My heart clobbered inside my chest. I had run with all my strength to the hiding place that I had chosen and was attempting to slow my breathing. Crouching down in the shadows of the dark cedar tree around the southwest corner of the building I attempted to gather my thoughts. I was not the only person being hunted, and with any luck, I would be safe here until I could think through my next move. Suddenly, I heard a shriek in the distance. Don’t Move. I instructed myself. Don’t even breathe. The silence was a welcome friend and a haunting fiend. No noise at all meant no more of the others had been discovered, yet it also assured me that I just might be the next victim. Darkness began to cover the entire area with its black shroud and I held tight to my flashlight. It was there to guide my way, but could and surely would reveal me to my pursuer. A faint gasp escaped me when I suddenly heard the rustling of leaves just a few feet away from me. I have to put some distance between me and him, I thought. I knew the area well and would be forced to make a stealthy move in the dark. My back was against the concrete wall and I carefully slid around the corner. Straight ahead, 50 or so feet, lies a cluster of bushes that would make a perfect shelter. I took a deep breath and bolted with every fiber of my being towards safety. I could hear footsteps behind me gaining on me with every move. I zigged left and then right hoping to elude capture. Without warning, a protruding tree root caught my foot and I was propelled through the air several feet, and “BAM “a searing pain to the side of my face. As the taste of blood trickled into my mouth, I realized I was on the ground. My nose was bleeding from its vicious collide with the hard earth. I felt nauseous and I could not seem to grasp my bearings. I was all turned around in the abyss. I was injured and alone and scared. Salty tears trickled down my face. I searched frantically on the ground for the flashlight that had slipped away. I held onto it like a long lost friend and pushed my fingers against the button on the light, shaking it in the air violently. “I don’t want to play anymore!” I screamed, “I’m out!”
There have been many times in my life that desperately wished that sweet relief would come by me screaming, “I’m out!” If only the foreboding worries that cover my mind like a dark cloud could be dissipated by simply announcing aloud that I no longer desired to play. Yet this is so very far from being a children’s game.
Millions of Americans suffer from the mental health diagnosis of depression with anxiety. We see television commercials about medications and all-in-all as a society we have begun to be more accepting of people who carry this on a daily basis. This even includes some in the church world. I do not have book knowledge about this particular subject. I will not be laying down statistics or trying to impress you with my vast intellect. I live with this every single day: Depression with anxiety. I also live my life for Jesus Christ. I love him and He is my Lord and Savior. These are two constants in my life.
The Apostle Paul speaks in 2 Corinthians about having a thorn in the flesh. From my understanding of the Word, it was something that God placed in his life to prove that God’s grace would sustain him. Because God’s grace is sufficient. I do not believe for one minute that God has allowed this diagnosis to be given me to keep me in check, but it does serve as a daily reminder that God not only can but will give me the ability to overcome through the power of Jesus Christ. A Theologian I am not, and I do not pretend to be. I sincerely believe that God is leading me to produce this post. I am writing this to further expose the unadulterated truth that Christians can and do battle depression. And folks we may lose a few battles, but we will win the war!
Time and again I awake and a new symptom has manifested itself for me to endure: A sadness that creeps up from somewhere in the dark recesses of my mind that makes me feel shrunken and even ashamed that I recognize it, and wincing thrust of back pain that serves to remind me that I have seen my best days and this will not be one. Unrelenting nausea and light sensitivity that sends me scurrying like a cockroach into the darkness. These are the weapons that I am pummeled by day after day.
Several years ago, I was ambushed by this unforeseen threat. As I went about my normal work day, an unbearable rush of weight seem to be pushing against my chest cavity and I was unable to speak or even breathe. I felt frozen where I stood as sweat accumulated on my brow and upper lip, while simultaneously the color quickly drained from my face. With my loss of temporary consciousness, it appeared that in mere moments the paramedics arrived. A thousand loud questions bombarded me. “Do you know your name? Do you know where are you? Do you hurt? Has anything like this ever happened before? I withstood them for what seemed like hours. I wasn’t sure if I was responding to the inquiry or not. “Are you taking any prescription medications?” They continued,” Are you allergic to any medications? Who is your primary doctor? The swirling sounds inside my head were increasingly getting louder.“Go away!” My mind echoed in a shrill voice of desperation, “God please make it go away!”
Once I was examined and blood-work secured several medications were administered. The jumping and screaming inside my mind retarded like a slow-motion movie now. Everything around the room including the furniture appeared softener. The distress that had seemed to envelop my heart had slid away into some hidden cavern, and I sat. Simply staring. I remember feeling not only secluded from those powerful punches of in-your-face emotion but somehow alienated from myself. The real me. The person that I was created to be. I knew her, but in that instant, she was a stranger. I wondered if I would ever see her again and would I recognize her. That day is not a memory that I will soon forget, and most assuredly a day that changed my life forever.
