Showing posts with label My relapse of depression in December 2006. Show all posts
Showing posts with label My relapse of depression in December 2006. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Email 11 - 24 April 2007 : My further reflections of God’s love and faithfulness

A friend wrote to me to express his concerns over what my Doctor said in my email 10. The following is my reply to this dear brother as I reflect on God’s goodness despite the dark prognosis. He is sovereign and we can trust in Him Who loves us and gave His life for us.



Dear friend,

Thank you very much for your kind email and encouragement. Thanks again for praying.

Truly the Word of God brings much comfort to my soul daily. His love, sovereignty and faithfulness is my source of strength daily. I may not always understand the paths He in His love and sovereignty is allowing me to go through, but I have no doubt at all of His love for me and those that belongs to Him. He Who has laid down His life for us will keep us for eternity. Whatever difficulties or afflictions we go through in this life is only temporary or “light” in comparison to the glory that shall be worked out.

Personally, I think that my Doctor is being very honest to warn me of the extremes of my illness. Being bipolar, means I am under the danger of falling into 2 extremes at worst. I sincerely pray and trust that God in His mercies and providence, may spare me from such extremes. But I also know the reality of it through my own experience and that of others. I am still horrified when I recall how during that severe relapse of major depression end of last year, I was so irrational and not able to think clearly to the point that I actually attempted to do away with my own life on 11 Dec 2006. Now that I am better and my mind clearer, I will never never do it and pray I will not be tempted to do it even in future relapses, as I recognize it as a “sin of the broken minds”. It dishonour God when one takes his own life even when it is through a mental illness. It will sadden and stumble other believers and non-believers. I pray that God, by His mercies and grace, will not allow me to dishonour Him through my illness. I would rather He takes me home to be with Him than to dishonour Him in anyway.

We are comforted and exhorted in the Word of God to His other beloved people:

“…..exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” Act 14:22

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” 1 Peter 4:12-13

“Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.” 1 Peter 4:16-19

Although these passages may be more directly apply to a situation of the persecution of the believers by those who are against God, I think we can also apply it when God sends dark providences into our life. We can take comfort that other believers, by God’s sovereign will and purposes, have through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. We have not suffered to the point of shedding blood like them. Some of them were sawn asunder and thrown into the lions den. So our sufferings in these manners are still considered light to some extend. I think the only exception is the lost of the joy of the Lord or His countenance for a sufferer in an episode of severe clinical depression as it is like living in hell daily.

Proverbs 18:14 says “The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?” Steve Bloem when commenting on this verse, on pages 204 and 205 of his book “Broken Minds”, Chapter 17 The Biblical Evidence, said the following:

“The Severity of a Sick Spirit

One of the clearest statements recognizing the problem of depression is hidden in the midst of the Proverbs of Solomon. Proverbs 18:14 observes,

The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity;
but a wounded spirit who can bear?

The writer is saying that the human spirit given by God is resilient and helps people get through all kinds of sicknesses. But when the spirit itself is wounded or broken, there is much to endure and no inner resource to help endure it.

Spirit is used here of the person’s inner being. If your spirit is broken, then you cannot endure; you cannot sustain the sickness. Proverbs doesn’t offer a solution for this dilemma, nor does it go into reasons why the spirit may be wounded. It simply makes a statement: When the healing mechanism is what needs to be healed, that’s a serious problem. A broken spirit, whatever the cause, puts a person in the category of not being able to go on with life in a normal fashion.”

Yet despite the extreme pain and suffering of a person with severe depression, “underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deu 33:27). We are preserved solely by God’s grace.

My Doctor’s frankness is helping me to cast myself more wholely upon God. It is true that ultimately it is our Lord Who heals us of all our diseases. We use whatever means that is available to us within our reach and continue to place our hope and trust in God Alone Who loves us and gave His Son for us. Sometimes He does not send healing immediately for His own sovereign purpose. When Mary and Martha knew that Lazarus had died, they send for the Lord as they knew He could raise the dead. But the Lord delayed for another 2 days before He went to them. By then they thought it was pointless as the body would have rotted. But the Lord Who loves them dearly, wept at Lazarus’ tomb, signifying that His delay was not a display of a lack of love. It was recorded for our comfort and edification that He loves Lazarus. He then did what no mortal human being can do - He raised Lazarus who had been dead for 2 days back to life. Such miracle greatly glorified His name and clearly demonstrated that He Alone is the living and true God Who has the power to raise the dead. In all our prayers for our suffering loved ones, we must continue to humbly submit to the sovereign will of our loving Heavenly Father.

I am attaching a very encouraging sermon by Spurgeon entitled “Beloved and Yet Afflicted”. You probably have read about this. It has brought great encouragement to me in my own struggles with persistent poor health over the years. It is comforting to know that we can be beloved of the Lord and yet afflicted. But the afflictions are consistent with His love. He in His faithfulness has afflicted us.

Spurgeon said about how the sisters much have thought upon Lazarus’ death: “We love him, and would make him well directly: thou lovest him, and yet he remains sick. Thou canst heal him with a word, why then is thy loved one sick”? Have not you, dear sick friend, often wondered how your painful and lingering disease could be consistent with your being chosen, and called, and made one with Christ? I dare say this has greatly perplexed you……

Spurgeon said about Lazarus’s death :

‘Lazarus was permitted to be sick and to die, that by his death and resurrection the apostles might be benefitted. His sickness was ‘for the glory of God.’ Throughout these nineteen hundred years which have succeeded Lazarus’ sickness all believers have been getting good out of it, and this afternoon we are all the better because he languished and died. The church and the world may derive immense advantage through the sorrows of good men: the ungodly may be awakened, the doubting may be convinced, the ungodly may be converted, the mourner may be comforted through our testimony in sickness; and if so, would we wish to avoid pain and weakness? Are we not quite willing that our friends should say of us also “Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick”?’

My Doctor’s frankness is also helping me to number my days that I may apply it with wisdom. I realize that I cannot take each day for granted or anyone for granted. I am thankful to God for using the Christian lady at Counselling & Care Centre to help me to identify some possible causes of my illnesses, one of which are some faulty thinking patterns which I am not conscious of. Through her help, I am beginning to learn to cherish the people around me, the time and strength God gives me each day to serve Him, God’s mysterious outworking in all the phases of my life whether ups or downs. I am beginning to be able to appreciate Romans 8:28 in a more intimate way. I could sensibly know that God is indeed working all things for His glory and my good though I may not fully understand the actual reason for these difficulties. I can see some goods coming out of it and I praise Him for them.

I am learning the importance of providing for my loved ones and to do so responsibly. I hope to get a will properly done up so that in the event that my mother survived me, she may be well taken care of at least financially. I also have lots of books which are very precious to me. I will sell my shirt to buy a book :-) I found much counsels and encouragements through the writing of various authors during times when I went through severe relapses of major depression and not able to tell anyone or seek other help as I was myself very confused and perplexed by what I was going through. I hope to properly will these previous books to our church library, God willing, for the benefits of other brethren and their children when I am no longer around.

I am forgetful person and tend to takes things quite lightly at time. I am sometimes easily complacent and fail to be good steward of God’s gifts and resources. Like the man with one talent, I sometimes choose to bury that one talent and gave some excuses for doing so. I have not served the Lord as I ought to. I pray that the reminder now of the possibility that one day I can lost all senses or my illness may terminate suddenly, and then I will not be able to seek or serve the Lord anymore, will enable me to be more earnest in seeking and serving our Lord Who loves us so dearly and to Whom we owe all worship and service.

So what my Doctor shared with me is not all so negative after all. I think we need to remind ourselves that we all are living as dying man daily. None of us can say for a certainty that we will live to see tomorrow. Maybe tonight the Lord will summon us into His presence. What a blessed prospect that will be! But can we do so without regretting that we have not sought and serve the Lord as we ought to. It is true that we can never do enough of these things, but yet we are exhorted to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Our inability to do as much as we ought to, is not an excuse for us not to do our best nevertheless because God can use weak vessels like us for His glory. He is the potter, we are the clay. All glory be to Him for the work of grace in our souls and the way He can use us for His glory.

