This is the fourth in a nine part series entitled “Overcoming Depression-Anxiety: A Suffering Paradigm.” For the various counseling options available from this material visit www.summitrdu.com/counseling.
The complementing studies are also available in a video and podcast formats at the links below:
- “Overcoming Depression-Anxiety: A Responsibility Paradigm”// video and podcast
- “Overcoming Depression-Anxiety: A Suffering Paradigm” // video and podcast
- “Towards a Christian Perspective of Mental Illness” // video and podcast
“I Can Feel My Depression-Anxiety Becoming ‘Who I Am’”
LEARN MY SUFFERING STORY which I use to make sense of my experience.
“I formed beliefs [define] about myself, life, and God based on my depression-anxiety. I lived out of those beliefs [describe] because they were all I knew and they ‘fit.’ Those beliefs became the guiding themes of my life story. Putting those beliefs into words scares me [describe why]. I reject that false life story and am committed to learning how my life fits into God’s great story of redemption.”
Memorize: Psalm 88:13-18 (ESV), “But I, O Lord, cry to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you. O Lord, why do you cast my soul away? Why do you hide your face from me? Afflicted and close to death from my youth up, I suffer your terrors; I am helpless. Your wrath has swept over me; your dreadful assaults destroy me. They surround me like a flood all day long; they close in on me together. You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me; my companions have become darkness.” As you memorize this passage reflect upon these key points:
- Psalm 88 – This is the darkest of all the psalms. God knew we would need words like this and he gives them to us.
- “I cry to you” – It was not for lack of prayer or faith that the psalmist was experiencing deep despair.
- “From my youth up” – Whether this was factually accurate or not, this a sense of abandonment was strong.
- “Surround me like a flood” – This person felt like they were drowning in their emotions which were getting worse.
- “Companions have become darkness” – There was a looming sense that no one did or even could understand.
“From a theological perspective, the most dangerous thing about mental illness is that it can lock us in ourselves, convincing us that we are indeed our own, and completely on our own, isolated in our distress (p. 116)… Ultimately, though, I think the despair of mental illness itself has no meaning… Mental illness is the lack of meaning, just as evil is the lack or privation of good (p. 110-111).” Kathryn Greene-McCreight in Darkness Is My Only Companion
“To begin the process of learning how to be a happier person, we must see the deception of our internal storyline and replace it with the truth (p. 32)… It’s interesting how our internal beliefs shape what we ‘see’ and don’t ‘see’ (p. 100).” Leslie Vernick in Lord, I Just Want to Be Happy
“Meaning-making is at the heart of human experience… Narrative theory assumes that people make meaning in their lives through stories—in other words, we provide narrative links between events in our lives (storying them) in order to make sense of them… Yet only a small percentage of our life experiences get storied. Most get lost or obscured by the more dominant storylines of our lives… Nonproductive anxiety is generated when the meaning we make out of the events in our lives creates a sense of threat inherent in our future… Other, nonthreatening storylines have been obscured by the anxiety story line… People who struggle with various kinds of troubling anxiety tend to make meaning along the storyline that predicts more trouble, a loss of control, or grave risk (p. 49-50).” Robert Albers, William Meller, and Steven Thurber in Ministry with Persons with Mental Illness and Their Families
“If I imagine the worst, I will be more prepared for it. Worry is looking for control… Going one step further to track this message back to its origins, there is an entire worldview implicit in some worry. It cries out about an ultimate aloneness. There is no one who can really help. No one can rescue. No one is really looking out for you. You are an orphan in a chaotic universe that operates according to chance. Who wouldn’t be worried given such a view of reality (p. 53)?… When we don’t know the true God, we assume that he is like ourselves, which is a terrifying thought (p. 103).” Ed Welch in Running Scared
“One of the most common tendencies for those with depression is to focus on feelings and to base beliefs and conclusions on these feelings… We should encourage the depressed person to move away from the realm of the subjective and to instead take on the objective truths of Christianity, things that are true regardless of our feelings: justification, adoption, the atonement, the attributes of God, and heaven, for example (p. 97).” David Murray in Christians Get Depressed Too
Other podcasts on emotions are available at: