Showing posts with label Spouses of person with mood disorder. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Spouses of person with mood disorder. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

When Your Husband Struggles with Depression by Cheri Fuller

When Your Husband Struggles with Depression by Cheri Fuller

(Note: I am indebted to Cheri Fuller for giving me the permission to re-publish this encouraging testimony on this website (see Cheri’s email at the end of this article). It is my sincere prayers that this testimony of God’s mercies to Cheri Fuller and her husband will be a great encouragement to the readers and will give some hope and help to wives who are struggling to help their depressed husband. May they too know the comfort and help of God as Cheri Fuller and her husband has experienced. To God be the glory.)

Autobiography notes:
Cheri Fuller writes of her experiences and God’s mercies and help to her as she strives to help and support her husband, Holmes, who struggles with depression. Her original article is published on her website Cheri would like to tell our readers that her latest book is “Loving Your Spouse Through Prayer: How to Pray God’s Word Into Your Marriage”, which she thinks would be an encouragement, support and help to anyone who reads her article on their husbands and depression. It is possible to subscribe to her eNewsletter of hope, inspiration and prayer on

When Your Husband Struggles with Depression
Take heart—there’s hope for him and you.
by Cheri Fuller

Several years ago, my husband, Holmes, began skipping meals and losing weight, eventually 25 pounds within three months. His laid-back, somewhat pensive temperament turned irritable and moody. Although he typically was quiet about his feelings, Holmes became increasingly withdrawn and didn’t seem to enjoy things anymore.

I knew Holmes was encountering tough times as a homebuilder in a flagging economy and a tanking stock market. But I kept hoping he’d perk up if he got another construction job. In the meantime, being ever the encourager, I tried everything I could think of to cheer him up. I pointed out all the positive things he did, such as being a great dad or helping other people. I encouraged Holmes to look ahead to a family trip we’d planned, but that didn’t help, either. As the months rolled into years, neither my encouraging words nor my hard work to take up the slack in our income seemed to make a difference.

In 1995, roughly seven years after I first noticed my husband’s struggles, our pastor realized from a conversation with Holmes that he was suicidal. He immediately made Holmes an appointment with a doctor who diagnosed him as having clinical depression. The physician told us Holmes probably had been depressed for years. Situational depression caused by the crushing pressures of Holmes’ declining building business in the late 1980s, compounded by a genetic predisposition to clinical depression on both sides of his family, had pushed him to the edge. Perhaps if I’d known the clues, Holmes could have gotten help before his depression had become full-blown.

I’ve discovered I’m not the only woman who’s experienced life with a depressed husband. With an unstable economy and corporate meltdowns, depression in males is on the rise. That means countless wives face the challenge of trying to help a spouse who’s in emotional turmoil. But depression doesn’t have to bring down your entire family. There is help, there is hope, and there are ways you can support your spouse—and yourself.

Caring for Your Husband

If the dark cloud of depression overtakes your spouse, how can you help him?

Recognize the signs. It’s important to distinguish between situational depression triggered by something such as a job layoff or demotion, and clinical depression. Situational depression involves some of the same symptoms of clinical depression (see below), but they’re of shorter duration and lower intensity. For example, if your husband’s depression is caused by discouragement over a jobloss, within six months he should regroup, recover his enjoyment of life, and move on. However, according to Michael Navarro, a licensed psychotherapist, clinical depression’s symptoms are more pronounced and last far longer. The absence of pleasure in the activities your husband once enjoyed is greater; his malaise, anger, or weight loss more substantial.

If your husband experiences a majority of the symptoms of depression, he needs professional help. Your family physician can determine what’s biological and what’s psychological; he may make a diagnosis of clinical depression and refer your spouse to a psychologist or psychiatrist for therapy and medication. In Holmes’s case, counseling and an antidepressant were helpful short-term, but since we didn’t have the money to continue therapy, his recovery process took much longer. (I’ve since learned many good therapists provide a sliding fee scale depending on your financial condition.)

