Depression in the pews

We all have down days but when they’re filled with lasting pain, disappointment and hurt, these can lead to extended periods of the blues or more severly, deep depression.

Yes, depression

The “D” word wasn’t discussed or mentioned much twenty years ago in christian circles.

Although we’ve made some strides, in my opinion, the church still fall short on how to appropriately address people who struggle in this area.

Therefore, many suffer in silence because of ignorance and the stigma that’s attached to any form of emotional struggle or mental illness.

Several culprits can torment the mind, but chemical imbalances are mostly always part of the equation and many are not resolved with diet change alone.

The brain is a complex organ with big responsibilities. It’s driven by hormones and chemical reactions. When too little or too much is present or absent, your body or mind won’t function as it should such as, in schizophrenia, diabetes and other autoimmune diseases.

Christians and depression

We openly pray for people afflicted with physical ailments, but we rebuke satan, tell people to “snap out of it” and call for exorcism when people say they’re suffering mentally.

An absence of blood doesn’t mean someone is well. There are people among you, your family, co-workers, friends, and the person next to you in church who are drowning in sadness, with no way out.

Many are unable to express what’s happening to them because they don’t connect their symptoms with depression, while others are too ashamed to admit it’s hard to get out of bed, that brushing their teeth feels like a monumental task, and that they’ve forgotten the last time they showered.

Some bounce back, however, others spend a lifetime digging themselves from a dark pit.

Depression not only hurt mentally and emotionally, but it stings physically. It’s like a chain saw slowly drilling through wood that won’t sever…the sawing goes on and on, with no end in sight.

Depression and the church

No one’s immune

I used to think depression was for other people, until it crushed me like fragile grapes.

It was 2013. The year started off blissfully and by March I was knocked of my feet, but it took several weeks to recognize I had something more than the blues.

During that desert experience, I wasn’t comfortable enough to reach out to the church, not because I didn’t have wonderful people around,

But because I was fearful of rejection, being judged and/or labeled. I  was also doubtful people would shower me with the fervent prayers one receives when it’s a cancer diagnosis, so my sorrow lingered in and around me.

The couch became my home. I didn’t bathe, comb my hair or brush my teeth for days at a time and my appetite was non-existent…that’s when I knew I was in trouble (Lol).

By the grace of God, a friend called. I was desperate, so I explained what was going on. She came to my home, offered her support and encouraged me to get out the house.

She helped lift me off the couch. My knees wobbled beneath me and my bones clattered like a bag of marbles.

It took an eternity to make to the bathroom, to shower and dress, while she patiently waited.

It was a hot summer day and though I felt the heat on my skin, sorrow blocked the sun; I had no perception of night or day.

I made a brave attempt to blend in at the store, but I begged for home. My friend obliged when she heard the anguish in my voice and the shallow breaths that barely escaped my lungs.

I was weak and every step ached.

The following day I called “Living Water Counseling” because deep within I knew I wasn’t able to find my way through this thick fog alone.

What will become of me?

I was afraid of never sleeping soundly again, and concerned about my body/soul diconnect and what would become of me.

Would I spend the rest of my life in a drug-induced catatonic state like the patients I previously assessed at the state hospital during nursing school, or will a part of me go missing forever?

While I waited the agonizing three days for my appointment, these questions increased my anxiety.

I eventually received the help and counseling I needed, and God has restored my soul.

Months after my valley experience I penned these words.

1/20/2014 (journal excerpt):

“I just caught myself dreaming again about the future; tears fill my eyes. After the darkness I’ve been through I didn’t feel I could be excited about anything else. God is healing my heart, renewing my strength and putting me back together…giving me hope to live again. Thank you Jesus.” 

Although my bout with depression was situational and temporary, you may suffer chronically due to trauma or a chemical imbalance.

I won’t say I know how you feel, but I can confidently say, there’s hope in dark hole you might be in, because Jesus is with you.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

Take care of yourself

If you’re feeling prolonged sadness and you’ve lost interest in what used to bring you joy, reach out to a trusted friend, medical professional or clergy!

The system is not perfect, but there are people who will walk with you until you find answers and are able to stand alone.

Be encouraged!

 

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