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In which depression is NOT your fault

Photo via Lightstock. Used with permission.

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I have hesitated to write on this topic before today because I don’t personally have an ongoing battle with depression or mental illness. I prefer to let those who have walked that road speak up and then simply share their wisdom. But some of the people whom I love deeply struggle with those issues. And so today I feel compelled to stake a small flag here in the sand on their behalf.

Since the tragic death of Robin Williams, I have seen some terrible, misinformed, and abusive bullsh*t online about depression and mental illness. This normally wouldn’t be enough to make me type as passionately as I am right now but this stuff is coming from a few vocal and influential Christians. I see it being shared around on social media like candy. And it makes my blood boil and my heart ache.

I hate to think of my beloved people reading that kind of damaging stuff. Heaping condemnation and guilt and fear on the heads of the suffering is akin to tying a millstone around someone’s neck. This is a heinous and evil thing to do.

Where is our compassion for the suffering? I know that the Church has, on average, done a pretty terrible job at understanding and supporting those who struggle with mental illness. We should be the FIRST ones to walk alongside those who are suffering with hope and gentleness, compassion and love. I am so thankful for people in influential positions – like Rick and Kay Warren – who openly write and share about these issues with such compassion.

This post is a small thing, I know. I’m under no illusions. I won’t repeat all the stuff that you already know about seeking help and intimacy, about courage and shame, about medication and qualified counselling.

I’ll just say a couple of things simply because I must say them to you. I wish I could spare you from the toxic comments of the willfully ignorant.

It is not your fault.

Depression is not a sin. Mental illness is not a sin.

And you are so loved.

It is not your fault.

Depression is not a sin. Mental illness is not a sin.

And you are so loved.

It is not your fault.

Depression is not a sin. Mental illness is not a sin.

And you are so loved.

I believe that the Lord is particularly close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18 NIV).

In the meantime, I’ll continue to highlight a few responses here that may encourage you or, at the least, remind you that YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

And so many of us know that you do not suffer out of choice. We are carrying you in prayer and in our hearts always.

The Depressed Christian: Why the Dark Night is No Measure of Your Soul by my dear friend Megan Tietz at SortaCrunchy

I see myself laying in my bathtub, staring out the window, choking back sobs of prayer, begging God to please, please lift this darkness I could not shake.

I remember staggering down the basement stairs with a load of laundry, standing over my washing machine and whispering against the noise of the tub filling with water, “God, if you are real, please heal me.”

I think of the time I burst into tears in the grocery store when a well-meaning elderly woman stopped me with my double stroller full of twins and groceries and proclaimed how blessed I was and all I could think was “then why do I hate my life?”

In that season, I went back to my roots: reading the Bible, praying, singing songs of praise, trying to keep gratitude lists. No matter what I did, no matter how hard I prayed, no matter how often I cried out, I couldn’t force my mind to course-correct. I was acutely aware of how broken my brain was but felt absolutely powerless to fix it.

And yet in the midst of that dark time, my heart absolutely thrilled with joy. Watching the boys sleep next to each other, tucked into each other because that’s how you sleep when that’s all you know – it made my heart crack wide open with joy. Silly conversations and long hugs from my girls, giggly text messages from my husband … yes, there was light and joy and love and moments of clarity in the midst of those hard, hard days.

And then like a troll from the old children’s stories, Depression would be on the scene to gobble my joy right up.

What the Church and Christians Need to Know About Suicide and Mental Health by my dearly loved Ann Voskamp

We won’t give you some cliche –  but something to cling to — and that will mean our hands.

We won’t give you some platitudes — but some place for your pain — and that will mean our time.

We won’t give you some excuses — but we’ll be some example — and that will mean bending down and washing your wounds. Wounds that we don’t understand, wounds that keep festering, that don’t heal, that down right stink — wounds that can never make us turn away.

Because we are the Body of the Wounded Healer and we are the people who believe the impossible— that wounds can be openings to the beauty in us.

We’re the people who say: there’s no shame saying that your heart and head are broken because there’s a Doctor in the house. It’s the wisest and the bravest who cry for help when lost.

There’s no stigma in saying you’re sick because there’s a wounded Healer who uses nails to buy freedom and crosses to resurrect hope and medicine to make miracles.

Thoughts on Depression, Suicide, and Being a Christian by one of my best friends Nish Weiseth

But there’s another kind of evil lurking around the halls of the depressed, and it’s the belief that those who are stricken with depression (or any mental illness) are suffering because of their lack of faith in Jesus. “If only you’d pray for more joy,” people say. “If only you’d ask God to take the pain.”  Or, “Is there unresolved sin in your life?” Or how about this one, “If you’d just meditate more on God’s Word…”

Folks, saying someone is depressed or suicidal because they aren’t praying enough, are self-absorbed, sinful, or don’t have a deep enough faith? It’s abusive. And it needs to stop. Now.

God does heal, absolutely He does. But sometimes, healing happens through good doctors, counselors, practitioners, and yes, medicine. God’s grace can look like a sliver of light on the bathroom floor, but it can also look like a life-changing counseling session or the right combination of drugs to regulate your brain chemistry.

When Existence Becomes Seemingly Impossible by Alan Noble at Christ & Pop Culture

What I want to say is that life is harder than most of us will let on, and probably the deepest struggles we’ll face will be silent and petty — things like choosing to get out of bed and get dressed. Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof, but so too is Christ’s Grace. So, get up, when you can, and carry on. Rest your burdens on He who loves you, and turn to the pilgrims alongside you. Some days, rising out of bed is a great act of worship. And when you can’t get up, let those around you bear you up as Christ’s body, always remembering that you are loved. And then, carry that mercy and grace to your neighbor, who needs it no less.

Depression, Robin Williams, and You by Bethany Bassett at A Deeper Story

Here is what I learned about depression during my year-and-a-half-long battle: It is not a place for self-help.

I could not shoo away the darkness by starting a new workout routine. I could not slip into peace by praying. I could not diagnose myself within the maze of WebMD. I could not summon the energy to pick myself off the bathroom floor some days, much less pick up the phone and ask for help. The few friends I reached out to over the months all answered the same way: “What can I do to help?” And my answer was always, unfailingly, “I don’t know.”

NOTE: I’ll be updating this post over the next few days as I find links that will make you feel less alone. Keep checking back or let me know in the comments if you have come across anything particularly helpful. I want to boost the signal as much as I possibly can on this issue.

With you always,

S.

Updated to add:

Coping with Suicide and Loss by Rachel King Batson – on how she coped after her father’s suicide.

Robin Williams’ Death: A Reminder that Suicide and Depression are Not Selfish by Dean Burnett for The Guardian

Robin Williams and Why Funny People Kill Themselves by David Wong at Cracked (Warning: some language may be offensive)

When the Illness You Live With Becomes Breaking News by Molly Pohlig for Slate

 

depression
  • http://@tori_saylor Tori Saylor

    You have no idea how much this helped me today.

    Seeing so many people call my mental illness a selfish lifestyle and following the devil has ripped my heart out of my chest today, not to mention that it has been extremely triggering.

    I cannot say thank you enough. I needed this today.