Sorry for this long email. I am not defending my Doctor. Actually, he likes to joke. Hmm… I am not sure now whether these are part of his joke :-) But I think even if he meant them as a joke, there are some level of truth and seriousness there. I must not take my recovery for granted. I need to be vigilant in learning to manage my illness using various means, and depending on God’s grace to use them for my preservation and recovery. I have had so many close brush with death and yet God preserved me. The severe asthmatic attack in end Dec 2001 could have led to my sudden death according to my asthma doctor but I was wonderfully preserved. In end 2005, when our dear brother Pastor Cheah Fook Meng was suddenly taken home through an episode of dengue fever, I was wonderfully preserved in my own experience with Dengue Haemorraghic Fever. I never in my wildest imagination that I will bedown with DHF to the point of almost perish as I didn’t even know that I have had Dengue before and that this time it is Dengue again and therefore has turned into DHF. The Doctors told me that my readings were so bad when I was admitted to hospital that I almost went into the fatal Dengue Shock Syndrome. In fact during my hospitalisation, my platelet dropped so low to the point that I thought the Lord was really calling me home at last. I was then undergoing a relapse of severe depression and had been praying for many months that the Lord will take me home. So I really thought that at last the Lord is hearing my call and taking me home through this sudden DHF. But God in His sovereignty chose to preserve my life. My platelet went up and I was restored. Then there is the severe relapse of major depression end of last year in which my life could have terminated by the suicide attempted on 11 Dec 2006. Yet God once again preserved my life and led me to seek help by ways of medication, counselling, exercise, supplement, building support networks, prayers and His Words. Surely our Lord will continue to preserve me for as long as He wants me to serve Him here.

The reason why I am developing my website to share with others is so that many can benefit from my experiences. I hope especially that fellow sufferers of this perplexing illness will recognize that it is a medical illness that can be treated. There are various causes or triggering factors that we need to learn to recognize and manage them better so that we can either prevent or shorten relapse. I hope too that the website sharings will enable others who have no such experience to understand a little of the extreme pain and sufferings those are afflicted felt and be enabled to some degree, weep with those who weep, and pray for them if there is nothing else they can do. Often a sufferer in a severe relapse is not able to pray for himself for he mistakenly felt God is so far away and God has forsaken him. Scripture verses instead of comforting him only bring further self-condemnation. Read John Bunyan’s “Grace Abounding” and you will be amazed at the amount of sufferings he went through even though his is more of a spiritual depression. Depression often affects a person physically, mentally and spiritually. My own cousin sister, a professing Christian, committed suicide 4 years ago during a relapse of severe mental illness. She refused to take her medication and her families too discourage medication as they fear of the side effects of medications and ECT. But she was so ill and irrational that her life finally ended in tragic. I must not take things for granted. I know I must continue to pray and seek the Lord’s help to learn to manage my illness through using various means. But ultimately my dependence is on God, as only God in His mercies can deliver the sufferers by application of His Spirit and various means. If He doesn’t deliver us, He is still loving and kind, as He will then give us grace sufficient to bear with the afflictions and He will continue to work it for His glory and our good. This is our greatest comfort in all the changing scenes of life. May He enables us to live in this comfort and assurance.

Thanks for taking time to read this very long long email. Thanks again for all your prayers and support. May we live each day for God’s glory and the extension of His Kingdom.

Kept by God’s grace,

Email 9 - 19 April 2007 : About temptations to suicide and a book entitled “Broken Mind”

Dear friends,

Thanks again for your prayers for me. Thank God for His mercies in keeping and strengthening me. I am better generally and able to rest in total between 4 to 6 hours every night. I am still up very early every morning, usually around 4am or 5am, with racing thoughts. Thank God that after my devotion, I have been enabled to share my thoughts with you and some friends via email and also develop my website, which are very therapeutic to me. Thank God that one overseas reader of my website found that my symptoms are similar to that of his young daughter who also suffers from other mental condition. God willing, he may be flying in to Singapore to seek medical and counselling help as the help he tried to source our in his own country have not been effective in helping his dear daughter and her condition was worsening with suicidal tendencies.

Thank God that this Friday morning, I will be able to go to TTSH to be followed-up there by the psychiatrist for my medication purposes. I think the doctor probably need to adjust the dosage of my medications as I seemed to be experiencing still a mini mania episode as I am sleeping lesser than I normally do and waking up with racing thoughts. Thank God that I have some avenues to verbalise my thoughts and cope with this mini episode. Thanks for your kindness and patience in reading my emails. I hope I don’t weary you with them!

Thank God the 3 books I ordered recently have arrived yesterday. I read some partions of a book entitled “Broken Minds” by Steve and Robyn Bloem, and found it very very encouraging, informative and very vivid in describing the suffering of a person with severe clinical depression. I have typed out some excerpts to share on my website under ” 4) Books on Depression a) Broken Minds” :

http://www.believersencouragement.com/Bipolar.htm

One part that I like to preproduce here to share with you is the battle of the sufferers to take their own life which is a temptation I often have to fought in a severe depressive episode. I believe other brethren suffering from similar condition struggle with this too. Steve described in a very vivid manner the great temptation that overcomes him and other sufferers and called it “A Sin of the Broken Spirit.” He shared his own distressing experiences and God’s grace in preserving him from suicide. He also provided a list of the strongest reasons he had given to convince himself not to commit suicide. This will be helpful to anyone who is contemplating suicide during a severe clinical depressive episode or those with suicidal thoughts for some reasons. It may be helpful to carers of such sufferer in his attempt to dissuade him from taking his own life and I trust it will be helpful to any pastor or elders in ministering to such a one with a broken spirit.

“A Sin of the Broken Spirit

Looking at the cold statistics, we cannot forget that the numbers refer to real teenagers and young people - individual men and women of all ages - for whom daily existence has become so awful that self-destruction is preferred. Many of these people are married with young dependent children, just as I was when suicide seemed so appealing. So the human cost goes far beyong the people who die. The dying are parents, spouses, siblings, and children. They have coworkers and fellow students and teachers. They play in the park and shop at the mall. When they die by their own hand, they leave a lot of emotional carnage among the living.

The reason so many mentally ill people commit suicide is not that they are uncaring of others or morally bankrupt. They fall prey to a disease that poisons their minds. Their mood is utterly dark and alone, and a shadowy doorway beckons as the only escapte from hell. Suicide has been called a movement away from the pain. Scripture in fact recognizes the unbearable pain that leads to the temptation to suicide. Proverbs 18:14 states, “The spirit of a man can endure his sickness, But as for a broken spirit who can bear it?”

Grace alone answers the question, and it comes in different forms to bear the broken spirit through tribulation. Acccording to 1 Corinthians 10:13, God will never allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able to resist. That is true of all tempations, but we still fail to resist and do yield to sin. The difference with this sin is that, heinous though self-murder by a Christian may be, it is the sin committed by a broken spirit.

It could shock some to read that a young Christian father and husband, ordained to the gospel ministry after graduation from a conservative, Bible-teaching institution, could seriously be tempted to suicide. After entertaining such thoughts, shouldn’t I be disqualified forever from the ministry? If you believe that, then you must in fairness say that no man who has ever broken any of the commandments is qualified. Humans from a broken world are the only sort God calls to lead His church. To be human is to know, and occasionally fall victim to, temptation. Most are not faced with a temptation to take their own lives. My personal struggle with that temptation has been a tough one. By God’s grace, I have never actually attempted suicide, but in the midst of a severe depressive episode, the temptation to do so remains a formidable fiery dart in the Devil’s arsenal.

According to 1 Corinthians 10:13, God will never allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able to resist. Too often God’s gift of grace in trial and temptation is presented as a grace that alleviates suffering so that the believer can bear it. But it may be that He does not change the struggle but gives strength of mind to bear up under it.

Some counselors do not appreciate the depths of struggle and are quick to condemn. In so doing, they can help Satan push a believer toward suicide. The King James Version offers an apt translation of 1 Thessalonians 5:14 : “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded…” The Greek here literally means “small souled.” A clinically depressed person does feel, as I sometimes have felt, feebleminded. I think we get the meaning in this verse turned around. We comfort the unruly and save our harshest warnings for the weak.Extracted from pages 56 and 57.

Put on the Armor

We should instead be helping the feebleminded to put on the armor of God so that they can stand against Satan. In the batle against temptation to suicide, the helmet of salvation and the breastplate of righteousness take on particular importance…….Extracted from page 57.

STEVE: MAKING THE CASE FOR LIFE

In the person contemplating suicide, the brain has been thrust into a swamp of sadness, where God seems to be either angry or missing. It is hard to fight Satan-stirred emotions when the mind does not seem to work, when the spirit is broken, when all positive feeling is gone.

In such times, God provides others who can come alongside. Pastors on the front line here, for they often are the ones who hear the depressed person’s last call of despair. We’ve already seen that doctors also encounter these cries. Professionals in the field of ministry and medicine need to be familiar with the indicators of suicide. Anyone who is ever in a counseling role needs training in how to talk to someone who is entertaining thoughts of suicide.

But anyone can suddenly find himself or herself in conversation with a suicidal person. If so, some general principles can help:

If someone does bring up such thoughts, encourage the person to talk openly and honestly about them. This person is already thinking about it and may already have a plan.

Any truthful deterrant you can give is appropriate.

Since the person may not consider suicide to really be “murder,” it is wise to gently remind of the sixth commandment….

