My Struggle with Depression–And My Healing

God has done so many wonderful things in my life, giving me many stories to tell of His goodness.  One story involves a battle that I have fought three different times in my life—chemical depression.  I have often had background skirmishes, but three times the battle has been more intense.

When I say they were major battles, I am not saying that flippantly.  Each episode had different degrees of symptoms but some overall themes were:  great anxiety, strange physical symptoms, total lack of hunger, inability to sleep, feeling hopeless (and you sure need hope in this!), and inability to concentrate.  My whole body would feel weird, and it seemed like I couldn’t remember feeling normal.

This particular story was during the worst episode which occurred after the birth of my first daughter in the form of post-partum depression.  I hardly even want to go there to explain how dark a time period that was, but that’s also when I saw God’s hand move in a miraculous way. When you have endured several months without sleeping, without much eating, and with no peace whatsoever it can wear on you in a big way, especially when caring for a baby.  We lived in Houston at the time, and my mom came to help me.

I remember crying out to God out of total desperation in my closet one day (yes, I sometimes pray in my actual closet).  The next Sunday at church I met someone during the greeting time named Sandy.  Our church was fairly large (a few thousand people), so I didn’t know everyone and I hadn’t remembered seeing her before.  I had to leave to go to the nursery to tend to my daughter which happened so often that everyone knew my number on the screen—0012 (which I still remember 20 years later).

While I was gone Sandy came to my mom and asked her if I was going through a hard time, and my mother briefly explained the situation.  Sandy replied that God had put it on her heart for several days to pray for a person named Karen who was going through great difficulty.  When we had met, she was very intrigued that my name was Karen and asked the Lord if I was the one she had been praying for which the Lord confirmed.  Through that encounter we talked more, and she relayed to me that the battle would end and it helped me get started on a different path.  It sure wasn’t immediate by any means, and many dark days were still ahead.

Yet, I cannot describe what comfort it was to me for the Lord to reach out to me in that way to let me know that He saw my pain, that He sent someone to pray for me, and He gave me hope that I would get past this battle.  He met me where I was!

God is so great and loves us so much.  God not only helped me in this supernatural way, but He revealed to me some ways in the natural to combat the depression as well.  When I say depression, that can mean anxiety or depression or a combination.  I learned that they are two sides of one coin.  They both are the result of a serotonin deficiency, and your body and personality may just manifest them in different ways.

As for supernatural means to fight it, obviously, we should first seek God to show us what we in particular need to do.  Due to your brain feeling so muddled when chemically depressed, that may require the help of Godly friends (or a counselor) who will seek God with you.  Here are some supernatural weapons that I found to be effective for me:

  • Praying God’s Word over myself, declaring that I have the mind of Christ (I Corinthians 2:16), that no weapon formed against me will prosper (Isaiah 54:17), that great is my peace (Psalm 119:165), and that God’s peace would guard my mind (Philipians 4:7).
  • Praying in tongues, especially when I didn’t know what else to pray.
  • Praising God! The Word says that you put on (like clothing) the garment of praise in exchange for the garment of heaviness (Isaiah 61:3). This could be through music or by pouring out the praise in your heart to Him in plain words.
  • Keep standing! Sometimes existing for another day is a victory and one step closer to complete victory.

As for natural weapons, medical research is making great strides in this area. (I grew up wanting to be a doctor, and I read these types of things because they are so interesting to me.)  Recently, research has pointed to inflammation in the body (or even an allergy to inflammation) as being a cause of depression, but there are many, many causes, and there are many effective natural ways to battle it:

  • In terms of drugs, in my three battles, one time I used a natural herb (St John’s Wort), once I stuck it out long enough that the depression eased on its own, and once I took a prescription anti-depressant. You have to do what’s right for YOU, receiving no condemnation for what path you feel is best in this area.
  • Cardiovascular exercise has been shown to be as effective as a prescription anti-depressant if done regularly.  (The scientist in me wants to give references for this but it is pretty prevalent anywhere you want to look this stuff up.)
  • Taking an Omega-3 oil supplement (or flaxseed or walnuts) is great for the brain.
  • Finding out what is a trigger for you can help. In the most recent battle, my doctor and I realized that the three times that have been true battles for me were all associated with a major drop in hormones.
  • Seeing a medical doctor to be tested for things like low thyroid or even food allergies/sensitivities.
  • Making sure to do everything in your power to be thinking right thoughts.
  • Having a good, loving circle of friends standing with you (or God can even provide a stranger like how He did for me in Houston—He’s limitless!).
  • Talking to a counselor. I do think that if there are any underlying physical causes then addressing those first helps the therapy to be even more effective.

One more word to the wise:  I found that everyone has an opinion about depression and anxiety.  Some will say it is only caused by hormones out of whack because that is what their experience has been.  Some will tell you that you are just not thinking right, and you just need to start thinking right.  Others may say that prescription medicine is the only way to go.

I think of it as how different blind-folded people see an elephant—the one holding the trunk think it’s hard, the one holding the tail think it is feathery, the one holding the legs think it is like a tree.  Our understanding of depression is so limited at this time and can have so many DIFFERENT causes and cures.  The good news is that God can see “the whole elephant” and knows how to deliver you!  Our victory is assured as we follow His pathway to deliverance!

