Anna Mannarino has dealt with depression. In her article on Relevant Magazine, she shares seven tips for How to Help a Friend Fight Depression. Depression can be hard for a healthy person to understand, especially a Christian who believes we should “be joyful always,” and might not understand the physical nature of depression. Her first suggestion is don’t judge.
“…[P]lease don’t judge me. I’m already judging myself harshly. I’m having trouble understanding myself, too. I’ve heard happiness is a choice and I’m responsible for my own emotions, but right now I’m having difficulty figuring out how to apply those principles.
Pray that your heart would be full of grace toward me. If judgment remains in your heart, I will probably sense that. It will probably come out, because “out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” What a blessing if the overflow of your heart is grace.”
Anna also asks, don’t tell me to believe things I already know, saying “It isn’t a lack of faith or unbelief. Please don’t imply that my spiritual deficiencies are the cause of my depression.” Next, she asks friends to learn to listen, don’t try to fix it, and just sit with her.
“I’m going through a dark time right now, and what I need most is someone who is willing to sit with me in my darkness. Hold me while I cry.”
Finally, she reminds us that if you give advice, back it up with support - and don’t forget to pray for me and with me.
“Hearing you plead with God for me gives me another opportunity to feel heard. When I hear you tell God what I’ve told you, I know you have paid attention. You may not completely understand my emotions, but when you understand enough to tell God, my feelings of isolation begin to recede.”
Tim Laitinen, a contributor to the Crosswalk Singles channel, recently opened up about his own struggle with clinical depression. In his article How I Know Clinical Depression Isn’t Sinful, he describes the real, physical struggle with chronic depression:
“ …[U]nlike the blue funk you might fall into every now and again, chronic clinical depression can consume your life. It can involve deep, dark mood swings, debilitating stretches of extraordinary anxiety, feelings of mental paralysis, and panic attacks that aren’t mere reflexes to bad news, but are triggered by the most mundane thoughts. These can persist to varying degrees for years.”
Tim goes on to admit,
“Frankly, hiding my depression has been exhausting. Yet I still take no pleasure in revealing my secret to you. Nor am I staging a poignant confession to garner your sympathy.
So, why ‘come out of the closet’?
As I’ve been going through this season of clinical depression, God has been showing me that my life isn’t about me. Just as your life isn’t about you, either! I’m not telling you all of this to make myself feel better, because remember, I’d prefer keeping this a secret. Nevertheless, I don't believe keeping this a secret any longer honors God. He’s allowed me to have chronic clinical depression, and the "chronic" part means I've had it a long time, and maybe for a lot longer. This is part of the life God has given me. So why should I be so ashamed to have it?”
For more on Christianity and depression, check out John UpChurch’s trending article 5 Things Christians Need to Know about Depression and Anxiety.
Debbie Holloway is the Family Life Editor for Crosswalk.com
Publication date: May 14, 2014