A Few Handy Tips for Writing About Depression

Today on Twitter I was accused of "gossiping" because I publicly refuted the public advice of a  blogger who wrote that the "chains of self-absorption" keep people from being healed of depression . It was suggested to me that instead of "berating" and "tweeting out anger," I should write some of my own posts about depression.

I always enjoy being bossed around by people who don't know me and have never read my blog, so here is a(nother) post about depression. 

A Few Handy Tips For Writing About Depression:

#1. If you don't struggle with depression and if you're not a medical doctor, maybe you shouldn't dole out advice about depression. 

#2. If you can't handle public disagreement of your opinions, maybe you shouldn't post your opinions publicly.

#3. Just because you say something in a nice, perky manner does not mean it's the truth. It's quite possible to speak the ignorance in love. 

#4. If you condone patronizing ignorance on your site, you will be perceived as patronizing. 

#5. If you've never read my blog, maybe don't suggest I write some posts about depression.

#6. If you don't follow me on Twitter, don't tell me how to tweet. 

#7. Unless you are my children, you are not the boss of me.

#8. You don't have the final word on Scriptural interpretation. Neither do I. So, let's chill on the exegesis.

#9. Cherry picking verses out of context does not bolster your opinion. 

#10. Giving people false hope that if they just do x, y or z then they, too, can be cured of their depression is actually pretty irresponsible advice. You would know this if you actually struggled with depression. Or were a doctor.

#11. If you don't know your subject matter, don't preach it. This is why, for example, I don't preach math.

#12. Gossip is not the same as sarcasm. Publicly refuting a public opinion does not qualify as gossip. 

#13. An apology says: I'm sorry. Period. It doesn't follow that up with more "suggestions" and/or baiting questions.

#13. And on an unrelated but HUGELY important note: Mint Milanos totally kick Oreos' butt any day. 

#14. Oh, wait. I used #13 twice. See? No math skillz.

#15. Last but not least: KNOW WHAT YOU SUCK AT.

#16. Try to keep quiet about it.

#17. I suck at #15 & #16.

  • http://www.goldfishandclowns.com/ Jerry

    Only those who have been through the fire can speak with authority to others still engulfed in flames.

  • KatR

    I have been following that whole debacle on twitter. I think the phrase “Lord, save me from your followers” came to mind.

    This post rocks.

  • http://thoughtsnwhatnots.blogspot.com LeAnna

    I’ve personally never walked through depression, but I can personally attest that one doesn’t have room to talk when they haven’t been there for themselves. My 28 year old brother in-law hung himself a month ago. He was depressed, and we didn’t understand why. Just because we didn’t understand it doesn’t mean it obviously wasn’t something far deeper than just a lack of servitude…Sure, we wanted him to just get a grip and move on. He moved on, alright…in a way we never saw coming.
    That being said, I don’t – no, I can’t afford to take lightly anyones deepest, often darkest affliction. I only wish I could have realized that before. Depression is serious, on any level, and I see that now.

    What I find even more grievous is the fact that the Church today teaches such a works based answer to life’s issues. You do and you get. And any lack of doing equals the reason for your problems. That too, is serious. Seriously wrong.

  • Jesse

    Sometimes folks getso caught up in their opinions tha they don’t realize it’s possible to kill people with them. This is especially true in mental health & addiction/recovery issues. Once heard someone call this “human sacrifice on the altar of my self-righteousness.” Apt.

  • KatR

    I am so, so sorry for your loss.

  • http://www.elizabethesther.com Elizabeth Esther

    Oh, LeAnna! ((HUGS)) I am SO sorry to hear this! Thank you for bravely sharing it, here. I treasure that. You’re so right. We can never afford to take lightly anyone’s deepest affliction. Well said. Hugs, hugs, hugs!

  • http://silly-bear.com Sarah

    I read the whole thing on twitter and read the posts on depression(well, the first two because I don’t do well simplified anything). While I have never personally experienced depression, I spent several years teaching middle/high school students–70% of them were diagnosed with depression and a myriad of other mental/learning challenges. I couldn’t imagine giving them any advice such as serve others more; I did spend a whole lot of time listening. I don’t pretend to understand what being depressed is like. (I believe we use the term “depressed” too flippantly in referring to merely have a bad day not the clinical depression). The church is more interested in a perky, cheerful facade of women than who they really are. Blessings.

