An Anonymous Testimony on Dealing With Depression

In December 1996 at the age of 32, I accepted the Lord Jesus into my life. While the Angels were rejoicing in Heaven, Satan and his tormentors were not too happy and got to work right away trying to steal, kill and destroy my life. A few months later in March 1997 I was let go from my job and for next 14-15 months after, I went through some pretty awful dark valleys. I was a single mom and my life was falling apart, with no job and no income, I sent out many resumes and had only a few interviews, I was desperate, I felt defeated, I was depressed and so broken, I was losing hope. I was taunted and tormented by demonic thoughts…”You’re so stupid you can’t even get a job, you’re so worthless and useless, you’re a horrible mom, no one would care if you were dead, you are all alone, even God doesn’t care, He’s abandoned you and rejected you!” So I thought what’s the point in living I might as well end it all. I wouldn’t have to suffer through this pain anymore but I couldn’t leave my son behind and traumatize him so I thought I would have to kill him first then myself. In my desperation I cried out to Jesus and then His presence filled the room. It was like a vision of sorts whereby I could see Him stretching out His arms to me, motioning me to come to Him. I went to Him and He wrapped me up in His cloak, then I collapsed in those arms, and as we fell to the ground, I settled into His lap, He spoke words of encouragement to me – “My beloved daughter, you have never lived one single day unloved by Me, you are fearfully and wonderfully made, you are precious in My sight, the apple of My eye, My own special treasure, do not be anxious or afraid, trust Me, I have great plans ahead for you, just surrender it all to Me”. Everything in me needed Him to take over, to take control because I had nothing left so I surrendered it all to Him.  Later that day when I was reading my bible this is the scripture I read from in Acts 12:1-17

 “It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them.  He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Festival of Unleavened Bread. After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover.  So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance.  Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.  Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him.  Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.”  It goes on to say that Peter went to Mary’s house and described to those that were there how the Lord had brought him out of prison and he told them to share his testimony with others.

 That day, a marvelous light shone in my prison, my chains fell off and I walked out into freedom, Jesus had rescued me! He restored my hope and my life. And wow did things ever turn around. I was able to get a good job, lead a bible study, find a great church where I was later baptized and then soon after met my husband, which is a whole other testimony!

 Throughout most of my life I have dealt with depression and anxiety and this particular story is the most significant because it showed me that my life matters, it matters to God, it matters to others, even when I don’t think it does.  I also realized that my thoughts and feelings were not always reliable and true but God’s word is. His word is truth and it is my rescue medication when life gets tough. I first heard this term “rescue medication” from my doctor. That’s what she calls the meds I take for migraines.  I take it at the first sign of one and most of the time it works. So when the bad thoughts creep in, I just need to be aware and practice self-control over them. I need God’s word to rescue me and most of the time that works too. There are many scriptures that have helped me along the way but these are just a few…

 2 Corinthians 10:3-5  “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

 Romans 12:2  “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

 Philippians 4:6-8  “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.  And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

 In the Bible there are many stories that deal with despair and depression, but two that stand out to me are Elijah and David.  In 1 Kings 19, Elijah who was a fearless prophet, was afraid and ran for his life. He became weary, discouraged, and suicidal. He wanted God to take his life. But God did not give up on Elijah.  He provided for him, sustained him, renewed him and restored him back to his prophetic ministry.

 King David’s story is truly a remarkable and dramatic one as well. He didn’t have an easy life and made terrible decisions but he was declared to be a man after God’s own heart. Despite the great despair, depression and loneliness he suffered, he managed to strengthen and encourage himself in the Lord. We see that in many of the Psalms where he is so distressed and discouraged and cries out to God but ends up praising and thanking the Lord through his circumstances.

 So today I wanted to share just a small bit of my story because mental health awareness has been something I’ve been passionate about for many years but it is something that most Christians don’t talk about because of the shame, judgment from others, and stigma attached to it. I have heard some really ignorant things come out of people’s mouths and it really frustrates me as well as silences me, but I don’t want to be silent anymore.  I want people to be educated about mental health and to be compassionate and sympathetic, especially when it comes to depression and anxiety. Do you know that 1 in 5 people in Canada will personally experience a mental health illness and that every Canadian will be indirectly affected at some time through a family member, friend or colleague? Every single one of us here has been directly or indirectly affected by this. And still we are silent, feel alone, and continue to live in shame. It just really breaks my heart. 

 I have to tell you something—we are not crazy people, some of us are just broken, we’ve been wounded, hurt, traumatized or abused in some way. Some have experienced a significant loss or traumatic event in their life which can trigger a depressive episode. Whatever the trigger is, it overwhelms a person’s ability to cope. Something happens in our brain and it is not working like it should. There is a chemical imbalance that requires medication to help it function properly and some times counseling is needed as well. This does not make us weak or faithless, we are wounded and fighting for our faith. We are in a battle for our very lives! 

 So when well meaning Christians say things like “you need to pray more, read God’s word more and worry less”, or “you don’t have enough faith to believe that God can heal you” or “maybe there is some unconfessed sin in your life” or “you need to get things right with God” - that is just so hurtful and damaging to our faith because it is very condemning. For me personally, because of my own self-condemnation, I tend to think that it’s all my fault, I must be doing something wrong, I must not be a very good Christian and God’s hates me because He won’t heal me. But sometimes what I really want to hear though, is how can I pray for you or how can I encourage you or to be sent a text message saying I’m thinking of you. I want to be able to share how I’m feeling with someone and not be judged or fixed! No one can fix me but Jesus can certainly help me, fulfill me, sustain me and even heal me. He is our Advocate and is pleading our case with Heavenly Father. He is for us not against us and will never leave us nor forsake us no matter how alone we might feel. We can keep walking through these dark valleys with Jesus by our side, keep moving forward in faith and in His grace, trusting that He knows the way and the outcome.  What we see as broken inside of ourselves, He sees as beautiful. He will make beautiful things out of our brokenness. His love and mercy will shine brightest in those broken places and He will use it for His glory. So regardless of our circumstances, there will be meaning to our darkness and glory to God through our testimony. 

 Sharing a small part of my testimony is extremely difficult but I pray that more of us would come forward and be willing to share so we can shine light into the darkness of mental health and mood disorders; so that we can have a safe place to talk openly without fear and judgment and so that we can pray for and encourage one another.

 This battle is still not over for me. I still have some really bad days and weeks even. Every day I live with chronic pain, fatigue and migraines and yet I know Jesus is right there with me. He hasn’t abandoned me or rejected me. He hears my cries and comforts me through His word. The joy of the Lord is my strength and my hope is in Christ alone.

 Life is not easy. Sometimes it is very complicated and messy and we just cannot see past our circumstances. It’s ok to admit that you are not doing ok, that you feel alone and hopeless, that you feel discouraged, disappointed and depressed but we must not dwell there. It’s so easy to get caught up in the problems of life instead of looking at the promises of God in His word. For every problem we have in life, God has a promise. So let’s dwell in His presence, His Word and His promises because they are unbreakable. 

 And if you feel hopeless, then I encourage you to seek out Jesus and to trust in His unfailing love for you. He will help you and fill your heart with joy. There is always hope but it is only found in the Lord! And if you find hope then you will find a reason to live and to persevere through the trials and sorrows of life.  Jesus is on a rescue mission to bring us hope; His hope is unshakable; His hope changes everything! He is the only true joy giver, chain breaker and hope bringer!  Amen! 

 Psalm 33:18-22  “But the Lord watches over those who fear Him, those who rely on His unfailing love. He rescues them from death and keeps them alive in times of famine. We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name. Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in You alone”

 September 30, 2018