How would you know if your husband needs to be hospitalized? If he’s seeing a doctor, his physician would make that recommendation. But here are other clues that in-patient help is needed to stabilize your spouse: when he repeatedly cancels or doesn’t show up for his outpatient/counseling appointments or refuses help; when he digresses into a more nonfunctional state; or if he experiences severe weight loss or sudden gain. And—most important—if he makes statements such as, “I wish I wasn’t around,” or “I think it’s better if you collect my insurance. You and the kids would be better off without me,” which indicate suicidal thinking.

Accept and love your spouse. One of the most important things you can do for your struggling mate is to let him know you still love and accept him despite how he feels about himself. “I’m not saying accepting is easy,” says psychologist Archibald Hart, author of Dark Clouds, Silver Linings. “But you have to accept the reality of the problem. It’s there whether you like it or not, and your responsibility is to communicate love and acceptance in whatever way you possibly can.” This could include a loving touch or hug, or gentle encouragement through a card or meaningful gift.

During one of Holmes’s darkest days, he said, “We—and I—may never be happy again; you’d be better off leaving.” I went in the other room, wept, and prayed for strength and the right response. A short time later, I sat down by Holmes, held his hand, and said, “Even if we’re never happy again, it’s just not all about happiness; it’s about loving each other and being together. I’m committed to you for the rest of our lives. I’m not going anywhere.” Although we had huge hills yet to climb, that was a turning point for us. And in that particular response, Holmes felt unconditionally loved and accepted right where he was.

Encourage exercise. While physical exercise can be an extra challenge to those struggling with depression, the endorphins it provides create a natural mood-lifter. So gently encourage your husband to go for a walk with you after dinner as many nights as he’s willing, or to work out at a gym or do whatever activity he enjoys most when he feels up to it. When my husband and I took our evening walks, he sometimes would open up. One night as we walked, I asked Holmes to give me a word picture of how he felt.

“I feel like a vine’s wrapping itself around me; that it began at my feet and now is almost up to my neck, choking me,” he described. It was hard to hear how terrible he felt, but it helped me connect with him and understand a little of what he was going through.

Realize anger often accompanies depression. But don’t allow your husband to disrespect or abuse you or your children. Be available to listen, but avoid trying to be his therapist. “A mate’s role is primarily one of support. The main therapeutic work needs to be done by a professional,” says Hart.

Whether your husband’s anger is rooted in grief and loss issues, unresolved childhood issues, failure, or job loss, he needs someone with whom to talk. One counselor I know has her clients list ten things they’re angry about when they come in for therapy because she’s found that underneath most depression is anger over something.

Encourage fellowship with other men. When Carrie’s husband, Jeremy, went through a depressive period after a job loss, a small group of friends met with him weekly over coffee to be his sounding board for his job-hunting. They also kept him in their prayers during the difficult months. Their support was invaluable to his recovery and the new career direction he found.

Avoid using words that make him feel worse. A man in the doldrums of depression doesn’t need to hear, “How can you be depressed with all God has done in our lives?” (He’s probably already feeling as though no one understands, and this just confirms it.) Avoid preaching: “Just read your Bible more and get right with God, and your depression will go away.”

Refrain from belittling him or comparing him to others as in, “You know, Brian took St. John’s Wort and he bounced back from his depression in only three months.” Also avoid saying, “Look on the bright side. Count yourself lucky and cheer up,” which makes him feel guilty. One woman I know purposed to praise her husband for the baby steps he took in learning to trust God in the darkness, and didn’t blurt out, “I thought you already knew that!” when he shared insights with her.

Caring for Yourself

I became so emotionally and physically depleted during my husband’s depression that I began suffering from severe insomnia. While working overtime, I parented our teens and worried about our financial situation and my husband. Sometimes I felt abandoned by Holmes —emotionally, at least.

Eventually I realized I harbored some anger as well. Some sessions with a counselor and later a small support group helped me tremendously.

