Trusting in Jesus does not necessarily take away a depressive illness or any other illness for that matter. Trusting in Jesus will however, definitely help you get through it.
So let me start by clearly stating - just because someone is going through depression or has an anxiety disorder DOES NOT mean they are not trusting in God or not reading their bible or not praying enough. That would be just as stupid as saying to someone who has high blood pressure or high cholesterol you must not be trusting in God enough or reading your bible enough or not praying enough, or you would not have high blood pressure or high cholesterol!
What are the chances of being asked to do a book review on “Facing Depression Together” in the middle of a depression/anxiety relapse? Apparently quite high! God really does have a sense of humour and perfect timing. A depression relapse is extremely inconvenient but so incredibly humbling. Just when I thought I was forgetting what it was like to have full blown depression, I am suddenly immersed in a paralyzing episode.
The last 12 months have been quite stressful for my family. My husband was suddenly retrenched and then unemployed for 6 months at the same time my mother-in-law was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was in and out of several hospitals for treatment before passing away in April this year. I had to have an operation then my hair started to fall out for no reason and then I found I lump in my breast after my aunt found a pre-cancerous lump in her breast! No wonder my antidepressants had stopped working just as I was asked to do this blog.
Here’s an extract from my diary at the time:
“11th July 2010.
Third week of school holidays. At the moment I am struggling to do the bare essentials at home like putting my clothes on, having a shower and cooking a meal. My kids have had McDonalds 3 times this week. (Hope DOCS doesn’t find out!) I am so disappointed in myself for feeling this way. I feel like a failure. I have been fighting it for months and have finally succumbed. I feel such emotional pain after attending church or bible study. Pain from not connecting with people. So lonely. Feeling worse after spending time there. I just feel so disconnected. I feel so flat. Can’t stop crying. I can’t leave the house with the kids because the stress of not being able to control them is overwhelming. My arms have been tingling all day and I have a stress headache. I feel like a failure. Don’t want to tell anyone at church because they will not understand and will judge me.”
Question: So how does someone in the middle of a depression relapse in July, respond to a request to write a blog on “Facing Depression Together” in November? Here are my choices:-
a. Yes - I’ll do it (code for I am feeling really normal today but I will probably have to pull out at the last minute and let you down)
b. No - I can’t (code for yes I can but don’t want to disappoint you in case my relapse is a really long one)
c. Yes - I would love to but I’m currently in middle of relapse so don’t know how I will be feeling in November – can you ask me again in October (code for I’m being very honest but slightly embarrassed and I’ll probably never be asked to do any ministry again for the rest of my life…)
So here I am writing a blog not 100% better but substantially improved since July – I am still not at full capacity but content to just do the things I can do when I can. When I am really well I can do 100 things at once and I’m very productive on so many levels. But when I struggle with depression I just have to see what happens day by day. This can make “serving” as a Christian in church very difficult. On the outside I can appear really well and people assume I’m at full capacity and ask me to be on every committee but on the inside I’m a total mess just treading water. The guilt and sense of failure associated with not being able to serve as I would like to, is overwhelming sometimes.
Having a depression relapse has actually been a blessing in disguise and very humbling. I have surprisingly been able to thank God for this round of sickness as it forces me to my knees and brings me closer to Him (it also gives me great content for this week’s blog!) I have no where else to go but to Jesus! “He is my rock and my fortress; for His name’s sake He leads me and guides me (Psalm 31.3).
I just have to keep clinging to these beautiful words: “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.(Matthew 11:28)