Depression

ARE YOU DEPRESSED?

Many people we encounter are suffering from depression and they don’t understand that they can feel better. If you think you might be suffering from depression, sadness, or hopelessness, please know this: You can be happy again. These feelings are temporary and there are many things you can do to move beyond these hard feelings to happy feelings like joy, happiness, peace, and love.

There is a place where you can receive everything you need to journey triumphantly through your day – love, comfort, strength, courage, peace, joy, wisdom, provision etc. It’s called the throne of grace!  It’s God’s throne room and it’s where He will impart to you all that you need for every day. The provision is from the victorious life of Jesus and it’s imparted to us by the Holy Spirit.

“The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” 1Timothy 1:5 God’s purpose for ourselves and for others is love, compassion, and grace.

What is it?

Unless stated, this section is written by Jeannie’s spiritual daughter, Julie Davies

First, let’s start with defining mental health.  There are many ways to define it, but from mentalhealth.gov:

“Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well being and it affects how we think, feel and how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices.  Mental health is important at all states of life.

Depression is a real, treatable brain illness, or health problem. It is a serious medical condition in which a person is in a state of sadness, feeling hopeless, persistent despair and many times not able to function in daily life. Depression is not your fault or caused by something you did wrong.  Depression can be caused by big transitions in life, stress, or changes in your body’s chemicals that affect your thoughts and moods.  Depression can run in families.  Maybe you haven’t realized that you have depression and have been blaming yourself for being negative, or not having enough faith.  Remember that depression is not your fault.”  (From NIMH Fact Sheet, 2016)

According to the World Health Organization, major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability among Americans age 15-44.

Depression can look very different in people and sometimes it does not just look like sadness, but can come out in anger, especially in teens and adult males.

God’s word says “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” ~ Romans 8:1-2

We are set free from guilt and shame, especially regarding our mental health.  We are complex people with complex brains and there are no easy answers to the complexity of mental illness, and very rarely is it only a spiritual issue.  How sad it is in the church when people are struggling from a real mental illness like depression and someone tells them, or implies, they are suffering because they don’t have enough faith!  This sort of innuendo and action only adds to the person’s suffering and could trigger unnecessary guilt and shame.  This is not loving and it’s not from God.

We must offer HOPE!  There is always HOPE in Jesus!

“The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” 1Timothy 1:5 God’s purpose for ourselves and for others is love, compassion, and grace.

God can heal in many different ways.  He can heal you through prayer, the Bible, good Christian counsel and through community.  Also, He can heal through therapy and medication.

Symptoms of Depression

Many people I encounter are suffering from depression and they don’t understand that they can feel better.  If you think you might be suffering from depression, sadness, or hopelessness, please know this: You can be happy again.  These feelings are temporary and there are many things you can do to move beyond these hard feelings to happy feelings like joy, happiness, peace, and love.

Mood: anxiety, apathy, general discontent, guilt, hopelessness, loss of interest, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, mood swings, or sadness

Sleep: early awakening, excess sleepiness, insomnia, or restless sleep

Whole body: excessive hunger, fatigue, loss of appetite, or restlessness

Behavioral: agitation, excessive crying, irritability, or social isolation

Cognitive: lack of concentration, slowness in activity, or thoughts of suicide

Weight: weight gain or weight loss

Also common: poor appetite or repeatedly going over thoughts, chronic pain (About 75% of people with depression suffer recurring or chronic pain, research shows.), you feel nothing (numb, neutral, blah), and indecisiveness.

Stages of Grief

(The following words were written by Gerard Long in his section on the Broken Hearted)

‘No two people grieve in the same way and it’s wrong and dangerous to be too prescriptive about the stages of grief a person should go through.

There is a helpful analogy in the deep sea diver.  He goes down into unknown waters that are dark, mysterious, and dangerous and a huge weight of water pressing down on him.  In coming up to the surface and the light, he has to be very careful.  If he comes up too quickly he will get the ‘bends’ (bubbles forming in the body) that can lead to paralysis and death.  His ascent needs to vary depending on different conditions.

Similarly, people grieve in different ways – different symptoms and different lengths of time.  It is not something to be rushed!