If you get support and deal with your issues, you’ll be healthier emotionally and thus better able to help your husband and children. Here are some ways:

Ask for help. When Brenda’s husband, Daryle, needed to be hospitalized for severe depression, she didn’t think to ask her brother or pastor to accompany her. She drove Daryle the three hours to the center by herself.

Mile after mile he protested, “I’m going home. I’m not going to the hospital. The bank will pull the loans if I’m gone. The company will go under. We’ll lose everything.” After Brenda got her husband in the hospital and almost collapsed from exhaustion, she realized she couldn’t do everything alone. She found a student teacher to live with her family temporarily to help with her children and take them to school. Brenda learned to ask others for help. In the same way, you may need help from a support group or prayer partners, and assistance with your children.

Consider counseling with your husband’s therapist, because frequently the wife feels responsible for her husband’s depression. Find one trusted friend with whom you can cry, be real, and pray. Flo Perkins, an elderly friend whose husband had suffered with chronic depression, was my lifesaver. Flo understood, listened, prayed for me, and encouraged me repeatedly. She passed on the comfort with which God had comforted her (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). From her I learned the invaluable truth that I could give the Lord all my troubles and entrust my husband to his care.

Don’t keep secrets. When Liz’s husband’s life crashed around him due to clinical depression, they went from being pillars in their rural community to being under the lowest rock. He lost his profession, his reputation, his earning power, and his hope as he lived for six long years in a state of depression. One of the best things they did was endeavor to keep open communication with each other and their kids. They held family councils and talked over what was happening in age-appropriate ways, praying together during crises and ongoing struggles.

A word of caution: It’s best to clear this kind of family meeting first with your husband, perhaps by saying, “You’ve always been such a loving dad. Could you help me talk to the kids about your depression to let them know it’s not their fault, and that we’re all going to be healing together?” Avoid saying, “Your depression’s hurting our children, messing their lives up, and making life hard,” which only will make him feel worse. If he prefers, you could sit down with your children alone and explain the nature of depression and that you’ll help them cope with their dad’s condition.

Your kids may need to talk to someone such as a youth pastor or counselor who can help them sort through their feelings. They also need to know they always can come to you to talk about the situation.

Remind yourself of God’s truth. When Brenda was beset by fears, time after time she told herself the truths that restored her stability: that God would never leave or forsake her (Hebrews 13:5); that he promised her his grace when she was weak (2 Corinthians 12:10); and that God somehow would weave everything—even this depression—into a pattern for good (Romans 8:28).

“So often we try to force our way out of a crisis,” Brenda says. “Instead, I began to embrace the situation and say, ‘Okay, God, what do you want me to learn in this? How do you want me to change? And what are you going to accomplish in my husband and family through this difficult time?’”

As she focused on God, Brenda saw him working through Daryle’s hospitalization, the friends who surrounded Daryle, and the spiritual growth they as a couple experienced. Before, Daryle had been Brenda’s rock; through this experience, Brenda learned to depend more on God. And as Daryle recovered, he developed an effective ministry with hurting people and a special sensitivity to those suffering from depression.

Take “mini-vacations.” During the six years her husband was depressed, Liz learned to create brief getaways from her family difficulties. Since they were financially challenged, Liz took long walks through the countryside, singing hymns and praise choruses, sometimes crying buckets of tears and other times stopping to journal her feelings. She lit scented candles at home and took bubble baths to relax. She planned fun activities for her children—picnics, outings to the state park, zoo, and movies, and occasional trips to the grandparents—and carried them out without her husband’s participation when he couldn’t even fake the energy to be involved. These short breaks refueled Liz for the challenges she faced.

Let prayer be your lifeline. “Praying for those we love who are depressed is our best hope,” says Gerry Mensch, who not only survived her own depression but her husband’s as well. “Antidepressants can help, but some in the grip of depression refuse to seek help. When God begins to work in their hearts, he’ll accomplish more than we or medication ever can.” If your husband won’t go for counseling, start praying he’ll wake up and ask for assistance, or that God will put a man in his life to steer him toward help.