  • http://MeditativeMeanderings.blogspot.com Susanne Barrett

    Thanks for this post and for your advocacy of those of us who suffer with physical issues in the Christian community. Isn’t it lovely to be accused of “gossiping” when discussing someone’s ideas on a public blog? And isn’t it lovely to be told that is you only serve others, you’ll be ALL better?

    It’s like someone telling me (and believe me, they have!) that if I only trust God more, I’ll be healed of my rheumatoid arthritis and chronic pain–I’ll be able to get rid of my cane and wheelchair even. Wow–just like that. Wouldn’t it be nice?

    Both opinions totally eliminate the sovereignty of God. I can’t say why I’m in pain and why you’re in pain, but I do trust that God will bring something good out of it. Somehow. And probably way different than I can ever imagine.

    But I have no preconceived notions of how or when God is going to heal me. That’s kinda up to Him. And I would never presume to speak (even from my own experience) about how to be healed, much less tell people that if they’re depressed, it’s because they’re self-absorbed and need to serve. What a lack of grace and compassion that attitude shows!

    And that very attitude, so prevalent in evangelical Christianity, that if I do a, b, and c, I’ll be healed, is why I’m tending toward Catholicism and it’s much more compassionate view of pain and suffering.

    Sorry you’ve had a rough day, dear. ((((So Cal hugz))))

  • http://profile.typepad.com/gordonwilliams Gordonwilliams

    Great post, great advice #10 in particular.

  • http://www.rockyroad714.blogspot.com Rocky

    ditto what they both said. i’ve been depressed. i’ve had passing micro-thoughts of making it all go away. i’d never do it due to the pain it would cause my family. so i truly am so so so sorry for your loss.

  • http://sarahjoyalbrecht.com Sarah Joy Albrecht

    Elizabeth,

    I understand what you’re saying and it is frustrating/heartbreaking/upsetting when people offer baseless advice. (My favorite are random grocery store shoppers who ask if I know how to use birth control… to which I reply in vivid detail! ;) )

    The shut-down-crying-in-a-corner postpartum depression I went through after baby #5 (my husband left to go overseas a month after she was born… and my oldest was six) was helped by the intervention of friends who cared and who saw how badly I was sinking.

    Some of those friends didn’t even have children, nor were they doctors, but one of them shared this verse that gave them confidence to reach out to me :

    2 Corinthians 2:2-4 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in /any/ affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

    As you said, we need to be aware of our limitations in areas of expertise for offering advice, but there are no prerequisites for hugs :)

    Much love,
    SJA

    @mrsalbrecht

  • http://scatteredmoments.blogspot.com/ Kori

    LOVE this – excited to have a new blog to read, too thanks to Nicole Wick for linking this on twitter!

  • http://www.momisa4letterword.com Pam

    Dear “Depressed” mom,

    Don’t be glib. Feeling sad? Just exercise.

    Love,
    Tom Cruise

    (okay, it’s really Pam. I couldn’t resist. People are ignorant and total cowards behind a keyboard. This person, ironically, is unbalanced. Hang in there and let me know if you wanna talk. HEART YOU!!!)

  • http://therearegreenerpastures.blogspot.com/ Jess

    You are so wonderfully brave to confront this topic. Even though I don’t specifically suffer from depression, it has really made me aware of how to love and serve those who do. I’ve been a “lurker” on your site for some time now and I just wanted to say that your posts are a breath of fresh air. So many Christian moms blog like their worlds are so happy and so put together and that their “struggles” are a quick fix.

    Your words reflect REALITY and that’s exactly the medicine that we all need. Thank you so much for sharing your past experiences and present struggles with us. We need to be made aware and your voice needs to be heard in this big wide internet! You handle struggles with grace and beauty, thank you so much for that!

    With Love,
    Jess

    p.s. I live in Los Angeles! Ya know, if you ever want a college student for some company.

    p.s.s. I don’t know… Oreos are pretty stellar… =)

  • Jenelyn

    Thanks for your comments here, Susanne. I too have RA and have also heard every “solution” in the book. Very misguided and insensitive.

  • Jenelyn

    Thank you for this, Elizabeth. I’m glad to see someone addressing this with a dose of reality :)

  • http://www.reflectionsofaprincess.com Jessica

    I looked up berate in the dictionary. (Yes, I’m weird like that.) Berate is “to scold or condemn vehemently and at length.”

    Yeah, I don’t think that happened.

    The post was definitely an oversimplification.

  • Lewis

    A lot of people confuse having a bad day, or a down in the dumps day (which we all have), with depression. BIG difference.

