God’s Response to depression….

So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”   1 Kings 19:13

So here’s this amazing man of God who just had this amazing victory and now here he was exhausted, fearful, isolated, feeling like a failure and wanting to die.  He had a right relationship with the Lord, but he was still terrified.  How could this be possible?  Unfortunately this happens all too often.  We can hit our lowest lows after an amazing spiritual victory.  So what did God do?  Did He rebuke Elijah?  Did He pass judgement on Elijah or tell him to snap out of it?  No the scriptures says this…Elijah fell asleep under the tree.  An angel of the Lord tapped Elijah and woke him.  And the angel said, “Get up and eat.” And there near his head was some baked bread over coals and a jug water. Elijah ate and drank and then laid down again.  The angel of the Lord again woke Elijah,
“Get up and eat for the journey is too much for you.” So Elijah got up ate and drank. God had great compassion for Elijah.   He knew Elijah was depressed.  God did not allow him to die like he wanted.  God still had a great deal for Elijah to do.  Strengthened by the food and water he gets up and travels for forty days and nights to Mt. Horeb, the mountain of God. This is the mountain where the commandments were given to Moses.  It was like he wanted a fresh touch from God. He wanted to go where he thought God might be. He went in a cave and spent the night.

What so touched my heart is that God knew Elijah’s heart.  God also knew Elijah was exhausted from running and from spiritual battle at Mt. Carmel. God knew that Elijah was not up for teaching just yet. Sometimes I think that we are so eager to fix the depressed person that we automatically start telling what to do to get better. Sometimes they just need someone to listen. They  may need a meal or an errand run. I have people in my life that if i get down just hearing their voice helps. Some may just want to sit with you quietly while you work around the house. God knew He just needed love and comfort and time.  We are such an instant world now. You must give yourself time to recover and heal. In fact it is another 40 days before Elijah’s next big spiritual lesson.

Look, our heavenly Father made our bodies. He knows their limits physically,  emotionally, and spiritually. God knows that sometimes when you are depressed you need sleep, food and water before you can continue on your spiritual journey.  And that is what we as a church need to do for our brothers  and sisters who are depressed.  We need to be there for them and minister to them physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. We need to love them where they are and not judge them.  We just need to accept them as they are and know God has great plans for them.  And if you are the one depressed, please give yourself a break and take care of yourself physically and spiritually. God knows you are weary. He knows you need rest,  just let Him love you…Tomorrow I will finish the Elijah story.  God still has more amazing things for

Elijah…

EL ROI …THE GOD EWHO

I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.
Psalm 34:4

This is my favorite part of the story….

This will have to be in two parts.  For the whole story you can read 1 Kings 18-19.  This is what God, our loving heavenly Father, did to care for those with depression.  But before I can get there here’s a little back story…1 Kings 18-19 has such a loving and tender portrait of how to care for those suffering of depression.  Actually it starts in chapter 17.  Elijah tells Ahab there will be no more rain because of Israel’s turning away from the Lord.  Ahab is even called the most evil king over Israel to that day. He was married to Jezebel.  She was a fanatic for the false god baal. In fact she had the prophets of God hunted down and killed. Elijah was Chief on her list.  In ch. 18 Elijah sends word to Ahab that after three years it is going to rain again. They all meet on Mt. Carmel to pray for fire to consume the sacrifices prepared…  The false prophets of baal did one and then Elijah.

The false prophets prayed to baal. Baal’s prophets accept the challenge, set up their altar and began crying to their god. Of course no fire falls.
“Maybe he can’t hear you,” Elijah says. Then he suggests that they shout louder. They do, but still no fire falls. “Is he asleep?” Elijah taunts. “You had better wake him up.” As a final appeal, Baal’s prophets slash themselves with knives but that doesn’t work either. No fire comes.
After all this, Elijah builds an altar to the Lord, digs a trench around it, and orders that water be poured over it. Twelve barrels of water in all are used until the sacrifice is soaked through and through and the ditch around it is running over. Then Elijah prayed and the fire of God consumed both sacrifices, the wood, the stones, the soil and all surrounding water that the people had added to the sacrifice at Elijah’s request .  The people fell to the ground and cried, “The Lord He is God! The Lord He is God!”                                                                            (Daniel Rodgers part a)

