"Mommy, Are You Happy?"

These two exude enough joy for the whole family! I am so blessed!

Not a question you like to be asked by your three year old but yet I am sorry to say this is the question Micah, my little guy who continually looks out for me, kept posing at breakfast yesterday morning. It was evident I was trying to keep my emotions in check as our morning devotions time with Rick became a downpour of all the things I needed prayer for as I have not been feeling very strong emotionally lately to say the least. (God gave me the most compassionate and understanding husband by the way!:) I’m just trying to get through the day. Survival mode.

I’m sure pregnancy hormones are coming into play as well as continual lack of sleep and recent hardships (sewage flood in our basement, stolen wallet, etc) but I also know I am stuck in a disease that may not kill me physically but could suck the life out of me emotionally if I do not learn how to cope with it head on…..depression. There, you have it.

This disease runs deep and is definitely a way in which Satan has bound many on the Challies side of the family especially. A few suicides due to severe depression, etc. I feel it is a hereditary condition which certainly passed on to me yet a sort of spiritual bondage too. As long as I can remember, I have struggled with this disease in all the different forms it takes on as one grows older, life gets more and more complex, etc. Even as a little girl, I often felt life was completely devoid of hope for absolutely no reason. I just saw gray. Just as a diabetic can not naturally remedy their blood sugar highs and lows, I can not simply turn on “happy” and remedy my emotional highs and lows. An internal force greater than myself is at work.

I don’t know what a public confession of this struggle may mean for my “reputation” but I figure…what’s there to lose. At the end of the day, I’ve always put reputation on the line for the sake of authenticity. Maybe my vulnerability about such a sensitive subject can help someone else who is struggling as well. Who knows…maybe there is even another stay-at-home- mom out there like myself who is inflicted with this disease and yet, before God, seeks earnestly to do the best by her family. I know many people likely believe this is one disease that should be kept hidden as they believe it is “shameful,” a disease brought on by self. I get ready in the morning and do my thing and take care of my family. I don’t lie in bed all day wearing sweats in a dark room. Yet I know this disease is starting to take its toll in greater ways than I like because once my kids start realizing when mommy isn’t “happy,” than I think the issue becomes one that can not be swept under the table anymore.

Many may wonder…”if you’re a Christian, how can you be depressed? Aren’t Christians always supposed to be happy? Isn’t it sinful to feel lack of hope and a total denial of your faith?” I suppose it is sinful to feel hopeless as it is denying the hope I have in Christ yet I also know that great Christians of the past, including Charles Spurgeon, struggled greatly with depression which tells me this disease is one which can attack even the strongest of believers.

Wrote Spurgeon is a beautiful sermon meant for fellow pastors struggling with depression called “When the Preacher is Downcast”:

“Fits of depression come over the most of us. Cheerful as we may be, we must at intervals be cast down. The strong are not always vigorous, the wise not always ready, the brave not always courageous, and the joyous not always happy.”

Abraham Lincoln also struggled with depression all his life. Those around him apparently noted he could go from merry to gloomy in a few short moments. One even said depression was stamped on him from gestation, very much a part of his nature and not just a passing phase that occurred every once in a while. Lincoln once wrote to a friend:

“A tendency to melancholy……let it be observed, is a misfortune, not a fault.”

He also noted that each period of depression would, inevitably, come to and end and that is how he encouraged those around him who also struggled.

And Micah…mommy is, no doubt, going to be sad sometimes but let it be said that from here on in, I believe God is going to do a work and you will be witness to it! You will be able to bear witness to the fact that God heals and God can break spiritual bondages. The chords of fairly regular bouts with depression can be broken. Why do I think now is the time for healing? Because, as I said before, I realize for the first time that this disease will truly have an affect on my whole little family if I do not whole heartily acknowledge the problem and seek healing. Though I pray none of my children will have the struggles with depression I have had, if they do, it will be something we can face together. I will understand!

Now for a game plan…a game plan built on solid Christian principles. Any suggestions?

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
~ Isaiah 43:2
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42 Responses to "Mommy, Are You Happy?"

  1. Adrienne says:

    Thank you for sharing your heart. I sent you an email.

