Helping Parents, Families, & Caregivers

Christians Suffer Depression Too and That’s Okay

Depression

Depression can knock you off your feet. It can stop you dead in your tracks. It can steal your life, your energy, your hope, and your faith. For many Christians, depression is something they would rather either ignore completely or keep to themselves and suffer in silence.

In this article you will have access to a video from a Grammy winning Christian artist Mandisa. I will also list 6 things you may not know about Christians who suffer from depression.

Depression can be very isolating. It is important that sufferers have someone to turn to. But it isn’t always easy for them to reach out to the very community who promises support, love, and acceptance.

Sadly, some Christian communities shun or shame those who suffer in silence, especially those with suicidal thoughts. It’s about time we change this perspective but first we must have a conversation.

Barriers to getting help

I’m a firm believer that depression and suicidal thoughts often come into the life of a Believer when they are burned out, fatigued, and discouraged. We all fight invisible battles that can bring us to our knees. As a result, the church should function as an educated source of support, not an enemy due to lack of knowledge. I’m sure most people believe that Christians are self-centered, arrogant, people-plea-seers who judge and condemn. Sadly, I can’t disagree 100% with this perspective. Not ALL Christians are this way. In fact, some are the most beautiful, loving, caring, and giving people. But in some sectors of the world, this perspective couldn’t be more true. Like with anything else in this world, there are judgments that need to be addressed. If we don’t address it, we stay oppressed.

 

Suffering is not unusual in the Christian walk

It is important that the church and its followers become aware of the fact that life’s oppressive nature does not diminish just because one is a Believer. In fact, some may believe that oppressive forces become more oppressive as the Believer advances and matures in God. The Apostle Paul provides a good example of this when he says:

“…I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus 1. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked. I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move.

I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles, in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea, and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches….” (2 Corinthians 11:16-33 New International Version). 

 

As you can see, Paul knew what suffering was all about. Sadly, Christians forget this truth and fail to offer the comfort Christians need to cope with their emotional and psychological battles.

For a snip-it of my own experience within the Christian community, listen to my audio version here:

 

In an effort to give some exposure to the battles Believers experience, I have listed 5 things you may not know about Christians who suffer depression (in addition to a video of Mandisa’s experience) at: blogs.psychcentral.com/caregivers. 

Be sure to tune in this coming Wednesday, June 14th.

Take care

   
As always, I wish you well
Tàmara 
 
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  • L D

    Dear Tamara,
    I am in tears as I write this… My heart is so very moved by your sharing some of your experience with us your readers and I LOVED having a chance to hear your voice for the first time! Please know that through YOUR voice, I heard God’s voice and felt His presence.
    I have felt so inadequate as a Christian for so long now. I remember thinking (much like I tend to think about therapy lol) that I must be doing Christianity wrong. I began thinking that at times as a teenager–right around the time that I sought help from a few ladies in the church that I’d grown to trust and respect (my Sunday school teacher, also our pastor’s wife) and then, with their encouragement, I worked up the courage to tell the pastor himself that I was being abused at home, was becoming depressed etc. Instead of concrete help, I was silenced and told that talking to others would “disrupt the fellowship of the church” and that I should “just pray about it.” I honestly felt like I had been sent back into the lions den and began questioning my faith as well as my experience. “Maybe my stepfather was telling me the truth and all daddies did sexual things to their kids to teach them and to show them how special they are?” Except, I was old enough by then to know that was not the case thankfully. So it HAD to be MY fault–it must be a punishment and “you can’t even get faith right!” I assumed my Christian walk must be lacking. The abuse continued.
    Tamara, I’ve not attended church in years I am ashamed to admit. I remember trying on my own to leave the family home and was told by church members that I should stay and “honor thy father and mother.” I miss church but the real world was not welcome in my church growing up. No one seemed to struggle with depression, anxiety etc. and Heaven FORBID revealing suicidal thoughts or terror of being pregnant by your stepfather! I feel like church was my only safe haven–and it let me down.
    Truth be told, though I have not been there in years, it greatly saddens and bothers me that the pastor or the visitation team or ANYONE from there (I think all of the people I knew have left–or most anyway but still, I am listed as being a member) has called or visited even ONCE to see where I am or how I am.
    So thank YOU for “visiting” me tonight and letting me know I am not alone and that God remembers me and sees me. Thank you also for caring and for sharing a bit of your story.
    Lori

    • Thank you Lori. Your support and comment was so kind and encouraging to me. Thank you. Little did you know, at the time, I needed to hear this. When you’re going through so much (as you know) you can lose touch with not only what benefits you can offer to others, but you also lose touch with who God is within you. So to hear you comment on this article was refreshing.

      I think authenticity is powerful because God is nothing but authentic (one we get to know Him well). So why shouldn’t we be as well? That was the hope I had when writing this article. I also just added another audio blog on 5 things I think we can do to “rebound” from what the religious community may have done to our faith.

      Your experience is so representative of “overly religious” communities. I have so many clients who have experienced this, including my own mother. Your experience highlights the religious community’s lack of awareness of challenges occurring outside of the church. I think the c hurch (hopefully less than in the past) is very afraid of touching the topic of abuse, trauma, and mental health. I don’t exactly understand why but I think it’s because the church community lacks general knowledge and spiritual knowledge. In fact, in scripture, Jesus came in contact with a demon possessed man who exhibited many of the same characteristics of someone suffering from a mental illness. You may like to revisit this story: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark%205%3A1-20.

      I would think that with stories like this in the bible, the church would be prepared to discuss this topic, dispel myths, and hold the hands of people like you, me, my mother, others, etc. Hopefully our voice can trigger some awareness in the community at large.

      Thank you again for being so honest and kind not only on this article, but on many others in the past.
      All the best