… A nurse wrote, telling real stories of unsuccessful suicide in which the survivors ended up

seriously disabled. ….

The thoughts and others like them were a potent restraint. Here is a lists of the strongest reasons I have given to convince myself not to commit suicide.
- It is a sin and would bring shame to Christ and His church.
- It would please the Devil and would weaken greatly those who are trying to fight him.
- It would devastate family members and friends, and you may be responsible for them following your example if they come up against intense suffering.
- It may not work, and you could end up severely disabled but still trying to fight depression.
- It is true - our God is a refuge, “and those who know Your name will put their trust in You, for You, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You” (Ps.
9:10). God, your Father, will deliver you through what you are facing. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 1:10 that God “delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us.”
- Help is available. If you push hard enough, someone can assist you to find the help you need.
- If you are unsaved, you will go to hell. This is not because of the act of suicide but because all who die apart from knowing Christ personally will face an eternity in a far worse situation than depression.
- If you are a Christian, then Jesus Christ is interceding for you before the Father, that your faith will not fail. He shares your afflictions. Psalm 56:8 says, “Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?”
- God will keep you until you reach a day when your pain will truly be over. Wait for God’s time for that, not your own. According to Revelation 7:17c, “God will wipe every tear from their eyes.” After going through some awful things, Paul was still able to say, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom.
8:18). Extracted from pages 58 to 60.”

Do visit my website when you free to read up more on the excerpts especially on the effect Steve’s illness has on his wife, Robyn and their other family members. If you are able to obtain the book, it will make a very good resource material to help you in your pastoral counselling to God’s suffering children. I highly recommend this book. I have not read the whole book but have found what I read so far very informative. I identify with many of Steve’s struggles but realized now that by God’s mercies I have been spared many pains and sufferings he has gone through.

Thanks again for all your prayers and encouragements. May we continue to live for God’s glory.

In the Lord’s mercies,


Email 10 - 23 April 2007 : My reflections of God’s goodness despite the unpleasant prospect of my illness

Dear Friends,

Greetings to you in our Great High Priest Jesus Christ!

It was good to be in the house of the Lord again yesterday to worship and fellowship. Every such opportunity now to me is a privilege not to be taken for granted. Thank God for His mercies.

Thanks again for your prayers and encouragements. It means a lot to me. It is such a tremendous source of support to me as I learn to wait upon our Lord for strength and grace daily and I thank God for you always and your willingness to walk with me through this difficult journey. I recognize this as a blessing from God and a token of His love for unworthy me because of what Christ our Lord has done for us by laying down His life on the cross for us and redeemed us from the power and effect of sins.

Thank God for enabling me to rest well last night. I am up early this morning feeling much refreshed, and so here I am again, at my keyboard typing out some of my thoughts and feelings to share with you God’s goodness to me in many wonderful ways.

I thank God for His many mercies to me in providing very good doctors and counselors for me and also in providing many caring family members, brethren, friends and colleagues. I am especially thankful to God for providing a caring new Doctor, to follow-up on my medications. I realized it can be a long process to find the right treatments for my condition and I am grateful to God for providing a very experienced and caring doctor. The Doctor is a very humorous doctor and I really thank God for him. He has made my first visit with him such a pleasant and memorable one. Instead of sitting in his room and recounting my past history of relapses in tears or anguish, there I was sitting in his room and laughing every now and then at his jokes (which I have to, at times, use much wisdom to discern because he jokes without laughing or smiling!) Can you imagine such comical scene? :-) Well, with God all things are possible!

But I must confess that these few mornings, when I up very early and reflected on what he told me about my condition, tears came to my eyes. He had told me very honestly that based on my family history and history of relapses in the past, there is a possibility that despite being on medication and having other helps, I can still fall into very severe major depression to the point that I am tempted to suicide again, or on the other extreme of the pendulum, I may become very high in an episode of manic to the point that I can become crazy! I felt as if I have been given a “sentence” that is worst than an death sentence or worst than being told I have 4 stage of terminal cancer. To be told that one can either be so depressed to the point of ending ones life in suicide or one can be so high to the point of losing ones mind and becomes crazy, is a very very difficult experience. I take great comfort in the knowledge that God loves us dearly and will not allow us to be tempted more than we can bear. No matter what difficulties or even dark valleys, He in His love and sovereignty, allows us to go through, He is with us and will never never leave us nor forsake us. He has promised:

“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. For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: …… Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: …. Fear not: for I am with thee: …..;” Isaiah 43:2-5

I am taking comfort from the following Scripture passages too:

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.” 2 Corinthians 4:6-11

“Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:14-18

“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:” 2 Corinthians 5:1-2

Thank God for the book “Broken Minds” by Steve and Robyn Bloem which I am reading now. Steve described in such vivid manner the difficulties he went through in his own experiences with depression and the long tedious process of finding the right treatment for him. Through his writing I could identify with some of his sufferings and I know now that I am not alone in these difficult struggles. In fact Steve went through even more deep trials and sufferings than me as his illness was very severe. The struggles he went through in order to come to term with his illness was understandable as depression is generally a stigma in our society and especially among Christians. No blood test, x-ray, ECG or scan can reveal the presence of this invincible illness yet its effect is devastating. Steve’s apprehension about being put on antidepressant or to “pop the pills” is common to all sufferers of this perplexing illness. Steve share in Chapter 9 The Chemical Response to Mental Illness of his book “Broken Minds”, page 103:

“Christians are still among the most resistant to treatment. We tend to balk at the idea that believers can have mood problems. This resistance persists in part because we have not learned what an antidepressant is or does.

For my depression, I could not think it away, pray it away, or exorcise it. I claimed Bible verses. “Sorrowful yet always rejoicing” (2 Cor. 6:10) did not apply. Group therapy provided only a brief catharsis during a period of moderate depression.

In Christian literature I found little counsel about how Christians should approach the taking of such medications. Few fellow believers I knew were positive about taking such drugs. I could understand that. When a psychiatrist came in to explain psychotropic medicines to our pastoral internship class, I was the first intern to raise my hand, questioning their use.

If I were a pastoral intern today, I might raise the same objections, even though a lot of research has come along to clarify the role of chemistry in mental illness. There is still among Bible-believing Christians a strong tendency either to deny the efficacy of antidepressants, antipsychotics, and mood stablizers or to try to integrate the place of medication into a nonmedical model.”

On the great temptation sufferers often face and the effects of medications or even ECT treatment in saving lives, Steve shared in Chapter 4 The Alluring Song of Suicide, Broken Minds, pages 60 and 61:

“Above all, do not ‘freak out’ around someone who might be suicidal. A calming word of love may not be all that’s needed, but it’s a start. Overreaction can unravel the fragile web that still holds the person together.

A particular warning about overreacting relates to medication. More will be said below about medication, but a somber warning in relation to depressed people is in order. You may truly believe that all medicines, or at least all antidepressants, are of the Devil. You may be able to convince the person to stop taking medicine, just as you might convince a diabetic to trust God instead of insulin. If you do either, you are betting someone’s life on the truth of your own particular theology. Are you willing to accept the responsibility for sending another person to his or her death?

As both a professional counselor and someone who has been suicidal, I say strongly and plainly that it can be every bit as fatal for someone with clinical depression to stop taking medication as for the diabetic to suddenly quit all treatment. Christians sometimes have a particular aversion to electroconvulsive therapy (E.C.T.) or shock treatments. Family members and fellow church members may be horrified by the thought of them. But it is hard to argue with fact: Someone who has had a series E.C.T. treatments seldom commit suicide. E.C.T. is the psychiatrist’s emergency tool. It saves live.”

I am of the opinion that while self-help techniques and some natural remedies can help people with mild depression, those who suffer from severe depression do need some kind of medication besides these helps to preserve their lives. Medications and medical treatments then must be viewed in these cases as gifts from God and not a rejection of God’s grace. In my own experience with severe major depression and constant struggles with suicidal thoughts and temptations, I am convinced that I need to be on medication during a severe relapse, besides other help which I am already receiving such as prayers, reading God’s Words, fellowship, counseling, self-help techniques, supplement, exercise, etc. Without medications which can stabilize my mood, my condition can deteriorate to such a distressing stage that I lose all ability to think rationally and I can be repeatedly tempted to do away with my own life in moment of weaknesses. I can go through this without anyone’s knowledge and therefore no one can come on time to save me. This is what happened recently on 11 Dec 2006 and what prompted me to finally seek professional help. To protect myself from ever committing such “a sin of the broken minds” (as Steve Bloem puts it) again, I must bear with whatever inconveniences or side-effects these medications may have until God shows me another alternative. To exchange these treatments for the possibilities of other natural remedies which we have no way to know which will work for each different individual, is to take the risk of the possibility of my condition worsening and indirectly led to my eventual suicide. This is possible and I wouldn’t take the risk as suicide dishonour God. But then even on medication, I still have to know that there is still the possibility of such a sad ending. I take comfort that our Lord Who has preserved me through 17 years (or possibly more) of this illness without getting much help in the past, will now with the use of various means, continue to preserve me so that I can live for His glory and serve Him in my limited capacities, as He enables me.

