Sharing in our brokenness
BY SANDY ALLEN & BENNETT ROLAN
S andy Allen was on her knees, begging God for a way out. As a long-time BSF teaching leader, she was steeped in God’s Word and committed to seeking Him in prayer.
But Sandy knew her debilitating condition had returned, and she cried out to her Savior.
For months, she pushed through the fog. She would deliver her BSF lecture, then collapse at home in exhaustion.
Pounding thoughts would suffocate her joy and desire for living.
“Life is just too hard. …”
“Nothing is worth it. …“
“Your life is worthless. …”
“The very part of what makes you you – is worth nothing. …”
Years of Suffering
T wenty-five years earlier, Sandy was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. After medical treatment and therapy, she slowly recovered her personality and worked to restore her relationships.
“Over the years I faced the darkness many times,” Sandy said. “God has seen me through, and every time I thought, ‘Whew that is over. Surely it won’t come back again.’ ”
She was hopeful the battle was over. But those familiar thoughts returned in the fall of 2018.
“The scary part is that I couldn’t see it,” she said. “I thought I was fine until my depression started affecting others.”
Recognizing the signs, Sandy sought professional help. Today, her relationship with God is stronger, and her faith is deeper. But Sandy’s journey to this point has been difficult.
“I thought everyone had those days when they hated their lives and wanted just to die – when the living felt too hard to do,” Sandy said. “People say things like, ‘Tomorrow you will feel better, it’s just a rough patch, life can be hard sometimes.’ But I was overwhelmed and aching inside, without any real idea of how to make things better. But, boy, did I try.”
“I was overwhelmed and aching inside, without any real idea of how to make things better. But boy, did I try.”
She tried vitamins, sleep, exercise, diet, caffeine, vacation, more work, less work. Even prayer, worship, church counsel and Bible study did not alleviate the growing depression and anxiety.
“Nothing changed the way I felt deep down, about myself and my life,” she said. “Life was too hard, overwhelming. People seemed mean. I didn’t really want to do anything.
“Every day felt like I was walking through some sort of thick mud – trudging along. The tears would fall, I would think, ‘What’s the point of this life – it seems to just get harder.’ ”
Finally, a compassionate friend said, “I think you might be depressed.” After research and multiple doctor’s visits, Sandy accepted that she had a condition many of her BSF friends could not understand.
But the God who created Sandy and knew her thoughts intimately met her in the despair.
“I remember lying in bed,” Sandy said, “the tears falling, and crying out, ‘Lord I know You are God, but You feel so far away. I need You close to help me though.’ And in the darkness, I sensed His presence, remembered His words that He would ‘never leave me or forsake me,’ and I knew He would carry me through somehow.”
“I remember lying in bed,” Sandy said, “the tears falling and crying out, ‘Lord I know you are God, but you feel so far away. I need you close to help me through.’ “
After years of professional counseling, medical treatment and family support, Sandy feels compelled to share her story.
And through her honesty, we can find freedom in sharing our own struggles and moments of brokenness. Together, we can celebrate God’s faithfulness, acknowledge our weaknesses and rely on one another as we seek Christ in a fallen world.
Uniting in Trials
L ike Sandy, many of us face circumstances, diagnoses and difficult relationships that our BSF family may not understand. We walk into our BSF group each week feeling lonely and misunderstood, trying to hide the deep places that reveal our vulnerabilities.
But 2 Corinthians 12:9 promises God’s power “is made perfect in weakness.” And through our painful experiences, God strengthens the body of believers.
“… So that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (1 Corinthians 12:25-26).
Our study of Acts and Letters of the Apostles will bring our sin, shortcomings and pain to light. Instead of hiding these moments, we can encourage group members to share how God is working in the midst of those trials.
The Power of Faithful Community
T o help us navigate these difficult topics and conversations, God’s Word gives wonderful insight into how the early Church pursued gospel-centered unity.
They committed to study, fellowship and prayer.
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” – Acts 2:42
Which person in your group today needs your prayers, or who needs to know you are praying for them? How will you reach out to them this week?
They put others’ needs above their own.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 2:3-5
Whose needs are your focus? How can you ask God to help you show someone else that they are valuable?
They were quick to listen and slow to anger.
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” – James 1:19-20
Listening can be hard, but will you challenge yourself to ask more questions as you interact with those in your group?
Unity was a common goal.
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” – Ephesians 4:2-6
What can you do to demonstrate humility, patience and love in your relationships with others?
They sought to forgive one another.
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” – Colossians 3:13-14
Who do you need to forgive, because the Lord has forgiven you? When will you take action to reach out and forgive?
Walking in the Valley
F or those who struggle with depression, or see another who is hurting, Sandy Allen shared some helpful thoughts from her experience.
God does not expect you and me to do everything.
“Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.’ ” – Acts 6:3-4
Sometimes our trials increase because we take on extra things.
I love this truth: God’s plan is for His work to be divided among the body.
When the anxiety increases, or the depression seems worse, allow yourself to let something go. Ask the Lord, ”What are those things you are asking me to do, and what can I stop for this tough season of my life?”
Depression is a trial.
“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” – 1 Peter 1:6-7
Depression, anxiety and living with a loved one who struggles with it is a trial.
