Posts Tagged: patty mason

Patty Mason Interview Part 3:Offering Hope as Caregiver and Church

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 see—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.  

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? Aren’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 we’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 person—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: “…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 habits—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, I’d be happy to send out if you email me at patty@libertyinchristministries.com

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.

Finally Free

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 God’s redeeming grace and deliverance from depression before numerous audiences, in several books, blogs, and magazines, such as Lifeway’s “Living More,” as well as radio and television programs, including American Family

About Patty

Patty Mason Interview Part 2: From Where Does My Help Come From

A Pilgrim Song

I look up to the mountains;
    does my strength come from mountains?
No, my strength comes from God,
    who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.

He won’t let you stumble,
    your Guardian God won’t fall asleep.
Not on your life! Israel’s
    Guardian will never doze or sleep.

God’s your Guardian,
    right at your side to protect you—
Shielding you from sunstroke,
    sheltering you from moon stroke.

God guards you from every evil,
    he guards your very life.
He guards you when you leave and when you return,
    he guards you now, he guards you always. (The Message, Psalm 121)

(Continued from Recognizing Despair: Patty Mason Interview (Part 1)
Patty needed help, she searched through many avenues, but only one brought freedom from depression.

TPOS: You took the risk to share your depression. What was the response?

It wasn’t what I thought. When I finally got the courage to start opening up to my family and friends, they didn’t criticize me, they didn’t condemn me. This is what I feared. The depression was coming out through fits of rage, and I was abusing my oldest daughter, so I was worried about their reaction. But, to my surprise and amazement, because I had worn the mask so well, they brushed it off. They didn’t believe me. They just didn’t understand the seriousness of the depression.

TPOS: Describe your experience of seeking professional help for depression. What was the response of counselors?

I remember the day, with a phone book in hand going down the list of all the professional doctors I thought could help me. I had this get fixed quick mentality. If I could just get some pills, I would be fine. I called one doctor after another, only to get responses like: I’m sorry, we don’t take your insurance or I’m sorry we don’t handle that kind of depression. I got to the very last doctor on the list, and a very kind woman answered the phone. She listened to my heartfelt plea, only to tell me at the end of our conversation, I’m sorry, but we can’t help you. When I hung up the phone that day, I thought I’m alone in this, no one can help me. When I realized, not even doctors could help me, that is when I began to contemplate suicide.

TPOS: You have given us insight into God’s reasoning for hardening hearts. You say your heart became harder towards God, and it caused you to cry out differently. Describe that moment. What happens when we cry out to God for help?

I became angry at God because he didn’t answer my prayer. I became suicidal, convinced the madness was never going to end and death was the only way out. I turned to God as a last resort. I knew he had the power to let me live or die. But at first I was coming to him with what I wanted, and when he wasn’t giving me what I wanted, I hardened my heart toward Him. We always make the choice first to harden our hearts toward God.

When I got to the point that I was crying out to him in a different way, it was a make-it-or-break-it day for me. I felt as if I had been ground into the ashes to which I came. At this point, I believed, that if God didn’t do something that day, if he didn’t intervene, I feared I would. I could not go on one more day. I cried out to God one last time, only this time it wasn’t ‘God, take my life.’ I opened my heart to the possibility that God would do something different. “Help me!” I cried. I confessed to God that no one could help me, only He could help me. I tried to fix myself before I sought family and friends. They couldn’t do anything, so I turned to doctors, and they couldn’t help, so that’s when I turned to God. This was pivotal because I’m now coming to God with this confession. That could have been what he was waiting for.

The same day I was crying out to God, I thought I heard a faint voice say, “Go to Mops.” I didn’t want to go to MOPS. At that point, I had been avoiding it, because when I became suicidal, I stopped going. I didn’t want to pretend anymore. But then I heard the voice a second time, “Go to MOPS.”

TPOS: How long were you involved in MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers)? Did someone invite you? What was the draw to this ministry for you, even in your depression? 

I had already been involved in MOPS for a couple of years. I heard about the organization, and it was a way to take another break. I could get out of the house and have a break from my kids. 