Throughout Holmes’s depression, my lifeline was praying Scriptures for him such as Joel 2:25, which asks God to restore the wasted years; Colossians 1:9-12, to give my husband direction; Isaiah 61:1-3, to lift his heaviness of despair and replace it with praise and joy; and 1 Peter 4:8, to fill me with the love that covers a multitude of sins.

It took several years for Holmes to recover from depression, and as we prayed together, we experienced God’s grace for every situation we faced. Prayer strengthened our marriage when we were weak, and reminded us again and again of God’s love. While Holmes’s recovery wasn’t quick, God always was faithful. Although medication and counseling helped, God’s healing power and his Word kept us together.

Today, when I see Holmes smile as he holds one of our five grandchildren, sense his sheer enjoyment of an American history course he recently took at a local university, or experience the fun of strolling on the beach together, I’m grateful for where he is now. I’m thankful for the things we learned and the comfort we received from God and others. I’m also glad we have a chance to share what we learned with others going through depression.

Cheri Fuller, a TCW regular contributor, is a speaker and author whose latest book is Fearless: Building a Faith That Overcomes Your Fear (Revell). Check out her website at

Warning Signs
Your spouse may be depressed if he:

* Sleeps too much or too little; wakes frequently throughout the night.
* Is persistently sad or has a flat, empty mood.
* Experiences increased anxiety, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, and/or decreased
* Exhibits physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, or other chronic pain that doesn’t respond to treatment.
* Experiences appetite loss, weight loss, or sudden weight gain.
* Has suicidal thoughts.
* Feels hopeless, pessimistic, worthless, a failure.
* Is irrational in his thinking or has difficulty making decisions.

Copyright © 2003 by the author or Christianity Today International/Today’s Christian Woman magazine.
Click here for reprint information on Today’s Christian Woman.
September/October 2003, Vol. 25, No. 5, Page 68

From: Cheri Fuller []
Sent: Tuesday, April 17, 2007 11:06 PM
Subject: RE: Permission to put your article on my website

Dear Nancie,

Yes, you have my permission to carry my article described below on your website. But you will need to include my name at the top of the article, and also my website: and my latest book, Loving Your Spouse Through Prayer: How to Pray God’s Word Into Your Marriage, which I think would be an encouragement, support and help to anyone who reads my article on your husband and depression. You might also tell people in the Author Bio Box that they can subscribe to my eNewsletter of hope, inspiration and prayer on

I pray God will fill you with the life of Jesus, bring healing and wholeness to every area of your life, and guide you By His Spirit as you seek to help others through this website.

In Christ,
Cheri Fuller

Real Life Testimonies

1. Broken mind by Steve and Robyn Bloem

Shedding light on the darkness of depression by John H. Timmerman

When you husband struggles with depression by Cheri Fuller

Stress and burn out in the ministry by Rowland Croucher

Finding meaning in a life with bipolar disorder by Marja Bergen

Shedding Light on the Darkness of Depression by John H. Timmerman

Shedding Light on the Darkness of Depression by John H. Timmerman
(This article is reproduced with the kind permission of Religion Online.)

John H. Timmerman is professor of English at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He elaborates on his experiences with depression in his book A Season of Suffering (Multnomah, 1988). This article appeared in the Christian Century, March 2, 1988. Copyright by the Christian Century Foundation and used by permission. Current articles and subscription information can be found at This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted & Winnie Brock.

At the most unexpected moments it slips people its dark poison. One scarcely notices the initial sting. Slowly, insidiously, the poison spreads until the victim finds herself cut off from life by a gray veil. The monster, what Winston Churchill, a longtime sufferer, called “the Black Dog.” is depression. Medical statistics indicate that in the adult U.S. population approximately 12 per cent of males and 18 per cent of females have had a major depressive episode at some time.

