A Matter of Life and Death
How to Handle Depression and Suicidal Thoughts
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Everything overwhelmed me. Interactions with others and even the smallest of tasks. It seemed I was trudging through sludge to get through the day--for each thought, for each movement. Mostly, I was numb.
I didn’t know how this gray misery began. And there seemed no end to it. I was clinically depressed.
In the preceding year, I had learned a bit about depression and suicide after our 20-year-old son took his life. I knew many people suffered from depression at some point in their life, but I also had learned there is hope for both depression and suicidal thinking.
Depression—Not Just Discouragement
Clinical depression, or major depressive disorder, is not the same as feeling discouraged. Clinical depression lasts two or more weeks and can include symptoms such as fatigue, trouble concentrating or remembering, feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, loss of interest in things once enjoyed, or sleeplessness or sleeping too much, to name a few.
When I realized I had clinical depression, I didn’t have the emotional energy to look for a solution. I was not able to force myself to get better through self-will, even though I was disciplined. Also, spiritual disciplines—prayer, scripture memory and meditation, Bible study and reading—that had once served me well in times of discouragement and distress, now seemed powerless.
Because I had read there was hope for depression and I did not want to continue living that way, one day I asked for help.
The "S" Word
Sometimes it’s difficult to bring up the topic. But I do because I care about you. If you are depressed, have you thought about hurting yourself? Have you thought about suicide?
Right now, suicide might seem like the only way out. But it is not!
If you have thoughts of suicide, you are not alone. Perhaps you have attempted suicide. I have not attempted, but I seriously thought about taking my life when I was a teenager. Those who attempt suicide and survive say they wanted the pain to end; they didn’t really want to die.
Suicide ends the earthly pain of the victim, but it multiplies the pain for family and friends who care deeply. As the Hydra monster in Greek mythology which grew two heads when one was cut off, so when a suicide is completed, the pain in that life ends, but intense pain in ten, twenty, or more lives takes its place.
Please consider another way…
Call for Help
If you are depressed or having suicidal thoughts, you are in pain. God created us to seek relief when in pain. But as one of His treasured, unique creations, He also values your life. He wants you to seek pain relief the healthy way.
If you are thinking of suicide, please get help now. Call a suicide prevention hotline (https://www.opencounseling.com/suicide-hotlines) or contact a Global Media Outreach volunteer. If you are in crisis, go to your local emergency room.
Please don’t put off getting help. Your life is too precious. God cares deeply about you, as do others.
Perhaps you are not having suicidal thoughts but are depressed. There are healthy ways out of depression.
When I was depressed, I contacted a Christian counselor I had met previously. Already aware of my story and my son’s suicide, the counselor suggested some simple measures to try. She recommended the following: walk outdoors daily while focusing on one aspect of nature, carry a photo of something that would make me smile and look at it often, and take 30 minutes a day for something I enjoy.
These simple measures, along with maintaining a lifestyle of healthy eating, exercise, and regular sleep habits probably contributed to an end to my dark time. But had the depression continued, I would have made follow-up appointments. If counseling alone had not helped, medication could have been an option. Sometimes depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, and medication may correct that.
Depression and suicidal thinking are part of the many challenges we face in a fallen world living in broken bodies. A call for help is not weakness, but strength. Ask God for the strength to call for the help you need.
Used with permission by Global Media Outreach from Lynelle Watford, ForeverWaters.com. To subscribe to Lyn’s encouraging blog, click here.
Pray this week:
Lord, give me courage to seek help from others when I need it, knowing You are my ultimate source of help and strength.
Do you or someone you know need to seek help for depression or suicidal thinking?