Sunday, February 05, 2006

My thoughts on depression...

We are currently in a preaching series at church on depression. This has always been an interesting topic to me, since I've had my own experiences with it. For me, my worst experience with depression was very much a battle against the enemy of our souls-that is, Satan.

I was in high school at the time, and had been invited over to hear testimonies from friends who had just arrived back from a christian summer camp. It turned out that one of them had different ideas. They had been deeply involved in dungeons and dragons and had apparently been spending time with a witch,among other not so good influences. So this young man proceeded to call up a demon (without any of us knowing) and our other friend suffered the consequences, those being not being able to move, feeling sick, high temperature ( though the room become very cold) and panic/fear. Of course we were a little scared ouselves, and the boy who called up the demon rather triumphantly announced what he had done. (The one who was experiencing all this is currently living in a crack house as far as I know now.) Things settled down a bit, and they drove me home. I told my parents what had happened and they told me not to hang out with those guys again, which I had no desire to do anyway. We thought that was the end of it.

Sometime during the next few weeks, I began to feel depressed. We also were having a house built and we moved into a small trailer for about 6 weeks while it was being finished. The details are a bit fuzzy now, since this was a long time ago, but there are many specific things I can remember. I no longer wanted to be with my friends, or go to church but I was obsessed with lonliness and thoughts of people hating me. I was convinced that noone prayed for me, and seriously doubted my salvation. I heard voices in me head, many suicidal thoughts, questioning God's existence, violent thoughts about hurting people, murder,sometimes especially christians. I remember I went with my friends to a Billy Graham crusade but refused to go in. I told them to take the keys to the car with them (because I was having urges to drive into people, cars or anything else, though I didn't tell my friends this). I wasn't eating much, and my doctor sent me to a specialist afraid that I was anorexic since I started losing weight and was not very big to begin with. I was obsessed with death and dreamed about detailed ways to kill myself. I hated myself and was constantly terrified. I was being tormented and I thought I was going crazy.

Though it felt like this went on for a long time, it was really only a couple of months. My parents, though believers, didn't know what to do with me, and could find noone who knew how to help me ( they did try!). Finally, on a cold January night in Canada, I went out in only my pajamas and starting walking up into the wood behind our house. I took my dog, but she eventually got too cold and left. I laid down in the snow and waited to fall asleep. Looking up into the stars, I experienced peace for the first time in months. God began to speak to me. I finally knew he loved me. I got up and went back inside, very cold. I'm not sure how long I was outside, but I guess about 45 minutes. It took me a long time to get warm. Somehow I knew it was over, I was no longer a prisoner of evil. The next day I read the Bible, a Psalm I believe and God filled me with faith. I wrote furiously in my long abandoned prayer journal, and told Satan in no uncertain terms to get out of my life. God revealed areas of sin in my life that had given the enemy a foothold in my life, such as self-centeredness and unbelief. He showed me the deceptions and lies of the enemy for what they were and spoke truth to me. I sang worship songs and got rid of all the negative and evil music I had been listening to. God set me free just like that, when noone else could help me and people were beginning to give up on me.

Everyone who battles depression will not have the same story as mine, so I want to be careful not to think I can understand and identify with anyone who ever suffers in depression. In my own life, I have experienced depression or temptations to be depressed to varying degrees, but never like that first time. I think knowing battle strategies and being able to discern the lies of the enemy has changed my life. And I fully trust God to rescue me. He did before, and he always has since. After I had my second child, I struggled with depression for 3 or 4 months. But I was truly fighting,not losing. God used that time to teach me to depend on him like I had not known how to before. He also taught me to pray more. And He delivered me again in a moment. One night as I cried out to him lying in bed, He just covered me in his love. I don't know how to describe it, but it was like having a hug from him and the most wonderful feeling, knowing without any doubt that he loved me. That was the end of that depression.

The more I read in Scripture, the more I am convinced that depression is not to be our normal experience as believers. That is to say, we may battle through it sometimes, but we come out on the other side as the overcomers. Victorious conquerors through Christ. Ours is a life of joy. No pain, rejection, evil, or loss can rob us of our abundant joy in Jesus. Depression is not caused by any circumstance in our lives. It is caused by not knowing God and his love. It is caused by taking up burdens in our pride that don't belong to us. It is caused by choosing our sin over life in the Spirit. It is caused by not putting on the full armor of God to stand against our enemy. It is caused by not knowing the truth that God has given us to know in his word. It is caused by not making Christ our treasure and finding our joy in him. If we call out to Him in desperation, he will answer. There is no question that he will answer, that is our sure hope. He said "I will never leave you". (Hebrews 13:5)

Matthew 11:28-30 "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."


Don said...

Thanks for this account, which makes me understand better the enemy's attacks on me and others. I just finished writing a reply to your comments on the Ern Baxter blog, then came here and found this! We're both talking about the same process of discovering how the enemy invades our thought life and makes us think that his thoughts are really our thoughts.

How wonderfully and intimately God delivered you! Isn't he a sweetheart when we need Him to be?

And isn't it wonderful when scriptures like those you wrote here stop being just black marks on a white page, and become living things of God inside your own heart? Literal treasures of immense worth.

jul said...

Yes! I am no longer satisfied with filling my head with truth about Him. I want to KNOW him. And I'm tired of the enemy having the upper hand in my life or any of my brothers and sisters. Let's bring in God's kingdom and banish all enemies without shame. Let's rescue the prisoners of war who are being tormented and are without hope. God has people he is sending us after, ones he means to be free. What a joy for us to give our lives in service to this victorious King and Saviour!