    If I’m just having a bad day or feeling a little down, sure, I could see serving others as a way of perking myself up. Depression, on the other hand, and I’m going to the doctor. I guess I could still serve people, but afterward, I’ll still be depressed – and very tired on top of it. Double whammy.

    On #13B…I hope you were being sarcastic. If not, I don’t think I can, in good conscience, read your blog anymore;)

  • Sabrina Berry DC

    Love love this post!!! Amen to you EE.

  • Brenna

    This entire thing is tragic and precisely why I NEVER told another Christian I have depression. These posts meant to help were excruciatingly oversimplified and are bound to send anyone suffering from clinical depression / PPD back into her closet of shame and condemnation. People that have never suffered at the hands of the disease should not EVER dole out advice on how to deal with it. That’s what God and M.D.s are for. The absolute kicker was when the author said to fight with “real” prayer. Who is she to say what real prayer is? Prayer is my heart to God’s heart, whether I’m on my knees or in the loo. These performance, “try harder” perspectives on how to fight depression are not only ignorant and simplistic but also, to anyone who knows how serious this disease can be, dangerous. These were seriously irresponsible posts and, though perhaps well-meaning, will probably do more harm than good.

  • Mary Beth

    We had a recent situation in a Christian community where nondepressed people taught a class on how to ge undepressed to classroom full of women who were also not depressed or seemed to have any experience with it. On the one hand, I feel glad that the church is starting to recognize that it’s ok for people to struggle. And yeah, sometimes sleep or exercise or journalling can help.

    To me, I don’t mind advice so long as it’s couched in compassion. Of someone who has never lost someone close to them wants to cry with and love and try to give some words of hope to someone who has, I feel that’s ok. Same with depression advice, so long as it’s truly done out of love and with the understanding that this is sometimes a lifelong battle and not a quick fix. And sadly, too often, Christians are welleaning but glib about this issue they don’t undertand.

  • http://www.madamerubies.com Heather

    ROFL! Love this. I did a series, recently, on battling depression with spiritual warfare, but I make it very clear that the spiritual side of depression is only ONE side.

  • http://www.bigmama247.com Alise

    Great post.

    When my husband was finally diagnosed as Bipolar and was finally taking medicine that helped him, I will never forget someone asking, “So, how long do you think you’ll need this?”

    We would never, ever, ever ask that of someone who found out they were diabetic or epileptic, but mentally ill? Well, that’s just a matter of will.

    I read the whole “series” and it’s just junk. Sure, there’s the nod to treating it medically. But when it’s all cloaked in spiritual stuff, that’s all people are going to see. And when you’re in the midst of depression and you’re told to suck it up and pray the right kind of prayer and get over yourself, that just deepens the depression.

    The whole thing is pretty horrifying.

  • http://terrybreathinggrace.wordpress.com terry@breathing grace

    Very funny, Elizabeth, and also very true. I enjoyed this one.

  • http://www.megmoseley.wordpress.com Meg Moseley

    Well put, Elizabeth. Simplistic “solutions” aren’t solutions at all, no matter how spiritual they sound.

    I’m with you on the Mint Milanos, too.

  • http://hoperoadblog.com Anna

    I usually love both the blogs involved in this… altercation? For lack of a better word. And their advice was good. BUT it failed to acknowledge the depth of the problem and the lengths to which it might go. There’s no such thing as a “how to for getting out of depression” … there just isn’t. I’ve struggled with depressive feelings. I don’t label them depression because I know that people struggle far more than I do. So I can only imagine how you felt about it.

    I know you disagree with a lot of John Piper’s theology, but I thought I would refer to him since he was mentioned in the series. Though he wrote the book “Desiring God” and teaches constantly about how to find joy in God, he also has an entire book called “When the Darkness Will Not Lift.” Admitting it can be very complicated. Just a couple quotes:

    “Virtually all Bible-saturated physicians of the soul have spoken about long seasons of darkness and desolation.”

    “(The inability to break out of darkness into the light of joy) happens because of sin, OR because of Satanic assault, OR because of hereditary or other physical circumstances.” (emphasis added)

    “I will not go further in discussing the physical treatment of melancholy – and its severe form, depression. This is the work of a medical doctor, which I am not.”

    “The point is that the relationship between the soul and the brain is beyond human comprehension and should be handled with the greatest care and with profound attention to the moral and spiritual realities of human personhood that may exert as much influence on the brain as vice versa.”

    I would just say, at least if you’re going to write about depression having never experienced it… admit you may not have all the answers. At the very least.

