Image by Toa Heftiba via Unsplash.
“The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy, but I have come that you might have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10
I’ve been depressed, and I wouldn’t wish such anguish on my worst enemy. However, watching my spouse suffer from depression was excruciating. When my husband Carey fell into a deep emotional pit that lasted many months, I experienced a level of helplessness that frightened me.
Carey asked for ideas but then wouldn’t implement them. He blamed, complained and made endless plans about ways he could change his circumstances, while I tried to encourage him to instead change his mind-set. However, he was blinded by the fog of depression. He wouldn’t—or couldn’t—listen.
All the while, I attempted to take care of our two boys, manage our home, and work at a non-profit. I cried out to God regularly, and He provided a lifeline of support from scripture, worship songs, family members, and church friends.
At a certain point, I insisted Carey find someone other than me to talk to. He had barricaded himself from friends and others, and I had become his counselor, best friend, job coach, prayer partner, and lover. It was too much. When he found a few trustworthy people to confide in, we both found more solid footing.
Satan, the destroyer, is an expert at stealing our joy, isolating Christians, and keeping us from the healing aspects of community. But we need other people in the body of Christ to help us find and maintain wholeness.
The enemy of our souls also attempts to sabotage our peace of mind by keeping us in bondage to fear, discouragement, and shame. Don’t let your struggle with mental illness—or that of a family member--drown you. Instead, begin to heal by talking with trusted friends and wise counselors.
I’ve learned by experience: He is the light, and He has provided a light for our darkest paths. He is the truth that sets us free from condemnation and hopelessness.
In the book of Isaiah, the prophet refers to Jesus as a “man of sorrow, acquainted with many griefs.” Throughout his ministry, Jesus showed compassion to those who were lost, sick, or abandoned. His tears at the tomb of Lazarus and before his crucifixion demonstrate that he knew deep feelings of loss and empathized with those devastated by death.
In moments of profound despair, He has been and continues to be--to both my husband and me--a “Wonderful Counselor” and “the Prince of Peace.” Finding freedom from depression is not simple or easy, but it is possible. Carey and I are both testimonies to that fact.
The journey back to a healthy mind, body and spirit can be a long, difficult road. It may involve dietary and exercise modifications, medical help, and counseling. It might take longer than you anticipated, and it will most definitely feel lonely and frustrating at times. Nevertheless, you can make it.
For those of you with loved ones who are depressed, I offer three pieces of advice. These are truths I wish I had believed all along:
First, remember that you are not your mate’s savior. Listen to him, love him, and support him. Encourage him to get the help he needs, but realize that you can’t fix his depression.
During a particularly stressful few weeks, a woman I look up to counseled me, "You are not responsible for your husband's happiness..."
That simple statement was a game-changer for me.
Second, take care of yourself. Don’t let yourself get so sucked into your family member’s illness that you begin to sink under the water, too. Set appropriate boundaries and make time for the things that feed your spirit.
It's often hard to make space for time alone or time with friends when a mate is depressed. Your husband may be especially clingy, or he might try to make you feel guilty for having fun. Remember that it's the illness talking, not him.
Third—and this may be the hardest one of all—don’t give up. Don’t let Satan kill your hope. Remember that he is the father of lies, and we must battle him with the Sword of Truth—the Word of God.
Memorize scripture if you can, or at least keep scripture cards in prominent places around the house and where you work. Listen to praise music, and go to worship services when possible. Ask others to pray for you and your mate, especially wen you feel hopeless.
I can't promise you that things will get better, but I do know this: Jesus is FOR you. He will never leave you.
Because of Jesus, there is always hope.
Thank you for reading!
You can read more encouraging devotionals in Love at First Fight: 52 Story-Based Meditations for Married Couples, written by my husband Carey and me. The Kindle version is currently on sale for just $1.99 on Amazon.