The type of anxiety and depression that I live with is caused by a physical issue. It is an imbalance in the chemicals of my brain. Medication helps fill in those gaps to manage these deficits. I work closely with my doctor and follow her regiment religiously. If you were to be told by your doctor that you had heart trouble, you would listen carefully and follow their instructions to the letter so that you might be able to live a longer and happier life. That is exactly what a person with my diagnosis should work towards. Instead of accepting the stigma that is associated with depression and anxiety, I choose to do something about it.
However, there is also a depression that medication will not heal and that is the spirit of Depression. Now, stay with me here. Because I know first hand what I am talking about. You have heard of angels, well meet just a couple of their counterparts. Depression is accompanied by the spirit of Fear. They go everywhere together. If Fear can make you scared enough then Depression will grow stronger and stronger. Please grasp the sincerity of my words, the stronger Fear and Depression become the less life you have.
The best description of what living that way looks like takes me back many years ago. I had been through a nasty divorce after years of physical and mental abuse. I was active in my church, raising a one-year-old, and working at the local grocery to make ends meet. I went through the motions of day to day living, yet my thoughts were almost constantly gloomy. I felt horrible about myself, afraid of what my ex might try to do to my daughter and myself, worried about bills, and consistently doubting my salvation. Even during moments of great joy, I could sense this black cloud that hovered over me. At some moments I would feel as if I had outrun it, yet as soon as my guard was down, an assault of deadly fears and suffocating depression would overtake me.
Let me be clear here. I am not speaking of demon possession. I am referring to the activity of Satan and his minions set out to kill our influence on this world, and take us out as well. If I had the devil’s job I would certainly do my best to depress, tear down, and hurt as many Christians as I possibly could. If as Christians we become so bogged down in our own problems there is no way we would be able to spread the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And all of Hell knows that their days are numbered so they are pulling out all the stops.
My situation was dire. I ached for some type of relief from being fainthearted. Now, these are the times when although you are a Christian that your focus gets off of Jesus and the world will offer all manner of things to help you cope with and hide from your problems: Alcohol, drugs, medication abuse, sex, pornography, etc. Truth be told not a single of those things or a combination of them will bring true calm in your troubled life. Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace. Now it is one thing to say those words, but it is something else to experience it for yourself.
When the enemy of your soul dispatches his demons to work against you it is a serious problem. You need prayer, and lots of it. You need Spirit-filled believers to pray for and with you through this. And you must be willing to turn loose of all the pain, fear, and hopelessness that you have carried for so long. In my situation, I didn’t want to be this way and yet I was not sure how to be anything else. The Bible refers to this as a familiar spirit. I was so intertwined in this gloomy way of existing that when I was in the altar praying for help, I was the one who had to tell those spirits of fear and depression that I wanted them to leave. Others prayed for me but this was a spiritual battle that had to ended by the one who desired it most. I received my deliverance that day, and I remember how much relief flooded my mind. As we prayed, we asked God to fill those empty places with peace and joy. He answered our prayer that day and I was forever changed.
One important thing to note is once you have dealt with these spirits and them trying to destroy you, it will always be something that you should be aware of. Not allowing yourself to fall for the same tricks as before because if you give in again it will be worse the next time. The devil is cunning and he will do his best to sneak back in and take over. There are several ways that we can be caught unaware if we are not diligent. We will discuss these in another post. God stands ever ready to fight for His children, yet He waits for us to ask Him.
Think back to the child in the introduction of the child playing hide and seek in the dark. She is holding the flashlight for dear life, and knows it’s there. Yet notice for fear of being caught she stayed in the dark, and lurked in the shadows. She knew the area, so she didn’t need help. It was not until her situation became unbearable did she scramble to locate the light and allow it to extricate her from the game.
So why do we as Believers have those same tendencies? Why do we more often trust in self than in a sovereign ever present, all knowing God who waits? Sounds kind of crazy huh?
Depression and anxiety are real issues in this life. They can appear as a physical issue and medication will stabilize them. They can also be a fight in the spirit realm. Then there are times when the situation can be made almost unbearable because it is coming from both areas. This takes a Holy Spirit-filled leader that can discern exactly what is going on and can prayerfully guide you through the process. There are many people dealing with these issues, but they do not understand what it is. It is my prayer that I have shined a light into these dark places. Peace be to you, My friend!