Depression. I hate it. I can’t think of many things in this life that are worse. Oh, how different I would be if I were never introduced to this dark shadow which swallows everything it pleases.

Maybe I should back up a bit. . . .

For those of you who visit the blog regularly, I am sure you have noticed. . . I have been somewhat AWOL from the blog. I am going to try to explain.

When I first went through depression in 2010, it was such a foreign thing. It hit me out of nowhere, and was relentless in its ability to create fear, panic, and destabilization of every thought and move I made. However, 2010 was the first time I was confronted with it. Being the first time, I was less ashamed (at least, this is how I am interpreting things right now). I kept all of you (and everyone I knew) up to date on its effects. I blogged about it daily. The shame was not present to the degree it is now because (again) this was my first time to experience it. Therefore, I was not admitting to anyone that I was a depressed person whom you had to shy away from, but that I had had this strange, foreign, campaign in the darkness that was so unlike me.

Well, here I am four years later, coming out of a second serious round of depression. And as transparent and so many of you may think I am, I have been too ashamed to admit it . . . to anyone.

There are so many circumstances that have contributed to this round that it is easy for me to find the triggers. My dad died in November. I have taken full-time care of my mother, and have been confronted with serious issues involving my family and work.

It was so great when I recovered from the first round of depression. I had gone through the darkest time I could possibly imagine, and yet, came out on the other side. I could now empathize and preach to the depressed souls with more understanding. I did not want another helping of this stuff. I did not want any more understanding. I just wanted to move on and grow from the injuries.

But this is not the Lord’s plan. I have once again walked in this darkness for the past few months. This bout has become more chronic than my previous experience.

Fear, hopelessness, deep sadness, and shame are the four qualifiers that define it best. I have told the Lord so many times that this is much more than I can handle. I have made the arguments that David made: “This does not benefit your glory. I need restoration.”

I have tried so many remedies. I have a new one every hour. Focusing on this passage of Scripture, remembering that this is not who I am, escaping into this movie or television show, or just praying without ceasing. All of this work for a time, but somehow the black hole of depression is able to suck away the limited hope that these give.

Give me back hope and all returns. If I have hope, the fear is gone, sadness had no vitality, and shame is unnecessary.

But for a couple of months now, I am sure that people can see my hopelessness.

I have not quit believing but the fear of such an outcome is consuming. Remember last time? Remember I had that short time as an atheist? That was the worst. Even describing it is too much of a nightmare for me to recount. Emotions overwhelm reason and give way to irrational thoughts that are beyond our control.

Here I am writing about it. What a release this is. I needed to do this. I need to show you my weakness that God is revealing to me. Why? If I did not, then I would be living a lie. I would be writing, teaching, and preaching without letting you see the open wounds on my chest.

The wounds are closing now. For the most part, I just have to get back to life and quit being so self-absorbed. Who cares if people think I am crazy? Who cares if others see me as weak in faith? What if I can’t take care of my mother any longer? What if so much that is on my shoulders falls off and breaks? It is not about me. It is about Him.

Why does the Lord teach us things so slowly? Why can’t we just learn, hurt, mourn, and then move on? Why can’t our brokenness be put back together for good? I don’t know. But I am comforted in the fact that God has not promised us the absence of suffering and depression. In fact, he has told us the opposite. We morn in a fallen, broken world. We experience that brokeness in our bodies and souls.

Today I gather together my faith and I stand before the Lord the same as before. He is my only hope.

There are so many of you who have these same wounds. You get around others and you cover them up as quickly as possible. Yet, the pain that accompanies them does not subside behind your disguise. I am deeply saddened, because I know about your injury and I can’t close it. But, most importantly, I don’t know how long the Lord will tarry in finishing his surgical procedure on your soul.

I pray that we all persevere. For I do know that the sufferings of this present world (and they are tremendous) are not to be compared to the glory that is coming. Let us all—even just for a second—rest deeply in this reality.

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C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger.

Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminar (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I’m a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]


C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminar (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]

    18 replies to "My Second Round with Depression"

    • William

      Hi CMP,
      Thanks for this post. I just wanted to share with you that for about two weeks every day my wife and I have been praying for you for just this and also that God would use you and Credo more. We have a small notebook that has a list of names in it and beside those names I write a need or some other such thing. My wife and I spend about an hour and a half praying together every day in the morning and then in the evening. I have a list of famous atheists I want to see saved, a list of theologians (you included) who I want God to preserve and continue to use, and a list of people I know personally who have needs. I just wanted you to know that you are being prayed for by some people on the other side of the world whom you have never met, but upon whom you and your ministry have had an enormous impact. I could put Tim’s name in there also.
      God bless you and all at Credo.

    • Mike

      Thanks for being vulnerable and honest Michael. This post hits close to home, I’ve been there too and am thankful you are talking about the frustrations of all the suggestions people throw at you that are supposed to fix things. Ill be praying for you.

    • the Old Adam

      Hang in there, Michael.

      Depression is a terrible thing. I have it, too.

      I have to force myself to carry on. To stay busy. When I’m not busy I just lie on the couch, or in bed and withdraw from everything.

      Luther had some severe bouts of depression, also. Asa well as many others in the faith.

      Praying for you, friend.

    • Brother Stumblefoot

      Michael, For the life of me, I cannot understand why you refuse professional help. Don’t try to be the big strong guy, none of us are. If I am incorrect in thinking you don’t get help, i apologize and back off.

    • Linda

      It is truly an encouragement and inspiration when someone reflects God’s close presence in their life. May our loving and wise God continue to use you for His glory, as He so clearly is doing! He’s the Author & finisher of our faith.

    • Greg

      Wow. Two weeks ago my cousin went missing. They found his body 2 days later, he had killed himself. I found out through family that he had been dealing with sever depression recently. I did not understand. This was a man who came to Christ from atheism. He was brilliant. He was kind and selfless. It made no sense to me how someone like him could do such a thing. I was very confused.

      And now I read this, and I went back and read the “Day I Stopped Believing” post. How agonizing this has been for you. I am starting to understand more how this could have happened. If my cousin went through anything even remotely like you did, I can understand a little better how it could have led him where it did.

      Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your stories here on the blog. If nothing else, your story has applied a little ointment to my soul tonight. I needed to read these posts. I pray that anyone else reading them who may be in a similar situation will be able to find the hope to help them pull through – Christ in us, the hope of glory.

    • Karen

      I can completely relate, coincidentally, as I have been badly shaken myself at this time. Just prior to being shaken, I was standing in Lifeway looking at some places in some books, and I read things that prepared me for things that shortly took place. It did not fix the hurt, but prepared me. I now realized that my problem was my fixation on things that were just a blur really. A danger zone of religious smoke and mirrors so to speak. But I always see amazing things when I get to the heartfelt prayer of, “I trust You, Lord Jesus.” Yes, I am badly shaken, but I believe that Jesus will heal my mind completely again. I pray the same for you. Love, Karen

    • John B

      Michael, Thank you for sharing. It is so easy to go from “ok” to hopeless. It is hard to run the race without looking at the other runners or the obstacles in front of us, but we must find peace in who we are in Him. I watched the wind blow through the trees last night sitting on my porch. The wind could not be seen yet its impact was obvious. The leaves danced as they were caressed by the wind and their rustling produced a most smoothing sound. I closed my eyes and just enjoyed the moment. The wind does not blow for any other reason then that is what wind does, it moves until it can move no more and when the time is right it moves again. Be the wind my brother.

    • chris s

      Michael, thanks so much for your honesty….I don’t think you realize how much you encourage others.

    • Annoyed Pinoy

      If anyone is interested here’s a link to some of the resources that helped me deal with depression in times past. They won’t help everyone since the sources of depression are varied and complex, but they may help some. Sam Waldron’s sermon “Elijah’s Death Wish” really helped me. It’s included in the link.

      Here’s the link again:

      http://www.gospelmeals.blogspot.com/2014/04/spiritual-depression.html

    • Pete again

      Dear CMP,

      Praying for you, friend.

      According to almost every ancient church leader, depression is caused by a demon (or demons). The greatest weapons against them are:

      – Prayer (which you do)

      – Fasting and Asceticism

      – Regular Participation in the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments): the Holy Eucharist; Holy Unction; Confession/Reconciliation.

      These are time-tested, effective weapons. They have worked for me.

      Unfortunately, your tradition does not practice or teach people to use the second two groups of tools to defeat the evil enemy.