Call it what you will, the most agonizing fact of the illness is that pall of darkness laid upon the mind. Life and light seem beyond reach. Something intervenes: a gray mist of separation, the inability to feel loved and needed, a feeling of being locked away from everything and everyone — including God.

Perhaps this is one way to distinguish between the “blues,” which afflict nearly everyone at one time or another, and the blackness of clinical depression. Clinically depressed patients cry, “My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” — and sometimes add, “But I really can’t blame you for doing so.” Unworthiness. Forsakenness.

Clinical depression can generate a number of specific symptoms that are severe, persistent and disabling. Its causes may be internal (endogenous) or external (exogenous) But if it becomes severe, it is marked by a profound biological unsettling of the delicate interplay of chemicals in the brain. Into that imbalance enters the appalling cloud. It was this biological depression that sucked my wife — and my family — into its black maw. We became a vivid example of suffering in the Christian life.

Acknowledging that Christians can suffer from depression flies in the face of popular religious slogans that tell us about the power of positive thinking, that we should let go and let God, that all is well with the world when one is right with God.

Seven weeks following the birth of our fourth child, my wife, Pat, fell victim to postpartum depression. Though she entered the hospital diagnosed with severe, major biological depression, the admitting psychiatrist assured us that she could expect to leave within two to three weeks as antidepressant medications took effect. Her hospitalization lasted seven weeks, through a tormenting sequence of failed medication and terrifying mental affliction, culminating in a series of electro-convulsive treatments.

So many of us will worry over even a sore throat and seek condolences from others, but we are strangely reluctant to admit to mental affliction. It appears a sign of weakness or, in the perverted view of some, a sign of sin. However difficult it is to acknowledge depression, it is a fact that many Christians have experienced it. Just how many is difficult to say; statistics are often contradictory and unreliable. For many years depression, unless it required hospitalization, was something we hid in the closet (and even then we hid it if possible) As more people are recognizing the nature of the illness, more are seeking help. For all those on the continuum from “blues” to clinical depression, I want to affirm that the black dog can be tamed; depression can be healed.

But how can people recognize depression? What signs can they look for? The most recent psychiatric guidelines, given in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 3rd edition (American Psychiatric Association, 1981) , draw attention to persistence and severity, usually gauged as at least two weeks’ endurance (distinguishing depression from the common, passing blues) of four or more of the following symptoms: persistent feelings of guilt, sadness and hopelessness; thoughts of suicide; poor concentration; changes in appetite; alterations in sleep patterns; decreased interest in sex; and loss of interest in daily activities.

Clinical analysis generally divides depression’s signs and symptoms into four major areas. Affective signs include states of feelings, ranging from mild sadness to severe despair. The depressed person often feels some degree of anxiety, worry, anger or confusion.

Cognitive thought-process signs are the way in which the patient thinks about himself or herself, and about relationships with others or with situations. Typically, the depressed person has very low self-esteem, feels incapable of clear decisions, and seems to have little control over thought processes, into which thoughts of death or suicide intrude.

Both of the above may be observed in behavior signs. Because of their low self-esteem and confused thinking, depressed people may become terribly dependent and submissive, fearful of being left alone, and given to relentless crying and withdrawal. Agitation may give way to restless behavior such as pacing, trembling or handwringing. Their speech and action may become impeded. They may neglect routine activities, such as picking up the mail, reading the newspaper or making coffee. They no longer take pleasure in formerly enjoyable activities.

Depression inevitably takes its toll upon the patient’s physical functions. Initially, depressed people seem to lack energy, which may spiral rapidly into acute fatigue as sleep habits are disturbed. They may suffer physical symptoms such as constipation or diarrhea, indigestion, nausea and headaches. Despite the longing for physical contact, sexual patterns may be disturbed. Posture is often affected; the patient might slouch, bending shoulders forward as if a weight were pressing upon them. The eyes might appear dull and listless, seeming to turn inward with a kind of glazed look. Few illnesses reveal as clearly the relation between body and mind.

