I have struggled with depression in my life. I have dealt with severe anxiety at times. These are words people are afraid to share at times in the church for many reasons. Sometimes I believe people don’t share this because they are afraid they will be looked at as failures, losers, or not “real” Christians. To be this open and vulnerable and to share these kinds of thoughts doesn’t always fit well in the life of the church. It is much easier to go to a Bible study and say that your big struggle is you only read your Bible four days this week and not seven instead of saying that you are struggling with depression and you don’t even want to get out of bed in the morning.
In the United States, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 14.8 million adult Americans experience clinical depression in any given year — or about 6.7 percent of the population over 18. Women are more likely to encounter major depression than men, and the average age for a bout of clinical depression to set in is 32. (http://curiosity.discovery.com) However many go without seeking the help that they need.
This was the truth for me as well. I luckily am no longer dealing with depression as it has been gone for close to 2 years now. If I am honest with myself and with you I dealt with depression for numerous years. It started off small where my view on life and myself began to change, my sleeping patterns began to change, my anxiety and irritability continued to grow, and my emotions always seemed unpredictable. I brushed this off for a long time and just said I was in a “funk” and I was just upset because I wasn’t in a job that I desired to be (I had been out of ministry for 4 years). However even when I did get back into full-time ministry I began to notice that I was still dealing with the ever-changing emotions, lack of desire to do anything….even those things I normally loved to do, and I even avoided people which isn’t normal for me. It was then that I realized I needed help. I met with a counselor to work through things that caused me anxiety which added to my depression and I began taking medicine to help with my recovery.
Yes I took medicine to help me get through my depression! I can freely say I took medicine to help in my recovery and I am so glad I did. This can be a difficult conversation in Christian circles as you will hear very many different viewpoints such as…
“Well if you are strong in your faith you should just be able to pray and you won’t feel depressed anymore.”
“Why are you taking medicine? Can’t you just make yourself not sad anymore?”
“Oh my! Don’t tell anyone that you are depressed and taking medicine they will think you’re not stable.”
“What do you have to be depressed about? I don’t understand why you need to take medicine?”
“So many people look up to you for advice and support you can’t let people know that you struggled with depression.”
Believe me if you are a Christian and you share about your depression with others you will hear these kind of statements….unfortunately. I am here to say that because I finally stopped trying to do the whole cowboy thing and pull myself up by my bootstraps and admitted I needed help I got better. The doctors and counselors made it very clear that even with the sessions and the medication I would still need to put forth the effort to get better. The medication and the sessions were not some magic cure-all to make my problems go away but I am thankful I had them in my time of need. After getting the help I needed I honestly felt like a veil had been removed an I felt like good ole’ Dave again.
So I am writing to say this if you believe you may be struggling with depression know this…
1. God loves you!
2. Seek the help you need!
3. Share how you are feeling with a trusted friend don’t go through this on your own.
What has been your experience with depression?