In every trial there is an opportunity for Christ to reveal Himself. Seeking Him in the hard times proves that our faith is real and that we know He is the one to turn to.
And in these verses, we have the promise that as our faith is refined, our lives will bring praise and glory to Jesus.
So God is at work in the present hard time. Your faith is being made stronger while living with depression or with a loved one who struggles.
God’s purposes for you are prevailing.
If you see someone struggling, reach out.
“While the man held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade.” – Acts 3:11
Who among you is hurting? How can you, through prayer and God’s compassion, reach out and give them a helping hand? Let them hold onto you, and bring them to Jesus.
How can I join you in prayer?
What would encourage you?
Can I give you a ride to BSF next week?
Can I sit beside you during the lecture?
Would you like to work on the questions together this week?
When we notice someone is hurting, we do not have to fix them. That is God’s job. But we can be there, a place to hold onto, in times of weakness.
As one who has battled depression most of my life I appreciate finally seeing articles regarding Christians and depression. At one point depression almost won, but I cried out to God and felt his protective presence immediately. I am on medication now and doing better. I am no longer ashamed to speak out about the depression I feel, it is real and sometimes scary. With my church, BSF, and care group I feel secure in the fact that if needed I have people that will remind me that this is not permanent and will pray with me and for me.
Does anxiety combine with depression? I get annoyed by people and every so often I will make enemies all at once within same timeframe
May God continue to increase you Susan as you teach and share real life experience such as Sandy’s struggle. The Acts study is for me. I am stronger as i apply what I learn about suffering. God bless you Susan and Team HQ
Thank you for sharing your struggle. As someone who suffered greatly from depression years ago, and who has friends who struggle with it now, I appreciate your honesty
and that you have opened up the reality of this struggle to those who might not understand it. Blessings to you!!
Thank you for sharing.
There is a fantastic book written by Kathy Cronkite, “On the Edge of Darkness.” She describes her own depression and has compiled a number of short stories of people who have battled and overcome depression. She describes the disease like a “Black Dog” that you never know when it is going to attack. In simplest terms, depression is a disease primarily caused by an imbalance of a “delicate cocktail” of brain chemicals. I went through this in 1998 after incurring a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury from a severe ski accident. “MILD” meaning, my brains were not protruding from my skull! I suffered from broken ribs, neck & back pain, vision impairment, Panic Attacks & PTSD for ~ 18 months. By God’s grace He dramatically and miraculously healed me. As I recall those dark days, the most frustrating experience was trying to explain my feelings to well-meaning friends, who, after 45 minutes of trying to explain how I was feeling, would say, “BUT, you look great.” I wanted to arrange their anatomy. However, I would not trade this experience for anything–God taught me about real brokenness, His sovereign control, His immense love and compassion (not only for me but my dear wife & family as well), AND that this world is TRULY NOT my home.
Sandy I am a children’s leader who is diagnosed with major depression. I still have bouts with depression and miss quite a few classes. Some days are so hard I can’t get out of bed. I let a lot of people down which makes me feel worse. The darkness overcomes me and I ask God why. God has been faithful to bring me back into His light. I feel joy again and think I’m ok but it comes back again. I am glad you shared your story. It came out the day after I asked God if there was anyone else who has this disease. God Bless You and Keep you and May His face shine upon you..In service of our King
Thank you so much for opening my eyes toward ladies who may be going through depression.
Sandy, I praise Adonai for your testimony beloved, chosen, daughter of a mighty King and my sistah in Christ ???. I also have Major Depressive Disorder, PTSD, ADD, Anxiety, Fibromyalgia, Chrons, Chronic Pain due to cervical and spine issues and am about to have my second total knee replacement in January. It got moved from December because Dr gave me a shot because pain was so bad.
I am in counseling with a Christian Counselor, do take meds and have been doing TMS therapy. I totally understand where you are coming from. When I was a speaker for Stonecroft ministries after speaking I would feel completely wiped. Sometimes while on a week of speaking, I would have to speak twice in one day, those days were rough, but God and my prayer partners got me through. I am also a former CL which I loved.
Many spiritual attacks during both those seasons which I am sure you can attest to. Those attacks only strengthened me and deepened my love for Christ. I depended on Him, cried out to Him and He was always there to gently comfort and guide me through.
I recently went through another. Last Friday I awoke to hearing Satan tell me I was to commit suicide and then he told me how. Totally freaked me out but Holy Spirit immediately warmed my heart with Phil 4:6-9, instant peace flooded my soul. I have the heart of an intercession and am very empathetic. Gifts God has strategically used along the way to pray for others struggling, even to the point of actually feeling their pain.
I will now add you to my prayer book. I am forever grateful for your transparency as you have opened a door that many others may find beginnings of healing and hope.
Tanya. My heart aches for what you have been through and are still facing. How thankful I am that you can recognize it as spiritual attack, and find strength in God’s word. I love how the Holy Spirit warmed your heart and peace flooded your soul, such a great example of what our Mighty God can and will do!
Thank you for adding me to your prayers, and today I too pray for you, thank you for sharing your testimony!
