While there are so many similarities between my battle with depression and my sister Angie’s, their were some significant differences. Angie was the first person in our family to have battled the darkness and the broken mind. I can only imagine the fear that she felt as one of the catalysts that multiplies the fear depression brings is that of the perception of isolation. You feel as if your situation is completely unique. You feel as if you are the only one who has ever had this happen. You believe this because no words before could ever prepare you for this hurricane of the mind. Sure you have had people attempt to describe it to you, but, by way of personal analogy, you easily dismiss it as something that can be overcome with a quick change of thinking. Angie never found anyone that she believed had entered into the same darkness. She felt alone.

I have been very different. I have not felt alone for two reasons:

1. While I have talked about the absence of God in many areas, he has joined me every moment in prayer. It has been one constant that I can not deny. He listens to my sadness and holds me. That is the best way I can describe it. My theology does not allow for a life of ease, especially if your desire it to have him shape you. I often fearfully pray, “Whatever it takes Lord” (hoping that it does not take that much). I know, as C.S. Lewis said, “Pain is God’s megaphone to awaken a deaf world.” I am deaf in so many ways and I know that. While I can complain about the necessity of going through all this now, here in this world (especially since we will be completely sanctified in an instant at death), I know that he knows what he is doing. Therefore I gladly submit to his chisel. But while he is at work, his presence has been felt. I am not alone.

2. Since Angie’s death, I have been more aware of this type of pain. I have looked for it, noticed it, and sympathized with so many who are far too familiar with the clouds of the mind. Whether it is my two other sisters who have been here or Angie herself, I know that it is common. This helps so much. As well, this blog has served as such an encouragement. I have read every comment.  So many of you have encouraged me through this. It is not your “Buck up’s” or even your “I’m praying for you’s (as important as the latter is), but to see so many people who share the same type of story, to see so many of you who have waded this darkness and made it through, has been oxygen to a drowning man. I have to continue to remind myself that I am not alone. You have reminded me of this.

I have not been under the cloud in five days now. I don’t know why. I am done analyzing why I went into it and why I am coming out of it. (Yeah, right! I say this about ever six hours.)

I have been moving for the last week from Norman to Edmond, OK. We lost our house (another story) and are renting in Edmond. This is the primary reason why the blog has been so silent. I am exhausted. Me and my sister have moved the entire house with a pick-up and a fourteen foot trailer. Tomorrow I am going to get our eleventh load! While the emotional stress of losing a house, credit, having to rent a home, and moving ourselves would be expected to send me deeper down the hole, it has not. Moving has kept me busy in a way that does not require much mind power, creative motivation, or leadership. I have often heard that a radical change of environment helps people get through the worst of depression. They are probably right. (See, I am analyzing it again. Did not take long.)

A few random things that you should know (as I have had some concerns from some of you about many things):

  • While I said that I understand now how someone could take their life when depressed in this way, I have never considered suicide. Sure, I have petitioned for the Lord’s second coming (the righteous way of saying “Take my life Lord”), but I have not even come close to going “there.”
  • I have seen a psychologist. Yes, he did suggest that I get on Zoloft. I declined saying that I wanted to let this play out for a bit longer. I am not against anti-depressants, but I do think that depression, like any other physical pain, is a symptom—a warning—that something is wrong. I need to listen to the pain for a bit so that I can see where I am taking the wrong turns.
  • Many people have advised me to get on an anti-fungal diet believing that this is the cause of depression in so many people today. This may be the case, but not for me. The funny thing is that I just finished six weeks of the anti-fungal diet three weeks before the depression started! Maybe I needed the fungi. 🙂
  • Right now, while this is bringing a lot of color to my faith, you need to know that my faith has not changed. In fact, I would say that my faith is stronger in many ways that are hard to articulate. I don’t know how people make it through these things without the Lord.

Anyway, this post was not meant to be so long! I just wanted to update you. I expect that things will be getting back to “business as usual” here at the blog and in my ministry. Thanks again for all your prayers. As when God strengthened Elijah by letting him know he was not alone, so your candidness has with me.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (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. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    25 replies to "Not Alone"

    • Susan

      Praise God for this good report! I’m so happy to know that you are on-the-mend, Michael. God is good, isn’t He?! How providential that you have had the distraction and physical labor of a move. I can see where that might be good Rx (but sorry you lost your house!).
      How beautiful that you have not felt alone, and have gained encouragement from the stories of others who have suffered similarly. I bet this has been reciprocal therapy for many who have stopped in and read of your woes.