I thank God for the peace and joy in my heart despite this gloomy and uncertain prospect. I am sure this is no least to your prayers to God for me. Thanks for your prayers and support. I am learning now daily to rejoice in the Lord and to be contented in my lot for His grace is sufficient for me. Even when I do not understand the paths that I am to thread, I do trust in His love and sovereignty. Like Habakkuk, I am learning this precious truth:

“Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places….” Habakkuk 3:17-19

I feel that I am living like a dying man daily. I do not know when I might have a severe relapse to the point that my life may end in some ways or I might one day lose all my senses and mind to the point that I become insane. Truly, our lives is in God’s hands. May God “..teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” Psalm 90:12.

I hope to seek and serve our Lord as best He enables me now that I am still sane and have the strength to do so, limited though it is. My limitations will enable me to cast myself more upon Him Who loves us, and depend more on His grace and faithfulness. Though I use whatever means available, ultimately my trust is in God, Who alone can raise the dead and heal all diseases. If He doesn’t, then He will take us home to be with Him where there shall be no more tears or suffering. That is a blessed prospect! So may you too find much encouragements and joy as you seek and serve Him in your various callings and no matter what difficulties or discouragements we face, let us continue to encourage ourselves in the Lord. The reminder from RC Sproul’s message yesterday on the life of David as very apt. He was distinguished as “a man after God’s own heart” because he encouraged himself in the Lord in the midst of severe trials and he enquired of the Lord before he goes his ways. May we learn to do that daily that we may live for the glory of God until the day He calls us home to our eternal rest to enjoy Him and one another for all eternity. To God be the glory.

Yours appreciatively,

Email 8 - 14 April 2007: My purpose in starting this website and posting friends’ replies

(A brother-in-Christ emailed me and suggested that I should use Person instead of Brother/Sister to mask the identity of the email writers on my website. He asked if I have the explicit permission of the writers to post their replies on the web. Some may not be comfortable with the idea. He also suggested that some of the emails may need editing to remove private and sensitive information or in some rare cases, information that I think is not suitable for public consumption, with the knowledge of the respective email writers. I thought, dear Reader, you may have the same queries in your mind too and so I have written to explain my position to this brother-in-Christ and I am putting my reply here for you and others who may be thinking of the same to understand why. Do email me personally if you wish to clarify further and if you know who I am. Thanks.)



Dear brother,

Thank you for your kind email and precious suggestions. They are very useful to me as I attempt to share my journey with others.

Actually, initially I intend to make a booklet and get the permission of various brethren to print their replies to me. I found that their replies are very encouraging and also can minister to other saints. As we all belong to the same church and to some extend do know each other’s life in different degrees, I was hoping to print the actual names of everyone so that we can get to know one another better that way too and learn from one another. I have been learning much through the different kind replies I received. And I am grateful to God for each one of them whether they be an encouragement, an admonishment or a rebuke. I felt God has something to teach me and us. So I wanted to share these blessings with our brethren besides keeping it as a journal for myself to remember God’s goodness and the kindness of so many brethren. I thought it will help our church to grow closer to one another as we have been praying for that for many years. It has been my recent blessed experience that after some 7 years of being in our church, I am finally being drawn closer to some brethren through these sharings. I didn’t know I could receive so many encouragements from so many brethren. In fact because I was experiencing a manic mood swing due to the effect of the antidepressant when I was so happy about my mother going to Hokkien service and my father’s marking of Hymns and Bible passages, almost every day I thought of some brethren whom I would like to share God’s goodness with and I started sending my emails to them. I lost count of whom I send to. Different brethren came to my mind daily. It was only when developing this website that I was overwhelmed and greatly encouraged to realize that I have written to more than 26 brethren in our church because when I used alphabet A to Z, I ran out of them quite soon. In fact I have to start using AA, AB and now I also lost count :)

This is so different from my experience 5 years ago when I had a severe relapse of major depression and attempted to share with our brethren. At that time I wrote to about 10 people out of which only 2 or 3 replied to me with encouragements. The rest either chided me for not having faith in God and being very emotional and weak all the time or they simply ignore my email and avoided me on the Lord’s day. It was a very very difficult experience for me as I didn’t know that my condition was an illness. I believed what our brethren said that I really didn’t have faith in God and I was being emotional and weak. I hate myself for being like that and I tried very hard to change with much prayers and tears.

Believe me, it takes a lot of prayers and courage for me to open myself up now to share with our brethren. The reason why I did this is because I recognised God’s goodness and mercies to me in preserving me through this difficult illness and I praise and thank Him for providing such a supportive Christian employer and two very supportive colleagues. The recent relapse was the worst I ever experienced. Now that I am better and can think more clearly, I am horrified at the way my condition has deteriorated over the years. I didn’t share this with many people as I feared many will not understand and might be stumbled. The reason why I finally sought medical help this time when I was so reluctant to do so in the past was because I attempted suicide one night in my anguish. It is difficult for me to explain the details to you. I can’t remember everything now. What I can remember is on 11 December 2006, I was so down, distress and confused over many things and life seemed so meaningless to me (a faulty thought and perspective) and the pain and anguish was so overwhelming that I felt I just can’t go on anymore. I know I should not commit suicide as it is a sin to take one’s own life and it dishonour God, but the emotional and mental pain was so overwhelming and unbearable that I lost all my senses. I didn’t care anymore. What is life? It was meaningless to me. God seemed so far away from me. He seemed to have forsaken me. What’s the use of living as in hell daily? In a moment of weakness, I decided to end my life on 11 December 2006. Even though I felt God has forsaken me, I didn’t want to die in such a way that will dishonour God’s name and stumble my mother and other non-Christians or even our brethren. I tried to think of a way to die that will look like natural death. I have no idea how to do that. When I went to sleep that night, I thought to myself that if I hold my breath long enough and don’t breath in, I might lapse into unconsciousness due to lack of oxygen and hopefully I may then die in my sleep. I tried doing that repeatedly the whole night until I was so exhausted. Somehow I fell asleep. Obviously my method didn’t work otherwise I won’t be here writing to you :) Even my psychiatrist laughed when I shared with her. She said thank God I chose that method. When I shared with Pastor 2 days later, he also thanked God that I chose that method as it won’t work!

The next day when I went to work, God providentially worked in all my colleagues heart to express deep concerns over my condition. They could identify symptoms of severe clinical depression in me and persuaded me again to seek medical help. One of my colleagues kindly fixed up an urgent appointment for me with the psychiatrist on 13 December 2006 and she also kindly paid for my consultation charges which was very expensive. We had to go to a private psychiatrist because I didn’t want my mother to know of my condition and so I cannot go to the hospital. To get a referral letter from Polyclinic to see the Specialist will take a while as the Specialist Clinics in most hospital have a long waitlist. So it was with the kindness of my colleagues that my life was indirectly preserved and I finally receive medical and counselling help. God used my colleagues to help me in this difficult trial. (Author’s note: I have just read some partions of a book entitled “Broken Minds” by Steve and Robyn Bloem, and found it very very encouraging, informative and very vivid in describing the suffering of a person with severe clinical depression. I have typed out some excerpts to share on the “Bipolar Page” under ” 4) Books on Depression a) Broken Minds” : http://www.believersencouragement.com/Bipolar.htm

One part that I like to preproduce here to share with you is the battle of the sufferers to take their own life which is a temptation I often have to fought in a severe depressive episode. I believe other brethren suffering from similar condition struggle with this too. Steve described in a very vivid manner the great temptation that overcomes him and other sufferers and called it “A Sin of the Broken Spirit.” He shared his own distressing experiences and God’s grace in preserving him from suicide. He also provided a list of the strongest reasons he had given to convince himself not to commit suicide. This will be helpful to anyone who is contemplating suicide during a severe clinical depressive episode or those with suicidal thoughts for some reasons. It may be helpful to carers of such sufferer in his attempt to dissuade him from taking his own life and I trust it will be helpful to any pastor or elders in ministering to such a one with a broken spirit. Please read the excerpt at the end of this email.

If you are in Singapore, and you are suffering from Depression or some form of similar mental illness, or you know of someone suffering thus and is suicidal, please know this is an emergency situation as life can be endangered. Go to “Contacts” page to find the relevant parties you can contact for help. Know that you may be used of God to save a life!)

