Thoughts: Depression & Anxiety

depression

Has anyone out there experienced depression and anxiety? Or maybe the question should be, who hasn’t experienced depression and anxiety? If you have not, praise the Lord! If you have, you are not alone. But you feel alone, don’t you? I have experienced both of these and let me tell you, it is not fun. Depression and anxiety in and of themselves made me feel alone, but the fact that they are such taboo subjects, made me feel even more alone in these times. As a Christian, I felt that I should not be depressed, and that anxiety was me not doing a good enough job trusting in the Lord. Instead of reaching out for help, I scolded myself for not being good enough or not trying harder (which is the complete opposite of the gospel!). Along with all the disabling affects of depression and anxiety, I added to the pile with feeling shame, embarrassment, and trying to cover it all up. When I thought about the fact that I was depressed, it caused me to become more depressed. I would not dare tell someone, that me, Meghan, a women who has a strong belief and trust in God, was depressed! This could not be. But it was…

Through my journey of depression and anxiety, as a follower of Jesus Christ, I have learned a lot of different things, and would love to share them with you.

{1} – Christians are human. As a Christian, I am so blessed to have a God that cares for me. I know that He will not leave my side or give up on me. I know my future is secure in Christ, and because of that, I have hope in every situation. But I don’t always feel that hope. And that is okay. Christians are human too. We experience hardship. Our walk with the Lord goes up and down. Although we have no reason to lose hope, we do when life weighs down on us. And that is okay, because of God’s grace. As followers of Christ, sometimes we need to stop beating up on ourselves, and just accept that it is okay to experience depression and anxiety. Sometimes, God allows life to knock us down, and I mean way down. He has a plan in it all. It is possible and okay to be a Christian and experience depression and anxiety.

{2} – Counseling is a must. Go to counseling? This is what I thought when my husband and my doctor recommended it. Why would I go to counseling when my degree (that I had just finished) was in counseling? That made no sense. I knew everything the counselor would say and had all the resources he would have. Anyway, counseling is for super messed up people. Not people like me who know Jesus and have their act together! Well, I was wrong. Going to counseling was one of the best decisions I made in this difficult journey. It was hard, embarrassing, humbling, and sometimes seemed pointless. But I went. Every week. And I thank God that my doctor and husband pushed me to do so. I may have technically known it all, but when I was struggling so much, I needed someone to take me by the hand and force me to take baby steps. I knew all the truth my counselor brought up in our sessions, but I needed someone to speak it to me directly. I also needed to be humbled. I am so thankful to have gotten a degree in biblical counseling, but that does not mean I know it all. I still need help, just like all those other “super messed up” people.

{3} – Scripture saves. During the hardest times of my journey through depression and anxiety, I didn’t want to read my Bible. For the first time in my life, I was mad at God. But my wonderful husband and counselor pushed me to get into God’s Word. It didn’t seem to affect me at the time. I would only read one or two verses, and would read them over, and over, and over again. And for a long time, it seemed useless and hopeless. God’s Word didn’t feel like it had any affect on me or my life. But,God is faithful. And He will use His Word to strengthen you and pull you out of the darkness. His truth is truth, whether we feel like it is or not. So even though I didn’t feel it right away, I stuck with it. And God graciously pulled me out of this darkness. And one of the ways He did this was through His Word.

{4} – Saying no is necessary. The truth about depression and anxiety, is that it changes you. And this means, that your life needs to change too. I know all of us are in situations in life that can’t be changed, and that means that we do need to suck it up, keep pushing, and keep praying. But we can say no to more than we realize. Especially in times of difficulty, it is so important to pull back, and return to the bare bones of our life. This can actually be a great opportunity to strip our life down to our top priorities. Starting the process of saying no more often was very difficult for me. It was hard for many reasons, but one of the main ones was my pride, and the image that I had of myself. I viewed myself as a hard working, social, and happy person. Well depression and anxiety took this all away from me. I was forced to say no to social outings, as I could not handle them without crying. I was not able to perform as well at work, because I got so tired and stressed out. I was not happy, because, nothing brought me joy anymore. In turn, I had to say no to many outings and I had to lessen my hours at work. But, saying no was a blessing in disguise. It humbled me, as my image of myself was shattered and my weaknesses were on full display to others, and it also helped me slowly dig out of the huge hole of depression that I was in. It reminded me that my identity is in Christ alone, and not in who I thought I was.

