God has put on my heart lately to talk about the health of our mind, body and soul. This is the first post in a series I am calling “A Healthy Me”. My prayer is that these posts touch your heart and inspires you to strive for a healthier person.
Today I want to talk about depression. In 2009, per the American Foundation for Suicide prevention, there was 36,909 suicides in America. That was a 2.4 increase from 2008. Recent reports have a 14% rate increase since 2009. That is a lot of people. One or more of those numbers maybe someone you know.
In 2002 I was almost one of those numbers. This is not something I have told to many people. Life beat me up pretty good. To be honest it was from my choices in life. I was using a lot of drugs and relying on people to be source of fulfillment in life. If it was not for God sending an unlikely friend to save me at the last-minute, I would not be here now. I would have missed out on all the beautiful life God has had me live. Also would not have been here for God to use my life and story to help others find hope.
Depression is one of those words in the church that seem a bit messy at times. We do not want to talk about it most of the time. I believe the reason is we believe that how we are perceived is more important that how we feel inside. The way we look to others is important for how we deem success. A common misconception is that Church people have it all together. At least that is what we want people to think. To be honest this side of eternity will suck at times.
When I excepted Jesus into my life for a personal relationship with Him, I became a new creation. Jesus saved me from a life of no hope and no purpose. Through Him I have life and I have hope now. But the reality is that I am still apart of this world till Jesus takes me home. While I am here I will experience hurt and pain again and again. Even after He has saved me, there will be times that life will get me down. I know I am not the only one. There are examples of powerful men that God used to change lives that had moments of depression.
Moses was one of the most amazing men in the bible. His story is made of legend. He stood up to the Pharaoh that he once called family to set free the people of God. You may have heard of the famous parting of the Red Sea? Yep that was Moses. Moses lead the Israelites out of Egypt and through the wilderness for 40 years. That does not necessarily sound like fun right? Imagine constantly traveling finding a home for 40 years. Also with a bunch of people complaining about it. That would wear me down after a while. Moses cries out to God in Numbers 11:14-15 I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.” I do not know about you but that does sound like depression to me.
Paul was a fellow that wrote most of the new testament. He led the Christian faith to the rest of the world outside of Israel. He paid a price for this many times, including being stoned, snake bitten, and jailed on multiple occasions. He did all this for the love of Jesus. He endured so much physical and mental abuse that would drive anyone to crack. Some of Paul’s best days are worse than my worst days. Even Paul had moments of depression. 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.
King David was one of the most amazing leaders in history. He came from basically nothing. He was one of the youngest in his family and considered and after thought. But he was not an after thought to God. He was picked to be king of Israel and lead Gods people to its prime. God was so impressed with Davids faithfulness, that he chose his lineage to send himself as man into the world to save all of creation from death and depression. Yet in Psalms 142 and 143 we see David crying out to God in despair. These prayers remind me of so many prayers I have prayed myself.
My point with all of these examples is that even when you have the truth and are a new creation in Christ. There will be times that depression will try to rear its ugly head. These men still accomplished great things and changed the course of history. But none were above fighting depression and still having seen and done some of the most amazing things ever accomplished.
Do we have an unrealistic view on life? Do we care too much on how we are perceived by the world? For me these were some factors that I have to fight to keep my depression at bay. We can rely so much on ourselves and those around us that we come up with these high unrealistic expectations. We feel like life is supposed to go in this perfect direction. Our kids are supposed to be perfect. We are supposed to have the perfect career and make a lot of money. We are supposed to graduate college and the perfect job we worked so hard is waiting for me. I am supposed to be married and have 2 kids by the time I am 30. When these things do not happen like we expected, we let depression sneak in.
Depression does not arrive with horns and bright lights. Its subtle and sneaks in and takes over till we can not recognize its there. So how do we get out of Depression.
- Recognition- We have to admit and realize that this thing called depression is taking over your life. You can not run from it anymore. You have to put pride aside and say I need help.
- Seek Help- Get counseling talk to someone. Seek medical help if needed. Medication with trust in your physician counsel is huge. We need each other and Church community. Have a person that you trust to talk out the hard stuff. Trust me a true friend will not judge you they will stand with you.
- Look at yourself: Have to stop claiming yourself as a victim. It’s not everyone else fault. Have to fix yourself so the world around you can change. It’s very easy for someone fighting depression to lash out at others around us. Blaming them for our own issues. Start looking at yourself and see what you can change.
- Rely on God- Just like Paul said. We need to stop relying on our own power and give these situations to the one that loves us the most. Only God can use our pain for our own progress. Stop trying to do this alone and seek God for peace and hope. I have never been let down by God in these situations.
The moment you come out of depression, the more you see Jesus in your life. Every time I have battled depression and came through it with Gods help the more I understand Him. I know that God has something for me. There will be times that I will fight depression again in my life, but I will refuse to let it win. I have Jesus who in my life to set me free from this. My goal now is to love Jesus with all I have everyday and not worry about what others see me as. I am not overwhelmed with depression anymore because I have overcome through the love of Jesus.
If someone is reading this and is or have thoughts about taking your life. Please take a moment and pray to God. Ask him to take you out of this dark place. And know that there are no perfect families and no perfect lives on this side of eternity. Its going to be hard from time to time. Maybe feel to hard at times. That is normal and God still has hope for you. You have to keep on living to see what amazing things you have to accomplish for the world. But it’s not going to get better unless you seek Jesus.