Three Ways to Allow God to Work Through Your Depression

God and depression. Many believe these things can’t coexist. If you’re depressed, you must lack faith, or so says those uptight churchy people. Or maybe it’s because you believe you’ve done something so sinful that God has abandoned you. Also not true.

Understanding, praying over, and knowing these three things can help you as you walk through depression.

1. We’re not alone

Remember, Jesus knows what it’s like to suffer. And so do many others. When you’re in the midst of depression, it can be a challenge just to reach out to God, let alone read about His promises. However, within Scripture, you’ll find some friends. Jeremiah, Elijah and David can personally relate to your experience:

“O Lord, you have deceived me, and I was deceived,” – Jeremiah 20:7

“It is enough; no, O Lord, take away my life,” – 1 Kings 19:4

“I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me?” – Psalm 42:9-10

The Bible gives us many examples of people experiencing depression, darkness, frustration, and even anger with God. He isn’t angered by honest words – He says they’re holy. God wants our relationship with Him to be authentic. His mercy reigns even in our brokenness.

Jesus knows your pain. He wept. He suffered. On the cross, He experienced complete separation from God. Allow Him to hurt with you.

2. God’s love isn’t dependent on us

In the midst of depression, it’s hard to even begin to remember or understand how God loves us. It makes it hard to pray, read Scripture, or even acknowledge Him.

The beauty of our relationship with Him is that His love for us is solely dependent on His character, grace, and goodness. It doesn’t matter what we do or don’t do, He’s going to continue loving us, no matter how hard we push back on Him.

3. Your pain doesn’t have to be wasted

God can always use us and our stories to bring hope to other people. How many things in life have you gone through that have given you a testimony to share with others? How many things have you learned from trials and heartache? Think of this season of life as one of growth. It hurts. It can be excruciating, but God could be preparing you for something great. Remember Romans 8:28:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

Finally, I’m reminded of what Max Lucado said in his book, The Applause of Heaven.

“As long as Jesus is one of many options, He is no option. And as long as you can take Him or leave Him, you might as well leave Him, because He won’t be taken half-heartedly. But when you admit that you have no other option, and when there is truly no other name that you can call, then cast all your cares on Him, for He is waiting in the midst of the storm.”

“Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28

 STRUGGLING WITH DEPRESSION? Make an appointment by scheduling right here online, give us a call, or message us on Facebook. Appointments are available in Owensboro and Online. It’s time to get your life back.

Finding Peace: Coming Together in the Face of Tragedy

A tragedy affecting people can be difficult to watch. However, it’s during these times we also see the best of humanity. Finding peace isn’t hard in the face of a natural disaster or bad situation. We see the church coming together to rally supplies, volunteers, money, and of course spiritual refuge and guidance.

We see the believers sharing the love of Jesus, both by sharing the Gospel and being the hands and feet of Christ. We see people crossing political aisles, denominational boundaries, socio-economic statuses, race, ethnicity, gender and more. Believers and non-believers alike come together to share hope and healing.

finding peace

President George W. Bush speaks to a crowd gathered at the site of the World Trade Center attacks, September, 2001. Photo: CNN

This past weekend, we watched Hurricane Irma hit Florida. A few weeks ago, Hurricane Harvey did the same. Since then, countless dollars have been donated, supplies gathered, and volunteers dispatched. Also this week, we marked the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Many of us remember the images of President George W. Bush standing with the megaphone at Ground Zero. And many of us can remember those words he said:

“I can hear you! The rest of the world hears you! And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.” – President George W. Bush, September 2001

This now famous quote embodied each of us as Americans. It didn’t matter what political party we belonged to, where we went to church (if we even went at all), how much money we made, the kind of house we had, car we drove or clothes we wore. It didn’t matter if we were black or white, rich or poor, tall or short. We were Americans, but even more than that, we were humans. Plain and simple.

My point is this: why does it take a tragedy for us to begin finding peace? Why does a natural disaster, or a terrorist attack, or some devastating event for to show kindness, compassion and love? Why does it take a mass casualty event for us to hold our children a little tighter? And why does it take such a situation for us, as Christians, to actually act like Christians?

finding peace

Areal photo shows flooding and damage from Hurricane Irma on September 11, 2017. Photo: ABC News

Instead, we spend our time shaking our heads and wringing our hands complaining about what’s wrong with the world. We blame millennials. Or healthcare legislation. Or global warming proponents. Or the LGBT community. Or people who want to remove statues. Or the people who support keeping them up. Or Hillary Clinton. Or Donald Trump. The list goes on and on. It’s so much easier to attack people in the comments section of an ABC News article on Facebook than it is to get up and do something.