    • http://sarahbessey.com Sarah Bessey

      So glad to hear that, Tori – and so terribly sorry at the callousness of some. xo

  • http://www.aholyexperience.com Ann

    Powerful truth.
    *Thank you*

    • http://sarahbessey.com Sarah Bessey

      Thanks, Ann! Shared your post in the latest update. Thankful for your powerful warrior voice. xo

    • http://ourgirlsclub.blogspot.com/ Ginny Bain Allen

      What you’re saying, Sarah and Ann, is that how someone spends their time and with whom one spends time is insignificant. Perhaps Robin was abused or bullied at some point, or perhaps he was unsupported when one or more traumatic events occurred in his life. Perhaps his own mother or siblings hated him. Such factors could have helped cause his depression. I don’t know, but I do know that how he chose to live certainly DID have a major impact on causing his depression. We become like the company we keep. We become like the places we go. We become like the things we do.

      • http://www.janehalton.com janehalton

        I think the point they are making is that no matter what you do mental illness can still be there and that this is NOT anyone’s fault. Of course who you spend time with affects you, but mental illness is NOT something you can avoid by hanging with the “right crowd” or thinking happy thoughts. We must not be too quick to assess the connection of someone’s lifestyle to their mental health.

        • http://ourgirlsclub.blogspot.com/ Ginny Bain Allen

          Ladies, it IS someone’s fault. We live in a fallen world. A world filled with unwholesome temptations, that we all, given ripe circumstances, can succumb to. We are instructed to take every thought captive to Christ, and to think on things whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. When we fail to follow God’s wise, loving precepts, and choose to go our own way instead, we suffer. Simply living in this dark world with all its destructive vices is draining. We are all fighting a constant battle for our souls, and need support from God-in-skin alongside Jesus to empower us to endure to the end. There are generational sins that affect our health. Evil treatment from others affects our health. Traumatic events affect our health. Our own narcissistic choices affect our health. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? With every choice we make, we head in the direction of either life or death. satan goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Destruction is the name of his game.

          Mental illness I believe begins with the slippery slope of mental WILLness, rebelling against Jesus. Refusing to abide in God, refusing to surrender our allegiance to Jesus. Putting others above ourselves is significant for optimal health.

          We must not be too quick to say that how someone chooses to live does not affect their mental health, for it’s blatantly obvious that it most assuredly does!

          • Kristi

            Are you listening to what you are even saying! I have depression and I feel like I have ALWAYS tried to follow God’s words. I do not believe I have ever purposely rebelled against Jesus. He is NOT punishing me for something like that. I wish you could understand. I wish you could have severe depression for one day and see what its like. Actually, no I don’t wish that, because its AWEFUL and I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. I know GOD has a plan for me and for my life. I feel he is working in me and has a GREAT plan for my life. If you havent experienced it, I really don’t think you should speak on this topic! You have NO IDEA how bad this disease can be!

          • Sharon

            How someone chooses to live can certainly affect their mental health–BUT–someone’s mental health also affects how they live. You can believe whatever you want to about mental illness, but until you have suffered that particular demon, you would be well-advised to just…shut up.

          • Anon

            Wow. See, this is the judgmental, “I know all about your life” spewing that kept me away from Christianity (and in turn, God) for so long. Ginny, please think about what you are actually saying, and what it can to do both a depressed person seeking God or a depressed person who knows God. It’s hurtful. And if you don’t think it is, take me as an example.
            Because, I heard all of this as a young person searching for God while being diagnosed with clinical depression. And if it hadn’t been for the insistence of 1 doctor and 1 youth pastor, I never would have found God because of it.

      • Shannon

        While that can be the case, it is most certainly not always the case. And to assume so is unfair to anybody who has ever suffered from a mental illness.

      • Meggles

        Or gee, I don’t know, maybe the Parkinson’s he was living with contributed to his depression significantly. (As reports have been saying). Or maybe post-partum women can’t control their brain chemicals and get suicidally depressed, as I once did. Or maybe someone has the genes that give them bi-polar disorder.

        Your point is a valid one because it contains a large grain of truth: how people choose to live (health, life-style, background, etc) can certainly affect whether or not they get depression. Oftentimes, though, someone’s depression has absolutely nothing to do with how they live their lives. During my bouts with post-partum depression (after all 4 of my pregnancies), I ate vegetables, I exercised, I prayed, I had support….you name it, I did it. Only medication helped get rid of the darkness for me. I think the point being made here, is that pointing the blame at the suffering victim for their mental health is not helpful, and besides, isn’t even very accurate much of the time.

        • http://ourgirlsclub.blogspot.com/ Ginny Bain Allen

          I already acknowledged the fact that many do not have control over their depression. However, many don’t seem to understand that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure; a stitch in time saves nine? I have been discussing depression prevention. Most everyone else is focused on how to deal with it once it has already become a stronghold in someone’s life, using various types of therapy to keep it manageable. As significant as that is, I’m sure you think it wiser to tackle the ways through which it is allowed to enter one’s life, before it gains a foothold? Folks choose neither cancer or depression willingly for themselves. Sadly, at the same time, often, neither do they choose to live in a way to lessen the probability that such destructive conditions will enter their lives. We can all make the wise choice to live a healthy lifestyle in an attempt to keep cancer, depression and many other destructive illnesses or conditions at bay.

          • Monica

            Clearly you have never been depressed!

      • Katherine

        As someone who has also experienced the dark moments of depression and also struggled with panic attacks and anxiety for seven years before getting the breakthrough, I feel I can talk on the subject from the inside but also from the outside as well. I am also a pastor and have been on the “ministry” side as well so I have alot of compassion for the church and its desire to reflect the truth of the bible while still offering a place of comfort for those who are suffering. While I know that many, many people in the church can be insensitive and harsh when it comes to understanding depression, others are sincere in their desire to offer a way out. Not many in the church are professionals but many are believers. What do they believe?: They believe that Jesus came to save His people from their sin (Matthew 1:21), to set them free from the dominion of darkness, and give them “righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.(Romans 15:7)” Anyone who has experienced depression and anxiety will know it is NOT peace and joy. So who is telling the truth – Our depression or Jesus? Believing Jesus over our experiences or our failures or our diseases isn’t always the easy way. Sometimes it is the messy and difficult path to take. Sometimes it means that we try things that fail, or we make ourselves vulnerable, or we get hurt, or we feel exposed or naked. But if Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, then there has to be a way of healing for depression, and a way out of the prison. Coming to this place was my way out – I just couldn’t believe that Jesus would lie to me. However, I did know the enemy would lie to me and that his aim was and is only to “steal, kill, and destroy”, John 10:10 (what a perfect definition for depression and anxiety). I just kept pressing in, reading and confessing the word, and surrounding myself with testimonies and people who were on the other side of the prison offering me a way out. I found my way out and am free – thank you Jesus. I don’t say this to make others feel bad but to say – Jesus still is the Healer, He still is the Way, He still offers life and life abundantly. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with medication: Praise Jesus for doctors! but, don’t be satisfied with just that. There is more. And, don’t give up on the church. We are the church. We have to stop pointing fingers at others and saying they keep missing it or they are just a bunch of judgemental abusers. Jesus loves the church and died for her. He is coming back for her as His bride. Let’s not accuse those who may have really only wanted to help us in our need, even if they didn’t or don’t completely understand. We can do this together and Jesus will get much more glory for it.

  • Frances

    Thank you.

  • Kayla

    Thank you so much for this, Sarah. I’ve been in tears all day after reading the certain willfully ignorant blog everyone is posting. I agree with Tory. It has been heartbreaking to see Chrisitans look at our mental illness, and on top of the darkness we already try to manage, heap on condemnation and blame by telling us we aren’t trying hard enough. This was for me today. You’ve a made a difference. Thank you.

    • http://sarahbessey.com Sarah Bessey

      Thanks, Kayla – so much love to you.

  • http://Notquitehome.com Scott

    Thank you for sharing these words. There are so many who are close to those fighting depression. We all need encouragement like this.

    • http://sarahbessey.com Sarah Bessey

      I agree – so needed. Praying that people feel loved more than shamed.

  • Lindsay

    There’s this one, too.

    Slate: “When the Illness You Live With Becomes Breaking News”

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2014/08/12/robin_williams_and_mental_illness_when_depression_is_breaking_news.html

    • http://sarahbessey.com Sarah Bessey

      Thanks for the link! I’ll include it.

  • http://www.reticenceunveiled.com/2014/08/cheese-how-i-knew-i-wasnt-ok.htm Tammy Kasal

    Thank you. I’m sitting here in tears. It has been a struggle for me my entire life and have watched both of my parents struggle. I’ve been given my fair share of bad advice and seen others struggling treated horribly by the church. I wrote a few of my thoughts here:
    http://www.reticenceunveiled.com/2014/08/cheese-how-i-knew-i-wasnt-ok.html

    Words just never seem to be enough. But thanks for taking the time to share them.

    • http://sarahbessey.com Sarah Bessey

      Thank you so much for sharing this, Tammy.

  • Maggie

    Thank you for this honest post.

  • Peter Neubauer

    Thank you, Sarah, for writing this.
    I’m one of those who have walked this road. I’m “only” having a depression because of exhaustion, also known as burnout-syndrom. So I know, one day it will be over, according to my doctor, and it is already MUCH better, many times I’m almost “normal”. I take some psychopharmaka-pills, I do sports, I have coaching, I do qigong, I talk with friends, I pray. All that helps me – but it was a looooooooooooong way to get out of the deepest pit. And during the time in there, I thought I would never get out and it would never end.
    Compared to what other people have to suffer, my depression is probably just light or medium – just an episode. I do not even want to think about, that it could even get darker than it was in my darkest hours. And I definitely can understand people who can not bear it any longer – all the darkness, the total absence of joy, the fear, the sorrow. And who finally see no other possibility – like probably Robin Williams. It makes me mad and very very sad, that depression can be so powerful.
    Thanks again for your post. And thanks to all of you, who support people in depression. It sure is not easy to deal with bipolar people, but it is very important to be compassionate. Bipolar people need that.

    (not sure if this is all the correct english, since my mother-tongue is german…hope you understood anyway)

    • http://sarahbessey.com Sarah Bessey

      You said it beautifully, Peter – thank you!

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  • Sarah

    Grateful for this… As someone who struggles with depression, it’s so good to read affirmation from fellow sisters in Christ– that we are not alone, that God will fight for us, that we’re not wrong for our struggles, or inherently “unfixable”. I just read an interesting article from the perspective of a girl whose father recently committed suicide, and it was very helpful and encouraging as well… may be worth a read? http://rachelkingbatson.com/2014/08/12/coping-with-suicide-and-loss/

    • http://sarahbessey.com Sarah Bessey

      Thanks for the head’s up, Sarah- I’ll check that one out. And in the meantime, so thankful that you feel surrounded by those who love you.

  • http://www.sortacrunchy.net Megan Tietz

    Your heart – your heart and your devotion to advocacy for those who have trouble finding their own voices – you just never cease to amaze me, friend. Thank you for your gracious support today.

    • http://sarahbessey.com Sarah Bessey

      Always. Always will love you and support you. You are setting a lot of people free today. Just wanted to boost that signal right on up there. xoxo

  • Emily Kate

    Brilliantly stated. Felt it in my heart for so many.

  • http://www.logicandimagination.com Melody

    Sarah, We “know“ of each other through SheLoves. Just wanted to point your readers to a book of stories, which I have a chapter: Not Alone: Stories of living with depression. Also I write about my struggle with major depression and addiction on my blog, not too promote myself, but to tell others who struggle that telling our stories helps free us of the stigma especially in the Church. Bless you for helping raise this awareness.

    • http://sarahbessey.com Sarah Bessey

      Thanks for sharing that book, Melody!

  • http://www.sbethcaplin.com Beth Caplin

    I try to tell myself that the people who call depression a sin have never truly experienced it. In that sense, they are lucky. I’m jealous they can afford to not know what they are talking about. At the same time, I do wish they’d shut up if they have no clue what they’re saying.

    Thank you for this post.

    • http://sarahbessey.com Sarah Bessey

      True, true. It’s ignorance, perhaps, not malice. But still, it can be devastating. Thank you for being one to offer grace though.

  • Rachel W

    Thank you, Sarah, for writing this. I am especially grateful to you for treating this subject with such gentleness. As Tori Saylor said above, the event of Robin Williams’ death and the subsequent postings have all been so triggering. So having these blogs to read instead, has been helpful. I found Bethany Bassett’s post to be especially meaningful to me. Thank you again.

    • http://sarahbessey.com Sarah Bessey

      Yes, Bethany’s post was so tender hearted, so good. Glad to come alongside, even in this small way.

  • Shari

    I dunno why we seem to think our minds don’t get tired & sick just like our bodies sometimes do…we would never say to a person with a broken leg…aw you are just lazy , that’s a sin…etc. I don’t struggle with depression but have seen dear friends & family weighted down with mental illness. It’s real & hard & confusing . We need to give grace to each other.

    • http://sarahbessey.com Sarah Bessey

      Exactly.

  • http://ronnerock.com Ronne

    So many posts that heap so much shame. This. This post belonging to my precious friend is the reality I see. Yes to love. Yes to holding tight. Yes to lifting heads and sitting silent when it all becomes too great.

    http://aluna13.wordpress.com/2014/08/12/sleeping-with-the-light-on/

    • http://sarahbessey.com Sarah Bessey

      Thanks for sharing that, Ronne!

  • http://adrielbooker.com Adriel Booker

    Wonderful Sarah. Just wonderful. Thank you for your commitment to grace.

    Here are a couple more I’ve read today that I also recommend:

    Robin Williams’s death: a reminder that suicide and depression are not selfish – http://www.theguardian.com/science/brain-flapping/2014/aug/12/robin-williams-suicide-and-depression-are-not-selfish

    Robin Williams and why funny people kill themselves – http://www.cracked.com/quick-fixes/robin-williams-why-funny-people-kill-themselves/

    • http://sarahbessey.com Sarah Bessey

      Thanks for both of those, Adriel – will check them out!

