My Demons of Depression
I stare out the window. It’s yet another cold, gray, and rainy day in Scotland. The war against the demons of depression rages inside of me.
For many years, I’ve battled the blues and waves of depression. Here in Edinburgh the relentless rain and lack of sunshine are more than simply an inconvenience for me. Light stimulates the part of the brain that releases hormones vital to proper mood, appetite, and sleep. In Scotland, it’s easy to miss out on the exposure to the sun the brain needs to be healthy. That’s why millions of people in the UK suffer from what’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder, a form of depression very common in climates with less sunshine.
Please note: “SAD” is the acronym for this disorder. Are you kidding me? Actually, that’s clever and quite humorous. It’s also quite humorous I moved to “SAD” Scotland as a missionary when I’m already prone to depression; but that’s another story for another time.
Mental health issues touch all of us, no matter our climate or where we live. Maybe it’s not you, but you likely have friends, family members, or perhaps even your own children struggle with depression.
As for me, I keep fighting the good fight against the demons of depression.
In my weakness, I do the regular work of daily prayer, bible study, and turning my ear to the Holy Spirit. I’m memorizing 52 scriptures this year, one per week. I journal my thoughts and emotions several times each day. I once wore a neon wrist band with Philippians 4:8 on it for an entire year. I consistently exercise, take Vitamin D, and use a “happy lamp” twice daily during the dark winter months (see picture). I often read books on mental health, I’ve received professional counseling, and I’ve even taken prescription medication for depression. I have a cheering section, too: My wife, family, and friends cheer me on, love me unconditionally, and kick me in the rear when I need it (which happens more than I’d like to admit). Most importantly…
I’m not alone in this fight.
I’m not alone and neither are you.
The more I read the bible, the more I see men and women created in the image of God who have mental health issues, just like many of us. These heroes of faith can provide us with the “helmet of the hope of salvation” (1 Thessalonians 5:8) to protect our minds and win the war on depression! The word depression is not used in most translations of the bible but we do see words such as these in God’s Word to describe a depressed state of mind: downcast, miserable, despairing, mourning, troubled, hopeless, burdened, weary, overwhelmed, and heartbroken.
Below is a sample of bible characters whose struggles with mental health have inspired me to keep fighting. They remind me that I’m never alone in this war of the mind. They give me hope! Coming soon, I’ll write about some of these men and women, beginning with Elijah, in hopes of bringing encouragement to our souls. In the meantime, please take the time to study these victorious men and women of faith on your own. Remember, you are not alone. Our best days as Christians are right in front of us!
Depression in Biblical Characters
Moses: In Numbers 11:10-15, Moses laments to God (my paraphrase), “If this is how life is with your people, then just kill me now.”
David: Psalm 22; 69; In Psalm 38:5-8 David writes, “I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; all the day I go about mourning…I am feeble and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart.”
Hannah: 1 Samuel 1 - Hannah is “a woman troubled in spirit” and experiences periods of time when she weeps bitterly, is deeply distressed, and refuses to eat.
Jonah: The reluctant prophet asks the LORD to kill him because he’d rather die than live another day (Jonah 4:3).
Job: See Job 3:11, 26; 10:1; 30:15-17; At times, Job hates his life and wishes he had never been born. In chapter 2:9, his wife tells him to “curse God and die” — not exactly the best support system at home!
Naomi: Naomi actually changes her name and says, “From now on, just call me ‘Bitter’” (Ruth 1:20).
Elijah: After his greatest victory at Mount Carmel, Elijah has a complete meltdown and wants to end his life (1 Kings 19). God then shows us how to care for a person in that type of mental state.
Jeremiah: He prays one of the boldest, saddest, and most completely manic prayers you’ll ever hear (Jeremiah 20:7-18).
Paul: In 2 Corinthians 1:8-11, Paul and his companions despair of life and are heartsick with “the sentence of death”.
Jesus: The Son of God meets us in our mental weakness, too, and yet he did not sin. See Isaiah 53:3; Psalm 22; Mark 14:32-36; Luke 22:44; Hebrews 4:15-16.
The thoughts in this article are not intended to replace professional medical help. If you are feeling suicidal, please contact your local health care provider.