Having examined some of the indicators of depression, the word why inevitably arises. Here is the great perplexity of depression: Why does this happen to me? As a rule, depressed persons, because of the acute sense of unworthiness which typifies the illness, generally believe they are depressed because of something they have or have not done. They believe themselves to be responsible, even if they can find no direct cause-and-effect relationship in their lives. Since so many factors come to bear upon the illness, it is understandable that people are prone to inventing causes; they want to name, identify, pinpoint and blame someone or something specific.

Psychiatry has postulated causes that are more probable than one’s own actions. For example, genetic factors may to a certain extent make one more susceptible to depression. Those with a family background of mental disorders are at greater risk. Second, stress can provoke emotional mood shifts. A third area, the chemical functions of the brain, has become a primary focus of medical research into biological depression. Current science provides convincing evidence that disruption in hormonal patterns and the neural synapses in the brain are involved in clinical depression. Because of this chemical imbalance, the use of certain drugs has become critically important to the treatment of depression.

Psychiatry generally distinguishes between two major kinds of depression: bipolar and unipolar. Bipolar, or manic, depression is characterized by recurring mood shifts which the patient cannot control. Unipolar depression is a single, progressive state, without the mood swings. One theory speculates that too little of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine causes unipolar depression; too much of it causes manic depression. More recent theories hold that several transmitters are involved — serotonin and dopamine, for example. Treatment for both types of depression may involve pharmaceutical control, depending on the diagnosis of probable causes and background for the individual’s condition.

The use of medications in the treatment of depression, often prescribed over an extensive period of time, provokes considerable dismay in many people. They fear the possibility of physiological and psychological dependency upon the drug.

Having considered signs and symptoms of depression, the major kinds of depression and drug therapy for them, one has still skirted the medical fringes of a catastrophic human experience. Left begging is the key question: What is depression like? No single item emerges more clearly from studies of the experience of depression than the fact that it attacks the very individuality of the sufferer and is therefore unique to each person’s experience of it. It afflicts parts of us that make us individuals — our minds, emotions and personalities.

Some indication of what the illness is like may be gleaned from a journal my wife kept during her seven-week hospitalization. As she began to respond to medication her moods bounced up and down. It seemed that depression was a dark beast, always lurking behind some huge door in her mind, ready to spring out at unexpected moments. It was always there, and its attack could not be predicted. Fear of the beast was as terrible as the attack itself.

June 23 (after one week) :
When I awaken, I have a sick feeling as I remember that I am here. Sometimes it still seems like a bad dream. I attended chapel but found it very hard to concentrate. The message seemed meaningless.

June 28 (after two weeks) :
Last night was a frightening night. The overwhelming feeling of depression hit me during the night. I felt nauseated, like my nerves were in knots, and had diarrhea.

. . .Tears have flowed like rivers today. I really feel I need strength from the Lord to help me get through this hospitalization. Sometimes I feel so alone and worried about a recurrence when I get home.

July 7 (after 3 weeks) :
I feel so guilty that I can’t seem to get well. I feel like a stranger to myself. . . . I can’t read my Bible or pray. I know God knows my needs and the needs of my family, and I trust He will take care of us all. I’ve reread my favorite Bible promises. But I can’t feel them right now.

July 12:
I awakened about 3:30 A.M. I feel very nauseated and very thirsty. At 5 A.M. I got up for some ginger ale and a cracker. I still feel nauseated and my head is spinning. I am very discouraged. I still am thirsty. . . “I’m trying so hard to believe all of God’s promises. I know that they are true and I thank him that they aren’t dependent upon my feeling them. I feel totally helpless today. I feel that with every depressing day a little more of me dies.”