  2. Joanne says:

    Susanna – I stumbled on your blog through a friend of mine and have been reading for awhile. This entry touched my heart as I have a friend who struggles with depression quite a bit. She also is a stay at home mom and so often is alone while her husband works long hours. Thank you for your thoughts. I am going to forward along to her. It is hard for me to fully understand and at times I feel at a loss on how to encourage her. God bless and I am praying for you and your journey and praising that you are so honest and dependent on God.

  3. Grace says:

    love you sister and amd will continue to pray for you. Wish I was right there to give you a hug.

  4. mary says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I'm a stay-at-home Mom who has had bouts of depression from time to time — and I feel like I have been "down in the dumps" for the last 2.5 years this time (since my 3rd child was born). I am highly functioning, don't spend all of my time in bed, and most of my friends and family have NO IDEA that I just feel very overwhelmed and stressed most of the time. Anyway, it is nice to know that I am not alone — I needed to hear this today. Praise God for His comfort!!

  5. laura says:

    Susanna, thank you for posting this. We traded comments on blogs years ago (I had one and you were pregnant I think, now we both have two :))…Since having children, I have struggled a good deal with depression. I've never really written about it publicly, never felt really secure enough to talk about it to anyone beyond a few very close friends.I have had some very dark days…and my 3 1/2 year old daughter quickly learned that question "Mommy are you happy?" – it breaks my heart every time she asks it. A few weeks ago, I was having a particularly terrible day and got angry about something (I was talking to my husband), one of her stuffed toys happened to be in grabbing distance and I'm ashamed to say, I hurled it at the floor and marched off to have a good cry (something I don't do that often). Later on, I was able to talk with her about it seriously and explain to her that Mommy was not glorifying God when I did that and that God wants us to be joyful, not angry. The incident left a very big impression on her and she brings it up almost daily ("Mommy, did you throw my lady bug? You were being bad. God wants you to be happy." From the mouths of babes…)I know that with depression (or at least for me) one of the worst things is the feeling of being out of control of my emotions. There's no on/off switch. But I have found that taking quiet time to reflect on God's word helps a lot…just one passage. For me, one that has helped is John 10:10…meditating on the hope and reality that God came to give me an abundant life, not in material possessions, but in spirit (!), helps wash away some of the cobwebs from my soul. Also, I've been working w/ my daughter to memorize the First Catechism based of the Westminster Catechism…even going back to those simple sayings: God made me and takes care of me. I am to glorify God by loving Him and doing His commands…these things help more than I imagined they would. I was hesitant to begin a daily-affirmation habit (a la Stuart Smalley – look it up on Youtube), but, daily affirming the truth of God's word…that helps. I will pray for you! I have an idea of the struggle you are going through and the additional burden of knowing that your children are witnessing you go through that struggle (and what mommy isn't terrified of doing something wrong?)…Try to get lots of sunshine if you can in this cold winter weather. I have found that my depression is significantly worse in months without sunshine. In fact, two days ago, we had an absolutely glorious spring-like day and I took the girls out and we just sat in the sunlight for a good bit. My hubby has even noticed a change in my mood (for the better) since then. Vitamin D does a body good! If you can't get sunlight, consider getting a good fish oil supplement, and boosting your B12 intake. Both these things are supposed to help mood issues.Take comfort in Christ, as I am sure you are and be honest with yourself and your husband about what you're going through. Don't be afraid to get any kind of help you feel you need.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I do think depression is pandemic amongst women…A proclivity of our sex. We love you and pray for you. Mom

  7. hotpastorswife says:

    i too am pregnant and struggle with depression, but over the years i have found that transparency is one of the best remedies. i was encouraged a few times by the fact that just me sharing my anxiety and depression issues, and how God still works through me, how other people with the same problems were encouraged, and could encourage me. certainly helping others and glorifying God is a huge step towards helping yourself, and also when we're transparent with others they can help and encourage us.

  8. Anonymous says:

    A few things – if your church has a good biblical counselor, see if you can speak to them (or perhaps visit one in the area – check CCEF for this).Also, "Spiritual Depression" by M. Lloyd-Jones is a very good book, as is "Depression: A Stubborn Darkness" by Ed Welch.Kristin (we emailed over a year ago!)khjamieson at gmail.com

  9. Anonymous says:

    Good girl! I prayed so specifically this morning that God would encourage you with friendship today. And with support. I trust and hope it has been a better day. I agree with the sunshine comment. We were out as Moms in the neighborhood today. ANd no doubt that good weather does us and our children good.YOu are so loved and prayed for.Maryanne

