More and more frequently, suicides are headlining the news. It is heart-breaking to read about the suicides of 9-year-old Justice Williams, 15-year-old Audrie Pott and CHH’s own DJ Primo. How can this happen? Why are people taking their own lives? It all starts with a thought.
We cannot be so naive as to think there is no depression amongst Christians.
Often, as believers, we know that we struggle with different things. Whether it be inadequacy, singleness, contentment, self-esteem, weakness, abandonment, fear, death, or rejection, many things can affect our attitude and emotions. Despite being saved and filled with the Spirit, Satan causes us sometimes to fall into a dark place.
There are 3 misconceptions about depression and Christians addressed below.
1. Depression isn’t real.
Depression is ‘more than a temporary state of feeling sad; rather, it is a persistent state that can significantly impair an individual’s thoughts, behavior, daily activities, and physical health.’ (Stanford School of Medicine) Although I am not a licensed therapist or psychologist by any means, but having dealt with depression for several months, it is very real. Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings, hopelessness, pessimism, worthlessness, or helplessness, loss of interest in activities, fatigue and decreased energy are just a few symptoms of depression. We know the Prophet Elijah, after a huge victory on Mt. Carmel, experienced depression to the point of asking God to kill him. Throughout Psalms, David showed symptoms of depression as well. Jonah, out of anger also asked God just to take his life. Depression is a very real condition.
2. Depression isn’t deceiving.
By allowing thoughts of guilt and hopelessness to takeover your mind, you begin to feel that everyone will be better without you. No one will miss you if you were gone. Things are so bad, they can’t get worse if you just take yourself out of the picture. All of which are lies from Satan. God will never tell you that He’s better off without you. Instead it’s the opposite. God loves you even when you weren’t even thinking about Him. When you had no knowledge of God, or even if you did and still chose life without Him, He still loves you enough that Jesus came and died (Rom. 5:6-11). Depression will even make you question the love God has for you. Although it is undeniable, that state of depression is powerful, but you are not powerless. Know that you always have hope. Always. He’ll never leave you.
3. Depression is the end.
Although depression can have you feeling like you do not have anything to live for or people don’t want you here, know that that is not of God. God loves you so much and nothing can change that. Jesus even died for you because you are that special. Don’t lose focus on all that God is and has for you, by allowing depression to take over. You can fight back. Personally, once I realized that God was still in control and with Him I always win, I began to take control of my thoughts. I placed my hope in Christ, not in myself. I had to remember that God loves me so much and guilt, fear, and sadness was not from Him. He was not getting worship from me when I was dwelling on how I felt and what happened to me. Once I took the focus off of me and put it on Him, things were not as bad as they seemed because nothing is too big for God.
“Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death of young people ages 15-24”– Center for Disease Control
For me, no one knew I was dealing with bouts of depression because when they saw me, I put on the ‘church face,’ smiled, and said, ‘Hey, how are you?’ and would fight back tears if someone responded ‘How are you?’ No one knew that I would lock myself in my room in the dark, not eating or sleeping, but crying because I didn’t like my life. It is so important that if you know or suspect someone is suffering with depression, that you be compassionate, empathetic, and loving. Do not yell at them ;’The joy of the Lord is your strength!’ or send them texts about how they should be beyond depression. God does not condemn or leave those who are broken, but instead He is close to them to comfort their heart (Ps. 34:18). That is what someone who is depressed needs to know from a friend.
We all have our weak moments and sometimes life’s circumstances can be overwhelming. Be understanding. Pray with and for them. Show them that they can pray for themselves. Love someone enough to help them know that there is always victory in Christ.
If you are/have been depressed, you know that it is not easy, but you can overcome depression. There are medical professionals that are qualified to help your condition. Don’t ever feel alone or ashamed. God is always with you. He always loves you and depression is not greater than God. You can have love, joy, peace, hope, happiness again. Because God can handle depression along with anything else when you put your confidence in Him.
Have you ever dealt with depression? How did you overcome?