1. Do not expect too much from yourself too soon, as this will only accentuate feelings of failure. Avoid setting difficult goals or taking on ambitious new responsibilities until you’ve solidly begun a structured treatment process.
2. Break large tasks into small ones, set some priorities, and do what can be done, as it can be done.
3. Recognize patterns in your mood. Like many people with depression, the worst part of the day for you may be the morning. Try to arrange your schedule accordingly so that the demands are the least in the morning. For example, you may want to shift your meetings to midday or the afternoon.
4. Participate in activities that may make you feel better. Try exercising, going to a movie or a ball game, or participating in church or social activities. At a minimum, such activities may distract you from the way you feel and allow the day to pass more quickly.
5. You may feel like spending all day in bed, but do not. While a change in the duration, quality and timing of sleep is a core feature of depression, a reversal in sleep cycle (such as sleeping during daytime hours and staying awake at night) can prolong recovery. Give others permission to wake you up in the morning. Schedule “appointments” that force you to get out of the house before 11 a.m. Do this scheduling the night before; waiting until the morning to decide what you will be doing ensures you will do nothing.
6. Don’t get upset if your mood is not greatly improved right away. Feeling better takes time. Do not feel crushed if after you start getting better, you find yourself backsliding. Sometimes the road to recovery is like a roller coaster ride.
7. People around you may notice improvement in you before you do. You may still feel just as depressed inside, but some of the outward manifestations of depression may be receding.
8. Try not to make major life decisions (such as changing jobs or getting married or divorced) without consulting others who know you well and who have a more objective view of your situation.
9. Do not expect to snap out of your depression on your own by an exercise of will power. This rarely happens. Many churches and communities have depression support groups. Connect with people who understand depression and the recovery process.
10. Remind yourself that your negative thinking is part of the depression and will disappear as the depression responds to treatment.
Evil has completely saturated the world of human beings. We are being drenched with a thousand variations of sin and rebellion. In olden times, an enemy would surround a city, and essentially let the inhabitants starve until they would surrender. I wonder at times, if this tactic is not working in us today, on some kind of level.
Clinical depression takes on many forms. It is very much like being surrounded and being brought to our knees. For those of us who go through this meat grinder, we find it completely dismantles us. Depression assaults us; and leaves us mute and deaf to His grace.
There seems to be three distinct varieties of depression. I’ve thought about this for some time now, and I’m coming to the point where I want to share.
1) There is a depression that comes from guilt.
There is a corrosive place that eats us up, it’s where we sin, and continue to sin. We fully understand our guilt and our sin. Sin however, will always will stain us. Banks will often place “dye packets” into stacks of money. A robber grabs the money, only to find that something explodes on him. He then, is marked indelibly. There isn’t anything he can do; he has been stained. The following verses explain this dynamic.
“When I kept things to myself, I felt weak deep inside me. I moaned all day long. 4 Day and night you punished me. My strength was gone as in the summer heat.
5 Then I confessed my sins to you and didn’t hide my guilt. I said, “I will confess my sins to the Lord,” and you forgave my guilt. “
Psalm 32, NCV
2) There is a depression that is organic.
It simply resides in us as if it were eye color, or a talent to play music. This type of depression is hard wired in us. It is just a natural inclination, or propensity toward melancholy. We typically gravitate toward a negative outlook. We are not ‘a cheery lot.’ The glass is always half empty, and that is our certain perspective.
Some have diabetes, and others are deaf. We have been saddled with certain issues. We did nothing to warrant such challenges. They are just the part and parcel of the human condition. We need to see our depression as sort of diabetes of the emotional world. Very often we will need to take meds to restore our sense of balance and wholeness. Sometimes all we need is to rest, as fatigue can become a serious issue.
3) There is a depression that is reactionary.
We find ourselves responding to trials and difficulties, and they just overwhelm us. Persecution and attacks slam into us, and our reaction is to hide, or shut down. Paul had to endure major attacks. This ‘depression’ is found in situations and issues. It can come about by Satan or ungodly authorities.
