Depression

manna“He wakens me morning by morning.” Isa. 50:4.
Recovery from Depression

Good morning, dear friends! I hope you are feeling well, and eager for another day of service for Jesus. I am always so grateful for the area in which we live, for I can look out my window and see the beautiful scenery around our mountain home, and the animals, such as deer and squirrels and birds, as well as our two cats, Tabby and Andy. Life is serene and peaceful here, and the atmosphere of heaven rests upon us. But that doesn’t mean we have no troubles, or no trials to bear. It just means that we know where to take them and find relief and peace.

Speaking of trials, I have a question for you. Have you ever taken a journey that you didn’t know where you were going, how long it would take, what you would experience, or when you would get back? I have, and the name of that journey was called, “Clinical Depression.”

This morning I would like to share the details of that journey with you, not because I like to talk about it, but because I want to share the path of healing that God marked out for me so that it may be an encouragement to those of you who are struggling with depression, or have loved ones or friends who are experiencing this frightening experience.

I well remember the day I sat in a seminar class at a women’s retreat, listening to my good friend, Carrol Shewmake, speak on the subject of the Sanctuary as an experience with God in prayer. It was a very familiar subject to me, because I had spoken on the same subject years before in Carrol’s church in Colton, California, where her husband, John, was the pastor. Since then, Carrol had written several very successful books about her journey in Sanctuary Prayer, and had thus become a sought-after speaker around the U.S. and abroad.

Meanwhile, I had become more involved in private counseling, and often kept people in my home who came from places too far away to travel regularly to my home. One of these visitors was a young man from Germany who desired to become a U.S. citizen, and hoped to accomplish that goal during his stay here. My friend, Christa (who is a native of Germany), and I spent several weeks with this young man’s family and became good friends with them. It was during this young man’s stay in my home that Carrol’s seminar came to our area.

It had been some time since I had given a seminar, and as I listened to Carrol, my heart cried out to God, “Lord, I used to do this, too. Do you have anything left that I can do for you? And as I knelt in prayer during that meeting, God spoke to my heart. These are the words I heard in my mind: “ I am sending you into the very heart of the enemy’s camp to learn how to bring people back out.”

As soon as the prayer was over, I jumped up and ran to the back of the room where one of my good friends was standing. “Do you know what the Lord just revealed to me? He is going to send me into the camp of the enemy to teach me how to bring people back. I don’t know what it means, but I know it is something the Lord wants me to do for Him.”

I can’t recall what my friend replied, but she and I both remember that crucial moment in time. I did not realize it then, but a new phase of my life was about to begin. The onset was gradual, and imperceptible to me for quite a while. I became more and more absorbed in helping this young man to reach his goals, which proved to be numerous, and I felt responsible for his success, both to him and to his parents.

There was a lot of paperwork, phone calls, visits to offices and such, computer work, etc. It became all-absorbing, but I was on the treadmill, and where do you stop? Where do you get off and say, “This is enough?” Just a little more effort, just a few more people to contact, just one more list of inquiries to be made and maybe we will turn the corner of success. Then there was the food. I tried hard to become a German cook to satisfy the palate and the longings for a taste of home. But I’m a West Virginia girl, and I already knew how to cook for my own and my family’s taste, and German cookery was not easy for me to learn. It made me feel inadequate and almost back to square one in my culinary accomplishments.

I longed for relief and a place to step off the treadmill of feeling obligated to please, but I didn’t know where to find the stamina to do it. I was losing ground, losing strength, losing my identity. I was drifting into the darkness, losing my sense of boundaries and value, and finding no place to grab hold of to pull myself back to normalcy. People around me tried to help, but I could hardly hear them. Whatever they said just dropped into the sea of growing darkness and mental exhaustion. I was a helper, and I had to go on helping until the job was done.

Then suddenly everything came to a head. I got bronchitis and then pneumonia. I had to stop. For a month I just sat in my favorite chair in the living room and tried to get well. I began to have strange physical symptoms–heart palpitations, wheezing, shortness of breath, etc.– and I became afraid of my body, afraid of my symptoms, afraid of dying. Finally, I went to the hospital.

While I was gone, my husband stepped in and did what had to be done. When I returned several days later, the young visitor was gone, never to return. But I was already swirling into deeper depression. The journey into the heart of the enemy’s camp had begun. What can I say about the days, the weeks, the months that followed? I was 60 years old, and 60-year old women with severe clinical depression aren’t really expected to get well. They are medicated, they are watched, they are tolerated. But they don’t really ever get well. That is, of course, humanly speaking.

