“When you feel like that, just read a few Psalms.”
I heard these words from a well-meaning friend from church after having shared that I had been struggling with depression and anxiety earlier that week, so much so that I lost a few days of work.
I felt an icy cold sense of loneliness after hearing her “advice”, because it hit me how very out of touch most of society is when it comes to understanding depression. She never expressed concern or asked what had happened to bring me to a breaking point.
The truth was, I was falling apart. I was struggling spiritually and emotionally. There were things in my life that were causing me great pain that I felt no one would understand.
One of the mass market understandings of happiness vs. depression is that if someone is holding down a job and has had no major tragedies, there’s no “reason” to be depressed. And the mass market solution to negative feelings is to get over it, perk up or pray harder.
That experience was a turning point for me. The breakdown didn’t so much as break me as wake me. I vowed with heartfelt conviction that I would address the core issues that were causing me pain.
I also gained a deeper understanding of depression which is that in many cases it can be both chemical and circumstantial. Because we are whole beings, it is rarely just one or the other.
Part of being “fearfully and wonderfully made” is that we cannot compartmentalize ourselves. When we are subjected to emotional stress, physical processes respond that boil down to quantifiable neurological reactions. The damage sustained by emotional stress can be every bit as real as a punch in the stomach.
So what do you do to take your life back when you’re spiraling or conventional approaches have not helped?
Be honest with yourself and with God. Don’t attempt to water down negative emotions. God already knows them, and He is not judging you. He is happy that you’re giving Him permission to work His healing power in your life.
Honestly examine your closest relationships. Is there unhealthy control, addictions, fear of certain people, or other forms of toxicity? If so, they may be affecting you more than you know.
Seek options for the things you DO have control over. Get fresh air and exercise. Stay hydrated. Limit consumption of mass market entertainment. Distance yourself from gossip, negativity and drama.
Talk to a qualified mental health professional. Talking it out can bring healing and perspective. Explore treatment options, and don’t rule out medication as a temporary stepping stone while you address deeper issues.
And far as reading Psalms? I’m on board. But I would never tell someone who’s hurting to “just” read Psalms. Life is more complicated than “just” that. On the flipside, however, I have discovered that there is real physical and emotional healing power in the word of God.
Are you facing depression or crushing disappointment? Have you exhausted all conventional approaches? Are you not suicidal per se, but feel that if you didn’t wake up tomorrow that would be ok because you’re just that exhausted from the struggle?
More people than you realize, “get it”, genuinely believe in you, and are rooting for you. I’m one of those people. And if no one has told you before, let me be the first to say it: You’re going to be more than just ok. You’re going to win. You really will.