However, it is possible to recognize different stages of grief that may not manifest in the same order:

  • Denial and Isolation– for quite a while, Jeannie would not accept Alex’s suicide and expected him to come home at any time. Also, for several months she pushed many of her close friends away!
  • Anger– as the realty of the loss settles in, anger may occur, directed at one’s self, one’s loved ones or someone or something else. This is often linked to blame, which becomes intense when linked to a suicide (see Suicide).  Why wasn’t I there?  If we hadn’t done so and so it could have been prevented. If the doctor had diagnosed the disease sooner!  At this stage, there is a fork in the road to healing your broken heart.  Go the right way (see below) and you will journey on into light and love.  But, if you go the wrong way, you will journey into darkness and hatred. Jeannie journeyed the wrong way and it took her many years to recover!
  • Hatred and Bitterness– this is a very dark and dangerous road to take and should be avoided as all costs. Like Miss Havisham, in the Charles Dickens novel Great Expectations, as well as yourself, many people will be severely damaged if you go down this road.    Refusing to accept the reality of the terrible loss you’ve incurred, you want to relieve your pain by hurting other people, especially those who love you and are close to you.

For two years after Alex’s suicide, Jeannie hated herself and she hated me.  Initially, she hated God too but this turned to unbelief – she couldn’t accept that a loving God that she had been serving for 24 years could have allowed such a terrible thing to happen to our family.

  • Depression– This will probably also occur along the dark and dangerous road after taking the wrong folk. It comes as a dark dark cloud that blocks out the light.  The ability to reason goes and hope quickly dims as well.

Jeannie was in deep depression for a long time after Alex’s suicide and, but for the grace of God, our beautiful marriage would have ended and she may well have taken her own life!

  • Healing – in this life, you never get over the loss of a loved one, but you can journey on successfully, turning the terrible pain into something that will bring healing and comfort to others! See Healing your broken heart below.’
The Biblical Stages of Healing

(The following words were written by Gerard Long in his section on the Broken Hearted)

 When Jeannie and I were in our darkest hour, the Lord showed me the Biblical stages of healing found in the following scripture from Is 61:2-3:

‘To comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to:

  1. bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
  2. the oil of joyinstead of mourning,and
  3. a garment of praiseinstead of a spirit of despair.’

The first stage is the battle or conflict that takes place in the mind (the crown is placed on your head).  For several years after Alex’s suicide, Jeannie was covered in ‘ashes’.  Her mind was filled with negative thoughts – blame e.g. why didn’t we see it coming?, why didn’t God rescue him? etc., hatred (for herself, me and God), unbelief (she lost her faith for two years), and hopelessness (what is the point of living!).  And then, bit by bit, her thinking started to change.  She started to read scripture again and to share them with me.  I knew she had a breakthrough in her thinking when she said to me one day – ‘You know Gerard, I am thankful…!’  I cried because she had come a long way from saying, ‘I wish I’d never been born!’

The second stage has to do with allowing the Holy Spirit to have access to your inner being.  Yielding to Him.  It involves surrendering the grief and mourning to God.  Sometimes you might feel guilty for starting to live a normal life again.  You may feel you’re forgetting or letting your loved one down.  More and more, Jeannie started to allow the Holy Spirit to flow in and through her and she received some amazing words from God.  She joined me in meeting and having sweet fellowship with our dear friends George and Judy Kohl.  And the joy started to flow!!  Again, I cried.

The third stage is the surrender of the will.  It’s a willingness to say to God, ‘I may not understand why you’ve allowed this terrible thing to happen to me but I’m going to trust you anyway!’  This establishes the Lordship of Jesus Christ over your life.  Job said, ‘Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him.’ 13:15. The opposite of despair is hope and when we surrender our will to God, hope arises for now and eternity.  Jesus is lifted up and the natural outcome is praise.  The tears would often flow when I saw Jeannie lifting up her hands in praise and worship to God in the little house church we ran with Gorge and Judy.

Is God there?

(The following words were written by Gerard Long in his section on the Broken Hearted)

Some of the most difficult things to wrestle with in the terrible pain of your loss are the questions, especially those concerning God.  ‘If God loved me so much, why did He allow this to happen?’  ‘Where was God when I needed Him the most?’  ‘I thought He promised that no harm or evil would happen to me?’

These questions are very normal and I encourage you to wrestle with them because:

  • The great men and women of faith in the Bible wrestled with God over these very questions;
  • Half of the Psalms are laments, asking, ‘why God?’;
  • This may be hard to understand (you’ll have to trust me for now on this one – see the scriptures below) but God is hurting more than you are about your pain!;
  • God wants you to come to Him with your pain – He can deal with your anger, pain and disappointment. He wants you to share it with Him;
  • I have had many many times of the deepest weeping with God in which I off loaded my pain and questions on to Him; and
  • It’s very healthy spiritually, emotionally and physically to share your pain with God and others and, yes, that may include some shouting and ranting and raving!!

