Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Proverbs 18: 14. The spirit of a man can sustain his sickness but a wounded spirit, who can bear?


 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 experienced it themselves.

 I bought a book once by Kathy Conkrite, the daughter of the legendary newscaster, Walter Cronkite. It included descriptions of her  depression and that of many famous people. I could only read her book in small doses because it brought on Post -Traumatic Stress symptoms of my own horrible depression over the past 30 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 have had kidney stones and vertigo.  The pain is  awful but there is no comparison to a biological episode of depression.

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 of Dialectical Behavior Therapy which was taught by Marsha Linehan at the University of 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 occurring.

Preaching the word of God. 

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 I 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 my psychiatrist 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 would  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 also can  relate to many of the women who have Borderline Personality Disorder because many of them are also are depressed.
May 18, 1997 - I started work at about 8:00 am today. It seems that none of my fellow case managers 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 no longer work and had to go home.

Deeper and Deeper into Depression
 May 14, 1997
Immediately, in the morning, separation anxiety overwhelmed me and I wanted to be with my wife Robyn. 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 thought,  I have to go home. I sob uncontrollably as I drove home, wiping away 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 descended into a Hell on earth. My thought in the middle of the most intense suffering was; how will people who don't know Jesus Christ be able to stand Hell--- the real Hell?
  After lies by my insurance company about the effectiveness of ECT,  I was hospitalized and kept far too long to  without starting a round of (Electro Convulsive Therapy) Finally it began,  eventually it was effective in bringing me out of my severe depressive episode. 
The depression came back and I was put on Lithium, given ECT maintenance, and finally put on the drug, Seroquel. Since, being on Seroquel (that is an atypical anti-psychotic and works as a mood stabilizer),  I have not had a severe depressive episode. Seroquel has been  found to be successful in the treatment of bipolar two disorder, bipolar disorder, and approved by the F.D.A. as a medicine that prevents the recurrence of major depressive episodes.

"This is a candid and spirit affirming story of a family's personal struggle, not only with mental illness, but also in finding where they fit into the body of Christ and His ministry. Considering that 10% of the world's adult population suffer from some form of mental illness, this book could well be required reading for pastors, elders, and Christian counselors or for anyone who is called to minister with understanding and unbiased care. The book is solidly based on a scriptural foundation with ample clinical information to appeal to the lay person or anyone in a counseling capacity. Informative, honest and helpful, this work shatters the old stigmas and perceptions of mental illness and depression. It is well written with enough heart and hope to balance the seriousness of the subject." (Sandra Thayer Author's ChoiceReviews)2005-12-0).