{5} – Medication may be necessary, and that’s okay! I was so hesitant when my doctor, husband, and mom suggested that I look into getting on some medication. And rightly so! Just popping some medication as our first and only resort is something I do not suggest. Medication can be helpful, but it can also mess you up and be very harmful. Medication can become addicting and actually sometimes make you more depressed than you are already. Medication alone is not the answer. But sometimes, medication in hand with counseling, pursuing God, support from others, and lots and lots of prayer, is a wonderful idea and tool that we have available to us. I beat myself up for a long time about getting on medication, because I did not want to rely on drugs instead of God to get better. In my situation though, once I found the right medication for me, it evened me out enough so I could better pursue God, accept others’ help, and go to counseling. If you are thinking about taking medication, build in other things to your life so this is not your only resort. And be prepared to work through weeks if not months of trying to find the right dosage. Also, have someone around, in case the medication affects you in a negative way. But don’t beat yourself up if you need medication to start working on help in other ways!

Thoughts: Donkeys, Elephants, & Jesus

blog-again

In a few days, our country will cast their votes and pick our next president! We will see people beaming with happiness as their candidate wins the victory, and others angry and saddened, calling for a recount. Some will be proclaiming that America will progress to be a better place now that their pick is in the office, and others will talk about flying to our northern neighbor, Canada, to find solace.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am very passionate about and interested in politics. I fully admit, that I have a very difficult time understanding why “the other side” votes as they do. I would love to say that I am never angered or saddened by people’s political opinions. But the truth is, I do spend evenings ranting to my husband about this ethically wrong policy or that ignorant decision. I get upset and fiery about these issues. Don’t we all?

What I want to know though, is if this response is okay or not. Am I in the wrong because I should never disagree with someone? Am I in the wrong because I have strong convictions and core beliefs and am saddened when others are in opposition?  Am I in the wrong because some of my opinions or discussions may cause conflicts of opinion? No!

I am in the wrong when all I can think about is Donkeys and Elephants and forget about Christ.

When I worry more about politics, than thinking about my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, everything is wrong. And I think that this manifests itself in many ways. Here are two:

{1} My words – Nowadays, “my words”, or your words, or a friend’s words, are often on the internet. They often come in the form of a quick comment, or reposting a meme or article. As much as we don’t want Facebook to define who we are, in the world we live in, most of our “friends” only know us in this way. I have had to think through this. Are my words on Facebook glorifying Christ, pointing to Him, and spreading his love more than they are ranting on the “other side”. If a non-believer read my original post, comment, or re-post, would I want them to know I am a Christian. Am I creating a bad name for Christ, because I am allowing my passion for politics to come before him, especially in my words or in social media? I hope not! I would much rather have the candidate I am rooting against and all my worst fears come true, than to dishonor Christ in attempts to get someone to sway to “my side”.

{2} My worry – When I spend less time reading my Bible and more time reading about how horrible the other candidate is, my level of worry sky rockets! What if they become president? What if they change these laws? What if this happens to our churches during their time in office? What if, what if, what if… What if, I remembered that our God is in control? And what if I focused on the fact that He is sovereign and already knows the outcome? What if I remembered that the end is already determined, and I don’t just mean this 2016 Presidential Election, but the end of all time?

I do believe that it is a good idea to discuss political views and candidates. We have the freedom to share our opinions and concerns. We should take advantage of our right and vote in a strategic way. But how we do this, is what matters the most. Are we acting and thinking with Christ at the forefront of our mind, or are we quick to click “re-post” while Trump or Hillary consume our thoughts?

 

Resources: The Gospel Coalition

The Gospel Coalition

 

There are a lot of hot and current topics right now that cause a lot of controversy. The recent release of shocking Planned Parenthood videos, Bruce/Caitlin Jenner’s sex change, Donald Trumps’s offensive comments. Life is busy so we don’t always get a chance to discuss these issues with those we respect and know are grounded in the truth. Instead, I am often left to scrolling through my Facebook homepage, saddened by those who hate the truth…and not sure if I should join in with those who post about the truth.

Speaking the truth in love. This matters to me. This is how I would like to discuss these issues. But I don’t always know enough about them or what the Bible says about them to feel prepared to discuss these issues.

A resource that I have found very helpful is The Gospel Coalition. I have read several articles about “hot topics” from a solid biblical perspective. Reading through these helps to jumpstart my thinking about these controversies with a biblical world view. They remind me about what matters most, the gospel, and how we live that out in the midst of these crazy times.

The Gospel Coalition also has other great articles, sermons, and books that help us to understand the Bible and how to apply it in our daily lives. I highly suggest that you explore their website.

You will be…

{encouraged}

{informed}

{challenged}

{reminded}

{connected}