“So we do not give up. Our physical body is becoming older and weaker, but our spirit inside us is made new every day.17 We have small troubles for a while now, but they are helping us gain an eternal glory that is much greater than the troubles.18 We set our eyes not on what we see but on what we cannot see. What we see will last only a short time, but what we cannot see will last forever.”
2 Cor. 4:16, 18, NCV
As we look at ourselves, we can honestly determine which of the three kinds of depression that we face. It seems we can have all three working in our lives. But it is very helpful to find our particular variety, or our certain inclination. Seldom will we identify with just one ‘variety’, as all three can be working at once. Understanding the three will hopefully give us a definite advantage.
We can ask ourselves: Is this depression coming from sin or guilt? Is this something organic or ‘hardwired’ in me? Could it be that I’m reacting to the evil that is coming at me so fast? Distinguishing between these three can be very useful, and direct us as we build our discipleship.
There are several types of schizophrenia, so signs and symptoms vary. In general, schizophrenia symptoms include:
Beliefs not based on reality (delusions), such as the belief that there’s a conspiracy against you
Seeing or hearing things that don’t exist (hallucinations), especially voices
Neglect of personal hygiene
Lack of emotions
Emotions inappropriate to the situation
A persistent feeling of being watched
Trouble functioning at school and work
Clumsy, uncoordinated movements
Schizophrenia ranges from mild to severe. Some people may be able to function well in daily life, while others need specialized, intensive care. In some cases, schizophrenia symptoms seem to appear suddenly. Other times, schizophrenia symptoms seem to develop gradually over months, and they may not be noticeable at first.
Over time, it becomes difficult to function in daily life. You may not be able to go to work or school. You may have troubled relationships, partly because of difficulty reading social cues or others’ emotions. You may lose interest in activities you once enjoyed. You may be distressed or agitated or fall into a trance-like state, becoming unresponsive to others.
In addition to the general schizophrenia symptoms, symptoms are often categorized in three ways to help with diagnosis and treatment:
Negative signs and symptoms
Negative signs and symptoms represent a loss or decrease in emotions or behavioral abilities. They may include:
Loss of interest in everyday activities
Appearing to lack emotion
Reduced ability to plan or carry out activities
Loss of motivation
Positive signs and symptoms
Positive signs and symptoms are unusual thoughts and perceptions that often involve a loss of contact with reality. These symptoms may come and go. They may include:
Hallucinations, or sensing things that aren’t real. In schizophrenia, hearing voices is a common hallucination. These voices may seem to give you instructions on how to act, and they sometimes may include harming others.
Delusions, or beliefs that have no basis in reality. For example, you may believe that the television is directing your behavior or that outside forces are controlling your thoughts.
Thought disorders, or difficulty speaking and organizing thoughts, such as stopping in midsentence or jumbling together meaningless words, sometimes known as “word salad.”
Movement disorders, such as repeating movements, clumsiness or involuntary movements.
Cognitive signs and symptoms
Cognitive symptoms involve problems with memory and attention. These symptoms may be the most disabling in schizophrenia because they interfere with the ability to perform routine daily tasks. They include:
Problems making sense of information
Difficulty paying attention
When to see a doctor:
People with schizophrenia often lack awareness that their difficulties stem from a mental illness that requires medical attention. So it often falls to family or friends to get them help.
Suicidal thoughts and behavior
Suicidal thoughts and behavior are common among people with schizophrenia. If you have a loved one who is in danger of committing suicide or has made a suicide attempt, make sure someone stays with that person. Call 911or your local emergency number immediately. Or, if you think you can do so safely, take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room.