  10. Johannah says:

    Sus–I know how it feels to be trapped in a quagmire of grey emotion. Nothing looks bright. You can't muster enthusiasm for anything. And a lump of unshed tears feels like it's lodged in your throat. I will pray it clears soon. It always does. I love you, Jo

  11. Becca says:

    I'm so sorry for your struggle but thankful for your transparency and that you know Hope–THE hope. Depression runs in my family as well and sadly we have known some of the same outcomes. I understand the fear of shame, but don't let that hold you back from seeking help and community! It is nothing to be ashamed about, and you are not alone!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Good,honest post Susanna. You no doubt inherited the melancholic spirit from your father, not that the Belford side is a cornucopia of cheer. I do think that Lloyd Jones was accurate in linking depression with anger. Certainly true in my case. Its lovely that God gave us adults our children, especially small children, to cheer us. love Dad

  13. Jennifer W says:

    Hi, my friend. Just stumbled on your blog and wanted to share that I, too, have suffered with depression, as have many in my family. I hate to always be the one to bring up medication, but I just have to because it's been such a blessing in my life (can medication be a blessing?). Anyway, I take a seratonin uptake inhibitor (Prozac, and there are others…Zoloft, etc.). From the research I and my mom have done, we've learned that some people are born with low levels of seratonin (the brain chemical that gives you that feeling of well-being), while some people's levels decrease over time because of stress. The SSRI's simply fix the chemical imbalance. Just like a diabetic takes insulin, someone with this "disease" needs a little help with the seratonin. It took me a while to understand I'm not copping out by taking what I take (20 mg of Prozac – a very low dose). Sometimes exercising and positive thinking don't cut it, Tom Cruise. My relationship with Christ is my ultimate strength, and so I just thank Him for taking care of my depression through the marvels of modern medicine. Anyhoo, just wanted to share, my sweet sister!

  14. Tammy S. says:

    Came across your blog while on challies.com-I was being nosey regarding his favorites. I just prayed for you. While I have never experienced depression myself, my husband went through depression 5 1/2 years ago that lasted for a year and it was a very difficult and dark time. Quieting a Noisy Soul by Jim Berg was a huge encouragement to him along with encouragement from others and listening & loving pastor friends. I prayed that the Lord will provide specific encouragers around you to help hold you up.Lamentations 3:22-23

  15. Susanna Rose says:

    I have been so touched and blessed by all your comments! Thank you everyone for your honesty, concern and encouragement that I am not in this alone…that has done my heart so much good.I will be writing more on the topic this coming week!

  16. maryanne says:

    So, get writing! I hope my phone lecture will do some good:). Love you. Kiss the babies for me!

  17. emilyz says:

    Thank you for your courage in sharing about this struggle. I found it very encouraging since it is familiar to me too.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Many believers would poo poo medication for depression. Sad as that is, their is a place for legitimate medicines in cases like this especially when we know it is hereditary. I have family who deal with this and to be honest medication has been a God-send. After all, we take medications for other diseases and issues we have physically. They are a gift to us when used correctly. I heard one physician say that our brain is an organ and when it causes sickness we would treat it as we would any other organ that is suffering.Hope that helps!

  19. emilyz says:

    I was going to send you an email but I can't find your address so I'll just post here. Depression runs in my family too (on both sides). I didn't experience any depressive symptoms until about halfway through my pregnancy. I had major baby blues that I just couldn't shake off. I would not admit it to myself, much less my OBGYN. Since I had bonded easily with my baby girl I thought I would be okay. All looked fine on the outside but on the inside I was going through a terrible struggle. Eventually, insomnia and inexplicable fatigue set it. Finally, after three years of this, Christian counseling, and lots of crying out to the Lord, I decided to try Cymbalta. It has been effective to an extent but I've always believed that my problem was rooted in a hormone imbalance. So I also tried OTC progesterone cream. As soon as I did, the insomnia went away completely and I've felt my best in years. It is difficult to say which has helped more but perhaps its a combination. I also found encouragement in Isaiah 43:2. I wrote it down and put it in a place where I'll see it daily. Susanna, will be praying for you and lifting you up to the Lord. I'm so glad you posted this. I think many of us walk around with an "Am I the only one going through this?" kind of feeling and we're plagued by spiritual doubts and, inevitably, Satan's lies.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Someone already mentioned Ed Welch's Depression: A Stubborn Darkness. I just turned 53 and have struggled all my life with depression. This book did not coddle me but showed me that my depression was not only sin but it was suffering, which makes me either focus on Jesus or on me. And in my life, I focused on me, in order to end the depression, or berate myself for it. But this book shifted my focus onto Jesus, and his suffering and what he has done for both my sin and my suffering and it truly has helped. Satan wins when I focus on anything other than Jesus. Jesus redeems the suffering… doesn't go away but the heaviest burden is lifted. I had tried for so many years to get out of that black hole, instead of looking to Jesus from the hole and seeing him and what he has done for me from the hole and constantly going to him in the suffering. I can now see he was using me in the hole to bring me to him… I didn't have to get out of it to go to him. It has been a shift in perspective that has made a lot of difference. I highly recommend this book. Wish I had read it 30 years ago. -kg.