Thanks for being brave in sharing. My heart goes out to you and so many here. So many responses to read and so many good words. Don’t know if mine will help but my son has been struggling with severe schizophrenia for 12 years. He has dyslexia which is significant in schizophrenia. In all of the 12 years we have been through much turmoil and feared for my life on many occasions. We found no help so far in the psychiatric field for him despite the huge number of hospital stays. He is so sick he is a regular there in the psych ER at UNM. They lump schizophrenics in a big vat of those that they can’t help.
We found help from Mensah Medical in Chicago. It is self pay mostly. He does testing and uses supplements and it did help my son. He was able to go to school part- time at UNM. He was found to be difficient in zinc which is a back bone element in neurotransmitters. Apparently it is also true that many with schizophrenia are gluten sensitive. My son is allergic to every one of the grains. There is a very good book called “Grain Brain”. Anyway if you watch Netflix there is a movie called “What’s with Wheat” and there is a lot of good info there as well. The grains impact the gut, the gut doesn’t absorb and the brain doesn’t have what it needs to function right. Turns out on this film I think they said none of the other countries will take the wheat from the US because it’s not good. It impacts autism as well I hear. Not sure if it’s the wheat or the chemicals to kill the weeds but somewhere giving thanks for our food and thanking God that if we eat anything deadly it will not harm us I think is imperative these days.
Another great source is Dr Carolyn Leaf… She has a book about the 21 day detox. She is a neuroscientist. She is a christian and says our brains are wired for love. Isn’t that neat. She has many books and I watch her on you tube. We have searched for years for my son. The Lord gave me a supernatural dream one of the days I cried out to God in prayer like never before because I thought he was going to kill us all. It had to do with diet. Since then I have studied many articles about the gut brain connection and about how many schizophrenics are helped with diet. We have our son doing the keto diet now only for the last 5 days and he is off all antipsychotics for the first time in 12 years. None of them worked for him, they only made him worse.
Most of the mass shooters were on antipsychotics. So glad he is off.
I know most of the comments here are not about the most severe mentally ill like my son but I thought if it helped the most severe perhaps it could help the less as well. I feel bad in all of this because I have stated that”Life is not worth living” all the while knowing that it is but just very difficult circumstances and stress for so long, and this is not the only one sick in my family. There are more and it is overwhelming.
I just thank my Heavenly Father that He really is my help in all of it. I can’t do this but I can rest in Him knowing that he will protect me and lead me to find help for my son. There is a call on my sons life and the enemy has fought hard to stop him but I know that through Christ he Always leads us in Triumph. So I press on knowing that we win…:}
Robin rejoicing with you that your son is doing better. You are a very courageous woman to share so honestly with us. WOW! What a testimony to Gods faithfulness to your heartfelt prayers on behalf of your son. Thank you for sharing the plethora of information. I know that will help many and bring glory to God our Father, Holy is His Name. I have added both of you to my prayer book. Love you beloved, chosen, daughter of a mighty King and my sistah in Christ ???
I also, have a Generalized Anxiety/Major Depressive Disorder condition. I thought I would sit and read these today. I have been going through a period lately where my symptoms are intensifying again. I have had all kind of testing done for physical conditions and they all read good. I am involved with an extensive outpatient support program through the hospital I admitted myself in to about 2 years ago. I too take medication. It inspires me to hear others that are staying strong through these type of conditions. I am focusing on the love of God, although I am experiencing a lot of exhaustion right now. If others experience this, I know we can all pray for each other and live happy lives. Blessings to everyone responding to this.
Robin – Your story is compelling and how you have faced it with God and medical and natural methods is proof that we are not a “one size fits all” people. I am so grateful you listed resources that have helped you, it does give some practical suggestions to those who read this blog. The link it wheat is something I haven’t heard myself, I lived in Europe for 10 years and am sad to say lots of my darkest days were there, so wheat may not be my own issue, but I find trying everything God places in your path a wonderful approach. Lastly is so encouraging to see how our Heavenly Father has been the ultimate help, and I agree we can’t face these types of illnesses with out resting in his arms – I love the way you pointed out the rest in him. Thank you for sharing your story.
Thank you so much Sandy and BSF for being open and honest about mental health issues. Unfortunately, the church has not always been an advocate. As one can see by the many comments, this is a real issue that needs to be discussed. I did not know I could be a bigger fan of BSF, however, today I find I am! Keep being a voice for those suffering in depression and for God’s glory!
Dell – I couldn’t agree more with what you have said, the church and many many godly organizations seem to sweep this under the carpet, maybe because others find it hits too close to home and others have no idea what to do with it. So we see it avoided, and many pat answers given – “pray more, exercise etc”. Please pray for all of BSF to be open to face this issues. The HQ is very aware and seeking to bring this into the open, but there remain many classes where these topics are still taboo. Only Our Lord can change hearts and make each class willing to face those who are vulnerable and dealing with these issues.
Sandy, I can’t thank you enough for sharing! I am a 4th year STL with depression and anxiety disorder I’ve struggled with all my life. After getting through feeling shamed and like I’m just not a “good enough” Christian, I’ve learned medication helps me have more freedom and ability to be who God made me to be. But continued med changes over the years has been rough! I go through hills and valleys, and in my last valley about a year ago, I completely resonated with your doing BSF/lecture for the week then crashing the days after. BSF took all I had then I felt like I couldn’t move, parent my teens and I just cried all the time. As Christians and leaders in BSF, and our in communities, we HAVE to talk about, and be a light and comfort to those suffering in this way!
