Monday, November 26, 2012

Does it ever seem like a black cloud is over your head and it just won't go away? 

I'm reading an insightful book on depression (Defeating Depression by Leslie Vernick) and would like to share a few thoughts from her book.

The author talks about the complexity of depression - how it's linked to our inner lives AND our bodies and how it's often triggered by situational AND relational difficulties. There's not just one thing that is the origin of depression, making it very difficult to understand. So many things are intertwined in our lives.

She gave the example of a woman named Tina, who was unjustly fired from her job. Because she was so humiliated, she went home, went to bed and wouldn't eat or sleep for days. She thought she'd never find another job. Since she was ashamed, she withdrew from friends and wouldn't answer her phone or email. She even felt angry at God and slightly blamed him for the unfair termination and for not helping her. Her loss quickly spiraled into depression and as you can see, there were physical, emotional, and even spiritual issues involved.

Research has shown that loss is one of the most significant external reasons for depression. Learning to recognize and grieve our losses (even the less obvious ones) is critical, so we can face the turbulent times and still hold on to God.

Vernick says, "Healthy people face loss with great sadness and even some anger, but they don't experience a reduction of self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness, so characteristic of those with depression."

What's the difference between someone who mourns a loss, but knows that someday she will resume her life AND the one who feels she doesn't want to or can't?     

She said that Jesus gives us a clue in these verses:
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."                     (Matthew 6:19-21)

Jesus warns us of the reality of loss - earthly things can be lost, broken, stolen or even destroyed. That's why He said NOT to center our lives on things or people.

She says, "It's not that we can't enjoy them, or even want them, but when they are our primary focus or reason for living (Jesus calls them our "treasure"), the loss of these things creates an unbearable hole and life without them seems hopeless (an environment for depression to flourish)."

Tina's "treasure" was her job and her reputation. When she lost it, she felt worthless and hopeless.

What are some treasures? A marriage, children, a job, physical appearance, possessions - whatever most captures our heart is our treasure.

Jesus wants our treasure to be HIM and our hope to be in Him!
When we center our lives in Him alone, we're not sheltered from sorrows or hardship (which is what I sometimes wish), but we are protected from feelings of hopelessness when we face great losses in our lives.

Where is your hope?

This is the first of three blogs on this subject that I will publish this week. (I know, I know: it's feast or famine) On Wednesday, I will give an example from the Bible about depression and misplaced hope.


  1. Well, I must admit I can't recall having to deal with depression much. Maybe I have just blocked it from my memory or moved on. I'm not sure. I generally face things with, "What next? What do I need to do now? or How can I fix this?" I try to take one step at a time. This is another great post.

  2. I think Matthew 6:19-21 is the bull's eye! When we focus ourselves on Jesus and His kingdom, our problems, huge though they may be, suddenly look insignificant. The words to the hymn "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" come to my mind.

    You mentioned SAD, which I think is brilliant, because so many people don't realize the impact of light-loss on their physical & chemical makeup. Besides correct Vitamin D and other nutrient supplementation, a remedy I came up with two bleak never-ending-winters ago was "Sunshine in a Mug."

    Sunshine in a Mug
    I don't know about you ladies, but without the sun for so many days, I was feeling cold to the bone. I'm currently wearing a long sleeve shirt, a sweater, and a down coat. Zipped.
    Bill was watching the news at 12 and they had a spot about peppers heating up your body temp.

    Yesterday they had a spot on the anti-depressant properties of chocolate. Then I remembered the Mayans--cayenne hot chocolate. Here is what I did:

    6 oz water --boil.
    Add to a mug that has 2 tablespoons cocoa, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne (if you don't like spicy things, I'd do half this amount), 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, and 2 tablespoons sugar (or 2 packets sweetner). Stir well. Then add 1/2 cup milk. May need to reheat, depending how hot you like it. Adjust sugar/sweetner to your taste.

    After 2 cups of this (yes, it was a desperate situation) I was able to strip down to a t-shirt and had a big smile on my face. :)

    1. Love your practical suggestions! Thanks!

  3. I really like these posts on depression. I recently read a quote by Lysa TerKeurst that said, "Emotions are an indicator, not a dictator." I love that because oftentimes I let my emotions decide how I treat people, or how I feel or what I say.

    And as someone who has a habit of "stuffing" it was an important reminder that it's OKAY to have emotions, but I don't have to let them control me.