You’ve arrived at the fork in the road that I mentioned above.  Your choice at this point will determine whether you journey on into triumph and light or into darkness and depression.  I can assure you that Satan is doing all He can to persuade you to take the road into darkness.

You’ve arrived at the point Jesus was at before He went to the Cross.  Knowing what was about to happen, He was in absolute unbelievable agony.  The cup He had to drink was incredibly bitter and He asked the Father if there might be another way!!  And then He made the decision that God is asking you to make!  Will you surrender all your pain and suffering, your very life, and say with Jesus, ‘nevertheless, not what I will but what you will!’

One day, you will understand why God allowed your heart to be broken.  You may not see it now; in fact it makes no sense to you at all!!  But, will you trust God in the midst of your pain and suffering?  Like Jesus did, will you say, I surrender my life to you God and I ask you to come and give me the grace to journey on with you for your glory and your honor.  This is what it means to take up your cross and follow Him.  And, when you do this, you release from your life more of His Kingdom and love to drive back the darkness in this world.

Choosing to surrender your pain and suffering to God will probably not take it away (although He does give us the grace to journey on with it).  Jeannie and I often have intense pain in missing our beautiful Rebecca and precious Alex.  But, when the pain comes, we try to make a conscious decision to rededicate our lives to Christ.  Some days are easier than others!!’

Examples of people in the Bible who suffered bouts of depression

Why does a loving God allow suffering in the world?

You may ask, ‘why did God create an earth with so much pain and suffering?’  The answer is, He didn’t.  When He first created the earth and humans and all the animals, there was no death, or suffering or pain.

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. Gen 1:31

It was only after human beings rejected God and His ways, deciding instead to take on the role of god and to go their own way, that death and suffering and pain was released on earth.  Man’s rebellion against God affected everything including, humans, animals, plants, and the universe!

Thankfully, if you have received Jesus Christ as your savior, God has rescued you, and through eternity you will be with God in Heaven, where there is no more death, or mourning or crying or pain (Rev 21:4).

‘Why though,’ I hear you ask, ‘did God create humans with the ability to reject Him and, in so doing; bring pain and suffering and death into this world?’  It’s because He wants a people who will choose to love Him and are willing to have Him as their God (and not themselves).  To find those people, there has to be free will.

How you exercise your God given free will, determines how you journey through this age and where and how you will be in the next age!

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Advice for the Journey

There is always HOPE in Jesus!  If you’re struggling with depression, I encourage you to keep seeking God, turn to His Word, pray, and find safe friends who want to encourage you with the truth.  I want you to know that there is power in Jesus’s name to even silence (shut up) the lies.  I want you to find the same Joy and Hope I did in Jesus and to have the courage to find a safe place and friends to share your inner struggles to gain the power back from the enemy who wants you to feel like you are alone.  I pray that you would know your true value and identity in Christ and that you are deeply loved.  The single most important thing I’ve learned in my healing is how to have a more intimate relationship with God and learning to hear His voice.  I, like many other people, use to focus too much on the clinical side of my healing, but I realized through my journey of healing that the most important thing is learning to hear Jesus’s loving, grace-filled compassionate voice of hope.

Experience including, ‘10 Truths that helped me overcome depression

‘Words from Julie’:

I humbly share my story of battling depression since I was a young child in the hope that you will see that you are not alone in your pain and suffering.  My hope and passion is to help others experience the hope, love, freedom, and healing I have received from the Lord.  I still battle depression from time to time, but I no longer stay in hiding or turn to destructive things.  I turn to God and I believe that Jesus can fully and miraculously heal me, renew my mind, and restore my brain.So, I’ll keep having people lay hands on me and pray for that, but until that day comes, I’m going to trust God’s ways and give thanks for the healing that He has done.

My story is outlined in this video below:

7min- Julie’s Story Of Overcoming Depression, Anxiety, and Suicide

When I was in my darkest days of depression & would just stay isolated crying all day, I would muster up enough energy & strength to read scriptures in the book of Psalms.  I would read them over and over again and it brought healing to my depression.  These verses were so life giving, bringing a little light into the darkness, and reminding me that God was with me and I was not alone.  One of my favorites, to mediate on daily, was:  “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” ~ Psalm 34:18.  This is a good verse if you are struggling with a broken heart as well like I was.