  • http://hoperoadblog.com Anna

    Love you, LeAnna.

  • http://www.darkglassponderings.blogspot.com Julia

    I agree that it is just not simple at all. In fact, my husband was just diagnosed with depression/panic disorder this week. He is one of the least selfish people I know. He has spent this time, praying, resting, and listening to the Bible. And yes, he still feels very low. I’ve been there, too. Four generations of my family have struggled with mental illness. Yes, trust in the Lord, but there are no simple answers…and every case is different. I believe there are spiritual, physical, and emotional components in most depression as I mentioned on Courtney’s post.

    Anna, I appreciated your quotes from John Piper and that he doesn’t put a blanket statement on the situation.

  • http://livinglearningandlovingsimply.blogspot.com Aimee

    I see my past self in those “perky” posts…I would have told women that same advice BEFORE I actually went through a horrible season of depression myself. I actually feel a lot of compassion for her…she hasn’t been broken (yet!) by the humbling of depression and when/if she does, she will need the acceptance and the unconditional love that we all need when we are messy and broken. I thank God for going through that time in my life because He used it to make me more compassionate, a better listener, more accepting/less judging and one who now knows there are no simple answers for life’s pains.

  • Jen

    You’re the best! And Courtney’s advice–just serve more!–is what my pastor tells people who are down. Yikes, becoming crystal clear I need to find a new church.

  • Agnes

    I agree with Aimee, I think people do genuinely try their best with the best of intentions to encourage others, and perhaps don’t realize the seriousness of what they are talking about sometimes.. which is why it needs pointing out, I suppose. I too feel kinda bad for her because I’m sure I’ve also doled out well-meaning advice when I had no first-hand experience with the subject. Eeks!

  • http://civillascybercafe.blogspot.com Mary R.

    I think people are very glib with this because 1) they don’t know what it’s like; 2) they don’t want to be bothered with listening to a depressed person, who may need to talk (takes too much time).

  • http://civillascybercafe.blogspot.com Mary R.

    Refuting a public blog opinion is not gossiping, any more than refuting teachings in a book, publicly, is gossiping. Once a book is put out on the marketplace, or a person is preaching publicly, or a blog is open to the public, anybody may refute the ideas publicly. This is not gossiping. We EXPECT Christians to do this concerning teachings, writings, etc., or they’re not being “Bereans.”

  • http://bellwhistlemoon.blogspot.com/ caroline

    I, too, followed the exchange on Twitter last night and I am glad to see you addressing it on your blog today, EE.

    As a fellow friend who has known the deep, dark depths of depression for most of my life, I can say I’ve heard it all when it comes to unsolicited “helpful” advice. My favorite was, “Have you prayed for God to deliver you from your depression?” To which I thought—Well, now, there’s a novel idea! No, really, I had not thought of actually praying about it until now when you, someone I hardly know, just mentioned it.

    You are bold to fight for those of us in the trenches, EE. Just a day ago I chickened out of posting on my blog about how Christians are real good at praying the cancer right out of people, but when you ask for prayer for yourself or a loved one with a ‘mental’ illness, you’re met with the sound of crickets chirping.

    I agree that the word “depression” gets tossed around too lightly these days. There are people who truly have no idea what it’s like. If someone they love is suffering, they may get frustrated b/c there is no quick fix for it. Other than that, I have no idea why someone would presume to write about something of which they have no concept.

    Stay tuned to my blog later—I’m the mother of an only child but I don’t want you to miss my post about the proper way to mother five or more kids!! :-)

  • http://bellwhistlemoon.blogspot.com/ caroline

    LeAnna, I am so sorry for the loss of your dear brother.

  • Nina

    God bless you. What a fantastic post, and list. You are dead on right. I also have a close relative with a too close for comfort suicide attempt. He lives life ONE DAY at a TIME, even with meds. Please, people, you DO not know, what it is like if you are not experiencing it. Mental illness is the worst kind of suffering because it can’t be “seen” and objectified and categorized like physical suffering. It is also stigmatized, unlike physical conditions. You are diabetic, you take insulin. Nobody judges you for having that condition. It is a matter of survival to be “self-preoccupied” with it on a daily basis. Keep writing about your struggles, please. You are in an important position as a mother of five to write about it, and bring it out of the closet. Just my opinion. ;)

  • Sarah

    *I normally lurk, but am coming out of hiding because this hit such a NERVE. This kind of simplicity of much more than short sightedness. It’s a lie that serves only to destroy the people of God who battle depression, as well as those who love them. Good for you for calling attention to that fact. I wrote the following on her blog, but wanted to post it here in case I get moderated.*

