Monday, December 6, 2010

depression.

I know it's real. Trust me, I know.

But sometimes I wonder... do we abuse the word? Or maybe not abuse, but do we MISuse the word?

It used to be a word that was never spoken. Taboo almost. Now it's everywhere. You tell someone you've been down lately, having not-so-normal thoughts, and about as fast as they can hear your words they respond with a quick phrase, "You're depressed."

Maybe you are. But maybe not.

Hear me out. I know for someone who has really struggled with the disease called depression, this is a very sensitive topic. I might have already made you mad. If that's the case, I'm so sorry. I want be very clear in telling you that I believe there is a real disease called depression and when people are clinically depressed, there is very little (or nothing) they can do on their own to make that go away. I believe it is a horrible disease that can take a life. I watched it slowly take my dad's life away from him. I watched it completely change everything about him. I watched him suffer in ways I did not know humans could possibly suffer. I watched it completely blind him from the Truth. I watched it ultimately drive him to the point of believing his life was worthless and our lives would be better if he was not longer in them. I watched it take his life.

I believe in depression. I believe in its power. I believe in its horrible, blinding attacks on totally unexpecting victims.

But I also believe in sin. And I know what sin can do to a mind, to a life. And the effects of sin and depression can look very similar. They have very similar powers.

A person may have a persistent sin in his or her life and this sin can cause them to feel different, act different, have different interests. It can cause walls to go up in some very important relationships. It can cause doubts and worries. Sin destroys. And I believe one of the first things it destroys is the mind.

There have been times in my life when I started to feel not like myself. I started thinking things that weren't normal. I lost interest in things that I loved. I felt distant from my very best friends. I felt sad. I felt like I was accomplishing no great purpose. I felt depressed. And at first it was easy for me to just assume I was depressed. I mean, after all, they say it's genetic. My dad was clinically depressed. Plus, I'm pretty sure life has given me reason to be, right? It would have been so easy to go with that assumption, see a doctor, get some pills, and go on with a new medicated life.

But I wasn't comfortable just assuming that and going in that direction. Instead, I prayed. I prayed a lot. And I did something scary, but rewarding. I sincerely prayed David's prayer in Psalm 139:

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." 

I prayed this prayer over and over. And I meant it. And what I found as the result was amazing. Every single time, I realized there was a sin in my life. Sometimes it was a sin that I wasn't even aware of. A hidden sin. One I needed God to show me himself. Other times, it was a sin that I very well knew existed but was not yet admitting or confronting. But every time, God was faithful to answer this prayer of mine and show me these offensive ways. And as sure as I'm writing this, as soon as those sins were confessed, repented from, and overcome in my life, so were the depressed tendencies. 

Is this the case every time? For everyone struggling? No, probably not. But do I believe it is the case more often than we realize? Yeah, probably so. 

Maybe your serotonin levels are unbalanced and you straight up need a doctor and a pill. No shame in that. If that's the case, get help. Do what needs to be done. But maybe you need to stop and pray that brave prayer of David's as well. Maybe before you go to a doctor you need to go before the Lord. Maybe you have sin that just needs to be totally removed from your life.

Or maybe it's both sometimes... a lot of times. Maybe there is real depression that needs real medicinal help AND a real sin that needs real repentance. I've seen MANY times when both existed and both fed each other. Depression can lead us to sinful ways, and sin can lead us into depression. They can become some mean partners in our lives. Maybe in those cases we need to be brave to admit the depression, but be wise not to let ALL of the issues in our life be hidden behind that one mask. Maybe you do need a pill to help your serotonin levels get right, but be so careful not to mask pride, greed, lust, worry, fear, selfishness, rudeness, and other sins behind that same label. Depression is a disease. Sins is a choice. They are two totally different things. 

I believe in the power of both. 

And I believe in the even greater power of Christ to overcome both. 

Let him. 


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12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jordan,

You know I'm not a Christian but even without those beliefs, I think this is so dead on. You are so right. I have been there and although I don't see my junk as sin, I do see the difference in the things I can and cannot change and the appropriate measures to confront both.

Bold post. Like that.

Jen

Anonymous said...

This is so very well said Jordan! I really agree with this. I know personally when I'm feeling down in the dumps and not myself, I bury myself in the word and God always helps me work out whatever I got going on that's pulling me down.
Thank you for sharing.
:)
<3,
Sarah Headley

Anonymous said...

I have suffered depression for years. Some months I seem fine. Other months, no matter what i do, I can't shake it. I feel so tired from it so often. But I think you're right. I think for me it's the mixture of both and i know i have fallen in the trap of tryin to put them all under the same umbrella. i should really sort thru and allow God to distinguish the sin from the disease. i needed this tonight jordan. thank you.

amber martin

Kristi Ruhman said...

I know depression is definitely real. But I think more times than not, the word 'depression' is completely abused. You are spot on with everything you said.

