, he said the following:

“I am the subject of depression so fearful that I hope none of you ever get to such extremes of wretchedness as I go to.  But I always get back again by this–I know that I trust Christ.  I have no reliance but in Him, and if He falls, I shall fall with Him.  But if He does not, I shall not.  Because He lives, I shall live also, and I spring to my legs again and fight with my depressions of spirit and get the victory through it.  And so may you do, and so you must, for there is no other way of escaping from it.” (12.298)

I hope this third post on depression was helpful in some way. You are not alone, you don’t have to go through it alone, and there is Hope.

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Filed under Depression

Let’s Talk About Depression, Pt. 2

Your Comments

The last time I wrote on this subject, I shared with you some very personal experiences. On several levels your comments were very encouraging, and for that I thank you.

The comments you left displayed a very important fact: Many people struggle with depression, even Christians.

Now, when I say “even Christians,” that might cause some of you to cringe. However, it’s not that Christians are any better than non-Christians, it’s just that so many people – especially Christians – think Christians should never get depressed. But reality is not perception, as your comments proved.

But, as I closed the last post on this subject, I promised to give you five (5) reasons people get depressed. Well, since then I came up with several others – now there are eight (8).

I’m not going to lie – each of the following have affected me in some way, so that is why I can list them with authority. Surely there are other causes of depression, or at least things that exacerbate it, but the following eight are ones with which I have experience.

 Reasons for Depression

1. Pain

Some of you may have more experience with this than others, especially those of you with debilitating illnesses. However, sometimes even the most mundane of pains, nothing more than chronic discomfort, can wear us down. After a while of never-ending relief, our bodies and minds start to reject reality and begin looking for a way out. We get tired of the pain that never ends, making us weary of the future.

Unfortunately, many people take their own lives because of never-ending pain. Believe it or not, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death among adults of all ages; homicide is only 17th! The overwhelming thought of having to continue to live with what can never be relieved is too much for some to bear, leaving all other options and reasons to live off the table. This, however, is when meaning and purpose must be stronger than the pain.

Hope is the medicine for life.

But physical pain isn’t the only kind of pain. Memories can hurt, too. And not only memories, but all kinds of emotional pain; pain of all kinds contributes to depression.

2. Poverty

Now, for the record, I did not grow up rich. As a matter of fact, there was a time in my life when we lived in a house where you could see daylight through cracks in the walls! We also had no running water, except what we could get from a water hose attached to our neighbor’s well, so bathing was a pain, except when it rained; that’s when my dad and I would take the Dial soap and stand under the gutter.

The funny thing about poverty in my childhood is that I didn’t know I was poor, so it was no big deal. However, later in life I began to make a lot of money and began to grow accustomed to the finer things in life – including hot water and indoor showers. It was when God chose to remove that income and lifestyle that I revisited life with very little income, and I didn’t like it one bit.

Poverty – although nothing like what I saw in Zimbabwe – can lead Americans down the self-pitying road to depression. We bemoan what we do not have and mourn what we have no longer.

3. Potential

When I think of the word potential, I think of several things. I think of the things in life that could be, but have yet to be realized. I also think of all the kinds of things that could have been, but because of bad decisions or mistakes were lost to the “what if’s” of time.

Many people can grow depressed when they sit and ponder what might have been, or what is just out of reach. I have done that when I have looked back and wondered what I could have done if I had stayed in college when I was young, or continued pursuing a degree in law. I think of the business and employment opportunities I squandered that could have left my family and me in a much better position today.

But, potential is not what is, and where we are right now was never, at any time, a shock to our Creator and Sovereign God.

4. Pressure

Surely you know what I mean by pressure, correct? If I listed fifteen blanks you could probably fill in each one with a word tied to some sort of pressure-producing issue in your life. There are the pressures to succeed, to meet deadlines, to impress, to keep people happy, to finish the project, to not mess up, to not give in, and to be everything everyone else wants you to be.

Are you depressed, yet?

5. Pornography

Admit it, if you are on a computer reading this, you have no doubt come across something pornographic on the internet. It may have been by accident at first, but many of you have done more than stumble – you’ve dived in head-first to the cesspool.

If I were to say that I am immune to pornography simply because I am a Christian minister, I would be deceiving you. As a matter of fact, some surveys have shown that nearly half of all pastors have intentionally viewed internet porn more than a few times in the last year. Add to that fact the ease with which a person of any age can surf the web on a smart phone without leaving an obvious trace, who has not viewed porn in some form or fashion in the last year?

I am nearly 50 years old (will be in September), and I can tell you that porn is a big temptation. My first exposure to it was early on in life, before I was 10, when my cousins showed me my uncle’s hidden boxes of Playboys and Penthouse magazines. The indelible images left in my mind became dry tinder waiting to be reignited when VHS tapes became available, but thankfully I never purchased any. But when the internet became available, all it took was a curious click and I was pierced through with a flaming pitchfork.

