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Did I get your attention?
I got an interesting email from an old friend the other day. We were friends back in high school (10 years ago). We worked together at a Christian camp. Anyways, she remembered that I struggled with depression back then, and wanted to know what verses I clung to. So, I’m pasting part of my reply to her here, and I thought I’d blog a bit more about it as well.
To begin with, I do want to direct you to read my testimony, if you haven’t yet. You can read it here.
By nature, I have a somewhat melancholy personality. I have always been somewhat of a “loner,” especially so in high school. I’ve just always been able to find things to do by myself for hours at a time. That’s just the way I’m wired. For most of my junior high and high school years, I usually immersed myself in a good book or piano practice.
Before I was saved, everything seemed so hopeless. But now my perspective has changed. Things looked so much more hopeless to me then than they do now. I was so depressed then. I didn’t know how I’d get through it. I took it moment by moment. I read the Bible a lot. I read the Psalms daily then. I read the Psalms through every month for probably a year straight. I clung to the Bible – even though I still hadn’t accepted Christ yet.
Now, things are different. Even though I still struggle with depression, things are different. Still difficult and discouraging, but definitely different. But it’s because I’m viewing life from a different angle now.
I’m not belittling depression, because I still struggle with it. Depression is a hotly-contested issue in some Christian circles today. I have heard both sides of the fence. There are those that insist that Jesus is the cure for all depression, and no medication is ever needed, and there are those who rush to medicate people at the slightest hint of discouragement.
If you believe that you’re struggling with depression, the first thing you need to do is talk to God about it. Determine if you’ve really accepted Christ as Savior of your life. It’s easy to feel hopeless if there’s a God-shaped void in your life. Make sure you know when you were saved.
Next, seek Godly counsel. Meet with a more mature Christian than you (preferably your pastor). They often can see things in our lives that we cannot see ourselves. It can be easy to confuse spiritual conviction and doubt with depression. Even if they are unsure of how to counsel you, because they are a Christian, they can pray for you.
Only after seeking Godly counsel would I recommend seeing a doctor. I have nothing against doctors, but it seems that it is becoming harder and harder to find Christian doctors these days. All too often, doctors write prescriptions, without stopping to evaluate if there is a spiritual problem first. That is why it is so important to see a Christian doctor for this. Sometimes depression is caused by a hormonal imbalance (as in post-partum depression, which is widely misunderstood); and in those types of instances, medication may help to balance things out.
The main thing I would stress is to stay in the Word. Really make an effort to read it consistently. Whether it be a chapter a day or more….developing the habit is key. I know that that sounds elementary, but when I’m down – that is usually when I have the hardest time reading my Bible daily. Once that habit is there – if I still make effort to sit down with my Bible, those are often the days that God chooses to show me something that will really encourage and bless me.
I try to meditate on verses when I get discouraged. Right now I’m working on memorizing Psalm 121. When things get bad (I mean panic-attack, world-closing-in-on-me bad), I just repeat verses back to myself over and over and over. For me – one that really helps is Psalm 121:1 – “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.” It reminds me that my help comes from the Lord – and that He is in charge no matter how bad things may seem to me.
And you know what? Since I got saved, things have been a LOT better!