  21. Citizen Grim says:

    This is something I've struggled with many times in the past, and no doubt will struggle with again.As some of the other comments have noted, sometimes it's helpful in times of suffering and anxiety and despair – against all odds, to take joy in our circumstances and our standing in Christ. You cannot turn happiness off and on, but I do believe that you can choose to be joyful.There are a number of Scriptural calls for joy amidst suffering. The first is my favorite, conveying almost a defiant spirit, a refusal to surrender joy, even in the most dire of circumstances:"Though the fig tree should not blossom,nor fruit be on the vines,the produce of the olive failand the fields yield no food,the flock be cut off from the foldand there be no herd in the stalls,yet I will rejoice in the Lord;I will take joy in the God of my salvation." – Habakkuk 3:17-18"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." – James 1:2-4"Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.But I have trusted in your steadfast love;my heart shall rejoice in your salvation." – Psalm 13:3-5

  22. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for sharing. One thing to be cautious about is making depression an identity. Sometimes I take it for granted that I'm going to feel sad, but if I step back, I realize its not as bad today, if that makes sense.

  23. terka says:

    Found you through your brother's link at Challies.com. Writing obviously runs in the family! Thanks for sharing your story. I relate to it on so many levels. May we learn to bear each other's burdens and truly be authentic in our walk. So encouraging. Rom. 8:17-18. -Teresa

  24. Jim Swindle says:

    Thanks for the post. Your readers have offered some very good advice. My 20 suggestions for those with depression are hereI pray that the Lord will continue to mature you in him.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Several other people have mentioned medication. Whether you ed up taking any medication now or not, I think it is very important to talk to your OB/Gyn doctor about this, because it is possible that treating the mild depression now will head off a more serious post partum depression after your baby is born. Or anyway, your doctor will know to montior you more carefully after the baby.Seasonal Affective Disorder is well known – do try to get as much daylight as you can. It isn't actually the vitamin D that is involved, but the actual light reaching your eyes that is important.

  26. Jody says:

    I would also recommend anything by Elyse Fitzpatrick and 'When the Darkness Will Not Lift' by John Piper. This book is a brief and short book only 78 pages. I was a young mom 20+ years ago and I know there are limited amounts of time to read for encouragement or pleasure. I have had my own bouts with depression, but nothing extended. Your honesty and transparency on a blog where any number of people will read speaks volumes of your character and courage. I am also a pastor's wife of almost 25 years attempting to always live my life before the face of God and with transparency and realness(is that a word?) And God's Word will NEVER fail you. Two years ago my dear dad died suddenly and unexpectedly from a doctor's mistake. I saturated my heart and life in the Psalms for over a year. You are and have been honest with God, He Knows!!

  27. Anonymous says:

    Here's a link to a series of articles written by a Christian stay-at-home mom who suffered from postpartum depression and overcame it.http://web.mac.com/janacarlson/The_Joy_Box/Overcoming_Depression.html

  28. Anna says:

    Thanks for this, Susanna. It touched a chord with me, as it obviously did with a lot of other people. Loneliness and depression usually go hand in hand with me, so there has been a new challenge over the past several months as I have only been working part-time (and now not at all) as a pregnant first-time mom, just waiting for my baby. Also, the struggles of my first year of marriage have taken me to new places of pain and heartache that I didn't know existed before. I am encouraged to know that I am not alone. Thank you again for sharing.