Since the early days of my marriage, I have been very open and honest with my wife. Valerie knows my weaknesses, and so that helps me to avoid temptations. However, because of the world we now live in, when even burger commercials on television are nearly pornographic, the sparks that reignite the hellish images in my brain are floating in the air….and sometimes I fail.

What happens when we – especially Christians – view pornography? We experience the guilt that sin produces, and that can lead to serious, deadly depression. Even though Jesus Christ paid for our sins on the cross of Calvary, the Accuser never wastes an opportunity to remind us of how lowly and worthless we are. He does his best to turn us away from repentance and straight down the path of the prodigal.

6. Past

Maybe you already sensed this in some of the things above, but one of the biggest contributors to depression is the past. I won’t dwell too much on this one, for you probably know all to well what it is like to be haunted by things you’ve done or said days, weeks, years, or even decades ago. It’s when these moments come back to remembrance that we can stoop into depressive, pensive moods.

Like I mentioned before, the Devil  – the Accuser – loves to keep bringing up our past, even though God has place the Christian’s past in the Sea of Forgetfulness, as far as the east is from the west. But we are not God, are we? Unfortunately, because we are human, we tend to remember things we can’t correct or make right, like the time I said terrible, hurtful words to my father and made him cry.

Why not just take a moment at this point and think about how much you righteously hate Satan? He’s truly worth of hell, isn’t he? Not only did he tempt you and those you love, but he continues to remind you of things not even God will remember!

7. People

If you care anything about other people, people will depress you if you’re not careful, especially those who don’t even care what they are doing with their bodies and their souls. Wayward children, drunken neighbors, abused children, the starving homeless, crooked politicians, unrepentant atheists, and all kinds of others can lead even the most faithful into dark places of mourning.

Try sharing the gospel on a college campus and let me know if it’s easy to stay up and cheerful by day’s end. It’s difficult.

8. Prayerlessness

I’m sure the list could be longer, but I’ve just about run out of “P” words. So, let me end my list with one last cause of depression – a lack of prayer.

Friends, I can’t express to you how important it is to pray. However, make sure you understand the difference between “prayer” and talking with God. You see, there are those who believe that “prayer changes things,” so they go around spouting its benefits to any and all who are burdened, broken, sick, or downtrodden. But let me clue you in to a huge truth…

Prayer without Someone who can answer is nothing more than witchcraft. Yes, I said that, and you can take it to the bank. Prayers mean nothing without God. On the other hand, a simple conversation between the Father and His child “availeth much.”

But for those who never spend time with the Lord, or very little time, facing the daunting struggles and questions of life can simply become overwhelming. I firmly believe that had King David not prayed “evening, morning, and at noon” (Psalm 55:17), there would have been far more cries of “Why are you cast down, Oh my soul?” and far less proclamations like “Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God” (Psalm 42:11).

That’s Not All, Folks!

Believe it or not, this is not the last post I’ll be writing on this difficult subject. My next one will bring some more observations to the table from which you can pick and use as needed. I just hope and pray what I am writing will continue to help and encourage.

But before I close, note that I did not give you many suggestions in the above post. In other words, pretty much all I did was list a bunch of things that cause, contribute to, or exacerbate depression, without offering ways to deal with them. So, let me share with you four (4) very important steps I’ve learned to take in my struggle with depression.

  1. Admit it, confess it, and talk about it.
  2. Don’t try to handle it on your own.
  3. Worship God, even when you don’t feel like it.
  4. Know that Jesus understands – that was what the cross was for!

Any comments? Any suggestions? Sharing is caring! 

18 Comments

Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Depression

Grody, Nasty, Stinky Work

It’s Monday…not manic…but it’s Monday, and I had planned to do some more writing on the subject of depression. 

However, I am writing this post on my iPhone just to show you what I am up to. 

We have no air conditioning, and we can’t exactly afford to have a professional come out and work on it at this point. We have dealt with the heat for the last month, but now something has to be done, because there’s only so much one can take, especially one’s wife. 

So, after taking some cues from an actual heating & air guy, I found the possible culprit that had led to lots of water on the basement floor – a corroded pump. 

Just to make it clear, I have 40 bankers boxes full of books from my personal library stored down in this basement. Any water that would leak out of this air-conditioning unit would destroy thousands of dollars worth of theological works, some of them irreplaceable. 

So, it is left up to me to clean up this pump and make it work again. As you can see from the pictures, I’ve got my work cut out for me. 


Therefore, if you don’t hear from me for a while, I will truly be depressed! And then I will have a lot more to write about, I suppose. 

On the other hand, you could pray for me so that this will go well! That way I can finish the evening with a smile on my face and less sweat on my forehead. 

…And a happier wife!

UPDATE: 10:00pm and it’s out of my area of expertise. My wife still loves me, and she’s not too upset, just disappointed like I am. Oh well. At least it’s not that hot tonight; actually comfortable. 