One of my colleagues was very puzzled over my condition and the lack of support from our church. I didn’t dare to share with many people in our church after the unpleasant experience 5 years ago. So this time initially I didn’t dare to tell anyone except Pastor as he is most supportive and understanding all the time. But my colleague’s remark one day really saddened me. She asked me why I have no support from my church though I have been so involved in the elderly’s work. She know of my involvement in the elderly’s work because I have re-scheduled my working hours several times to visit the elderly people along the weekday after work. She and my other colleagues were very patient and kind to allow me to try out different timings. I went earlier to work on some days so that I leave office earlier to go to visit some of the elderly. I have to do these within my working hours as my mother will not like me to do so and so I have to keep it from her. I was over-straining myself actually but because I enjoyed the visitation so much, I wasn’t conscious of my tiredness. I sleep like a log each night. But my body was breaking down. I started catching cold, cough and virus infection easily. I missed work and church every now and then. But I still refuse to give up. I couldn’t slow down. Finally my body and mind broke down. I suffered a burn-out and then severe clinical depression sets in. My colleague knew that my severe relapse this time was because I over-strained myself in the elderly’s work. She therefore expected that our church will be very supportive to me. I was very sad by her remark and I ask myself why not? I prayed earnestly about it. I asked myself why in my deepest trials, I cannot bring myself to share with my brethren who are supposed to be the ones who can pray and encourage me? Is not that what we are encouraged to do as a body of Christ? To weep with those who weep and to rejoice with those who rejoice? When one member of our body suffers, did not all the member suffer with it? (1 Corinthians 12:26)

My employer ever told me before that when a godly minister overseas suffered a burn-out and went into severe depression, he had to stop all preaching and ministry for some months. During that time the whole church prayed and encouraged him. The church was wonderfully supportive. She felt sad that this will not be the case in Singapore churches. Depression is still a stigma here and so misunderstood. The views of the people in Singapore are generally still very narrow and they will not be supportive. I felt very very sad. I cannot express in words the pain in my heart. I felt very alone. When a minister’s wife from overseas had her severe relapses of depressions, we all pray for her as a church even though she is not our church members. When another minister suffered a burn-out and depression, for so many years we pray for him and even upto now. But when our own member suffers the same fate, he/she cannot expect the same support…. I don’t know if you can understand how sad I felt then…. (Now I realized I have misunderstood many kind brethren’s carefulness to avoid saying the wrong things to me as avoiding me or despising me. These are part of my faulty thinking patterns but I was not aware of it then. May God and our brethren forgive me.)

In my sadness and disappointments , I could have chosen to be very bitter and maybe even leave the church. Or I can choose to pray to God for the courage to share my experiences, my mistakes, my sufferings and God’s abounding grace to my beloved brethren. Believe me, I love our church. No matter how our brethren treat me intentionally or unintentionally, I strive always never to bear grudges but to understand that we all have our limitations. As far as we desire the fellowship and love of all our brethren, we cannot expect the same level of friendship with everyone. When I first left my old church, I studied into many issues including women should not lead in the church, singing of Psalms exclusively in worship, head covering for women in public worship, family worship, etc. I also came to the conviction that the church should not have fellowship groups but should attempt to fellowship as a whole. I am glad that Pastor shares the same understanding and have always been admonishing us not to form clicks but to try and fellowship with one another. Maybe I am very na├»ve. I have been trying to do that ever since I came to our church in year 2000. That is why I took the time and trouble to make the small hand-made calendar for the whole church whenever I can. I not only made for you but usually I made around 70 to 80 calendars yearly for as many family and individuals in our church as I can. I usually have to start this project in November in order to complete all the printing, cutting, stapling, pasting and posting on time for the new year.

Even last December, despite the severe relapse of clinical depression, I still greatly desire to make the calendars for our church. It is a token of my love and appreciation for all our brethren. I often regret that I couldn’t fellowship well with many people. It’s been 7 years since I came to our church and yet I only could enter into a deeper level of fellowship with limited number of brethren. I felt I have failed in obeying God’s commandments to love my neighbour as myself. If I did that, surely they will love me in return to some degrees. But I was not disheartened. I was determine to continue to love as best I can, by God’s grace and enablement. So doing the calendars yearly was one of my feeble attempt to do so. But I was so unwell in December 2006. I was struggling to cope with life and work. I even have to make the painful decision to stop from attending and serving in the evening services until I am better. That was one of the hardest decisions for me to make because I enjoy ministering to the elderly very much and I know they value my friendship too. I felt I was selfish to not care for them but I couldn’t even take care of myself. My brother has gone to overseas and my mother needs my emotional support and care. I was struggling to cope with work though my colleagues were so supportive. How can I stumble them further? I had no choice but to stop from the elderly’s work first as there are many brethren serving there. Even then I was worried that my non-involvement will discourage our brethren and I took the trouble to write to quite a number of our faithful brethren who has been serving faithfully. During that time what I needed most was rest. But I couldn’t rest. On my mind was the desire to do the calendars for our church. But how to do it within 2 weeks? It was mid December already. How to cramp 2 months work into 2 weeks? But if I don’t do it, I felt I was not loving my brethren (of course, these are faulty thoughts! These are symptoms of my disease. Now I can see more clearly).

I couldn’t sleep. I called Pastor and another sister to ask their advice. Both of them advised me against doing the calendar. They felt that I should rest and recover first. Pastor suggested that I can attempt something simpler if I still want to do something for our brethren. He suggested maybe make a small bookmark each for our brethren. Actually, I was very reluctant to forgo the calendars. I know some brethren really look forward to receive it and some brethren have told me in the past how they were encouraged by it. So I want to encourage our brethren and I didn’t want them to think that I don’t care for them anymore. But I was in no state of mind or body to do it. Despite Pastor’s and the sister’s advice, I was still determine to try and do the calendars. But instead of enjoying the process of doing them as I did in the past years, I felt very very pressurized this time. I was so tired every day after work and I still tried to work on my the calendars. Finally when I was extremely exhausted and have to sleep through the Christmas public holiday, then I realized I couldn’t do them. I finally abandoned the whole idea and left the half-done calendars alone. They are still there among my things now, half done. I couldn’t even attempt the bookmarks Pastor suggested. I was simply not fit for anything…..

I am thankful to God that even though initially I didn’t share my actual illness with many people, there were many brethren who showed genuine concerns for me. As I was rather unwell for some months and have been missing worship every now and then, more and more brethren began to express concerns for me. It was because of their love and concerns that I finally decided to open up. How can I hide my sufferings from people who love me dearly. They will feel very hurt if they finally know that I have been suffering silently and not trusting them enough to share with them so that they can pray with and for me. So I started by sharing with a few trusted brethren. Thank God they all responded very encouragingly. As the months went by, I shared a little with a few more brethren each time. I was heartened that the experience this time is so different from 5 years ago! Thank God! At last I could return to my office and testify to my colleagues that I was wrong about not getting our church’s support. I told them that there are a few brethren who are very supportive and I should have shared with them earlier on. My colleagues were very relieved to know that I do have support from my church after all.

Recently, when my mum went to the Hokkien service in March, I was so thrilled. And then 2 weeks later, God mercifully allowed me to discover my father’s markings in the Hymns and Bible passages. As I was very happy, my mood swing to high and elevated mood due to the effect of the antidepressant. I didn’t know that I am prone to bipolar and antidepressant was not suitable for me. During those few weeks, I couldn’t sleep or sleep for mostly 3 hours every night. I woke up very alert and have a lot of happy thoughts of God’s goodness to me. I had to share with someone. I need to verbalise my thoughts and feelings. That was when I started writing to our brethren, one by one. As I was extremely elevated in my mood and have more energy than usual, I began to write very long email and shared with many brethren. I lost count of whom I shared with as I said previously. I am thankful to God that many brethren responded very encouragingly. I learn so much from these brethren. I am also very encouraged that through these correspondences I was able to catch up with some brethren whom I have lost touch with. I was also able to deepen my friendships with many brethren and even develop some new friendships. I do not know why but I wanted to share with as many people in our church as possible as I have experience so much kindness from them towards my parents. So I wanted to share these joys about my parents with them. And God, in His grace, also gave me courage to share my illness with them. I am thankful to God that many brethren are very supportive and expressed that they will pray for me. They have also benefited from my sharings in some ways. Like you, some brethren simply cannot understand this illness and what the sufferers go through but they are learning to be more sympathetic and more prayerful. I thank God that something good comes out of my sufferings and sharings.

