I didn’t know when I was writing this article that depression would come into the spotlight like it has due to the suicide of Robin Williams. With that in mind there is no better time to have a discussion about it.
What I am going to share is very personal. A few of those closest to me, but not many, may know that I am recovering from a year long battle with minor depression. And I want to share some of my journey; as hopefully it will help others understand how to help those who struggle. And I hope those who are struggling can find comfort in my story.
Those who have experienced depression may relate with how I describe it: as a thick, heavy cloud of hopelessness. It sucks happiness and joy from your life and leaves you struggling to even feel “okay”. In this last year I find it hard to recall very many times when I felt happy. In fact, at times I struggled to recall what happiness felt like. I no longer got the same enjoyment out of life that I used to. The things I would take pleasure in suddenly seemed dull and bored me.
I had many moments where I felt like I was breaking down mentally. Where I would be by myself praying to God for peace or trying to sleep; waiting for the darkness to pass. I have never been suicidal, but I didn’t really want to live or keep waking up many days.
It was my faith that kept me fighting. I knew that through it all. That is why I never entertained thoughts of suicide or forsaking God. If anything, I have never been closer to God than I have been this year. I actually experienced depression right as I drew closer to Him and started writing for Him and doing ministry. I believe He has let me go through this desert experience so that I will develop perseverance. Satan has been trying to shut me down because I am spreading the gospel. But God knows what is happening.
When we go through depression or hard times, we can choose to cling to two things:
1) What is real.
2) What gives temporary comfort.
Temporary comfort can have it’s benefits if it’s not sinful, but it can never provide the peace and comfort God provides.
I held onto what is real. I held onto God and got a clearer vision of what my life was about. Nothing quite changes your priorities and perspective like not wanting to live. You have to have something that is totally and utterly worth living for to keep from losing yourself. And Christ is the reality I chose to embrace fully.
In this time I kept up with all the ministries I was a part of and actually expanded into new ones. I started a website called Me In Perspective out of some of the darkest moments of my life. It’s based around answering two questions: 1) What is our identity in life? and 2) What is our mission in life? These are the reality-shaping questions that defined my resistance to depression and kept me from living life for anything other than Christ.
Now to those who are struggling I would say:
1) Stay close to God.
2) Stay close to people who will encourage you.
3) Create positive habits like exercising, hobbies, anything you can do to get your mind onto something else.
4) Consider supplements/medication.
Depending on the level of depression, medication or supplements may or may not be for you. But for me, I needed something. And I have recently found a supplement that has majorly helped me. It is called SAMe. I highly recommend it. I now feel stable, and have more good moods. I am not 100%, but I feel like I went from 35% to 75%.
Many people have a hard time admitting that they have a problem. And while I embraced it pretty early on, I was hesitant to address it with certain friends and family members for my own reasons. So I fought it alone for a while thinking it would pass and that it was just a short season. But almost a year in, I knew I had to do something. My strength was wearing thin. I am thankful to God for the support He has provided me with. I also thank Him for access to supplements that help offset the chemical deficiencies
If you have a someone close to you who is struggling with depression, create an environment where honesty and openness is a priority. So that no one is afraid to share what they are dealing with. And always be willing to talk with the person and be with them. Depression craves connection. Some reach a place where they seclude, but deep down it’s the lack of deep connection that pains them the most.
And most importantly, pray for them and love them. God is working behind the scenes. I’ve talked to many people who are doing great things for God but were broken to the core once. We are overcomers in Christ! He will be victorious in the lives of those who call on Him.
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,” -2 Corinthians 4:16-17
Have you or someone close to you struggled or are struggling with depression? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
Thank you for reading this. If you were blessed, I’d encourage you to share it.
Zach Van Houten is a Christian writer and blogger who lives in Merced, California. He is currently training under his father to be a metal fabricator. He started blogging for Congruent Culture in 2013 before merging with Comments on Christianity. He recently founded a Christian website called Me In Perspective. Contact: Twitter| Website | SoundCloud
Photo credits: DTL