  29. Pam says:

    Hi Susanna,I came over here from Tim's site…I too have struggled greatly with depression-especially after each pregnancy. I still feel terrible about missing those precious first months with my babies but I was barely hanging on. Few people would guess I struggle with depression. I'm the one with the huge smile at church and I'm the one who invites many people to my home but I'm also the one who struggles to find joy.I have found that besides crying out to God who is always faithful I can greatly help my situation by:1-Getting at least 8 hours of sleep (this is where a caring husband can help)2-Taking vitamin D and Omega 3 supplements3-Making sure I get sunshine or spending time under a special lamp for seasonal affective disorder4-Exercise every day.The depression doesn't go away but it's managed, everyday with God's help.Thanks for sharing your heart. It is a great encouragement to know that we are not alone.Pam

  30. Kirsten says:

    I don't struggle as much with depression as I do with anxiety and panic attacks (although I have my fair share of dark days). I love how the author of the book "Love Beyond Reason" gives a "game plan" of sorts. "You can't make anxiety [or depression] go away by an act of will. The idea is to allow anxiety to become a cue for prayer. Use anxiety to strengthen your prayer. Just as Pavlov's dog's became conditioned to salivate for dinner everytime they heard a bell, we can use anxiety to become a cue for prayer. Don't worry about how much anxiety you feel. Simply direct your anxiety toward God. The anxious feelings may subside, they may not. Don't beat yourself up about that. Your job is NOT to make sure your feelings are "spiritually correct". Your job is to practice constant casting.Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, WITH thanksgiving, present your requests to God."I think this is a game plan for me. When I feel depressed and/or anxious, I am trying to learn to discipline myself to pray – to use my funky emotional feelings as a cue to pray for others. If nothing else, it turns my eyes OFF of me (which is the thing I HATE the most about anxiety and depression in my life – it causes me to dwell on and think of me) and onto Christ. While this won't "fix" the depression or anxiety, rarely does it make it go away, it is certainly one way to respond to this thorn in my flesh in a God-honoring way.

  31. A. F. Walton says:

    I am also here from Tim's blog. :)I want to share my experience, with the expectation that it might be helpful to someone. If it helps ANYONE, I will joy, and rejoice with you.I am a young man and I found myself a while back in a great deal of depression, even most my thoughts throughout the day were suicidal. I then found that most people reformed in theology often faced horrible depression, even as your quotes show: Spurgeon, Brainerd and others. I really did not want to live this way.Upon meditating on God's word he made something known to me. Paul says in Philippians "Nevertheless, to abide in the flesh is more needful for you" (1:24). God showed me this, that I was living for only Christ the head, and not the body of Christ. It was easy for me to strive and do everything I could for Christ. However, to live for his servants, was something I completely neglected. I was not able to say "it is needful for me to abide for your sake", I was essentially useless for the brethren. Realizing I should be living for the brethren opened up my ability to love, something I have always struggled with. It was so great!When I have struggled with any depression since (it has been only a few months), I am able to think and ponder of my importance to the body of Christ. As Puritan as I am, I see my sin before Christ, and see myself useless at times and a failure, but when I look to my brethren, "to abide in the flesh is needful for you" and I am given strength to press on.

  32. Marie says:

    I think it is important to be ok with being depressed to a certain degree. I don't think it's normal to be happy all the time. Bad things happen. It has helped me to give myself permission to be down on occasion.I think it important to name our depression and acknowledge it to ourselves. Also, to name it in prayer and specifically ask God to help.I think it is important to utilize the means of grace regularly and regardless of our mood (church attendance, Lord's supper, Bible reading, prayer).I think it is helpful to analyze the triggers of our depression and change those triggers that we are able to change.

  33. Jocelyn says:

    I was just talking to my pastor last night about my long standing struggle with depression. He sent me this link to your blog and it has done me much good to read it and hear yours and others stories as well as what you've all learned along the way. The one thing that I wanted to encourage you about was the model to your children. I'm 45 today actally:) and I have 5 kids from 20 to 7. They have seen my struggles through the years with hopelessness, anxiousness and sadness. I've been tempted to think that no good could come from my struggles in this regard. BUT, they have ALSO seen a faithful God who has been there every step of the way, heard my prayers, cries, sighs and crying and has met me at every step with compassion and help. Sometimes that help has been from his Word, sometimes through my husband and his loving care, sometimes through my wonderful church family and friends and sometimes through the passing of time. God will use this in your children's lives to show them that He is good and faithful and shepherds us through every trial and dark valley. It is good for them to see your weakness and know that God is strong. One day they will experience weakness and they will remember how God helped you. God uses it all. He wastes nothing. I am having a good day today, but I don't know what tomorrow might bring. I do know that God will never leave me or forsake me and that I belong to Him. That brings me more comfort than anyone could possibly imagine. I pray that it will bring you and any other readers of this blog comfort too! May He be glorified and magnified in our weakness!

