Thursday, January 30, 2014


Unwanted Journey

Do you ever feel like you are on an unwanted journey? Does suffering from depression make life seem that way at times? Maybe there is a bigger picture that your life, depression and all, fits into in order to bring God glory. Your depression is not the end of your story. Check out this excerpt from Adam Hamilton's book The Journey:

"Life will have its moments of disappointment, its times of overwhelming sorrow and intense pain. But the good news of Scripture is that God not only walks with us on these journeys; God redeems them and brings good from them. The Bible is filed with such stories.
Jacob's son Joseph was sold as a slave by his brothers, then wound up in Egypt, falsely accused and thrown into prison. But that was not the end of Joseph's story.
David fled into the wilderness when King Saul tried to kill him. He stayed among the Philistines for a couple of years, writing psalms that asked God, "Why do you allow my enemies to prosper? When are you going to save me?" He did not want to take this journey. But that was not the end of David's story.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were told to bow down and worship the Babylonian king's image; if they refused they would be thrown into the fiery furnace. Surely they did not wish to take this journey to the fiery furnace. But that was not the end of their story.
The people of Judah were taken captive and marched to Babylon, where they would live in exile for fifty years. But that was not the end of their story.
And the child who would be born in a stable in Bethlehem would walk to Calvary. But that would not be the end of his story.
All of us take unwanted journeys, but God always walks with us on these journeys. God works through them and redeems them, and these difficult journeys will never be the end of our story!"

Hamilton, Adam. "Pg. 100-101." The Journey: Walking the Road to Bethlehem. Nashville: Abingdon, 2011. N. pag. Print.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Understanding Suicide: Myth vs. Fact

Check out this fantastic reference article from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention dated 9/6/13. This is an essential topic to understand if you have a loved one with clinical depression. Please take these items to heart and discuss with them.

Suicide is a serious public health problem that takes an enormous toll on families, friends, classmates, co-workers and communities, as well as on our military personnel and veterans. 

To understand why people die by suicide, and why so many others attempt to take their own lives, it is important to know the facts. Please read the facts about suicide below and share them with others.

Myth: Suicide can’t be prevented. If someone is set on taking their own life, there is nothing that can be done to stop them.
Fact: Suicide is preventable. The vast majority of people contemplating suicide don’t really want to die. They are seeking an end to intense mental and/or physical pain. Most have a mental illness. Interventions can save lives.

Myth: People who take their own life are selfish, cowards, weak or are just looking for “attention.”
Fact: More than 90% of people who take their own life have at least one and often more than one treatable mental illness such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and/or alcohol and substance abuse. With better recognition and treatment many suicides can be prevented.

Myth: Asking someone if they are thinking about suicide will put the idea in their head and cause them to act on it.
Fact: When you fear someone you know is in crisis or depressed, asking them if they are thinking about suicide can actually help. By giving a person an opportunity to open up and share their troubles you can help alleviate their pain and find solutions.

Myth: Teenagers and college students are the most at risk for suicide.
Fact: The suicide rate for this age group is below the national average. Suicide risk increases with age. Currently, the age group with the highest suicide rate in the U.S. is middle-aged men and women between the ages of 45 and 64. The suicide rate is still highest among white men over the age of 65.

Myth: Barriers on bridges, safe firearm storage and other actions to reduce access to lethal methods of suicide don’t work. People will just find another way.
Fact: Limiting access to lethal methods of suicide is one of the best strategies for suicide prevention. Many suicides can be impulsive and triggered by an immediate crisis. Separating someone in crisis from a lethal method (e.g., a firearm) can give them something they desperately need: time. Time to change their mind, time to resolve the crisis, time for someone to intervene.

Myth: Someone making suicidal threats won’t really do it, they are just looking for attention.
Fact: Those who talk about suicide or express thoughts about wanting to die, are at risk for suicide and need your attention. Most people who die by suicide give some indication or warning. Take all threats of suicide seriously. Even if you think they are just “crying for help”—a cry for help, is a cry for help—so help.

Myth: Talk therapy and/or medications don’t work.
Fact: Treatment can work. One of the best ways to prevent suicide is by getting treatment for mental illnesses such as depression, bipolar illness and/or substance abuse and learning ways to solve problems. Finding the best treatment can take some time, and the right treatment can greatly reduce risk of suicide. In fact, it can bring you back your life.


Monday, January 20, 2014

Are You What You Eat?

Are diet and depression related? Studies continue to back the premise that what you eat and drink effects your emotional balance.Check out this article from the Mayo Clinic.

10 Things to Never Say to a Person with Depression

     There are many lists of platitudes and insults out there so this will not be new information. However, I hope that by reviewing some specific ones, while adding my personal reflections, the friends and families of people with depression will gain a better understanding of why these remarks can be so painful and destructive. I have personally suffered from clinical depression since the age of 8 and have heard statements like these many times. To most people, these are normal responses to life and can, at times, be seen as positive motivators. It may seem odd that they could be taken in such a negative way. Such is the cloud of depression. It acts as a negative filter or magnifying glass to the sufferer. Simple statements like these can feel like a knife in the heart to the person in depression. Even if your intentions are good, these will often times make a person feel worse.

1) Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.
    - Not very encouraging when you already feel helpless. This actually increases the "I'm a failure" thought process of many with depression.
2) It’s all in your head.
    - While this may technically be true (due to a chemical imbalance in the brain), it does convey the message that the person's pain is imaginary or an exaggeration of some sort.
3) Just focus on the positive things in life, not the negative.
    - Well... if it were that easy, the person would already be doing that. When having a depressive episode, the pain is so strong that it's difficult to feel good about anything.
4) I know exactly how you feel. I’ve been depressed before too.
    - Worst. Platitude. Ever. Even if you have felt that way before, someone in that much pain does not feel consoled by the comparison.  Experiencing situational depression involves many of the same symptoms but is not the same.
5) You should get out more. Socialize. Hang out with friends.
     - Depression is an odd catch 22. A suffering person longs to be wanted and accepted, yet feels lonely in a crowd of 200 people. 
6) It could always be worse.
    - Although this is true, it's hard to imagine for a person with depression and may drive them further into thinking about suicide.
7) You are selfish and just want attention.
     - While there are some that will use any circumstance to draw attention to themselves, the majority of people suffering from depression are genuinely in pain and agony.
8) You should exercise more.
     - This one is a matter of timing. During a depressive episode, it can take all of your strength just to get up and do daily activities like bathing, eating or going to work. Exercise should be encouraged during recovery periods.
9) Just pray about it.
    - Calling out to God is probably the best thing a hurting person can do. However, your loved one may feel like God isn't helping them because they aren't instantly getting better.  Pray with them and for them.
10) You have to choose to be happy.
       -  When you have a chemical imbalance working against you, among other issues, your emotions are often chosen for you.

On behalf of your loved one that suffers from depression, please think about these types of statements and consider making changes that will better reflect the love and compassion you want to share. Even when saying tough things are necessary, consider the timing and the amount of personal support you are willing to give. Look for my next list - 10 Better Things to Say!

God bless!