Okay, real talk here. In our journey of saying “farewell to fine,” it’s important that we take an in-depth look at two conditions that are on the rise...depression and anxiety. We are reading about it on social media, we are hearing about it in our churches, and we are seeing it in our families. I believe that the pressure to be perfect and the let-down when life doesn’t go as planned are two of the leading causes for these crippling disorders. Because we are afraid to admit our struggles, depression and anxiety creep in and take joy and peace from our lives. I say "we" because I am no stranger to the gripping fear of anxiety and the hopelessness of depression. I could tell you stories about how, over the last 12 years, I have ended up in the hospital on three different occasions, thinking I was having a heart attack. I could tell you about the despair I felt when I was told that my pregnancy was once again a failure, wondering if I would ever have children. The fact is, we are all walking through the toughness of this life together. In order to make it through, we have to understand what is happening in us emotionally, and acknowledge our need for support.
I believe that the pressure to be perfect and the let-down when life doesn’t go as planned are two of the leading causes for these crippling disorders.
The truth about anxiety and depression is that every person will face one or both of these in their lifetime. It is not uncommon to feel worried or nervous when you have a deadline at work, when you hear some discouraging news from the doctor, or you are facing big life decisions that will affect your family. It is not uncommon to feel depressed when you lose a job, a friend or a loved one, or when you go through trying times. In Scripture we are reminded that “in this life we will have trouble…” I wish that weren’t the case, but it’s the truth of living this side of Heaven.
Thank goodness Jesus didn’t leave it there and reminds us so powerfully that He has overcome the world! However, there are times when anxiety and depression become so significant that they consume the majority of your thoughts and actions, and this is what I want to focus on today. Having anxiety at its worst means that we are in a constant state of fight or flight and you are experiencing symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, trouble sleeping, forgetfulness, dizziness and fear of dying. In three words anxiety is best described as a LOSS OF CONTROL. Depression is a looming cloud that leaves a person feeling worthless and hopeless and is evident in symptoms such as restlessness, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, lack of interest, and irritability. In three words depression is a LOSS OF HOPE.
In three words anxiety is best described as a LOSS OF CONTROL. In three words depression is a LOSS OF HOPE.
The thing with anxiety and depression is that, unfortunately, they are no respecter of persons or circumstances. It doesn’t matter how great your life is or appears to be. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never had a hard thing happen to you. Anxiety and depression can still rear their ugly heads and take over. Shame about your feelings can try to tell you that you don’t have a reason to feel that way. You can try to mask it and pretend like it will go away, but the truth is, you don’t have to make excuses for what you are feeling. Getting help is more important than anyone’s opinions of how you should or shouldn’t feel.
If you find yourself identifying with any of the symptoms listed above and are ready to bring your feelings to light in hopes of finding freedom, here are some steps to getting the help you need.
Find a trustworthy person to share your struggles with. This may be your spouse or a family member, a pastor or a friend. Find someone that can pray with you and support you in your journey.
Listen and be open to intervention. It is difficult to admit the truth about how much you might be struggling, but the more you can acknowledge, the more freedom you will gain.
Know when to seek therapy or visit with your doctor. We discussed therapy as an option in our last blog, but I want to get real with you about seeking the help of your doctor. Prolonged anxiety and depression can be a chemical imbalance in your brain in which your brain is not producing the appropriate hormones needed to combat feelings of fear or intense sadness. The early stages of anxiety and depression are very overwhelming and it is okay to seek help from a medical professional to help you navigate through your options. There are many natural remedies like diet, exercise, vitamins, or oils, and there is also medication. There is a lot of stigma and shame around medication. It is very common to feel like a failure when resorting to medication, but let me tell you: if this is the path you need to take, even temporarily, to find freedom and help, admitting that makes you anything but a failure. It makes you brave, courageous, and a warrior. Please believe that!
Research and educate yourself on anxiety and depression. Two really good books that helped me were Self-Coaching: How to Heal Anxiety and Depression by Joseph J. Luciani and The Anxiety Cure by Archibald D. Hart. There are so many books, sermons, podcasts, and videos for you to watch to help you in your journey.
Remember you are not alone. There are many that have walked this journey of healing. I continue to walk this path. Most importantly, God is with you on your loneliest of days. He sees that you are not fine and He is waiting for you to acknowledge your need of help.
My favorite Scripture is Psalm 40:1-2. “I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” Reach out your hand to Him today. He’s waiting!
Let's Get Real. is Entry THREE of Sanctuary's August series, "Saying Farewell to Fine", from ministry wife, counselor, and guest blogger Karmen Wilson. Don't miss one week of this authentic, behind-the-surface series. Take a moment today to share this insight with a friend. Let's say "farewell to fine".
Karmen Wilson has been a Licensed Professional Counselor for 12 years and worked as an elementary school counselor for ten of those years. She and her husband Cameron have been married for 11 years and have served in a ministry staff role, off and on, throughout their marriage, totaling about six years--Cameron in production and Karmen in teaching and small groups. The Wilson family recently moved to Los Angeles, CA where Cameron is the Production Director for Vintage Church. Together they are both passionate about following God's call on their lives and creating authentic relationships and community through church. In their free time, they keep busy playing cars and going to parks with their vibrant two-year-old son, Jaxson. They also love going to the beach and driving around, finding cool restaurants and attractions in L.A.! Karmen has a passion for helping individuals in the areas of self-discovery, healing past hurts, infertility, marriage, and parenting. She can be reached via email for consulting and coaching.