  34. elizabeth says:

    Thank you for this post. I am in the grey bottom now, thinking of all I don't have and don't deserve. I know that God loves me and has blessed me, yet I want a different life than what He has given. I want to be happy, and I can't imagine what being happy is like.

  35. Cathy McKay says:

    Hi Susanna, I tried finding your email address, but couldn't, so I'll just post this link here, hope it is helpful somehow:http://bestbookco-op.blogspot.com/search/label/depression.Praise God that he has a reputation for using weakness to achieve exactly what he wants for Jesus' fame. May you see it in your own weakness, even today.Thanks for sharing.

  36. Sam says:

    As a believer who struggles mightily with a severe depression long ago diagnosed, I was grateful to read this. I think too many of my brothers and sisters define "depression" as "failure of faith." The stigma attached to it is not only religious, either. I was encouraged by your comments and am grateful that there are other believers who know what it is like to feel awful and hopeless for no apparent reason. NO matter how I feel, though, I know the promises of God in Jesus Christ are true and completely reliable; and I pray that as cracked and broken as I am, that He might use me in some way to touch others who also hurt deeply. That He is doing so with this post and the comments of many others here is itself evidence that God is, in fact, at work through our broken hearts, and that is a deeply resonating act of His grace to me. Again, thank you for posting this.

  37. micey says:

    Well I can empathize with your struggle. I have suffered with depression off and on for my whole life. I became born again at 42 and that has greatly improved my depression. I pray a lot! I also learned most of my sorrow was from a life of self everything. Alcohol, self destruction, selfishness… you name it. I was my own worst enemy. God has revealed a lot to me since then and has shown me how to forgive myself for it all, finally! Praise Him! I never take things for granted though. Everything has been on an uphill climb for 4 years. I don't want to worry about the downhill that is sure to come in the future. I know my Redeemer lives and I know every bout of depression ends. Currently, I have highs and lows that are quite frequent, but not too extreme. I just thank God for the thorn He's given me because it keeps me close to Him. Just know you are NOT alone. Thanks for sharing! Be blessed!

  38. JLE says:

    there is a grass roots organization called "To Write Love On Her Arms" (TWLOHA) that is a youth movement to raise awareness about depression and teen suicide prevention. the idea that one is not alone or unloved is a powerful one and the force behind this youth movement. Thank you for your candor. I think Micah would be the first to write love on your arms…

  39. mitzi says:

    Hi, Susanna,Depression runs in my family as well. From birth to age 7, I spent every week-end at my grandparents' home, because I (oldest and only female grandchild) was the only thing on the planet that could make my suicidally depressed grandfather smile. After he died (of a heart attack by God's mercy), I stayed for a 2-week suicide watch with my grandmother. I was 7. This was a lot for a young child to bear, but I learned that God is faithful to his children, even in the darkest of valleys, and even when they cannot "feel" him near. I also learned that it is OK not to be happy all the time. My suggestions:1. Find your own "strength" verses from the Bible. Write them on cards and post them around. They probably will not be commands to be happy. I wrote Psalm 18:2 on a rock during my teen years and positioned it so that I would see the verse upon waking. Have your husband and children leave little verses or pictures around for you as well.2. Have a signal for the kids that Mommy needs alone time, or Mommy just needs to cry a little bit. I had a friend with cancer who let her children pull out her hair, so that they would not be afraid; in the same way, show your children that your emotions are nothing to fear, but you do need some time to yourself to pull together.3. Sleep, exercise, and eat. Small, frequent meals with the proper balance of nutrients help me tremendously. Skip a meal and I'm screaming irritable-skip more and I'm weeping uncontrollably. God be with you.