Erin – I couldn’t agree more with all you said!
Thank you Sandy for sharing your journey. God’s blessings to you on the courage that the Holy Spirit has given you. I will pray that you continue in a positive direction. There is a song by Casting Crowns—Praise You in the Storm that is a great source of encouragement. Hope it will give you hope also. Know that you are loved my Christian Sister!!
Praise God Sandy, thank you for your encouraging testimony. It’s proof that our God is able and faithful. In John 14:14 Jesus confirms: John 14: “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it”.
Thanks and glory be to God for healing you!
Cheryl – I love that song! It really speaks to how we are to be in the “storms of our lives” – Thank you for you kind words, and prayers!
Thank you Sandy for your encouragement.We have a responsibility to take necessary actions out of every day life and as a professional in insurance industry and member of the local Insurance Institute U.K.as well as a member of affiliate local Insurance Institute in Kenya from which I opted for retirement last year.I am also conscious that much remains to be achieved and my first priority was to write (autobiography)but being the first book am proposing to write it demands adequate times of garthering facts of my life journey.Nevertheless I joined BSF in the year 2015. Now in fifth year seeking divine wisdom through BSFer’s fraternity in Ongata Rongai Church.At the same period I have been studying Theology Education by Extension through Presbyterian University of East Africa soon we will be graduating. As a Christian, our future foundation lies on serving Kingdom of God and wish to thank all BSFer’s leadership for dedication led by Susie Rowan Executive Director.
Thank you Sandy for sharing your testimony. There are so many of us sharing GOD’s word, but not sharing our struggles.
By sharing sets you free and encourages me to share my struggles. I will be praying for you and others as well as myself. There is freedom just to know to that I may be in depression.
Thank you again for only the LORD led me to this blog.
Love you Earnestine, my dear Sister in Christ! Marsha
Sandy, thank you for your honesty. I completely relate to you. I have struggled with the same thing for most of my life and it helps me to hear of other God seeking, loving Christians who struggle because so often in the Christian community depression is seen as a spiritual issue. Again, thank you for having the courage to share.
Your sister in Christ,
Sharon – You are so right it is seen that way, so people just think we need more faith! But that’s not it, more faith doesn’t fix bae eyesight, why would it fix this very real illness1. Glad you shared your truth too!
What you say is so true! We need to share our struggles and challenges so we can encourage one another with all the word’s of God. I pray you have someone to share with and to support you
Yes Earnistein, I agree so many struggle in silence. I too struggle with anxiety/depression. Praying that the Holy Spirit rages this transparency in our BSF group and we can all encourage and lift each other up.
Earnestine – what you say is exactly true, and frankly it is hard to share our real struggles, especially when others do not. I think its. step by step process and it needs to be backed with the prayers of the saints. I pray that as you share your truth you will be met with kindness, love and understanding from family, friends and christian brothers and sisters. Today I m praying for you and for God’s gracious leading.
Sandy, thank you for being transparent in your struggle with depression! Your “realness” is a blessing to so many of us who struggle with depression on a daily basis. There is so much I could say but much has already been said! I am relieved and thankful to hear of others who struggle with this disease because it helps me not feel so alone and ashamed. In my early 20’s, I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. I begged God to take it away but he has never completely relieved my symptoms. I find comfort in scripture and particularly from Paul’s “thorn in his flesh” which God did not remove. God, however, has blessed me with Christian counseling and the gift of medication which helps me manage my symptoms. I rarely talk about my struggle as there is still such stigma and shame associated with mental illness. I have felt like I “should be stronger, more prayerful, trust God more” to be completely healed. I often felt like I just wasn’t trying hard enough. Thank you for sharing! My heart hurts for anyone who struggles with depression because I know how painful it can be. I will be praying that God will use your testimony to encourage others and change lives through the power of the Holy Spirit, for HIS Glory!!!
Kerry – Thank you for sharing your story too – I know those thought, if I only prayed harder, memorized more scripture, trusted God more etc etc there is a long list of things we think we should or could do to get rid of this illness. I have been encourage by the people who said that accepting it helped them to better cope. My heart hurts for what you have been through.
