I described that week, and an earlier similar one, in my diary, 28th Feb 1990 –
What’s happened to me?
Where has it come from?
What did those two weeks mean,
One after Thailand, one at the year’s end.
I fell apart emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually.
I could barely think a complete thought.
I could not find peace whatever course of action I considered.
All day long, during those two weeks, I lay curled up into a ball.
And I could not get away - it would not stop.
It is significant to note that my parents were absent during this week, having gone to attend an annual Christian convention. Fortunately, my brother was there, as he made sure I kept eating and tried to help and support me.
My parents returned a week later. When my mother found me laying on my bed in that terrible condition, she sprang into action. She bundled me off the bed, encouraged me with kind words, and in no time sent me outside to wash my car, which was very hard to do considering the state of my mind. Yet even so, I could not help but notice that the activity of washing the car lessened the inner pain slightly. She and my brother also prayed over me, and my mother continued to give me menial tasks to do every day such as watering the garden, serving dinner, and also encouraged me to watch TV with the family every evening. Although the fears assaulting my mind continued to scream at me while doing these things, I noticed that their intensity was less during these times than when I was inactive. The activities my mother gave me were a good distraction.
So it was because of my mother that I was able to get off that sickbed. Most of the time she was simply there for me, never telling me to “snap out of it.” This non-demanding, supportive human contact helped to pull me out of that blackest, unable-to-move phase of depression.
The Bible tells us that when God created Adam, He looked at him and said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” Genesis 2:18.
Although it is a normal reaction when depressed to want to hide from any human contact, this reaction is harmful. It is not good for someone who is depressed to be alone. We need to be with close family members or close friends who will simply be there for us, providing emotional support. We do not need to tell them what we are going through in detail - they probably would not understand.
Not everyone has close family members they can turn to, and for those who are ill, disabled or living in the country, even finding friends can be difficult. In which case, here is some wonderful advice from Sherry Castelluccio. “Are you lonely? Call that friend you haven’t spoken to in months. You will both be glad you did.” Another option is to join a supportive Christian forum, such as The Cypress Times , a Christian social networking site, or the Faithwriters forum , where any Christian who dabbles in writing is welcome to socialize.
Another very important source of human contact is available through a local church. Gary R. Collins, Ph.D. shares, “The church, and other social institutions, can become therapeutic communities where people feel welcome and accepted. A concerned group of people who have learned to be caring can do much to soften the trauma of crises and provide strength and help in times of need. Aware that they are not alone, people in crises are able to cope better and thus avoid severe depression.” Christian Counseling, Word Publishing, 1980.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25
Please note that while small churches can provide caring, family-like atmospheres, this is noticeably absent from larger churches. If attending a larger church, it is imperative to join at least one of that church’s small groups, such as a women’s or men’s fellowship, home group (cell group), youth group, prayer group, and so on.
Around ten months after my descent into severe depression, when I had finally regained hope for the future, the Christian counselor I was seeing encouraged me to stop hiding behind Jesus, join a home group, and get back into ministry, such as playing the piano in the home group I was to join.
I took her advice and joined a midweek home group run by a couple in my church. Having been lonely for so long because of depression, this midweek meeting soon became one of the highlights of my week. I played the piano for the group and made some good friends. It was wonderful to simply be with other believers and enjoy their company as we fellowshipped and worshipped God together. I did not tell anyone in the group that I was recovering from depression, but it may have been a good idea to share briefly what I was going through with the home group’s leader in order to receive prayer and pastoral care.
In conclusion, although depression seeks to isolate us, we must not allow it to do so. We need to spend time with close family or friends, and join a caring Christian small group as soon as we are able to do so. It is through the church, Christ’s body, that we can receive encouragement, support and strength.
What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church. 1 Corinthians 14:26
(All verses from the NIV)
Download a free pdf ebook on depression.