At first, I wanted to compile all the correspondences into a booklet and obtain the brethren’s permission to print them. But I then realize that it will take forever to compile that booklet because I am going through a journey and it can be a rather long one :) I want to share this journey with you and our other brethren. When will I then compile this booklet? An idea then came to me. Why not put it on the web so that our brethren can read whenever they want to and maybe others on the internet can benefit from these sharings too as I journey on. I often benefit from other sufferers sharings on the internet. As many of the replies from our brethren are very very encouraging, informative and edifying, I decided to put all on the web. I didn’t want anyone to feel left out. But I was advised not to put our names on the web. That was why I decided to use brother A or sister B to represent the various brethren. I thought this way others won’t know who the writers are and can still benefit from every brethren’s writings and not just mine. I didn’t think it matters that we can identify among ourselves whom the writers are as we belong to the same church. I thought there is nothing to hide. We are one body in Christ. So I didn’t ask the various brethren for permission as I presume most will not mind. Some brethren did implicitly told me to go ahead and publish their replies on my webpage when they learnt that I am developing a website, as they felt that others could benefit from their writings too. Thank God for these brethren.

Thanks for your reminders to me now that some brethren may not feel comfortable and also I should edit the contents and remove personal or sensitive information. I have just updated my website to remove most of the replies from our brethren. I will write to them individually for permission to publish their replies on my website. I think I will still not print their names for privacy purposes. I have put some replies which are quite short and neutral. I will write to our brethren to confirm that they don’t mind my publishing these replies on the web.

Sorry for this long email. I am still going through a “manic” episode, so I am having racing thoughts and verbalising my thoughts and feelings in this way is helpful for me. Thought it might help you to understand my rationale a bit better. I am grateful for your suggestions and I value them. I will try my best to implement them. Please do not feel constraint in writing to me. I will ask your permission in future before I publish your replies :)

May the Lord bless our church as we seek Him in worship and fellowship tomorrow. I am thankful to God for placing me in our church and blessing me with the fellowship and friendship of so many kind brethren. I hope others on the internet will be encouraged by the many encouraging replies I can post on my webpage and to realize how blessed it is for a sufferer of this illness to be so supported by one’s friends and brethren. May they do likewise to other sufferers. To God be the glory.

Thanks again for everything. Please forgive me if I have offended you in anyway through my writings. Please understand that I have no such intentions. I esteem you highly and pray for you & family daily. May God continue to bless and keep you in His loving care, and continue to use you for His glory to be

a blessing to His beloved people.

With appreciation and prayers,



“A Sin of the Broken Spirit

Looking at the cold statistics, we cannot forget that the numbers refer to real teenagers and young people - individual men and women of all ages - for whom daily existence has become so awful that self-destruction is preferred. Many of these people are married with young dependent children, just as I was when suicide seemed so appealing. So the human cost goes far beyond the people who die. The dying are parents, spouses, siblings, and children. They have coworkers and fellow students and teachers. They play in the park and shop at the mall. When they die by their own hand, they leave a lot of emotional carnage among the living.

The reason so many mentally ill people commit suicide is not that they are uncaring of others or morally bankrupt. They fall prey to a disease that poisons their minds. Their mood is utterly dark and alone, and a shadowy doorway beckons as the only escape from hell. Suicide has been called a movement away from the pain. Scripture in fact recognizes the unbearable pain that leads to the temptation to suicide. Proverbs 18:14 states, “The spirit of a man can endure his sickness, But as for a broken spirit who can bear it?”

Grace alone answers the question, and it comes in different forms to bear the broken spirit through tribulation. Acccording to 1 Corinthians 10:13, God will never allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able to resist. That is true of all tempations, but we still fail to resist and do yield to sin. The difference with this sin is that, heinous though self-murder by a Christian may be, it is the sin committed by a broken spirit.

It could shock some to read that a young Christian father and husband, ordained to the gospel ministry after graduation from a conservative, Bible-teaching institution, could seriously be tempted to suicide. After entertaining such thoughts, shouldn’t I be disqualified forever from the ministry? If you believe that, then you must in fairness say that no man who has ever broken any of the commandments is qualified. Humans from a broken world are the only sort God calls to lead His church. To be human is to know, and occasionally fall victim to, temptation. Most are not faced with a temptation to take their own lives. My personal struggle with that temptation has been a tough one. By God’s grace, I have never actually attempted suicide, but in the midst of a severe depressive episode, the temptation to do so remains a formidable fiery dart in the Devil’s arsenal.

According to 1 Corinthians 10:13, God will never allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able to resist. Too often God’s gift of grace in trial and temptation is presented as a grace that alleviates suffering so that the believer can bear it. But it may be that He does not change the struggle but gives strength of mind to bear up under it.

Some counselors do not appreciate the depths of struggle and are quick to condemn. In so doing, they can help Satan push a believer toward suicide. The King James Version offers an apt translation of 1 Thessalonians 5:14 : “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded…” The Greek here literally means “small souled.” A clinically depressed person does feel, as I sometimes have felt, feebleminded. I think we get the meaning in this verse turned around. We comfort the unruly and save our harshest warnings for the weak.Extracted from pages 56 and 57.

Put on the Armor

We should instead be helping the feebleminded to put on the armor of God so that they can stand against Satan. In the batle against temptation to suicide, the helmet of salvation and the breastplate of righteousness take on particular importance…….Extracted from page 57.

STEVE: MAKING THE CASE FOR LIFE

In the person contemplating suicide, the brain has been thrust into a swamp of sadness, where God seems to be either angry or missing. It is hard to fight Satan-stirred emotions when the mind does not seem to work, when the spirit is broken, when all positive feeling is gone.

In such times, God provides others who can come alongside. Pastors on the front line here, for they often are the ones who hear the depressed person’s last call of despair. We’ve already seen that doctors also encounter these cries. Professionals in the field of ministry and medicine need to be familiar with the indicators of suicide. Anyone who is ever in a counseling role needs training in how to talk to someone who is entertaining thoughts of suicide.

But anyone can suddenly find himself or herself in conversation with a suicidal person. If so, some general principles can help:

If someone does bring up such thoughts, encourage the person to talk openly and honestly about them. This person is already thinking about it and may already have a plan.

Any truthful deterrant you can give is appropriate.

Since the person may not consider suicide to really be “murder,” it is wise to gently remind of the sixth commandment….

… A nurse wrote, telling real stories of unsuccessful suicide in which the survivors ended up seriously disabled. ….

The thoughts and others like them were a potent restraint. Here is a lists of the strongest reasons I have given to convince myself not to commit suicide.
- It is a sin and would bring shame to Christ and His church.
- It would please the Devil and would weaken greatly those who are trying to fight him.
- It would devastate family members and friends, and you may be responsible for them following your example if they come up against intense suffering.
- It may not work, and you could end up severely disabled but still trying to fight depression.
- It is true - our God is a refuge, “and those who know Your name will put their trust in You, for You, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You” (Ps.
9:10). God, your Father, will deliver you through what you are facing. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 1:10 that God “delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us.”
- Help is available. If you push hard enough, someone can assist you to find the help you need.
- If you are unsaved, you will go to hell. This is not because of the act of suicide but because all who die apart from knowing Christ personally will face an eternity in a far worse situation than depression.
- If you are a Christian, then Jesus Christ is interceding for you before the Father, that your faith will not fail. He shares your afflictions. Psalm 56:8 says, “Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?”
- God will keep you until you reach a day when your pain will truly be over. Wait for God’s time for that, not your own. According to Revelation 7:17c, “God will wipe every tear from their eyes.” After going through some awful things, Paul was still able to say, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom.
8:18).”

Extracted from a book entitled “Broken Minds” by Steve and Robyn Bloem pages 58 to 60.

(Author’s notes: If you are in Singapore, and you are suffering from Depression or some form of similar mental illness, or you know of someone suffering thus and is suicidal, please know this is an emergency situation as life can be endangered. Go to “Contacts” page to find the relevant parties you can contact for help. Know that you may be used of God to save a life!)



I have written to some brethren to ask their permissions to print their email replies on my website. Several kind brethren responded with their willingness to allow me to publish their replies trusting that it will give glory to God and provide encouragement to other believers. Two of the several replies are as follows:



Dear sister

Most certainly – if you think it is helpful, feel free to include my email replies to your ‘blogsite’.

I can understand your point about the general lack of understanding here about people suffering from depression. Yes, it is sad that some still view sufferers in negative light due to a lack of knowledge about the syndrome. But I think the fact that you know about this is helpful to you. That way, you moderate your expectations of others and try to put charitable thoughts into others – such as, it’s not that they don’t care, they don’t know how to etc.

It’s good to see you in the morning service yesterday. Be assured of my family’s continual prayer for your recovery and your learning of more ways to cope with your difficulties.

In the Lord


Hi sister,

No problem, you can print my replies as attached. I’ve just visited your site and found it to be informative and useful. May the Lord use it for His glory. I’m recovering from flu which lasted more than a week, and was not able to attend church last Sabbath. Hope to catch up with you this Sabbath!

Take care,

Dear Friends,

How are you? Thanks again for your prayers and support. Here I am again at my keyboard to type our some thoughts and feelings to share with you :) Thanks for offering me a “listening ear”.