Hi, I am also a fellow sufferer of ” Severe depression and anxiety disorder”. The stigma is real, but in my experience I have been in Celebrate Recovery, a 12 step Christ Centered program and numberous other groups in the past 33 years. Celebrate Recover has helped me and so has trama counseling. Being understood and getting insights about trama, PTSD, and triggers, etc. has helped me as well as finding persons who are good listeners and can allow me to process without judgement and just be there and love me and accept me and this seems to help me accept myself and feel loved. My biggest issue lately has been shame. Shame is when I believe something is wrong with me, not like guilt that is I have done something wrong. So when i struggle, if i can be still and really look at my feeling and pain and ask God, “what am I really feeling” “what is really going on here” “What am I thinking”; this helps me look closely at what I am really thinking an feeling and then I can address that issue and retreat from taking out my anger on someone undeserving, my husband usually. learned about this thru a group called ACA and so helpful!!! It is also a 12 step group for children who have come from disfunctional families or families who had addictive personalities – like work aholic, emotional addicts, parents who had mental issues . . . .Children are so resilient and we seem to adapt to whatever presents itself in our families of origin without question. But God knew we would need have these struggles and ACA has helped me this year 2019 by teaching me how I need to reparent myself by caring for myself by learning how to process my emotions instead of stuffing them and knowing God gave us all our emotions and that all our emotions (ALL) are ok! Read the psalms if you don’t believe me. ACA is Adult Children of Alcoholics which has many meetings around the world. Thank you again because I could relate to the suffering that was shared here and it has been refreshing to hear again , I am not alone, I am encouraged. God will reveal the lies we are believing and help us replace it with the truth, if we stop and remove ourselves from the situation (which will take much practice! – don’t give up, persevere!) if when we have intense feelings of anger (which is depression turned outward). Ask the questions, what am I really feeling and thinking and once the lie is revealed as God what the truth is about that belief. He is faithful and will show you! Love in Christ Jesus, Lisa Ellis
Lisa – Thank you so so much for sharing your story for us all to learn from. I have heard of Celebrate recovery, but not that it could be a help for those struggling with depression/anxiety issues. and I love your suggestion of asking God “what am I really thinking?” So often I just act from the emotions that come with depression, and am unable to find the core, so maybe this technique will help – I plan on using it myself, and pray others will too. Thank you too for the resources you shared especially ones for children! And for the wonderful reminder to read the Psalms!! I love how honest they are and can actually help to express our emotions to God. You have much wisdom to share and I hope you will find other forums to tell others.
Sandy I dealt with almost verbatim everything you mentioned. I pleaded with God in tears many nights to help me. Long story short I go to a Christ -centered hormone specialist in Tucson, Dr.Elizabeth Lee Vliet.
God, through her, has given me my life back. I found her through a couple friends who have been seeing her for around 15 years. If you are interested read her book “Screaming To Be Heard.”
Wendy – Sounds very interesting! I will take a look at that book! So glad God has answered your many prayers with a solution for you!
There are countless times I begged God to take it away! Now I just pray for more faith and for God to take me home. I wish my health is better so I can be a missionary. The only joy I have is when I serve others!
I thank You and others for sharing! It’s good to know I am not alone!
Lien – I have prayed the same over and over for me and my loved ones – that God would remove any hardship! But it’s clear He works through out struggles when we turn to him for our answers and our strength. Today I pray for your faith and for God to give you a desire to “live for him” here on earth. He does have solutions to see us through our painful journeys, and I know he has one for you, and that He will use you as an example to many others and you persevere through the pain. May God’s presence be so so real to you today!
God bless you Sandy for your honesty, humility and love for others to share what you have gone through. I’m so thankful that others have been helped and encouraged by your words. God has used you in a powerful way in your lectures and leadership and He is now using your words to help others in the larger group of BSF. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
Thanks Susie – I have to say you have been a huge huge support during the dark days and times, and an ongoing support, someone I can always turn to.
Thank you for sharing honestly and painfully your mental health past… I too have mental health history with Major Depression Disorder… Most Christians don’t recognize depression as a medical disorder and want you to just get over it. I thank God for His faithfulness and love to see me through the difficult times.
I have been a volunteer with an amazing organization called National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). It has fabulous resources on their website (www.NAMI.org) and offers a variety of support groups for those struggling with a mental health condition as well as for the family members who support them. I encourage everyone to look at their website for helpful information on all types of mental health conditions as well as guidance on how/where to turn for support. Their National website has a link to each state, and then to each County, so support groups can be found easily in/near your zip code.
It is a fact that 1 in 5 people WILL have some kind of a mental health condition as some point in their lives however only half will seek out treatment, and that is only after suffering for an average of 10 years. It is so sad to know that people feel so alone with this medical condition…. one wouldn’t wait 10 years to seek out treatment if they suspected any kind of physical illness. We need to End the Stigma and be more compassionate with our friends and loved ones who are struggling.
Thank you Laura for sharing the information about NAMI – I am looking into it, as I have an adult daughter struggling with mental health issues and have been at a loss of how to help her when she doesn’t think she needs help. Praying for all who struggle with this issue.
Laura – thank you for your time volunteering at NAMI, I look forward to checking out this organization. And the stats you wrote are so so sad – that most wait 10 years before they seek help – I am in huge agreement with you -and other illness and we would get treatment!
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us… it is very encouraging. I understand that it is often difficult to share your deepest thoughts and weakness to others and being a witness of God. May God bless you in your journey with Him and may the Holy Spirit empower us so that we may be able to serve God and others beyond our own power and abilities.. and in midst of suffering/trails.
I too thank God for his faithfulness, his love and constant presence with us when we suffer.
Dani – You are so right about what you said! I thank God for his amazing faithfulness too – I am glad to hear he is seeing you through!
Dani, thank-you for pointing that out. A lot of people don’t understand these disorders and the kind of work and commitment it takes to handle these things. A faith that God will see us through the rougher times and the love of life be re-stored and made stronger and stronger. Blessings
Dani – This MDD is an illness, like any other illness, so I pray for you to be able to find people who will support you in the christian world – for God to lead you to his hands and feet support. Also that he will shower you with verses to remind you He is there to walk through the valley with you.