TPOS: The MOPS speaker probably didn’t come to speak with the idea of saving someone’s life, yet her words resonated in your desperate heart. What would you say to the person in ministry or connecting with coworkers in the workplace about being present in the lives of others? 

Are you trapped under the weight of depression? Where is help? Where are the answers? …

Never underestimate the power of your words. Even when we are in ministry or dealing with coworkers, we can talk to them and think we are not making a difference. You never know how God is taking your words of encouragement to touch and change someone else’s life.

So with my son in tow, I went to MOPS.  I put on the mask. I ate, conversed with the other moms, laughed and smiled. I even did a craft, which I hate. The speaker was delightful. She talked about lack of joy and lack of purpose, and how the only way to find real joy is in Jesus Christ. Now, she didn’t talk about depression, but she started tapping into an area I was hungry for, and that was joy.

When she was finished, she showed us a little brochure and said that if anyone would like this brochure to meet her in the back of the room. Well, I thought the answer was in that brochure. I watched her make her way to the back of the room, then I got up and followed her. Standing in front of her, and it was like a dam broke. All of this emotion came pouring out through sobs and run-on sentences.

I was causing a scene, but I didn’t care. Not even when I realized every woman in the room was staring at us. I didn’t even try to shut it off, I just let it all come out. I remember this woman didn’t say one word. A lot of people have asked me, “What did she say to you?” She didn’t pray. She just stood there, made eye-contact, and listened. Without saying a word, she reached out and touched my left arm, just above the elbow, and when she did, the crying and run-on sentences stopped. Nausea in the pit of my stomach was gone. The dark cloud that followed me around for so long lifted. All of a sudden, my soul felt light like it had taken on wings and could fly around the room. I was stunned. She stood there staring at me, and I at her. I felt something from her that I had never felt before. Even though she didn’t know me, there was a sense of compassion. I felt like she understood. There was like this liquid love oozing, poured from her. I realize now that was Jesus. I was feeling Jesus in her.

TPOS: Have you been able to keep in touch with this woman?

Yes, I have kept in touch with her for over twenty-two years. She prays for me, my family, and the ministry. (She did not know what happened at the time. It was at the MOPS appreciate the night, six months after my transformation, that I spoke about what happened. She was in the audience and learned what God had done for me through her.

TPOS: You said the freedom kept coming. How many people stop here? Okay, I’m free of depression, what must follow? (The ten healed lepers) 

Once we start having some relief, sometimes we just go on with our lives. But, for me, I felt such gratitude that I could not stop thinking about Jesus. Up until that point, I hadn’t given God much thought. I grew up in the church. I believed in Him, I even believed Jesus died on the cross, but I had no relationship with Him. I only prayed when I was desperate. I never read the Bible. Jesus was the last resort. But now there was this sudden flip or shift where I couldn’t stop thinking about Jesus, and it all stemmed from this sense of gratitude.

TPOS: I love that you point out many mighty warriors of faith who struggled with despair, another word for depression. What about Christians who are struggling with depression, how should they deal with their depression? 

I have a lot of believers who approach me after I’ve shared my testimony and say, “I can understand why you were depressed; you weren’t a believer. But I’m a Christian, so why am I depressed.” My first question to them is, “Are you in the word regularly?” And to my amazement, most of them say they are not. In the book, I give a lot of questions and things for Christians to ponder. For example, are you comparing yourself with others? What are you believing? Do you believe the lies of the enemy over the truth of God’s word? We have an adversary, and he can make us feel oppressed, which feels like depression because the symptoms are the same, but it is really a spirit of heaviness that the enemy has cast on us. How are you identifying God? What do you believe God is saying about you? Are you compromising in your walk with God?

TPOS: You state in your book that God doesn’t just want to set us free from depression; he wants to dig up the root. What resources did God use to address the root cause of your suffering?