    I come from a unique experince. For nearly 10 years I have belonged to a church in which we were blessed with a pastor who encompassed the phrase “servant-leader”. This man not only preached every Sunday, but spent hours upon hours giving of his time to everyone in the church, the community, and most definitely, his family. He mentored young men, helped repair cars in his driveway for those who couldn’t afford to take it to a mechanic (he worked as a mechanic for years), mowed the lawns of the elderly, knew every name of every person in our church (over 700), threw himself into being the best father and husband he could possibly be. He was on committees to rebuild our inner-city. He was respected by all of our city because of his humility and willingness to do the manual labor and jobs no one else wanted.

    He was born with a unique physiology that brought with it intense ADHD (which he meticulously managed with discipline, exercise, and diet) and bouts of depression. This man SPENT HIMSELF on others. He never doubted God’s faithfulness. It seemed he was hard-wired for love of god and others. Many months ago he entered a deep depression. Prayer, medicine, time off, counseling were all used to help him. He did everything he could. Our church did everything we could. And 4 months ago, he took his own life.

    Don’t tell me he just needed to spend himself on others. He spent his entire life doing just that. In the end, this disease took him. None of us will ever know the final moments and how much choice he had in the matter.

    But this I know, the depression was great. His fight was great. And in the end, he lost the battle and Jesus was merciful as He interceded for him. Please understand that depression is a vast issue with more sides than just a spiritual battle around self-absorption. The enemy would love it if we all believed that. It seems you have believed that lie. I hope you will apologize in humility for the many you have hurt by doing so.

  • Maggie Dee

    Thank you for posting this Elizabeth. The attitude regarding depression in the Christian community is one of the many reasons only my husband truly knows of my struggles. I’ve been burned one too many times.

    Just like God doesn’t heal everyone with cancer who prays, He doesn’t heal everyone with depression who prays either. There are just some questions that won’t be answered this side of heaven.

    Thank you.

  • http://civillascybercafe.blogspot.com Mary R.

    Reminds me of the infertility patients (I used to be one, years ago, before I had my 2 children) who are told (dissed, rather) to “just relax” as though your problem is mental rather than physical, or “just adopt” as if that were an easy thing to do and the cure for infertility (only 5% of couples who adopt end up having a biological child after that, but it is so noticeable that many assume this is the cure-all) — and then wouldn’t that then be just using the adopted child?

    I personally love the posts written by women in their 20s and 30s about how to act when you are an older woman (“…why don’t they JUST mentor younger women?” as if there were scads of younger ladies salivating at their feet waiting to be mentored) or bake tons of pies and cakes for people (who has the energy?). Or what pastors and their wives should do (“…why don’t they JUST….whatever?)

    I think I hate the word “JUST.” When you finally walk in another’s shoes, you realize it isn’t that easy. Before I had kids, I was like, “Why don’t those parents just spank that kid?” and then I had kids myself and realized it wasn’t as easy as it looked.

    A lot of this comes from not wanting to be bothered to listen to people. Easy to tell a hurting person, “JUST…” whatever.

  • http://www.elizabethesther.com Elizabeth Esther

    Such great points, Susanne. Thank you. And may I say? After learning about RA from my friend, Jenelyn (her comment is above mine), I have so much more respect for everything you do ON TOP of dealing with your chronic condition. I’m so proud of you for doing all you do. Hugs to you, friend!

  • http://www.elizabethesther.com Elizabeth Esther

    LOL! EXACTLY!! thanks, tom cruise!

  • http://www.elizabethesther.com Elizabeth Esther

    Well, maybe we’ll have to have a “cookie eat off.” I’ll try to persuade you of the superiority of mint milanos and you can try to persuade me of oreos!

    And thank you for the kind words. There are no easy fixes, no simple answers. Thank you for reading here and for being so supportive.

  • http://www.elizabethesther.com Elizabeth Esther

    love you, Jenelyn. You are my hero–seriously, I have so much respect for how wonderfully you mother your children all while managing a chronic condition. You have so enlightened me! XOXO

  • http://www.elizabethesther.com Elizabeth Esther

    That’s just the word: tragic. This is precisely why Christians run and hide and suffer alone because they are so afraid of being judged by the very people who should be offering hope and compassion.

