I think I’m qualified to write on this topic, not because I studied theology and not because the co-writer specialises on depression, but I believe I’m qualified to speak of such things because I know what it’s like. I know what it’s like to feel down and hopeless, I know what it’s like to pray without feeling, I know the feeling of not wanting to get up out of bed, despite there being nothing wrong in your life and I also know that many Christians suffer from depression, despite them being mature in their faith. I see it all the time, I see it among my youth, I see it among seafarers I see it among our congregation. I have seen the most mature Christians depressed. They are depressed because of circumstance (as we serve a really poor community) and they are depressed because of various situations like divorce, death of a loved one and loneliness. Woman and men young and old come to me with tears in their eyes, because of their circumstances (because of life, because of hurt and pain which I see in their eyes).
As Christians, we are not exempt from the troubles of this world. In fact, the bible is very clear of this, when in John 16:33 (BBE) it states, “I have said all these things to you so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble: but take heart! I have overcome the world”.
Depression is so common that it has been dubbed “the common cold of mental illness”, where globally, one in four people are afflicted by depression” according to the World Health Organisation. In the field of psychology, depression is depicted as the following, a “mood or emotional state that is marked by feelings of low self-worth or guilt and a reduced ability to enjoy life. A person who is depressed usually experiences several of the following symptoms: feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or pessimism; lowered self-esteem and heightened self-depreciation; a decrease or loss of ability to take pleasure in ordinary activities; reduced energy and vitality; slowness of thought or action; loss of appetite; and disturbed sleep or insomnia”. Everyone experiences periods of feeling down and out- it’s natural and its human- it’s only when those feelings are not fleeting and carry on for extended periods of time that it is a cause for concern-that’s when we need to start looking to other causes like mental illnesses like depression. Depression can make you feel hopeless, down, socially withdrawn, cause insomnia (inability to fall asleep) or hypersomnia (sleeping too much) and if left untreated for too long, can eventually lead to suicide.
However, as Christians we have hope (something that depression tries to rob you of) and that hope comes from God and through his son, Jesus Christ. Our hope lies in the mere fact that God is right there with us in the midst of all the trouble and chaos we are surrounded by and are feeling. He is waiting right there to help us and all we have to do is ask. In the midst of depressions grip or in any trying time in one’s life, I particularly love Deuteronomy 31:8, which declares, “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged”’. Thus, no matter how discouraged mental illnesses can make you feel, especially depression , I think it’s important to remember that God is not too far way. While God and prayer is a wonderful source of help in turbulent times (in fact it is the best), sometimes we need help from professionals like a psychologist/ psychiatrist and that’s ok. So often people think that they can’t be a Christian if they don’t rely solely on God or if they use medicine they are some-how betraying God but that’s not the case. Not at all. Medicine was put on this earth to be used and if we need it to get better- if we need it to help us- it’s important that we make use of it.
Remember that Depression affects us all, either directly or indirectly and that no-one should ever have to go through it alone. Speak up (both in prayer and to some-one) and know that you can and will get through this.
Remember that “this to, shall pass”.
I write this blog post, with a hope, a hope that at least one person may draw encouragement from it.