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Filed under blogging, Depression, Weather, writing

Let’s Talk About Depression (Seriously), Pt. 1

Don’t grade me on the look of this post, for I don’t want to take the time to make it look pretty.

Don’t judge my writing based on this one post, for it is not going to be eloquent or edited for content; I’m just going to share with you what’s on my mind, straight from the heart, holding little back.

Here we go.


Scarlett

For the last few days I have had another blogger on my mind. If you want to, go check her out at The Full Story and read her post “My Depression.”

Scarlett (aka, bloodmoonxxx99) has left some pretty pointed comments on this blog, especially regarding my post “Atheists On Christianity.” Because of those recent comments I decided to go to her blog to discover what she was really about – was she for real, or just another atheist troll out to try to yank my chain? Well, come to find out, she’s a broken, scarred, and hurting young woman who needs to be loved, just like the rest of us.

In “My Depression” Scarlett described some things I can understand, for I, too, know a lot about depression. I could feel her pain and sense her struggle. But I guess what really broke my heart was that I wish I could have offered her some real hope…some help…a Way to deal with it. Yet, as she will probably attest, I’m sure, she doesn’t want prayer, or Jesus.

Nevertheless, I’m going to pray for her. Frankly, I’ve had her on my mind all day long.

But enough about Scarlett, for now… Let’s talk about you and me.

My Depression Story (not Scarlett’s)

Have you ever been depressed? Have you ever suffered from clinical depression? What are your thoughts about depression? Do you think depression is a sin? A character flaw?  A mental problem? A weakness?

For the record, I am no stranger to depression; I battle with it on a regular basis. And when I say “battle,” I do mean an all-out fight at times…a fight to notice the sunlight while staring at it.

Years ago, when I was just sixteen, I nearly committed suicide. Had it not been for my dad knocking on the door of my bedroom, I would have pulled the trigger of the loaded 12ga. shotgun that was pointed inside my mouth. Long story short, no one had adequately taught me about God’s grace, only the legalistic perspective of holiness, and I was failing at it. I was ashamed of myself, my sin, and my constant asking for forgiveness. I came out of that period of my life, but without any counseling or help, because I kept it a secret.

Years later, I went from poverty to riches (practically speaking) as I moved up the ranks from a salesman in the funeral business, to manager. I was making more money than I ever dreamed possible for someone like me – every take-home paycheck each week had a comma in it. Now, I was not only legalistic, but I had money and was making a name for myself – literally, my name was actually the only thing used in a big radio campaign.

Then, in 2000 or so, the proverbial rug got jerked right out from under me and I, along with every thing I had, came crashing down. I hit rock bottom. I literally came to the point of shaking my fist at God, cursing Him with every vulgarity I could muster, and daring Him to kill me. I blamed Him for my career loss, my marriage problems, and especially my loss of ministry opportunity, and I wanted to die – I didn’t even care about hurting the ones who loved me most.

Until around 2002 I regularly went to counseling, at least twice a week, with both psychologists and psychiatrists. I was prescribed medication and was nearly committed to an institution for my own safety. It was almost impossible for me to see any future worth living, for my pride had been crushed, my self-righteousness had been proven worthless, and I couldn’t see why God would want to have anything else to do with me. For a while I was literally card-carrying crazy, or at least that’s how I described it.

What made it even worse was the fact that my wife loved me so much that she stayed with me, working extra jobs when I couldn’t hold a job. She loved me, even when I hated myself, and that made me hate myself even more – at least for a while.

But I specifically remember one night when I got drunk and started cursing God, telling Him exactly what I thought. It was in the midst of my wretched ranting that I heard that “still, small, Voice” whisper into my heart, “I know you don’t mean that, Anthony; but even if you do, I’m still here, and I still love you.”

Jesus wouldn’t let me go.

My Right Now

Now, let’s fast forward to today. For the last couple of days I have been dealing with some feelings of depression, and it’s been very difficult. What caused it? I’m not sure. All I know is that when it got triggered my mood went downhill faster than a Jamaican bobsled. In just a few hours I was wallowing in the muddy pit of despair, thinking terrible thoughts, even questioning my beliefs.

But what I have learned is that God is real, His ways are higher than our ways, and that whenever He is about to do something in our lives, or use us in the lives of others, the Enemy (who is also real) desires to counter those plans. More often than not, long before we even have a clue about what is going on, Satan and his minions are already working for our defeat and disgrace. It’s in our times of depression that we must realize our faith is the number-one target of the Devil.

Ultimately, in the plainest of explanations, the truest way to defeat depression of any kind is to hold on to our faith in God and his character. I submit the following video featuring Lauren Daigle.

This afternoon, after lying down for a short nap (it was a long night and I needed some sleep before getting back on the school bus), some words started coming to mind, sort of like a sermon outline, and all alliterated with the letter “P”.

What came to my mind were five (5) reasons why we get depressed…what causes depression in so many of us…what has resulted in deep depression in my on life.

I will share them with you in the next post. 

In the meantime, would you pray for Scarlett?

 

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