Tag Archives: depression

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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A Poem for Friday Repeated

Back in 2012 I was going full-steam in seminary, pastoring a church, and had a wife that was desperately ill with fibromyalgia. It was a pretty tense time around the Baker house, to say the least. Some things change; some things remain the same.

So, you see, I was going to write a post about not being ashamed of Jesus, but I will save that for tomorrow or Sunday. In the meantime, I will just share this poem I wrote back in 2012 while I help my wife finish some tax returns, eat some oatmeal, scrounge up some gas money for later, and do a little praying before I get back on the school bus this afternoon.

The following is a complete rip-off of Rebecca Black’s “Friday” song that everyone – including myself – hated. Funny thing, I still sing it to myself EVERY Friday morning!

“It’s Friday”

Eight a.m. waking up in the morning
Gotta be fresh, gotta go down stairs
Hot cup of tea, butter on raisin toast
Plagiarize a song by a girl with Black hair.
 
Got a mid-term that’s due tonight
Seminary’s really try’n to kick my buns.
Still gotta finish a honey-do list
Being out of work is fun, fun, fun!
 
Friday! It’s Friday! Out of work this Friday!
Studying and reading. Gettin’ ready for this Sunday.
Friday, Friday, gettin’ down on Friday.
Need to exercise and take my morning multi-vitamin for men.
 
Wife stayed up for two days straight
Now’s she’s in bed and can’t stay awake
Gotta figure out what’s wrong with her
Don’t know if much more she can take.
 
Daughter wants to ride her bicycle
Wants me to ride mine with her, too
Maybe I should finish this poem right now.
Daddy, pastor, student’s got a lot to do!
 
Friday! It’s Friday! Mail will come this Friday!
Maybe a check’s in the mail that’ll let me tithe a lot this Sunday.
Friday, Friday, gettin’ down on Friday.
Need to pray a lot and take my morning multi-vitamin for men.


P.S., That “Donate” button might make this Friday a wee more tolerable 🙂

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Filed under fitness, Humor, poetry, Relationships and Family, Uncategorized

Wake Up and Seize the Day

There are days when one sleeps late, therefore doesn’t get out of bed on time to go to work, or something like that.

Then there are other days when you’ve worked hard (or partied hard) the night before, so you decide to sleep a little longer in the morning.

Sometimes we get the flu, or just a cold, and when morning comes there’s nothing else to do but pull the covers over your head and have your spouse cancel all your appointments.

Then there are times when the last thing you want to do is get out of bed and face another day. Putting your feet on the ground will mean having to do something, to think through something, to deal with somebody, or face an insurmountable situation.

That’s the kind of day I’m having; I just didn’t want to get out of bed.

Nevertheless, I’m up, or I wouldn’t be writing this. If nothing else, having a little dog that can’t figure out how to use a toilet and can’t open the front door sorta makes staying in bed indefinitely a problem. Oh for a doggie door!

But I must remind myself that each and every day is a day the Lord has made. To waste it – even the parts I don’t like – is to waste a priceless gift the Creator has given me. It might be difficult at the moment, but I must “rejoice and be glad in it.”

I have the physical strength to face another day, but my mental and spiritual strength is weak. Does that give me an excuse? Well, what does “when I am weak, He is strong” mean? Does it only apply to the day after a workout?

Some might call it depression. Some might call it the blues. Some might chalk it up to working, more or less, seven days a week (wait, how could I work “more” than seven days?). Some might call it burnout. Whatever it is, I’m breathing, the sun is shining, I’m just a steward of what has been given me, and there’s no guarantee of a tomorrow.

Both riches and honour [come] of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand [is] power and might; and in thine hand [it is] to make great, and to give strength unto all. – 1 Chronicles 29:12 KJV

The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace. – Psalm 29:11 KJV

Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope. – Psalm 119:116 KJV

God gave this day to us for a reason, so we must seize it! Carpe diem! Who knows? Home might be just around the corner.

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Filed under Depression, General Observations, Life Lessons, Struggles and Trials

From Regret to Radiance

No Regrets

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say of life, “I have no regrets.” It amazes me, for I don’t see how it’s possible. How can one look back on one’s life and find nothing regretful?

To be honest, the only people I’ve encountered who actually said that were people who were unwilling to admit they’ve ever done anything wrong. They are the type of people who, when confronted with some wrongdoing which caused pain in others, refuse to accept any responsibility. Therefore, I believe the person who says he has “no regrets” is either lying or in denial.

