Good morning! It is an honor for me that Sheila has invited me to be one of her contributors while she’s out for a while, recovering from surgery. After consulting with her, I’ve decided to share a series of posts with you that I wrote for my own blog. I am a psychotherapist working in a Christian private practice office. That sounds really impressive, but the truth is that what a psychotherapist does is listen to people’s heartbreak and try to figure out a way to help them a little bit.
I’ve chosen to share my series of posts about depression, written for my “Friday Counseling Issues” posts. I hope they will be helpful, and I welcome comments and questions.
Here’s the first official post under the new category Depression.
First, you’ll see me refer often to the difference between how we feel and what is truth. This is extremely important. It is what we believe that motivates our emotions, words, and behaviors. If you believe snakes are inherently evil (I do!) you will avoid them at all costs. If you believe they are beautiful and fascinating, you will look at pictures, watch movies, go to the reptile house at the zoo. Without me. The difference is in what we believe about snakes; it is not in what is true about snakes.
So. One of the things I hear the most often when I’m working with depressed clients is, “I just feel so alone. No one I know has ever experienced anything like this. No one understands. Everyone thinks I should just suck it up and get on with life. Everybody always acts as if I just need to get a grip, pull myself up by my bootstraps. So I do a lot of pretending in order to keep everyone happy, when all I really want to do is crawl into a hole and pull it in after me. But nobody understands. I’m all alone.“
Do you get it? Look at the red words. One-hundred percent words, with no room for argument. This is called “universal thinking” in cognitive therapy. One or two incidents become a 100%, universal truth. With that weight of negativity in our heads, no wonder we feel depressed and, above everything else, alone. Isolated. No one gets it. No one. Hear the echo in that empty chamber of your head and your heart?
I went to lunch with two good friends the other day. They know my present struggle. They assured me that I’m not alone, that people care and are praying for me. In my head, I know they’re telling me the truth. It just doesn’t feel like it yet. But it will, because I believe it.
Most important, I believe that God is right beside me. Again, I’m having a hard time feeling His presence right now, but I know that what I feel is not necessarily what is true. For me, music is an invaluable tool. I started playing my Christmas music yesterday, and it helps me. Scripture, of course, is the most valuable tool I have, and here is my favorite passage (for today, at least!)
Isaiah 43:1-4. “But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.
2 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
3 For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.
4 Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.”
Do you see how different the red words are in this passage? That’s where I need to focus. The truth is, I’m never alone. He will never leave me nor forsake me. He is always the same. Through the valley of the shadow of death, He is with me.
If you’d like some homework, use these verses and the others I’ve mentioned but not referenced to start a list of what you know to be true about God. Not how you feel, but what you know to be truth. Add to your list whenever something comes to mind. Let me get you started:
Truth About God
1. He is always with me
2. He loves me
3. He calls me by my name–He knows me!
4. He gave Himself for me
See? Once you get started, it will flow.