    I just also want to add a personal note of thanks to you, Brenna. Your emails and DMs to me have been so encouraging. Thank you.
    xoxo

  • http://www.elizabethesther.com Elizabeth Esther

    Thank you for the John Piper quotes. Contrary to what some might think, I do respect him and appreciate his teaching. I don’t agree with some of what he teaches (then again: who among us agrees 100% with anyone? lol!), but there is much truth in his words and I would be a fool to dismiss him entirely. I appreciated his insight here. Thank you for sharing it.

  • http://www.elizabethesther.com Elizabeth Esther

    Aimee: You know, I saw that, too. It’s so messy to be broken. We all need compassion. When everything ends, you need to know that Someone, ANYONE cares.

  • http://www.elizabethesther.com Elizabeth Esther

    Sarah, this brought tears to my eyes. I think I know which pastor you are referring to. I heard about it from a friend. And if it’s not the same one, then this is something that breaks my heart even more because there was another pastor not too long ago who went through the same thing. Thank you for sharing this story. This is PRECISELY why I speak out about this stuff. Because it IS life or death. We should be ashamed of ourselves for handling something like depression so lightly. It’s serious.

    Thank you, again. XO.

  • http://MeditativeMeanderings.blogspot.com Susanne Barrett

    I posted on my blog my response to the original blog post and to this post, if you’re interested in reading it.

    On Brokenness: http://meditativemeanderings.blogspot.com/2010/06/new-quote-on-brokenness.html

    Grace be with you all,
    Susanne :)

  • http://www.ayoungmomsmusings.com Young Mom

    There is a big difference between feeling down and being depressed. Often depression can spring from serving other SO MUCH that you are unable to see the value in yourself. I can’t see more serving being the solution there!

  • http://www.ayoungmomsmusings.blogspot.com Young Mom

    So tired of the “justs”. So so tired.

  • Melissa

    Thank you for bringing this incredibly personal, intimate struggle into the light of day. So many of the comments are so true. It’s just like any other facet of life…we have NO business judging. I love Susanne’s comments about eliminating the sovereignty of God. When we presume to know how God would act in a situation, we are insulting Him and His power. Thank you for your open and honest thoughts.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/thatguykc ThatGuyKC

    I was with you until the second #13. YOU HERETIC!! :-)
    Double Stuf OREOs rule! Period.
    And I’m NOT sorry either!

    (In all seriousness thanks for calling out people on their publicly shared crap)

    And on a totally unrelated note. For the love of your children, to preserve your sanity and as a husband please please please DO NOT buy a goat.

  • http://faithandfood.morizot.net/ Scott Morizot

    There’s a host of experiences and things to say that came to my mind as I read this post and the comments. But instead of writing that comment, I think I’ll just say, “Thanks, EE!”

  • http://pleasanthomehill.blogspot.com/ Carolyne

    Thanks be to God for your wonderful humour!
    You know how it’s said: ‘only those in the program can really laugh about it’?
    Well, now~ there you go.

    #7 all the way…….grandkids and cats and dogs have got me!

    ♡~I ♡ U

  • Sarah

    Yes, I often forget how I found your blog to begin with. Your friend that you reference above has a brother who attends our church. He and his wife are very good friends of ours. I always forget that that is how I “know” you. :-) In fact, we all went to high school together.

    And yes, speaking out about it is critical. All I know is that my dear pastor and friend was ill. And he was a man of deep prayer and deep love of God. He never would have hurt his family in this way in his right mind. And to equate his depression with self-absorption is so insanely ridiculous I could scream. A much bigger picture. Thanks for tackling the tough subjects.

  • Pamela

    When my knees bother me real bad, all I can think about is the pain in my knees. When I get up & try to do something over & above my normal routine (like do some extra walking, or stand for a half hour during worship), they hurt all the more, and so I think about it all the more. Would Courtney tell me I’m self-focused because I hurt physically? Would she tell me to just go for a jog around the blog to take my mind off the pain?

    Some people just don’t get it. I remember one time getting such a huge piece of bad news that I felt like walking out of the church, driving my car down to the river & driving into it. [I'm sure that sounds terribly melodramatic, but it was AWFUL news, received during a time when I was already drowning in a very difficult trial & a very distressed mental state.] When I made the mistake of telling that to one of the “totally on fire for God” ladies in the church, hoping she’d have something encouraging for me, her response was that I shouldn’t “inject such negativity into this holy atmosphere”.

    Of course, that comment made me feel all the worse.

    Jesse’s comment about “human sacrifice on the altar of someone’s self-righteousness” really says it all.

