Dealing with Depression – Part 3

Today is the last day of May – Mental Health Awareness month. This will be third post of the series. In my first post, I talked about my struggles with depression and OCD. I mentioned how easy it is to go downwards in a spiral of deadening of emotions, the harmful need to feel something, even if it meant harming yourself, and then disengagement. At my worst, I felt like no one cared.

No one will care if I showed up or not.

No one will come to my funeral.

In part 2, I mentioned how some causes of depression come from external triggers: seasonal changes, major events such as death of a loved one, divorce, or relocation. Sometimes, it is physical – lack of exercise, poor diet, poor sleep, or a combination of all three. Sometimes it is emotional – being self-absorbed. Sometimes it is spiritual; for Christians, we need to read the Bible more to remind ourselves that God loves us and to pray more. We also have to recognize that it could be a spiritual attack by the devil and his minions.

In both posts, I alluded to the fact that we can’t fix ourselves overnight. If the causes of our depression can be fixed by telling us to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, “to embrace the suck”, then no one would need to designate May as Mental Health Awareness Month.

Reading the Bible, praying, doing acts of service – that might be a good start, but again, it is just the Christian version of “self-help”. In other words, we are trying to fix ourselves only it is dressed up in religious/spiritual language.

In 2019, I wrote a post called: Letters to My 16 Year Old Self. In it, I gave advice to any teenager who is dealing with depression and what parents can say to a teenager dealing with depression. One thing I said: “It is Okay to be Not Okay.” I took that from a title from a Sheila Walsh book.

You might have recognized Sheila Walsh if you ever watched the 700 Club; Sheila shared that she had suffered a breakdown. Even as she was telling others about God’s love for thousands of women, she was feeling empty and hurting from having to look perfect. How many of us – both men and women – have felt the same? That we need to lie to others that we look great when we are not.

That was how I felt. My first upwards from disengagement and depression – admitting that I was NOT okay. It might take a long time to admit that.

And when you do, don’t move on yet. Don’t rush to the next step. You must examine your brokenness and where you are broken. Was it because you never got over a pain or a loss? There are countless of men and women who had a rough relationship with their parents for most of their childhood. If that parent were to leave suddenly with many things left unresolved, that is a huge stressor. Was it abuse? Was it adultery – and you were the victim?

The next step is to invite Jesus Christ into our pain. One of the exercises I’ve read about when healing trauma is to ask “Where was Jesus in that experience?” Christians declare God is omnipresent – that he is everywhere. That is true especially in our worst experience. It takes hours and hours of prayer and private contemplation to find the answer. We might not learn until much later that Jesus Christ was closer than we thought!

If you need to see a counselor, especially to deal with trauma/ abuse or anything, go! Reading blogs and Psychology Today is not going to help. You need a trained, licensed professional who can walk with you, even godly Christians need therapy.

I have found that healing can spiral upwards just as depression spiral downwards. Every now and then, on the way up, we have to realize that we are still not okay. We might have victory in some areas, but we are still hurting in other areas.

Eventually, we learn how to deal with the stressors.

As May becomes June, we have to continue this conversation long past Mental Health Awareness month. We don’t flip off depression like a light switch.

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