Many Regrets

Look, I’m not perfect. I’ve done a lot of things I regret. I’ve broken things, lost things, wasted things, and hurt things. I’ve wounded hearts, scarred lives, and wasted ungodly amounts of irreplaceable time.

Photo credit: Katie Baker

Photo credit: Katie Baker

Besides the things I’ve done, there’s also the things I didn’t do. For example, I could have told my dad I loved him the day he died instead of storming out of the house and speeding away.

I could have walked away from that relationship before our hearts were broken and our innocence lost.

And speaking of lost, I could shared Jesus with those people before they went out into eternity. But I didn’t, and I regret it.

Moving On

Every once in awhile my past creeps back into my mind, bringing with it the pain of regret. There has even been times when I could echo the words of David when he said:

“I am worn out from sobbing. All night I flood my bed with weeping, drenching it with my tears.” – Psalm 6:6 NLT

But like King David, I’ve had to move on. After being judged by God for his sin, David wrote in Psalm 51:8, “Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice!” (ESV). He begged God for forgiveness, then he accepted it. We must learn to to do the same.

When we fail to accept God’s unmerited grace, we not only waste away (2 Corinthians 7:10), but we open ourselves up to the Enemy’s attacks (1 Peter 5:8). And in case you haven’t noticed, Satan is always ready to attack where we are weak.

Press On

I know it’s hard to do, but we must do even more than move on – we must “press on.”

“…But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:13-14 ESV

When those painful regrets come to mind, don’t let depression hold you back and weigh you down – press on! Be tough, push the past aside, be disciplined, and press on toward what lies ahead.

Be Radiant

God saw our future, along with our past, when He purchased us with His blood. Therefore, what He has forgiven we must also forgive, and that includes forgiving ourselves. Accept that the past happened, but learn from it and rest in the grace of God.

“I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.” – Psalm 34:4-5 ESV

Turn your regrets over to the God of mercy and grace and quit living in shame. He can work miracles with broken things, including your past. You survived for a reason.

You have a hope this darkened world needs to see, so don’t be regretful; be RADIANT! 

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Filed under Depression, self-worth

“Maybe You Should Seek Counseling?”

The Atheist

Every once in a while I encounter one of those atheists. Those atheists are the ones who troll the internet in search of Christian blogs, their prime objective being to “enlighten” us (i.e., intimidate us into silence) with their browbeating, far-superior intellects and firmer grasp on all things biblical and theological. They are the bullies of the blogosphere, dutifully heeding Richard Dawkins’ call for mockery.

Today, one of those atheists made a comment on a comment I made on another blog. His tone was condescending, irreverent, and vulgar (in his particular shade), just as always. Then, after some purposeful sarcastic language from me (which is all he is now qualified to receive, for it’s obvious anything more is casting pearls before swine), he said: “You really do have issues, Anthony. Maybe you should seek counselling?”

My response…

“Ha! You don’t know the half!”

His reply…

“You are right, I do not. But maybe this is half the reason you sought your god in the first place, perhaps?”

My response…

“Actually, that’s why my God sought me (Luke 4:18).”

His final reply, showing complete and willful ignorance…

“Really? What were you doing, Anthony, lurking in a back-alley?”

I Have Issues

The thing from the above exchange that stuck with me was the comment about me needing counseling. If the truth be known, we ALL have issues, and I am certainly no exception. For that matter, I am well acquainted with counseling and counselors.

It wasn’t worth my time to go into any detail with the obviously antagonistic troll who only wanted to get a rise out of me. Had he been one who really cared, if it would have done any good, I might have shared with him some deeper truths concerning the atonement and redemption, of the God who came to seek and to save the lost, to heal the brokenhearted.

But he scoffs at all that. He is no sinner. There is no God to whom he must answer. There is no need for crutches; he’s not crippled!

But I am broken. I am wounded. I do suffer from scars. I do deal with painful memories. I don’t have all the answers when I hurt, much less answers for others. I long for ultimate redemption! I do struggle with temptation. There are times when I feel overwhelmed, afraid, helpless, and hopeless. And yes, sometimes my faith gets weak.

Sometimes I do hide from my God…in my thoughts…in my books…in activities…even in the occasional dark and secluded place – much like a back alley.

But then Jesus comes looking for me, saying, Anthony, where art thou?