10 Truths That Helped Me Overcome Depression And Anxiety

I know what it’s like to feel alone. I remember what it’s like to be in high school & college, depressed, alone, and feeling hopeless.

At one time I thought I could never be used by God in my brokenness and never knew the power I had in Jesus to say shut up to the negative thoughts in my mind.

As a little girl, the lies I believed was that I had to earn love, be perfect, present myself as strong and put together, and that the harder I worked the better I would feel & the more successful I would become. The more I was stressed, the better because then I could reach my goals & live a happy, fulfilling life. What lies do you believe about yourself? Do you know?

I learned to hide!I hid from everyone & everything. I tried to pretend I was fine, thinking that motto “fake it until you make it” would heal me. I ran from my pain. I numbed it with every type of self-destructive behavior I had access to. I ran from God and I hid myself because of the shame I carried. I hid behind my achievements & successes. I hid behind academic success & athletic stardom. I hid behind modeling success. I hid behind the happy, smiley, joyful face I always tried to show, terrified on the inside that people would find out my struggles. So I buried them deeper into the dark, just hoping they would go away eventually.

Instead the opposite happened & the more I hid the worse I got & the darkness overtook me until I was completely hopeless & the pain was too much to bear. I started to believe the lie that it was never going to get better & that my life was so miserable that I would rather die than live.

I attempted suicide at the age of 23 after a painful breakup that triggered everything I had buried for so long. I could no longer hide; I could no longer live this way. I didn’t know God’s voice & I didn’t know that there was an enemy who was also accusing, deceiving & lying to me.

The bible is very clear about Satan who is also called the Father of lies (John 8:44). “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” ~ 1 Peter 5:8 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” ~ John 10:10.

Jesus came to give us life. Jesus gave me a new life. I still struggle with depression & anxiety from time to time, but I no longer turn to self-destructive behaviors, I no longer desire to die, & I no longer feel guilt & shame for it. I turn to Jesus, prayer, God’s Word, & safe friends to lift me up, offer me encouragement, hope, and love that heals.

Who’s voice are you believing? Do you believe the voice that brings life or the voice that brings death?

10 truths that have helped me overcome my depression and anxiety and brought me Hope, Healing, and Freedom. 

  1. Seek God first & He will reveal His love, grace, & truth. Discover your identity as a child of God. You are fearfully & wonderfully made. Do you know who you are? Do you put your identity in what you do or what people think, or in the One who created you?
  2. Be Honest!!! Come out of hiding and you will be set free. Share your struggles with someone, even if it’s just God in private. Darkness only has power in hiding. When you try to pretend that you are fine & act strong it only makes the depression & anxiety worse & adds another lie that you need to feel shame.
  3. Learn to Hear God’s Voice, the voice of truth, the voice of life, the voice of love. It will transform your heart, mind, & soul. Read Christy Pierce’s book “God is Whispering to you: How to hear God’s quiet voice above the noise.” Click Here
  4. Learn what lies you believe & how to walk in spiritual power through Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit to “shut up” the lies & negative thoughts that consume you. Read the “shut up” book coming out soon that will give you the tools & resources to shut up the lies. (Click here to read the sample book for free)
  5. Renew your mind through meditating, reading,learning, & studying the scriptures. The book of the Bible I love to read through especially when I am in a dark place or battling any types of difficult emotions is the Psalms. When I was in my darkest season of life, I would read different Psalms over and over again, just weeping & crying while feeling a sense of release & peace which was freeing & life giving. One of my favorites is “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” ~ Psalm 34:18
  6. Surrender!!! I had to surrender my entire life, my hopes, my dreams, my desires, & humbly submit them to God.I needed to turn away (repent) from the old life that brought me pain, emptiness, & death and turn towards Jesus that brought me Joy, Freedom, Hope, Peace, Love, & Healing. “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.” ~ Matthew 16: 24. Choose to follow Him and trust Him even in the midst of pain & suffering. When you lay down your life, you will find it. Life is more beautiful when you give your life to God.
  7. God heals in many different ways. Get the help and treatment you need that will bring healing. HE CAN HEAL YOU through prayer, the Bible, an empathetic & compassionate pastor, good Christian counsel, through community. I encourage everyone to be involved in a local church, a family of all generations which is so important. He can also heal through Christian therapy & medication. There are various opinions on medication and a lot of Christians have strong opinions about it. I am someone who has found it very helpful & healing for me and others as well. I no longer have shame or think I lack faith because there is an imbalance in my brain that needs it. God can miraculously heal me, but until then I am thankful for the healing that he has done through these various treatments.
  8. Find safe people to be real with, to encourage you, to cheer you on, & love you unconditionally. It’s important to have good friends in your life who have similarstruggles & you can support each other, but won’t cause you to get stuck or stay in a negative or depressed place, and are also seeking God & His truth. Having incredible friends who don’t judge or shame me is a huge blessing & having an incredible mentor to teach, guide, counsel & offer wisdom is life changing. I pray that you all would seek out good mentors & trustworthy friends.
  9. Discover your heart language of what moves you & speaks to you the most. I have learned that I hear God through music, worship, & singing and I feel God’s presence & love the most through these expressions of myself. Also, when people lay hands on me & pray over me, being in silence & solitude at a retreat center (Serra Retreat in Malibu is my special place to feel the peace of Jesus), or at the beach. What is your heartlanguage? Is it nature, through teaching & study, art, a specific hobby like running or surfing, or something else?
  10. Develop a servant-heart that wants to focus on serving & loving others. One of my problems before was I was too focused on myself, my life, my problems, my disappointments, my successes & I had no time to love & serve others. Now, when I am feeling depressed, sometimes just going outside & helping one personreally does bring healing, fulfillment, and renew my mind.