This post was written by Karen Earhart. To read more about her, click here.

**Note: This is one person’s story, and not advice from a professional doctor. If you are in a place of depression, please contact the HCF offices for a list of trusted counseling resources (click here for Campus contact numbers).

My Struggle with Depression–and My Healing

God has done so many wonderful things in my life, giving me many stories to tell of His goodness.  One story involves a battle that I have fought three different times in my life—chemical depression.  I have often had background skirmishes, but three times the battle has been more intense.

When I say they were major battles, I am not saying that flippantly.  Each episode had different degrees of symptoms but some overall themes were:  great anxiety, strange physical symptoms, total lack of hunger, inability to sleep, feeling hopeless (and you sure need hope in this!), and inability to concentrate.  My whole body would feel weird, and it seemed like I couldn’t remember feeling normal.

This particular story was during the worst episode which occurred after the birth of my first daughter in the form of post-partum depression.  I hardly even want to go there to explain how dark a time period that was, but that’s also when I saw God’s hand move in a miraculous way. When you have endured several months without sleeping, without much eating, and with no peace whatsoever it can wear on you in a big way, especially when caring for a baby.  We lived in Houston at the time, and my mom came to help me.

I remember crying out to God out of total desperation in my closet one day (yes, I sometimes pray in my actual closet).  The next Sunday at church I met someone during the greeting time named Sandy.  Our church was fairly large (a few thousand people), so I didn’t know everyone and I hadn’t remembered seeing her before.  I had to leave to go to the nursery to tend to my daughter which happened so often that everyone knew my number on the screen—0012 (which I still remember 20 years later).

While I was gone Sandy came to my mom and asked her if I was going through a hard time, and my mother briefly explained the situation.  Sandy replied that God had put it on her heart for several days to pray for a person named Karen who was going through great difficulty.  When we had met, she was very intrigued that my name was Karen and asked the Lord if I was the one she had been praying for which the Lord confirmed.  Through that encounter we talked more, and she relayed to me that the battle would end and it helped me get started on a different path.  It sure wasn’t immediate by any means, and many dark days were still ahead.

Yet, I cannot describe what comfort it was to me for the Lord to reach out to me in that way to let me know that He saw my pain, that He sent someone to pray for me, and He gave me hope that I would get past this battle.  He met me where I was!

God is so great and loves us so much.  God not only helped me in this supernatural way, but He revealed to me some ways in the natural to combat the depression as well.  When I say depression, that can mean anxiety or depression or a combination.  I learned that they are two sides of one coin.  They both are the result of a serotonin deficiency, and your body and personality may just manifest them in different ways.

As for supernatural means to fight it, obviously, we should first seek God to show us what we in particular need to do.  Due to your brain feeling so muddled when chemically depressed, that may require the help of Godly friends (or a counselor) who will seek God with you.  Here are some supernatural weapons that I found to be effective for me:

  • Praying God’s Word over myself, declaring that I have the mind of Christ (I Corinthians 2:16), that no weapon formed against me will prosper (Isaiah 54:17), that great is my peace (Psalm 119:165), and that God’s peace would guard my mind (Philipians 4:7).
  • Praying in tongues, especially when I didn’t know what else to pray.
  • Praising God! The Word says that you put on (like clothing) the garment of praise in exchange for the garment of heaviness (Isaiah 61:3). This could be through music or by pouring out the praise in your heart to Him in plain words.
  • Keep standing! Sometimes existing for another day is a victory and one step closer to complete victory.

As for natural weapons, medical research is making great strides in this area. (I grew up wanting to be a doctor, and I read these types of things because they are so interesting to me.)  Recently, research has pointed to inflammation in the body (or even an allergy to inflammation) as being a cause of depression, but there are many, many causes, and there are many effective natural ways to battle it:

  • In terms of drugs, in my three battles, one time I used a natural herb (St John’s Wort), once I stuck it out long enough that the depression eased on its own, and once I took a prescription anti-depressant. You have to do what’s right for YOU, receiving no condemnation for what path you feel is best in this area.
  • Cardiovascular exercise has been shown to be as effective as a prescription anti-depressant if done regularly.  (The scientist in me wants to give references for this but it is pretty prevalent anywhere you want to look this stuff up.)
  • Taking an Omega-3 oil supplement (or flaxseed or walnuts) is great for the brain.
  • Finding out what is a trigger for you can help. In the most recent battle, my doctor and I realized that the three times that have been true battles for me were all associated with a major drop in hormones.
  • Seeing a medical doctor to be tested for things like low thyroid or even food allergies/sensitivities.
  • Making sure to do everything in your power to be thinking right thoughts.
  • Having a good, loving circle of friends standing with you (or God can even provide a stranger like how He did for me in Houston—He’s limitless!).
  • Talking to a counselor. I do think that if there are any underlying physical causes then addressing those first helps the therapy to be even more effective.

One more word to the wise:  I found that everyone has an opinion about depression and anxiety.  Some will say it is only caused by hormones out of whack because that is what their experience has been.  Some will tell you that you are just not thinking right, and you just need to start thinking right.  Others may say that prescription medicine is the only way to go.