  40. Betsy says:

    I second Jennifer W's suggestion of including medication in your gameplan. First, consider sleep, or lack of it, as an analogous situation.People react to fatigue and exhaustion in different ways: some become grouchy, others punchy. Lack of sleep may affect one’s thinking by causing an escalation of anxiety in some cases, or in others it may cause total apathy. The Christian will notice that a lack of sleep places him or her in a place where he or she is especially vulnerable to temptation. The temptation may seem slight, such as to speak harshly to one’s spouse, or severe, such as to give in to a seduction. A person who is very tired is more prone to let his or her guard down. Does this mean that a tired person who falls into temptation is not responsible for the sin? Not at all. The recognition that exhaustion places the believer in a vulnerable position should cause us not to exonerate ourselves, but rather to intensify our efforts to resist. We can resist physically by trying to remedy the situation (e.g. get some sleep), and we can also resist the specific temptation mentally (by calling the truth to mind) and emotionally (by enlisting the support of others who can help us to victory). These means of resisting are not in conflict with one another; rather, they each enhance the effectiveness of the other. Likewise, a chemical imbalance can leave a believer prone to sin. It does not cause sin, but it makes the one suffering the imbalance particularly susceptible to particular temptations. The most common of these are anxiety and despair. This may lead one to ask, which comes first, the wrong thinking of anxiety and despair or the chemical imbalance? There is no simple answer to this question. Yet the order in which these transpire really makes no difference in the necessity to fight temptation at every level. We should fight physically by treating the imbalance, spiritually by employing the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit, and emotionally by calling God’s people to our aid. Though I do not know whether the imbalance precipitates the temptation to wrong thinking or wrong thinking results in chemical imbalance, I do believe there is a stage at which the body must be aided physically in order for the symptoms of the imbalance to go away. For instance, you may have lain awake for many nights succumbing to the temptation of anxiety. Then, you may achieve victory in your thought life and learn to keep your thoughts held captive. Yet in spite of the fact that your thinking is no longer wrong, your body may still lay awake at night. You may not feel anxious in spirit, but there may be an anxiety that is palpable in the organ of your heart or your limbs. Because the body, mind, and spirit are so integrally connected, I have found that it is important to fight on all three battlegrounds as soon as a person identifies that he or she has become vulnerable to temptation in any one area. If you are like me, you may find yourself wondering, couldn’t the vulnerability caused by chemical imbalance be a crucible that allows us to experience God’s strength in our weakness? The answer is a resounding yes. This does not, however, mean that we should seek to put ourselves in this vulnerable situation, or remain there if we have a choice to remedy the imbalance. As long as medical help can do nothing for us, we should continue to employ all of the spiritual, mental, and emotional weapons God has given us. Yet when we discover a means of fighting temptation physically, I believe we would be guilty of spiritual negligence if we did not employ it. Sin is sin and temptations are bound to come, but God has equipped us with weapons sufficient for waging war against them. One of these weapons is medication. Others are sleep, diet, and exercise, and the support of friends. Most important is the word of truth, which has divine power to demolish strongholds. None of these weapons excludes the other, and we will do well to employ them all.

  41. laur says:

    Hi my sweet Anna,As you know, I can relate all too well to the things you've shared. I've learned that in some cases depression can have a very strong biological component. Our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual selves are totally entwined with one another and a change on one of these levels affects all the others. I've found, both in my personal life and with many of the clients I work with, that faith in Christ can help in dealing with the illness. The problem, in my opinion, is that the shame component of depression can be exacerbated if Christians start thinking "If I had more faith I wouldn't suffer like this," etc. If the focus is on the grace of God and the inherent weaknesses we share as fallen human beings, we can be encouraged to persevere despite our difficulties. The other problem is that there is rarely a simple answer to overcoming depression. Simply praying more often is rarely sufficient to fully recover. The biological, social, and emotional component all need to be addressed. Fortunately, God has equipped many skilled people in the world to speak His wisdom/ bring healing in other ways (i.e. via medication or neurofeedback) into these areas of our life. He's not only concerned with the spiritual part of us. I hope that more and more christians will become more comfortable sharing their struggles with depression (and other mental-health related issues)with one another. I love that you had the courage to write about your personal story- I bet many have been blessed because of this. Love you Anna :-)

  42. Lisa writes... says:

    Also here from challies…I too, like so many other commenters, struggle with depression and the accompanying guilt over being more melancholy than merry. Isn't it encouraging to know our struggle is not solitary? The enemy discourages us, I think, by convincing us no one understands and we are all alone in our fight for joy. Thank you for your honesty and authenticity. I am blessed by it.

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