Women of Faith and Depression
September 13, 2011
This weekend (on my 41st birthday, to be exact), I had the opportunity to share with the women of Bethany Baptist Church in Evanston during their one-day Women’s Conference. When asked to participate, I was also asked to send in a topic that would fit with their theme: Real Women With Real Issues In The Real World. After a few days of pondering and praying, I decided to come out of the closet and speak about depression.
I have journeyed with varying degrees of depression for a good portion of the past decade. I have sought therapy, taken drugs–a prescription and an over-the-counter herb; I have shared with a few friends and family members; I have good days and horrible days. Throughout this journey, I have learned some key things and can count the journey as joy (see James 1: 2; one of my favorite books of the Bible)
Here’s a few take aways I shared during the journey. I will write more on this subject throughout my blogging time. Feel free to add your thoughts and/or questions, too.
1. Saying you are depressed/suffering from depression does not cancel out your faith; the two can coexist–pain and faith/trust in God. In other words, you can be blessed and still feel depressed, regardless of all those sayings like: too blessed to be stressed.
2. If you need help, get it. Seeing a therapist is not anti-Christian nor does it signify you have lost faith in God’s healing powers. It’s like any other medicine for a problem you have. If you have diabetes, taking insulin does not mean you do not have faith in God’s healing power. You probably need to walk and eat right while taking insulin and praying to live better with your diabetes. So, I think sometimes people suffering from depression need to seek therapy while praying and seeking God for relief. I do think some people will deal better with Christian counselors; however, I think I had a great therapist (whose office was close to my job for convenience/lunchtime visits) who didn’t try to make me deny my faith. She never shared if she was a Christian or not, but she never made me feel like I couldn’t talk about my faith in God nor did she ever try to make me down play my faith. She was perfect for me…and a friend prayed with me during the selection process that I’d find the right counselor. While sharing with some friends is recommended, all friends won’t be okay with your decision. I had a friend tell me all I needed was my Bible; I didn’t discuss counseling with her again. Other friends may think they can help you with your problems, but they are really not trained to sit and listen and reflect back to you what they hear. They will want to tell you their story; that’s fine for girlfriend time, just don’t confuse it with counseling.
3. Know that external factors (such as change, grief, loss, relationships, new jobs, a marriage, a child) as well as internal factors (chemical imbalances, hormones, medicine for other conditions) can cause depression. Both may need medication and therapy; some may not.
4. If you have suicidal thoughts, don’t try to fix things yourself; call for help…you don’t have to tell someone you know; call a suicide hotline. Get help! You need someone trained to help you come back to yourself.
5. On a good day (when you’re not very depressed), develop a list of things that can make you feel good and keep them close by; make copies. Refer to it when you need it and do some of those things: bubble bath, manicure, walk (exercise is very important to ward off depression), call someone who you enjoy talking to, help someone but don’t bury yourself in tasks, read a good book, watch a comedy, listen to your favorite music, dance, be around friends/don’t isolate yourself, keep going to worship and other places you find peace/even if you don’t find peace at that time; keep praying even when you feel like God is not there……..What’s on your list?