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her,and he ate. 7Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”
Genesis 3:6-10, ESV
There is a good chance that some of your memories are pretty awful. When we get looking back we can see shameful, dark things. Some of us carry things that are profoundly evil, and they go with us wherever we go. It’s no secret that guilt and mental illness travel hand in hand, for they are brothers. They have tormented us for ta erribly long time. They are like playground bullies who have no fear– they only have hatred for us.
I’m quite convinced that the only way to move on is to have Jesus Christ to fully cleanse you; and that includes your dark humiliations. The human tendency is for concealment. We take considerable effort to conceal and cloak our past lives. (Both Adam and Eve understood personal shame.)
I remember back when my dad discovered that one of our dogs had killed a chicken. He took that dead chicken and wired it around that dog’s neck. That dog wore that chicken for weeks. It was awful, and it began to putrefy. The smell was terrible. I can still see that dog, staggering and tongue lolling out and slobbering. My dad said it was the only cure for a “chicken killer.” The dog would get very sick, attached to this rotting carcass. It was sobering lesson for a boy to see.
Somehow, that is what our past disgrace has done to us. Sure we have moments when we can almost forget. But, for the most part, it is just a temporary reprieve. We slide back and rediscover the pain; it’s just waiting for us. The cost on our mental health is staggering. Many of us are driven in a mad movement to drugs and alcohol. We are compelled to escape the pain, and for a little while it seems to work. (This is called “co-morbidity.” Which is ‘fancy talk’ for a dual problem.)
Most of us, would quickly trade this mental pain, this misery; for a physical one. Something shameful that was done 20 or 30 years ago continues its destructive work. It’s like filling a bucket with corrosive acid. It will “eat” its way out. Our conscience will not allow us to dispose of our self-disgust in this easy, cavalier manner. We need a ‘hazmat’ crew to help us clean-up mentally and spiritually.
You have to forgive yourself. You must (!), or you will destroy yourself and those closest to you as well. Often these things are a moldy wall; they seem to just need a coat of paint. Our problem is that it will only cover for a short time. After 20-30 layers are applied, we realize this isn’t really the answer. Nothing we can do is ever enough. We must have Jesus– we must!
A full repentance is critical. Don’t scuff off this first step. The blood of Jesus isn’t some nicety. It is foundational for salvation. We are to, by faith, start the obedience. Our blistering sin and guilt are absorbed in Jesus’ death and resurrection. He took away every ounce of sin. believe that and freedom is yours.
No matter what the sin it is forgiven.
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
I’ve learned — 1
that you cannot make someone love you.
All you can do is be someone who can be loved.
The rest is up to them.
I’ve learned — 2
that no matter how much I care,
some people just don’t care back.
I’ve learned — 3
that it takes years to build up trust,
and only seconds to destroy it.
I’ve learned — 4
that it’s not what you have in your life
but who you have in your life that counts.
I’ve learned — 5
that you can get by on charm
for about fifteen minutes.
After that, you’d better know something.
I’ve learned — 6
that you shouldn’t compare
yourself to the best others can do
but to the best you can do.
I’ve learned — 7
that it’s not what happens to people
that’s important. It’s what they do about it.
I’ve learned — 8
that you can do something in an instant
that will give you heartache for life.
I’ve learned — 9
that no matter how thin you slice it,
there are always two sides.
I’ve learned — 10
that it’s taking me a long time
to become the person I want to be.
“But Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God to those people God has called—Jews and Greeks.”
1 Corinthians 1:24, NCV
I’m not sure who wrote this, I can’t remember even where or how I found this. I’m obviously not the author. But it is an excellent piece of thought, I really hope it blesses you– making you see your life through some simple wisdom.
I do know that I have a Savior who is within me, living His life through me. Today, I choose to rest in His unfailing love for me.
Mental illness doesn’t mean exotic or strange– but it does mean different. It doesn’t make one bizarre, or odd. Coming to faith in Christ really settles this issue for most. While our mental illness is flaring up, yet we are still being changed by the Holy Spirit.
