First off, I want to thank you for reading the articles on this site. It has been a new venture for me and it is also a part of my own healing journey.
Thanks for the times you have shared the posts with others, liked them on social media, made comments,or sent messages, etc.
A lot of me comes through in this site. Part of my own experience and understanding of God is that God is Emmanuel (God with Us.)
There have been many times in that it has been difficult for me to “see God.” But, I know that God does not leave us even in the toughest of places. (Deuteronomy 31:6)
I’ve known from day one that this site is sharing a part of my journey in hopes that it will speak to you where you are in your own journey. So, here goes:
My name is Dean and, for most of my adult life, I have lived with Major Depressive Disorder and Anxiety Disorder. It is a disease and each day, I take medication to counteract the issues I have with brain chemistry. Unless something changes radically in the field of medicine, this is not something that will be “cured.” I will seek to manage it for the rest of my life.
As a disease, it is treated with medicine, counseling and therapy. More than one in four in the US will be impacted some way this year by this disease. And, it is not cured by smiling more (there is nothing more hollow than smiling when you are depressed). It is also not cured by “getting over it,” “being stronger” or reading random Bible verses.
And I’ve heard it all. It’s statements such as:
- Just smile and get over it
- You aren’t ____________ enough. Fill in that with happy, enthusiastic, friendly, energetic, warm, welcoming, etc.
- You don’t really have depression — you’re just using it as an excuse
- You can’t tell people in the church that you have depression because they will use it against you. (I actually was told that one by pastors)
- You are weak, you are too emotional, you just need to pull it together.
Depression has altered my life, impacted my family, been a part of every major relationship I’ve ever had in life. It has gone with me to every job I’ve held as an adult. It has impacted my self esteem and filled me with self doubt. Depression has kept me from seeing the good and has pushed me to focus and dwell on the “bad.”
It’s been a struggle and a back-and-forth in my relationship with God. In some seemingly strange twist, It seems sometimes that the gifts God has given to me often put me in the very places that create the anxiety, stress, self-doubt, etc., that add fuel to the depression.
The costs of depression are high for me. It has cost me much that I will never gain back. I can’t get back the time I’ve lost in relationships and the friendships I have lost. I can’t get back the opportunities that I’ve missed because I was too filled with doubt to take them. I’ve walked away from careers because the stress and drama surrounding them propelled me into the next crash. I can’t get back the toll it has taken on me physically.
So I say this today and I share it here because I have chosen, that while I have depression and make a daily choice to fight it, that I want to be free of the shadow.
And I want to claim why I am able to say that today: Simply put, it is love. It is the love of my family and the love of those who have entered our lives as encouragers. We’ve had a chance to experience the church being the church.
And, in that love, I share this because I want to look ahead and not behind, I want to experience as much life as I can, and I do not want to experience the next crash.
I heard a sermon recently on mental illness that shared Jesus’ encounter with the man called Legion. This man is cured from what had tormented him for most of his life. People had pushed him aside, ignored him, wanted him to go away.
And when Jesus heals him, people see this man in a way they have never seen him before. He’s dressed and calmed and talking plainly. The man is so thankful to Jesus that he wants to follow him as a disciple. But, Jesus has something else in mind. Here’s the account in Mark 5:
As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. – Mark 5:18-20 (NIV)
That verse has stuck with me: Go home and tell your people what the Lord has done for you and share the mercy he has give you. I remember when I answered a call to ministry that my thought was that God is calling me to help those at the fringes, those who feel like outcasts, the church refugees (Those who have been in the church and walked away).
Depression has taken me to those places, to the fringes, to the places where people talk more about you than to you. It’s the world of those who live in the shadows of fear, doubt, self-loathing, guilt, regret, remorse, grief, mourning, anger, brokenness and, yes, mental illness.
I share this today because I hope, that in some way, God will allow me to use my story and journey to help others see that help is available and that they too can step out of the shadows.
Today, I’m taking those pieces from my story and I’m sharing them in many ways through writing. My thoughts and experiences are at the heart and foundation of many of the posts you will see on this site now and in the future.
In addition, I’m reaching the place where I am willing to talk about this journey with others. I hope one day in the near future to continue the redemption of my story by sharing it with those who want to listen: community groups, youth groups, churches, etc.
ReigniteMyStory.com is based on the principle that we reignite our stories when we reset them, renew them and redeem them. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter at @reignitemystory.