It’s very important that you’re open to the power of the Holy Spirit and the supernatural miracles & healings that Jesus is still doing today. He is alive & active. I use to put God in a box, but now I have learned to be open to the mysteries of God, humble & willing to be used by Him to bring Hope to others. He wants to use you, your gifts, & your story in beautiful ways to make a difference in this world.

How can I get through each day?

(The following words were written by Gerard Long in his section on the Broken Hearted)

Courage is your best friend at this time.  Courage to keep going and not give up.  Courage to go to the throne of Grace (see below).  Courage to love, to keep moving forward, to embrace your grief and continue on your journey!

Some days are going to be very very hard.  In the midst of terrible suffering, the Apostle Paul said, ‘we live in the face of death!’  But, I want to share with you the key to journeying on in the most difficult circumstances. It’s a key that all the great men and women of God have known through the ages.

There is a place where you can receive everything you need to journey triumphantly through your day – love, comfort, strength, courage, peace, joy, wisdom, provision etc.  It’s called the throne of grace!  It’s God’s throne room and it’s where He will impart to you all that you need for every day.  The provision is from the victorious life of Jesus and it’s imparted to us by the Holy Spirit.

I go to the throne of grace every morning and through the day and I spend time with God in friendship and fellowship and I receive from Him supernatural love and power for victorious living.  I don’t always feel like going to the throne of grace but I’m so grateful when I’ve broken through the inertia and I’ve spent time with God. God speaks to me in a still small voice within and His words to me quicken my spirit.  I read His word (the Bible) and sometimes a friend will send me a scripture or a message.

Your words are what sustain me; they are food to my hungry soul. They bring joy to my sorrowing heart and delight meJer 15:16 (TLB)

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness. 2 Cor 12:9

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, my portion forever.  Ps 73:26

On a very practical level, try to find a rhythm in your day.  Establish times when you can put your grief down.  After Alex’s suicide, Jeannie worked part time for four years looking after two young boys who needed special care and attention (she is gifted in this area).  The work was a distraction from her grief.  She had to be disciplined in going to work and she had to focus when she was there.

God has given you your friends and family to help you in your time of need. After Rebecca died, there was an outpouring of love and comfort on Jeannie, Ben and myself from our friends and family from all around the world.  It felt as though God was holding and hugging us!In fact, He was, because scripture teaches us that the body of Jesus on earth is made up of everyone that has received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior!

‘Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.’ 1 Cor 12:27

Julie Davies writes:

I encourage you to confide in at least a of couple safe friends who can be committed to praying and interceding for you daily, asking God to bring healing to your depression.  I love the story in the Bible where the friends carry their paralytic friend to see Jesus to receive healing.  They do whatever they can to get their friend to the feet of Jesus by tearing open a roof & lowering him down in front of Jesus.  I love that Jesus says, that the friends’ faith healed him.  Sometimes, when we are in a dark place and can’t see any light or have lost faith and feel hopeless, it’s good to have faithful friends around us to help carry us to Jesus in various ways through prayer, encouraging scriptures, just sitting with us in our pain.