  • http://www.jamesprescott.co.uk James Prescott

    Sarah, thank you for sharing this today. I needed to read this, and so I believe did a lot of people. This will encourage, support and reassure many people. And thanks for being so bold too, so strong. What you said needed to be said, and I have such admiration for your courage in doing so. Thanks.

    • http://sarahbessey.com Sarah Bessey

      Thanks, James.

  • Kkelley

    I read this through tears. It’s good to see someone who doesn’t deal with it take it as seriously as it is for those who do. Things just don’t make sense. 2+2 does not equal four anymore. People aren’t people anymore…they are flame throwers or tools to make you feel even worse about yourself. Those you love are the ones who come into the wake of the everything. As badly as you want to be okay and control it…it just doesn’t happen. Thank you for this post.
    -Kk

    • http://sarahbessey.com Sarah Bessey

      Well said, Kk. Truly sobering.

  • http://www.kimberlyquinnarts.wordpress.com Kimberly Quinn

    Thank you for writing this. I don’t have the same religious beliefs as you but I do believe the same things about mental illness. There is no fault. There should be no blame.

    There should be kindness. There should be hugs. There should be patience.

    I do live with mental illness and this is what I wrote in response to Robin Williams’ suicide: http://kimberlyquinnarts.wordpress.com/2014/08/12/my-coming-out/

    Thank you again, Kimberly

    • http://sarahbessey.com Sarah Bessey

      Thanks for sharing this, Kimberly – much appreciated!

  • Deadra Strawn

    I read one of the most touching and truthful comments I’ve seen made since first hearing of Robin Williams’ passing and I would love to share them.

    ” The details of his death are insignificant. It is his death, the breath of his soul that he left behind and the sadness within him that was he was not able to self-soothe are the lesson for us all. So many geniuses like Robin are geniuses because they experience the dualities of life so much deeper than many of us. His family, fans and friends will live on loving his work and we all have to empathy for the slight madness he had that made him who he was but also so tortured him that he took his life. Oftentimes when someone is this depressed they do not allow others to help.”

    I’m grateful I’ve never had to fight off those demons of depression. My heart aches for all the friends and family that have a loved one fighting the journey.

    No fault, no blame!

    • http://sarahbessey.com Sarah Bessey

      Well said, Deadra – thank you.

  • http://pastorwithapurse.com Corrie

    I think we’ve read the same blogs on this subject and I’ve been shocked at both the ignorance and the forcefulness of their foolishness. Thank you for your frank, wise and compassionate response Sarah.

  • http://www.dinglefest.com Shannon @ Dinglefest

    When I read the MW post, I was so grieved but also so not ready to reply just yet, as a mom who is back on antidepressants again after having successfully gone off them for a bit… and I have to admit that the brave choice to seek needed help sometimes feels like a failure because I wish I didn’t require medication to stabilize my emotions. Do I feel the same shame or stigma about taking medication for my thyroid condition, though? No. And that reveals to me that I’ve sadly internalized more of the lies about depression than I’d like to admit.

    This post was like a breath of fresh air:
    http://katiewetherbee.com/2014/08/12/robin-williams-suicide-and-faith-why-we-need-to-stand-on-our-desks/

    And this isn’t recent and I don’t expect you to share it above, but I think it fits in this conversation anyway. It’s my post from when I “came out” about depression, and I had no idea how much of a positive response it would generate: http://www.dinglefest.com/2013/02/being-broken-is-not-always-bad-being.html

  • Ruth

    Wonderful post Sarah, such sadness and cruelty in the name of Christ, how awful. The Bible is full of characters suffering depression and mental situations…..Psalms, Lamentations, Job, and so it goes.
    It is great to see the responses from compassionate people about things.
    My family has a history of all sorts of complaints that are not just physical, but emotional, and after a life time of dealing woth this, I say, thankyou for understanding and hurting along with us.
    Platitudes belong in fortune cookies, not in the minds of critical people, especially Christians!
    I take medication, as do family members and several friends, we share, and support each other, amd know that just as God gave us medical knowledge for bodily ills, He gave knowledge for emotional ills.
    Why should my broken ankle be ok, but not my broken, at times emotions?
    Go, girl, we love you, and the way you love us. :)

  • Samantha

    Dear Sarah,
    I am not one to share my life on the internet but I want you to know how much I appreciated this and could relate to so many of these other people. like many others, I am so very thankful that I came across this piece. I have struggled with depression for almost 4 years now. In the past 6 months, I was finally diagnosed after being forced to seek help after admitting to suicidal thoughts, I was prescribed antidepressant and anti anxiety medications, and I was saved by Jesus Christ. There’s much more to my story but I shouldn’t ramble. Thank you, again. It’s beyond comforting to know there’s people who understand and support me out there.

    Much love,
    Samantha

  • https://ljandie57.wordpress.com/ Linda Andres

    Thank you. We need voices that can be megaphones for those who struggle. Much of the mental and emotional struggles that debilitated my life is in the past now but I still have to struggle against isolating. My skin is not as thick as I wish it were. I only hope that I can remember enough and stay honest enough about where I am not at to be a voice that can speak out for others as well.

  • Andrea D. La Vigne

    Sarah, I guess I’ve been lucky in not coming across those vitriolic posts on depression and how those of us who have it are somehow “wrong.” I have had major depression and schizophrenia literally for more than half my life. Thankfully, I have regained a higher level of functioning than I had at my worst period. I once had a priest tell me once that, if I came back to the fold, everything would be OK. As if it’s that easy! Anyway, I do want to thank you for this post. I’m afraid that any attention mental illness gets because of Robin Williams’ death will likely be short-lived, though. The next Big News Story will come along and mental illness as news will be sidelined again. I wish that fighting it, in the form of research and support, could be given the same emphasis as cancer or birth defects or muscular dystrophy or any other “acceptable” illness or disability. What a day that would be!

  • http://www.cynthiacavanaugh.com Cynthia Cavanaugh

    Sarah,

    Thank you for pouring oil on years of wounds for so many of us. No one fully knows or understands the back story of each one who wrestles it out in the darkness of depression. I hesitate to admit at times my own struggle with it because of the deep trenches that have been dug by others of misunderstanding. I have heard just about every statement from “Just get over yourself, to must be hidden sin in your life.” Thank you for putting words to our emotions and misunderstood hearts. Today, I felt nudged…. by….God’s spirit. Took a deep breath and wrote about it on my blog in hopes that it would bring a sliver of hope to one who needed to hear that they are not alone. Thank you for raising your voice today! xoxoxo

  • http://www.theinquisitivemom.com Mindy

    Thank you for this beautiful post. As someone who has struggled/struggles with depression myself, I think it is so important to have an honest conversation about it. You can be faithful, believe in Christ, praying, etc., and still suffer from depression. Sometimes depression makes even a prayer seem impossibly difficult or futile, but this doesn’t mean you are sinful. It means you are human. God does not love you any less in your struggle. I wrote about what depression looks like today on my blog and I will most certainly be sharing this moving collection of words as well.