  • http://evenonesparrow.blogspot.com Rachel Stephan Simko

    *LOVE* this post! Well (and humorously) said!

  • http://debsueknit.blogspot.com DebbieQ

    Saw the Twitter thread yesterday, read the linked blog post and just had to shake my head at the utter ignorance presented therein. The thought that breaking through your depression depends on “breaking the chains of self-absorption” would have been real news to me when I was going through post-partum depression after the birth of our third (MANY years ago). A mother with three children under the age of 5 doesn’t have a lot of time to be “self-absorbed” even if she wanted to be.

    Depression is like pregnancy, every one is different. Yours doesn’t look like mine, your experiences are unique to you and to give a general “Get up, get out and do for others and the depression will lift” pep talk is inaccurate and naive.

    Done with the venting now thank goodness for all concerned.

  • http://civillascybercafe.blogspot.com Mary R.

    I once knew a missionary to S. Africa. A personal friend of ours once went over there to spend 3 weeks with the missionary. He said that the missionary spent every waking hour ministering to and praying for the S. African people he was sent to, plus caring for his own family. He was quite revered by all. He suffered from depression (possibly stemming an accident taking one of his children as a young adult, I don’t know) and was medicated for it. At a prayer meeting, he was declared delivered and healed, stopped taking the medicine, and blew his head off with a shotgun. I know God will be merciful to him. You cannot say such a person was self-absorbed, not ministering to others, or anything. This was the story I got about him. Perhaps he felt like “not a good Christian” for taking medication for his depression, who knows? Depression is a serious medical condition, as are physical medical conditions. Physical medical conditions can bring on, or result in, depression, too. I think we should all be careful as Christians to not make these people feel guilty, or trivialize their condition. And all respond differently to things like counseling — for some, it is all they need, for others, a medical doctor/psychiatrist is necessary, and medication.

  • Deborah L

    Good post, Elizabeth. It’s so true that people are unwise to talk with authority on topics they aren’t familiar with. I feel sad when I think about how this ignorance has hurt so many people.

    I would be very interested in reading a post on how I can be of help to friends suffering from depression. Perhaps you have written about this already – I will have to look back.

    And I’ve never had a mint milano. Is that bad?

  • http://www.darkglassponderings.blogspot.com Julia

    as someone who has been there and has no easy answers I blogged on the topic yesterday. I’m amazed at the response at my small blog and how many women struggle with this.

    http://darkglassponderings.blogspot.com/

    I hope this will bless someone today, I have been blessed in writing about my experience, even though I really didn’t want to.

  • http://www.candacemercyisnew.blogspot.com Candace

    Thanks for your perspective…I agree with what you are saying. I also suffer from depression and it bothers me to no end when people try to say “I understand” followed by a list of things I should try and/or do to make it go away. NO, you do NOT understand. It sometimes comes across to me as condescending because some people make it seem like if I wanted to I could CHOOSE to make it all go away. Or I could CHOOSE to just get up and start serving people and make everything in me go away. For me, it hasn’t worked that way.

    And the whole medication talk in the Christian community is equally depressing. (ha) It makes me sad…

  • beckfam@triotel.net

    I lost a brother to depression 32 years ago, and I suffer myself and have been on medication for several years. I try to explain it like this to people who say they could “never get so depressed they would kill themselves, that is selfish…blah blah blah):
    When you have the flu, do you want to feel crappy? Can you make it go away by exercising or going shopping? No, besides, you dont feel like doing ANYTHING.

    People, including Tom Cruise, should not judge unless they have walked a mile in someones shoes. Thanks for pointing this out!

  • Keith

    You make my day,more often than not. Thanks

  • http://www.thewinedarksea.com/weblog.php MelanieB

    I almost impulse-bought mint milanos at Target this morning because of this post…. until I remembered that when combined with early pregnancy any high sugar treat will make me super ill. Putting them on my list of second-trimester splurges.

  • Heather

    I have experienced depression, debilitating depression. After eight years of *doing* all the things that the lady suggested on that blog, I finally took the plunge and got medication.

    And I can say this after being depresesed free for almost three years.

    That lady has no experience. It’s like a woman writing about how to give birth to a baby that hasn’t given birth to a baby. (Which is why I like woman doctors that have children :-) )

    I can let the water roll off of my back now. When I was depressed, I couldn’t.

    I can give her grace for being ignorant. ;-D

    It too a LONG time for me to get past the feelings of being angry at people that didn’t understand. But this one thing I do know. Jesus carried *ALL* of my sorrows and my pain on the cross.

