The Seventh Step in Overcoming Depression

The final step in overcoming depression is to let go of the past. A woman shared that her best friend ran off with her husband ten years earlier. She was deeply hurt by this incredible betrayal. She thought her life was ruined by those adulterers, and there was nothing she could do about it. For ten years she smoldered in bitterness and depression. Feelings of resentment and plots of revenge ruminated in her mind. I told her, I see you with one fist extended up to heaven where God has a firm grip on you. Your other fist is hanging on to your past and you aren’t about to let go. You are not even hanging onto God, but your heavenly Father is hanging on to you, His beloved child. Isn’t it time to let it go? You are only hurting yourself. At the end of the conference she worked through the “Steps To Freedom In Christ,” and she let it go. The next morning she was singing in choir with a countenance of a liberated child of God.

Once I held in my tightly clinched fist . . . ashes. Ashes from a burn inflicted upon my ten year-old body. Ashes I didn’t ask for. The scar was forced on me. And for seventeen years the fire smoldered. I kept my fist closed in secret, hating those ashes, yet unwilling to release them. Not sure if I could. Not convinced it was worth it. Marring the things I touched and leaving black marks everywhere . . . or so it seemed. I tried to undo it all, but the marks were always there to remind me that I couldn’t. I really couldn’t.  But God could! His sweet Holy Spirit spoke to my heart one night in tearful desperation. He whispered, “I want to give you beauty for your ashes, the oil of joy for your mourning and the garment of praise for your spirit of heaviness.” I had never heard of such a trade as this: Beauty? Beauty for ashes? My sadly stained memory – for the healing in His word. My soot-like dreams for His songs in the night? My helpless and hurting emotions for His ever constant peace?

How could I be so stubborn as to refuse an offer such as this? So willingly, yet in slow motion and yes, while sobbing, I opened my bent fingers and let the ashes drop to the ground. In silence, I heard the wind blow them away. Away from me . . . forever. I am now able to place my open hands gently around the fist of another hurting soul and say with confidence, “Let them go. There really is beauty beyond your comprehension. Go ahead – trust Him. His beauty for your ashes. Author Unknown.

Dear Blog readers and Face Book Friends;

I am temporarily suspending my blog writing until my wife passes. Thank you for letting me share my life with you.

Dr. Neil            www.discipleshipcounsel.com   For Spanish see www.ficmm.org/blog

The Seventh Step In Overcoming Depression

The final step in overcoming depression is to let go of the past. A woman shared that her best friend ran off with her husband ten years earlier. She was deeply hurt by this incredible betrayal. She thought her life was ruined by those adulterers, and there was nothing she could do about it. For ten years she smoldered in bitterness and depression. Feelings of resentment and plots of revenge ruminated in her mind. I told her, I see you with one fist extended up to heaven where God has a firm grip on you. Your other fist is hanging on to your past and you aren’t about to let go. You are not even hanging onto God, but your heavenly Father is hanging on to you, His beloved child. Isn’t it time to let it go? You are only hurting yourself. At the end of the conference she worked through the “Steps To Freedom In Christ,” and she let it go. The next morning she was singing in choir with a countenance of a liberated child of God.

Once I held in my tightly clinched fist . . . ashes. Ashes from a burn inflicted upon my ten year-old body. Ashes I didn’t ask for. The scar was forced on me. And for seventeen years the fire smoldered. I kept my fist closed in secret, hating those ashes, yet unwilling to release them. Not sure if I could. Not convinced it was worth it. Marring the things I touched and leaving black marks everywhere . . . or so it seemed. I tried to undo it all, but the marks were always there to remind me that I couldn’t. I really couldn’t.  But God could! His sweet Holy Spirit spoke to my heart one night in tearful desperation. He whispered, “I want to give you beauty for your ashes, the oil of joy for your mourning and the garment of praise for your spirit of heaviness.” I had never heard of such a trade as this: Beauty? Beauty for ashes? My sadly stained memory – for the healing in His word. My soot-like dreams for His songs in the night? My helpless and hurting emotions for His ever constant peace?