If you’re truly interested in finding peace, it’s time to be the peace. It’s time to move out of the comments section and “angry” reactions on Facebook and do something to advance the Kingdom. When’s the last time you volunteered in the community, helped someone out without expectation of something in return, or even gave to your church? We’re each called to spread the Gospel, and that means more than just speaking empty words.

“Preach the Gospel constantly. And use words if necessary.” – St. Francis of Assisi

Our reactions to the bad things that happen in the world are important. They show a lost, broken, hurting and fallen society that the love of Jesus can heal all wounds, no matter how big or small. But it’s important to remember those responses are equally important even after the needs of the victims of these tragedies have passed. I believe you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who’s ever found Jesus in an argument in the middle of the Comments section of Facebook. As the old cliche goes, we shouldn’t just go to church. We should be the church.

As a Christian, it’s so easy to be offended by what we see in society, and rightfully so. But how you respond to the pain of what you see is what counts. Hurricanes will happen again. Unfortunately, terrorist attacks probably will as well. Remember, our actions speak much louder than our words. How can you use those actions to build up the kingdom?

 STRUGGLING WITH FINDING PEACE? Trouble with anger, sadness or resentment? It doesn’t have to continue. Schedule an appointment, call me, or message me or Facebook. Appointments are available in Owensboro, Henderson and Online. It’s time to get your life back.

5 Ways You’re Making Anxiety Worse

Even if you don’t have an actual anxiety disorder, chances are you’ve experienced anxiety at some point in your life. There’s a ton of advice out there on how to cope with it, but unfortunately, a lot of it can be misleading or just plain wrong. Following this bad advice can make your anxiety worse, and it’ll only prolong the effects of the way you’re feeling.

Look at these five ways you may be making your own anxiety worse.

1. Avoiding it

How many times have you seen someone you know coming down the aisle at Wal-Mart and you’ve turned and gone the other way? Avoiding others can feel like a full-time job when we’re out and about if you don’t want to talk to them.

Unfortunately, you can’t treat anxiety like that kid from high school you wish you could never see again. Most times, if you’re avoiding your anxiety, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

One of the most important ways of coping with anxiety is learning “emotional tolerance”. When we learn to observe an emotion we face with compassion and not judgement or coming down hard on ourselves, we’re able to react appropriately and feel “in control” of it.

2. Avoiding all situations that cause anxiety

Like depression, anxiety can lie to you. Normally, your body tells you things like, “Something is coming up that I’d better prepare for,” or, “You don’t know what to expect tomorrow.”

Lying happens when your body says, “Avoid social situations so you don’t feel so anxious,” or, “Don’t try anything you can fail at because that’s what’ll keep you happy.”

If you listen to your anxiety, in most cases, you’ll end up missing opportunities, isolating yourself from your friends, and just become more and more afraid of anxiety-provoking situations. Exposing yourself to these situations helps build tolerance.

3. Beating yourself up for feeling bad

How many times have you felt anxious for feeling anxious? How about ashamed? Frustrated? We tell ourselves that we’re not coping properly, or that we’re just weak. Give yourself permission to feel anxious.

Not giving yourse

 

lf permission to feel anxious won’t make it go away, it’ll just make you feel ashamed.

4. Making it something it’s not

Just as bad as never acknowledging anxiety is over-thinking it and convincing yourself you have an anxiety disorder. It’s easy to self-diagnose yourself, especially when you feel socially awkward or anxious in a situation. That doesn’t mean you have anxiety. It means that you’re different, and that’s okay.

5. Dreading It

Do you ever find yourself feeling anxious just thinking about the next time you’re going to feel anxious? What happens when you get so anxious that you have a panic attack? What happens if people notice? How will you cope? Are you feeling the thoughts coming up inside you yet?

There’s a major problem with this thought process. It keeps you from being able to enjoy the present moment, because you’re focused on something in the future that may never happen.

It’s important to remind yourself that most of life is out of your control. Allow yourself to enjoy the moment.

Remember, anxiety isn’t something you can just make go away. It takes, time, practice and sometimes professional help. And that’s okay. As you encounter anxiety in life, remember it’s okay to not be okay. Give yourself some grace and understanding.

