Depression is a battlefield of the mind.
Our understanding of this should greatly impact the way we approach the issue. Many individuals in the church especially are guilty of this; they treat depression as if can easily be conquered by simply pasting a smile on one’s face or “praying it away” (although prayer is powerful, it is not the only element essential for recovery). And while I believe faith-based counselling is needed, not everyone in the church is equipped to deal with this issue.
Depending on the person, depression can often reveal itself in surprising ways. Symptoms such as irritability, restlessness, fatigue (sleeping more than usual), and overeating/ loss of appetite can appear—all of which testify to the state of the mind.
In order for our minds to be in the best shape, we all have to work at it and never take it for granted. Because thoughts of fear, doubt and anguish can be easy to succumb to, we need to carefully guard our thoughts and our speech. This remains true, whether or not you have a mental illness.
During my period of depression, I constantly gave in to defeatist language; people would often cringe hearing me talk, as would I. Just the other day, I recognized the enemy at work in my mind again.
I had just bought a new blender after the first one had broken. In a frenzy (I had been eager to complete making my kale smoothies for the week and the breakdown of the first had wasted so much time) In a matter of minutes, in went all the ingredients for my smoothie. I watched as the green liquid swirled around and around the glass; it was my own little masterpiece.
I reached for the top part of the blender and the next thing I knew, there was green liquid oozing out all over the kitchen counter. I panicked. Was I missing a part? Why did this happen? After a good ten minutes, I recognized my error. Because I had been rushing, I had neglected to fit the pieces of the blender together properly, thus, the mess I now saw before me.
As I continued to eye the green liquid now on the counter, I was instantly presented with thoughts that I was a failure. It was no longer just about the blender. Voices from my past taunted me: You are clumsy, awkward…nothing ever works out for you…
The thing about disillusionment in the mind is that when you are right in the middle of your battle, those lies in your head can seem to be so true. As they did that day…
With every negative thought, a stream of tears burst down my cheeks. Were these voices in my head right? Would I ever amount to anything or was I destined to be a failure for the rest of my life?
The Road to Healing
You see, although I am no longer clinically depressed, I constantly still wrestle with the same threatening thoughts from when I was a teenager. That’s why healing is a daily process. Every day, we must convince ourselves of the truths found in God’s Word. That’s why I recommend memorizing Scripture and listening to uplifting messages through song and sermons.
When you challenge the negative thoughts in your head with Scripture, the truth becomes more real. Am I a failure? No! The Lord tells us this in His Word: “For I know the plans I have for you; plans to prosper you and to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) and “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee, and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)
In the case of those specifically dealing with a mental health disorder (anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder), the chemistry of the mind differs greatly from that of a healthy functioning mind (i.e. – The activity in the amygdala is higher when a person is sad or clinically depressed). That’s what makes negative self-talk all the more harmful and which further complicates the issue.
If you know someone who is currently dealing with depression, one thing that becomes important is the need to refrain from attacking the symptoms you see. Rarely, do people insult or criticize those that are suffering from a physical illness, so why should it be any different for a mental illness?
Secondly, a positive environment should be encouraged so that one facing this battle does not need to feel afraid to confide in a professional therapist or trained faith-based counsellor. Lastly, the promotion of positive lifestyle changes will help in the building up and restoration of the mind.
While it may take time, healing is absolutely possible. That day in the kitchen as I felt tempted to retreat to the former days deep in the pit of depression, I heard that same loving voice beckoning to me. “I can fix that,” He said. And no He wasn’t talking about the blender. He was addressing a much weightier matter: My broken heart.
The amazing thing about the Great Physician is that He never fails in fitting together all of the broken pieces and making them new. So for what seemed like the billionth time, I handed my broken heart over to Him. What is left standing is a work of art.
– Copyright: arsgera / 123RF Stock Photo
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