How could I be so stubborn as to refuse an offer such as this? So willingly, yet in slow motion and yes, while sobbing, I opened my bent fingers and let the ashes drop to the ground. In silence, I heard the wind blow them away. Away from me . . . forever. I am now able to place my open hands gently around the fist of another hurting soul and say with confidence, “Let them go. There really is beauty beyond your comprehension. Go ahead – trust Him. His beauty for your ashes. Author Unknown.

Dear Blog readers and Face Book Friends;

I am temporarily suspending my blog writing until my wife passes. Thank you for letting me share my life with you.

Dr. Neil            www.discipleshipcounsel.com   For Spanish see www.ficmm.org/blog

Overcoming Losses Part Three

5.         Facilitate the grieving process

The natural response to any crisis is to first deny that it is really happening, then get angry that it did happen, then try to altar the situation by bargaining with God or others. When that doesn’t work you feel depressed. You cannot bypass the grieving process, but you can shorten it by allowing yourself to feel the full force of the loss. The fact that certain losses are depressing is reality. It hurts to lose something that has value to you. Your cannot fully process your loss until you feel its full force. That is probably what Jesus had in mind when He said, “Blessed are those who mourn: for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).

6.         Face the reality of the loss

Only after you have faced its full impact are you ready to deal with the reality of the loss. This is the critical juncture. Are we going to resign from life, succumb to the depression and drop out, or are we going to accept what we cannot change and let go of the loss? We can feel sorry for ourselves for the rest of our lives, or we can decide to live with our losses and learn how to go on in a meaningful way. A prolonged depression signifies an over attachment to people, places and things that we had no right or ability to control.

7.         Develop a biblical perspective on the loss

The trials and tribulations of life are intended to produce proven character. We suffer for the sake of righteousness. We can potentially come through any crisis a better person than the one we were before. Losses are inevitable and they are not intended to destroy us, but they will reveal who we are. People have discovered or deepened the awareness of who they are in Christ as a direct result of losses. Each subsequent loss only deepens that reality, perfects our character, and prepares us for an even greater ministry. We are all going to be victimized by losses and abuses. We can drown in our own pity, blame others, claim that life isn’t fair, and stay depressed the rest of our lives. Whether we remain a victim is our choice. “For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh” (2 Corinthians 4:11).

Dr. Neil            www.discipleshipcounsel.com   For Spanish see www.ficmm.org/blog

Overcoming Losses Part Two

4.         Convert imagined and threatened losses to real losses

Imagined loses are distortions of reality. They are based on suspicions or lies that we have believed, or presumptions that we have made. The mind doesn’t like vacuums and will make assumptions when we don’t know the facts. Seldom does the mind assume the best. We don’t always act upon our assumptions, but if we do we shall be counted among the fools, because through presumption comes nothing but strife (Proverbs 13:10). People ruminate various possibilities and consequences in their minds until they are depressed. The answer is to verify these assumptions and then follow Peter’s advice, “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in your faith” (1 Peter 5:7,8).

            Threatened losses have the potential for being real losses. They include such things as the possibility of a lay off at work, or a spouse who threatens to leave you. Such threats can precipitate a depression. I find it helpful to think what the worst case scenario may be and then ask myself the question, “Can I live with it?” The answer is always, “Yes.” Essentially you are processing the threat in your mind as a real loss. The threat no longer has any power over you, and in that way you are not letting any person or event determine who you are, or keep you from being the person God created you to be. So when someone threatens you, respond the way Peter advises (1 Pet. 3:13-17):

Who is eager to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened. But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have. But do this in gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

These are growth issues, not terminal issues if you understand life from an eternal perspective. Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, said, “My depression forced me, at the age of forty-five to stop and, for the first time in my life, examine my life.”