Jesus Heals a Paralytic

And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them.  And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men.  And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay.  And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” ~ Mark 2:1-5

Should I take medication?

I believe God can heal in many different ways.  He can heal you through prayer, the Bible, good Christian counsel, through community.  He can also heal through therapy and medication.

There are various opinions on medication and a lot of Christians have strong opinions about it.  I have found medication to be very helpful and healing for me and others. I believe God can heal depression supernaturally without resorting to medication.  However, God can also heal through doctors and medication.

Medication should be closely monitored for possible side effects, especially for teens. Also, it’s very wise to get a referral to a good Christian psychiatrist.

I was mentoring a young college student who was feeling shame and sadness about having to take medication and worried it wasn’t biblical. She had seen a huge improvement in her health and healing, but was worried about what other Christian’s might think.  I encouraged her that God was using her to bring people to Jesus and she was glorifying Him,even in her pain.  There is freedom and healing in knowing how God was working in her life.  I pray that one day He will heal her completely and supernaturally without medication, but until then, let’s give thanks for the healing that has begun and ask for complete restoration and renewal of the mind, body, and spirit.

Where to find Help

We recommended you ask trusted friends in your church or community to advise you of the best local help for your particular grief and suffering.  Try and get two or three different opinions before settling on where to go locally for help.  Your church and doctor can help you and some churches (not necessarily your own) have excellent councilors.  Jeannie Long saw two excellent councilors from her local church over the years and they gave her some wonderful help and guidance

Helpful websites:

http://www.goodtherapy.org/ – Helping people find therapists.  Advocating for ethical therapy.

http://www.sayshutup.com/safe-people/ -Helpful list of websites and resources, especially for hurting adolescents who are struggling with negative thoughts and lies, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, eating disorders, substance abuse, and more.

There are many different types of Therapy/Counseling and I have tried many of the different options and found healing in various ways.  God designed each one of us uniquely so one type of help might work for one person, but not another.  I encourage you to explore, with the help and wisdom of a pastor and Christian resources, which might be the best type of help for you.  I have personally experienced the most transformational healing through Spirit-filled, Christian Counseling and therapy, deep inner healing prayer sessions, and medication at times.

Examples of different types of Help

Biblical counseling uses the Scriptures to understand and resolve the issues of life. Many Christian counselors incorporate the use of secular psychology methods into their practice.  The focus is to help develop a biblical worldview of  life and recognize the core truth that guides right thinking and actions.

Christian counseling is pastoral counseling that draws upon psychology and Christianity; practitioners approach psychology through the lens of the Bible.[

Life Coaching addresses specific personal projects, business successes, general conditions and transitions in the client’s personal life, relationships or profession.  It examines what is going on right now, discovering what obstacles or challenges there might be and chooses a course of action to make your life be what you want it to be.

Prayer therapy/prayer counseling is professional therapy where a Christian counselor uses prayer intervention to bring healing to people’s lives and core beliefs, so that one can live out of a healthier identity and self-concept.

The client in prayer therapy engages a skilled Christian professional who can facilitate God’s healing intervention in their life.  It is for the person who wants God to heal their life and wants a trained objective Christian professional to guide them in their journey of inner healing and their new identity in Christ.  The professional using prayer therapy will use professional interview skills, experience with people’s life patterns and other forms of effective therapy.

Psychotherapy is a general term for treating mental health problems by talking with a psychiatrist, psychologist or other mental health provider.

During psychotherapy, you learn about your condition and your moods, feelings, thoughts and behaviors. Psychotherapy helps you learn how to take control of your life and respond to challenging situations with healthy coping skills.

There are many types of psychotherapy, each with its own approach. The type of psychotherapy that’s right for you depends on your individual situation. Psychotherapy is also known as talk therapy, counseling, psychosocial therapy or, simply, therapy.

SOZO is the Greek word translated “saved, healed, delivered.” Sozo ministry is a unique inner healing and deliverance ministry aimed to get to the root of things hindering your personal connection with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. With a healed connection, you can walk in the destiny to which you have been called.

A Sozo session is a time for the Sozo team to sit down with you and with the help of the Holy Spirit walk you through the process offreedom and wholeness. Sozo is not a counseling session but a time of interacting with Father, Son and Holy Spirit for wholeness and pursuing of your destiny.

