I’m amazed how prevalent depression is today.
As a church minister I’ve sat with people trying to find a way through the haze, and I’m astounded at how it can affect the very young, the very successful and the very healthy, alongside those in whom we’d more likely expect it.
Depression is a killer. It can also sometimes be a teacher.
When my mind is idle, it can flash back to incidents in my past that make me wince.
In my early 40’s, those flashbacks escalated to the point where they began to happen hundreds of times every few minutes.
My emotional firewall began to crumble. I’d take sleeping pills at night, not because l lacked sleep, but to stop the barrage of negative thoughts.
It was a living hell. Everything in my day, even things I should have enjoyed, were tinged with sadness.
I never lost faith in God, but He didn’t spare me any of this.
Someone told me to do three things.
- see my doctor in case medication could help
- see a counsellor to unpack my thinking;
- see someone experienced in prayer ministry to find the roots of it all in the past, and pray for healing of those memories.
I did all three.
A friend took me for coffee during that time and said:
“I know exactly how you feel. You feel like a bulldozer just rolled over you, then hit reverse and backed over you again, then for good measure rolled forwards over you one more time.”
Yep, I admitted, that’s how I feel.
Then he asked me: “who is driving the bulldozer?”
He challenged me to accept that the merciless bulldozer driver was in fact me, and that I needed to learn how to care for my own pain.
Instead of kicking myself with those flashbacks I started to take the opportunity to unpack each one as it happened and talk in a caring way to myself about them. Slowly they diminished.
For me, depression was a wake-up call that said: Steve you need to start dealing with all the hurt that has built up inside you.
I’m pleased depression taught me that.
God, who’d previously seemed distant, had a greater purpose that I could now appreciate. And I’m thankful for opportunities I now get, to help others through this tough journey.
Steve Worsley is Mt. Albert Baptist‘s lead pastor. This article first appeared
in their magazine ‘Crossing’ and is used with their permission.