  • http://ProjectPastor.com Troy McLaughlin

    Great post Sarah. One of my good friends Aaron Smith is bipolar he’s also one of the brightest Christian’s I know. In his blog http://culturalsavage.com he talks about his struggles with depression and being bipolar all while walking this thing we call life out.

    I also have a daughter who suffers from depression. It’s quite an ordeal to sit back and watch someone you love so dearly, suffer. To be helpless when they’re put into a hospital to protect themselves from suicidal thoughts.

    Here is the guest post I wrote for Aaron last year. http://culturalsavage.com/christianity/guest-post-cracked-the-church-isnt-the-problem-i-am/

  • Ima

    My best friend has depression. I don’t know if this is ok from me to say… But it’s really hard for me to. When things get hard for him, he doesn’t talk to me, he doesn’t answer the phone or e-mails… and this can go on for months. All he wants during that period is to be alone. It hurts me. I don’t know… I just don’t know how to be a friend to him any more. He doesn’t want to talk about it even when he feels ok.

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  • Justin

    I’ve spent a good part of my life fighting depression, and this is article is the same worn out BS fluff I’ve been reading my entire life. First, when someone tells me “You are so loved..”, but doesn’t take the time to show real love, then my BS detector goes off. So called “Christians” do this all the time. In my lifetime, I have probably only met 3 or 4 Christians that actually walk the walk. The good ones don’t say, “You are so loved”, they just love you. People love to talk, but it’s really hard to commit to loving someone, because it hurts and takes up a lot of your time and energy. Depressed people are absorbed with themselves and their own so-called problems. Depression can be categorized by what drives it: guilt, hopelessness, envy, insecurity, loneliness, and imaginary problems. Since we are all sinners and feel guilt and regret for our mistakes, it’s often hard to get over those things. Sometimes we can’t control out behavior (addiction, attitude, etc), and even though we want to change, we can’t seem to do it on our own, and we’re not even consistently sure we want to. We constantly see how happy other people appear to be and all of the things, friends and free time they have – and we don’t want it too. Maybe you’re not very good looking or your personality annoys the hell out of everyone. You might work alone at a computer all day and really miss much needed human interaction. It makes all of the other things worse. Then there are those imaginary problems or possible future situations that stress us out. These are things prevalent in first world countries, where we have nothing but time to think about how much we lack. What depressed people need is love – real love. The kind that gives you a kick in the butt when you need one, but also listens when you need someone to hear you vent and self deprecate, and gives you a shoulder to cry on and a hug. Be the person that really loves instead of the person that just talks. Someone genuine. These people are rare, but they are the ones that change lives.

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  • Bess

    Sarah, Thank you so much for posting this. As someone that suffers from depression I think you worded this post perfectly. I read a blog yesterday saying that Robin Williams’ depression was a spiritual problem not a mental illness and I wanted to scream. Because it is not true, so many people do not understand depression. Thank you for posting this, you said it better than I could have. I am posting THIS on social media because it is an article that is actually accurate and shines light on the illness of depression. Thanks.

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  • http://theillustrious.net Riane

    Thank you for writing this. I know that coming alongside those of us who have (or who are) dealing with depression is a confusing and overwhelming task. It’s also all we have — the coming alongside, the stagger together down a narrow path.

    At the very least, it cancels out all the hurtful and ignorant things being said by those who think they’re helping by saying [insert unhelpful Christian depression cure here].

    I wrote “What Matt Walsh Doesn’t Understand About Depression” specifically about this in the frame of reacting to what said, but it applies to more than just him.

    http://theillustrious.net/2014/08/12/what-matt-walsh-doesnt-understand-about-depression/

  • http://www.princesschrisy.com Chrisy Ennen

    I am so glad that we are able to speak out about this in a way that builds up instead of tears down. I have struggled with depression for years and was made to feel (in my old church) that I should be able to fight against it spiritually and shouldn’t seek medical help. But I had to seek medical help and had to come to terms with the fact that depression is a disease that needs treatment. I had to blog about my story today, too, just in case someone else struggling needed to see that there is hope and help available.

  • http://busybeingblessed.net Jenn

    Thank you so much for sharing this. It’s really neat to see someone who does not have depression who gets it!
    I’m not sure if I discuss depression enough for you in this post, but it was brought about by the news of Robin’s death. http://www.busybeingblessed.net/one-get-pushy-jesus/
    God bless,
    Jenn

  • http://www.kimesays.com Florkime

    So Inspired and blessed by your words. The empathy you have is so amazing. love this blog.

  • Lynn

    I’ve always been very open and honest about my struggle with depression and anxiety. My friends know, my coworkers know.. I even tell people that I’ve just met that I know I’ll be around for an extended period of time. I never know when an “episode” (for lack of a better word) will hit — some days, I cope just fine. Others, I’m a mess. Hearing that Robin Williams passed away, and then hearing that he killed himself, broke my heart. He’s always been such an ambassador for those with mental illness, and he’s the kind of person that we need more of in this world.

    But then to go on my facebook timeline and see friends, people that were in my small group, people that knew of my constant struggles, saying that RW’s depression was because he didn’t know God? And therefore saying that *my* depression is because I don’t know God? It hurt my heart. And then it made me angry.

    As many posts have come out with people saying ignorant things about depression and suicide, so many more posts have come out that let people know that NOT EVERYONE THINKS THAT WAY. There have been SO many encouraging posts out there. Friends sticking up for friends. Thank you for being one of those people. You have a huge platform to share, and the fact that you don’t struggle with depression makes it even more powerful. Thank you for sharing. You have a new lifelong reader right here!

  • Alina

    Thank you. This is water to my soul.

  • http://nellers.net Nellers

    Amen and right on! My mother suffered with depression so deep she tried taking her life. It wasn’t a sin, it wasn’t her choice, she was clinically depressed – its a disease, like any other. I’ve been so angry at some of the bloggers writing about depression being a choice or spiritual, trying to negate the fact that it’s a disease like cancer is a disease. I’ve also suffered with depression due to a bacteria attacking my brain and hormones – I can say without any doubt, depression is NOT a choice and it’s not something you just snap out of. So much ignorance and judgment floating around the Christian community. Thanks for writing this, Sarah.

  • Krissy Manning

    Sarah, thank you for speaking up about this because it does need to be addressed.

    I’ve read some of the things that of been said by “Christians” about Robin Williams’ death, and it breaks my heart to see what comes from the hearts of those who are supposed to be compassionate.

    I read a post earlier in this thread that basically said it was his fault for the company you keep. That is true, BUT, sometimes, depression and depression-induced loneliness can cause us to seek out company that isn’t good for us, though we may not realize it. We don’t know we are in bad company because all we are looking for is someone to reach out to. Not necessarily to let people know that we are hurting, but we need to fellowship with someone outside of our heads. We are all looking for acceptance and love in some way or another and when that is not found, in people, we look for it in substance. When substance runs out, there is nothing left.

    I am praying for a revival of love and compassion and understanding, because the world is fighting a battle from within and the cause is unknown. We need to look on each other with love and sometimes just a kind word, gesture or smile, just might brighten up the darkness someone is living in. Be the light. Be HIS light.

  • http://SharonRPaavola.com Sharon Paavola

    Sarah, I’m a veteran in the depression world. At 62, at least 40 years have been a struggle with depression and anxiety. Your words and the ones you have collected are balm for the soul. I’m in the middle of a medication change right now so my tears flow easily but have been since I heard of Robin Williams’ suicide. I’ve been on the edge. I know the dark tunnel that shows no other answer. I also know what it looks like after hanging on, waiting for the medicine to work, or for hope to return. God’s gracious mercy has poured over me so many times and walked me back out of the tunnel to see the light. Thank you!
    I also, speak to a Crisis counseling class that a professor friend of mine teaches. I will add these helpful words to what I say to those future pastors and ministry leaders. Thank you!

  • Brittaney

    As someone who fought against depression, suicidal tendencies, thoughts of self-violence and a fascination with death for over 15 years I am appalled by the callousness, insensitivity and judgment regarding this issue. I personally believe that for me depression was a spiritual issue that required spiritual warfare. However, it was certainly not a battle I could fight for myself. I thank God every day that He finally delivered me out of that black pit and that I am fully healed. To all those who still fight the good fight against depression, you are warriors worthy of praise and respect! Hold your head high and don’t let anyone tell you that you aren’ t enough.

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  • http://laurabohmannchapman.blogspot.com Laura Chapman

    This is excellent! Thank you! So many of us struggle with this. It’s important we be more gracious towards those who safer.. I invite you to read my post on 8 Things to never say to someone with Depression.

    http://laurabohmannchapman.blogspot.com/2014/08/8-things-to-never-say-to-someone-with.html?spref=fb&m=1

  • Amy Hunt

    Thank you so much for talking about this. I am a Christian and I am also diagnosed with major depression. I have suffered from depression my whole life. About 9 years ago I found a way to “deal” with my depression and that was by cutting. I still deal with it. I am 26, married with 3 beautiful sons. Even though they have gotten me through a lot, there are some days that many depression is too overpowering even for my family to help. I have always been ashamed of my depression, because of the negative stigma there is about depression. I have dealt with suicidal thoughts for a very long time. My kids keep me going, but some days I wonder if that is enough… I am trusting that God will not let me leave this earth that way.

  • https://reverendmommypgumc.wordpress.com Robin

    Thank you! This is amazing. I also read Anne Voskamp’s work, and it resonated so much with me. I shared my own story at my blog: https://reverendmommypgumc.wordpress.com.

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  • http://resonantbreath.wordpress.com ashley

    thank you for gathering these links together and sharing your thoughts. I’ve written about suicide here: http://resonantbreath.wordpress.com/2014/07/20/3359/ in a post titled “To Tell a Story.” My friend, Courtney, to whom this topic hits close to home as well, has written a piece about depression and selfishness, for those who are interested: http://www.almostfunnny.blogspot.ca.

  • Shannon

    Sarah – I thank you deeply for this article. As somebody who has/does struggle with depression/anxiety and has family members who do, this is truly a blessing. Probably more than you can ever know. Because despite the fact that in my heart I know depression is not something I have control over and is not my fault, when it is constantly put in your face that “it is your fault, and if you just had more faith/prayed harder/sinned less you wouldn’t be depressed” is a real knock in the gut – especially when it is from your brothers and sisters in Christ. So, again, thank you. This is a huge encouragement for me, and I hope my other sisters and brothers in Christ who struggle with any mental illnesses.

  • Kevin

    I fought depression, thoughts of suicide, drugs, alcohol and finally panic attacks for almost twenty years. After being diagnosed and put on medication it only made me feel more worthless. I decided to kill myself by getting so drunk I would crash and die from the accident or alcohol poisoning. Didn’t work, somehow I made it home. Then I decided to overdose on drugs and explode my heart. Didn’t work either, must of had to high a tolerance?? The final attempt I put a gun to my head and began squeezing the trigger, I was literally pulling on the trigger like I was squeezing off a round. Before the hammer fell something told me to stop and go get the bible in my nightstand. A bible I had never read but sat there for thirteen years. After reading it from front to back twice and spending lots of time in the book of john, asking for forgiveness and accepting Jesus as my lord and savior, I have literally never even come close to the pit of despair. Also for the first couple of years as a believer I lost my wife, my closest friends , my job and had back surgery not knowing if I would ever work again. Through all of that and more I can wake up every morning thankful and go to bed every night thankful just knowing jesus is real and the hope that one thought brings. It has been almost nine years now. I praise God everyday and hope this true testimony gives others hope :)

  • Debbie

    Robin Williams was one of the greatest actors, comedians of my time. I am very sorry he is no longer with us. I am also sorry that his death is the only reason mental illness is being talked about. There is still a very real stigma surrounding mental illness and many ignorant people hang on to their prejudices quite strongly. Mental illness is a predisposition inherited from one’s parents, but the disease is triggered by something in the environment; something as simple as a job loss or as complex as the death of a loved one, and any kind of traumatic event in between. Many people who suffer from a mental illness also suffer from drug addiction as a way to self treat the many debilitating symptoms of the mental illness. There are many different mental illnesses and they don’t always affect every person in the same way. The treatment of mental illnesses varies from counseling to medication, but one should not ignore diet, exercise, and the old fashion power of love and sunshine. As far as mental illness being caused by a lack of faith in God, it’s BS….that would be like describing cancer as a lack of faith in God. People do not have control over cancer and a person with a true mental illness doesn’t have any control over that illness…..a belief in God and strong, sincere, support from one’s church will help a mentally ill person, but it is not a cure….there is no cure for mental illness….even the medication given for mental illness is more to help control the symptoms, but take the medicine away and the person is right back at square one. Mental illness is a chemical imbalance in the brain, but the brain is still very much a mysterious organ and doctors don’t really know how it all works together and getting the right medication for mental illness makes the patient feel like a giant science experiment and some of the medications have truly horrible side effects. The predisposition to depression runs in my family. I had an uncle who committed suicide and the trauma of childhood abuse (not from my parents) has triggered a host of mental illnesses for me to deal with. I am a child of God and I believe his power, wisdom, and love is absolute….but when I fall into the depths of depression I am not in my right mind and am unable to think logically and it truly feels like God has abandoned me, although I know whole-heartedly He would never do that. Once the meds take affect and I am thinking clearly once again I know I have not been abandoned. Most of the stigma surrounding mental illness is the fact that people don’t act “normal”. I know when I am in the thick of it, I am not myself. I have had to apologize more than once for my behavior/actions while under the cloud of my illness. I have lost good friends over it because they think it’s ok to make fun of me and talk bad about me behind my back and they don’t want to talk about their concerns or issues with me directly. It’s not easy being the friend/spouse/ or other loved one of a mentally ill person. But what really boils my butt is when someone takes a little anti-depressant because they have hit a rough patch and they still believe their situation is different than mine. It’s not different, because you could fall so easily…..So you are a little stressed out and you are taking an anti-depressant just to get over the hump, but there is no way you are in the same boat as me because I have a longer history or a more severe history…..really get a grip, because depression can be a downward spiral and you are really just a few rungs above me, but it wouldn’t take much for you to slip down past me. Many people dislike me because I am outspoken about my illnesses. Oh my gosh yes I have been told I talk about it too much and I do it just to get attention….that is not the case…I do it because it’s the truth and it’s the only way I know of to educate ignorant people. I don’t try to hide it. Why should I? The only way to change the ignorance surrounding mental illness is to TALK ABOUT IT….even if people think you are weird or way too forthcoming about it. If you would have known me when I was younger, you never would have guessed that I suffered from depression, anxiety, and PTSD. I was so much better at faking it and hiding it, but I think age has diminished my capacity and my inclination to hide my “dirty little secret”. If you can’t handle the truth, well then I guess that’s your problem! That makes you the cowardly, weak, and ignorant person, doesn’t it? God loves me despite my illness and he forgives me my cloudiness of mind and spirit when I am in the thralls of my mental illness, why can’t you?