He didn’t want me to just know the power of His healing, He wanted me to know Him. One week after He healed me, I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Then I got into God’s word and allowed that truth to feed my soul. Then God started to show me some of the root causes of the depression. This was not easy, but in order to remain free, I had cooperated with the process. This is where a lot of people can get stuck in the process because it is painful, so they stop cooperating with God. But the end result is worth it. 

TPOS: Explain the differences between Renovation and Restoration. Why is Restoration so much better?

When you renovate something, you fix it. When you restore something, you put it back in its original state. Jesus did not come to fix us; he has come to restore us. When we receive Jesus, by grace through faith, we are justified before God, or put back to the original state, just as if we had never sinned. If we go through this restoration process with him, we will stand before Him a radiant bride, pure, spotless, wrinkle-free, blemish-free. We will be restored back to our original state as God intended us to be. 

What role does forgiveness play in addressing depression? Are there other steps that need to occur before we attempt forgiveness?

Unforgiveness can cause depression. I had to forgive the people who hurt me. Forgiveness is a daily choice until we come to the place, we are set free. You may not feel like forgiving the person who harmed you, but you must make that choice first. Then ask God to help you to forgive as He forgave you in Christ. Resentment and bitterness will remain in our souls without forgiveness. The unmerciful servant in Matthew is an example of the emotional torment we will feel until we are willing to forgive:  

“Then, the master summoned him and declared, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave all your debt because you begged me. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had on you?’ In anger the master turned him over the to the jailers to be tortured, until has should pay back all he owed” (Matthew 18:32-34).

Finally Free


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 God’s redeeming grace and deliverance from depression before numerous audiences, in several books, blogs, and magazines, such as Lifeway’s “Living More,” as well as radio and television programs, including American Family

About Patty

Recognizing Despair: Patty Mason Interview (Part 1)

Patty Mason is a living testimony that God is not distant from our anguish. Though other types of depression are clinical, Patty attributes her depression to attempts to fill the hole in her soul where God should reside with things that did not satisfy. God set her free through the quiet touch of a woman who had no idea of the impact she would have on Patty.

God set her free from depression and invited Patty to learn more about his love for her. For more than twenty years, she has developed her relationship with both God and others struggling with despair. She ministers and equips others to learn to discover, embrace, and live in freedom through Liberty in Christ Ministries.

I will post our interview in three installments. Patty’s answers speak life and hope into the darkness and oppressive grip of despair because she offers no less than what God offered her.

As we conversed about her book Finally Free: Breaking the Bonds of Depression Without Drugs, Patty focused her answers on what she has seen and heard of God’s work in her own life. She didn’t make broad and sweeping comparisons about the depression experience, but instead, she passionately described the consistent character of Christ no matter our history of despair.

Our stories of depression are individual, but God’s story of freedom for all mankind is the same. Patty declares with passion and compassion; God is restoring us as his bride, and despair loses its grip in the hands of a loving redeemer.

Interview:

Turning the Page on Suicide: You open Chapter 1 by distinguishing depression as a constant battle bringing on overwhelming feelings of sadness, rage, and hopelessness. Describe why a depressed person can’t just snap out of it and choose to be happy?

I don’t know why we can’t snap out of it. I know I couldn’t. My husband loved me, I knew he cared about me, but he didn’t understand what I was going through. I think his attitude was,˜Oh, you’ll get over it.  A lot of people ask the same question. We all have sad days, or days we feel off, but that is not depression. Depression is a very deep and dark place, and it’s not someplace we can just snap our fingers and automatically get out of, no matter how much we want to be free.

TPOS: What are some ways people responded to your depression in the early days? Were friends and family aware of the shift in your behavior?

No, not at all, I tried to give the impression I was perfect. I wore the mask way too well and covered my emotions. I didn’t let people into my world. In fact, I didn’t let my husband in that world for a long time.

TPOS: You say in Finally Free, I never saw the depression coming, nor did I realize how much it would steal from me. Is it possible to be prepared for depression; to create an emergency kit for the pits of life?