Then Elijah had all the false prophets killed, 450 of them. Now this was an amazing victory in the name of the Lord.  Then it rains.  Ahab goes to meet with jezebel and tell her what Elijah did. She vowed to kill Elijah. On a side note, you see a glimpse of jezebel’s heart. Her country has not received rain for three years,  and all she can think of is revenge and death. No rejoicing for her people.
Whereas after three years though Elijah just had this great victory he was terrified by the news of jezebel.  And he ran in terror of her. He asked his servant to stay behind, people who are depressed tend to withdraw from others. He then ran another day and went and sat under a juniper tree, he told God he was no better than his ancestors and prayed to God to die.  Here is this amazing man of God.  He was in right relationship with God. He just took part in this amazing miracle of God but he was afraid, on the run, exhausted, isolated, is feeling like a failure and praying for death.  He just won this great spiritual battle, and now he was ready to throw in the towel and die…Tomorrow I will finally get to tell you what God did with Elijah…I can’t wait!!l

Summer craziness is over. i will be finishing the depression diaries. These are revised and some new. I hope they help. Thank you for your love and support….

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes.

John 9: 1-3, 6

I saw changes after I started the medication. I was finally able to sleep.  I was becoming my old self again.  At class I learned what caused my depression and the symptoms of depression.  I learned my depression was caused by my body not being able to uptake serotonin. Serotonin carries signals along and between nerves – a neurotransmitter. That is what was causing my chemical  imbalance.

I learned the signs of depression vary with people but the common signs are hopelessness, not sleeping, lose interest in things, anxiety, irritability, change in appetite, uncontrolled emotions, crying constantly to name just a small amount. Alone these are not as big of a problem, but all of these even several of these means you might be depressed.  I  learned that only a doctor can tell you if you are clinically depressed. But once you knew and were put on medication you need to stay on the medication until they tell you can quit. Quitting “cold-turkey” can cause serious problems for someone who is depressed. I cannot tell you how often, in the beginning,  I felt really good and stopped taking my medication. It is always a disaster. I put my self at risk for becoming far worse than I was.

A few thoughts on medications…Medication doesn’t make you weak. Medication prescribed by a doctor does not mean you will become addicted to these drugs. If you had cancer and someone told you that you would be cured but you have to take this medication everyday.  You would easily take your medication for cancer. Another thing to remember is if your prescription for medication was addictive, why do we long so much to be off the meds.

I think Jesus shows us a glimpse of his opinion on medication. In John 9:6 is says, ” After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes…” now this is not a scholarly
thought this is a heart thought. Why did Jesus use spit and mud to heal the blind man. With one word He could have healed him. Could he be showing, “It is ok for Me to heal through medication.” Jesus does the healing, but He can use what ever way he wants to use.

Medication is very important to your healing. If you are prescribed meds by a Doctor. Do not be ashamed to take them. They are a blessing from God available only now in time. We are blessed to be here now. Let’s take every advantage of what opportunities we have available to us.

Remember Jesus said,  ” I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

John 10: 10b

I am so sorry this is so late. Here is the newly revised continuing version of the depression healing diaries…

Dr:  Ok Mrs Johnston which is better one or two
Vickey: I can’t tell
Dr:  Ok, how about now..one or two
Vickey:  I cannot tell
Dr: (frustrated) let’s try this..one or two
Vickey:  I cannot tell
Dr:  It has to be one or the other..(clearly exasperated)
Vickey: but I honestly I cannot tell..
Dr: let me look behind your eye…oh we need to get you to a specialist immediately…

I had just had my eyes checked the Friday before this, but all of a sudden I could not see clearly.  I thought I was given the wrong prescription.  That is why I went to the eye Dr. again.  As the Dr looked at the optic nerve he saw that  there was some kind of pressure against my optic nerve. That was why I could not see.  From there i was sent to the eye specialist immediately.  I have learned since then that when your dr’s seem to hurry about, panic and do things immediately, no matter how professional they try to seem, it really causes you to panic as well. I was so terrified.  The eye specialist looked at me and said he thought it was something called pseudotumor ceribri.