We can’t really nullify the work of God. It takes as much grace to change a “normal” man as a mentally challenged one. God does not have to work any harder; there are no lost causes or last chances. All require the same grace.
Since I’m bipolar I’ve become aware of BP throughout history. Many painters and poets, inventors and doctors have come from the ranks of bipolar disorder. Many of those with manic depression and sufferers of depression have excelled; we would not have harnessed electricity if it wasn’t because a bipolar/ADHD created the light bulb.
But we are different. But we also can bring a giftedness that is necessary. We are not pariahs or leeches, but rather we are unique. Typically we may be passionate and sensitive. We are touched by something creative. Some have called bipolar disorder as those “touched by fire.”
Mental illness should be more of a mental difference than a liability. We are not crazy or lunatics running amok. Sometimes others pity us; often when they do they shut us off and seal us into a weird sense of extreme wariness. This should not be.
13 “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.”
Psalm 139:13-14, NLT
God has created each one. We are all “knit together” by the hand of God. There are no second rates– prototypes, not quite His best work. The blood of Christ works in spite of handicaps and personality quirks.
Some may hesitate about this. But it is essentially an act of faith. The treasures of the Church are unique. They are the blind and the lame, the ones not always stable. What others consider marginal, or lacking are really the valuable ones. It’s these that the Church should glory in.
I encourage you to broaden your thinking on this. To stigmatize others is never a healthy or God honoring attitude. It indicates a small heart.
This should supply direction and dialogue on the issues faced by every church member. It is a great opportunity we have been given— to minister to every person in the Body of Christ. —Bryan
by Ken Camp, Associated Baptist Press —
Living with depression — or any other form of mental illness — is like viewing life “through a glass darkly,” according to Jessy Grondin, a student in Vanderbilt University’s Divinity School. “It distorts how you see things.”
Like one in four Americans, Grondin wrestles with mental illness, having struggled with severe bouts of depression since her elementary-school days. Depression is one of the most common types of mental illness, along with bipolar disorder, another mood-altering malady. Other forms of mental illness include schizophrenia and disorders related to anxiety, eating, substance abuse and attention deficit/hyperactivity.
Like many Americans with mental illness, Grondin and her family looked to the church for help. And she found the response generally less-than-helpful. “When I was in the ninth grade and hospitalized for depression, only a couple of people even visited me, and that was kind of awkward. I guess they didn’t know what to say,” said Grondin, who grew up in a Southern Baptist church in Alabama.
Generally, most Christians she knew dealt with her mood disorder by ignoring it, she said. “It was just nonexistent, like it never happened,” she said. “They never acknowledged it.” When she was an adolescent, many church members just thought of her as a troublemaker, not a person dealing with an illness, she recalled. A few who acknowledged her diagnosed mood disorder responded with comments Grondin still finds hurtful. “When dealing with people in the church … some see mental illness as a weakness — a sign you don’t have enough faith,” she said. “They said: ‘It’s a problem of the heart. You need to straighten things out with God.’ They make depression out to be a sin, because you don’t have the joy in your life a Christian is supposed to have.”
A Baylor University study revealed that among Christians who approached their local church for help in response to a personal or family member’s diagnosed mental illness, more than 30 percent were told by a minister that they or their loved one did not really have a mental illness. And 57 percent of the Christians who were told by a minister that they were not mentally ill quit taking their medication.
That troubles neuroscientist Matthew Stanford. “It’s not a sin to be sick,” he insists. Stanford, professor of psychology and neuroscience and director of the doctoral program in psychology at Baylor, acknowledges religion’s longstanding tense relationship with behavioral science. And he believes that conflict destroys lives. “Men and women with diagnosed mental illness are told they need to pray more and turn from their sin. Mental illness is equated with demon possession, weak faith and generational sin,”
Stanford writes in his recently released book, Grace for the Afflicted. “The underlying cause of this stain on the church is a lack of knowledge, both of basic brain function and of scriptural truth.” As an evangelical Christian who attends Antioch Community Church in Waco, Texas, Stanford understands underlying reasons why many Christians view psychology and psychiatry with suspicion. “When it comes to the behavioral sciences, many of the early fathers were no friends of religion. That’s certainly true of Freud and Jung,” he noted in an interview.
