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Depression – Your Words Matter

curls by lady_jess, on Pix-O-SphereBut Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.  Jonah 1:3

This week’s series is on depression.  Depression isn’t new to God.  Look for examples with Jonah.  Not only did he disobey the Lord but he ran from Him, which resulted in him sitting in the belly of a whale.  Do you think Jonah was happy in that whale belly?  And even after He did what he was commanded, Jonah went up on the hill and pouted.  Not every temper tantrum is related to depression of course but this book of the bible has always spoken to my heart when I think of depression and the internal battle that rages within me.

“Are you sure you don’t have some sin that needs to be confessed?”
See, I told you!  No one believes you because you’re worthless.  They all know it.

“Have you been reading your bible?”
You loser.  God can’t save you.  Your friends think you’re crazy because you are.

“You just need to pray about it.”
Why bother?  It doesn’t work.  God doesn’t hear me anyway.

“You just need to exercise more.  Are you eating a lot of sugars?”
Yeah, exercise more you fat idiot.  How can I exercise when I can barely get myself dressed everyday?

“You’re just overwhelmed, that’s normal with small children.”
So I’m just doomed for the next 5+ years?  Awesome.

“You just need to ask for help.”
That’s what I’m doing now.

I could go on and on with these helpful suggestions.  Oh, I know they are meant well and I’m not saying that these are not things that can help but when you are deep in depression and feeling like you can’t even get out of bed everyday, these just solidify the fact that you really are in fact, useless and worthless.



Do not help satan feed your friends and loved ones his lies. Many times when a helpful suggestion is given to a depressed soul, it’s like spoon feeding them poison. Instead of being uplifting (which is of course all that is meant) it digs the person’s pit even deeper.  Sometimes truths need to be spoken but very carefully and at the right time. I’ll talk about this more later this week.

So what can you do for someone you love who is struggling with depression?  More than you may have thought.  First flat out ask what you can do to help (I know, I suggested this yesterday).  Likely they will not tell you the truth but give them the chance to.  Like I said yesterday, be ready to act! This is a time you cannot let them down.  So if you can’t commit, don’t ask.

Practical ways to help the depressed:
* Set up a time to come and listen.  If they refuse, keep asking.  If you know them well enough, stop by for a chat.  Make sure you do the listening!  They need to talk.  Do not gossip about what is shared.  Not even as a prayer request.

* Call.  They may avoid the phone (this is what I do) but call anyway. Leave a message that you are there for them.  Even if they never call back, they will appreciate that you love them enough to tell them.

* Mail a letter or card.  Let them know you love them and are there for them.

Bring a meal.  Breakfast, lunch or dinner.  When one is depressed, they lack the energy to do even the most mundane tasks.

* Stop by to do chores.  Fold some laundry, sweep, vacuum, scrub the toilet, wash the dishes.

* Take the children for a few hours, a day, or a weekend.  A break from kids is huge.

* Kidnap them for a night out with some girlfriends.

* Drop off a gift, card, favorite candy etc.

* Pick up their favorite coffee drink and deliver

* Pay for pizza to be delivered one night for dinner

* Pick the kids up from school or pick them up in the morning and drop them off (with permission of course)

* Go to the dollar store and pick up some fun things to deliver

* Make a card

* Bring cupcakes or brownies

* Create a cd of uplifting songs

* Donate a month of netflix

* Mow the lawn or do other outside work

These are just a few of the many things you can do for someone.  If you have been through a battle of depression, tell them about it.  Be careful in how you word it.  It is often very healing to not feel alone.  It is also tremendously helpful to feel love when you are at your most unlovable.

Melinda ToddAre you struggling with depression?  Check out my series,  31 days of depression series.

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21 Comments

  1. Great entry. Linked to it in my blog today. Thanks
    Tonni recently posted..Havent Been Around Here Much

  2. This is wonderful, and it is a total confirmation on all that God is speaking in my heart right now with regard to getting my story written. I wrote a piece called “Life with a Bipolar Spouse” that I recently submitted to a website (don’t know if it’ll get accepted or not, it was kinda long, lol!) but in it I shared a very similar script of things we’ve/I’ve heard over the years with regard to his illness. But I didn’t think to share things that would have and did actually help us, although I plan to include that in the book I’m writing about it. (I’d be happy to share it with you if you’d like to read it.) You have said some of the very same things I have said about how people have treated mental illness! Yesterday, Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia fame) was on Oprah speaking of her struggles with the depression side of bipolar disorder and all that she has endured. It is because of her openness that I think stigma is starting to be relaxed. And yet, the Church (as usual) seems to be the last one to accept the reality of what people are going through without trying to blanket it with platitudes. Thank you again for sharing your journey!!!
    Kimberly recently posted..I know- Godbut

    • I’d love to read your book of course Kimberly 🙂 Is it finished or are you still working on it? Let me know when you’d like me to read it 🙂 Praying for success on your journey!

  3. Thank you Mel for posting…this came at the right time…I am in a bible study group and there is a woman who is going through some depression regarding her marriage, and boy is satan talking to her…I don’t know her well, but felt the pull of the Lord on me to ask her to coffee, she was excited so we meet tomorrow…please pray that God continues to move through me and opens her heart to what he has to say…

    Blessings, Sherry
    sherry french recently posted..Hope!!

    • Sherry praying for wisdom and love for your meeting. My advice is to be gentle and honest. If she needs you to listen, then just listen! I’m so thankful that you asked her to coffee! What a blessing you are 🙂 ♥

  4. You know it’s nice to see it put in words “down on paper”. I walk around thinking, what is it you want someone to do for you? You’ll just suck the life out of them, you’re such a whiner, no one wants to hear it….. Thank you!
    Praying for you!