      Keep up your good work Michael, but take it easy. Get a bit of outdoor exercise….often (it’s supposed to be good anti-depression therapy).

      Thanks for sharing your journey with us, and allowing us to pray!

    • Henry Kang


      So glad to hear you are getting better, praise the Lord! We will continue to pray for you and your family.

    • Leslie Jebaraj

      Happy that you’re almost out of it, Michael!!

    • David Holt

      Michael, our TTP class continues to lift you and the family up in prayer. only 14 more weeks left with this group!

      We love you and appreciate your ministry.

    • JRoach

      I can now see how God used depression to further my sanctification. I believe that my two-year episode of depression increased some humility and patience in me. I am a different person now. After this trial you are going through, combined with your exceptional knowledge of Theology I can only imagine the blessings God will bestow upon you. Your blog helps me to understand that our Lord uses depression for our good and His glory. You are a role model for me and others that come to this site.

      May God bless you in every way,

    • teleologist

      It bothers me to hear that Michael has lost his house and credit. I am not sure what Michael’s financial needs are but I would like to appeal to the readers of P&P to consider giving a gift help him through this time. I am not sure how we would do this but if there are enough responses to help I am sure one of the contributors here can help set that up.

    • Dave Z

      I think this is a very wise statement:

      I need to listen to the pain for a bit so that I can see where I am taking the wrong turns.

      Glad to know you’re feeling better.

    • Kevin

      Thanks Michael for being so willing to be as transparent as you’ve been through this ordeal. For those of us who’ve not experienced such struggles, it is eye-opening, indeed. Cliche’ or not, we will continue to lift you up in prayer.

      And yes, fungus can be your friend. 🙂


    • Carrie Hunter


      Just so you know Michael did not lose his house… he actually sold that house. but due to a very unfortunate error (on the banks part!!) they were mis-applying his house payment for 6 months or so and it subsequently messed up his credit.

      I just wanted to qualify so you would know what was going on there.

      Now of course we appreciate your support! I don’t mean to say that, I just wanted to make sure the facts were straight.

      and Michael…

      We are not alone. I think that God used this situation in so many ways that to really try to pinpoint them all would be a task in itself. but in regards to that isolation…

      I think that God is using this for not only you Michael but for the many people out there that are believers and have experienced similar situations. He is using this to let them know they are not alone (either by way of His presence or the presence of other believers or the presence of other people who have experienced this same thing or all of those things combined).

      Your faithfulness to the Lord along with your out and out candor about all of this Michael has been used to touch I don’t know how many lives (I don’t think we may ever know how many people this has reached).

      Thank you for being a godly man, a godly leader, a godly boss, and a godly friend. And I thank God for putting me in your company … both as an employee and friend.


    • yingzhi

      Reading this post proves that God is answering our prayers for you. He is faithful and good.

    • PeteRock

      I definitely concur with you Carrie on the comments to Michael. Michael, I so admire your honesty, strength, and integrity in the Lord…luv u brother and in expectation to God turning everything you’ve endured for your good, including your family’s and the ministry’s.

    • JoanieD

      I am happy to read that you have had these five days free from that “cloud,” Michael. I hope it continues for you. And I hope things work out great for your family in your rented place. Thanks, as usual, for your honesty and great writing.

      (I never heard of the anti-fungal diet. I will look it up on the interent.)

    • Jay Saldana

      Depression is such a strange thing. I see it like a worm. I see it that way cause I can often feel it moving toward me. Slow and sinuous, almost friendly. It attacks me at my core. a kind of paralysis but is unseen by almost everyone. So my spiritual self lies paralyzed and my physical self moves as if nothing is wrong. Like a double hulled boat I tremble inside but make no wave in the water of my existence. I have gotten through these things by studying how others (Thomas Merton, Teresa of Avila, John of God are among my favorites) have gotten through it. I have filled my life with activity that often seems to stem the pain. The faces and laughter of my children almost always acts as a balm during the darkest times. God is away.. like across the street. I see Him waving.. I can yell at Him and He responds… He is not gone but He is not present. In the past the pain was horrible, especially before I found God and I would be … would feel like a empty hole. In those days I was a fan of Sartre. I thought I understood Sartre! it is funny now. Without God it was always surprising to see how much I thought I knew and with God it is even more surprising to see how joyfully ignorant I have become.

