Depression: Is it Time to Ask for Help?
Just a few months ago I shared a story about a plane crash where around 80 people were killed. The whole ordeal could have been avoided if only proper communication and understanding had taken place. Some say the cockpit should have communicated more clearly. Others agree the ATC should have listened better. I feel for both sides because I have been on both sides.
I rarely if ever get sick. Apparently God has blessed me with a good immune system. I am also a happy person. I rarely if ever get depressed. My friends talk about how happy I am all the time. A father once jokingly told his family that the reason I am always is happy is because I am single and have no kids. Or at least I hope the family took it as a joke. Having a family should make one happy not sad. Just the same it has occurred to me that God must have also provided me with an immunity to depression. I rarely ever get depressed and when I do it does not last long at all.
So how does that help me feel for both sides? Like the ATC, I don’t always detect depression in others, though I have gotten better over time. I am a very punctual and responsible person. So when others are late, or just flake out on a commitment, my first thought used to be that they were just undependable people. It never occurred to me until recently that they were fighting depression.
Years ago I was working with a very small church school that hired a new principal from out of state. He accepted the job but when it came time, he never showed up. He never responded to our calls until, finally, we had to scramble to replace him at the last minute, realizing he was not communicating any more. I was very offended that a professional would behave in that manner – not showing up for work or even communicating. Later we finally found out that he was going through a family crisis and was very depressed. Once he finally contacted us, he was very sorry for the situation. Of course we had replaced him by then, but I learned that depression can affect anyone. And not everyone who flakes out is a flake. Often they are depressed and don’t know what to do about it. I get that now.
Meanwhile I can also identify with the cockpit crew. Like I said, I rarely every get depressed and it has been over 20 years since my little outburst. I finally recently told you all about. I seem to have a good immunity against depression, and my friends, and even students at the school where I help, comment about how upbeat I seem to be all the time. I have never not shown up for work. I have never flaked out on a date, agreement or assignment. I have never failed to communicate if I am late or plans have changed. But rare as it may be, there have been times when I sure felt like it! Over the last 50 plus years, there have been times I wanted to jump in my car and just run away somewhere – anywhere! There have been times I wanted to dig a hole in the ground and crawl into it. There have been times I wanted to find a deserted island and move there. Now if you’ve known me for a long time, you are probably shocked reading this. That is because I never communicated it. You never saw it. I acted like everything was okay, and, within time, before I acted out the feeling passed over. Usually all it took for me was a good night’s rest or phone call with a trusted friend, and everything was right in the world again. My rare depressions were never chronic but they were enough to help me understand why people do the things that they do. In other words, while I have never accepted a new job and then never shown up, I do understand how that might happen. I understand that depression makes people do things no one understands.
Obviously my rare depressions were situational and temporary. I understand many people have chronic depression which takes place even on the most beautiful of days for no apparent reason. When chronically depressed people actually carry out irresponsible and foolish acts, I can still relate, because just because I have never carried out an irrational action does not mean I have have never felt like it. I have felt like it! The good news is that there is help for all of us. God understands even when no one else does. As a matter of fact there are some pretty pathetic psalms in the book of Psalms. Some of them make me wonder how they ever even made it into the Bible. Some of them seem to offer no solution as David just expresses his pathetic emotions. Then, again, maybe that is why they are in a collection of inspired writings – to let us know even inspired people sometimes have irrational feelings and emotions.
Come quickly, Lord, and answer me, for my depression deepens. Psalm 143:7 NLT
Of course we all know God is our number one source of joy and peace. However God said it was not good for people to be alone, which is why He created a community for Adam. We need community too. Sometimes we need to go ahead and call professionals in the community to help us with depression. Abide Counseling is a group of trained Adventist professionals who are trained to use Bible principles for dealing with and overcoming depression. They can even help you online in the privacy of your own home. They can work with your budget.
It has been a stressful and isolating last couple of years for most people, and does not seem to be getting better. Some of us have been isolated. Some of us are grieving the loss of a loved one(s) during isolation. Help is available, and Abide Counseling is a safe and biblically sound resource for finding hope, peace and meaning.
The Abide Counseling website also has several helpful and encouraging blog posts concerning depression and anxiety. I encourage you to explore their blog post section and find some help and encouragement.
We owe it to ourselves to get the help we need to have the joy and peace God wants us to have. We owe it to others to be sensitive and caring for others who may be battling depression.