 DEALING WITH ANXIETY? Make an appointment here, give me a call, or message me on Facebook to discuss what you’re going through. Appointments are available in Owensboro, Henderson and Online. It’s time to get your life back.

How to Pray when It’s Just So Hard

The videos and images from Houston and southeast Texas this week have been hard to watch. It’s heartbreaking to see families who have lost loved ones, watched their homes get destroyed, or are having to spend nights on end in a shelter due to Hurricane Harvey. Watching the disaster unfold can make us feel helpless. Sometimes, you may find yourself wanting to pray, but not even knowing how. When it’s hard to pray, that’s a good indication it’s probably the best time to do so. As the old saying goes, “Pray hardest when it’s hardest to pray.” So, how do we actually do that?

Don’t worry about trying to sound eloquent. Some of us may have grown up in households where we feel like we have to pray in “King James”. Others of us may feel inferior to people who seem to have words flow off their tongue eloquently. Some of just have no idea what we should say to the creator of the universe when we’re feeling defeated. But Scripture tells us that God already knows what’s on our hearts. He’s just waiting for us to bring it to Him.

“There is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.” -Psalm 139:4

Remember, prayer shouldn’t be our last resort. Yet, how many times have you tried to handle everything on your own before taking it to God? God reminds us to pray first, before ever making a step. Sometimes, it’s as simple as saying, “Lord, help me.” Sometimes, you may have to seek the answer more than once. Sometimes, God may answer your prayer in a different way than you expected.

Finally, remember to trust Jesus. He tells us He wants to work on our behalf:

“All that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours.” – Mark 11:24

He’s telling us he’ll answer our prayer because He wants to guide us in every way. He is faithful, and He’s calling us to be faithful too. That doesn’t mean he’s going to give you a million dollars just because you ask nicely, but He wants to know the prayers of your heart. And He wants you to share your heart for other people.

Watching the news of Harvey can be devastating. It can make you feel powerless. But even if you don’t know what to pray, just open your heart to God. Tell Him what’s hurting your heart. Tell Him about your burdens, and your struggles. Whether it’s for the people in southeast Texas or people in your own home, give it to God. In turn, you’ll find you may have just prayed one of your most beautiful and eloquent prayers.

 STRUGGLING? You don’t have to continue feeling this way. You are worthy of living in freedom. Call me, message me on Facebook, or schedule an appointment in Owensboro or online. It’s time to get your life back.

5 Ways to Handle Exhaustion when You’re Feeling Down

Have you ever noticed how sometimes after experiencing something really great or really stressful, you often just feel wiped out afterwards? For people who deal with depression regularly, they can almost anticipate the exhaustion coming on. In medical and therapy terms, it’s called “postadrenalin depression”. For you though, we can just call it really, really hard.

The older we get, the harder it is to bounce back after a “high-adrenaline” experience. As a result, we tend to feel depressed more easily after an exciting or really difficult and challenging experience. According to Dr. Archibald Hart, psychologist and former dean of the Graduate School of Psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary, people often experience the “adrenal” letdown on weekends, when the heavy demands of the work week are over. Saturdays or Sundays can often be very depression for a busy executive, he says. College students may experience the low after taking an exam, families may feel it after returning home from a vacation, and many people feel down after the holidays.

Luckily, there are ways to help:

1. Don’t over do it

Everyone, especially those dealing with clinical depression, need rest. It’s important to understand your body’s need for rest and recovery from events. The older you get, the harder it is for your body to recover from exciting and stressful events. Don’t head back to work immediately after such an event if possible. Put away the smartphone. Turn off the computer. Stop doing yardwork. Curl up on the couch or go to bed early. You may not see physical effects of what you’ve been through, but emotionally, your body needs to heal.

2. Check your mood

Monitor the changes in your mood. Your mood fluctuations can tell you a lot about the connection between your high-demand activity and the ensuing depression. Keeping a “Mood Log” is helpful.

 FREE RESOURCE: Download a copy of my Mood Log that I offer clients here.

3. Calm down

I know, I know. This is easier said than done. No, this isn’t one of those situations where a husband is telling his angry wife to “calm down” (by the way, that never works. Husbands, I don’t advise trying it.). What this means is allow yourself some time to “cool off” before, during and after a stressful experience. Remaining “high strung” can be damaging to your emotional system. Calming down helps you to manage your adrenaline.

