Depression: Friend or Foe?

Last week, I decided that winter was here to stay and that if I wanted to get into shape I’d better find an indoor place to walk. I bought a membership so that I could use the indoor track at the local college. The next day, the weather changed.

I  welcomed the sunshine and warmer than usual temperatures. With nearly bare roads, I’ve been walking again and my spirit feels happier. Like many people who live in northern climates, lack of sunshine makes me vulnerable to depression–SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).

I’ve experienced other types of depression, too. For years, I felt embarrassed by that fact,believing that somehow it made me a “failure” as a Christian.  Yet, depression is a normal part of life’s experience; Christian, as well as Jewish people throughout the ages have not been immune to it.  Job, Elijah, and Paul are examples. 

Now I recognize that, like pain, depression can serve a useful purpose.  I think of it as a friend–the kind of friend that wakes me up and alerts me to a problem. Our human minds and bodies are made of flesh and blood, not indestructible steel.

We are subject to emotional and  physical injury. Chemical imbalances are a reality; for some people, medication is a gift. Sometimes, depression is a consequence of our poor choices; other times, we are fighting a spiritual battle. 

Whatever the cause, depression is not the kind of friend that I want to hang out with for very long; So, I acknowledge it’s signals and take the necessary action required to get rid of it. 


Depression Is a Friend of Mine

Depression is a friend of mine.
A friend? (I hear you ask.)
I can’t imagine why you want her
Get rid of her—and fast.

She will ruin you completely
She will take up all your time,
She will rob you of your energy
And use up your last dime.

I used to think as you do
About my friend Depression
I was embarrassed by her presence
Until I learned this lesson:

Her purpose is to warn me
To tell me something’s wrong;
In some way my life’s off balance;
Perhaps I’ve worked too long.

I have overdosed on sugar
With a resulting glucose plunge
Or my hormones are not flowing
Like they were when I was young.

I just might be a couch potato—
Neglecting exercise,
And my windows are all shut
No fresh air can get inside.

So, my body’s lacking sunshine—
Not much serotonin remains.
I may have buried anger,
Covering over guilt or pain.

Or I’m hiding shameful memories
And rejecting who I am–
Denying my giftedness
And feel like a sham.

Because of lies I’ve sheltered
In my subconscious mind
I try to change direction
But cannot do what I design.

I may have experienced a loss
And not fully processed grief;
In the circumstance I’m facing,
I’m questioning my belief.

The problem might be simple
But it’s often quite complex.
Depression won’t play God
She can’t tell me what to fix.

Depression is not pleasant;
I may resent her intrusion.
But she certainly won’t leave me
If I ignore her admonition.

And Depression does respect me
In a way, she is polite;
When I do that needed action
She, eventually, takes flight.

 

Receive God’s Embrace of Grace

What would wipe away my gloom?
I could make up a happy tune,

Write another rhyming verse,
Or organize my flowered purse.

It was my daughter’s gift to me—
Special, she will always be!

I could design a photo card;
It would not be very hard.

Have my neighbor cut my bangs
So in my eyes they would not hang.

Invite her to have tea with me;
Find out on what we can agree.

Take myself on a very long walk;
Listen closely to my “self-talk”.

Evaluate the truthfulness
Of my inner messages.

If I have blown my diet
It’s best not to deny it—

Confess failure without shame;
And better understand my game.

Come out from my hiding place—
Receive God’s embrace of grace.

10 thoughts on “Depression: Friend or Foe?

    • Thank you for letting me know that, David! So good to hear from you. I well remember the beautiful songs that you shared with us in Koinonia.

    • “I’m blessed to know that you found this blog helpful to you, Rich. I appreciate your honest admission of chronic depression. And, I undoubtedly could learn things from you.”

  1. Is is possible that depression might be God’s conviction at times (not all times of course)? There have been times when I was bothered and depressed about something that I could not put my finger on. When it finally came to mind, I could deal with it. You bless so many of us with your writing. It is reality and helps us to see and confront issues that we need to see and confront.
    May God bless you greatly as you continue to write.

    • Yes, Debbie, guilt can contribute to depression. How blessed we are when the Holy Spirit brings a problem to our awareness; confession brings the freedom of forgiveness–along with strength to change. Self-condemnation can also contribute to depression. How good to know that in Christ Jesus there is no condemnation. (Romans 8:1)

      Thank you for your affirming words. I prayed that my words would encourage my blog readers.

  2. I love your thoughts on depression as a friend, Jane. So often we are so ashamed or embarrassed, we just want to be rid of it, but to see it as a tool to find out what is wrong is so much more healthy. Thanks!

    • Thank you for your comment, Sandy. I’m so glad that my post communicates a healthy view of depression. I prayed that it would.

  3. Your post embodies so many of the strategies that I have learned having navigated a lifetime of bi-polar disease. Depression is a place where lessons are learned and you know that even when you hit your “bottomness” you are still resting in the everlasting arms of the Lord.

    • Judy, your comment encourages me greatly, and I’m sure it will be of great encouragement to others with bi-polar disease. You have learned treasured things. And YOU are a treasure. Thank you for sharing.

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