Dr. Neil            www.discipleshipcounsel.com   For Spanish see www.ficmm.org/blog

Sixth Step In Overcoming Depression Part One

The sixth step in overcoming depression is to process your losses. A loss can be real, threatened or imagined, which is often a negative thought or lie that is believed. Either one can precipitate a depression. How we respond to any loss or crisis will determine how fast we recover. The following steps will help you overcome your losses:

1.         Identify each loss

Concrete losses are easier to recognize than abstract losses. Changing jobs and moving to a new location can precipitate a depression even though it could improve your social status and financial base. The move may mean the loss of friends, community, and church. It will take some time to build new friendships and become part of a new church family. Many losses are multifaceted. For instance, the concrete loss of a job and wages may be accompanied by the abstract losses of self-respect, sense of worth, collegial relationships. People don’t react the same to losses because they have different values, and different levels of maturity. In order to get beyond denial and into the grieving process, you must understand what it is that you are losing or have already lost.

2.         Separate concrete from abstract losses

Concrete losses are tangible while abstract losses relate more to personal goals, dreams and ideas. Abstract losses relate deeply to who we are, and why we are here. Many concrete losses, such as the loss of a job, are contaminated with abstract loses. You may find a new job next week, but remain depressed because you feel the pain of rejection and wrongly believe you are a failure. That is another reason why it is so important to understand who we are in Christ and find our acceptance, security, and significance in Him.

3.         Separate real, imagined, and threatened losses

You cannot process an imagined or threatened loss in the same way you can a real one. In a real loss you can face the truth, grieve the loss, and make the necessary changes that make it possible to go on living in a meaningful way. A lawyer heard a rumor that his firm was going to be sued for services he performed. He thought, “I’m ruined. The firm is going down and it is all my fault.” Such thinking led to a major depression and anti-depressant medications. I saw him a year later and the company wasn’t sued. It was just imagined.
Dr. Neil           
www.discipleshipcounsel.com   For Spanish see www.ficmm.org/blog

Fifth Step In Overcoming Depression

One of the major symptoms of depression is withdrawal from meaningful relationships. Isolating ourselves and being alone with our negative thoughts will only contribute to the downward spiral. You may feel like you want to be alone, but you need to stay connected to God and in contact with the right people. We absolutely need God, and we necessarily need each other. Wrong associations and relationships, however, will only pull you down. “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character’” (1 Corinthians 15:33).

            Depression is often precipitated by the loss of a relationship. Anybody who has suffered from a lifestyle depression for any length of time will likely have one or more people that they need to forgive, and some that they need to be reconciled with. Jesus said, “If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23,24). If you need to forgive someone else, go to God, but if you have offended or hurt someone else, then go to that person and seek their forgiveness and make restitution if appropriate. You will have little mental peace if you don’t.

            A frog was frolicking with his friends when another frog rubbed him the wrong way. Straying off from the pack he hopped into a rut in the road. Two day later he was still stuck in the rut. Some old friends came bouncing by and encouraged him to hop out of the rut, but he remained stuck in the rut. Two days later the friends saw him hopping around the pasture and they asked what brought about the change. The frog said, “A Mack Truck came along and I had to get out of there!” Sometimes we need someone or something to shake us out of our lethargy.

Dr. Neil            www.discipleshipcounsel.com   For Spanish see www.ficmm.org/blog

Fourth Step In Overcoming Depression

The fourth step in overcoming depression is to make responsible behavioral changes. We are not instantly delivered from lifestyle depression, we have to grow out of it. It takes time to renew our minds, but it doesn’t take time to change our behavior, which a facilitates the process of renewing our minds as well as positively affecting how we feel. When Cain and Abel brought their offerings, the Lord was not pleased with Cain’s. “So Cain became very angry, and his countenance fell. Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and it’s desire is for you, but you must master it” (Genesis 4:5-7 NASB). In other words, you don’t feel your way into good behavior, you behave your way into a good feelings. If you wait until you feel like doing what is right, you will likely never do it. Jesus said, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them” (John 13:17).