      There is no simple answer to this malady. I both cringe at the notion of taking a pill and wonder if my life would be less than it is if I did.
      I can tell you this Michael. I cannot count the times your ministry has been a precious grace to my life. How an off hand comment from you or Carrie or my fellow students has been a moment of Grace for me. More often than not you have been the crossing guard that brought God to my side of the street. It is nice when I am arguing with Him about some theological point that I do not understand and seem incapable of grasping, to know I can do it face to face, so to speak, with out yelling at Him. Then it passes…well, most of the time. No solutions, but my prayers.


    • nathaniel

      I went camping with my family for my daughters girl scout troop a few weeks ago. We arrived on Friday evening and started setting up camp. And then the Lord struck me and all my strength was gone. He uses a reoccurring thorn to break me to where I have no place to go but him. It forces me to hate my life, which in effect is the catalyst to His spirit to move. So as my family goes to all the events planned I cannot move and am forced to sit there and watch a storm start to move in as I sit on a bench under an awning.
      As I sit there for awhile and my strength gone, its as if the Lord is strategically allowing me to stare at my environment and am suddenly entranced with zeroing in on all the death around me. The camp-out is supposed to be a fun family event yet I am vividly seeing death, decay and pain as I look at the dead trees and bushes, weeds and every square inch of ground crawling with pain-enabled insects ready and waiting for their opportunity to make me miserable.
      Then I’m reminded….this is not my home. No, not at all. Not to love nor to want anything in it. Because to love anything here is anti-christ. I must die to this life in order to follow Him can save from this body of death.
      I don’t care what anyone thinks. The Lord is very clear about losing your life in order to find it. I know that in the end you will either love your life or you WILL hate it. And whatever method he choses to use to save us is his business. All praise to God for forcing me to see that this world is cursed and this is not my home.
      I imagine many more times to come where he will strike me in order for me to see clearly. I’m just not that smart I guess to just remember.

      Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies it bears much fruit
      – Jesus

    • teleologist

      Thank you Carrie for the clarification. I am relieved to know that it is just a mix-up. We all know that God is sovereign and providential in our lives, but sometimes He does call us to live out James 2:16.

      In Koinonia,
      May the Lord bless Michael and this ministry.

    • gary

      my wife suffers from depression. to hear your experience gives me another reason to be as helpful and understanding as i can. i love your subtle sense of humor in such a severe trial. i think your blog is the best

    • wandering_sheep

      “Happy are those who mourn, God will comfort them!” … “Take my yoke and put it on you, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit; and you will find rest.”

      We are not meant to live in sadness Nathaniel. God loves the world that He created (as opposed to the “wordly” one we have created) – shouldn’t we try to see it as He does so that we may love it too? God loves you, as you are right now on this earth – why would he want you to disappear?

      “Lose your life” in the sense that you give your will over to God, do what He requires with faith and a gentle spirit, and He will give you more than you will ever need, in this life and the next.

    • Capt. Steve

      Hi Michael,

      You mentioned a week or so ago that you had many doubts concerning your ability or ‘right’ to teach through TTP amongst other things.
      Can I just encourage you brother that TTP is one of the BEST things to happen in my ministry and for some of my people who are going through the course here in rural Australia.
      I am so grateful that God’s providence led me to your site last year. While we obviously differ in some aspects of our theology, us being Arminian. TTP is strengthening and deepening the faith of both my class and myself. It has also had flow on effects in the Doctrinal classes I teach a few times a year and also in my preaching ministry.
      I encourage people to check out your site every chance I get.
      So please, stay humble, but stay encouraged. You and your team are contributing in a very positive way to the Body of Christ. We are praying for you here as well.
      The Lord bless you mate.

    • Babylon's Dread

      No, you cannot just ‘snap out’ of it. But I can snap into it…yes I have found that focusing upon it or rehearsing it, or simply ‘remembering’ it can stir it up. My most effective weapon has been to simply refuse to entertain the thoughts that facilitate it.

