There is no degree needed to help others, whether you are caring for a loved one or ministering to others wrestling with depression. Jesus used fishers of men. Patty testifies, in her book Finally Free: Breaking the Bonds of Depression Without Drugs, that the only requirement is that others can seeâ€”you’ve been with Jesus.
If you are in the Nashville, Tennessee area, Patty is hosting a book launch on Monday, September 30th, from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm at Branches Counseling Center in Murfreesboro. Come meet Patty and be encouraged by her testimony. It was a pleasure presenting Patty’s story to you.Â Â
Scripture to meditate on:
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people” (Matthew 4:19).
“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).
TPOS: About seven years after your experience, you became the caregiver for your husband as he too battled depression. What words of encouragement do you have for caregivers?
It is challenging to take care of someone who is battling depression, so do not feel guilty for taking care of yourself, it is vital. You will also feel a lot of emotions yourself, maybe even frustration or anger. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling that way, many of those feelings are perfectly normal emotions. This is a lot to take on.
TPOS: How does a caregiver take care of themselves during their loved one’s crisis?
Eat well, stay hydrated, make sure you are getting enough rest, stay in the Word. In fact, my relationship with the Lord went to a whole new level. I clung to Him during that season of my husband’s depression. Join a support group. Get into a bible study. Take breaks. Go have lunch with a friend. Take a bubble bath. Give yourself time to recover and recuperate.
TPOS: Is the Bible silent on depression and our response? How can we encourage others through God’s Word?
The Bible is not silent on depression. Even though it doesn’t use the word depression, it uses words like despair, gloom, downcast, oppressed, misery. God’s Word is life. Continue to speak that Word of life over people. I encourage others to speak God’s Word out loud. Often, I would take the Bible and march through my home and proclaim the Word of God out loud.
TPOS: Why is it easy to hide depression?
Actually, it is not easy to hide depression. It’s work. It’s a conscious choice to hide the depression. There’s a stigma, and as Christians aren’t we supposed to be exuding peace and joy? Arenâ€™t we supposed to be happy all of the time? We don’t want to admit, especially to our church, we are not okay. We come to church and often wear the mask more because we think we have to look like weâ€™re okay.
TPOS: As a newly freed from depression, a believer in Christ, what training did you receive to share hope to others?
None. I was just invited to share my story. God gave me a testimony, and testimonies have a way of reaching people in ways nothing else can.
TPOS: What does the church do well in addressing depression?
The church is really good at encouraging people to stay in the Word. They can be a wealth of information and can help you find direction. They can guide you to counselors, resources, and contacts to find help. I would like to see church leaders receive training on depression and how to handle depression, rather than referring them to others. It would be great if people could actually come to someone in leadership who knows how to talk with them, direct them, and help them see the root. In Finally Free, I offer tips on how to handle someone who comes to them with depression.
TPOS: In what ways does the church need to grow in its response to believers wrestling with depression?
As mentioned in Finally Free, it’s important to treat the whole personâ€”body, soul, spirit.
Encourage pastors and leaders that their input, encouragement, and inspiration as a spiritual leader is so important, because the spiritual element of the treatment plan is often missing.
TPOS: What should be the church’s response to unbelievers struggling with depression?
I was a non-believer battling depression. Once I started to turn to God, that is when I was set free from depression. In the book, I address depression from a Biblical perspective. For example, sin and rebellion can bring on depression. Living separated from God and doing our own thing can bring on depression. I was released from depression by turning to Jesus and allowing God to be my life.
TPOS: How does a church begin developing a ministry of awareness and discipleship for those wrestling with depression?
We offer basic training for the church. Our materials help train leaders to see and address depression from a biblical perspective. We explore the causes of depression from God’s Word and what God says will help cure that depression.
TPOS: “â€¦unless we’re familiar with depression, it can go undetected until something drastic happens.” What should we watch for in our loved one?
Watch for changes in their normal behavior. Is there a change in eating habitsâ€”gaining or losing weight? Do they start sleeping more than normal? Do they start turning to drugs and alcohol? Are they pulling away from friends or activities they once enjoyed?
If you are dealing with a teenager, it can be difficult to determine if they are dealing with depression or if it is peer pressure, academic stress, lack of sleep, or a bad diet. This can be difficult for even a trained counselor to discern. I have a teen and depression sheet that offers keys to building communication with your teen, warning signs, knowing when to get help, and helping your teen to beat depression, Iâ€™d be happy to send out if you email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
TPOS: How can lay people reach into the lives around them struggling with despair?
Listen. Be supportive, don’t criticize or condemn what the person feels, even if what they are saying doesn’t make any sense. Sometimes a depressed person just wants to talk about what they are going through, and not feel like they are alone.
TPOS: How can we pray for your ministry?
Pray for Finally Free, that God would open doors and allow us to continue to offer this message of hope. Pray for those reading it, that their lives would be changed by hope and healing through Jesus.
TPOS: Final thoughts?
You are not alone. There is hope. What I thought was devastation, God saw as an opportunity to draw me near and change the trajectory of my life. Depression is not the end; it can be the start of a beautiful beginning.
Patty Mason is an author, national speaker, and the founder of Liberty in Christ Ministries. For more than two decades, Patty has shared her story of Godâ€™s redeeming grace and deliverance from depression before numerous audiences, in several books, blogs, and magazines, such as Lifewayâ€™s â€œLiving More,â€ as well as radio and television programs, including American Family