Saved and Depressed
I am a Christian.
I suffer from depression.
If you are like me and fall into the intersection of Christian and depression sufferer, you can understand the constant internal tug-of-war. The Bible tells you to think on the things that are right, pure, lovely (Philippians 4:8) but, depression has you focused on the worst, the ugly, the uncertainty of life. You know that nothing can separate you from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39) but, depression tells you no one loves you especially God. The joy given to all believers is gone, replaced with sadness, doubt, and anxiety.
This struggle sucks! It’s mentally, physically, and spiritually exhausting.
Most days I can fight my joy stealing depression, but after many days of picking myself up and dusting myself off, my strength to battle is just about depleted and depression wins.
As Black Christian Women suffering from depression, the stigma surrounding the condition leaves many feeling mostly alone. We can’t talk to our spiritual leader because who want to hear the “age old remedy” of pray and praise through it. We can’t talk to our spouses or partners because we have to hold it together for those who depend on us. We can’t talk to our girlfriends because those chicks have it all together and they think we have it together too. So, in the end, we put on our “everything is fine” face and push through depression.
But does God want us to walk around as if all is okay when it isn’t? Or, does He want us to step out of the darkness of depression and acknowledge that you can have depression and be saved?
Depression robs you of your God-given joy and undermines God love and mercy toward you.
First off you can be saved and suffer from depression. Unfortunately, the joy of knowing Jesus doesn’t mean you won’t get depressed.
If you take a look at some of the most famous characters in the Bible, Job, David, King Solomon, you will find that they too suffered from depression.
Job despairs: “I cannot eat for sighing; my groans pour out like water. What I always feared has happened to me. What I dreaded has come to be. I have no peace, no quietness. I have no rest; instead, only trouble comes …. I will never again experience pleasure … I would rather die of strangulation than go on and on like this. I hate my life” (Job 3:23-26, 7:11, 15-16).
David, the man who genuinely loved God and who God himself called a man after His own heart, quipped in Psalm 13, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?”
Solomon the wisest and wealthiest man to ever live wrote that he hated life because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to him. That all of it [life] is meaningless, a chasing after the wind” (Ecclesiastes 2:17).
The Guilt of Being Saved and Depressed.
Depressed Christians often feel guilty about their depression which leads to denial about their condition. We feel like we should know better; we know where our help come from and that we shouldn’t be anxious over anything. We should be able to get it together.
But depression isn’t something you can just snap out of. Many studies have shown that depression is a biological disorder of the brain’s chemistry. Genetics also plays a part in depression. Depression is a medical condition, there isn’t a need to feel guilty because you are depressed.
You Don’t Have To Carry The Burden Alone
Of course, as Christians, we know that Jesus helps through life trials, but we also need to recognize that God has placed people here on earth that can also help us manage the load of depression. Finding a mental health professional to talk to is vital to your wellbeing. Confide in a trusting loved one or friend, someone that won’t try to “fix” you, but who will listen to you and try to understand what it is you’re going through.
You are not weak because you have depression.
It’s Okay To Be Vulnerable
For generations Black women in general, Black Christian women particularly, have been told to be strong no matter what is going on in their lives. We’re told that any signs of vulnerability is a sign of weakness. To that I say hogwash. There is strength in being vulnerable; strength in admitting that we aren’t strong all the time; strength in knowing that we don’t have all the answers.
Be vulnerable. Cry in front of your spouse. Don’t hide when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Admit that you are feeling sad, worthless, helpless, etc. Ask for a hug when you need it. Be Vulnerable.
Recognize God’s strength during times of depression
The most notable way to see God’s strength and power is in your own frailty. God is looking for people who know their own weakness but seek God’s strength and power. Even if you aren’t finding joy in the Word, still read and study the Bible; still pray and praise even when you don’t have the energy to do so; still seek spiritual growth. Remember that Jesus said, “His grace is sufficient for you, for HIs strength is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9).
African Americans women are more likely to suffer from Depression but are less likely to be treated for depression due to the cultural stigma of mental illness in the Black community, feelings of shame and embarrassment, lack of health insurance, and lack of understanding of the illness. Black people, Black women particularly, need to start talking about depression. We don’t have to suffer in silence. It’s time for those who suffer from depression to admit we are hurting and struggling mentally. I’m standing here today to say I am a black woman, a wife, a mother, and I suffer from depression. I pray with me being open, honest and vulnerable about my depression another black woman will find the courage to talk about her depression too.