I think of it as how different blind-folded people see an elephant—the one holding the trunk think it’s hard, the one holding the tail think it is feathery, the one holding the legs think it is like a tree.  Our understanding of depression is so limited at this time and can have so many DIFFERENT causes and cures.  The good news is that God can see “the whole elephant” and knows how to deliver you!  Our victory is assured as we follow His pathway to deliverance!

This post was written by Karen Earhart. To read more about her, click here.

**Note: This is one person’s story, and not advice from a professional doctor. If you are in a place of depression, please contact the HCF offices for a list of trusted counseling resources (click here for Campus contact numbers).

Caring for “Me”

beauty-from-ashes“Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?”  Song of Solomon 8:5

I have never in my life had such a definitive change in seasons.

All my past season changes were kind of blended like fall blends into winter and winter into spring.

This season change is almost like a nuclear holocaust…just a blank landscape with a wide open space of nothing except the debris of what used to be.

I have been a care-giver most of my life, starting as a child of a single parent. I gave care to my mama, my brother, and our home to help relieve some of my mama’s burden.  Then came the season of marriage and child-raising.  We all know what that requires of a wife and mother.  Then all of a sudden the season of caring for the elders in my family arrived, and it lasted longer than the season of child-raising.

Now that all of these seasons have come and gone, I find my soul is weary and so is my body.  As I sit in my woman-cave, I look around at all of the clutter that has accumulated during this past season and ponder: “Is this indicative of my heart, Lord? Is my heart so cluttered from the weariness and emotions of this past season that I need to be decluttered?”  And as I quietly sit here, I hear my Jesus’ voice:

Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you.  Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.

(Matt. 11:28-30 NLT).

So, I have a choice.  I can get in my normal “who” of being task-oriented and ABC-123, and slog through this wilderness in my own effort and keep on keeping on.  Or I can stop and wait.

I can wait at the edge of this new season until I am refreshed in my soul.  I can wait until I can see clearly God’s plan for me in this new season.  I can wait and not be discouraged as I allow Holy Spirit to clear the clutter of emotions out of my heart and help me clear the clutter in my home.  I can wait while the “Mary” in me is refreshed and revived, and the “Martha” takes a rest.

So, for now I plan to do some self-care, taking time to rest by not having so many self-expectations.  I can enjoy doing life with my husband without having to put others’ needs before ours.  I can be content keeping busy at home.  I can still care for others through being diligent in prayer.  And I can look forward with expectation to what God has for me. 

This post was written by Kitty Shipman. To read more about her, click here. 

Balance: Health & Wellness

workout3 John 1:2 “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” NKJV

Balance looks different for everyone. Things are constantly being added and subtracted from our lives as we move through seasons. We need to shift the fulcrum in different seasons to find balance; so my encouragement to us is to BE INTENTIONAL. Because our health affects us in such powerful ways (energy, discipline, motivation, etc.), I have discovered that finding balance in this area spills over into every area of my life.

I need something simple and practical, so here are the top 5 things that have helped me personally bring balance to health in my home.

1.  What is your why?
I think it’s so important to first ask yourself WHY you want to get healthy. Jonathan and I decided long ago, before we even started having children, that we wanted our family to be active together, to enjoy great adventures together, and to pass on a legacy of health!

2.  Keep Nutrition Simple
Eating healthy is simple, but not easy. I have about 10 different meals/recipes we eat on a regular basis. I usually have the things on hand to make these. They don’t have a ton of ingredients. I don’t go to 4 different specialty stores to find ingredients for a paleo dish I found on Pinterest! (ain’t nobody got time for that). Don’t buy what you don’t want to eat. This helps me not drink the 5 Diet Cokes I want to drink every day.

3.  Buddy up
The greatest thing that happened to my work out routine was my little work out buddy! She has like-values regarding her health. She pushes me when I’m lazy and don’t want to go, she pushes me in class when I don’t want to work hard, and I do the same for her.

buddies4.  Get your entire family on board
My husband and I are on the same page about not only our health, but our kids’ health (most of the time 😉 He helps me stay on point with the grocery shopping, and he helps me cook (it’s actually some of our best quality time when we cook together!) We cook one meal; everyone eats it. Do my kids LOVE Brussel sprouts? Not really, but they eat them, because we explain to them, just like reading or praying, it’s good for them… and they need to obey mom (and adding a little ranch will help almost anything taste a little better 😉

5.  Set an active goal
The greatest thing Jonathan and I started doing several years ago is signing up for races! We would train for them together, and run them together! We started with some 5k’s and from there began working our way up! It helps us stay focused on something, and look forward to something besides just another work out! There is a difference between working out and training. Training is typically forward focused and motivated by love, not fear.
Find something you love doing, not something you loathe!

Again, these are some things I found helpful and practical! I still crush an 8-piece at Chick-Fil-A (in fact, I did last nightJ)…balance.

I discovered long ago that being healthy is not merely a season of life or a new trend, it’s a lifestyle and it’s intentional!

This post was written by Kristen Wright.