Christianity and Depression: An Insider’s View

I thought I knew depression, because I had experienced it most of my life.  In retrospect, I can say that I had “head” knowledge but I did not truly understand what it meant to be in the grip of deep depression.

Ironically, only a few months prior, a woman in my church requested that I come visit her in her home; she was suffering from clinical depression. In retrospect, I realize that what I thought were encouraging words were likely the same empty words that have been spoken to me during my own struggles with depression. “Keep praying.” “Trust the Lord.” “He will bring you through this.” The implication was that if she just had enough faith, God would fix it. I was wrong.

Someone once said that depression is like standing still while the rest of the world speeds by at Mach 10. Depression attacks while you are racing through life and your world slows down before you realize it.  Until one day, everything just stops and you cannot make much sense of how you got there.

That is the place that I found myself, when, at the age of 32, my whole life came to a screeching halt and dumped me into the deepest, darkest pit I had ever experienced.  Even simple decisions like which cereal to buy became impossible.  I found myself drowning in hopelessness, despair, and loneliness. Voices of self-hatred and deprecation, which I later realized had been present throughout my life, echoed in my head. I despised silence because that was when the voices dominated the “noise” in my head.

For at least 6 to 8 months prior, I had been experiencing difficulty focusing and remembering even simple things, such as the last part of a sentence that I was speaking. I had frequent bouts of crying for no apparent reason. I could not stop the overwhelming flood of sadness.  Even the most common symptoms of depression, I did not recognize as warning signs as I skidded down the slope leading into the darkness. During the months and years following I began the process of intense psychotherapy and finding a medication “cocktail” to address the relentless torment of depression that refused to leave.

Mary Southerland, a well-known Christian speaker and author, once described depression to me as “…a wonderful, horrible pit…” and I think that is accurate.  The horrible part of the pit is fairly obvious. No one would willingly submit to the darkness that pervades a person’s mind, soul and body in the agony of depression.

The “wonderful” part of the pit is a bit more obtuse until the journey out of the pit is well on its way. Were it not for the darkness of the pit, we would not know how much hope there is to be had.  Were it not for the ugliness of the pit, we would not know how beautiful it is outside.  Were it not for the horrible pit, we would not know how wonderful it is to reach the expanse of light at the very top.

It was effortless to recognize the horrible part of my own pit of depression, but in retrospect, God wanted me to clearly understand the wonderful aspect of it. In the midst of the darkness God began to teach me a three-part lesson about my relationship with Him and myself.

Up to that point, I pushed myself through my difficulties and reached out to the people around me for help along the way. Sitting in the darkness brought me to the realization that I needed to DEPEND on God; no one could reach down that far to pull me out and I certainly didn’t have the strength myself.  Understanding the need for dependence on God may not seem very profound, but it was actually the first time that I ever felt it necessary to do so for anything in my life.  Elated that I had “learned the lesson”, I began the climb out of the pit only to succumb to a relapse of the depression.  I discovered the difficult truth that it was not enough to just depend on God.

As the darkness of the pit surrounded me again, the second and more significant truth became clear. I NEEDED God to pull me out. I had never before experienced a desperate need for Him, but now I had no doubt. I needed Him to lift me out of the mire that held me in the pit.  Now recognizing my need for God’s help, once again, I began to ascend from the darkness.

I could see the light outside so well by that point, but I foundered. The footing that I thought would surely lead me out was suddenly gone. During the devastating descent back into the darkness, in absolute blind desperation, I reached out to God.  In that terrible free fall, my outstretched hand found the arm of the Almighty.  The grasp of God’s hand holding me awoke me to a newfound truth. It was absolutely necessary for me to CLING to Him; there simply was no other way out.  So, I held fast to the One who was stronger than anything else.

The Lord had already taught me that dependence on Him is important and that shelter is sometimes needed, but I had never before thought it was necessary cling to Him, with everything in me, in order to save my life.

More than 15 years later, here I am, in yet another season of depression in my life. In all honesty, I had completely forgotten the lessons written above that I learned all those years ago. Yet, sitting here, searching once again for hope in the midst of my despair, the Lord brought me back to the beginning of my journey with mental illness to rediscover them; to re-learn them and re-apply them.  I do not believe it was by accident, but rather by design, so that perhaps, someone else out there might be encouraged to reach out and cling to God like never before.

“Unless the LORD had helped me, I would soon have died. I cried out ‘I’m slipping!’ and your unfailing love, O LORD, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.” Psalm 94:17-19 NLT


Raised in the Midwest, Molly Messer discovered writing as a way of coping with a tumultuous life resulting from an unstable family, sexual abuse and assault, trauma, and a genetic predisposition to mental illness. Molly has had extensive technical writing experience in the environmental field. However, her passion is to share relatable stories and information in ways that encourage and inspire others. Her insatiable desire to learn and teach combined with transparency and deep compassion for others, enables her to reach out in unique ways through the written word. She started her first blog in 2012 (www.godmycomfort.wordpress.com) with the desire to find joy in the midst of sorrow after her father’s diagnosis of terminal cancer. She recently started to write blogs for The Clinical Christian delving into the challenges of mental illness and stigma related to mental health both inside and outside the church.


Molly Messer

Raised in the Midwest, Molly Messer discovered writing as a way of coping with a tumultuous life resulting from an unstable family, sexual abuse and assault, trauma, and a genetic predisposition to mental illness. Molly has had extensive technical writing experience in the environmental field. However, her passion is to share relatable stories and information in ways that encourage and inspire others. Her insatiable desire to learn and teach combined with transparency and deep compassion for others, enables her to reach out in unique ways through the written word. She started her first blog in 2012 (www.godmycomfort.wordpress.com) with the desire to find joy in the midst of sorrow after her father’s diagnosis of terminal cancer. She recently started to write blogs for The Clinical Christian delving into the challenges of mental illness and stigma related to mental health both inside and outside the church.


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