Depression—a pleasant surprise

This post is one that I thought I would never write. Not because it is bad, but the opposite. I have battled severe depression for at least the past 30 years, always between the end of January to the beginning of April (except for 1997-1999 when it went on for three full years and three more years to recover). You can read about some of that in these posts.

Depression—the triggers that surprise

Depression and Memory

 The blessings of family and friends

Sometimes it is hard

Have you hugged your porcupine today?

So what has happened this year? I have not sunk to the depths of despair and depression as in the past (with no medicine!). It is so unusual that each night for the past 12 weeks, I have gone to sleep thinking: will tomorrow bring that pit? Will this day end with the plunge into depression tomorrow? It’s almost as if this is too good to be true. Will the “other shoe drop”?

And yet, it has not! There has not been the crash, the loneliness, the isolation, that I keep expecting. This is so unusual that I am still getting used to this. Right now I can’t even point to something that changed in my life. I am very thankful to God that I have gone through this period without depression. I don’t remember the last time that was true.

At this time I understand a little better and appreciate what Paul wrote:

Our bodies are made of clay, yet we have the treasure of the Good News in them. This shows that the superior power of this treasure belongs to God and doesn’t come from us. In every way we’re troubled, but we aren’t crushed by our troubles. We’re frustrated, but we don’t give up. We’re persecuted, but we’re not abandoned. We’re captured, but we’re not killed. We always carry around the death of Jesus in our bodies so that the life of Jesus is also shown in our bodies. (2 Corinthians 4:7-10 GW)

In quiet thankfulness and humility, I praise God for this respite! But still I am sensitive to those who battle depression. We can pray for them, asking God to bring relief. Thank you for family and friends who have walked both the good and bad. This is one of the good times.

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About exegete77

disciple of Jesus Christ, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, teacher, and theologian
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17 Responses to Depression—a pleasant surprise

  1. Ashley H. says:

    I get this, Rich. It is so mystifying what causes it, but I, too, often just thank God for the good days, even not knowing if more bad ones are ahead. I know He is pleased with your faithfulness.

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    • Sharon Carruesco says:

      I can only pray for that time to come for me. My issue is how one deals with the people saying “you have an unconfessed sin”, “depression isn’t from God” or “where is your faith?”. The guilt that that puts on a person only allows doubt to come and one becomes very venerable to the enemy. I hang on to John 10:27-29. God will have the victory.

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      • exegete77 says:

        Sharon, those kinds of comments were always the hardest for me to hear. It was like I intentionally wanted the depression, that “if I tried harder I could overcome it.” The reality is that the Law (in any form) can never overcome this. It took years for me to finally hear the Gospel: God was with me, and He never abandoned me, even when I felt like He was far away. I needed the constant reassurance of His mercy, forgiveness, love, compassion.

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    • exegete77 says:

      Thanks, Ashley. Yes, good days are indeed a blessing.

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  2. Deb Bonilla says:

    Praising God with you, my friend! I’m so blessed to read this post. I am grateful to Him for what He has done in my life too. I am extremely sensitive to those who still battle and I will not cease praying for them. Blessings, Debbie

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    • exegete77 says:

      I think, Debbie, we are walking miracles, praising God in all circumstances. We might have to meet for lunch. I will be down in that area to talk to Dustin about doing some speaking/training for pastors.

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  3. Eric says:

    Hi Rich, what a great post! I struggle with depression too. I’m new to your site & will definitely read your past posts on depression. I really enjoy your posts on Bible translations & comparing the various versions. I always learn a lot. I rejoice with you in your respite & pray it continues for a long, long time & if the depression does return, I pray it will be lighter & easier to bear. Eric

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    • exegete77 says:

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Eric. It took me 14 years after my breakdown to even begin to write about depression and its affects.

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  4. Dave Spotts says:

    Rejoicing with you! We give thanks in all things, but some things are definitely more conducive to giving thanks.

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  5. Jim and Erma says:

    Sometimes our relief comes so that we can share with others that there truly is “HOPE”; even in our deepest feelings of loss if we look to the source of PEACE we can trudge on and make it through with the help of an AMAZING SAVIOR and His demonstration of unconditional love shown at the EASTER. Interesting that the depression ties in with this season of life and renewal. Praying that you continue to know freedom from this devastating condition….but mostly that you continue to know that it is truly a gift from GOD. Blessings to you and your family. Thanks for being good friends and examples!

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    • exegete77 says:

      How great to see you here. You two stood by me and my wife during the worst of times. What a gift you have been from God.

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  6. Paul Johansen says:

    As one who has dealt with the same, with very negative physical consequences, I appreciate your honesty. If you had told me ten years ago I had depression – or “double depression” as my psychiatrist calls it – I would have vehemently argued that it was “anxiety”, not depression, because of my OWN bias against the diagnosis of depression. Today I don’t care what label it receives, I am a sinner saved and desiring to serve Him in all my weakness. Rev. Paul Johansen

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    • exegete77 says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Paul. Yes, it is amazing how God works in miserable pots of clay. And we thank Him even in our weakness.

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  7. Wayne Leman says:

    Rich, yesterday morning I began the process of slowly tapering off the anti-depressant I have taken for the past 40 years. This time I have the help of a therapist to manage the process. I am thankful for the meds which helped keep me alive and able to work and grow as a person. I hope I can make it without the meds. If not, it’s further confirmation that depression really is a disease, not simply sin or weakness on my part. I appreciate very much your sharing of your own struggle with depression. And I am glad with you for the respite you have had this winter.

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    • exegete77 says:

      Wow, that is a huge step, Wayne. I pray that you will be able to move off the medication. Regardless, God has proven himself faithful to you through many years. I struggled with the guilt that the depression was my fault. That in itself can be debilitating. Blessings on this crucial next phase of treatment.

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  8. Rich, I can understand and relate to this whole issue of depression and thoughts of suicide. I’ve battled depression for over 20 years myself. The struggle is seemingly never ending. What has kept me going is the help of a counselor. I’ve needed someone to listen, and help me talk things through (usually to myself) with some direction. My wife was too close to the situation. My fellow pastors seemed to believe in the “unconfessed sin” or “need more faith” concepts.

    I am reaching a point where I am considering what Wayne is doing. I want to talk with my dr. about reducing the meds and seeing how things go. I’ve been pretty stable lately.

    What has helped be with the guilt that it’s my fault is that Elijah battled depression as well. God did not kick him to the side. Instead, God showed him His quiet side (the quiet whisper). If God accepted Elijah with his depression, He will accept and use us for the kingdom as well.

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