My response?

“Here I am, Lord.”

His reply…

“I know, but why?”

My response…

“I was ashamed. I was afraid. I was angry at You, and myself, and angry I felt that way.”

His reply…

“Son, you’ve got issues.”

Me….

“I sorry…..  I’m so sorry.”

His still, small voice…

“I know, son. But hey! I’m your Counselor! Let’s talk about it.”

Then what follows is the kind of counseling those atheists will never be able to understand…because they don’t have issues.

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Facebook Depresses Me

Depression

How can one not get depressed in this day and age? For me to claim that I never get depressed would not only be a lie, but an absurdity few would believe. For crying out loud – with varying degrees of severity – I’m only human!

I’ve heard some tell me, “But brother, you’re a minister, a pastor! Real Christians never get depressed.” I usually respond with, “Have you never heard of Jonah? Elijah? Spurgeon?” Even the greatest men of God have fallen into times of deep despair, so what makes me immune?

Depression can come on at times when we least expect it, draining all joy and optimism from even the most hopeful. However, if we can distinguish what sends us into downward spirals, those initiators of depression, it would be much easier to stay upbeat and positive.

I think I have found one of those initiators, and it’s called Facebook.

Warning!

photo (66)I think that Facebook should come with a “warning” label. Seriously! It can be dangerous! It can be utterly depressing!

Think about it, there’s really very little by way of good news on Facebook. Sure, there are the regular kitten pics and funny memes, the morning devotionals, and the occasional video of someone looking like a fool, but where’s the hope? Where’s the good news?

What I typically find on Facebook is bad news, threats of violence, predictions of doom, loads of racism and bigotry (from all sides), political tension, and food pictures. Even what might be good news to some ends up becoming a source of envy for everyone else (even me). For example:

  • “Look at my new car! I got a great deal because my perfect credit score!”
  • “Here we are at our child’s graduation from Harvard Law School.”
  • “Praise God! We had 5,000 at church this morning, 495 of whom made professions for Christ! 15 surrendered to the ministry!”
  • “Having a wonderful time in Hawaii! Looking forward to our next 10 mission trips around the world! Come join us, if you can!”

Honestly, I think there should be a big, fat warning label on Facebook, at least for my sake. Nevertheless, I may have learned my lesson.

Look Elsewhere

Just the other day as I was trying to figure out what it was that was making me feel so depressed, that bummed out kind of feeling I couldn’t shake, I picked up my cell phone and, out of habit, clicked the Facebook icon. I still remember the very words I whispered to myself as I started to scroll down through the updated stories…

“It sure would make me happy if I could just find some good news.”

Almost immediately it was like the Voice that woke little Samuel from his sleep boomed into my conscience…

“Maybe you should quit searching for good news to make you happy and find your happiness in THE Good News.”

That was it! How can I remain hopeful, joyful, happy, and upbeat when nearly everything I see on Facebook is bad news? There’s reports of terrorism, possible financial collapse, children missing, rampant immorality, religious persecution, Christians acting like heathen, and even stuff to make me envious…why think on these things???

Seriously, a great deal of the depression with which many of us battle could simply be the result of looking for hope where there is no hope. Will my political party win? Will there be something funny to make me smile? Will someone somewhere finally make the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the Westboro Baptists shut the heck up?

What does it matter? Who cares?!! Has God lost control? Has his arm become too short, his hand too weak? Has a single nation risen or fallen outside His sovereign will? NO!!! 

No App Needed

The GOOD NEWS is that God is still on the throne; I am His child and He loves me; He loves the world so much that it doesn’t matter what they’ve done, He’s still ready and willing to forgive; no law of the land can change the law of God; and one day all things will be made right.

So, the next time you find yourself feeling a little depressed, put away your phone and do a little social networking with the Lord…there’s no app for that.

 

*NOTE: Andrew Zuckerman did not approve the use of the Facebook logo for this post. However, if I ever start making any money from this blog I will take the image down. Until then the warning stays. Consider it free advertising, Mr. Zukerman.

 

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Filed under Christian Living, Culture Wars, Depression

Don’t Grow Weary

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” – Galatians 6:9

I must keep reminding myself of this. But right now I’d be happy to go live in a cave and cover my head with pillow.

I’m growing tired; I can’t do this in my own strength.

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9

Jesus, I need you.

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Filed under Christian Living, Culture Wars, current events, Depression