Depression: a Physiological Problem with Deep Spiritual Undertones
Depression is a huge lie from the devil.
That’s right – I believe in modern medicine, but I also believe in the enemy of the Bible, and there is nothing he loves more than making people miserable. It’s his job. He’s like a supernatural IRS agent. (Joking about that part, of course.) That concept is the foundation of the MYTH that mental illness does not exist.
It makes perfect sense, when you think about it, in spiritual terms. If Satan is the author of every bad and evil thing in the world, then you can see why so many Christians believe that mental illness is nothing more than fallout from sin. If we were closer to God/read the Bible more/were more active in church/doubted less, we wouldn’t be so unhappy. And, honestly, I’m not sure those people are wrong in every case.
Distance from God never results in something positive.
If we don’t get to know the words between the covers of our Bibles, we’ll never really get to know Christ.
A lack of faith can lead to a sense of hopelessness and a lack of God-confidence to tackle major problems in our lives.
We need fellowship with other believers to worship together, support each other, and lift each other up in prayer.
So, yes, NOT doing those things can make you depressed. I have never questioned that. It has never been the issue for me. But there’s clinical depression and situational depression, and the two get confused a lot. The best example I can think of is diabetes (you’ll probably see me coming back to this example a lot.) There are two types. Actually, supposedly there are 3 types now, but for the sake of this exercise we’ll focus on Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
Someone with Type 1 diabetes (me) have sort of hyperactive immune system that kill off the cells that make the hormone insulin, which regulates glucose. Without insulin, the body can’t absorb sugar to produce energy. Hence, someone with Type 1 diabetes requires insulin in order to live.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body can’t respond properly to insulin.
You can’t “cause” Type 1 diabetes. Just like parents can’t “cause” their child to be born with Down Syndrome.
But you CAN cause Type 2 diabetes by eating terribly, living a sedentary lifestyle, and consuming too much sugar and carbohydrates. There is actually much more to it than that, and I don’t mean that people with Type 2 diabetes deserve it, but the point is that sometimes things just happen, and other times there are things we do that quicken our demise, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are the same disease, and yet vastly different, and depression is sort of similar.
After nearly two years of flourishing and being relatively depression-free, I crashed, and crashed HARD. At the time of my crash, I was very involved in church and a few outside ministries. I was reading my Bible daily, had lots of great fellowship, and a growing relationship with the Lord. I was drug-free, alcohol-free, and cigarette-free (after nearly 20 years of puffing my life away.) Still, I crashed, and I was face-down on the pavement for a long time. If I was being punished, or reaping some weed seed I’d sewn, I don’t know what it was.
After the crash, I became suicidal. I picked up the cigarettes again. I started drinking again – just a beer at first, because that’s how it always starts. I isolated myself from church, my friends, my ministries, and holed up in my own little miserable world for months.
You know what I eventually realized, when the smoke cleared and I was on my feet again?
I hadn’t brought that depression on myself, but God allowed it to happen. That’s life, that’s faith – sometimes bad stuff happens and we don’t understand why. I don’t know why anyone would think mental illness is any different than cancer, or a car accident, or why it’s so hard to grasp that the brain is an organ.
My last crash taught me this:
-Getting sick is part of living in a fallen world.
-Jesus never said life would be trouble-free. He said the opposite, actually:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33 (NIV)
-Sometimes finding peace through God means just gripping the edges of the ship while the seas tosses you all over the place, knowing that He’s not going to let you fall in. (Or helping you swim away so you don’t get pulled up onto the Carnival Triumph.)
-There are some practical ways of keeping the wheels of faith in motion, even if your brain chemicals have checked out. (Another blog for another day.)
-If there’s one good thing about going through depression (at least for me) it’s coming OUT of it and realizing how much God actually did for you while you were unable to take care of yourself.
Depression is complicated. I see it as a physiological problem with deep spiritual undertones…at least some of the time.
Fidler, J. (2013). Depression: a Physiological Problem with Deep Spiritual Undertones. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 2, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/amazed-by-grace/2013/02/21/depression-a-physiological-problem-with-deep-spiritual-undertones/