Spiritual Direction is the practice of being with people as they attempt to deepen their relationship with the divine, or to learn and grow in their own personal spirituality. The person seeking direction shares stories of his or her encounters of the divine, or how he or she is experiencing spiritual issues. The director listens and asks questions to assist the directee in his or her process of reflection and spiritual growth. Spiritual direction advocates claim that it develops a deeper relationship with the spiritual aspect of being human.

Spirituotherapy – Discipleship Counseling

This approach (also known as “The Exchanged Life”) is a breath of fresh air for those that have tried hard to fix themselves and master the Christian life in their own strength.   It is for all people who believe that there is more to life than what they are currently experiencing!  The counseling approach is unique in that it resolves conflict at the deepest level – the spirit.  It is a grace-based approach.   In Spirituotherapy, people encounter the true God and are set free tobecome the person they were created to be.  While, it is the role of the Discipler to equip and teach, it is Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit who transforms, renews minds, and restores emotions.  It is through this process that God’s children can lay hold of and experience their rightful inheritance of love, joy, peace, patience, hope, healing, and relational wholeness.

How to help a hurting friend

If a person comes to you and says they are depressed, anxious, sad or suffering from another painful thing:

  • Listen and be compassionate.
  • Tell them they aren’t alone and many people today are suffering from the same things (even if they look like they’ve got it all together.)
  • Encourage them to reach out for help. Emphasize that you’ll always be there to listen, care and pray for them, but that you aren’t experienced in helping them heal from this level of pain.
  • Offer to go with them to tell a safe person.
  • Keep their pain confidential and don’t tell other friends or put on social media (that can push a person to become more hopeless.)
  • Give them the shut up book if they are a youth (see link at www.sayshutup.com), which has confidential resources they can use right now including: Lantern, CTL and K-Love.

The Negative Voices Checklist

What negative voices are you hearing inside your mind?  The checklist below lists some of the negative voices and thoughts that many of my friends have shared with me.  As you read through it, please check any voices that sound familiar to you.  Also check how often you’re hearing that message or ones like it.  This is a confidential checklist between you and God.  You can fill it out and put it in a safe place.  Later, you might choose to share it with a safe adult but that’s up to you. The point of this checklist is to help you become aware of what negative words are rolling around inside your head.  Often, bringing those voices “into the light” and out of your mind is helpful in and of itself.  Becoming aware of them is the first step toward understanding them. Some of these voices are telling us important things, which will ultimately help us.  Other negative voices we need to simply get free from and shut them up in Jesus’ name

What negative messages are inside your head?     

Message:                                    Often             Sometimes       Rarely      Never

O         I’m ugly

O         I’m unlovable

O         I’m not good enough

O         I’m stupid

O         I’m fat

O         I hear voices telling me to hurt myself

O         I hear voices telling me to throw up or stop eating

O         I hear voices saying I would be better off dead

O         I feel scared most of the time.

O         I feel hopeless

O         I feel sad

O         I feel alone

O         God doesn’t love me

O         I hear voices telling me to kill myself

The purpose of this negative checklist is for you to become aware of how you’re seeing yourself and what the negative messages are inside your head.   If you checked YES to some of those, tell a safe person.  God wants to fill your head with loving, encouraging messages that build you up and make you feel good.  My challenge to you is this:  Be kind to yourself.  Instead of beating yourself up, love yourself like you would love one of your best friends.  Expose all the lies you’re saying to yourself, and start celebrating all the good things about you.  If you can’t do that, then for now, just notice how your own inner voice is very critical.  This kind of healing can happen for you.

8 things you should never say to someone Struggling With Depression (Plus 8 Things You Could Say)
  1. “You’re depressed again?”

What it feels like you’re communicating: Here we go again! They seriously need to move on. This is getting old.

Instead you might say: I’m so sorry, friend. I remember how hard this has been on you in the past. How can I serve you right now?

  1. “At least you’re not (fill in the blank)” or, “There are people worse off than you.”

What it feels like you’re communicating: I’m not grateful enough for what I have, or that my depression pales in comparison to something else. Trust me, this is not a reminder an individual struggling with depression needs to hear. Can you imagine what it feels like to have absolutely nothing going “wrong” in your life, and yet you can’t enjoy what’s right in front of you? It’s maddening, trust me. If only we could make our brain chemistry follow our heart’s desire!

