I am no stranger to depression. I know its presence quite well. I liken it to an unwelcomed guest who shows up at your doorstep unannounced with luggage in tote, then uninvitedly barges in as soon as you open the door, flops down on your couch, picks up your remote, then asks, “What you got to eat?,” while taking their shoes off.
First of all, how'd you get my address and where are you going with these bags?
I mean, depression is like that ex-boyfriend who keeps trying to get you back after he jacked up your credit, made you lose your job, and got you and your kids evicted because he said he could flip your tax refund.
It is one of the most taboo subjects in the Christian community, though; yet, with depression affecting more than 19 million Americans each year, 12 million of them being women (According to Mental Health America), I am willing to bet that at least half of them are filling the pews of churches everywhere. You will likely never know that the sister you sit next to week after week during worship service suffers greatly with depression, because there really isn’t an open, safe, non-judgemental space within the church world for revealing such sickness.
It has always baffled me that when a sister shares her cancer diagnosis, the church will fast and pray on her behalf, send the care team to assist her with daily duties as she undergoes treatment, and then have a whole praise break when she shares her testimony of healing, but offer only a “You’ve got to learn to take those thoughts captive” to the woman who reveals she struggles with depression. I will never understand why sicknesses are categorized and compared within the Christian community or why depression sits at the top of the non-approved illnesses for believers.
There is little to no support for those suffering with mental illness, because in the minds of most who are outside looking in, being depressed is a choice.
But it's not a choice. It's a sickness. I mean, who chooses to be sick? Depression is psychological bondage, a mental attacker, and, in many cases, a murderer. And so many are trapped, not because they choose to be there or don't want to get out, but they are held hostage, just like a body held hostage by physical sickness. There is no difference.
But I digress.
I battled with depression for years. I think my entire decade of 20s was lived in emotional and mental darkness. It was like this sunken place that I couldn’t escape, and I involuntarily continued to fall deeper and deeper. During that time, my mind was a total mess and my thoughts were filled with gloom and doom. Most days, I couldn’t decipher whether I was coming or going, walking around in a trance-like state, just going through the motions of life. I wasn’t aware of it then, but my mind was the devil’s playground. He and his demonic forces would freely swing on the seat of my thoughts, slide into my psyche, and run rampant on the ground of my heart. His voice became so loud in my head, filling it with defeat and deceit, and I believed every single word. Satan had me so convinced I was nothing, that I devised a plan to take my life. If it had not been for the Lord who was on my side, I absolutely do not know where I’d be.
I wasn’t brave enough to seek professional help back then, but I did pursue spiritual counseling and took Matthew 17:21 to heart, that this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting. I spent months crying out to the Lord, pleading for Him to transform my mind, and replacing all of those negative thoughts the enemy had planted with the truth of God’s word concerning my identity and value in Christ. By the grace of God, I overcame depression and developed a new, healthy mindset.
Oh, but Satan is a lot like that crazy ex who just refuses to fully let you go. Right when you think he has finally left your life for good, you get that What’s up big head text. Even though you have changed your number, moved three states away, and got a whole new look and life, he still somehow finds you and disrupts your flow.
Sounds like a stalker, right? Yep, that’s Lucifer, and he was straight stalking me earlier in the year.
Right as I was gearing up to make 2018 one of the best years of my life, here he comes. I was oblivious to it initially, because as a true introvert, it’s not out of the ordinary for me to have an occasional day or two where I want to be alone, in silence, unbothered. I am rejuvenated in solitude, so it was no biggie when I went into my bubble a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t realize that it was more than my normal introversion until about five days had passed and I’d barely left my room, talked to anyone, or done anything towards my goals. Then, I noticed that my thoughts had shifted from 2018 is about to be lit all year to Am I kidding myself?
I knew it was him; that him who refuses to let me be great, whose sole purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy. Oh. Em. Gee. *insert dramatic rendition of Michael Jackson’s Leave Me Alone*
I could see depression in the distance, trying to make its way to the doors of my mind. I could feel the weight of its heaviness beginning to build upon my heart. I could hear the lies of negativity becoming louder and louder. It was all becoming too familiar, and I knew I had to do something quick, because it was coming like a tsunami to overtake me.
I don’t typically like to use the term snap out of it when referring to depression, but that’s exactly what I had to do. I had to pull myself together and remember how hard I fought to be free from its death grip. Not only that, but I had to recall to mind who and whose I am and the power I possess. I cried before the Lord and worshiped until I felt all of that heaviness lift off of me. I placed a restraining order against the enemy, and he is not allowed access into my mind. The moment I sense him trying to creep into my space, I place him under arrest through the word of God and the blood of Jesus Christ.
I had no choice but to learn how to fight depression spiritually, because I was much too ashamed to ever seek professional help, so I am thankful for God’s supernatural intervention and healing. But, listen, do not be afraid to seek the help YOU need. If that's therapy, get it. If that's medicine, take it. If that's spiritual counseling, seek it. Whatever will help you cope, maintain, and ultimately heal, pursue it. With over 50% of suicides being the result of depression, don’t you dare allow anyone to shame you from seeking help.
Your mind is like the central controller of your life, so Satan knows that if he can control your thought process, he can puppeteer you. He knows that if you can cause you to doubt who you are in God, you will lack the confidence to become anything of all that He has created you to be. He knows that you will never be more than what your mind allows you to believe, and that is why he is after yours so hard.
He sees the threat you are against His kingdom of darkness. He sees the good plans God has for your life that will cause you to proclaim His goodness and win souls to Jesus. He knows that you have a power on the inside of you that can tear down mountains, and break chains, and destroy yokes. He is aware of the impact of you walking in your God-given purpose, confident in the fact that you are a chosen generation and a royal priesthood. He’s terrified at the thought of you embracing that you are God’s masterpiece, a daughter of the King, and you are unstoppable.
So, he wants to cloud and destroy your mind, but you have been given the power to tread upon serpents (Luke 10:19) and to escape the traps of the enemy (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Don’t you dare continue to go through life allowing Satan to play Ring Around the Rosie in your mind. He cannot co-exist with the presence of God or the power of His word, so it is vital that you saturate yourself in both.
If you're struggling in this area, know that you neither are you alone, nor does it make you any less of a Christian. God still loves you and has good plans for your life. So, don't be ashamed or feel like something is wrong with your walk with Christ because you can't seem to "shake it off and pack it under your feet." While I wholeheartedly believe in the power of God’s word, prayer, praise, and worship, I also understand that God doesn’t manifest healing in our individual lives the exact same way. Some may be able to simply pray and overcome depression, and some may need more extensive help. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with either.
Yes, God is the source of our healing, but He has also graced professionals with wisdom to be an added resource.
One of the beautiful things about God is that He understands our struggles, and because He
understands, we can approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:15-16).