I listen to a Christian Radio station sometimes on my drive to work. Sometimes I enjoy it but most of the time it gets my mind thinking about how differently certain topics should be handled. This morning, they just brushed on a topic in passing that I think should have gotten its own segment. I think it’s probably something that many church goers, pastors, preachers, ministers and Christians in general deal with. But it isn’t talked about enough.
Being a depressed Christian.
Last summer, I went through the most difficult season of life I had ever been through. One thing after another hit me and I got to the point where I was clinically depressed. I hid it well, and I’m sure many people don’t know that it’s still a constant struggle for me. But it’s nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, depression is the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults age 18 and older. And yet only about one-third of those suffering receive treatment.
But as Christians, shouldn’t we find joy in Christ no matter what the situation? Haven’t you heard of Jeremiah 29:11??? Yeah I have heard it. I have it written down as a daily reminder at my desk, but that doesn’t make me a super human.
When I first began to feel my depression take its toll on my life, I was embarrassed. I prayed constantly for God to move in me, do something, take the hurt away and fill the emptiness I felt. It physically hurt to wake up in the mornings. I didn’t want to get out and live my life. It was miserable, and I couldn’t figure out why God wasn’t intervening.
Where was He?
He was there. I knew He was. But why was I so ashamed of my depression? Why was I so afraid that I would be judged by others who might think that “my faith wasn’t strong enough to get me through”? Because that wasn’t the case at all.
It was because my understanding of finding joy was that, as a Christian, I was supposed to act like nothing was wrong. I was supposed to brush it off like nothing was happening because God was going to take care of it. And He did and still is as I work through my depression. But I don’t think that joy means that you have to constantly be a ray of sunshine. Don’t you think Job was slightly downhearted when everything He had was stripped away? I don’t think he lost his faith in that time of testing. It was battered and bruised and probably on life support. But he still believed.
While I depend on God during my depression, I also believe in seeking help. God will provide, but God also provided you with doctors, physicians, friends, pastors and counselors to use to your benefit. Why is that so tabu in todays Christian Church? Well, it shouldn’t be. I believe that is what part of community and discipleship involves; being able to speak truth in love. If you don’t have a community that you can confide in, then it’s not a community, it’s simply a gathering of people.
While I don’t think you should be dependent on an anti-depressant, I believe that when you’ve tried everything else and talked to a counselor and doctor about your options, they should be considered. They shouldn’t be something that you feel needs to be kept under the radar. You should also never be ashamed to go to counseling. I think that if everyone went to see a therapist, the world would be a better, happier place.
Just because you’re a Christian doesn’t mean you can’t be depressed. And just because you take medication and/or see a counselor doesn’t mean you don’t have faith that God will take care of you. Anti-depressants should never be taken lightly and you should explore all options before starting them, but if they are used properly, they should also never be condemned.
Depression is a common issue that people of all ages deal with. So why isn’t it talked about in the Church? Why are there not resources that are easy to find in our local churches?
Depression is a real thing! Let’s talk about it!
If you struggle with depression, don’t be ashamed or embarrassed. You’re not alone. I encourage you to find a pastor, counselor or friend to talk to and talk to your doctor about different options for treatment. It gets better! And God hasn’t forgotten, He’s right there helping you through.