When I glanced in the mirror, I hardly recognized the face reflected back at me. I no longer knew who she was or how she got there. She was a mere skeleton of her former self.
As I looked back, one day I was alive and thriving, working and contributing to my family and society. Without warning, almost overnight I became deathly ill, underwent two surgeries, was confined to bed, was kept alive on IV-hydration and nutrition, wasted away from a petite 113 pounds to a skeletal 74 pounds and weaker than any other time in my life. The longer I was ill, the more depressed I became.
Depression stole my joy, killed my peace, and threated to destroy my identity. It’s just what the enemy does. My physical and emotional state left me feeling worthless, helpless, and hopeless. If this is all my life was going to amount to, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go on living.
One day during my recovery period, as I lay in bed in an empty house, the clouds outside mirrored my spirits. Deep down, I felt so alone. I could barely tolerate it—being ill and in that bedroom day after day for weeks didn’t help. Isolated and lonely, I feared that was all my life would ever be. Who was I? What good was I if I could no longer work and treat my patients, and no longer care for my family?
Sleep occupied the majority of each day. I lost my appetite, and with it went my energy, and the desire to do any of the things I’d always loved to do.
What about the “Joy of my salvation?” Where was that? What was that? Maybe I was just joy-immune. That’s what I began to believe.
I knew what to do. I’d counseled depressed patients for over two decades. I did what I had always suggested to them: I’d gone to counseling and done the work. I paid ensured I was getting enough sleep, ate the best diet, and resumed exercise. I even tried medication. All these things helped but they weren’t enough. Something was missing.
As I cried out to God, we had a very honest discussion. “Lord, I can’t go back to being the doctor if I don’t know what helps. Something is missing. Either you need to show me the missing piece, or I can’t go back to making suggestions unless I know they work.”
Slowly over time God revealed the missing piece: If we don’t address the spiritual component of depression, we’re really just putting a band aid on it. As I began to see the enemy’s scheme and come against him with the authority given to us as children of the Most High God, I began to experience the dark cloud lifting.
The hard work of healing required that I “take every thought captive.” Essentially, that meant I had to be aware of the thoughts I was having and check to see if they agreed with the truth of Scripture. If they didn’t, I needed to reject them, and replace them with God’s truth.
As I began to refute the enemy’s lies with the truth found in God’s Word, the darkness was replaced with the light of joy.
In depression’s darkness, the enemy said I would never be healed, but Jesus said, “By my stripes you are healed” (Is. 53:5)
The enemy declared I was weak, but Jesus declared, “in Me you are strong!” (Isaiah 40:31)
The enemy wanted me to accept the role of a victim, but Jesus stated, “In Me you are victorious!” (1 Cor. 15:57)
The enemy tried repeatedly to make me believe I was rejected, but God’s truth assured, “In Me you are accepted!” (Eph. 1:6)
In depression’s grip, the enemy shouted that I was worthless, but God proclaimed, “I was worthy!” (John 3:16)
Victory over depression begins with renewing our mind and refuting the enemy’s lies. That’s the secret of moving from hopeless to hope-filled. And the great thing is that God doesn’t play favorites, so what He did for me, He wants to do for you as well!
Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
Dr. Michelle Bengtson (Ph.D., Nova Southeastern University) is an international speaker, and the author of the bestselling “Hope Prevails: Insights From A Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression” and the newly released companion “Hope Prevails Bible Study.” She has been a neuropsychologist for more than twenty years, and is now in private practice in Southlake, Texas where she evaluates, diagnoses, and treats children and adults with a variety of medical and mental health disorders. This doctor knows pain and despair firsthand and combines her professional expertise and personal experience with her faith to address her patients’ issues, both for those who suffer and the ones who care for them. Using sound practical tools, she affirms worth and encourages faith. Dr. Bengtson offers hope as a key to unlock joy and relief—even in the middle of the storm. She and her husband of thirty years have two teenage sons and reside in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. She blogs regularly on her own site: http://www.DrMichelleBengtson.com