I agree many christians don’t recognize this as a medical disorder, so I am praying as you get stronger that you and me along with many others will have the boldness and strength to educate the christian community on this issue. My heart is with you and praying for you.
I have struggled with depression most of my life as well. I didn’t seek counselling for years because it was not something my dad would support. And even now it is hard because so many in my current church community look down on those who are “so emotional.” Thank you for sharing!
Sandy I want to thank you for your bravery and drawing back the curtain hiding mental illness. I’m selective with whom I will share my story of having depression.
Jody, my prayers are for you right now! Lord I ask that you would provide Jody with a community to support her through this struggle, people who don’t judge, but just love. And Lord continue to provide treatment for her, and ease the struggle.
I learned many years ago (the hard way) to NEVER EVER go to the church, even if the pastor was a counselor, very unhelpful
Debra, I am so sorry for whatever happened to you, it must have been incredibly painful. I hope that maybe in a BSF group you will find support, either way – I am praying for you that God will provide much relief and the effect treatment for anything you are going through.
Oh Debra! My 34 year old son has been in and out of rehab since he was 16 years old…And only NOW that I have become a real Christian: emphasis on CHRIST can I truly feel and ache with him, as I ache with you now, writing these words. Ultimately, who can really help except those who have been devastated themselves: and know the anguish of too much anguish…
I have survived life after being abandoned by my father at 6 months, sexually abused at 5 years of age, brutally beaten by my first husband….etc…etc, the horror stories that are even more incredibly painful because some . part of you believes you actually deserve the pain…
And than a hand of compassion comes, and it is never too late to HOPE.
I found that hope in the church. I fervently pray and weep for you: that you might find it too. As a mother, it is with a mother’s heart that I embrace you and as a Christian it is with his perfect love that I hold you close to me….
Grace, You have been a fighter through so so many hardships. I am so thankful that you found Christ and are able to put your emphasis on Him! Thank you for your prayers, empathy and embrace in Christ. I love how you said its never too late to Hope! I will remember those words for many years to come.
Thank you for sharing your story. Unfortunately the stigma regarding anxiety and depression is as common in the Church as elsewhere – that is too bad. It is well documented that chemical imbalances in our bodies and brains are often part of the problem and without medical treatment and in many cases medication, the imbalance cannot be corrected.
Just like cancer and diabetes require medication, correcting chemical imbalances affecting anxiety and depression also require medication.
We need to share our stories more to help change the attitudes of the Church regarding mental health.
Thanks for sharing. As someone who struggles with anxiety , I so appreciate the honesty We are all broken with issues .
Praise God for His goodness and your willingness to share.
Wish you victory over every challenge. Gabriel BSF Chennai India.
Thanks Robert for re-confirming the importance of medication in dealing w anxiety and depression. At one time, satan tried and succeeded in making me feel guilty as a Christ follower to have given into taking anxiety medication. “Why can’t I be stronger in my faith and handle this worry by giving it to God. I still struggle but have come to know, as you said, this is a medical condition and I now thank God that there are medications that need to be taken just as you would for any other medical condition. I walk stronger in my faith as a result of treating my disorder.
Vicki , I have had those same thoughts and fought the medication for many years. At some point the darkness was so dark I was willing to try anything else I could, and medicine seemed like the best option. Now I am so thankful to God for creating the men and women who make these medications and the doctors that carefully prescribe them. To me that is the hand of the Lord at work.
Robert – thanks for sharing the truth about mental illness – it means the mind itself is sick. I have often thought how is the person with a mind that is sick supposed to figure out how to get better.
I am suffering from anxiety and depression too. I was feeling shamed. I can’t believe so many sisters are suffering. Thank you very much for all your honest sharing and resources.
It’s time for the shame and the suffering in silence to end. There is no reason to be ashamed of an illness that you didn’t cause. My psychiatrist says to his patients “you need to know you didn’t cause this, so its not your fault”.
Thank you so much for sharing. I have also struggled with anxiety and depression many years. I’m not embarrassed by having been treated with medication and counseling, but it is sad when our own sisters in Christ shun those of us who admit to this. I have had comments that were dismissive and condemning. A friend who I encouraged to get help is also being treated but she is too afraid or embarrassed to let any of our other friends know. This is not right! We are definitely not alone and should not be ashamed of this.
Karen – I agree its just not right. It leaves the person who already has a tough time reaching out due to the illness even more isolated, which just feeds the disease. I am praying that somehow our churches and christian friends will become more educated about this, so that we who suffer can be encouraged and supported.
Oh Sandy, how I need this today.
I cannot find the words. You summed up my feelings perfectly.
Walking into a room, smiling, but feeling that paralyzing depression and it seems to raise up out of no where.
Thank you for letting us all know we are not alone.
Mary Ann – You are not alone in this! and it is so hard to be honest about it because you just don’t always know how people will respond.
