Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Lord's help in finding the right treatment!

Copyright 2010

Coptyight 2010
by Steve Bloem

When I am in a depressive episode it feels like my brain is broken. My first episode (also called age of onset) was when I was twenty nine years old. It lasted a long time and its intensity went from severe to moderate, in a hurry.

The year was 1985. My psychiatrist was a retired medical director of a Christians psychiatric hospital. He graciously agreed to see me as an outpatient because I was an ordained pastor.

On one of our visits, I mentioned to my psychiatrist that my mind still had not cleared, that it felt like there was a cloud over it. I also lamented that I was still depressed. His response was, oh, medications don’t do everything, getting healed involves a lot more than pills. His thinking that a medication only worked partially was painful for me to hear, it did not make sense. I knew how my mind worked before it was broken. It was different and I was afraid it would never be the same. Since medication helped me part of the way, I desired full relief in concrete terms not abstract ones.

Because of my psychiatrist's age, (he was in his 70’s) and because this was 1985, he was steeped in Freudian psychological thought. At one point he talked about the little boy deep down inside me. He also told Robyn and me some of the old treatments for depression. He said that they use to believe, that helping depressed people expressing their deep seated anger, would help them get over their depression.  This scared me. He told me that one of the strategies used in days gone by was to have depressed people scrubbing the grout between bathroom tiles with a toothbrush, until they were very angry. I imagined myself in a depressive episode having to actually be forced to do what he had described.

I did not believe him but I was shaken. Anger turned inward is the hallmark of Freudian and Neo-Freudian psychology. Its effect on the overall treatment of depression is discussed in our book, Broken Minds Hope for Healing When You Feel Like You're  Losing It, Kregel Publications. It is needless to say that these interpretations only made things worse. Fo more about this book, you can visit,

I fired my former doctor, who had called antidepressants poison (not the one mentioned above).  Robyn and I were living in Scranton, PA at the time so I made use of public services offered at the Scranton Counseling Center. 

In my studies for my Master of Social Work, I prepared to write a fifty page discourse on the treatment of mental illness in our time (1985). In my research for the paper, I studied many views of mental illness. God, in His loving providence, helped me find an article, The Challenge of Chronic Depressions by Hagisop Askidal, M.D. 

"When I told my new doctor at the Scranton Clinic that I was still depressed he said, "you are under very much stressI think this is your problem." I remonstrated, "I cannot accept what you are saying." I told him about the above mentioned article and what it said about why people who did not receive adequate treatment for depression. 
Apparently my previous doctor felt he did not need raise the medication dosage, or did not try a combination of antidepressants and mood stabilizers.
Thankfully, my new psychiatrist decided to give it a try. I was wholly better in two weeks. I could have gone on for a number of years mistreated and suffering needlessly, if I had not pushed the envelope.

Today psychiatrists have many tools by which you can be symptom free. Of course, medicine will not help you if you recently lost your girl friend or failed a couple of tests at school. Emotional upheaval and external stresses are not the same as clinical depression. Please consider learning about depression and its treatment. One resource, of  course, that we recommend is our book, Broken Minds, Hope for Healing When You Feel Like You're Losing It. You can find some more information and help by visiting the link below. http://heartfeltmin.org/resources.html

This is a brand new book that I have written. Here is one review by a Christian Pastor.

“Every pastor needs to own this book. Here’s why. Thankfully, in recent years, our western church culture has taken some steps forward in understanding
mental illness but we have a long way to go. Steve Bloem helps us move further faster by challenging us with insights from Scripture many of us have simply ignored. Yes, that’s right, the Bible talks about mental illness and the scope is significant. In addition, this is a handbook. It is a quick reference that provides us with both an introductory understanding of various mental illnesses, along with guides for helping us respond to those struggling. This is a book written from both an academic and a life-lived perspective. Steve and his wife Robyn
weave their own personal stories throughout its pages, helping us gain a greater understanding and providing us with the necessary resources to make wise responses to those afflicted with mental illness.”
—Ken Taylor,
Founding and Teaching Pastor,
Creekside Church, Waterloo, Ontario

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