Recently, a sister-in-Christ wrote to encourage me in my afflictions. She suggested to me that since I enjoy doing art and crafts, that I should do them when I am down with depression. Actually, when I am well, I can enjoy crafts, reading God’s Words, writing, fellowship, singing Psalms & Hymns, etc. But when I am afflicted with severe clinical depression during a relapse, I am not able to do all these. I cannot experience any pleasure in anything I do. Bipolar disorder and other clinical depressions are medical illnesses that need to be treated. It is different from the normal ups and downs which can be overcome by prayers, reading God’s Words and doing things we enjoy or just having fellowship.

During a severe relapse of clinical depression, I experience the following symptoms everyday for a few months which are beyond my control and I can’t “get out” of it despite many prayers or attempt on my own to do so:

Everyday for at least 3 to 6 months, I experience
- Feeling sad or blue, or “down in the dumps”
- Loss of interest or pleasure in things I used to enjoy
- Feeling worthless, hopeless, or guilty (these feelings are faulty but I was unaware of their faultiness during a relapse)
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Changes in weight or appetite
- Feeling tired or having little or no energy
- Feeling restless and confused over life, God, people, myself, etc
- Lost the ability to experience God’s presence with me (often wrongly concluded God has abandoned me). Often not able to enjoy prayers, reading God’s Words and fellowship with brethren although I continue to do so at a lesser degree with much effort.
- Problems concentrating or making decisions. Often having difficulty coping with challenges at work and thus become less productive and backlogs will built up resulting in increasing stress and feeling of hopelessness.
- Thoughts of death (ie. wish the Lord will call me home soon or wish I will not wake up in the morning anymore) or suicide (think of ways I can end my life which will look like an accident - these thoughts are faulty and irrational but uncontrollable during those times as I could not think rationally)

During an episode like this, I often thought wrongly that God has abandoned me. I thought I will never recover or get well and that it is better for the Lord to take me home and be with Him rather than to go on like that. I tend to isolate myself as I have difficulty understanding what I was going through, God’s dealings with me and also don’t know how to share with others or describe to them what I was going through. These unknowingly only aggravated my conditions as I tend to spiral down further and it is also a vicious cycle. It’s like me going round and round in a maze or sinking deeper and deeper into the quicksand the more I struggle in it. Those are very painful and confusing times for me. As a believer who sometimes enjoy very heart warming and sweet communion with our Lord especially when my moods are normal or elevated (an episode of mania/manic), to lost the sense of God’s presence with me during an episode of severe depression, was most unbearable. I can bear with any physical pain or tiredness, but found it most difficult to bear with the thought of the absence of God’s presence with me. These thoughts and feelings are faulty but at that point of time I could not see it that way. The depression affected my brain and caused me to think and feel wrongly. It is a symptom of the illness. Now I can see more clearly. But when I was in it, I couldn’t see it this way. As a result, I experience something like a taste of hell daily, without the awareness of God’s love and presence with me. Just like our Lord has experienced being forsaken by God when He was on the cross! I could understand a little of that anguish!

Sometimes, during such relapses, I wonder whether I am truly converted or that I have sinned a great sin against God. But no amount of self-examination, repentance and prayers could cause me to sense anew God’s presence with me or to know that He loves me still. This is because clinical depression with some chemical imbalances causes me to have very low moods and flat moods, which resulted in wrong thoughts and feelings, and consequently wrong perspective and feelings of guilt, worthless and hopelessness. I am not sure if you could understand the pain and anguish I often experience in such an episode. How can I tell another sister or brother of these thoughts and feelings? Who can understand? Often the kindness of many brethren in being very careful and therefore maintaining a certain distance from me for fear of saying the wrong things to me, have been sadly wrongly perceived by me to be avoiding me or despising me. I also during such relapse, tend to wrongly felt pressurized by the kind suggestions of various brethren on supplements, alternative treatments, etc in getting well. I often felt very confused on what I was going through and what ought to be done to get better. I didn’t have the energy to think or research into these avenues. As a result, I suffered even greater anguish, distress and discouragement. Now in retrospect, I repent before God and seek His forgiveness and that of some brethren for having wrongly misunderstood our brethren. Those were part of my illness actually. Now that I am better and able to think more rationally, I do sincerely appreciate all kindness and God’s goodness to me in providing fellowship and support of various brethren.

In order to help you to better understand what I go through and how I really feel (even if these thoughts are faulty), I hope these sharings and the enclosed article will further enlighten you. Hope it will help you to pray more specifically for me as I continue to wait upon the Lord for recovery and also help you to understand something of what other brethren who suffer similar conditions to me may be going through. I thank God that by God’s grace, through prayers and reading God’s Words, medication, counselling, yours and other brethren’s prayers and encouragements, some supplements, changing of diet, exercise, learning new coping strategies, etc my condition is improving day by day. Thank God for His mercies and thank you for your prayers and encouragements. May we be able to pray and support God’s suffering children whom the Lord has sovereignly allowed to be tried in these ways. God promised that He is working all things for His glory and our good.

During an episode of mania or elevated moods, I will experience the following symptoms:
- Increased energy level
- Elevated mood or high and happy mood
- Less need for sleep or less ability to sleep (sometimes insomnia - not able to sleep totally at night or sleeping for just 3 hours or so every night )
- Racing thoughts or mind jumps around (that’s why I started typing and sharing with you and our brethren my racing thoughts recently)
- Easily distracted
- More talkative than usual or feeling pressure to keep talking
- Focused on getting things done, but often completing little
- Risky or unusual activities to the extreme, even if it’s likely bad things will happen

These severe clinical depression and high elevated mood alternates for several months each until my moods returns to normal. In the recent years, my relapses have been more regular which indicates that my condition was worsening. As I have no awareness of this illness in the past, I have not taken any step to prevent it or shorten it. I am thankful to God that through this recent severe relapse, and after some 17 years of roller coaster rides of mood swings, the Lord has providentially led me now to seek medical and counselling help, besides praying and reading His Words, taking some supplements, exercise and learning new coping strategies, and sharing with my brethren and getting their prayer supports and encouragements. I trust that the Lord will continue to restore me and enable me to learn to manage my illness better so that I can live for the glory of God and be more effective in serving Him.

If you know of anyone else who is suffering from similar conditions to mine, please do let them know that this is a medical illness that can be treated. It is not wrong for Christians to seek medical help or other helps for mental disorders. Just like Christians can seek medical help and other helps when we suffer from asthma, diabetes, heart attacks, stroke, etc, so Christians can also seek medical, professional and counselling help, and other helps with mental illnesses. Please do not hesitate to share my experiences with them and I will be happy to be in contact with them, if necessary, or if I can pray or encourage them in any ways.

In time of severe clinical depression, in particular, it is important to have the prayer supports and encouragements of fellow Christians. But sadly the sufferer is often reluctant to share with people, partly because of the low and depressed mood crippling the ability to share or seek help, and also the various misunderstanding people have regarding this condition (even Christians). In one of his messages of a series of 6 video messages on “The Black Hole of Depression” by Mr David P Murray, a minister from Stornoway Free Church of Scotland Continuing (http://www.sermonaudio.com/), he quoted the following: “In his book, the Practical Workbook for Depressed Christian, John Lockley comments, ‘Being depressed is bad enough in itself but being a depressed Christian is worst. And being a depressed Christian in a church full of people who do not understand depression is like a little taste of hell.’” I know by experience, the pain of this truth. Although unintentional, sometimes the misunderstanding or lack of awareness among fellow Christians in the church resulting in a lack of support or unintentional insensitive remarks to the sufferer of this perplexing illness, can deepens the anguish that he/she is going through albeit unintentionally. Yet God is also working this for the good of His suffering child as he is enabled to look away from men to God alone for Help and strength. But having said that, it is so wonderful and encouraging to have the understanding, compassion, cares, prayers and encouragements of fellow Christians in such a dark and difficult day. It can deepen ones fellowship with God’s beloved people. I am thankful to God that this is now my experience, by His grace! Thanks for making it possible for me by your understanding, compassion, prayers, encouragement and supports. May our Lord bless your kindness to me and His other suffering children. May we all be sanctified through such furnaces of afflictions and be brought to a closer walk with God and one another as we learn to look to the Lord and support one another through all the changing scenes of life in our pilgrim journey until the Lord calls us home to our eternal rest where we can then enjoy Him and one another for all eternity. Then He share wipe away all our tears and we shall forever enjoy His presence and communion.

Thanks again for all your prayers and encouragements. May you continue to know the love of God, His joys, His mercies and faithfulness in your various callings. Take care!

With appreciation and prayers,



Some replies from my friends and brethren-in-Christ whom I shall keep anonymous unless they give me permission to put their names on this webpage:



Dear sister,

Thanks for your sharing sister. Thank God for lifting you up again from your moments of darkness. Indeed no one but you have experience once again the times of God’s gracious help in your deepest moments. We can surely see how you are drawn closer to Him in those times.

