March is Women’s History Month. On Wednesdays this month I am sharing blogs by women living with or dealing with various health issues. The bloggers in today’s post deal with depression, mental health, breast cancer, and caregiving for a loved one with Autism.
Trigger warning. This post deals with suicidal thoughts. If that makes you uncomfortable, please click away.
As an American I have never understood why the UK keeps a monarchy nor the fascination with the Royal Family.. As someone who is busy with ministry and teaching, I have never been a big fan of talk shows like Oprah. I have always felt I have better things to do with my time. But when I saw a promo clip of the interview with Harry and Meghan, I decided to watch it. My motivation was simply to listen to someone give voice to what so many people struggle with- Depression and what some people struggle with- Suicidal Thoughts.
In the interview she shared that she confided in her husband Harry about her suicidal thoughts and that she needed help. Sharing that so publicly will hopefully help others to share with and confide in loved ones or people they trust.
She also shared that though she asked for help other than from her husband, she was not given help. That is very concerning.
Living with four chronic illnesses all of which have depression and anxiety as possible symptoms, I understand depression. I talked with my doctor and he prescribed medication for me to treat depression and Fibromyalgia. When I confided in one of my pastors, and he said, “Matt it is medical. You do not need to resign your ministry.” it was a moment I will never forget.
My experience has reinforced for me that God does indeed care. Jesus cares and works through other people. God wants us to ask for help.
There is hope for depression and struggling with suicidal thoughts. It is not only okay but wonderful to seek help. If family is not a safe place to confide in, there are school counselors, pastors, mental health facilities. There are hotline numbers.
In the USA-800-273-8255
In the UK- Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90 (UK – local rate) Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 91 92 (UK minicom) Hotline: 1850 60 90 90 (ROI – local rate) Hotline: 1850 60 90 91 (ROI minicom)
In Canada- 1.833.456.4566
There is always hope and we can ask for help. If we have depression, we can seek help. Talk with a doctor, a pastor, a trusted teacher, talk with someone. If medication is needed, it is not only okay but important to do so. If suicidal thoughts, PLEASE SEEK HELP.
I love the message in these videos. Stay Another Day and Your Story Isn’t Over Yet.
Last week I had a conversation with a colleague I mentor. My colleague is a young person who grew up in a Christian home. My friend struggles with depression/anxiety but is hesitant about seeking help because of the stigma such issues can have in some churches such as the one my friend grew up in.
It saddens me to think that some churches place a stigma on mental health issues like depression and anxiety. If someone has diabetes, we would encourage them to take insulin and be careful about what they eat. The brain is part of our physical bodies. It is a physical organ just as the heart, lungs, and pancreas are.
That is why I share about how God helped me with depression and anxiety. I live with four chronic illnesses and each of them can cause depression/anxiety on their own. Put all four together, and no wonder depression and anxiety were issues for me. My hope is to lessen the stigma in churches.
My hope is to also share Jesus with others who struggle with depression/anxiety. When I think about things Jesus said such as in Matthew 11:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
and what is written about how Jesus felt when he saw the large crowd of people in Matthew 9:
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Such verse help me realize that Jesus has great compassion for us. Such verses also help us to understand how approachable Jesus is when we struggle. His desire is to help us, restore us, and heal us. Yes, he does these things through others such as doctors and counselors too.
Dear reader if you struggle with depression or anxiety, Jesus understands you, His arms are open saying, “Come to me and find rest” just as he said in Matthew 11. We can cast all of our concerns on him because he cares for us.
Behind the Poem: I’ve probably struggled a bit with depression since I was a teen. I’m convinced that I’m one of those people who is sensitive to fluctuating hormones. I’m also prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder, I have Hashimoto’s Disease and I’m in Perimenopause. Add a pandemic and isolation into the mix and it’s a […]
A woman plagued with a health problem for years saw Jesus walking by. She thought to herself if she could just touch the hem of the garment of Jesus, she could be healed. She touched the hem of his garment and was healed.
Jesus walks by us every day. We can reach out to him. If we are feeling isolated, depressed, hopeless, all we need to do is barely reach out to him. He wants us to be with him.
I love this song with the focus on reaching out to touch the hem of his garment. We can do so in prayer. Even the faintest prayer will get his attention. Even if all we can do is say his name. He invites us to do so.
Have you ever walked down a dimly lit or a dark street at night? It can be a bit scary. In the night there are more crimes committed. It is also easy to stumble and hurt ones self walking in the dark. If we have a light, it makes it so much safer.
Jesus came into the world that he created. He came to be a light in the darkness of this world. This world is in spiritual darkness. There are various kinds of dangers in the darkness of this world, addiction, abuse, failed relationships, illness, etc.
Jesus came into the world he created to be a light for us, to show us God. In John 1:4 we read:
In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
Jesus is the source of life since he is the creator. He came here out of love to reclaim his most precious creation-human beings. We are the most precious part of creation to him. He is the light for all humans.
In John 1:5 we read:
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Jesus still shines his light in this world for us. Interesting to me is the word for overcome in Greek- katalmbano using English letters for you- gives a meaning of acquire, grasp, lay hold of. It is a word full of meaning. The darkness has not overcome it, lay hold of it, so it has not and will not conquer the light of Jesus. The darkness has not grasped the light or understood.
