Depression is real. It isn’t limited to a certain personality trait, and it isn’t in itself sin. It just is. More than half of people in the United States with serious depression do not receive or will not get adequate help. So, if you are reading this as a depressed person, or are wondering how to help someone you care for who is depressed, it is imperative that you get help immediately. A blog post on such an important subject can really do nothing more than encourage you and somehow inspire you to take the brave and bold step of seeking the assistance you need. Severe depression is profoundly crippling and is as important to deal with as prostate cancer, because both can kill you on the inside even though no one knows on the outside.
I myself have experienced debilitating depression. I’ve also had a kidney stone. I’m told the pain of a kidney stone is like child-birth. I don’t know about the child-birth thing, but I do know that I would rather experience a dozen kidney stones at once than go through another severe depression. I got help, and it changed my life.
Depression is exactly what the name implies: it is a depressing or a stuffing of feelings. I had been so good at stuffing my feelings that one night many years ago when our neighbor had a blow-out of a party at 2 in the morning, I actually felt no anger. Just so you know: that’s not healthy. I had an anger problem. Not the kind where you explode, but just the opposite – the kind where you stuff every negative feeling in the book.
Recovery for me meant first recognizing that I had a lot to be angry about. Next, I began to let myself feel the past situations of my life, and I need to tell you that what was inside me wasn’t at all pretty. Like a wound that needs peroxide, dealing with depression hurt like hell. But I couldn’t heal without it. I couldn’t go around it, or avoid it; I had to go through it. Finally, I learned to not only identify my feelings, but to take charge of them. I discovered I could choose to say how I feel without apology, and I could say it all in a way that helped others, as well as myself. The Bible calls it speaking the truth in love.
Waiting for the perfect time to deal with depression will only result in deeper despondency. You are not responsible for what others may say or do, and you cannot control other people’s decisions and responses to you – trying to do so is manipulative and only creates more problems.
Depressed people are not alone. Depression is as ancient as creation itself. Even some of the big dogs of Holy Scripture got depressed: Elijah, David, and Jeremiah. But they didn’t stay there, and their experiences of facing depression changed not only themselves but readers of God’s Word throughout history. It only makes sense to tell a trusted pastor or church leader how you are really feeling. One does not crawl out of the abyss of darkness that is depression without some sage people surrounding the person who offer wise counsel, prayer, and carefully apply Scripture. This is one reason why church ministry exists, so let the church do its redemptive work. And may the clouds roll away into the hope of a new tomorrow.