Instead you might say: I know you’re suffering and feel trapped. I want to be there for you. This matters. Youmatter. This is a big deal and I’m with you all the way to the bottom.

  1. “Are you reading your Bible & praying enough?”

What it feels like you’re communicating:You aren’t relying on God. You don’t trust God. You don’t have enough Faith. And ultimately, God can’t heal you because you didn’t (fill in the blank).

Based upon my understanding of the Bible and through my personal relationship with Jesus, I do not believe I have to “perform” to get God to “do” anything in my life. That Performance Train is a fast and slippery one, and one I jumped on (and off of) early on in my Christianity. It’s a Train that says, “Hurry up! Jump on and get busy! If you want things to move along and head in the right direction you must do things This Exact Way or else.”

I am not saved by my “works”; I am saved because God first loved me. It had nothing to do with me. Likewise, I don’t believe I have to do any kind of song and dance to get God to bless me or heal me or spare me from anything. Prayer and petition are powerful, and I encourage them. They help us to communicate and receive from God; they bring us closer to Him and remind us that He’s always in tune with our every need and desire.

That being said, this side of Heaven, I only know God in part. I only know a fraction of why things happen the way they do. The one thing I know is this: God loves you and I, totally and longs for us to be healed, whole and Holy. However, I believe that while some breakthroughs happen in an instant, others need to be walked out; some struggles will be removed from us completely, and others won’t be healed until we reach Heaven. While I wish He’d take my depression away now, I trust His judgment completely. His ways are higher than mine. One day my pain will make sense. Until that day, no, I will never read or pray or (fill in the blank with something else spiritual) “enough”. Feel free to pray for me.

Instead you might say: I am so sorry you’re feeling depressed. I am going to pray that God will do what only He can do to comfort and protect you during this season. He is with you at The Bottom as much as He is with you at The Top. How else can I pray for you during this time?

  1. “I know exactly how you feel.”

What it feels like you’re communicating: When you tell someone you know exactly how they feel about something, it removes the mystery of trying to understand how they feel about that “thing”. It halts the journey of saying, “Let me explore this with you” and instead says, “Oh, I’ve been there. It’s no big deal.” It communicates that my pain can be measured; there is a beginning, middle and end. It limits how huge it is to me.

Instead you might say: I wish I could say I know exactly how you feel, but I don’t. I wish I could understand how dark this place is for you, but I know I can’t. I want to understand what you’re going through. Will you help me to sit in this with you? Help me to understand what you’re going through?

  1. “You just need to let loose & be positive.”

What it feels like you’re communicating: You are doing this to yourself by not doing (fill in the blank). You can easily snap out of it if you just (fill in the blank). That means that I am at fault and need to just do better.

Instead you might say: I know you might not feel up for the girl’s trip we have planned this weekend, but what doyou feel like doing? How about just you and I do something that sounds relaxing and rejuvenating to you. You name it, and I’m there!

  1. “What do you even have to be depressed about?”

What it feels like you’re communicating: It’s absolutely ridiculous that you’re depressed. There’s literally nothing that could be that bad to make you feel this way.

Instead you might say: Is there anything going on that triggered your depression that you’d like to talk about? Is there anything making it worse that I can help with? I am always here for you when you want to talk about it.

  1. “You don’t need medication.”

DON’T EVER SAY THIS. Don’t. Just. DON’T.

Unless you are this person’s primary health care physician, psychologist, psychiatrist or therapist, then please, do not give clinical/medicinal advice. Clinical depression is an extremely complex disease. “Depression has many possible causes, including faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, stressful life events, medications, and medical problems. Many chemicals are involved, working both inside and outside nerve cells. There are millions, even billions, of chemical reactions that make up the dynamic system that is responsible for your mood, perceptions, and how you experience life.” (Source)

Your well-intentioned “advice” could very well put someone in danger. It’s always best to leave medical advice to physicians.

What it feels like you’re communicating: It doesn’t matter. Just DON’T. DO. IT.

Instead you might say: Make sure you talk all of this over with your doctor. I want you to have the best care possible to be safe and healthy.

  1. “Happiness is a choice.”

What it feels like you’re communicating: You don’t want to be happy. You aren’t trying hard enough to be happy. You are choosing misery.

Instead you might say: I hate seeing your heart hurting. What baby steps can we take together to heal? I am with you every step of the way.

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