So grateful for your candid and beautifully written shared thoughts about your struggle with mental health. I too have struggled with mental health issues over the years. A few years ago I was MIS-diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and put on many medications that compounded the struggle with terrible side affects. Thankfully those days are behind me as I endeavour to trust God to lead me to master my mood (with a new diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder), with the help of a wonderful christian course, lead by a christian doctor. From experience, we have to be very careful who we share with. In general, I have received understanding and support from the church community, however I’ve also experienced being stigmatized and labelled from fellow believers, which creates even more suffering. It has been particularly difficult for family members also to accept, though my husband is now learning more and now able to help me rather than join the “you just need more faith” bandwagon. As I have not had good experience with medications, I have been able to manage the depression/anxiety with good supplementation though it can be expensive. I’m interested in the above comment from Beth B to look into the GeneSight Psychotropic test, that could help administer the correct medication, though I put little faith in MD’s, to be honest. God has disciplined me to remember He is the Great Physician …. we have to be very careful not to run to man, but to run to God first and He will direct our steps. My experience has been that God does not always take away our pain but that He will give me the grace to see the purpose in the pain for His glory. I love what you mentioned Sandy, “God’s purposes for you are prevailing”.
Thank you again.
Thank you for sharing. I tried really hard to find wellness without medication and almost died from suicide. Medical intervention has saved my life and I feel strongly God has called me to be an advocate for pharmacological intervention for those who need it, of which I am one. Blessings, Julie
Helen – Wow you have been through so much, and I echo the truth that when people don’t understand this is an illness and you get the stigma it does lead to more suffering!
I did the genesight test several years ago and it has helped my doctor figure out the best course of medicine, but its just one of many treatments, and from what I have learned in my own experience this is an illness that doesn’t just go away one day. So like you we all have to find our way through the suffering and pain and seeking God. As each of us is made so uniquely it makes sense that our treatment will be the same. But God is the one who must direct our steps! Its my prayer and maybe somewhat of a mission to educate our christian community on how to love those who struggle with mental illness
Thank you Sandy. I’m moving forward with the Genesight test and hope and pray for good medical treatment this time round. Blessings.
Thank you very much Sandy for sharing your moving story. God is good all the time. Let us continue praying Him unceesingly. He is faithful and just and indeed as you rightly said, He will never leave you alone! GLORY TO GOD ! Continue to PRAISE and REVERENCE Him!
So appreciated your post, I have suffered most of my life with depression. Anxiety is the worst now. I have had bad experiences with counseling too.
Some situations are hard to navigate through. Family can be hardest because you have to deal with that, they are your family. Thanks for your post!! Your transparency will help so many others.
Debbie, I am so sorry you have suffered most of your life and are dealing with the anxiety now. I too have had bad counseling experiences with christian and non christian counselors, and it makes it much harder not easier to face. And I can echo the family be the hardest too.
Thank you Sandy for being open and share the struggle. As our society become more fast paced and competitive, people are more isolated than ever before. I have heard that only ten percent of people who has depression are actually being treated, the rest are left in the world and suffering. I am sad that our world still have a big stigma toward mental health and look down with people who suffers with it. I have personally suffered, and admitting it to the wrong group of people has made me suffer even more. Some peers from my home country has openly bullied against me for it while I was suffering, and called out that my head has problem. I forgive them in the name of Christ, but that pain will not leave me. They made me feel shameful of my depression. As this morning, my heart still hold on to that bitterness, where one girl give me the book “pride and prejudices” and labeled my name all over it.
Mo, what a struggle you have had and much suffering! I know our Lord knows all and has been through it with you, but its hard! I am praying now for God to raise up a group to strengthen you and support you – the body of Christ needs to be there! I also pray that God will remove the bitterness, and help you to forgive those who have so badly hurt you! Most people just don’t know what to do so they jump to some horrible conclusions. Our Christian community needs education – and a wake-up call, I imagine some thought they were somehow helping, but in their ignorance did exactly the wrong thing. May God provide for you. It helps me to remember how Jesus was mistreated in his own town, by his own family, so He knows your struggle!
Thank you so much for this blog post. I have also struggled with depression and anxiety for many years. It is such a blessing to have fellow believers share their struggles so we know we are not alone. This will help change the myths/judgement about mental health in the faith community.
Melissa – sorry for your own personal struggle, and I am so hopeful the myths about mental health will change!
So many of us in the same boat … I am overwhelmed, and I didn’t even read all of the posts. I am so thankful for your honesty, Sandy. I was so offended when my daughter said: You need counseling! Now after 1/2 year I can say that just talking and being heard has helped me. I rediscovered nature is healing, so I take walks again and do pray and worship when I am outdoors. This was key: admitting I am depressed, not hiding, asking for help , being transparent and allowing God to be there in the valley with me. One reason for my depression was physical, very low iron, way too low due to severe blood loss, untreated for years, and menopause and it went downhill from there. Those years were so difficult, but now I know that I am closer to God, closer in prayer, closer to loved ones, I lost pride in my self in the need of being close to my Savior. those hard time let me grow like nothing else before!
Is it over? Guess not, Sandy, but your story took away my fear of depression showing up on my front door again
Marion – Its so comforting to know we are not alone. I love how God’s nature has helped to heal you! And yes depression can easily be the result but to other factors as you experienced.
I too am encouraged as I see how God has seen me through and all of you too – so we know he will journey on with us, and comfort us every step of the way.
Thank you all for sharing your weaknesses! I have major depression disorder, as well. I know these thoughts and feelings all too well. In my darkest nights I hear God say “you are my child, whom I love!!!”
My family still does not understand that I can’t “snap” out of it. And in their concern for me, they speak words that are painful to me. Please pray for healed relationships for me. I have professional and medical help, and God is so good to me.
