One way that our great enemy, the devil, loves to try to get to us is to make us feel alone and isolated. After all, he schemes, if man cannot connect with you, certainly a superhuman God cannot understand what you’re going through. Never mind what you’re going through is common (a bit of generalization of 1 Corinthians 10:13). Never mind that God With Us and in us knows what we’re going through.
No matter what you’re going through, you are not alone!
That’s the premise for a book being released this week from Civitas Press, called Not Alone: Stories of Living with Depression. You can get it on Amazon right now. The book is unique in that it brings together a variety of different stories from a variety of different people on the topic of depression. What is it like to go through depression? What’s it like to come out of depression? Why do some people feel depressed even when they try to “think positive?”
I’m part of a “blog festival” promoting the book. I don’t get any “kickback” from this other than a link from the editor’s blog. I’m also a contributor to the book.
Allow me to share with you some snippets from my contribution to the book:
For all we know about it today, depression remains stigmatized by society, especially the one place where safety should be found: the church. So many people don’t realize that depression may very well be “just in your head,” but that it’s a real medical condition, at least for some of us.
I’ve been diagnosed with, and treated for, a serotonin imbalance. This means, in essence, that much of my depression & anxiety is outside of my mental control. I can’t “think it away” with “positive thoughts” or excitement. In fact, “excitement” can often trigger panic & anxiety attacks, which are related. The beginning of my recovery might be disappointing for some hoping for a “miracle.” I went on an antidepressant and a tranquilizer, taken as needed, for those times when I get out of control. That may seem boring, even undesirable to some, but for me it was a miracle.
The medications remove one of the barriers to my healing: whatever glandular defects are involved that inhibit either the production or proper usage of serotonin. Yes, that’s how I treat the physiological part of my depression, as a physical defect. No, that doesn’t mean God made a mistake, any more than He did when someone is born without arms or legs, or with Type 1 diabetes. I look at the medications as a Type 1 diabetic looks at insulin: it’s “medically necessary” for my survival.
The psychological part of it has been a different story. No, you really can’t tell what aspects of your depression are purely from the serotonin issues and what aspects are psychological results of the physical. I’m no psychiatrist or psychologist, but I haven’t been able to distinguish between the two. Both feed on each other. Hurt compounds on hurt, anxiety upon anxiety, excuse for depression upon excuse.
You read that correctly. I called it an “excuse.” In Christ there really is no excuse for depression outside of the physical. That’s not saying recovery is easy, especially if you’ve dealt with the physical issues for years before getting treatment. It took over 30 years for me to be diagnosed officially with depression, but it was the same moment that I learned of the physical side of it. As the physical side is overcome, it’s time to start believing the promises found in God’s Word, such as there being no condemnation in Christ (Romans 8:1) or that nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:31-39 … I suggest The Living Bible, if you can find it, for this particular passage).
For the rest of my story, and for stories from several others, go get the book.
Still, Consider †his: God still extends grace and mercy no matter what “excuse” we have for what we do.
I have issues with depression, panic, and anxiety, stress and worry, and many other things that are essentially out of my control … I don’t know how to deal with them or make them stop. I can listen to the “God cannot stand sin” people and believe that I have no hope … or I can listen to the God of the Bible and know that He still loves me. That doesn’t always help the body chemistry going whacko, but it keeps me alive.