            That is why some interventions for depression focus on behavior. Depressed people are helped to schedule appointments and activities that pull them out of their negative mood. Go to work even though you may not feel like getting out of bed. Plan an activity and stick to it. Get more physical exercise and commit yourself to follow through on your plans. You may feel tired, but your body needs exercise. Start with a low impact aerobic program or take walks with friends and family members. Continue routine duties even though you feel like you don’t have the energy. These behavioral interventions or activities are only a start in developing a healthy lifestyle. If these are too difficult or physically impossible, then seek the kind of medical help that will physically get you back on your feet.

            Stop living to eat and start eating properly to live. Balance your diet with 60 percent good carbohydrates, 30 percent proteins, and 10 percent healthy fats. Try to avoid processed sugars, and high fructose corn syrup. Take a multivitamin and be sure that it includes D and B complex vitamins, especially B-12. B complex vitamins help the adrenal glands deal with stress.

            There are certain negative behaviors that will only contribute to depression. Drowning out your sorrows with drugs and alcohol is at the top of this destructive list. Although this may bring temporary relief, it will only further contribute to the depression.

Dr. Neil            www.discipleshipcounsel.com   For Spanish see www.ficmm.org/blog

Third Step In Overcoming Depression

Renewing your mind is the third step in overcoming depression. Depression can be divided into two categories. One is related to life-style and the other is precipitated by some crisis event. Lifestyle depression can be traced to early childhood development or living in an oppressive situation that created or communicated a sense of hopelessness and helplessness. Over time our minds have been programmed to think negatively about ourselves, our circumstances, and the future. These negative thoughts and lies are often deeply ingrained. There have been thousands of mental rehearsals that have added to the feelings you are experiencing right now. The natural tendency is to ruminate on these negative thoughts. Daniel Goleman said, “One of the main determinants of whether a depressed mood will persist or lift is the degree to which people ruminate. Worrying about what’s depressing us, it seems, makes the depression all the more intense and prolonged.”

            There is a major difference between winning the spiritual battle for your mind, and the long term growth process of renewing your mind. It doesn’t take long to establish your freedom in Christ, but it will take you the rest of your life to renew your mind and conform to the image of God. There is no such thing as instant maturity, but the ability to experience your freedom in Christ can happen in a relatively short period of time. Once a person has established their identity and freedom in Christ, the process of renewing the mind is quite easy. That is why we encouraged you to go through the “Steps To Freedom In Christ” first.

            Changing false beliefs and attitudes is necessary to overcome depression. The world will put you down, and the devil will accuse you, but you don’t have to believe either one. You have to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. In other words, you have to believe the truth as revealed in God’s word. You don’t overcome the father of lies by research or by reason, you overcome him by revelation. God is not going to remove us from the negativity of this fallen world. We are sanctified and protected by the truth of God’s word. Jesus said, “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). Renewing our minds with truth will not continue if you don’t actively work to sustain it. Every mental stronghold that is torn down in Christ makes the next one easier. Every thought you take captive makes the next one more likely to surrender. Lifestyle depression is the result of repeated blows that come from living in a fallen world. Rehearsing the truth again and again is the key to renewing your mind.

Dr. Neil            www.discipleshipcounsel.com   For Spanish see www.ficmm.org/blog

Second Step In Overcoming Depression

The second step is to commit your body to God as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1), which may mean “Go see your doctor.” Depression is a multifaceted problem that affects the body, soul, and spirit. Consequently, a comprehensive cure for depression will require a wholistic answer. There are many forms of biological depression which can be diagnosed and treated. A disorder of the endocrine system can produce depressive symptoms. The endocrine system includes the thyroid, parathyroid, thymus, pancreas, and adrenal glands. The endocrine system produces hormones that are released directly into the blood system. The thyroid gland controls metabolism. An under active thyroid (hypothyroidism) will cause changes in mood including depression. The metabolism of sugar is especially important for maintaining physical and emotional stability. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) will likely be accompanied with emotional instability.