Think about how startling it is when all of the sudden someone turns on a light. Our eyes close a bit as we adjust to the light. If we are sleeping and someone suddenly turns on a light to wake us up, we are confused for a bit.
Those in darkness are confused about Jesus. The darkness that has a hold of them cannot overcome the light of Jesus.
Jesus wants us to be children of the light and reach out to those in the darkness. He wants us to shine his light in this world.
If anyone feels trapped by addiction, relationship/family troubles, depression, or anything else, Jesus holds out his hand to you to help you.
Let us who follow Jesus take our light out to a troubled world. Seek out those in need of the hope only Jesus can give.
Huge baby step may seem contradictory but as you read, you will understand why I chose the title.
One of the moms in my morning class is a woman from Sudan. She came to the USA with her husband and children as refugees to a small city about an hour and a half drive from my city. Her oldest son moved to my city for work shortly after they came here.
Her husband died about two years ago, so my student moved to my city with her younger children to be with her oldest son. She began my class shortly after she came to my city.
The above picture is not her but illustrates depression. We think she has clinical depression, but getting a diagnosis and treatment for someone with low verbal skills in English is not easy. She was despondent when she began my class and looked down a lot. She speaks so softly that it is difficult to hear her as she wears a mask in class. When I speak to her or someone else speaks to her, she will look up only to look down again afterward.
She had no computer skills when she started my class. Last school year, she was completely dependent on my assistant to help her with her Chromebook in class. When the class had to go remote using Zoom in April and May this year, we lost her.
This year she brings her Chromebook every day. All of the students have a Chromebook checked out to them. But she has been dependent on my assistant to help her. Then yesterday it happened.
When I assigned breakout rooms in Zoom, she clicked on join by herself. When I closed the breakout rooms in Zoom, she clicked on leave breakout room by herself. Both times I quickly acknowledged what she had done by saying her name, giving her a thumbs up and clapping for her. It was a small step for anyone else, but for her it was a HUGE baby step.
Jesus knows her name. Please pray for this woman who is a widow with a son in 1st grade who is autistic, a daughter in middle school, and a few older children.
Alisa Turner is a Christian Artist whose music speaks to me. She lived through years of battling Lyme Disease being bedridden from it for some time. Upon getting healthier, as in able to go on with life but still having issues, she started to pursue her dream of music ministry.
Her new song The Window expresses so beautifully and poignantly the experience some chronic illness sufferers got through of only being able to watch life but not be a part of life.
It was born out of her experience that her new song The Window was written and recorded. It was also out of that same experience that she recorded one of my all time favs My Prayer for You. I am sharing both in this post.
So for all of my fellow Spoonies, Chronic Illness Sufferers, here are two wonderful songs by Alisa Turner.
Today is World Mental Health Day. Unfortunately there is still stigma attached to mental health issues. Somehow it is forgotten that the brain is an organ that is part of our physical bodies.
We don’t say to a diabetic they are weak because they need insulin or to someone with asthma they don’t really need that inhaler.
As Christians, we are exhorted to bear one another’s burdens in Galatians 6. Depression and anxiety are burdens. Bi-Polar is a burden. God wants us to come alongside people who suffer to be supportive not judgemental.
As someone who has experienced depression/anxiety as symptoms of chronic illness, I understand how interconnected our bodies are. When one part of our bodies suffer, it can affect other parts of our bodies. Think about something as simple as lack of sleep for a few days and how it can affect one’s mood and it would only seem logical that physical ailments can contribute to mental health issues.
Jesus understands anguish. The night before he was crucified, he knew what was about to happen. He spent time praying and asked his disciples to be with him. We see in Matthew 26 Jesus saying:
“Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
In Luke 22 we see how much the anguish affected him:
“And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”
So if you struggle with depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues, please know that Jesus understands anguish and he invites you to come to him. In Matthew 11 he said:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
The reason he gave is that he is gentle and humble of heart. Jesus has all power and yet he is gentle with those who seek him.
This afternoon three Amazon deliveries came to me. As I thought about the items, I realized the connection among them at least for me.
One was a coffee cup sent to me by a student from Brazil who lives in Canada. She knows I am a Christian and sent me this coffee cup.
I love it. I love to start my day with coffee while listening to worship music and praying over my day. One prayer every morning is for Jesus to help me show his love to my students and others I will encounter during the day.
Speaking of showing the love of Jesus, this package came. It is from friends at church.
It is a box of winter hats and gloves for children at the school where I teach in the mornings. The school is in a low income neighborhood. These will help over 70 children stay warm as the walk to and from school in the winter.
One issue that is important to me is suicide prevention. I shared about it yesterday. Mental health is something that I care about as it affects others. In punctuation a period ends a sentence, full stop for British English, but a semi colon means the sentence will continue. So the semi colon is a symbol that someone has thought of suicide but decided to continue with their life. Some people get semi colon tattoos to either show they have chosen to continue or to show support for others. I ordered this mask from Amazon
Notice the semi colon in the word live. I will wear this to show support to others.
So the packages represent time with Jesus in the mornings, showing his love to children, and showing his love to those who struggle in life.
They all came on the same day. Kind of a reminder from Jesus 🙂