But those who predicted that fate for me didn’t take into consideration that the Almighty God of heaven still had a purpose for my life, and a work for me to do. My Creator had foreseen my illness, and He had a way prepared by which He could bring me out of the darkness and into the light again. That way, my friends, was the sanctuary, and I was about to discover that the principles which I had taught for so many years, make the sanctuary a place for mental healing.

PHASE 1 – The journey down. As I swirled deeper into the darkness of clinical depression, I began to display all the symptoms of the condition, ie: sleep disturbances, eating disorders, extreme indecision, confusion, obsessive-compulsive behavior, fears of all types, inability to communicate, preoccupation with self, strange thoughts, accusing and threatening inner voices, lethargy alternating with periods of agitation, and completely negative thinking.

My friends and family were suffering greatly as they watched and tried to help me. I went to one our private health institutions for 20 days without relief. I was unmanageable at home. Eventually I was committed to a mental hospital for 2 1/2 weeks. It was there that God began to turn me around. In the terror and depression of that dark and awful place, I began to take stock of my situation and make inner decisions that would lead me back to the light.

My first question was: How did I get here? What happened to my mind that allowed me to come to the place of mental torture in which I found myself? Finally it came to me. I was negative all the time, completely self-absorbed, and never said positive things about myself, others, or my situation. But in the sanctuary, the first step into a deeper relationship and communion with God is praise. So I determined to relearn the art of praise and thankfulness.

It was very hard at first, because it didn’t seem real. I felt as though I was being “fakey,” or putting on an act. But I forced myself to be positive and cheerful to others around me, even though I didn’t feel like it. Gradually it became a little bit easier and flowed more smoothly. And it didn’t take long for God to reward me.

My doctor had been on vacation for several days, and when he came back, he stopped for a visit. I tried to pull my mind together and remember how it felt to be a professional person and behave and speak in a normal way. “How are you doing?” he asked. Putting on my best smile, I replied, “Oh, much better, Doctor. I really appreciate all you have done for me, and I believe I am getting close to being ready to be released. I feel so much more normal than I did when I first came here.” He looked down at his prescription pad for a few moments, while I waited with trepidation.

Then he looked up and said, “I am going to dismiss you today. I will write the order now, and you can call your daughter to come and get you.” Keeping my voice as calm as I could, I reached out my hand to shake his and said, “Oh, thank you so much. You have been so helpful and kind to me. I do appreciate all you have done.” He shook my hand and went to the nurse’s desk to make arrangements, and I went to call my daughter.

In a daze I got my things together. It seemed that I had been there forever. But at last, I was about to step through that locked door and go home, as I had often daydreamed of doing in my desire to escape. I was on my way to becoming a normal person again. The road back to mental health was not easy. It took many months and even years for complete recovery.

But God has been my teacher, and He has guided me every step of the way. And yes, He HAS shown me how to help others out of the darkness of mental illness and into the light. I wouldn’t trade that gift for anything. Seeing people get well, not just medicated, is a wonderful blessing to me. Because of this, I want to share with you some of the principles I have learned, and I hope these can give you hope for yourself, or for someone that you love.

PHASE 2 – The road to recovery. While I was in the hospital, the doctor put me on two very low doses of medication per day. I was opposed to it, but he insisted until I acquiesced. Soon after I went home, I dropped the stronger of the two. I had some after effects of withdrawal, but I held firm, and they soon disappeared. For a while, my family watched me carefully to see that I took my medication, so I bided my time until they relaxed and turned their attention to other things.

Meanwhile, I pleaded with God to show me how to get well. He led me into a recovery program which I can recommend to anyone.

#1. Refuse to accept any negative thinking or speaking, about yourself, your condition or situation, or others. Do not focus on the symptoms of your illness. You can recognize your symptoms, for you must learn to master them through your relationship with Jesus, but make no value judgments about them, such as “bad,” “sick,” or “sinful.” They are simply symptoms, which in Christ you will overcome. Jesus is the Great Healer, and He delights in freeing captives from the effects the devil has upon us (Acts 10:38), whether they are physical, mental, emotional or spiritual. Let’s give Him a chance!

#2. Put only good, positive things into your mind. You may not be able to concentrate on anything very deep, or for prolonged periods of time. But keep it positive and uplifting. I purchased several books on angel stories from the Adventist Book Center (via catalog), and read them as I was able. The stories were short and easy to read, and they gave me hope that there were angels waiting to do miracles for me, too. I read absolutely nothing that gave me a negative feeling – only positive. I could not read the Bible or Ellen White’s writings for prolonged periods of time, but what I did read were encouraging promises and assurances of God’s love and His power to heal. “I will never leave you or forsake you (Heb. 13:1-5)” was my favorite text. Isaiah 43:1-5 became my constant stability. If, as I was turning the pages, I saw a text that seemed accusing or depressing, I quickly went on to something more uplifting, for I found that my mind immediately picked up the negative and applied it to myself, even if it had nothing to do with me. Because of this, I learned to save the disciplinary or heavier texts of Scripture until my mind and emotions had healed, and I could read them with a balanced perspective. The chapter called “Mind Cure,” in Ministry of Healing, became my main source for setting up a plan of recovery.

