In the past week, the untimely deaths of celebrities Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain have taken the media by storm. Both deaths happened within days of each other, and both were the result of suicide. Although totally unrelated, their deaths were proof that anyone can become a victim – regardless of age, gender, or social status.
Days after Mental Health Awareness Month (May) has ended, America is becoming more aware of the tremendous number of people who suffer from mental illnesses such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, fear, stress, sadness, grief, and anger. Suicide has become an epidemic in our country, and people from all walks of life are suffering at an alarming rate. Mental health is a vital part of life and is just as important (if not more) as physical health.
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
One common misconception about Christianity is that Christians can simply “pray away” bad feelings. Because we profess our love for Jesus Christ, the world assumes that we are strong all the time and that we don’t have any feelings but joy and happiness. But we know that’s far from the truth! Many Christian women today are under tremendous pressure and encouraged to “hold it together” and keep our personal passions and woes to ourselves as to not “offend” anyone else. I understand why a Christian would want to appear strong among others, but God did not design us to “hold in” or conceal our emotions. Many times, unexpressed feelings are what lead to poor mental health, causing bigger problems and deeper issues. It is important to find an outlet for your emotions instead of allowing unruly emotions to grow in your heart.
God designed us to experience many emotions. Don’t let anyone tell you that your feelings are not valid.
Depression is a serious illness caused by changes in brain chemistry and should be taken seriously. Other factors can contribute to the onset of depression such as genetics, hormone levels, medical conditions, or difficult life circumstances. Other mental illnesses can also be the result of how people handle grief, trauma, and stress. In the Bible, Moses, Elijah, David, and Job all dealt with depression.
Satan will play on our emotions and use our challenging times to discourage us from moving forward in life. Toxic emotions such as fear, anxiety, helplessness, worry, and terror come straight from hell. God sees everything that we go through, and His perfect will for us is that we would overcome everything weighing us down. If you are experiencing depression, know that you are not alone. God is with you, and he will supply you with everything you need to get through this time in your life.
Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word cheers it up.
While I agree that the power of The Holy Spirit can come in to save, heal, and deliver at any moment, many people don’t know where to begin when it comes to asking God for help. People experience feelings of depression for many complex reasons, and healing the heart and mind takes time when the cause of hurt and pain is deeply rooted. People all over the world need love and care in addition to prayer to deal with the overwhelming emotions they are experiencing.
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
My Struggle with Depression
In middle and high school, I consistently experienced feelings of depression and low self-esteem. I even had a failed attempt at suicide in the tenth grade. No one I knew offered to help me because I hid my feelings from the world. No one would have ever known that I lived with constant feelings of anxiety and fear. I kept my grades up in school but acted out at home. I played sports and worked a full-time job, yet almost went to jail a few times. My life was in chaos and it was because I was struggling mentally. It was as if the devil was mentally bullying me, and I didn’t know what to do about it. I lived with those toxic emotions and coped the best way I could – by ignoring my feelings.
Fast forward years later, I got married, became a Mommy, and started my own business. I accepted salvation and re-dedicated my life to Jesus Christ and I finally felt happy for the first time since I could remember. For a few months, I was living on Cloud 9 and nothing could bring me down.
Then life happened.
And all of those feelings of fear, anxiety, and low self-esteem came rushing back. Those terrible feelings I struggled with as a teenager didn’t care that I was a wife, a mom, or even a Christian. All of those negative emotions came rushing back to me.
And those feelings stayed.
I thought I was doing everything right in my life. I was a good wife, I was a great Mom. I never missed a church service, I always paid my tithes. I was kind to those around me and was ready to encourage anyone who needed it. I served faithfully in multiple departments of my church and was always ready to help. I was a good Christian, but I was also depressed.
After seeing a therapist, I was diagnosed with “High-Functioning’ depression. I would smile in the faces of others, and cry myself to sleep every night. I hid my true emotions behind an invisible wall. I didn’t want anyone to see the “real me”. The devil was back to bullying me, and no matter how hard I prayed, I struggled for years to get out of the “funk” I was feeling. I had to fight back against depression and every scary emotion I was feeling. I eventually overcame my depression, and each day I continue to work hard to make sure it does not come back.
I overcame the depression in my life by closing my ears to the enemy and replacing his lies with God’s Word of life. I learned how to study the scripture and apply it to my life (Joshua 1:8). I know that God loves me, and I remind myself daily of all of the promises that He has planned for my life.
Each day, I listen to at least one podcast episode or sermon by one of my favorite pastors. I also love to listen to worship music throughout the day to constantly keep my Spirit in a worshipping mood.
I talk to God throughout the day by prayer and meditating on His Word. I try my best to keep my mind filled with good thoughts at all times. By filling my mind with good and pleasant things, there is no room for the enemy to come in and plant negative thoughts in my mind.
Some people may think all of that may be “doing too much” daily, but I do what works for me and I genuinely enjoy my quiet time with Jesus each day.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.
Please remember that Satan has one goal – and that is to steal, kill and destroy people. He will use whatever tricks and traps he can to destroy someone’s life. In the case of mental illnesses like depression, the enemy uses mental attacks to cause anxiety, fear, or depression to terrorize his victims. This is one form of spiritual warfare that the enemy uses to defeat God’s people. If you are experiencing any form of depression, do not allow the enemy to hijack your mind. Fight back using wisdom, the Word of God, and prayer. The Bible calls depression “the spirit of heaviness” and you should always be aware if you or someone you know is suffering from the symptoms.
There are many red flags to watch out for when it comes to those experiencing depression. If you or someone you know is dealing with mental illness, please take the necessary steps to get help for yourself or that person.
Recognize Feelings of Depression
- Feeling “less than” or “not worthy”
- Sadness that lasts all day
- Feeling hopeless or overwhelmed
- Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
- Inability to complete tasks
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Inflicting pain on oneself
- Changes in sleep pattern or appetite
How to Fight Depression in Your Life
- Understand that your life matters. God has a plan for your life that he wants to you fulfill.
- Don’t let the Satan bully your mind – always think about good things (Philippians 4:8).
- Schedule an appointment with a counselor or therapist to discuss your feelings.
- Place notes around your home and workplace with scriptures and affirmations as a reminder of who God says you are.
- Practice self-care on a daily basis.
- Eat a healthy diet. Hormone imbalances from junk food can cause depression.
- Do something new. Get a hobby to help take your mind off of life circumstances that may not be going well.
Do you have a personal testimony about how you have overcome depression? Share with me in the comments below.