Today is part three of my series on mental health (at least MY mental health). Thank you to those who've viewed and shared these videos.
For those of you who've been following along, I want to point out that the worst of my depression happened over sixteen years ago. It's only been the last few years that I could talk openly about it or minister to other people with depression.
Healing takes time. Sometimes, it takes so long that we begin to despair. Other feelings--guilt about our inability to cope with life, anger at people or God because of our situation, shame when people impatient for our healing wound us--complicate our forward progress.
Two summers ago, I switched to a different medication. Just a few days after starting the pills, I began to experience a soul-crushing depression unlike any I'd experienced since my oldest son was born. I told my doctor, who started to wean me off that specific anti-depressant (and slowly put me on another one).
During those few long weeks, life reminded me how horribly lonely and frustrating depression is. I felt numb and heavy at the same time. Every movement took a huge effort; just being awake took tons of energy; and I soaked my pillow with tears every night. And this was when I knew what was happening and had hope for a quick release!
Oh, friend...I understand wanting the pain to end. I truly "get" why those who succumb to the pain take their own lives. People who commit suicide think the world is better off without them, and they are better off without the world. I believe they are sick, not selfish. And suicide is not an unforgivable sin.
Know this: Jesus died for all of it. He loves you, and your suffering loved ones, even if you (or they) refuse to whisper His name. He longs to help.
Even in the midst of the blackest doubts and deepest pit, He loves you still. He always has and always will.
Maybe today's video will encourage you to take one step towards hope. I hope--and pray--so. In it, I give a quick overview on the books, medical intervention, and resources that helped me. Please note: everyone is different, so someone else's recovery may look very different from mine.
I tell this story not as a medical expert, but as someone who's walked through the valley of suffering and come out the other side. I urge you--or your depressed loved one--to call your physician and get a complete physical work-up before undergoing any kind of treatment. If you're suicidal, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) immediately.
Thanks for watching! For those of you reading, I want to give away at least one practical tool. In a few days, I'll randomly pick a winner of a brand-new book called Still Life. In this honest and moving memoir, Gillian Marchenko shares what is is really like to live with clinical depression. For her, “dealing with depression” means learning to accept and treat it as a physical illness. In Still Life, she describes her journey through various therapies and medications to find a way to live fully. She faces down the guilt of a wife and mother of four, two with special needs. How can she care for her family when she can’t even get out of bed? Her story is real and raw, not one of quick fixes. But hope remains as she discovers that living with depression is still life.
Want to win the copy of Still Life? Leave a comment below.
Something else I want to say: counseling can be expensive, but many insurance plans will cover it. Also, counselors frequently use sliding scales to help their lower-income patients afford treatment. Some employers even offer free counseling to their workers. Don't rule it out before you check!
Finally, here are some other resources for you to use and share:
Image by Leonardo Wong for Unsplash.
- A huge list of scripture, articles, music and more by my friend Nancy Owens Franson: Download Mental Health Resources
- Visit this page for my own downloadable list of verses, books, and other helpful tools
- I can't more highly recommend New Life ministries (Christian counseling)
- And I love and admire the folks at Rest Ministries (for people with chronic pain/illness)
- National Suicide Prevention hotline and website
- Kay Warren's website--lots of great info!
- Celebrate Recovery official site
- Amy Simpson's website