I Have Depression

I am taking a break from my Majestic, Messiah, Master, Mission blogs just for this post.

I have gone back and forth about whether I should write this post or not, but I really believe the Lord has led me to write this.

I believe this blog can provide hope for some others who might be battling depression.

I battle depression.  This may surprise you.  It may not.  I don’t know.  When I first started battling it, I was surprised to hear that Charles Spurgeon also struggled with depression.  I was even more surprised to hear that Tommy Nelson had a season where he wrestled with it.  Tommy Nelson is the pastor of Denton Bible Church, and he is one of the best communicators I have ever heard.  He did a message on depression at Dallas Seminary that I think could bless you, and it could also give you some insight into what I am battling.  Here is that link:

Tommy Nelson Depression Message

Here is my story.

A few years ago I experienced something that I had never experienced before.  It was what I would call an emotionless time.  For me that had never happened in my life.  After consulting a Christian Counselor and Medial Doctor, I was diagnosed with depression.  I didn’t want to tell anyone.  I was ashamed and embarrassed.  I had to go on meds to help regulate the serotonin (chemical in the brain that helps regulate happiness and mood) levels in my brain.  Those meds worked very well, along with rest, expressing gratitude, exercise, and spending good time with the Lord (as directed by my counselor).  It took several months, but I felt like I got my life back.  I was myself again.  After a year on the meds, I was able to ween off of them slowly over time, and everything was fine.

Everything was fine until this fall.  What I have since learned is that high stress can really mess with my serotonin levels or anyone’s levels for that matter.  For me, I think stress messes with my serotonin levels worse than others, and I will explain why later in this post.  This fall, I had come off of a very busy summer with life and ministry.  I was loving what I was doing, and I still do love it.  I was seeing high highs in ministry and low lows.  The lows were weighing on me more than normal.  We have had some very stressful health stuff with some of our children, and my wife has been sick for almost 2 months with various infections.

I just came off one of the most fulfilling ministry speaking things I had ever done.  I really saw God move.  Shortly after this, it felt like my brain was hijacked.  It was similar to what happened a few years ago, but this one was different.  A few years ago I slipped into this depression over time.  I vividly remember the event that triggered this latest episode.  Something very stressful happened that day, and it was like a shut down.  I don’t know what happened, but I can say it very much felt like some demonic attack was involved.  I went and sat down.  I couldn’t get up, and I couldn’t really speak.  It was SCARY!!!  My wife was finally able to get me up, and we went for a walk.  This helped me function the rest of the evening.  The next day I made an appointment, and I have been diagnosed with depression again.

I was able to rest well last week, and I have some built in, extended rest coming in a few weeks.  This will help a great deal.  My schedule for the spring is pretty full, and I will need to build in good rest moving forward to help with my stress levels, etc.  Please pray for this extended time of rest, and please pray that I will consistently make good rest part of my weekly schedule.  Rest helps.  Connecting with people I love helps.  Exercise helps.  Working in the yard relaxes me, and that helps.  Spending time with Jesus helps, and being on meds is without a doubt a huge help.  I and my family covet your prayers as I battle this.

I believe the Lord wants me to share this blog for many reasons.

Maybe you are battling depression, and it would give you hope to know someone else battles it as well.  If this is you, go see a doctor and a Christian counselor.  Get the appropriate help that you need.  Jesus will be with you in the midst of the struggle.  He may take depression away.  He may not, but He will be with you in it.  I know this because His Word says it, and I have experienced this personally.

Maybe you think all you need to battle depression is time in prayer and the Word, and you need to read this to know that is not true.  Don’t be offended as you read the previous sentence, or at least try not to be offended.  If it makes you feel any better, I used to think that way.  I even remember preaching a sermon against taking medication for mental health issues.  I was so arrogant for preaching that, and I was so wrong.  I now know that is not true because I have lived this!!!  We need medicine for lots of things, and we take them for physical health things with no problem.  For some reason, in the Christian community, we don’t have the same attitude towards mental health meds as physical health meds.  Praise God He has changed my attitude towards them.

Believe it or not, one of the biggest reasons I think God wants me to write this blog is related to pornography.  Let me explain.  There are studies out there that show serotonin levels in the brain can be reduced when you abuse drugs (like cocaine or heroine).  There are other studies out there that show the brain scan of a porn addict looks the same as the brain scan of a cocaine or heroine addict.  In essence, porn is a drug, just like cocaine or heroine.  I believe that one of the consequences of my sin of abusing pornography is how it has impacted my brain’s ability to produce serotonin.  When I have high stress, I don’t have enough serotonin to fight the onslaught of depression that comes.  Hear me!  Without the meds that onslaught of depression is miserable!!!!  I asked my doctor if my theory about porn and my brain was right.  He would not say definitively “YES”, but he did say it was certainly possible.

This has just made me more passionate about telling people to run away from porn.  It has made me more passionate to tell parents to protect their kids from porn.  Porn messes you up on so many levels.  It distorts God’s purpose for sex.  It produces huge amounts of shame.  And I believe it has radically impacted my brain.  We must tear this idol down!!!!!

As you read this, you may agree with my perspective, and you may not.  The purpose of this post is not to convince you that I am right.  There are lots of purposes of this post, and I just mentioned three of them in the paragraphs above.  The last purpose I want to give is that DEPRESSION is REAL!  It sabotages you!  If you are battling this, you are not alone!  The good news is that there are ways to battle it.  My battle plan was already mentioned above, but I will say it again:

  • Meds (SRI-serotonin reuptake inhibitor)
  • Expressing Gratitude (look it up, gratitude helps increase serotonin)
  • Exercise
  • Working in the yard
  • Deep relational connections with people I love
  • Consistent time with Jesus where I am real and raw with Him and He loves on me.

This is hard for sure.  I really am ok, but it is a daily dependence on the Lord that helps me.  Pray for me as I battle this.  Pray I would be disciplined to do all that I need to fight it.  Pray I would see Jesus in the midst of it!  I know He is with me!

If you feel like this would help someone else, email them the blog link, or post the blog link on social media (twitter, facebook, etc.)

Whatever you are battling, know that Jesus is with you in the midst of it.  I know this because His Word promises it, and I know this because every day I experience Him being with me in whatever I am fighting.

May God be Glorified through this post!  I covet your prayers!

 

 

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4 comments

  1. Bless you, Josh, for sharing this testimony! I am a Children’s Minister and your story is so similar to my diagnosis 15 years ago. I can confirm your plan of treatment as well: time with God, gratitude, exercise, rest AND the medication to correct serotonin levels in the brain. No judgement, no shame. ❤

  2. I am so sorry you had to walk through this 15 years ago. It is no fun at all. Thank you for your encouragement regarding my treatment plan and your emphasis of no judgment and shame. God’s Blessings!

    Josh

  3. Thanks for sharing this brother! Huge encouragement to me too, as I am in this journey as well. Meds are helping tremendously, so is exercise, rest, time with God and with people that I love and love me. I’m excited to watch that sermon later. Also, as a person who has spent most of his life in medical books, your correlation between Serotonin regulating controls in the brain and the effects of porn (similar to those of cocaine/heroine), sound completely sound to me. Will be praying for you my friend!

  4. Thank you for your kind and encouraging comments dude! I hate that you and I are both on this journey, but I am thankful that we are not alone!!! Thanks for your prayers, and I will pray for you as well.

    Josh


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