In our popular culture, depression is deemed a dirty word. Many of us are ashamed to acknowledge to ourselves and to others that we can’t muster enough strength to get out of bed in the morning, wash our hair or clean the house. Society is not a help either. Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and other social media channels remind us that we’re supposed to have it all together. The church does the same. Instead of being open about depression in the church we’re ashamed it’s our fault or even worse, it’s our sin. Sin can fuel depression for sure, take a look at King David’s life, but it’s used as an excuse to not deal with an illness that impacts an estimated 300 million people worldwide.
Whether we’re suffering from a chemical imbalance or dealing with emotions from a tragedy, we need to address depression in our Christian communities.
However, it begins with you.
You Need to Do Your Part
I’ve dealt with anxiety and depression for years, but would not seek help, until it really manifested and began to impact daily living. I thought it would go away eventually but hiding the struggle was hindering my life, until I exposed it by talking about it. The church is full of people grappling with depression every Sunday. Even our pastors and leaders struggle with depression, because after all, we’re still human. What if one person shared their story and struggle? Others would follow and take the risk themselves. Be honest with yourself, God and others.
Seek the Lord
We need to take a step back by seeking the Lord. This seems elementary, but it’s easy to get off course when dealing with mental illness. Stuffing the pain with work, social media, food, overspending or any other vice prevents us from working through our pain. Alli Worthington, author of the devotional, The Year of Living Happy: Finding Contentment and Connection in a Crazy World, says we erroneously believe if we have more of this or that, we won’t feel as sad or as empty. She writes, “The only way we find true happiness in life is following the Lord. Our happiness can be increased just by the small daily decisions we make. Our interactions with other people, how much gratitude we have in our lives and our thought patterns…we really need to train our thoughts and renew our minds to make sure that we are internally talking to ourselves in the same way God wants us to.” Like Jesus and Worthington suggested, seek the Kingdom first (Mathew 6:33).
Talk to a Trusted Friend
Jesus disclosed to others regarding His mission and shared His pain with the Father at the cross when He felt forsaken. We’ve accepted depression as feebleness, and who wants to look weak? If Jesus, the Son of God, poured His heart out, and laid down His pride, so can you. You can’t steer this vessel unaided, reach out to someone. Put on courage today and talk to friends, a therapist or to a family physician.
Take it easy, I am not advocating talking out loud at the office but instead recite Scriptures to yourself that encourage you. Use prompts on your iPhone, tape reminders in your car of who you are in Christ. Remember you’re the head, not the tail. Confess favor over daily tasks, confess favor with God, with people and tap into the living power residing in you. Reflect on what God has done for you in the past, will He not come through now?
“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy.” Psalm 30:11 (NLT)
Clinical depression or chronic despair spawned from life events can’t always be avoided, but we can make it easier by being honest with ourselves, God, and exposing the indignity surrounding depression.
“For the Lord God will help me; therefore, shall I not be confounded: therefore, I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.” Isaiah 50:7, (KJV)
Corine Gatti-Santillo has two decades as an editor, investigative reporter and web content strategist fuel her encouraging and aspirational insights on news of the day and cultural trends as a journalist and analyst. She has contributed to the Christian Post and has been quoted by The Washington Post. The graduate of Norfolk State University is working on her first novel, a work of historical fiction that follows one Christian family’s struggles to build a new life in the newly minted United States after the Revolution but before England is truly ready to let its former colony be independent. She and her husband live in Virginia with their infant daughter and yellow lab.