      Meds are very helpful if you get the right one for your own body chemistry… I was blessed to be able to find that. The meds did not cure it, they simply put me on a level playing field. The meds gave some relief.

      Discovering the trigger points have helped… I am careful about the music I listen to, careful about the thoughts I entertain, and careful about the kind of people who drain my emotional resources (they do not get to be around me much) which is hard as a pastor.

      Suicide was not my thought but death was very appealing. It was an exit from the agony. I had 20 years of intermittent deep bout of darkness but now I have very few episodes and they affect me less devastatingly…why? I think it is the mental discipline of refusal to dwell on negative, hurtful things… a skill that came as both a gift from God and a long patient process of learning.

      I am so sorry about you sister… and about anyone who falls into this pit … peace to all.

    • starbreez

      Thank you, just for being as honestly you as possible.

      In case no one else has shared this yet, I came across this Tim Keller sermon on Psalm 42. It could give you some comfort and encouragement.

    • wandering_sheep

      Some very, very touching stories…

      It’s a continuous cycle is it not? The more faith we have that God will deliver us from this, the happier we are, the better we act, the more we will see our lives change for the better and so the more faith we have. So its Faith -> Attitude -> Action -> Faith

      When next I struggle with darkness in my heart (which, due to a combination of weakness and circumstance, is happening quite a lot at the moment), I am going to try work on all three at the same time: continuously remind myself to be patient and trust in the promise of deliverance, avoid the trigger points and don’t let the negative thoughts build momentum (great advice Babylon), and act with as much love as I can muster.

      On a different note, I think that the “treatment / no treatment” question comes down to whatever makes you a better Christian, so I don’t think that anyone can argue with another’s choice on that one.

    • Cadis

      Yes, I think Babylon’s advice is good advice. It’s not a matter of positive thinking or pulling yourself up, It is a mind shift from unthankfulness to praise, from bitterness to love. Scripture speaks of thinking on things that are pure and TRUE. I don’t believe that the meaning of pure and of good report is to imagine yourself on a sandy beach. Or to throw yourself into feel good movies where your singing ditties from “Little Mermaid”. In reality, I think delving into the imagination has raised up many unwittingly to eventually crash into reality and depression (not speaking about Michael but in general). It sounds simplistic and cliche but I don’t believe it is, and it is a lot of work to shout to your brain and say “No!” …Depression is not a gift from God, Dark night of the soul? My eye! I have learned many things from mistakes in my life but that does not mean God CAUSED or even desired my suffering and MY sin..Every good gift comes down from above..I may not be able to perfectly fit all those pieces together but I have enough to know He is true and good.

    • thook


      This is my first time posting but have been reading your posts concerning your depression. You have been on my mind and I could not help thinking of a very encouraging book my wife and I read in the midst of a very deep depression she was experiencing. The book is titled “Bright Days/Dark Nights” and written by Elizabeth Skoglund. It is a compilation of Spurgeon’s own writtings on depression, anxiety, etc. alongside her own commentary. For my wife, it was the breath of fresh air that helped her to come out of a long bout with depression. I realize, of course, you are a busy man, and I am sure you have been made aware of (and have read) many good books in regards to these issues. It is not a “fix it” book by any means. For my wife and myself it was a reminder that we are “not alone” in our suffering (as many of the wonderful posts have demonstrated), and that even the greatest of saints can suffer what can only be described as a very horrific darkness of soul. I had planned on posting what I thought would be an encouraging anecdote offered by Spurgeon regarding a horrible bout of depression he suffered, but alas, it would have been too long. I decided, rather, to recommend the book. I hope that is not too presumptuous for a first time poster that you don’t even know.

      God bless you richly.

    • Cadis


      Your depression poll is lacking. I don’t think depression is a sin anymore than I believe sickness is a sin but I believe both are a result of sin.

    • Lucian

      It’s good to know you pray and have God’s presence constantly in your mind. — It was prayer that helped me also.

      I also declined the help of anti-depressants, but in my case, I was delivered from depression on the very same evening that I was supposed to take my prescribed pills for the first time, so…

      We both know that you’re not out of the woods yet… but you are on the right track to healing…

      And remember Hebrews 4:15For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

      + May God keep you and bless you. +

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