Depression and the Bible

My blog, from which these posts on depression are being reblogged, is a Bible study blog. Just about everything I write has to do with God’s Word, or is at least influenced by my faith. That is true of the depression posts. I just wanted to be sure you’re aware of what you’re about to read 🙂

Study God's Word

Hoo boy.  This can be a really hot topic, and I’m sure there are many who would not agree with some of the things I’m about to say.  The attitude that depression is simply a sin problem is still alive and well out there.  Those who ascribe to that position will tell you that if you will confess your sin, forsake it, and get right with God, your depression will lift.

Is that ever really true?  Sure, I suppose it can be.  Clearly, living with hidden or overt sin in your heart will make you unhappy and out of sorts with both God and man if there is any sense of right and wrong in you.  The Holy Spirit moves in our hearts to convict us of sin.  When He does, we need to confess, repent, and forsake that sin if we are to be right with God and able…

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Show, Don’t Tell (unless you’re in Kindergarten).

Another guest-post by K. Alan… sort of. The thing about sudsy water is that it keeps clothes from growing diseases, but causes timber floors to grow them. With apology, I only have time for a reblog.

This is one of the posts from my series exploring some of the most common (and sometimes baffling) advice that writers hear. The other posts in the series are about Writing What You Know, Starting in the Middle of the Action, and Knowing your Target Audience.

Let me know your thoughts!

Words from K. Alan

Continuing my series, ‘How to Follow Writing Advice that Makes No Sense,’ please comment with your ideas of when it is better for writers to ‘show’ and when to ‘tell.’

showntell Children were never expected to interpret the trauma in a budgie’s past.

Do you remember your favorite part of kindergarten? While I am tempted to name ‘Nap Time,’ memory forces me to acknowledge that naps only became precious to me later in life. No, my favorite part of kindergarten—and probably yours—had to be ‘Show and Tell.’ These were the moments that I could bring in my tricycle, greeting cards or guinea pigs, and allow my classmates to gawk enviously at them while I supplied detailed narrative about their mechanical, emotional or bodily functions. In kindergarten, detail and clarity were rewarded, and Mrs. Arbuthnott would confirm with her warmest smile as she fought to keep from nodding off during the fourteenth minute…

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Causes of Depression: Part 3

(I think I missed posting last Monday. I apologize for that. I was so focused on getting ready for my surgery on Tuesday that I must have simply forgotten. This post was first published on Jan. 11, 2013, and it is the final post specifically about causes of depression.)

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Friday came awfully fast this week!  It was my first week back to work since I took my sabbatical starting just before Thanksgiving.  The days have gone  well, and very quickly.  I’d say I’m about 80% better right now, which is a lot of improvement.  Rest, medication, and straight thinking are all doing their work.

Today I want to mention several things that can trigger or contribute to depression.  Most of this information is already flooding the internet, so I’m not going to write anything you can find elsewhere.  I just want to bring these things to your attention, and if they are applicable to you or someone else in your life, then that’s all for the good.

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Postpartum Depression

Here is a reliable website that will give you lots of good information:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0004481/

Some important things to be aware of with postpartum depression:

1.  It can occur immediately after the birth or up to six months or more after the birth.  Some women think it started for them even before the baby had come.

2.  It’s not your fault.  Pregnancy does a complete upset of hormones and chemicals in a woman’s body, including her brain.  Somewhere, I don’t remember where now, I read that during pregnancy a woman’s brain shrinks by about 10% of its normal volume.  It goes back to normal after the birth; when that fails to happen, there is almost certainly going to be postpartum depression. Modern imaging techniques have shown this change clearly.  Maybe it’s the explanation for what women refer to as “pregnant brain.”

3.  There is a difference between postpartum depression and postpartum psychoses.  The latter is far more serious, and can result in bizarre behaviors that can harm the baby, the other children, and the mother herself.  Tragedy such as the Andrea Yeager case is rare, but it does happen.  If the mother had mental health diagnoses prior to pregnancy and childbirth, she and her husband and/or family need to make sure she follows up with appropriate medical treatment.

4.  What about the dangers of psychopharmacologic drugs for a baby who is nursing?  That absolutely needs to be considered.  If the depression is mild, I would suggest that the mother stay in talk therapy and try to develop a safety net of friends and family to give her the time she needs to recover without medication.  This, of course, is the ideal.

Not everyone, however, has the ideal situation.  Sometimes the risk to the baby of the mother taking antidepressants has to be measured against the danger of a deeply depressed new mom hurting her child.  That is something that needs to be discussed with a knowledgeable medical person.

It is vitally important that a new mother get the rest she needs as her body slowly returns to normal.  I can hear all you new moms out there laughing hysterically at that statement, especially if you have other young children.  I’ve been there.  I had four, all about two years apart.  I’m not speaking just from academic knowledge here, but from personal experience.  My mom and mother-in-law both lived long distances away; I had no sisters, aunts, or relatives to help us out. Thank God, we did have a wonderful church family, and precious friends that I could count on.  One of my friends had children about the same age as mine, and we used to trade babysitting 1/2 day each week, just to give each other time away from the demands of a very young family.

There are resources out there.  If you are truly cut off from such sources of help as I’m describing, then speak with your ob/gyn or family doctor and see what kinds of help are available in the community.  Most hospitals sponsor some type of program for new moms, especially single moms.

