My Sincere Appreciation

I want to seriously thank everyone who has gotten involved in the conversation on this blog over the last week (on these posts: This is Serious, Through: not Out, and Clarity). Depression is a very serious and very difficult problem that many many people have to deal with on a daily basis and, for that reason, I think it is incredibly important that we make a point to try and understand it better and understand how to serve others better who suffer with it. As I have stated, I think that there is a real ignorance of the gravity of this subject matter and that ignorance has, in many cases, resulted in misunderstanding and misleading counsel on how to deal with it. It is impossible to know the magnitude of the impact that these misconceptions have had on the people who have come to us for help, many of whom feel they are running out of options. I have my ideas about how to be supportive and helpful to people who may look to me for help, but I have no surefire cure-all, and the important thing to realize is that, while it would be great to have an easy answer or quick-fix, no one does.

I appreciate those who have shared their perspective as outsiders, but I especially appreciate those who know these things all too personally and have shared with me their thoughts on the subject. Several people have contacted me in response to this series and shared with me, in varying degrees of detail, their struggles with and thoughts on depression and anxiety. I cannot thank those people enough for sharing such very personal and honest things with me that I know may cause pain and sadness just to think of and write down. I don’t know if they have found it helpful to write those things down or to share those things with another person, but if they did then I am incredibly grateful to be part of that. I pray that God will give you peace and strength as you fight this very lonely battle within your mind, and I pray that He will put people around you to love you and encourage you and point you to His love.

If you want to share anything with me about depression, whether it is your personal experiences, your opinions, or your concerns, please feel free to do so. If the blog is too public of a venue to share those things you can feel free to fill out the form on the bottom of this post labeled ANONYMOUS FORM (you can choose to fill in your name and/or email address but they are not required) which I will receive via email, it will not be posted to the blog, and share your thoughts completely anonymously.

ANONYMOUS FORM

NOTE: if you want to share your thoughts anonymously please fill in ‘n/a’ or some other value in the Name and Email fields (if the fields are left completely blank I will not receive your email).

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About Dan Allen

Just some guy trying to figure stuff out... View all posts by Dan Allen

6 responses to “My Sincere Appreciation

  • Alan Knox

    Dan,

    I haven’t commented on these posts, but I did link to them. I think this is a very important conversation with real and painful implications. I know that you are helping many people who suffer from depression or other emotional/mental issues.

    -Alan

    • Dan Allen

      thanks for the encouragement, and for sharing links with your readers. The response and conversations, both on the blog and via email, have been very helpful to me, personally, and based on the response I would say that this is something people really need to talk about. I didn’t do much besides bringing it up and offering a venue to discuss it. I hope ultimately all our talk will translate to loving and caring for people who feel the loneliness of depression as well as other mental and emotional issues.

  • Bobby

    Dan,

    I have been greatly edified by our conversation. I hope that I have been more of a help than a hurt. I know this is a subject that is close to your heart and I would much rather keep silent than bring anyone pain.

    I’m beginning to think we aren’t that different. As our conversation goes on things become more and more clear as to where we stand. I’m so glad we can have thos dialogue without a bunch of straw man and ad-hominem arguments from misconceptions and knee jerk reactions. While it has been kinda lonely being the only one who brings a (somewhat) nouthetic mindset, if the responses from the nouthetic tribe have been what you describe in the posts then maybe it is better that I am alone.

    thank you for bringing up this very important subject.

    • Dan Allen

      Bobby

      I am glad that you offered your perspective and that we were able to dialogue in a respectful and helpful manner. I think the important thing is that we all care about and hurt for the people we know who suffer with depression and this isn’t about winning a debate, it is about learning how we can come alongside those people to offer them the peace in Christ. When that is our motive the conversation looks very different I think!

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for interacting and considering the perspective of others. I did not feel condemnation for sufferers of depression in your comments and approach.

      I’m glad you participated and I think that the discussion would not have been nearly as advantageous if there were not some attempt to show a balanced view of the “other” side. So thank you very much.

      I hope we can all walk away from this with a deeper understanding of this difficult struggle and how we can be an encouragement to those who must struggle with it.

      Dan

  • Mark

    Dan,

    I intended to write a comprehensive comment encompassing all the thoughts I had as I read your posts and subsequent comments. By the time I finished it was 5 pages, and I just couldn’t drop that into a comment here. So, I posted the diatribe in its entirety on my blog, http://www.calledoutinkansas.com/2011/03/24/conversations-on-depression/,
    and will put an abbreviated version here. I will be making statements of opinion, but will go into minimal supportive/explanatory detail, so if anyone has concerns about what is said here, please read further at my site. So, here goes.

    As far as I know I will be the third family practice doc to comment on this topic. My comment will not be as scholarly as many already posted, but hopefully will offer some insight.

