This is not a subject which is usually talked about by evangelical Christians. But if you counsel those who are born again and they have mental illness you will hear it mentioned many times. I have read some great descriptions of depression and the best ones come from those who have have experienced it themselves.
I bought a book once by Kathy Conkrite, the daughter of the legendary newscaster, Walter Cronkite. It included descriptions of her own depression and that of many famous people.
I could only read her book in small doses because it brought on Post Traumatic Stress symptoms because of my own horrible depression over the past 27 years.
Getting Personal, A Hell on earth?
I should get personal at this point. Here is something that I wrote after coming back from Dialectical Behavioral training in Seattle, Washington in the year 1997.
"It (depression) is hard for me to describe after I start to feel better. The problem is that when I am in the throes of a depressive episode, I am too depressed to take the time to write about it. The best description that I can come up with is that it is unbearable anguish; it is a living hell.
I hope you don't think I am being profane. I used to joke about hell when someone would tell me that I should go there. My answer was, "I got kicked out for selling ice cream cones." This was not original with me but being unconverted, I didn't care or understand anything about hell. I guess what I mean is that Hell is the worst reality a person could ever experience and it is eternal. The Good News, the truly great news is that since I have trusted Jesus Christ, I can say with Toplady,
My Saviour’s obedience and blood hide all my transgressions from view.The terrors of law and of God with me can have nothing to do;Impressed on His heart it remains, in marks of indelible grace.My name from the palms of His hands, eternity will not erase;
Yes, I to the end shall endure, as sure as the earnest is giv’n;
More happy, but not more secure, the glorified spirits in Heav’n.
Depression is by far the most painful experience that I have ever felt. There is no real comparison to what the infinite God/Man experienced when He hung on the cross and became sin for us. Because of the beating he was given, his face was marred more than anyone else. I do not believe Isaiah was talking about Christ's bloody face, though that was part of it; it was because He had been through Hell while on the cross.
Isaiah 52:13-15. See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at him-- his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness-- so will he sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.
Bipolar 2 disorder
I was diagnosed by my psychiatrist as having bipolar 2 disorder because my depression comes on quite suddenly and is very severe in nature. Here is an account of it in 1997. I was working as a case manager at a local mental health center and had just returned from my second intensive training program which was taught by Marsha Linehan in Seattle,Washington. I began to experience some of the early symptoms of an oncoming depression. Here are some of my thoughts that should have tipped me off to another episode.
May 11, 1997: I was a guest speaker in a little country church today. I wondered, Do I have post-traumatic stress disorder because of what we experienced in the pastorate in Kansas?
What is happening to me?
Also, I am wondering, Is everything temporary? I am experiencing obsessions and I have very low energy. Life is so hard today. I am feeling emotionally drained.
May 12,1997 - I called the doctor and asked him to put me on Buspar to augment my Zoloft. This was hard for me to request it because I usually become passive while in a depressive episode. He said he will call it in and I hoped this augmentation would work quickly.
Distraction through working
May 13, 1997- I am quite depressed today. it is very difficult to concentrate; I have moment by moment sorrow. My mind feels dead, but I was able to get my work done and even teach a Dialectical Behavior Therapy group this afternoon. I was able to relate to many of the women who have Borderline Personality Disorder because many of them also are depressed.
May 18, 1997 - I started work at about 8:00 am today. It seems that none of my fellow case mangers have noticed that I am in a depressive episode. Maybe they do but don't know how to approach me. From about 10-12:00 noon, I was in agony and intense sadness. I was panicky, my stomach hurt and my appetite was gone. I finally told the staff psychiatrist that I could not longer work and had to go home.
Deeper and Deeper into Depression
Immediately, separation anxiety overwhelmed me and I wanted to be with my wife. I called her and she asked me, Is it all right for me to go to a study with the ladies this afternoon or do you want me to stay here with you? I tried to be brave but after I hung up, I think, I have to go home. I sob uncontrollably as I drive home, wiping way tears to be able to see the road. My youngest son greets me at the door and as soon as I see him, I burst into tears. He is stunned and calls for Robyn. I pray to God, Father please don't let me commit suicide. Deeper and Deeper I descend into a Hell on earth. My thought in the middle of the most intense suffering is, How will people be able to stand Hell--- the real Hell?
It is Time to change medicine.
Robyn calls the psychiatrist and she is allowed access to him during his patient session. I try to compose myself when he says that he wants to try me on Ritalin. I went on it but I also begged him to put me on Paxil. He consented to it. Around 2:00 p.m, I feel relief.. Now the depression is bearable but still gloom is all around me. I think to myself, How long will it be before the Paxil works? I know I must wait on God to bring me out of the suffering, most likely through the medication.
Saturday, May 17, 1997. This is my third day on Paxil. I went to Brant's and Tyler's baseball games today. It was a good distraction. My mom and dad came and showed us some support. All I can handle now is watching T.V. (I realized how mindless television can be; it is just about all I can do when severely depressed.)
Read more of the story of my depression and my wife's view of my depression as a caregiver.Our book is called, Broken Minds Hope for Healing When You Feel Like You're Losing It.
Are you interested in becoming part of an online support group for those who have a mental illness.
Please call me at 616.427.0775 or email be at firstname.lastname@example.org