The Impact of Other People & My Faith on Depression

The post below first appeared at Cycle Guy’s Spin as part of a series on depression with the focus of helping those who have loved ones struggling with depression but who have never themselves personally struggled with it. The depression series stemmed from my second chance story, which was part of a series on 2nd Chances on Cycle Guy’s Spin.

With depression coming even more to our attentions with the death of Robin Williams recently, I decided to repost the depression series here on Struggle to Victory.

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The Impact of Other People

Had I not had relationships that mattered to me or that I at least wanted to matter to me, I don’t think I would have had hope. The first was the hope of a relationship with God, but more on that in a minute. First, let’s address the other relationships mentioned in the question.

My husband joined this journey with me when I was only 5 years into it. Since I was about 10 years old when depression hit, you’ll realize we got together pretty young. I could never do justice to the junk (the kindest word I can think of to describe it) I put him through over the past 25ish years or to the patience he continually doled out. Simply put, he never gave up on me and refused to leave me. He looked me straight in the eye on more than one occasion and said, “I will never leave you.” I get choked up thinking about it. I realize today that him never giving up on me made me unable to give up either.

I grew up in a very rules-oriented church culture, one where God was this distant being who seemed more like a master chess player than like anyone who wanted me to know Him personally. So, the first 28 years of my faith life included what I “should” do, including believing in God. Around age 28, that changed. I began to discover who I was in Christ, and I learned that Jesus not only wanted a relationship with me but that He gave me His Holy Spirit to comfort and help me. I learned that the Bible was a guide for life and not simply a book of rules. This process of correcting my wrong views about God and seeing life from a full-Gospel perspective truly gave me a new foundation to build upon as I began to live more and more outside of the pit.

Not sure how to characterize my family’s role, so I’ll just dive in to some specific examples. My dad was absent a lot and pretty self-focused, which does not bode well for the self-esteem of a little girl. My mom always loved and accepted me no matter my emotional state, but she had struggles of her own to contend with at the time.

My extended family was a factor only through two people. One individual told me, “You’re average and will always be average,” and another said, “You’re just not as smart as the others.”  Those statements took years to be undone as truth in my mind and still haunt me during times of weakness still today.

My journey out of the pit really began after I had my oldest son. When he was a toddler, I realized that I did not want his memories of me to be ones of a depressed an unhappy person. So, I began the journey for him. My youngest son entered this journey only about 4 years ago, but it too was a pivotal experience in that he needed me to live fully and completely outside of the pit in order for him to not live in one himself. For him, I took steps to fill in the pit of depression that had been my dwelling place for so many years, making it no longer an option.

Faith

The Impact of My Faith

I don’t remember not believing in God. However, I do remember not really knowing who Jesus was and what role the Holy Spirit played. Learning about relationship with Christ changed everything. My growth in faith coincides directly with my progression through depression and out of the pit forever. Depression was the trial of my life that drew me always closer to Him; it was either that or end my life. Realizing my inability to overcome on my own led me to realize my desperate need for Him.

(Note: If we had time and space, I would also discuss the role of Christian counseling as well as of the books I read during the journey.)

DISCUSSION: How do you see your role in the life of those you love who struggle with depression? What questions do you have regarding living out those roles?

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12 thoughts on “The Impact of Other People & My Faith on Depression

  1. People we associate with have a profound effect on our lives. More than we care to admit. We must be diligent in not letting someone drag us into the pit of despair strictly on their opinions. We need to be one that builds others up and offers them a belief that they are worthy.

  2. Thanks for sharing your journey Kari. It took me a awhile to understand my identity in Christ… but, boy, does it change things. This post made me think of the great preacher, Charles Spurgeon, who often battled with depression… and God used him powerfully.
    My recent post How We Change (Part 2)

    • That identity is a key for overcoming for sure, Dave. I will have to study the life of Spurgeon a bit more in relation to depression. Might give me insight as I set out to write a book on the topic.

  3. God brings people into our lives for a reason. Nothing is by "chance".
    Sometimes people are in our lives for the long haul, other times they are just passing through.

    As I read your post I thought of my time as an ER RN. Often I cared for patients who were suicidal. Those people were in my life for a brief moment, but I always tried to show them love. That I truly cared that they lived.
    I don't know where those people are now, but God does. He loves them and I pray they find Him and the deliverance He can bring.

    • Great example, TC! Planting seeds of love is never wrong, and I believe God honors our obedience in doing so. You will likely never know the difference you made until you get to Heaven, but I'm certain you made a difference. It really is the small acts of kindness/love that add up and make a huge difference, even if not noticed as making one at the time.

  4. Hi there,A focal piece of numerous faiths is the belief that we are every deserving of love,admiration and absolution.There is a realizing that we are not the only one and that ultimately,life works out and develops generally as it is supposed to.The capacity to make significance out of pain is one of the keys for happiness.Good day.

    @Julie Burton.

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