This is part three of a three-part series on depression. Find part one here and part two here.
Through my past two posts, we’ve talked about how hard it was for me to even realize I needed to open up to someone. Then, we talked about how hard it was for me to find the right people to talk to. Now let’s talk about how I found people I could trust and began my journey out of the darkness of my depression. I believe it will help you open up and begin your journey toward healing, too. Because, that’s what it’s all about, right? You don’t have to wonder anymore, “Who can I talk to about depression?”
God intends for us to use our experiences with Him, even the hardest times of our lives, to help others who are going through similar situations. We don’t go through things like mental illness just to mark it as an experience hopefully forgotten.
Working on your mental health is a partnership with God. If you expect Him to do everything for you, it’s like praying for a healthy body while eating donuts. It just doesn’t add up. You must do some of the heavy lifting.
Okay, but what does this look like? We’re about to get really, really, practical. Here’s what helped me:
I started with therapy. I’ve described depression like living in a snow globe. I’d describe therapy like an ice pick. It slowly chipped away at false thinking and replaced it with truth. The chips became cracks in the glass, but the cracks were painful. I saw my therapist once a week for a long time. That’s because the glass cracking and repairing took a long time. I realize that therapy isn’t available to everyone, and may not be an option for you. That’s okay! God still has a perfect plan for you to get better.
I took time every day to spend with God. Even when I didn’t feel like it, I made prayer and reading my Bible a priority. Jeremiah 33:3 says: “… ‘Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.’” This Bible Plan encouraged me not to feel guilty about working on myself and my well-being. Shame has no part in this journey.
I allowed my family [back] into my life. One of the scariest parts of depression is losing people you love. You push them away and honestly don’t know why. I came to a place where I stopped allowing the shame of depression to run people out of my life. I (slowly) let them see what was going on, invited them into my world, and did my best to love them.
I started serving outside my comfort zone. I began serving in LifeKids (the kids ministry at Life.Church) every week—holding babies is completely out of my norm— but I 100% fell in love with those little boogers. Serving is one of the best parts of my week, every week. God knew the plan there, but it took me taking the first step to make it happen.
I moved on. Remember the friends I had a hard time with? I asked God for friends with whom I could share freely, laugh, and grow spiritually. He’s been faithful to bring them into my life, but I had to be open and willing to receive them.
I shared my story because there are people reading this post suffering with mental illness looking for next steps. If that’s you, please hear this: you are not labeled by shame. You are not damaged goods. You are not less than anyone else. You are: loved by God—valued so much He sent Jesus to die for you, equal in His eyes to others. Friend, don’t succumb to lies and labels of this world. Fight! Fight for freedom and renewing of your mind. God has labeled you as wonderfully made, and He’s fighting for you.
… And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:18-19
Pastor Craig’s message series, Divine Direction, is all about how to partner with God in your life. Week 4 is particularly helpful for how to take a first step even when you’re not sure about the big picture.