Many conservative Christians also believe the behavioral sciences tend to justify sin, he added, pointing particularly to homosexual behavior. In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association famously removed homosexuality from its revised edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. As a theologically conservative Christian, Stanford stressed that scripture, not the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, constitutes the highest authority.
But that doesn’t mean the Bible is an encyclopedia of knowledge in all areas, and all people benefit from scientific insights into brain chemistry and the interplay of biological and environmental factors that shape personality. Furthermore, while he does not presume to diagnose with certainty cases of mental illness millennia after the fact, Stanford believes biblical figures — Job, King Saul of Israel and King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, among others — demonstrated symptoms of some types of mental illness. “Mental disorders do not discriminate according to faith,” he said.
Regardless of their feelings about some psychological or psychiatric approaches, Christians need to recognize mental illnesses are genuine disorders that originate in faulty biological processes, Stanford insisted. “It’s appropriate for Christians to be careful about approaches to treatment, but they need to understand these are real people dealing with real suffering,” he said. Richard Brake, director of counseling and psychological services for Texas Baptist Child & Family Services, agrees. “The personal connection is important. Church leaders need to be open to the idea that there are some real mental-health issues in their congregation,” Brake said.
Ministers often have training in pastoral counseling to help people successfully work through normal grief after a loss, but may lack the expertise to recognize persistent mental-health problems stemming from deeper life issues or biochemical imbalances, he noted. Internet resources are available through national mental-health organizations and associations of Christian mental-health providers. But the best way to learn about available mental health treatment — and to determine whether ministers would be comfortable referring people to them — is through personal contact, Brake and Stanford agreed. “Get to know counselors in the community,” Brake suggested. “Find out how they work, what their belief systems are and how they integrate them into their practices.”
Mental-health providers include school counselors and case managers with state agencies, as well as psychiatrists and psychologists in private practice or associated with secular or faith-related treatment facilities, he noted. Stanford and Brake emphasized the vital importance of making referrals to qualified mental-health professionals, but they also stressed the role of churches in creating a supportive and spiritually nurturing environment for people with mental-health disorders. Mental illness does not illustrate lack of faith, but it does have spiritual effects, they agreed. “Research indicates people with an active faith life who are involved in congregational life get through these problems more smoothly,” Brake said.
Churches cannot “fix” people with mental illness, but they can offer support to help them cope. “The church has a tremendous role to play. Research shows the benefits of a religious social support system,” Stanford said. They stressed the importance of creating a climate of unconditional love and acceptance for mentally ill people in church — a need Grondin echoed. “There needs to be an unconditional sense of community and relationships,” she said. She emphasized the importance of establishing relationships that may not be reciprocally satisfying all the time.
People with mental-health issues may not be as responsive or appreciative as some Christians would like them to be, she noted. “Others need to take the initiative and keep the relationship established. People don’t realize how hard it can be (for a person with a mood disorder) to summon the courage just to get out of bed,” Grondin said. Christians who seek to reach out to people with mental illness need to recognize “they are not able to see things clearly, and it’s not their fault,” Grondin added.
Mostly, Christians need to offer acceptance to people with mental illness — even if they don’t fully understand, she insisted. “Just be present. Offer support and love,” Grondin concluded. “You won’t always know what to say. Just speak words of support into a life of serious struggles. That means more than anything.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Camp is managing editor of the Texas Baptist Standard.)
For more information: National Alliance on Mental Illness (800) 950-6264 Anxiety Disorders Association of America (240) 485-1001 Depression & Bipolar Support Alliance (800) 826-3632 American Association of Christian Counselors (800) 526-8673 Stephen Ministries (314) 428-2600