    • Oh Crystal 🙁 I can so relate. I try to be positive while telling the truth. I DO feel like a whiner, like I’m a big fat loser and I will drive people crazy. I tell very few when I am down in the pits because I don’t like the whoa is me stuff. You are so not alone. Some of this would be removed from our shoulders if we just KNEW that others feel this way too, once in a while! When folks don’t know WHAT to say, they often say the wrong things or nothing. We need to be talking about it.

      • I’m the same. Occasionally I can talk to my sister because she gets it, but I still feel like I am ungrateful because I have been given so much! God has been amazing to me, what do I have to feel so bad about…. so I keep it to myself lol. So glad to find people to edify and identify with. This blog has already been such a blessing to me <3

        • If only we were all more honest, I think a huge veil of shame would be lifted and we would all have such a great relief. I think it would take some of satan’s power if we all got honest about it!

  5. I’ve struggled with depression, I lost a dear friend to suicide from depression and my sweet loving husband struggles with the darkness of depression. I’ve learned to watch his warning signs and reach him before he starts to slip. It is so easy for people to mouth words, to share Hallmark platitudes and they mean them but with no follow through, no real hands on hands, knees bent in prayer, they are like a sugar pill for a broken arm. Nice thought but no good. Your list is a great set of suggestions, and I’ll be doing these for friends who are struggling. Spending time in God’s word helped me so much this winter, even a few verses with some tearful prayers can be so soothing. I also started a gratitude journal to remind me that the things that were getting me down weren’t the blessings, those blessings were right there. It helped on the terrible days to reach back and find one thing to hold on to. Sometimes our lifeline can be thin but strong…we all need one!

    • Exactly! Sometimes a good cry can just wash it all away 🙂 I think the niceties that come from folks who mean well, are often those who have never really been really depressed. Maybe they’ve had the blues but they’ve never been down a deep dark path where suicide etc is a taunting thought. I’m sorry you lost a friend to suicide. 🙁

  6. I have really wanted to tell people these things all week…you have a wonderful way of putting my thoughts into words! At the same time I know I have done and said some of the same things to others when they are struggling and I am not…so thank you for the reminder! One thing I know has been a help for me is when I DO actually talk to someone when I am feeling depressed that they actually pray WITH me, not just say, “Oh, I’m sorry, I’ll pray for you” and walk out the door. It helps not only because prayer is powerful in itself, but also helps me realize I am important enough and my concerns are valid enough to warrant action NOW instead of at the convenience of someone else. Thanks for what you do!

    • Jaymi, that is a GREAT point! I know there are times I KNOW I should stop and pray right then for someone and I let my insecurities get the better of me. Thanks for the reminder that I need to do just do it because I too know how vitally important that is.

  7. Wow, Melinda, what a great post. So much depression in my family, and I have heard all of the above statements said to them and about them. I realize that often people just trying to be helpful, but their words add insult to injury. thank you for giving them great, helpful actions to take to truly help those they love.

    I linked it over at my blog too.

  8. Some great, practical advice Melinda! I struggle with depression myself and it is in the winter months that it gets a grip on me. Every year it seems to last longer, this past winter it had such a firm hold on me that I think it was June before I felt I had shaken the worst of it and no longer felt the desire to sleep all day and be up all night. Winter here in Canada can fell never ending when you hate the cold and snow and it’s all I can do to force myself to get out from under the blankets and go to work. Since I am single with no children, as soon as I get home I’m right back on the couch with the blankets over me. No motivation to do anything. When I do go out with friends I feel I have to force myself to act happy and talkative. One thing that did help this year though was having a regularly scheduled activity, in my case girls night at a friend’s house every Wednesday. It forced me to go out for a couple of hours and spend time with two close friends, one of whom has a little one who always makes me smile. Another suggestion for those who want to help: let your friend/loved one know that you are willing to listen if they want to talk or just sit quietly watching tv or reading with them if they don’t want to talk. This is particularly helpful if the person is, like me, living alone. It’s comforting to have someone there who you don’t have to entertain or act for. Someone to take away the loneliness but you don’t have to exert the energy to make it appear that you are happy.

    Not sure what anti depressant you are on Melinda but I’m glad you were able to get it worked out with your insurance company. I find if I’m even 5 or 6 hours late taking mine, I get dizzy and weepy and it lasts for the rest of the day even after I’ve taken it. I hope you are able to get the script filled tonight or first thing tomorrow so that you will be feeling better tomorrow. Have a good night’s rest.

    • Thank you Sharon, I did get it filled and in me. It ended up it was the pharmacy and not my insurance after all. At least it’s filled. Next month, a new pharmacy! And I totally agree on the just hanging out with no expectations. That is one of the things that really does help me too.

      • That is a good point, I realized about halfway through reading these suggestions that the reason my brother’s words help so much is because I KNOW he loves me. He has put in the time just sitting and Be-ing. Everyone else gets the doubter response that runs on auto replay in my head -they don’t really care, they just want to get on with their day, blah blah blah..

  9. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard most of these comments and had the same or similar thoughts.

  10. This is my first time to your site; but I am already learning and reaping the benefits from the writings! I pray that God will continue to bless you as you share, encourage and uplift others here.

    I’ve been a christian for many years and still am a work in progress. Depression and other mental health conditions can affect a persons’ whole life; but having found your blog site, I believe that the words written here are helping me heal already. I’ve been to different churches and heard ways people pray so when I read in the article here entitled “Depression – Your Words Matter” that it is considered gossip if a person mentions someones’ name, concerns in prayer amongst others, I had to take a step back and ask if I have ever done this to anyone. Thank you for illustrating in words how we, as christians, may have seen/heard other christians pray mentioning names, etc.; but that it does more for people if we leave their names out of our conversations.

    Look forward to reading and learning more from your site.

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