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  • Leslie

    Beautiful, sensitive and thoughtful post, Sarah. Thank you for providing a safe place for people to talk, connect and process their hurts and sorrows over such a debilitating disease. This is Christs love manifested. God bless you!

  • http://sarahsandel.com sarah beth

    Thank you, from a mama who is largely benefiting from supplements and prescriptions to get through the day right now… I know so much grace because of the way Christ provides in my weakness, through His body and through His word and, yes, through medicine. Appreciate your words and encouragement.

  • http://aladyinfrance.com Jennie Goutet

    I felt so ashamed and defeated when I was diagnosed with depression over twenty years ago. I’m not now, though. The Bible gives examples of people following prescribed treatment for healing; and anti-depressants are one of the sources God gives us to heal. And this …

    It is not your fault.

    Depression is not a sin. Mental illness is not a sin.

    And you are so loved.

    How I love this.

  • Karen

    I’m sitting here at work at 6:00 am in the morning because I haven’t been able to sleep for the last couple of days. It always takes me be back to the most darkest days when you hear about someone taking their own life no matter who it is and think that could have been me. I have struggled with depression and anxiety most of my life and just over the last 5 year have sought clinical and psychological help for my disease.

    I had many friend who I believed felt that if I was in church doing just what you said living the word of god, praying more to release myself from the drugs, meditating more on releasing my sins that I would get better.

    What I found is that with the love and support of the greatest man I know “my husband”, I have been able to find the right combination of drugs(along with a good psychiatrist and counselor) that don’t completely wreck havoc on my life and that although I used to just have good days and bad days that it is now good weeks to better weeks. I have been weaning myself of the medication slowly and in the process of finding just the right balance for me. I do know that I will have to take medication for the rest of my life. This will not be an option. There is something in my brain chemistry that I need to make if function properly. I don’t think that God finds me less of a person because I didn’t pray for his healing, or that I have sinned in the passed, this is just a disease like if I has diabetes and I don’t see people stating if they prayed for a better blood sugar in their body they wouldn’t have to take insulin.

    Your thoughts and comments on this topic are very insightful and I hope that you continue to write about the topic and not hold back to something that is so important. This disease can be passed on to our children and as I have sent our last child (a girl) off to college and she is in her second year we are noticing things that could lead her down this road. (we are talking to her on a regular basis and she is looking at this moment to seek help with a counselor) I believe that information is knowledge and that if we teach what we know and for them to seek treatment and not to be afraid of any stigma, it might be a child’s life that we save.

    I would hope that if someone came across my child and thought they here in trouble that they would reach our as a community to help. It takes a village.

  • Jason

    Sarah, bless you for speaking on this issue.

    I would like to add to this discussion by saying that your poetic mantra (“It’s not your fault etc.”) may be exactly the right thing for some who are experiencing depression. It may not be helpful for others though. If I am depressed because I am eating poorly/addicted to Netflix/Facebook/porn/videogame, and not exercising, then this will not help. I need a different mantra. Actually I probably need an intervention from my loved ones who will have to drag me kicking and screaming from the vortex.

    I just want to be sure that as we have these discussions that we acknowledge that depression is complex, highly varied in its causes and manifestations, and that coddling and sensitivity is not always the best approach. Sometimes a good old fashioned kick in the ass is what we need most. Dragging them out of bed for a 1k run could be much more loving than allowing them to sleep in until 3pm.

  • http://ourgirlsclub.blogspot.com/ Ginny Bain Allen

    Following is something on mental illness I wrote for my blog in 2010.

    Why are more and more people being diagnosed with mental illness? Laziness and narcissism are symptoms of mental illness, and they are at the root of all human evil. Most of us would prefer to follow rather than lead, because it requires more thinking to lead. When we give up our right to think for ourselves, we have entered a dangerous state of laziness, a condition ripe for others to control us. Why are there more and more psychopaths? Could it possibly be due to the stench in our society? Is it just so much harder to cope while living surrounded by so much filth? Consider the mobility of our society and the fewer meaningful connections we are making with each other? Could there be any correlation between mental illness, psychopathy and tossing God out of the public square? Can it have to do at all with how the cultural and intellectual elite want the common folk to be managed, kept quiet, under wraps, controlled and manipulated so we will not display passion about Jesus or about the corruption permeating our culture? I believe they want us drugged into submission, complacency, mediocrity and tolerance so their evil fog of progressivism can freely infiltrate this land and its people. They want us drugged so we won’t display all of the emotions with which God created us, so we won’t engage our brains to think for ourselves. They want us drugged so we will remain silently tucked away in our homes, not caring about the ever deepening pit of evil into which our country is wallowing. They want us to believe all is well. They want us to be a nation of cookie cutter people, unable to display our original creativity, for that scares them. It makes us unpredictable, and, therefore, harder to control. They want us to mind our own business, and to swallow the lie that the choices other people make for themselves won’t affect us. As Martin Luther King Jr. said in 1963, “Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly … I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.” Progressives will stop at nothing to acquire and maintain their covert agenda. Like Lazarus in John 12:10-11, “So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in Him.” they want to kill me too. There are ways to kill life and liveliness without committing murder, and with their control, they want to destroy my liveliness. We may “break” a horse or even a child without harming a hair on it’s head. Erich Fromm was acutely sensitive to this fact when he broadened the definition of necrophilia to include the desire of certain people to control others – to make them controllable, to foster their dependency, to discourage their capacity to think for themselves, to diminish their unpredictability and originality, to keep them in line. Distinguishing it from a “biophilic” person, one who appreciates and fosters the variety of life forms and the uniqueness of the individual, he demonstrated a “necrophilia character type,” whose aim it is to avoid the inconvenience of life by transforming others into obedient automatons, robbing them of their humanity. Evil, then, is that force, residing either inside or outside of human beings, that seeks to kill life or liveliness.

    We are all born knowing God, with a conscience to divide between right and wrong. The truth, which is Jesus, leads us to right thinking, wisdom and robust mental health. Sadly, the seduction of this corrupt world begins its relentless assault on our minds as soon as we are born into it. The mental WILLness begins as we freely reject Him. Robbed of righteous, clear thinking, the more we choose to follow the wide path to destruction, by making choices that lead us in the direction of death, instead of life, the more our minds are rendered incapacitated and we become ever more mentally ill, deficient or diseased. The only answer to mental illness is for one to be transformed by the renewing of one’s mind in Jesus. Personal purification is required not only for the salvation of our individual souls, but for also for the salvation of our world.