Your sister in Christ
?? I am praying with you and for you in your relationships. I am also dealing with depression and relationship issues.
Laura and Diane – I too am praying for you right now – the relationship struggles that come from our families seem to just increase the depression, and its really hard to tell people what will help you, because in the depression you really don’t know the way out! I pray that you will have some loved ones who do understand one day soon, I love the words God speaks to you on those dark nights – together we just have to cling to them, and Him!
I, too, have suffered anxiety and depression since I was a pre-teen. As a BSFer since 1978, when I gave my life to Christ FOR REAL, He has been with me in the suffering. He has also shown me in-house Christian counseling help as well as medical help.
Statistics say 1 in 5 Christians have this diagnosis. BSF, is it possible to address this issue in a mini study of Biblical characters? To be able to identify with emotions of the Patriarchs, the Kings, the Disciples – – and the unnamed healed would be encouraging!
Judy, it sounds like you have suffered a long time, but how wonderful that you have known the presence of the Lord in the pain. I will have to pass along your idea to those I know at HQ, it does make sense to look at the emotional side of life of those in the Bible.
Sandy do you take prayer requests? I am praying for you and your honesty, courage and lovingkindness for us all with your sharing your personal story. I commented on Judy’s message here is part of it (Statistics say 1 in 5 Christians have this diagnosis. BSF, is it possible to address this issue in a mini study of Biblical characters? To be able to identify with emotions of the Patriarchs, the Kings, the Disciples – – and the unnamed healed would be encouraging!)
What a powerful BSF study that would be!
Judy, when ever I talk about my own diag bi polar, PTSD, and anxiety, some people literally back off I mean they back up, when I say Jesus promised to SAVE my family with SALVATION, so many CHRISTIANS ALL their families that they know of are SAVED, but some might not be. I have been told you pray too much..Really how about PRAY WITHOUT CEASING, you keep praying the SAME PRAYER (what did Jesus do in the Garden of Gethsemane . JESUS prayed the same prayer three 3 times to His FATHER. Why did Jesus say “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done?) Your idea is a MUST.. Old Testament & New Testament, and all those who God has used examples: Martin Luther, Charles Spurgeon and many, many more, Look at the recent Christian pastors taking their lives, also Robin William and Kate Spade were suffering Christians. Look at Abraham, Jacob said take my life, Joseph could have said that with all his years in Potiphar’s house (wife LIED) sent Joseph to prison BUT GOD, was with Joseph. King David, Job, Jonah, Isaiah, Elijah said “Lord, take my life” , I thought Peter felt the same way, Paul New Testament (former Saul) said “take my life Lord”. We are NOT alone, this would help so many, a BSF on Depression, Anxiety and ALL mental issues, including dementia vs Alzheimer. I actually had an 80+ year old woman pray over me, telling me 4 things I needed to do to get rid of the generational mental issues without naming the religion I was told I needed to 1- go confess to a _________, 2- and 3- and 4 I had to rejoin the church I left in my 20’s I am in my 60’s. My heart and mind break when people Christians tell me YOU DO NOT HAVE ENOUGH FAITH, they are not there when I am praying to God Jesus and the Holy Spirit, help me to want to wake up. They say?? Oh those of little faith, NO, I have a TON of faith, but I have also a chemical imbalance, I know from experience I MUST take meds, unless Jesus performs a MIRACLE or takes me home, I was on one pill one time and we knew I had to be on more. They say in 2020 a short time from now MENTAL ISSUES will TOP all diseases in the WORLD. We have an AMAZING God and a Great Physician with Jesus who can save our WORLD now and ALL future generations salvation and ALL healings and ALL needs. I am praying for all those reading this and who will in the future. Reach out, the Holy Spirit will give you the RIGHT people to reach out to. We will carry a cross I have carried one off/on all my life but the past 8 years, BUT GOD has BLESSED me more than anything, thank you God in advance for ALL your doing in our world / we do not see the finished STORIES, we ALL have a STORY for HIS GLORY, our lives are like PUZZLES, MOSAICS, TAPESTRIES, MASTERPIECES, He will FINISH what HE started!!!! B’s M’s O’s / FFW/FGR/ Matt, Virginia, Catherine, Donald, Gary, Clint, Jackie, Ronda and many more.
I am so glad that a topic like this is being addressed honestly and openly. I have struggled with mild depression, relationship problems and emotional problems. It is such a blessing to see that BSF is acknowledging that people have problems. We don’t have to hide them or pretend that they aren’t there. Many times I have sat in small groups and never mentioned what I was struggling with. I still don’t blab about my struggles but it is nice to know that BSF is acknowledging the elephant in the living room and not pretending that the elephant doesn’t exist.
I love the way BSF is organized and how it focuses on the Word of God. It is good to be structured and focused, but opening up a topic like this in another forum is a good thing. It brings BSF into the twenty-first century. I, for one, feel good that BSF is addressing this topic and that leaders are being open and vulnerable. It makes me feel better about myself and my struggles. By the way, I am doing fine. God is good and He is working in my life in amazing ways.
Kristin – I agree 100%. The struggle is all too real for who many people, many just don’t think they can seek help or tell loved ones.