Depression is a common reality in our overstressed world and a number of women are victims of this debilitating condition.
Getting counseling and being prescribed anti-depressants are two means used to receive treatment, but accepting these options is not as simple for women in evangelical Christian circles. Admitting to depression is difficult for them, because they fear having their spirituality judged.
The responses they sometimes receive from other Christians, when daring to mention that they are struggling emotionally, vary from being scolded about their lack of faith to being told pretty much to “Take thirty Scriptures and call me in the morning” to being encouraged to just “get over it”.
No one discounts the importance of prayer, Bible study and faith in the life of a Christian woman, but even those suffer when she is going through depression, as it is a condition that tends to zap your enthusiasm for things you once had a passion for.
Christian women are especially under pressure to maintain an image of outward perfection. Pastors’ wives, for example, feel that they have little choice except to insulate any feelings of despair they may have, because they are expected to “set the example” for the women in their husbands’ congregations. They are supposed to offer quiet support to their spouses, take on certain responsibilities in the role as the pastor’s wife, plus take care of a home and raise a model family, all without complaint.
Any woman would break under this kind of pressure.
One extreme example is Mary Wicker, the Tennessee preacher’s wife who was charged for shooting her husband Matthew to death, allegedly after some emotional abuse suffered at his hands. This was a modest, low-key woman.who seemed to embody all the virtues expected of someone in her position. Obviously, though, there was something more going on beneath the surface that caused matters to escalate to such a tragic degree.
I am certainly not advocating or justifying murder here. I do, however, believe that, if Mary Wicker had been provided the option of being able to talk to somebody about what she was experiencing and allowed to be vulnerable, perhaps her situation would have been resolved much differently.
Other well-known Christian women have come out to address the issues of depression among their ranks, including Ruth Graham, daughter of evangelist Billy Graham. She became depressed after a painful divorce, problems with her teenage children, assuming that it was some inner weakness that caused her to feel this way. Christian music artist Sheila Walsh became so depressed that she ended up in a psychiatric hospital. She is now on anti-depressant drugs.
Although a certain stigma is still attached to admitting to melancholy, more leaders and churches in the Christian community are becoming more aware of the reality that people need someplace to get help for this malady. There are trained counselors now who offer help, even retreats for pastoral families who need extensive help dealing with concerns, but in a private setting.
Help is available, if you search for it, and are willing to admit that you do have a problem.
Symptoms of depression include:
…Feeling of sadness
…Sleeping too much or having trouble sleeping
…Losing interest in things you used to enjoy
…Loss of appetite or overeating
…Thoughts of suicide
If you have been dealing with some of these symptoms for more than 2 weeks, it’s time to take a stand and get some assistance, so you can begin to take your life back.
Getting help doesn’t mean you lack faith, but that you are practicing your faith by using the avenues of help that God provides.