      With God all things are possible! But certainly we need to move toward Him to be healed. In the Gospels, Jesus never healed anyone without their consent, or against their will.

      Glory to God for all things

    • Brother Stumblefoot

      Michael: At the risk of being naughty, let me ask the question: Does Calvinism tend toward depression? I think it can, probably does in some cases, though certainly not all. Sometimes it is something as simple as being low in body seratonin,, that was what caused Tommy Nelson’s (pastor, Denton Bible Church, Denton Texas) depression a couple or so years back. There are other fixable problems that may be causing it, and I still think you ought to see an MD.

    • C Michael Patton

      I have definitely made the rounds with docs and all else.

      Calvinism brings me out of it. When I begin to think God is too dependent on me, THAT is when I fall apart. #theologicaldepression.

      🙂

    • C Michael Patton

      And believe me, when things get to as bad as they have gotten with me, all your allergies to depression meds goes out the door. As Tommy Nelson said, I would take rat dung if I thought it would help!!

    • esduggins

      Michael, i apologize for bugging you about seeing a doctor.
      Something you had said made me think you had not/would not. But I doubt rat dung would help, so do take my advice and don’t try that one. (just trying to be funny).

      I was thinking of the third point of Calvinism when I suggested it could cause depression, and there is evidence on a couple or so of your affiliate blogs that it does, Re. some of the pitiable responses I have seen.

      But that i might not appear altogether as a critic of Calvinism, let me add that it was the inherit Calvinism in me that I cannot completely erase, which lead me into
      the Ultimate Reconciliation viewpoint.

      While I do not/have not assumed the whole flower, i especially love your irresistable grace, and other of the petals, perhaps if a little differently worded. A number of
      folks who are Evangelical Universalists refer to themselves as “completed Calvinists.” Doesn’t that have a nice ring to it? You don’t have to answer that one. Grace to you, Brother Stumblefoot

    • Jacqui

      I have had 3 battles with depression and been labelled manic depressive/bipolar. I was taken to psychiatrists by my friends in 1985, my family in 1994 and my church in 1995. They were very dark times when I felt abandoned by those closest to me, but I have such a deep relationship now with God that was worth all the anguish. I can now say that I am totally free of depression/bipolar. Even the fact that those closes to me could not be relied upon has turned out for good – because I now have total reliance on God rather than people, places and things. I pray that you would really come to know God in a deeper way as you walk THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death. Make no mistake, it is the thief who comes to kill, steal and destroy who is bringing this depression on you, but our God is greater and He is Good ALL THE TIME.

    • ScriptureZealot

      Such great comments #1-9 and Jacqui. I noticed in his previous/first round of depression that those commenters who experienced it the most gave the least advice, and possibly those who are the most mature in this matter know that glorifying God and knowing Him better are the most important things and are God’s will, whatever he chooses to do with depression. I’ve lived with it to some degree my whole life, but it has gotten much worse in the last decade. I’ve had to go through all of the ‘advice’, but not nearly as bad as others. God has also brought me much closer to him. I can’t truly yet say that it’s a blessing, or that I’d rather have it this way, and it wasn’t like I wasn’t close to God before, but it has been a complete renewal/revival spiritually.

      BTW I became a Calvinist in the midst of this and can’t imagine what it would be like to not believe in God’s sovereignty and providence as I believe it is presented in Scripture and Calvinist doctrine.

      I feel for you and pray you won’t have to go through this again. But if you do, have you tried…? Kidding.
      Jeff

    • Donna

      Thank you for your honesty, Michael–it’s very helpful to hear of other Christians who suffer from depression. I’ve had mild depression for most of my life. My brother committed suicide seven years ago, and since then, I’ve suffered (suffered being the operative word) from real clinical depression.

      It’s hard to be in an evangelical church, where you’re expected to “snap out of it” after a certain period of time or you’re apparently not showing the proper amount of faith. Sometimes just showing up and participating in a Bible study takes a tremendous amount of effort, and requires recovery time–I’m not even going to try to explain that to others. People think of depression as the “feeling a little down” sort of thing that you get over with in a day. To me, this is a chronic illness, like diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis, that I have to learn to live with for the rest of my life.

      My thoughts and prayers are with you. Although I don’t feel that fellow Christians may understand, I keep trying to remind myself again and again that Jesus does and He loves me–

      Donna

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