Thanks again sister for opening your thoughts to us so that we can have a glimpse of your experience to understand you better. Surely it takes a lot of courage to do that.

Above all we are glad to see that you are once again out of this difficult times by the grace of God. Your experience has also confirm my understanding of what I read recently on clinical depression. I picked up the book from our church library as I recently begin to have interest to understand these areas ….



Dear sister,

Thanks for your email and the articles. The one by Timothy Rogers is very helpful to us and hopefully we can apply some of his advice whenever Providence places us beside someone who is in depression.

I must admit it is quite difficult for me (who is quite optimistic in character) to understand the situation and what’s going on in the mind of someone who is depressed. I called a sister about a month ago, and she was so unwell that she couldn’t even talk to me for more than a minute. And she really sounded terrible. And she has been through periods of severe depression so many times. But your sharings have rebuked me and reminded me that I ought to be much in prayer for this sister, even though I do not understand the ‘why’ or ‘how’ of her condition.

Please feel free to post any of my replies onto your website. I believe it is always encouraging for christians to read of the Lord’s work in his saints, and I’m sure that there will be people who will benefit greatly from the postings on your condition and struggles.

Email 6 - 3 April 2007 : Thank God able to join public worship again

Dear Friends,

Thank God for His faithfulness. These few nights my sleep continue to improve and I am generally feeling a lot more “normal” and better. Phew, no more long emails from me! :-) Though I still wake up in the night, I am able to fall asleep again and able to get in total of about 6 to 7 hours of sleep compared to the 3 hours last week. So I am able to cope better with work and other challenges in my life. Thank and praise God! Thanks for your prayers for me.

I am especially thankful to God for enabling me to join the public worship again last Lord’s day, to partake of the Lord’s Supper and to fellowship with some brethren. Surely this is in answer to yours and our brethren’s prayers to God for me! It is sweet to be reminded afresh of Christ’s great love for us, His suffering for our sins to redeem us and His care upon us every day. May we live in humble dependence upon Him, yield our hearts and lives to Him, love and serve Him all the days of our lives.

Thank you for accepting me and continuing to treat me as a sister-in-Christ. Mental illnesses are generally stigmas in our society and sometimes even among Christians. I am thankful to God that you are very large-hearted and open-minded. You have not despised me but continue to accept me as a sister and pray for me. I felt very blessed by God to have the friendship of so many of His beloved people. I felt privilege to be cared in this way by God’s children. Surely these are tokens of God’s love and mercies to me. May God bless your kindness to this His unworthy child who is preserved by His grace alone. All praise and glory be to God!

May your Lord continue to bless and keep you and your family as you seek and serve Him together. May His joy be your strength always!

Thy mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds. Psalm 36:5

The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. Lamentations 3:24

The Lord is my strength and song… Exodus 15:2a

In our Lord’s care,


Some replies from my friends and brethren-in-Christ whom I shall keep anonymous unless they give me permission to put their names on this webpage:


Dear sister,

Thank God indeed. I am very happy to know that you are able to sleep better. It was very good to see you at worship and especially at the Lord’s Table on the Lord’s Day.

Rest assured, dear sister, that you are no less a sister and friend to me despite your afflictions. Depression is something that can hit all off us, and indeed it strikes us to various degrees at various time. It is sent by the Lord according to his good purpose which we may not immediately understand. It is not something to be ashamed about, much less to be despised. I am thankful that the Lord has by His providence led you to recognise it so that you could seek appropriate treatment because I understand how painful and baffling it can be.

Trusting that the Lord will continue to uphold your spirit as you wait upon Him.

Praying with you.


Dear sister,

Thank the Lord for His refreshing mercies. It is a good thing to be able to sleep!

We want to thank you too, for remembering us in your prayers and for your kind words of encouragement from time to time. You have received much from the brethren, partly, I believe, because you yourself have given much to others.

I think many who suffer from mental difficulties, keep largely to themselves, and so other people do not understand much about them or their conditions. Thus we do not know how to relate to them. You have been so open about your problems, which helps a lot for others to understand and pray for you specifically. This is how the church becomes more closely knit, isn’t it, when we share our problems with one another, instead of keeping them to ourselves. The Bible tells us to weep with them that weep, and rejoice with them that rejoice. We must learn to share our lives with one another. That is a very difficult thing to do, because it makes us vulnerable. But that is the only way to draw closer to each other.

We will continue to keep you in our prayers. Keep us posted about yourself! May the Lord give you tokens of his love from day to day.


Dear sister,

Just to reassure you that you will always be a sister-in-Christ to us. In fact, you are a source of encouragement to the believers around you. Your testimony to continually to trust and lean on the Lord for strength and restoration speaks loud and clear to us who are reminded of God’s goodness and faithfulness and mercy upon His people. So be ye encouraged in the Lord.

Once again, please do feel free to write. An avenue to pour out your heart is always helpful in one way or another to lift the burden away. So no pai-sei at all whether it is long or short. ? Glad to be a ‘listening’ ear.

Take Care!


Dear sister,

Thank God that you are feeling much better. I am really happy for you. Hope you will continue to get better as the days go by. Take care.


Dear sister,

We rejoice with you that sleep is getting better for you this week. Surely, the Lord is faithful in keeping His children.

We are also most encouraged by your courage to share your condition with the church and the joy that you have despite this difficult trial. Continue to press on, dear sister. We will continue to keep our knees bent for you at the throne of Grace.

God bless,


Dear sister,

Don’t worry about writting long mail to me, you can rest be assure that I will read it. I read at least twice before I can understand the content of it. I don’t look down on brethrens who are suffering from affliction because one way or another we too are suffering.

You can fellowship with me and the young people during Sabbath lunch or when you stay behind for evening worship….

Let us pray in unity for God’s grace and help. In His time He will surely answer us.

Warm Rgds in Christ.


Dear sister,

We thank the Lord for His abundant grace and mercies. Do continue to look to the Lord “one-day-at-a-time” for His grace. Do not rush things, neither be presumptous in our daily mercies, but ever trusting in Him, no matter what. He who has begun a good work in our lives, will surely continue to guide and lead us. He will never leave us or forsake us. Let us comfort and encourage ourselves with God’s faithful Words.

Do take care and God bless


Hi sister,

glad to hear that your sleep has improved and that you are getting better rest! You may need to continue to focus on the needs your health and just take things easy whatever they may be.

Appreciate your taking the time and effort to pen down and share your thoughts, something which my wife and myself will not be able to do. God bless you in your efforts in your strive to be a blessing to others.


Dear sister,

Thanks for your emails. It is a joy and encouragement reading them.

Just a quick note to say that I’m glad you managed to come for Sabbath worship last Lord’s Day and to partake together with us the Lord’s supper. Also happy to know that you’re sleeping better after the change in medication.

Continuing to pray with you towards your continued recovery.

Take care.

Rgds,


Dear sister,

Thanks for writing. Thank God for granting you better sleep.

I was glad to see you worshipping with us last Lord’s day. Thank God for His grace and mercy to us.

The Lord continues to grant you strength and joy in Him. “…….for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”—-Nehemiah 8:10

Yours prayerfully,


Dear sister,

Good to hear from you and know that you have finally found out the medical condition and is receiving the right treatment.

God is gracious and merciful. He is so good to me - opening doors for me - protecting and providing for me …..Will remember you in prayers. Take care and God bless


Dear sister,

Thank you for writing to share of God’s goodness in answering our cries. God indeed is a loving God who made us and knows that we need good sleep daily to function and He is merciful to grant you sufficient sleep. I’m encouraged to hear of His love in answering to your every need and would want to trust in Him more for His daily dealings with me.

I’m glad I’m able to take a look at you last Lord’s day though could not talk to you as I was on duty for lunch. And that you were able to partake the Lord’s Supper and to grant spiritual strength from the Lord. It was a privilege to be part of the body of Christ to remind us of our heavenly home in the midst of our earthly cares. Our lovingly Heavenly Father has never leave or forsake us. Let us increase our faith and trust in our Lord Jesus Christ who love us and gave Himself for us.

God bless and keep you in the wk ahead, sister.

With Christian love,


Dear sister,

I rejoice with you on your progress. All praise and thanks to our merciful Lord! Rest assured that you are always in my prayers and thoughts. Even though you have a long and perhaps ardous journey ahead, be comforted as His rod and His staff are there to lead you. I’m meditating on Song of Solomon 8:5 “Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning on her beloved?” We are sometimes found in the ‘wilderness’, but how marvellous that it is in these times, that we can lean on our Beloved, who esteems us His beloved, we who surely are most undeserving.

I thank you for your prayers for my family. We are much indebted to you in many ways, surely our blessed Lord will not forget any cups of cold water given to the needy in His name.