How to help someone suffering from depression
If you’ve followed me for a while you will know I went through a long five year battle with anxiety and depression.
There were some very dark days that I went through. I have known the Lord since I was six years old, have loved and served Him most of the days after that, so I knew all the “right answers” and all the “right things to believe” and the faith I should have had, but that only buried me deeper in my guilt.
A few of you shared the sad news of a pastor who has taken his life in Southern California, and it grieves me deeply. It makes me sad to know that he truly believed that it was better for everyone he loved to do what he did.
It also makes me mad, because the Enemy is so good at what He does, lying and isolating and playing the same scenes in front of our eyes over and over again with every desire to get us to believe that things will never change, never get better. It’s just not true, it can, it will.
People who struggle in this area already know they “shouldn’t” feel the way they do. From the outside everything may look fine, “what could you be sad about?”
A person who is deeply struggling with depression and even suicidal thoughts can go on like normal, because they have to. There is no broken bone to point to, no surgery to recover from, it can be incessant and debilitating and overwhelming, both to the person struggling and to the people watching them suffer.
As someone who has felt like I was drowning in those seas and have had those thoughts, here are a few things we can do to help those who are suffering.
1) Pray, fast and pray. If you’ve never fasted before start. Fasting is prayer on steroids and is highly underutilized by Christians in our society. This calls for the big guns and we have them through prayer and fasting.
Take your sword of the Spirit and get on your face and intercede for the person. They are weak, tired, sad and so lonely in their suffering. When there is nothing you feel like you can do tangibly, rock the heavens and seek God to do what no one else can.
2) If you’re particularly close to them, take them physically to help. This helped me as I felt stuck to help myself; too tired, too scared to call, too poor, too overwhelmed. If they’re open to help, make appointments for them and take them there. Would you be willing if they had cancer to do the same?
3) Be there, listen. One of my favorite quotes from during that time is “a friend is someone who helps you up when you fall down, and if they can’t they just lay down and listen for a while.”
We are in a results driven society, wanting to find and give solutions and check boxes and move on. We’re busy and have things to do, being with someone is not all that productive to society, but to a heart it’s life giving.
Perhaps those with mental illness, depression, anxiety and the like are not so unlike the man beaten by the side of the road in Jesus’ parable of the good Samaratin. People sometimes here about it and don’t know what to do, and for goodness sake are busy, and so they cross to the other side of the road where maybe they can find someone to help less complicated. Someone they can feel better about helping because they can see the result quicker.
No fingers can be pointed here, I’ve been the beaten and I’ve also been the road crosser. Maybe it’s not always lack of empathy but rather lack of understanding, lack of feeling capable to help, but the result is the same.
When someone is suffering like this, they feel like a burden to everyone. Sometimes solutions aren’t what they really want or need in that moment, but for a friend or loved one to be willing to stay with them and simply say, “I don’t have answers but I’m here, I love you, you matter to me.”
Maybe it is easy for me to write a post on the other side of this and offer my point of view from coming through, but in the middle it’s scary and dark and feels impossible.
I took medication and I did talk therapy and it made a world of difference for me, it helped me be able to address things more than when it felt like I was drowning.
No, there’s no simple and easy solutions that you can tie up in a pretty red bow, but there is hope. His name is Jesus. He says in IS 61 that He came to bind up the broken hearted, to bring those who sit in darkness into light, and give to people a crown of beauty for their ashes. This is His mission, for us and for those we love. Declare it over them in faith. Their lives are so worth it.
If you or someone you love need help here are some resources for you...
Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-827-7571
Deaf Hotline 1-800-799-4TTY
Holy Spirit Teenline 1-800-722-5385
Crisis Intervention 1- 888- 596-4447
Crisis Intervention 1-800-673-2496
Christian Counseling Services-General
New Life Clinics 1-800-NEW-LIFE
National Prayer Line 1-800-4-PRAYER
Bethany Lifeline Pregnancy Hotline 1-800-BETHANY
Liberty Godparent Ministry 1-800-368-3336
Grace Help Line 24 Hour Christian service 1-800-982-8032
The 700 Club Hotline 1-800-759-0700
Want to know Jesus? 1-800-NEED-HIM
Biblical help for youth in crisis 1-800-HIT-HOME
Rapha National Network 1-800-383-HOPE
Emerge Ministries 330-867-5603
Meier Clinics 1-888-7-CLINIC or 1-888-725-4642
Association of Christian Counselors 1-800-526-8673
Minirth Clinic 1-888-MINIRTH (646-4784)
National Christian Counselors Association 1-941-388-6868
Pine Rest 1-800-678-5500
Timberline Knolls 1-877-257-9611