My own interest in depression that I am aware of was when I was seven years old. I was so depressed that I wanted to die. I had a bowie knife given to me by some misguided adult and I would put that to my stomach and rock back and forth lacking what I saw as the courage to plunge it into me. Fear of what would follow death held me back since I was looking to escape pain and not face something worst. Night after night I went through this private ritual. Clearly, I had watched to many samurai movies.
Why would a seven year old be depressed to this extreme degree? I believed that my dysfunctional alcoholic home was my fault. My birth had created it in some magical ways. I imagined a happy home till I was born that I had destroyed by my birth.
Children normally think that are responsible for bad things since this gives them the security of believing that their worlds are ultimately under their control. Always remember that children are not small adults, they think and process the world radically differently than adults do.
In addition there had been problems in my birth with Rh Incompatibility and this had endangered both my mother’s life and my life. My understanding of the stories told about this event led me to believe that; I had almost killed my mother by being born. I felt like a monster due to this way of looking at it. I felt I deserved to die.
So the home life I was experiencing was filled with crazy, angry, and violent fights between my parents motivated by the misuse of alcohol and I felt that I was morally responsible for this and much more. So I lived in fear and self-loathing. Death seemed a way out of all of this and perhaps a just penalty for my crimes.
Help from my feelings of deep depression would take years and I would battle with many relapses. The suicidal idealization would plague me over and over again. When facing painful times or defeats I would many times find my thoughts captured with a joyful anticipation of ending my life. But God did send me help.
At seven this help came through my Sunday School teacher who gave me the gospel in John 3:16 which says:
“For God so loved the world that HE gave HIS only begotten Son that whosoever believes in HIM, will not perish but have everlasting life.”
My Sunday School teacher told me that I was so special to God that HE had Jesus die my sins and forgave me for all the things I did wrong. For me this was a lot since I saw myself as a moral monster. She gave me an answer to my deep feelings of guilt.
She also told me that God had a special plan for my life and that HE would use me in a powerful way. That my life was important; was a new idea.
That sense of divine purpose changed everything. If God had something for me to do then life had meaning beyond the present pain of my home. This gave me a reason to live and endure daily pain.
Other ministers would reinforce these ideas during my teenage years and early adult years, when I would be struggling with a strong relapse into suicidal thoughts. Reverend Pummel and Pastor Jerry Mobley dedicated thousands of hours being with me, encouraging me and praying for me. Their counsel, teaching, and friendship were a key to my dealing with my depression. My belief is that God sent them into my life to give me the tools I needed to handle my despair, hopelessness, and pain.
They would reinforce these two key thoughts. God loved me so much as to sacrificially forgive me my sins through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and now that I was forgiven, God had a important purpose for my life. There would be pain in life but it was not without purpose. This gave me hope that there would be gain from my pain. These two thoughts became a key part of my handling my depression.
Now these were not superficial Sunday morning beliefs. These were deep soul “Aha” moments for me. This is known as “the Eureka effect”, which refers to the human experience of suddenly understanding a previously incomprehensible problem or concept. When we have these moments over deep soul problems and pains they are life transforming. Such moments are what can radically change us.
So two key ideas that can help us deal with depression are:
1. Believe that God loves you and is committed to you enough to forgive you in Christ Jesus.
2. Believe that God has a significant purpose for your life that will be gained through the pain.
These two soul revelations can really help in dealing with the struggle of depression here “East of Eden.” More to come……
Watch the “Falling Plates” video to gain insight into God’s love for you in Christ Jesus.
Watch or read the Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren for the next 40 days.