Christians are weird about mental illness. 98% of the time I regretted telling a christian friend about my depression.

They would either just brush it off or give it weird names like “melancholy” or “despondency.”

I tried reading faith-based books on depression, and while they tried their very best to be sensitive to the topic, it was quite obvious they had never experienced depression or had any formal education on how it affects the brain.

The messaging I received from a majority of books and friends were as follows:

  1. Depression is a weakness in my faith and should fully lean on Christ to feel better.
  2. I should also lean on my christian friends, who coincidently had no idea how to help me.
  3. I shouldn’t look to the world to save me. (medicine, counseling, healthy boundaries)
  4. It will go away eventually if I just pray more and spend more time with the lord. (eg. spend more time alone.)
  5. I should choose to be happy. Do yoga and smile and spend time in the sunshine and laugh. Happiness is a choice.

Every single one of those ideas is the WRONGEST IDEA. And I don’t use the word wrongest lightly. Mainly because it’s not a word. But seriously you guys, if you have ever thought any of the above things, just stop. Stop right now. And listen to some truth I’m about to spit in your face.

  1. Depression is a weakness in my faith and should fully lean on him to feel better.
    1.  Depression is a medical  illness. I needed medical attention from professionals, which is the physical act of leaning on the Lord. Did Paul just sit around waiting for God to fix everything? No. He did things. He looked for help. While I will always encourage faith in times of trial, when you can help yourself, help your damn self. 
  2. I should also lean on my christian friends, who coincidently had no idea how to help me.Friends are crucial when dealing with depression, however, if your friends don’t know how to help you, it’s ok to not share with them. It will only cause more damage if your well intentioned friends give you bad advice (they aren’t medical professionals).
  3. I shouldn’t look to the world to save me. (medicine, counseling, healthy boundaries)
    1. This one was hard for me. I had divided the world from God, as if God only existed in churches, worship music, and the bible. And counseling, medicine, and therapies were separate from him. I met with my pastor to talk about this one, and after patiently listening to me cry my eyes out, he explained that God is truly in all good things. Medicine is good. Therapy is good. God can be found all over the place. Just lurking, like a really helpful fly on the wall.Christan
  4. It will go away eventually if I just pray more and spend more time with the lord. (eg. spend more time alone.)Yikes. Worst. Advice. Ever. Spending more time alone is the last thing you should do. That will only worsen the already dysfunctional thought patterns. Spend time with professionals. People who have compassion and understand how the brain and depression works. They will speak truth into you. I can promise, you will not find that truth on your own, talking to yourself. Even prayer can become a dysfunctional thought pattern. You need a guide. Go find one.
  5. I should choose to be happy. Do yoga and smile and spend time in the sunshine and laugh, happiness is a choice.
    1. My first counselor was a christian. And she was terrible. She kept giving me stupid things to do, like keep a gratitude journal. Ok lady. I’m so depressed I want to jump off a cliff, and you want me to be grateful for things????? Ok. I’m grateful I never have to come see you ever again. And other ideas, like watching the sunrise, would have ended with me becoming more bitter. “Stupid F*&*ing sun. Being all bright and Sh*T. Showing off how damn happy you are.” While you can help yourself, you CANNOT will yourself out of depression.

Moral of the story, you can be depressed and be a person of faith. You can take medicine and see a therapist who is really into interpreting dreams and native american religion and still grow in your faith. 

God is everywhere. If you think he just hangs out in churches, then I’m really sorry that’s the kind of God you created.

Bye friends.

Sarah C.

 

 

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