            The fact that women suffer from depression more than men may be due to their biological nature. Archibald Hart said, “The reproductive organs of the female are extremely prone to creating mood swings. The depression at the onset of menstruation, the premenstrual syndrome (PMS), the use of contraceptive pills, pregnancy, postpartum reactions, and menopause all revolve around the female’s reproductive system. And as we currently understand it, the system is fraught with depression pitfalls.”

            Many of the symptoms of biological depression can also be eliminated when we assume our responsibility to live a balanced life of rest, exercise and diet. To live a healthy life, we must be health oriented, not illness oriented. It is the same dynamic of winning the battle for your mind. The answer is not to renounce all the lies. The answer is to choose the truth. But if you aren’t aware that there are lies, and if you ignore what your body is telling you, then you will likely fall victim to disease and the father of lies. Whenever you start to sense that you are physically and mentally slipping back into a depression, don’t just succumb to it, take charge of your life by praying as follows:

Dear Heavenly Father, I submit myself to You as your child, and I declare myself to be totally dependent upon You. I yield my body to you as a living sacrifice, and I ask You to fill me with Your Holy Spirit. I renounce the lies of the evil one and I choose to believe the truth as revealed in Your Word. I resist the devil and command all evil spirits to leave my presence. I now commit myself to You and my body to You as an instrument of righteousness. In Jesus precious name I pray. Amen.

Dr. Neil            www.discipleshipcounsel.com   For Spanish see www.ficmm.org/blog

First Step In Overcoming Depression

Recovery begins by saying, “I have a problem and I need help.” There are adequate answers for depression but you have to want to get well and be willing to do whatever it takes to be free. The key to any cure is commitment. Over the next few days I will share in sequential order the steps for overcoming depression.

First: Submit to God and resist the devil (Matthew 6:33; James 4:7)

God can do wonders with a broken heart of you give Him all the pieces. In our western world we have been conditioned to seek every possible natural explanation and cure first. When that is not successful, Then there is nothing more that we can do but pray. Scripture has a different order. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). The first thing a Christian should do about anything is pray. I suggest the following prayer to begin the recovery process:

Dear Heavenly Father, I come to You as your child. I declare my total dependence upon you and acknowledge that apart from Christ I can do nothing. Thank You for sending Jesus to die in my place in order that my sins could be forgiven. I praise you for Your resurrection power that raised Jesus from the grave in order that I too may have eternal life. I choose to believe the truth that the devil has been defeated and that I am now seated with Christ in the heavenlies. Therefore I choose to believe that I have the power and the authority to do your will and be the person You created me to be. I submit my body to you as a living sacrifice and ask You to fill me with Your Holy Spirit. I desire nothing more than to know and do your will, believing that it is good, perfect, and acceptable for me. I invite the Spirit of truth to lead me into all truth that I may experience my freedom in Christ. I choose from this day forward to walk in the light and speak the truth in love. I acknowledge my pain to You, and confess my sins, doubts and lack of trust. I now invite you to search my heart, try my ways, and see if there is any hurtful way within me, and then lead me into the everlasting way by the power and guidance of Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus precious name I pray. Amen.

The “Steps To Freedom In Christ” are intended to help you resolve any conflicts that may exist between you and your Heavenly Father through repentance and faith in Him. Essentially the process helps you submit to God and resist the devil (James 4:7). Doing so eliminates the influence of the evil one and connects you with God in a personal and powerful way. Now by the grace of God you will be able to process the remaining steps for overcoming depression.

Dr. Neil            www.discipleshipcounsel.com   For Spanish see www.ficmm.org/blog