Sunday, August 30, 2009

Stay on Target

Recovering from depression can at times be a daunting prospect. Although there are good days, some of the ‘bad’ days are so bad that we just want to climb into a hole and pull a lid over the top.

16th May 1990 –
Two weeks ago I felt almost normal again,
But was I too hopeful?
The last two or three days have been almost as bad as before,
And it has caught me off guard.
A familiar disturbed sensation once again flooded my chest and emotions,
And it was too much for me today.

We fear that we are not actually improving at all, and that we will never actually reach our goal of complete recovery.

And then there are those issues that pop up during counselling or therapy. Some issues or experiences from our past that surface are so painful that we can barely face them, let alone deal with them.

It was during a counselling session that the Lord showed me I needed to step out of a comfort zone that was taking His place in my life. In that session I was also encouraged to face one of my greatest, irrational fears. This is what I wrote in my diary after that session.

Man this hurts - my reaction all day was to be in pain. Because of this, and also because of confronting my fears...What a mess! Today I have felt like a larger mess, in so much inner pain, so much worse. But I guess this is necessary.

And it was necessary. Once I had worked through this issue with Christ’s guidance and my pastor’s counsel backed up by the Word of God, I stepped out of that comfort zone, overcame that fear, and received wholeness and freedom in Christ that allowed my life to go in an entirely new direction.

Counselling during depression also revealed that I had faulty theology and thought patterns that needed to be aligned with God’s Word. These not only contributed to depression but were also hindering the recovery process. Dealing with these was also painful and in some cases, took perseverance over several weeks or months before my thinking and beliefs lined up with God’s Word.

The purpose of this post is to share something that helped me to persevere when my life encountered such difficult times.

My last year of senior high school, year twelve, was so stressful and demanding that I fell ill many times as the year progressed. Time and again I wanted to quit, leave school, give up my dream of going to university and be content with second best.

However, one thing that helped me persevere was a scene in the movie Star Wars.

Towards the end of the film, we see the Rebel fighter pilots launching a near suicidal attack upon the evil Death Star space station. In one scene, three Rebel Y-Wings are rocketing down a trench during a torpedo attack run on the Death Star’s reactor. Imperial Tie Fighters were on their tail, trying to destroy them. One pilot kept panicking that they weren’t going to make it, that they were going to die. But the leader, older, and more mature, just kept answering calmly, “Stay on target.”

So throughout year twelve, whenever I felt like throwing in the towel and giving up, I would say to myself, “Stay on target.”

The Bible tells us to persevere, to be an over comer, to let nothing stop us from following Jesus and completing the race He has set before us. The Bible tells us to “Stay on target.”

Blessed are those who persevere under trial, because when they have stood the test, they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1

So if we are having one of those bad days and we lament, “It’s too hard, I can’t do this - I want to get off this planet!” we can fix our eyes upon Jesus rely upon His strength and say, “Stay on target.” The goal is an abundant life in Christ – both now and for eternity, and of course, learning to deal with and recover from depression.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

When faced with the memory of a past trauma and we say, “No, it’s too painful, I can’t face it, I can’t work through it,” let us instead remember Jesus was there when it happened, and is with us right now, helping to set us free from it. We can say to ourselves, “Stay on target - I will not settle for second best.”

‘I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.’ Philippians 3:14

When we have to unlearn faulty thought processes and belief systems, and retrain our mind so that it is aligned with God’s word, and we say, “But I’ve always done it that way, I’ve always believed that was the case, why do I need to change?” We can press into Jesus and ask Him to help renew our mind so that we can live in the freedom He has purchased for us on the cross, and we can say to ourselves, “Stay on target.”

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:2

Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. 1 Timothy 4:16

All verses from the NIV.

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    1. Wonderful advice and counsel, Peter.

    2. "Stay on Target." That is counsel I need EVERY day. Powerful post.

    3. Thank you for the practical way you overcame by writing about facing your fear and the struggle of wanting to give up. Sometimes we just need someone else to say "keep going on" and I can see that God uses you to encourage many. These are powerful scriptures to help us.

    4. Peter, I can totally understand this:

      "Counselling during depression also revealed that I had faulty theology and thought patterns that needed to be aligned with God’s Word."

      Thank you for sharing positive ways to regain some normality.


    5. I'm new to this "recovering" vs "treating" depression. God is working mightily in my life and I consider it an absolute gift to have found your blog!

      Bless you!