4. Remember it’s okay to feel bad

There’s nothing wrong with taking some time for yourself. In the world of counseling and therapy, we call this “self-care”. Cooperate with your low mood. Take advantage of low demand activity and rest. Consider increasing your amount of sleep when you’re anticipating a period of heavy demand. Do thinks that are relaxing and fun. There’s nothing wrong with having a little fun, especially if that helps to improve your mood and overall outlook.

5. Don’t overthink it

Many times, Christians have a way of overspiritualizing or overpsychologizing their low feelings. Remember, it’s not a sin to feel bad, and it’s also not a sin to suffer from depression. Being a Christian doesn’t mean you have to have your life together. No one is perfect, so don’t be too hard on yourself.

 ARE YOU FEELING LOW? Struggling with depression? There is hope, and you are worthy of living in freedom. Schedule an appointment, call me, or message me on Facebook. Appointments are available in Owensboro, Henderson and Online. It’s time to get your life back.

7 Ways Shame is Ruining Your Life

Let go and let God. Yuck. I loathe that phrase. It’s become such a cliche in the church. And it’s basically just someone’s way of telling you that you don’t have enough faith. Should we have faith? Absolutely. Should we let go and let God? Absolutely. Whether it’s from something that’s worrying you, guilt you’re feeling, or dealing with shame. But the truth is, if you’ve never been taught how to “let go and let God” (pardon me while I throw up in my mouth), it’s kind of hard to just throw your hands up and move on, right?

Ultimately, letting go of shame is giving it up to God and allowing Him to work through it. But until you learn how to give it up, it can be a challenge to move past the way you’re feeling. These 7 ways shame is ruining your life can help you to change your mindset and move toward the freedom God has for you.

1. Understand that Shame is Different from Guilt

Guilt says, “I did something bad,” and needs forgiveness. Shame says, “I am bad,” and needs a complete shift in your identity. If you feel yourself becoming wrapped up in shame, changes are it’s having an impact on your identity. Making a mistake can leave both guilt and shame, but it’s important to recognize the difference. In his book Shame Interrupted, Ed Welch describes that shame feels like it’s welded on to you, while guilt feels like something outside of you. Sound familiar?

2. Shame can happen because of something that’s been done to us

Shame is a common result of people who’ve been hurt and abused. Hurtful acts, including physical, emotional, and sexual abuse can leave you even more vulnerable to shame. In fact, it’s not uncommon for the victim of sexual assault to feel more shame than the perpetrator.

3. Shame can happen because of something we’ve done

Do you believe you can’t ever feel better after making a mistake? This is where “letting go” come in. And here’s how you do it: by repenting. Repentance sounds like a fancy, church-y word, but in reality, it’s simply “turning away” from whatever mistake (a.k.a. sin) you were involved with.

It’s important to remember, if you’ve asked for forgiveness, your sins have been covered by the blood of Jesus. They’re no longer held against you. Continuing to carry around shame because of a past mistake doesn’t just make you feel shame, however. It can also lead to anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and more. For the sake of your own physical and emotional well-being, allow God to work on those areas within you.

4. It doesn’t have to come from anyone’s mistake

Have you ever felt disconnected from God? Not because of something you’ve done or even that’s been done to you? Shame can be another term for unbelief in God’s love for you. It’s one thing to believe your mistake (sin) has been removed form you; it’s another to believe God’s love can never be removed from you.

Shame is a barrier – keeping love from getting through. This can be God’s love or anyone else’s.

“In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.” – Exodus 15:13

5. We try to get rid of it by giving it to other people

Many times, shame makes us unconsciously pass it to those around us. Take, for example, the mother who feels bad about her own body. She may end up criticizing her daughter’s eating and clothing choices, making her daughter grow up with a sense of shame, too.

6. Shame hinders your creativity

If I’m constantly worried about myself, I’ll never be able to quit second-guessing my work. Creativity requires a freedom that shame hinders, because shame requires that all we do should be perfect before anybody else sees. In case you were unaware, Jesus was the only perfect person to ever walk the earth. Creativity takes risks – and it can be hard to risk anything when you’re feeling ashamed.

7. Relationships often suffer because of shame

If I don’t think I can can be loved, I’ll have a hard time being in a relationship with anybody. I’ll always find ways to distance myself from other people to protect myself. My core belief is that if you really knew me, you wouldn’t want to be in a relationship with me anyway.

But there is hope.

The most powerful way to get rid of shame is to learn to be open with yourself and with others. As we share our hearts, and our stories, and the way shame has tried to keep us down, we begin to find freedom. It loses its fuel and its isolation.

It just comes down to being willing to be open.

 STRUGGLING WITH SHAME? There is hope in your hurting, and you can find the freedom you’re seeking. Schedule an appointment here, call me, or message me on Facebook to get started. It’s time to get your life back.

Getting Over Guilt: Four Steps to Finding Freedom

getting over guiltScripture tells us we’ve all sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. As Christians, many times we think we must be perfect or do perfect. So does the world. How many times has a Christian (maybe even you) made a mistake and the first thing a non-believer says is how we’re not acting very “Christian”. Heck, even the Church has been known to shame people for their mistakes. That doesn’t make getting over guilt any easier does it?

These four tips can help in this process as you look to move past your guilt and find freedom in God’s grace.

1. Understand that no one is perfect, and we all make mistakes

Jesus was the only perfect person to ever walk the earth. While we should always strive to be like Jesus, the fact of the matter is that we’re going to fall short. Every time. When we make a mistake, it’s important to remember God doesn’t want us to feel guilty, He wants us to be convicted. There’s a difference. Guilt is Satan’s way of telling us that we are bad and there’s nothing we can ever do to become better. Conviction tells us what we did was bad but God wants to make it right and He wants us to reconcile with Him. Consider what Paul tells the church in Corinth:

“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” – 2 Corinthians 7:10

2. REPENT

We’ve made repentance to be a scary word. In reality, repentance is simply “turning away” from our mistake. When we confess our sins and then choose to repent, we’re telling God that we’re sorry, and we’re ready to move on. This “turning away” is what God calls each of us to do when we make a mistake. Again, He isn’t looking to beat us down or make us feel like we don’t deserve His forgiveness. He’s simply calling us higher, and telling us to follow Him. Repentance tells God we’re going to forget about the past, and He can too.

“Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out,” – Acts 3:19

3. Be quick to forgive others

Of course, part of what we have to do when getting over guilt is forgiving ourselves. But we also must forgive those who have wronged us. If your guilt is coming from a place of hurting others, or saying something you wish you hadn’t said, it’s important to forgive them for their part in the situation. Forgiveness is simply cancelling the debt.

Cancelling this debt isn’t telling the other person that what they did was okay, or that they’re allowed to hurt you again. It’s simply saying that you’re no longer going to hold anger or hate in your heart against them. Release them to the Savior. By doing so, you’re also releasing yourself:

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” – Matthew 6:14-15

4. Thank God for His grace and forgiveness

God wants us to have a cheerful heart and thankful spirit. He’s calling us to live in peace. Remember, as you’re walking through this difficult time, keep your eyes focused on Him. Consider the ways He’s already working in your favor. Think about how this situation can help you to grow. Be thankful for the opportunity to receive His mercy and grace, even when you fall short. Remember that no matter what we’ve done or who we’ve hurt, God is always ready to reconcile and forgive:

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved.” – Ephesians 2:4-5

Getting over guilt doesn’t have to be a complicated process, but the effects can have a lasting effects if we don’t deal with it in the way God instructs us. Hanging on to guilt, pain, anger, regret and resentment can lead to depression, anxiety, continued distance in our relationships, and in our relationship with God.

Guilt doesn’t have to hold you back and it doesn’t have to continue ruling your life. There is hope and freedom.

 STRUGGLING WITH GUILT? You don’t have to continue living bound by your past. Call me, schedule an appointment online, or message me on Facebook. Appointments available in Owensboro, Henderson, and Online. It’s time to get your life back.

 

 

Climbing Out of the Well

Dealing with depression can leave you feeling drained and exhausted. Many times, it feels like a full-time job. For those who have never suffered with depression, they may never understand why sometimes you just can’t get out of bed. Maybe they just don’t get it when you tell them you can’t talk about it – because talking about it feels like a mountain that just can’t be climbed.

depression-counselingRecently, I was talking to someone about depression, and they said it feels like when you’re trying to climb out of a well. Imagine falling into a well, they said. Think about how dark it is, and how the walls are slick, and there’s water all around you. It’s pretty impossible to climb out on your own. Your hands are going to slide on the walls. There’s nowhere to get a grip to pull yourself up. And after trying to climb, and thrashing around in the water, pretty soon you’re going to feel worn out. You’re going to feel exhausted. You’re going to want to give up.