Depression gives off warning signs. Before the symptoms of depression become visible, I exhibited frustration and anger, which indicated something was wrong. Our life experiences, even if they seem trivial at the time, do affect us either positively or negatively. If there is trauma in your past, then start looking at it, don’t sweep it under the rug, and think, I’ve moved on, and that’s the end of it.

TPOS: You credit your desire to find yourself, and later speak of success as representing “a notch on the belt of life that told the world I had worth. Young men and women often talk of self-worth or finding their identity as they are beginning their adulthood. What were some of the things you thought would give you self-worth?

Adventure was my first journey, I traveled quite a bit. Actually, travel became a drug. I was so addicted that I no sooner came home, I started to plan the next adventure. Next, I turned to men, then family to try and fill that void. I thought marriage and children would fill me as a woman.

TPOS: Relationships and marriage offer the opportunity to feel valued and special, but why can’t another person complete us? Why is it so easy to lose our identity in marriage?

If we look for someone else to complete us or tell us who we are in order to find our identity, we will come up disappointed every time. The only way to find our true identity is to connect to God through a personal relationship because he is the one who created you. He knows who he desires you to be, and when you tap into a relationship with Jesus, you will discover your true sense of worth and purpose.

TPOS: How does the world look at motherhood? Why do our children not fill the void in our soul?

The world today doesn’t look at motherhood the same way it did fifty years ago. Back then, motherhood was critical; it was a woman’s primary role. Today the world tells you that it’s not enough to be a mother. You have to be successful in all these different areas of life. This was a great struggle for me as a young mother. Prior to marriage, I had a career, but my husband and I made the decision that I was going to walk away from that career and become a full-time mom. I thought that was a wonderful decision until I went to different events, like my husband’s Christmas party or some other event with women who were in the workplace.  The minute I told them I was a wife and mother it was like my brain fell out of my head. Suddenly I wasn’t interesting, worth anything, or successful. This made me feel very disappointed and disillusioned about who I was as a young mother. I even started looking down on myself because other women looked down on me.

TPOS: You said, For all this time I allowed a world that didn’t have the faintest idea how to live tell me how to live. When piling up all the things the world says are of value and finding yourself still unfulfilled, what do many turn to at this moment?

It depends on the person, but sadly, many people turn to addiction. Drugs, alcohol, social media, video games, anything that will distract them from feeling the emptiness and the void that is in their soul. The place they couldn’t fill with success or money or career or power or whatever else they try to fill it with.

TPOS: Describe the moment you knew you were depressed. Because you weren’t ready to share, and frankly others might not have been willing to listen, understand, and offer encouragement, what choices did you have with the recognition of depression?

Depression has a root. Just because you are not feeling symptomatic, doesn’t mean there are no underlying roots. That is what happened to me. At the time, I didn’t realize I was depressed because I was still pursuing what I thought would fill me. It wasn’t until I had everything I thought was going to satisfy me and make me happy, and it didn’t. When nothing I pursued filled that void in my soul, that was when I began to realize I had fallen into depression.

TPOS: What are your recommendations for anyone who has experienced deep trauma in childhood, just starting into adulthood?

Don’t wait. If you have gone through something in your past, in childhood or your teen year, don’t sweep it under the rug and think it’s in the past. Whether you have been physically or sexually abused, or experienced verbal abuse, where someone spoke hurtful words to you, or you experienced bullying in school, take a look at it. Don’t wait. Ask yourself some tough questions. Take a deep look at what you went through. How does that trauma make you feel when you think about it? What emotions does it stir up in you? I highly recommend a counselor, or trusted friend, to help you sort through those emotions. Someone who can help you dig into your past so you can start to understand what you are feeling. These emotional wounds and feelings are embedded in your soul, and unless they are exposed they will continue to fester and grow over the years until finally face them. Maybe ten years from now you start to have emotional breakdowns, and you will have no idea where they are coming from. (Continued on 9/19/2019)

Finally Free

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 God’s redeeming grace and deliverance from depression before numerous audiences, in several books, blogs, and magazines, such as Lifeway’s Living More as well as radio and television programs, including American Family

About Patty

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