Pseudotumor ceribri, that is a condition that causes your body to overproduce spinal fluid and puts pressure on the optic nerve thus causing you to loose vision.  “BUT,” he said, “it could be something far worse. There could be a mass in your brain.” They could not be for sure without further tests. I would have to go see a neurologist ASAP.  I was shocked.  I thought it was something minor and now I had to see a neurologist.  A neurologist?! I was just going to get a simple glass prescription changed…what was going on?  The neurologist  said he could not tell what was going on. I would have to have an MRI.

I remember at the MRI that i was so sad because she asked me for my wedding ring. I could not have any metal in the room during the MRI.  i had to take off my wedding ring for the first since we married. I remember telling her, “But i never wanted to take it off.” I looked up at Bobby with tears in my eyes. She looked at me with compassion and took my ring and asked if i would like for her to play Christian music for the duration of the test. “I would like that.” I said.

After the tests we had to wait for the test results for several days. And so we waited. Waiting for test results that i thought could show a mass was so hard for me. It gave me time to worry about all the”what if’s”. Thankfully the tests did not show a mass of any kind. Now I had to have a spinal tap.  Those test results showed elevated signs of spinal fluid. As it turned out I did have psuedotumor cerebri, and not cancer after all. But i must tell you that the anxiety and panic attacks while i took and waited for test results were immeasurably.  Before we knew for sure I was so afraid I was going to die. “I had just gotten married.” I thought. I  would stare at Bobby’s face. I wanted to remember it because i thought it was the last time i would see his sweet precious face.

I confess I was not handling this with Christian grace.  My depression came back. I was crying constantly. I had panic attacks.  I could not eat. I could not sleep…and for the first time since I was a Christian everything went dark again spiritually.  I could not think straight. I could not make decisions.  It was so bad at times that Bobby literally had to put me to bed.  As Bobby did all he could to care for me spiritually, physically and emotionally, he realized there was something far worse going on. He got me to the psychiatrist as soon as he could.  The Dr. asked if I had been sleeping.  We told him no. And after we told him of the other symptoms (and after seeing the condition I was in) He said I had clinical depression. He immediately put me on medication and had me join a therapy group that met everyday. There I learned about what depression was. I learned what the symptoms were.  There i learned how other people with depression were treated. Sadly, I also began to see that they did not not have the love and support  i had. They were treated so poorly by others. It really hurt to see the pain they went through all alone.

That was over twenty years ago, and sadly little has changed today, even in the church where we are supposed to find love, support and comfort. Tomorrow I am going to talk about what I learned about depression and how those around you just do not always get it….not even at the church.

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.          Psalm 91:4-6

To have and to hold…

 

While a summer missionary I met a young man working in the church office.  His name was Bob.  Little did I know at the time, but he would become the second biggest and best decision I would make in my life…as I would someday say yes to his proposal and become his wife.  The depression had me in tail spins still, but everything was about to come into focus. Please understand I am not saying I am blameless for the poor decisions I made.  They were all mine, but I was finally going to understand why I behaved the way I did, like the isolation, the anxiety, the insomnia and the sleeping so much.  After meeting Bobby, he later asked my mom’s permission to court me and then asked her permission to marry me.  We were finally married and I thought all would be well,  but it was not.  It was our first year of marriage and i had a big health scare and the depression was back with a vengeance.  BUT there was a difference.  Bobby started to notice my symptoms.   He got me to a doctor and it all made sense.  I had clinical depression.  Clinical depression is the more-severe form of depression, also known as major depression or major depressive disorder. It isn’t the same as depression caused by a loss, such as the death of a loved one, or a medical condition. I was not just tired, down, sad, or lazy.  It was not that I did not have enough faith to get better.  I physically was not well. As it turns out, all that time that I felt lost and aimless I Was NOT.  I was still God’s child. That did not changed just because I was a Christian with depression. I have got to tell you, it sometimes felt like I was all alone, but I WAS NOT.  I really thought I was the only Christian failure out there.  But I was never out of His sight or hands. God had good in mind for me and He would NEVER let me go…Tomorrow I will tell you how we found out I had this thing called depression….