How to climb out

Most times, climbing out of the well isn’t something you can do on your own. You need some help. You just need some support. You need somebody to realize you’re struggling, and that you’re exhausted, and that you’re ready to give up. And you need them to throw you a rope. Thing is, you’re already so worn out that it’s nearly impossible to even cry out for help. You’ve spent so much time trying to climb out you have no energy left to tell them you need a rope.

The first step of getting help is simply admitting you need it. You don’t have to have all the answers, but it is time to reach out. Something as simple as telling somebody you’re struggling, or maybe evening making an appointment with a counselor is an important first step. A trusted friend or professional who will allow you the space to share your heart – or to share as little as you’re comfortable with – can help you improve your outlook.

give yourself some grace

Remember, it’s okay to not be okay. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It means you have a challenge. Give yourself the grace to understand that you don’t have to be this way forever, but it is where you are right now. So many times we think that we have to get better immediately. Truth is, recovering from depression is a process. And there’s beauty in that process. Recovering from depression gives you the opportunity to discover yourself, maybe for the first time ever.

understand everyone is different

Misery loves company, right? It’s easy to talk to people who are currently suffering from depression or those who have recovered from depression about what is working or has worked from them. That doesn’t mean it will work for you. For some, counseling works. For others, it’s a chemical imbalance situation that requires some medication. For some, it could require lifestyle changes like diet and exercise. Remember a cure for depression is not a “one-size-fits-all” treatment.

Perhaps most important of all, it’s important to remember God loves you. You have value. You are worthy of finding peace and joy. And you have a specific purpose. Remember the promise He made to each of us:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

 STRUGGLING WITH DEPRESSION? Schedule an appointment, give me a call, or message me on Facebook. You are worthy of living in freedom. It’s time to get your life back.

Christians with Depression: Reconciling Your Struggles with Your Faith

You’re a Christian. You have depression. Some of us grow up in a church that tell us those two things can’t coincide. Sometimes we’re taught Christians aren’t “allowed” to be depressed. I’m here to tell you – those are complete lies. Being a Christian doesn’t mean you’re perfect, and it doesn’t mean you live in a world without problems. In fact, Jesus tells His followers to expect trials and troubles. So why do we walk around believing we have to be okay, and then feel guilty when we don’t feel okay? Christians with depression struggle just as much as non-believers, and it’s time to stop feeling guilty about that. He Himself tells us He understands these feelings:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

How do I know if I’m depressed?

There’s a difference between feeling a little sad from time to time and struggling with depression. You may feel sad occasionally. As the Rembrants have told us in their song I’ll Be There for You, made famous by the TV show Friends, sometimes it just isn’t your day, your week, your month, or even your year. But those ups and downs are common in life. Clinical Depression looks different. Signs of Clinical Depression may include:

  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or hopelessness
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease with treatment
  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
  • Thoughts of suicide, or suicide attempts
What if I have these symptoms?

christians with depressionStruggling with depression doesn’t have to be a lifelong process. Sometimes, it could be that you don’t know how to handle the struggles you’re facing in your own life. And that’s okay. Maybe it’s a chemical imbalance. That’s okay too. Living with depression can sometimes feel like a full-time job, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are a lot of resources out there to help you on this journey. In fact, many people have found relief from their symptoms of depression with counseling.

Counseling isn’t a dirty word, and going to counseling doesn’t make you “crazy”. It just means that you’re looking for answers and you’re going to a safe environment where you can explore the challenges you’re facing and learning how to process them properly. Going once to a counseling session won’t solve all your problems, but really committing to the therapeutic process can help you learn to manage the symptoms over time. Counseling actually has the highest success rate over any other type of treatment for depression. And Christian Counseling for depression helps you to reconcile your faith with the challenges you have – the two are interwoven.

Do I need medication?

In most situations, medication treats only the symptoms and not the root cause of your depression. Is medication necessary? Sometimes yes. Is medication for depression over-prescribed? Also yes. I see many clients who have been prescribed medication for depression, and while they may feel a little “better” for a short time, the issues causing depression still aren’t being dealt with. Over time, the medication may seem to lose its effectiveness, because the root cause isn’t being taken care of.