    1. I believe this topic is so incredibly complex, that any attempt to draw generalities risks alienating someone at some point. We will never have full understanding on the intricacies of the spirit, soul and body, so we will never fully understand this issue. Nevertheless, I will attempt to draw the most accurate generalities that I can, to explain my thoughts.

    2. I believe that much of the mental illness we see today is environmental in nature, meaning that the sum total of past experiences makes us who we are today, for better or worse. Mental health is like a Rubik’s Cube, where the completed cube represents a life in total harmony and peace. The more insults we suffer, be it abuse as a child, death of a loved one, etc. (or even “non-traumatic life events like new jobs, moving, getting married, having children) the more times the dials on the cube turn, and the more complex and difficult the situation becomes. By the time the tiles are all jumbled, the person is jumbled as well: confused, hurting, lost, disoriented, etc.

    3. I believe there may very well by a physical, or genetic, component to depression, but I think that it can be either trumped or revealed by environment. Again, this is not a catch-all concept, as certain mental illnesses seem to me more likely to have a physical or genetic component (Schizophrenia being one of them).

    4. I have witnessed a trend in the last year or so for the field of Psychiatry to place a greater emphasis on diagnosis and pharmacologic treatment and much less of an emphasis on counseling. I see people being diagnosed with personality disorders or other things that, to me, can easily be explained by the overall context of the person’s life.

    5. I strongly believe, as previously stated by Bobby, that the trend mentioned in #4 plays directly into the enemy’s hand by robbing us of the hope we may otherwise have for recovery/deliverance. This is one instance where further explanation will be held for sake of space, but my long version goes into greater detail on this.

    6. I believe that it is possible to be delivered/healed from depression, especially for those of us in Christ. Again, in the short version, I will limit my discussion on this to the following:
    a. Christians need to be honest with themselves, each other and God. One of the best things a person with any trouble can hear is “I have been there myself”.

    b. Just as in other areas of life, those of us suffering with depression must keep our overall focus on Christ, to the best of our ability. We must keep the promises and truths of scripture before us. In my hard times I may have to remind myself of the truth in scripture continually for several days before it begins to take root in me, and some days are better than others. I will add as well that my current experience of depression is relatively rare, and by no means severe. So, I can see where those that have severe depression would struggle just to survive. These are the times when we simply have to stand on His sustaining power, and maybe not even think about His healing power.

    c. Sometimes we just need a hand. There is nothing wrong with taking medication to help alleviate the symptoms enough to allow us to work on the issues at hand. When the depression gets so severe that we can’t even think straight or concentrate there is no way to gain ground. I am certainly not an advocate of medicating into oblivion, but a balance can be struck.

    d. Counseling, especially by a trained professional who also has spiritual insight, can be a powerful tool. Even counseling with a skilled counselor without the scriptural background can be very helpful, but add in the appropriate application of biblical principles and the result can be astounding. “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free”. When the Spirit of God reveals truth to the heart of man miracles can occur.

    e. We must trust God to sustain us where we are, all the while looking ahead to the deliverance and healing that is promised in Christ. Just as Abraham waited 10 years (by my calculation) from the promise of a son to the actual birth of Isaac, so too must we be patient as the Holy Spirit works to grow the seed of Christ within us, until it chokes out every weed of the flesh and the enemy. We must seek Christ, and seek the present day expression of the eternal reality of our own death and resurrection.

    7. When discussing the environmental and physical theories for the etiology of depression, I think we have to ask ourselves whether the chicken or the egg came first? Does the MRI show a change in the depressed person because the physical change caused their depression, or did the depression bring about chemical change which resulted in abnormalities on the imaging test? I lean towards the latter personally.

    8. I agree with what another commenter wrote, that the world of medicine and Psychiatry operates on the assumption that there is no God. Therefore it has to find an explanation for all things in scientifically identifiable terms. In light of this, we can not take the wisdom that comes from this field as “gospel” truth, but rather must take it with a grain of salt, so to speak, in light of the greater truth of scripture.

    9. I believe that there are people with severe depression that also suffer from spiritual oppression. There may be a tendency to lay fault for that oppression on the oppressed, but this would be misguided. I strongly believe that the enemy attacks the strongest when we are closest to significant breakthrough. He does NOT want us to reach our potential, and any steps towards reaching that scares him terribly.

    In the end, no matter what we may say in this discussion, there is no “easy answer”. There is no cookie cutter solution. Even if we can identify the exact root of our problems, overcoming the subsequent effects of that takes time and effort, and often times a lot of pain. In the end it does come down to learning to trust, but with an understanding that it is okay to fail, and that He is faithful even if we are faithless. It is okay to be weak, and in reality it is preferable to be weak, as only then is His strength perfected in us.

    I hope this comment helps. I welcome dialogue, as Dan has, as my own understanding is ever-evolving.

    Mark

  • Mark

    Dan,

    Yes, that was the short version. Sorry!

    Mark

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