But also (and VERY VERY often these days) depression is an attention-seeking device. We are a self-centered society. The world tells us that EVERYTHING should be about 'me'. I should be happy. I should have anything that my heart desires. I should have a million friends. I should be able to do whatever I want whenever I want. So on and so on. And when we don't feel like we are getting our way or enough attention from folks, then we muster up reasons to get attention. Even if it's negative attention.

What's wrong about this is...it's not about us. The world tries to put the focus on us when the focus should always be brightly shining on the Lord. If we focus on 'me', then we stop serving everyone else including the Lord.

I'm stepping down off of my soap box now. Great post, Jo Jo!

Anonymous said...

These were words that were needed to be bravely spoken, Jordan. Thank you for being bold. I know that many people might read this and get upset, but I pray that anyone who might will know the gentle truth you have put in these words. For someone who really struggles with the disease, this may seem like an attack, but I know it's not. I know you are being very discerning. I pray that they can see your heart in your words and remember clearly that you said you do believe it is real. But for the majority of people reading this, we need this reminder. We need to know that we must come humbly and openly before the Lord. I needed this, Jordan. I needed it today. Right now. I am so thankful you said what many are afraid to say. Wounds from a friend can be trusted. This one stung, but I trust it. It is truth. Thank you.

Mrs. Patty

Bobby Rhodes said...

i didn't want to hear this but i needed to hear this

thank you

Anonymous said...

As a professional in this department, let me just say this: yes yes yes yes yes. you have great discernment.

we must always be very sensitive, but very truthful. the only thing worse than no treatment is the wrong treatment.

Anonymous said...

A delicate topic for sure, but very well spoken. Anyone who knows you, knows this is spoken not just from the viewpoint of a college education or your very real life experience with depression, but from a true heart of God. I especially appreciate the fact that you made it very clear that fervent prayer should be our first line of defense/offense, but there certainly should be no shame in taking meds to assist in the healing process.

To anyone who finds themselves wondering...am I depressed? Just know that the road to healing can be long, winding and curvey, but there is a Savior who will stand by you every step of the way.

-Rhonda C.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to be very honest. I went to bed pissed off last night after reading this. I was so upset and as I laid there in my anger, I began to pray. Mostly an anger of prayer. But as I worked my way through my emotions and was very honest with the Lord, I couldn't get this prayer of David's out of my head. I didn't want to pray it because of how mad the post made me. But I did. I prayed it probably 3 times and then I just broke down. It opened my heart to the Lord and I was able to be real about things I have been ignoring and denying in my life-- sin. I spent about 3 hours last night seeking him and woke up with the most refreshed peace i have ever had. I know my healing will be a process- probably a long one- but this was my first step.

For anyone else who was angry after reading it, maybe you're angry because you're convicted. Don't shut it out. Dare to pray this prayer!

Jordan--- thank you!!! Thank you. Thank you. It would have been a lot easier to keep those thoughts to yourself and miss the possibly negative feedback from people. Thanks for speaking.

Misty said...

thank you. it is no secret what God can do, what he's done for others... he'll do for you!

Susan Trafford Martin said...

In my feeble opinion, I believe most of us (if not all of us) have the potential for depression. If an individual continually focuses on everything that is wrong with his/her life, mistakes he/she has made, family tragedies, or a multitude of other negatives, that is a sure-fire recipe for depression. Eventually, I believe, this mindset becomes habitual and then a person is in big-time trouble with depression. My family has also experienced the tragic end results of a family member allowing depression to overtake him. My grandfather ended his life on Father's Day 1985. I adored my granddaddy. He had always seemed to be so strong in my eyes, so wise, so "in tune" with God. After his death, I experienced all the emotions, from one spectrum to the other . . . . almost unbearable sadness initially, then regret, guilty, confusion, anger, bitterness . . . . Father's Day 1985 changed our family's lives forever. We'll never forget, but over the years I personally have learned to accept it. It happened. That was his choice and there was nothing any of us could have done to prevent it from happening. We struggled with this issue for years and years, but I know it was beyond our control. Of course, we have regrets. The day before his death was a horrible day. I've relived that day in my mind over and over and over for years. I wish I had done more to comfort my granddaddy, to encourage him. I wish I had told him I loved him that day before I left his house. But, I didn't. I can't keep my focus on that day, however. I had to finally accept what happened and move ahead.

There have been so many things that have happened in my life personally, in addition to my granddaddy's death, that have almost caused me to spin into deep depression. For me, it was a choice: to focus on the horrible tragedies in my life or to focus on the wonderful blessings God has so lovingly poured on my life. A few years ago, I actually began listing all the people and things God has blessed me with. That list is an ongoing project to this day. It's endless. When I start feeling like throwing myself a "pity party", I too go to my Bible and talk to my Jesus about my feelings. I also drag out this notebook of blessings I've been keeping for all these years as an extra reminder. This time of year is bittersweet for so many of us, for many reasons. I choose to rejoice in this season and push away the sadness . . . . it can be a struggle on some days, but I am determined. I CHOOSE JOY!

Susan Trafford Martin said...
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