I'm frustrated with people who think depression is sin. And unfortunately it is a very common belief. Especially in our churches. If you are depressed you are not living in God's will. You are out of step with God. You don't read your Bible enough. You just plain aren't spiritual enough.
How self-righteous. How sanctimonious. It makes me furious!
Do you know how many times I have heard that? And from people who really don't know what they are talking about? Have any of these people been fine one day and had a black cloud descend the next? Have then been totally incapable of functioning? Have they stood in the middle of a grocery store aisle and not been able to put one thing in the cart?
Depression is real. It is an illness. Why do we make people feel like sinners if they need to take medication to help them during a dark time? As much as I wanted to help myself, as much as I read and read and read the Bible, and wept in prayer to God - the darkness did not lift by itself. I felt paralyzed and hopeless. I could not begin to be a functioning member of a church or contribute in anyway. Once on medication to help the darkness lifted. The paranoia lifted. The anxiety lifted. And I could once again be a contributing member to my church and through them to society.
How dare we kick people when they are down? How dare we serve up platitudes and Bible verses and "if only you would" ... All that does is drive that person deeper into despair and guilt.
When a person comes to us in the grip of depression we need to be willing to listen. To hug. To understand. To enter into their pain with them. To keep an eye on them. To suggest they get help. To offer to go with them, be with them, stay with them. We need to touch base with them often. And pray for them.
Not tell them they are sinners. Not dismiss their concerns. Not ignore the signs that they are decompensating.
We need to wake up before one more person who has been judged and reprimanded and yes, even ridiculed for their pain is pushed to the brink of taking their life because they feel so very, very hopeless, misunderstood and unfixable.
We need to stop hurting, and start helping.Stop being part of the problem and start being part of the solution. No, we can't make it better. Nor can we talk anyone out of anything. We can't fix the situation. But we can stop blaming the depressed person for their depression. And walk beside them. And love them.
So we know, in the end, we did the best we could. And when the unthinkable happens I want to be able to grieve with the family. Just be sad. Period. I don't want to be furious as well with the church.
Like I am today.