Sometimes I work with individuals where medication may be beneficial. For those who have a chemical imbalance, depression medication may help to level-out some of that chemical imbalance so that we can work together on achieving your goals of getting to the root of the problem. The need for medication is as unique as each individual – and your current situation. But if you’re feeling blue, I find it highly unlikely that medication alone will solve all your problems.

Again, medication isn’t necessarily a bad thing – and if you find yourself using the medication, it doesn’t make you less of a Christian. God gave doctors and scientists the knowledge and wisdom to discover and use these medications – for us. We use pain medication after a surgery, so why wouldn’t we take advantage of medication for depression if it’s really necessary?

How can I handle these feelings?

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that not everyone approaches and deals depression the same way. Many of us have heard that we have the choice to be happy or sad. For some people, that may be true. For others, however, it’s not as easy as flipping a switch. Moving from sadness to happiness may be a long process for many, and for some, it may feel impossible. Before completely giving up hope, however, consider the following:

For many people, their mood follows their thinking process. So if you’re feeling sad, angry or upset, it may be because that’s what’s taking up most of your thoughts. Consider thinking about the blessings you have in life, and the things you are grateful for, or the things that you know just make you happy. I don’t mean to oversimplify that — but it really can be that simple. Changing your focus can change your mindset. In fact, that’s exactly what we’re encouraged to do in Scripture:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8

Remember, it’s okay to not be okay. But that doesn’t mean you have to stay there.

 STRUGGLING WITH DEPRESSION? Feeling guilty for feeling bad? It’s okay to reach out and ask for help. Make an appointment online, give me a call or message me on Facebook to get started. It’s time to get your life back.

Ten Traits of Successful Relationships

Not all relationships are meant to last forever. That can be a hard pill to swallow. But look at your friends. Do you think every person you’re friends with right now will still be as close five, ten, or fifteen years from now? Probably not, and that’s okay. People come and go out of your life constantly. As seasons change, perceptions change. Interests change. People change. It’s all a part of life.

But what about your relationship with your better half? If one of you change, are you just going to move on? How to have a successful relationship really depends on how much work you’re willing to put into it. The following traits have been found in many healthy, happy couples:

1. Being your partner’s best friend

Couples who are also friends have a lot of staying power. You’re not just in love with each other, but you sincerely like each other, too. You like doing things together, and

how to have a successful relationship

looking for new ways to have fun and exciting times together.

2. Having a sense of humor

When couples can laugh together, they also generally defuse any conflicts that may arise. Such things as silly nicknames can show how much they really care about each other. Couples who can laugh at themselves typically have a lasting potential.

3. Communication

Although it’s pretty obvious, a lot of couples have trouble with this one. If you can both express your feelings and feel safe about doing so, situations are usually dealt with pretty easily when they come up, rather than being swept under the rug only to resurface later.

4. Sharing chores

Couples who divide up household chores and/or parenting duties in a fair and agreed upon fashion typically don’t resent

each other. Each partner participates and contributes to their relationship.

5. Sexual intimacy

Partners who are having their sexual needs met feel cared for by each other. While there’s no right or wrong number of times to have sex, there may be a need to negotiate so no one feels neglected.

6. Affection

Couples who enjoy a lot of physical contact seem to be incredibly happy. This affection doesn’t always have to lead to having sex. It’s just a way of letting your partner know how much you love him or her. This can be a kiss, hug, or any other type of affection that’s genuine.

7. No criticism, defensiveness, or contempt

Any of these, whether only one or a combination of them of them, can tear a relationship apart. Don’t let them become a part of yours.

8. Having appropriate friends

Couples who socialize with other couples while also maintaining their own separate friendships have a better balance in their relationships. They honor themselves as individuals even though they’re in relationships. When you’re happy with yourself, you’re most likely happy in your relationship.

9. Being reliable

Most couples want to feel they can depend on their partners. If they do what they say they’ll do, this creates a feeling of comfort in knowing their words mean something.

10. Future vision

Couples who set goals for their relationships and know where they see themselves in the future are happiest, because they’re acting as a real team. They’re less likely to be disrupted by changes in the future.

When couples really work on how to have a successful relationship, and try to maintain these traits within them, they have a much better chance of making it in the long term. Which of these traits do you think you could work on in your relationship?

 STRUGGLING IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP? Schedule an appointment online, get in touch with me, or message me on Facebook. Appointments are available in Owensboro, Hartford, and online. Let’s talk about how you can improve your relationship. It’s time to get your life back.