By Nancy Virden (c)2021
Having met many peers, that is people who also have struggled with major depression, one experience we tend to share in common when we are ill seems to be tunnel vision with self at the end of the tunnel. In the midst of crisis, all humans do that to some degree. Focusing on our pain is normal. If we never care when we hurt, well, that is a problem. I have met someone like that too and they were not mentally well.
With major depression, our brains do not seem to compute positive or hopeful options. That is a physical issue that sometimes is helped with medications. Outside of that, negative thinking can be addressed with a wise counselor. A return from the tunnel took me a long time. That is because I thought I had the facts and did not easily grasp other perspectives. There were many false and negative beliefs buried inside. A low sense of worth told me to help other people and ignore my needs.
It could have been harmful to be told to go and do good works in order to know the joy of Jesus. This is no doubt true for some others in the struggle. Especially if one has serious suicidal thoughts, a plan, or has recently attempted, it is clear that false beliefs about his or her value are running amuck. It is quite possible that person has already been a people-pleaser, or has tried to control everything in her path, doing more than she believes is fair. This person may be abused and bought the lie that he is in the way. Perhaps it is the challenges of old age or the sensitivity of youth that brings one to suicidal thoughts. Maybe he tried to be what he thought makes a good Christian and discovered his standards were impossible.
Whatever the catalyst, it is not the time to be pushing them to serve others. Serving others might help to bring about a pleasing day, however, maybe it is because ignoring one’s needs is more comfortable. The tunnel is important for a time. Focusing on self is necessary to heal.
Think about it. If you are healthy and wise, did you get there by never focusing on what you need? No. And it is generally not selfish to find ways to get one’s own needs met. People in a state of major depression have all they can handle. Let them set the pace and tell you when they are able to see beyond the tunnel. Give them time to shed what does not produce life in their souls.
Today’s Helpful Word
Psalm 43:1a and 3a
You are God… Send me your light and your faithful care,
let them lead me…
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Always the Fight Ministries (ATFM) has been displaying compassion for those fighting mental illness, addiction, or abuse since 2012. Nancy is the founder and voice of ATFM and openly shares her emotional resurrection from despair.
NOTE: I am not a doctor or a mental health professional, and speak only from personal experiences and observations. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.
If you are feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.
If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S. or go to your nearest emergency room. In the EU call 112. (For other international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours!
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