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  Romans 8:35

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.    Romans 8:38-39

Failure is Only the Beginning Not the End…

Now that I was a Christian, the terror filled hopelessness was gone.  But the depression was not.  Charlie said I should read the Gospel of John and study God’s Word to learn more about Him. And he told me that prayer was simply talking to God like with anyone.  I did these things, and grew and failed in many ways. But every time I failed God was faithful and He would always pick me up.  I would always have His promises in His Word to keep me going. He always had me in His hands even when I failed.  I still did not have many close friends.  I would come home and practice my music for three to four hours most days.  At the time that seemed ok, but in hindsight I should have gotten out more. On Saturday nights I would get in my mom’s car and listen to my favorite Christian music and drive alone on the back roads of East Texas for hours. I later did become a member of a church youth group and gained some friends.  Even though I was a Christian, things at home became much much worse. The physical abuse of my mom was at it’s worst. But we were finally able to get mom away from my step dad.

I remember we moved into an efficiency apartment with only a tv, a chair, two beds and sheets for curtains.  There were times when I would still sleep too much and I still struggled with massive insecurity and anxiety and fears of not being perfect.  I was still fearful, but not the same kind as before I became a Christian. Now I had the promises from God’s Word to keep me going. I had Hope.

I chose the farthest college I could find to go to, to run away from home.  I did very poorly in college.  I only wanted to go to the classes that allowed me to play my instrument.  I would over sleep often.   Then we could not afford to send me to back the second year.  Even though I knew the Lord I felt lost and aimless.  Though you would not know it to see me, I was very lonely inside.

While I was at college I met a man named Clint. He was a member of the Navigators, an on campus Christian group.  We worked at Pine Cove together one summer.  My family was moving to South Texas, and he lived in Brownsville, Texas.  He invited me to his church.  I visited.  I later became a part of their summer missions program. I was learning through all the ups and downs that God still loved me whether I failed or not and He had a plan for my life. Even if I did not. I could always trust Him.  My life was starting to make sense again. I did not know that these small steps of faith would lead me to the next most important decision in my …whether i wanted to marry or stay single. Because of my background with my step dad I was terrified of men. God, my perfect, loving Father knew if I was to marry I not only needed a gentleman,  but a Gentle Man.  And He was about to introduce me to the one He had designed for me before the creation of the world….my precious Bobby.

See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.                                                                                                                        Isaiah 49:16

Thank You Charlie….

This is Charlie and Kathy Geller.  They changed my life forever. I am so grateful to have them in our lives. I do not remember much about what I said to Charlie that day.  But I do remember what he said.  He said that God loved me and wanted to have a relationship with me.  He said that all of us have sinned and disobeyed God.  He said that this sin separated us from God.  So God came to earth in the form of Jesus Christ.  Jesus was perfect in every way.  Because Jesus was God.  The Bible says that we have to be perfect as God is perfect to get into heaven.  So Jesus came and lived among us to teach us the truth about who God was and is.  And that Jesus was crucified for the sins of everyone on earth past, present and future. And that He was the only way to get into heaven.  Not only that, but that He came back to life after three days.  He said if I believed that Jesus was God and that He died for my sins and came back to life that I could ask Him to come and live in my heart and be my Saviour and Lord. And that I would go to heaven and be with Him when I die.   And then Charlie said something that grabbed my heart…he said, ‘do you know that if you were the only person on earth, Jesus  would have still come down and died on the cross just for you…’  WoW, that blew my mind that Jesus did all of THIS JUST FOR ME.  That He wanted a relationship with me of all people.  I knew what a sinner I was was.  I wanted this relationship with Jesus.  I asked Jesus to come and live in my heart and be my Saviour and Lord on that very day.