    6. Hi Mary,
      Thanks for dropping by, and so glad to hear of the mighty work the Lord is doing in your life. I hope my testimony can be of encouragement. God bless :)

      ‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.’ 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

    7. Hi Mr Pter ,
      thank you for giving hope to all those who are suffering from depression, your blog is really helpful if not the right route to recovery . i read that it took some time before you recovered completely ,may i ask some questions, how is full recovery ? how from your experience you realized that you recovered completely ? was it spontaneous ? it took 4 years , so how your life was on the third year ,the second year , or the beginning of the 4th year . how our body can tell us that we recovered ,what do we feel ? does our nervous system desensitize completely so we are fearless and no fearful thought have impact on us.Depression is like living in doubt between life and death for me, a depressed person wants to live but something thant i can't describe well drag him backward everytime he wants to move forward , depression is when someone loses the certainty of life he once had .but from your experience hope is there so in some way we can work and pray to have this certainty back.
      thank you very much .

      1. Dear Anonymous,
        Thank you for your comment, and I'll try to answer your questions best that I can.

        My first major depression episode was from 1989 to 1994.
        In 1989 I became gradually worse until I collapsed mentally and emotionally at the end of the year.
        The first eight months of 1990 were so terrible, so dark, and mostly devoid of hope. But then after reading "Self Help for Your Nerves" by Dr Claire Weekes, hope returned to my life, and with the book's advice, medication, and counseling, exercise, etc, I started to recover. By the end of 1990 I no longer needed counseling. I slowly got back into living a normal life again.
        1991 to 1992 saw gradual improvement. The worst symptoms had almost faded away completely, but many lesser symptoms remained, and I still struggled greatly from mental fears (almost always present) and panic attacks came sometimes.
        By 1993 almost all of the symptoms had gone, and the mental fears and panic attacks only popped up occasionally.
        In 1994 I went to get prayer and counseling again, and after that the mental fears and panic attacks were almost completely gone. By this time my confidence had returned, I was full of hope, and had dreams for the future. I felt so close to Jesus again, and was full of passion to serve Him and be used by Him. I remained like this for the next 16 years, though I still had panic attacks sometimes.

        So please never lose hope - you can cope with depression and live a normal life even before it has gone, and you can recover from it too. Please always keep your eyes and thoughts fixed upon Jesus, and trust Him completely even if you don't understand what you are going through, because He holds all things in His hands.

        Are you able to get a copy of "Self Help for Your Nerves" by Dr Claire Weekes to read? You can get it from Also, I believe that you can find much practical help from the booklet on depression on this blog. Click here to download it.

        God bless

    8. Hi Peter, this may seem off-topic but can you recommend any reliable and reputable books or websites that is a guide for appropriate Christian entertainment? In my quest to not watch/read/listen to anything ungodly or displeasing to God, I am questioning everything I usually watch on TV (TV shows and movies) and read. It's actually really overwhelming to stumble onto some websites and read the contents of everything that is considered sin and ungodly; Guitar Hero, most video games, Harry Potter movies, Pokemon, almost all movies coming out of Hollywood, Star Wars included because of its roots in eastern gods, almost all TV shows, books (even Purpose Driven Life which many say present New Age philosophies), meditation (which I did for a while, not knowing the eastern religious roots behind it) Yoga, acupuncture, ect, ect. I sit here and wonder what's acceptable and what isn't when I want to go and watch something on TV or the internet but almost everything seems "sinful."

      What are some rules of thumb that you go by when choosing clean entertainment for you and your family? Many thanks.

      1. Hi Anonymous,

        God understands that we live in the world, but are not of the world. I see nothing wrong with us enjoying secular entertainment, but watching it from a Christian perspective. For example, I have watched Star Wars with my children, and used it as an opportunity to show them its Hindu content and how it differs to the truth that is in Christ.

        For myself, I will not watch or read anything that has occult, and also stay away from anything that is over-the-top violent, sexually explicit, or containing strong offensive language. At the same time, I understand that different Christians have different perspectives on these issues according to their faith. Please read Romans 14. By my own conscience, I do as I've shared above. So really, it is between you and the Holy Spirit as to what you watch. Be sensitive to His guidance.

        However, it is true that we are over sensitive to worrying about these issues if we are suffering from anxiety and depression. In which case, we may have to stay away from some shows/books until we have recovered and our faith is stronger/the fears/anxieties are gone.

        I hope that helps,
        God bless