#3. Become outward focused as quickly as possible. I set a goal for myself in the beginning to do at least one helpful thing for someone each day; to do one significant chore around the house each day; and, to go out of my way to contact someone else, either in our home or by letter or phone and say something nice to them. Of course, this expanded as I recovered.

#4. Give God the glory for everything. Praise Him for everything. My favorite source of praise in the beginning was for my daily shower. This was one area of extreme difficulty when I was ill. I just didn’t want to take my shower, and would put it off until I couldn’t stand it any longer. So a daily shower became a source of pleasure and produced a feeling of success and personal growth. Choose your battles and rejoice in the slightest evidence of progress and healing!

#5. Fight against the negative voices in your mind. Refuse to accept them as being true or that they are from God. While I was ill, the negative thought voices accused me of every vile thing, cursed at me, threatened to kill my family members, burn down my house, assured me that I was eternally lost, gave me paranoid thoughts, etc. Satan speaks through the part of the brain that God’s Spirit uses to speak to us, so it can be quite convincing. But God never speaks like that, and we must learn to resist the evil one as the Bible tells us to do. Satan has made us sick and wants to keep us there in his trap of negative, depressed thinking. We can and must resist him by refusing to accept his lies and accusations.

#6. Refuse to accept the popular notion that mental illness is a chemical imbalance and that once you have it you cannot get well, but must become dependent upon medication to correct the imbalance. While there may be a chemical imbalance, and medication may give relief for a time, it never cures. True healing comes from a connection with Jesus that heals the problems in thinking that have created the imbalance in the first place.

Fear, stress, anxiety, sadness, resentment, anger, shame and guilt, etc., create chemicals that react upon the body and mind. Medication may relieve the symptoms for a time, and allow the person to feel that they are under control. But they do not touch the real problem of the soul – the deep pain in the subconscious mind where our emotions and memories are stored. Only God can touch that and bring about permanent healing.

It took about eight months for me to come to the place where I felt that it was time to get off my second medication. But when I felt God prompting me to drop it, I tapered off and then stopped taking it forever. Don’t you want that for yourself and for those around you that are struggling with internal pain and unresolved issues in their lives?

I have seen and continue to see God heal those kinds of issues. I could tell you so many stories of God’s healing miracles in the lives of people with whom I am personally acquainted. And there will be more, as God’s Holy Spirit is poured out upon His people. May God bless you and your loved ones at this momentous and wonderful time in history!

“Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall…. But if I drive out demons by the finger of God (the Spirit of God - Matt. 12:28), then the kingdom of God has come to you.” Lu. 11:17, 20.

“And there was war in heaven. Michael and His angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven…. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: ‘Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.’” Rev. 12:7-11.

Please notice the implication in these two passages of Scripture, that overcoming the attacks and accusations of the evil one consists in resisting him through the power of the Holy Spirit, whose fruits in the life are all positive, ie: “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Gal. 5:22.

These are the attributes found in the life of Jesus, represented by his blood, for “the life is in the blood” (Lev. 17:14). Does this help to make it more clear why we must allow only positive thoughts in our minds when combating the symptoms of mental illness that are caused by the negative thinking which comes from the enemy?

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things…. And the God of peace will be with you.” Phil. 4:4-9.

“For thousands of years Satan has been experimenting on the properties of the human mind, and he has learned to know it well. By his subtle workings in these last days he is linking the human mind with his own, imbuing it with his own thoughts; and he is doing this work in so deceptive a manner that those who accept his guidance know not that they are being led by him at his will. The great deceiver hopes so to confuse the minds of men and women that none but his voice will be heard.” MM 111.

“There is not an impulse of our nature, not a faculty of the mind or an inclination of the heart, but needs to be, moment by moment, under the control of the Holy Spirit of God…. Therefore, however great one’s spiritual light, however much he may enjoy the divine favor and blessing, he should ever walk humbly before the Lord, pleading in faith that God will direct every thought and control every impulse.” MYP 62.

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Cor. 10:3-5.

“To all who do this the Holy Spirit is given without measure.” DA 181.

To all our friends who receive this paper, we hope you find it to be of value in helping you to connect with others who are hoping for the soon coming of our Lord, and who are looking forward with anticipation to that event. We invite you to share your ideas, stories of hope, and anything that might encourage others. Also, please feel free to send us your prayer requests. We have had many answers to prayer, and would love to add yours to our list! Email Me