5. In my opinion, spiritual help is the best help during postpartum depression.  A close relationship with God will give any new mom a safe retreat and a source of encouragement.  Regular Bible-reading is vital.  I give my clients what I call my Scripture Doses.  It  is a collection of my favorite “hope and peace”  passages. I ask them to use the list any way that works best for them, but especially to try to memorize Phil. 4:7, and rely on it to find the peace that passes understanding. 

Postpartum depression does pass.  Things will get better.  The important thing is to know that it’s normal; you are not alone; there is help.

Other Disorders

Depression can be a big part of other disorders, including Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety Disorders, and even learning disorders such as ADD.  All of these disorders can involve mood swings which may lead a practitioner to suspect or even diagnose Bipolar, but mood swings do NOT always mean the person has Bipolar Disorder.  Mood swings are a big part of Attention Deficit Disorder, for example.  Also,  we are learning more clearly all the time that anxiety drives depression, so if someone is by nature a very anxious person who tends to have a lot of worries and fears, there will almost surely be depression at some point until or unless the person can learn to control the anxiety.  Yes, it can be done 🙂  It’s not easy, but it IS do-able.

If there is a question I have left unaddressed in these last three posts, please leave a message either on this blog or on my Facebook page Study God’s Word.  I would be more than happy to address any question you may have that I have not already mentioned. This is a huge topic; I have merely brushed the surface.  Again, there is already a wealth of material online, at your library, and in bookstores.  Just be careful that anything you read is balanced and biblically correct.  There is a lot of misinformation out there, too.

Depression affects the mind, the body, the emotions, and the soul.  It is serious, and nothing to ignore or take lightly.

The Present is Tense: 2 mistakes to avoid when writing in present tense.

Another guest-post by K. Alan Leitch. Please visit my blog for tips that have helped me to write, and for samples of my fiction.

All this present tense in recent fiction really is making me tense. Perhaps it’s just because I’ve been reading since before it was popular—I’ve been accused of that during discussions—but I genuinely feel that more and more authors are writing using present tense for the wrong reasons. Present tense can seem more erudite, more literate and more immediate, but it carries with it a number of pitfalls that erode favorite novels like The Hunger Games without us even noticing. They pull off the improbable feat of a heroine narrating in detail while being chased by poisonous wasps and fireballs, and they give their narrators the super-power of predicting the future.

Mistake Number One: Narrating in first-person & present tense

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Is there a Mockingjay helping Katniss make notes?

Tortured Katniss Everdeen, sought-after by receding hunks for her very belligerence, pulls off double-duty by dodging assassins in a hostile forest, all while taking the time to carefully describe every sight, smell, and anguished emotion that occurs to her. When you think about it, this is quite a feat: for an archer whose only targets were rats, prior to her fight-to-the-death in a dystopian arena, her aim remains surprisingly true while she is nattering away every detail of the life and death around her. Of course, as a reader, I could choose to suspend my disbelief and just assume I am reading her thoughts, but the muscle in my brain that suspends disbelief is already too busy believing that twelve districts will be pitted against one another for the entertainment of Utopian overlords. In other words, I want to focus on the highly imaginative elements of this fictional world, not cringe over every faux pas that its narrator commits. And Katniss commits many, such as…

 

katniss_everdeen

It’s hard work memorizing narrative detail while fireballs descend.

Mistake Number Two: Predicting the future

Most good novels make use of techniques that help readers link the plot together. Sometimes, we are helped along through foreshadowing, while at others the narrator directly lets slip some tidbits from the characters’ future. Harper Lee’s masterpiece, To Kill A Mockingbird, brings to mind a mature, adult Jean-Louise Finch sitting at her desk, penning (perhaps using an inkwell) her adventures as innocent little Scout. Every so often, though, she tells us what she knows now, not just what she knew then. Of course, Mockingbird was written in the days when past tense was virtually an author’s only choice; The Hunger Games, to follow a trend, chooses to use present tense, but still lets these tidbits slip. It is as if Katniss has the additional power of predicting her own future; she knows in advance what behaviors the Gamemakers will reward, and how her initial ill-will toward her fellow sook, Peeta, will morph into the bond between them. Collins is not even particularly subtle about this,writing narrative with the word ‘will,’ willy-nilly, throughout the entire trilogy. Katniss knows, a little too often, what ‘will’ happen to her.

rabbit-runOf course, present tense is an effective tool, when used very carefully. One of the first novelists to make regular use of it was the great John Updike; his Rabbit series, by purposefully eliminating all sense of foreshadowing, truly gives readers a sense that they are living a starkly real life alongside the protagonist. Furthermore, occasional use of present tense can stand out, from a novel largely written in past tense, as being either highly emotive to the narrator, or part of a tapestry of a life ‘then’ being narrated ‘now.’

The problem, though, is when authors use it just to make their novels ‘sound better.’ I was pleased to see that I am not along in this opinion, with Philip Pullman expressing the view that, “If every sound you emit is a scream, a scream has no expressive value.”

Perhaps that is why so many present-tense novels make me want to scream; I just need to be heard over them.

More Words from K. Alan

A Curated List of Creative Writing Competitions, Contests and Awards

CUSTOM STATIONARY-2

Thanks to the Almond Press for this comprehensive list of writing competitions and contest. Start 2017 off right by checking these out and making a submission. This is a list of international and local creative writing competitions, contests, and awards. Opportunities for experienced and aspiring writers to get published.

To see the complete lists, with dates, submission guidelines, deadline, prizes, and word count, click the link below.

Source: A Curated List of Creative Writing Competitions, Contests and Awards.

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