During this time Pat’s medication was not being effectively metabolized. Since switching her to a different medicine would have taken several weeks, and she had already been separated from her family for nearly six weeks, her doctors decided, with our approval, to use electro-convulsant therapy

The use of ECT has always been extremely controversial in psychiatry, and its mere mention strikes fear into the heart of the patient. The modern use of ECT, however, is far more carefully regulated and benign than the old-fashioned “shock treatments” of the 1960s. The careful administration of
muscle-relaxants and tranquilizers reduces the “shock” to the body. The small surge of electricity penetrates the disrupted activity of the brain, jarring the neurotransmitters into normal action. The most common side-effects are short-term memory loss and headache, the latter usually relieved within 24 hours. While seldom a first course of treatment for depression, ECT has resulted in considerable relief for biological depression. While the normal course of treatments runs a course of 6-12 administrations, ECT proved so successful for Pat that she was given only four. A week later she was discharged.

Discharge from a hospital, however, is only a beginning on the road back to health. A major depressive episode such as Pat’s may last as long as 18 months. In fact, it was almost two years before she was able to go completely off antidepressant medication. For some people, the battle with depression and the necessity for medication or therapy may endure for years. However long the ordeal, however, the experience will forever be a part of the person. The fear of recurrence is always there; the memory of the anguish never fully disappears.

Second. we learned how much the body of Christ must support members in need. We experienced this help in bountiful and unexpected ways, reminding us with a tremendous urgency of our corporate need and responsibility. Church members regularly lifted our need before God in intercessory prayer. Pastors and friends delivered meals to us, cared for the children and comforted us. We experienced the New Testament ideal of being one body in Jesus, and the care that each member shares.

We learned that others also suffer enormous hurt on their pilgrimage through this fallen world. It is not, however, a vale of tears with no light finally to show the way. The many helping hands that attended us testified to the opposite. But sometimes it takes the jarring impact of personal pain to remind us of the wounded spirits to whom we can minister. This need is particularly great, we found, among those who suffer psychological pain. For so many it is a private grief, borne upon lonely shoulders, hidden from the world.

Depression should no longer carry a stigma; we must recognize it as an illness entailing specific spiritual and psychological needs, and requiring specific treatments. Depressed people need recognition and urgent caring. One great need is for human contact, whether through greeting cards or visits. To the depressed person, the well of human kindness seems to have hit dry rocks; there never seems to be enough love available.

Our experience tutored us, painfully, in the reality of suffering among faithful Christians. We have no easy answers. But we felt the pulse of pain and, by looking to the cross, gained some understanding.

Jesus, the true light himself, the very son of God, stands in the form of humanity — the very same who marred God~s perfection and cast darkness over that light. To restore that light, Jesus, the perfect light, underwent the full anguish of complete darkness. He knew separation from God thoroughly; he plumbed the deepest sea of terrifying darkness in order to build a bridge out of it for us. There he cried, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” He felt cut off from God, forsaken. Still caught between the perfect light and the dark imperfection, we cry out the same plea. Though he was plunged into the sea of human despair, the devil could not hold Jesus. A shattered grave, blasted apart by the light of all ages, is the testimony. In the gutted wreck of that grave lies the foot of the bridge out of all darkness.

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Copyright 2007 CHRISTIAN CENTURY. Reproduced by permission from the March 2, 1988 issue of the CHRISTIAN CENTURY. Subscriptions: $49/year from P.O. Box 378, Mt. Morris, IL 61054. 1-800-208-4097


I emailed Religion Online to seek permission to reproduce the above article. Mr William F. Fore replied very kindly:

From: William F. Fore
Date: Jan 22, 2008 11:42 PM
Subject: Re: Permission to put an article on my blog
To: Nancie

Dear Nancie,

Actually you don’t need my permission to place something from Religion nline on your blog, so long as you don’t charge anybody to use it.

William F. Fore
Religion Online


Real Life Testimonies

1. Broken mind by Steve and Robyn Bloem

Shedding light on the darkness of depression by John H. Timmerman

When you husband struggles with depression by Cheri Fuller

Stress and burn out in the ministry by Rowland Croucher

Finding meaning in a life with bipolar disorder by Marja Bergen