    *HE* does know what it feels like. Because He experienced it. He knows. He cares. He *understands*. Why?

    Because it was *MY* depression he carried. Not his. But mine. He felt it for me.

    That doesn’t mean, I won’t feel it now. I am still in this world. Just like, even though he carried my sin and paid for them, I still experience sin.

    So, in short, know that Jesus understands *exactly* (Isa 53:4) how you are feeling. He has the solution to your problems. Some of the tips the unexperienced lady wrote about could help lessen the symptoms for a day or two.
    But the cure is in what Jesus leads you to. And I can assure you, it won’t be five simple steps. (Been there done that) I believe it will be a deeply individual, walking with Jesus relationship. Some days will be a struggle, and other days will be wonderful.

    Hang in there (((hugs)))

  • http://dogwoodmama.typepad.com Elizabeth

    As the daughter of someone who committed suicide (when I was six years old) but who has not experienced depression in the same way (like LIFELONG depression, starting as a preteen) I appreciate when it is not glossed over. I don’t fully understand what happened with my mom (since I was a child) but I know, for sure, there are no easy answers.

    Haven’t read the whole other series, but thanks for speaking up.

  • KatR

    Hi Julia,

    I read your blog posting. As somone who has suffered from depression, I do agree that sometimes, all or some of the combination of things you mentioned helps. And sometimes they don’t.

    What I appreciated about your blog, and what was missing from the original blog that started all of this, was that you approached the topic with grace for those going through this, and humility. Its a amazing what a little love will do.

    Thank you.

  • http://maplegrove.blogspot.com Sandy C.

    Elizabeth, I wanted to comment earlier in the week but couldn’t summon the energy. No, I’m not currently depressed just physically exhausted from a lot of outdoor work in our hot midwestern summer. I would endure 100 days of physical exhaustion, though, than to suffer another day of mental and spiritual exhaustion from the depression I’ve had off and on for the past nearly 40 years. (I turned 50 this year.) You are absolutely correct: no person who has not been in the depths of clinical depression should presume to give advice about it.

    My mom died of cancer when I was 18. While she was dying, several Christians presumed to offer pat, glib advice insinuating more prayer, more faith, could heal her. Those glib Christians turned me off to Christ for over ten years.

    I can’t write about my depression without going on way too long for your comment box. The worst of it has been over for many years, thankfully. I had a few brief, deep episodes which left me completely understanding those who lose their struggle with depression and take their own lives. There but for the grace of God and my children… I still watch for the earliest signs of recurrence, try to eat right, sleep enough, avoid too many commitments, etc.

    Thank you for your honesty and your encouragement of others to share and admit our weaknesses and our messiness.

  • http://www.darkglassponderings.blogspot.com Julia

    I’m so glad you were blessed by Amy Grant’s beautiful words. Thank you for being heartbreakingly honest on your blog, I pray you will be blessed for it.

  • http://andi-horton.livejournal.com Andrea

    That Amy Grant song is a balm to my soul every time I hear it. Thank you for sharing; I’d not heard it in a while, and it turns out I needed it more than I realised just now.

    Hugs, prayers and all love and peace to you, Elizabeth.

  • http://myjourney-brittany.blogspot.com Brittany

    Elizabeth, THANK YOU for this post. I am 17, and have been in a deep pit of depression and anxietyin the past. Thankfully, through medication, therapy, and much meditation & prayer, the Lord has brought me out of that pit. It is refreshing to see someone writing about depression who has been through it and KNOWS what it is like. It saddens my heart and angers me that people think they can judge others that have had depression and assume that maybe “they just don’t love Jesus enough” or that if they would “trust him more” they would be healed. It is hard for me as a sinful human to not harbor anger toward people who have this stance. I just pray that I would be a person of grace and accurately reflect a picture of who Jesus is.

    Much love,
    Brittany

  • http://hopewellmomschoolreborn.blogspot.com/ Lisa

    EXCELLENT! And, may I add, don’t say depression is “all in your mind hahahhhahahah”

  • http://pinkdaisyjane.blogspot.com Heatherly

    Thank you for your vulnerability. Beautifully stated. I’m sorry for your loss.

  • http://pinkdaisyjane.blogspot.com Heatherly

    Love “there are no prerequisites for hugs.”

  • catgal

    I totally agree with this post. My father suffered from awful depression (to the point my family thought he would take his life), I am also afflicted. My mother just didn’t understand, she had the “just snap out of it already” attitude that does nothing to help and only maked the person feel more worthless.