BAM! My life changed.  Not only did it change from darkness to Light, but from fear and despair to a hope and joy that I could not describe.  It was amazing.  And that was the beginning of the best decision I had or would ever have made. My new life in Christ began. But I would continue to struggle with depression even though I was saved by God’s underserved gift of salvation. But He knew that and died for me and came back to life just for me anyway.  He knew I would never truly escape the fear that would try to consume me, but now I was not without Hope.  That Hope was Jesus, the Author and Defender of my life. Tomorrow I will talk more about the depression struggle after i became a Christian.

And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
1 Corinthians 2:1-2

My Journey with Depression…

I remember two years ago while at a writer’s conference I had a consultation with an author.  There were three topics I spoke with her about.  One was teaching on the personalities, another was depression, and the other was about growing up in an abusive home.  She asked what I wanted to write about.  I said all of them. I could not decide.  And I still do speak on all three topics, but I am beginning to focus more on speaking to others about depression.  The biggest complement I ever received was when someone came up to me after a talk at a church.  I did speak on the personalities, but I also spoke on depression and growing up in an abusive home.  After the talk someone came to me and said, “no one speaks about this at church…”  I was so touched.  I cannot tell you how touched I am by the stories I am privileged to hear after my talks.  So I have decided to share with you my journey into how I found out I had depression, my struggle with insomnia and anxiety,  and how I was able to get treatment.

.. I must begin by saying that my depression was not diagnosed until I was in my late twenties.  It was after I got married that Bobby, my husband, noticed the symptoms and got me to a doctor.  I have had depression since I was a young preteen, but we did not know the signs at the time.  Not to mention I hid a great deal from my mom and others as I grew up.  She was going through so much.  I would play outside with my brother and cousins until I was a preteen.  I then began to withdraw from from them.  I started staying up all night watching old movies and sleeping during the day.  I became terrified of everything. I felt guilty for everything. I could not deal with the fact that I was not perfect.   I stopped eating and sleeping. I was almost unable to function at all. The anxiety was unbearable. My mom was able to call the pastor from the local church.  His name was Charlie…I tease that he looked more like a hippie than a pastor, and he came and shared the love of Jesus with me.  I accepted Christ that day.  I remember the darkness leaving and feeling flooded with Light…the Light of Christ.  Sadly, I still struggled with depression, but Jesus knew I was sick even if I did not. He still loved me then and does now. He did and still does hold my hand in my journey with depression every day.  He cared that I was hurting from the depression. He cared about my pain and about me. He saw past the depression and saw me.  He knew I was lost and needed Him. The depression did not matter to Jesus, only I did. I was all that mattered, not my illness….Tomorrow I will share what Charlie told me about Jesus…

The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”

Matthew 4:16

 

 

 

Every knee shall bow…

My struggle with severe arthritis has been an interesting one.  I would see commercials about arthritis and think that it was not so bad as far as ailments go, but I was so WRONG.  Please forgive me those of you who struggle with or have a loved one who struggles with arthritis. There are days I can only stay laying back or sitting on my couch because the pain is so bad.  I am sometimes giddy when I can walk after a bad spell.  This truly has changed how I live.  There are things I used to do that i am not able to do now.

I have always thought of the verse, “Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.” As a victory over a foe. You know when someone is speaking badly about our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ….I think or say, “One day every knee shall bow and tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.” But lately I have learned it is a victory of a different kind to me.  It is a comfort verse for me.  Now I cannot kneel.  I would love to sometimes, but I cannot.  This verse has become a comfort to me from the Father.  He is letting me know, ” I know you cannot kneel now,  but a day is coming when every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.”

There is a time time coming when the deaf will hear and the mute will speak.  There is a time when those who cannot bow will be able to with joy not pain.  There will come a time when you will be able to kneel before me again.  But until then know i understand you are kneeling in your heart. But the day is coming my child…. And what a better way to be able to do that than in the praise of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.