  • http://www.clairecolvin.ca Claire

    Hi Sarah, The best commentary I have ever seen on depression is this post from cartoonist Allie Brosh of Hyperbole and a Half. The most telling part is about halfway through when someone tries to help and she answers “No, see that solution is for a different problem than the one that I have.”

    The post is here: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.ca/2013/05/depression-part-two.html

    (Fair warning if you have small people near by, not all of the language is PG.)

  • http://Ellesera.org Lindsey

    I think the reason I’m so touched, so affected and so personally saddened by the passing of Robin Williams is because I have been there. On both sides. It could have been me. I wanted to take my life for months following both of my severe bouts with Post Partum Depression. I literally saw my father trying to take his life during a period of severe clinical depression. Praise God neither of us were successful. No matter your thoughts-no matter your beliefs-souls matter. My soul matters, my daddy’s soul matters, and despite his success, Robin William’s soul matters. I was never angry for my fathers “choice” or felt he was “selfish” for trying. I grieved for him because he hurt so deeply. Tears come easily, even now, because I remember feeling so helpless. Years later to live through it myself brought even more clarity and empathy for what he went through. To endure day after day of agonizing, soul stealing pain is indescribable. I grieved for those months I was losing with my two youngest. In my darkest moments, I firmly believed that the pain of being left by their mother would pale in comparison to the pain of a lifetime of watching their mom being trapped in her own body and unable to interact with them. There is always hope, but when your body is racked with hormonal imbalances, you absolutely cannot find that hope-no matter how hard you look and no matter how many well-meaning people tell you it will be ok. My family and friends walked next to me, sat with me in silence (as opposed to my usual nonstop chatter) and one of my dearest friends even painted my toenails. Depression is real. It is evil. It is unfair. But it most certainly, unequivocally, is not, nor will it ever be – a choice.

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  • http://ourgirlsclub.blogspot.com/ Ginny Bain Allen

    Many are loudly proclaiming that if you cut your arm or get Mesothelioma, you go to a medical doctor for help. Of course, not many would deny that’s wise. Those same folks, however, are claiming that depression is NOT your fault. Uh, when you were drunk and fell through a glass door and cut your arm, that WAS your fault. When you smoked for fifty years and ended up with cancer, that WAS your fault. How can the same folks claim that if you suffer from depression, you couldn’t possibly have any culpability in that?

  • Bradley Yoder

    I struggle with anxiety pretty mightily at times, and have with depression some, too. I am finding the practice book “Get out of your mind and into your life” helpful. Hard work, and helpful. It is a strongly research-based book about how we process thoughts and make associations, how the human mind is made to do just that, and about how we can learn to observe thoughts and feelings and manage to make shouted that matter to us without feeling like we need to make unwanted thoughts magically disappear. In the middle of working through it, and there are good things. Please take a moment to look into it and order it online, and maybe find a friend or counselor to reflect on your work with it with you, if you are one, like me, who struggles with thoughts and feelings and the need to assign meaning to all of them.

    • Bradley Yoder

      Typo… in the third sentence, “shouted” should be choices. While certain aspects of our “condition” are not our fault, the amazing (and of course also frustrating, when you are in the pit) thing is that we can make choices. It’s precisely the moment that we say, “I can’t” that anxiety and depression gain momentum.

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  • Lisa

    Sarah thank you so much for this article. I have suffered from the disease of depression for 30 years. I have been through multitudes of medication changes, spent hours in therapy, and prayed desperately for healing. My disease is one that does not discriminate. It finds me on vacations, holidays, sunny days, days spent with family and friends, and times alone. I wouldn’t wish the darkness on my worst enemy. I have been through all of the interventions for depression, and while they help me to cope and get up in the mornings, have not relieved my illness. Thank you so much for the reminder that this isn’t my fault- not a character flaw or spiritual weakness. It is hard enough to deal with a disease without also being judged by others for something that I wish was not a part of me. You seem to “get” that. For that I am grateful.

    • Cynthia

      Thank you, Sara for this article. I have suffered from depression for years, but I always told myself I was just lazy. This year it got so bad bad that I entered a hospital program. Suicidal thoughts had been added to the mix this year. Now that I’ve been in daily therapy for a month I can see that it is truly an illness. I’ll always suffer from this illness, but now I’ve got the tools to deal with it. I have the proper medications and am learning all the coping tools I will need to live a normal life. I also learned a lot more about the illness which, again, will help me keep it from wrecking my life.

      I’ve never felt the stigma that some people have against mental illness. I’ve always known it was a disease and not brought on by sin. But now that I have achieved the title “Major Clinical Depression” I have started to see it around me. And Robin Williams death has made it worse. Thank you again for this article that will help get rid of some of the stigma for mental illness

  • Sara

    As someone who deals with depression (the result of a long, complicated history of trauma), I really appreciate this post. And frankly I’m also very, very surprised by it.

    I initially heard about you through RHE’s blog (which I LOVE), but I’ve kept my distance from your blog, and book, and writing in general because of the pink “M” on the right-hand side of your blog. See, I’m one of the nameless many who was told by staff at a certain Mercy Ministries of America home — at times explicitly, at times subtly — that my depression [and anxiety and PTSD and…] was the result of my parents’ sin, or the result of my own sin, or the result of demonic influence, or the result of not speaking God’s Creative Power over my life and believing it fully. On what turned out to be my last day of the program, I was told that I had opened doors for the devil to enter and that’s why I was struggling with overwhelmingly suicidal thoughts. Toxic comments like these abounded at Mercy.

    I know from your bio that you are an advocate for Mercy Ministries of Canada. Perhaps MMoC claims to be entirely independent from MMoA (America). I know that MMoA completely distanced itself from its Australian counterpart when the women there began to tell their stories. Perhaps they’ve done the same thing with Canada. I don’t know.

    Your post is gracious, authentic and beautiful. It is freeing. Yours are the words I wish I’d heard during the seven months I spent seeking healing at Mercy. But they were not. Please continue to say what you’ve said above — that depression is not a sin, that mental illness is not a sin — and please, please reconsider your support of a ministry that, when boots are on the ground, says the opposite. Because that message — their message — is toxic, and so many of us can’t afford to bear the weight of it.

  • Chelsea

    Sarah, I can’t thank you enough for posting this. I’m currently in the midst of depression myself. I haven’t been able to work for 4 months, and some days the feelings of suffocation are overwhelming. It’s true, you absolutely can not shake the feelings of darkness. I’ve sought help, and am beginning to feel much much better. Thank you so much for casting light on an issue that so many suffer from, but is considered something we should be ashamed of.

  • Marshall Lawrence

    Sarah, Appreciated your blog, and it inspired me to write something, which you can see at, if you are interested.
    http://takenbysurprise1.blogspot.ca/2014/08/depressions-gift.html

    By the way, I am Susan and Hannah-Lee Lawrence’s father-in-law.

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