[Taken from Women’s Bible Study Conference (Wales) 2016, speaker Penny Curley]
Dealing with Depression, knowing what is true.
What is depression and what does it look like?
A quarter of British people will experience mental health problems this year. There were 8.2m cases in the UK in 2013, two thirds of those are women. Possible symptoms are many and varied, including appetite, insomnia, agitation or slow down, fatigue, worthlessness, reduced ability to think clearly or make decisions, suicidal.
Depression has been described as like sitting in the depths of a murky sea. Winston Churchill said he was pursued by a big black dog.
What causes depression?
Depression is a state of being whereas sadness is a process – Jim Winter (Depression, a Rescue Plan).
– Sadness not given time and space
– Overwhelming external pressures
– Chemical or hormonal imbalance
– Physical diseases can induce depression
– Depression can be a disease in its own right
Christians can get depression, it’s nothing to do with our spirituality.
So what can you do if depression is affecting you?
– Tell someone you trust
– Talk to your GP
– If your GP prescribes medication, take it!
– Be content with small steps towards feeling better
– Look for joy in the small things
– Chat with God, all the time, don’t worry about big prayer sessions
So how can we help someone else?
Case study: Elijah. In 1 Kings 17 & 18 he has had some amazing experiences, culminating in the standoff on Mount Carmel. But straight after, when he has brought an end to the drought, we find him terrified, alone, despairing, and depressed.
Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” (1 Kings 19:3-4)
God lets him sleep, feeds him, more sleep.
”What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:9) God has a conversation with him, asks questions, listens to what Elijah has to say. Then God puts things into perspective.
And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:11-13)
God speaks to him gently, and asks the same question, gets the same answer, but He is patient. Small things speak to people, you don’t need to thunder and roar. God’s solution was to give Elijah hope, help and purpose:
Hope: anoint new kings (1 Kings 19:15, 16a)
Help: Elisha to be his replacement (1 Kings 19:16b)
Purpose: train Elisha, only you can do it.
When you look outside yourself and start to do things for others, it gives you purpose and lifts you.