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Walking Through Depression

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
February 11, 2021 5:00 am

Walking Through Depression

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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February 11, 2021 5:00 am

Offering hope to those struggling with depression, Plugged In's Paul Asay discusses his own battle with this affliction and the healing he's experienced through his relationship with Jesus Christ.

Get Paul's book "Beauty in the Browns: Walking With Christ in the Darkness of Depression" for your donation of any amount:

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But if you just take it one step at a time. Can you take one more step can you take that step to the next day. Can you take that step to the next hour. Can you move forward.

That is so important when you're dealing with depression. Just the ability to push forward let's Paul AC and he joins us today on Focus on the Family and your hostess focus Pres. and Dr. Jim Daly, thanks for joining us on John Fuller, John.

I think depression literally affects everybody because if it's not directly impacting you with a family member. I'm sure there's a friend or someone you know church were depression is impacting them and today's program we are going to speak to this issue very candidly. According to the national alliance of mental health, more than 17 million US adults over 7% of the population had at least one major depressive episode in the last year, that number could be going up because of you know the pandemic issues and all those things and anxiety disorders seem to go hand-in-hand with depression over 40 million adults in the US, 19% of the population have dealt with some form of anxiety and hard yesterday. As you mentioned, has walk through these mental afflictions, and he has some very strong, very personal insights into that dark world of anxiety and depression and his story is what you're going to hear today and I am hopeful that it will give you the hope that you need to get through another day yet is a message of healing in Christ here and Paul is a senior associate editor at plug-in that's our team that reviews movies and TV and games and more, and that he really center on media discernment for families can hear him on the weekly plug-in show podcast.

He's an award-winning journalist and author and really has beautifully captured his journey with depression in a new book called beauty in the Browns parts of it have your back in the studio this your second time second time I sign I was talking about movies, which is a little more cheerful of the subject, they are right are so grateful for the role you play with plugged in. I know many parents listening and watching appreciate your advice that you give them why does that excite you to walk in the door every day looking at the pop culture through video games and movies and all of that stuff to me and be a downer really is exciting. I'm a story I love stories I get jazzed when I listen to other people stories in the stories that I see on screen or even in video games. They have always resonated with me the power of entertainment in our culture has never been as powerful as it is today, and so because of that, if you like the team the plugged in is able to scratch an itch that I think a lot of parents have the need to know about this sort of stuff and so because of that, it really feels like like were meeting a need and there's nothing more rewarding than coming in and talking about, you know, unmet need. Yeah, a couple years ago. Yet a situation with your son that I think does illuminate the struggle you face with depression and again this is something that you've written about. Now this is something unfamiliar with my wife Gina struggled with anxiety and depression so you know, we know what that is like. So as we asked these very intimate questions. I hope you know the listeners. This is all for the betterment of people listening unit were not forcing you to be here back writings that we need to get down to the serious issues and so couple years ago you had this interaction with your son and helped you kind of understand where you are at what happened. It was it was one of the most difficult moments in my life. What happened is my son.

He's a young adult. Now he is living at home.

He actually own deed.

He overdosed on some pain medication and some cold medication. We took him to the emergency room. We spent all night with him. He went to suicide prevention place where he was able to spend a few days there.

He was obviously struggling with some issues that we knew about but I don't think fully grasped fully realized and as he sort of came out of that we were able to sort of grapple with that a little bit more and I realized, much to my shame. Honestly, that my son and I had never really talked about the issues of anxiety and depression.

Yeah, I'm going to ask you what depression looks like in just a moment, but just to inform the listeners. You know, CDC did a report not long ago that 3000 teenagers. This doesn't count junior high and elementary school 3000 teenagers day or attempting suicide right that should alarm all of us. And when you add in the junior high and elementary school kids. It's quite an astonishing number and again that's why we want to cover this. And with that in mind how prevalent that is what of the signs of depression.

Was it look like in describe for those who may not really relate to it or understand it. Help them better understand what depression looks like you that I want answer that that when you're looking at your team because I think that's a really key issue when you're looking at it at 18 at a child who is dealing with depression can be so hard to determine.

Sometimes what's depression and what's just being a teen right. I mean you can be moody.

Your grades can drop you can stop taking care of your poor personal hygiene is much you stop enjoying some of the things that you need in the past and all of those can be just a sign of normal adolescents to so parents really need to be vigilant and really talk with their teens about some of these issues when it comes to dealing with it yourself and and honestly, depression is one of those issues that is not diagnosed enough all those figures, all the figures and then we know about depression. Those are undercounted because a lot of people don't even realize necessarily that they're depressed but some of the symptoms can be obviously feelings of worthlessness, of failure. Suicidal ideation is of course a huge one changes of patterns of sleep. You know, if you're not sleeping very much or if you're all this and wanting to sleep all the time that can be a huge issue a red flag can be diet. All this and you stop eating or you're eating way too much and sometimes it can be as simple as a lack of focus we can struggle to focus like we need to yeah I find that when I'm in the midst of my depression. It feels like static where it takes extra concentration to really zero in to meet my deadline stood even even form a coherent sentence. It can be a challenge now and I so appreciate that I'm in your especially for parents with teens and younger kids that are showing signs of depression. That's what we want to inform and I think will put a list of those yeah will link over to a list and we also have are alive to thrive curriculum to help parents understand what does it look like when a teen is depressed and perhaps thinking, suicide can be on the website. Now Paul you use a couple of word pictures one to describe depression and sets like a mountain and then you compare it to a toddler what Vivian clarified that when you look at depression and way especially when you're looking on the outside looking in. What does depression look like depression, like a lot of different mental illnesses has so many different facets for and in we all know what a mountain looks like in yet do we mean, there's so many different manifestations that you can have, you know, certain mountains we live in Colorado. There are certain people who would say that this particular mountain is one gigantic peak you have other people who say up that's three because there's some variation in the levels of the altitude and so you have all these different wrinkles that can make up depression.

I honestly believe that everybody who suffers from depression. They suffer with it very individually. It feels very different from one person to the next. That said, there are deftly some commonalities and I think that the disc to look for example, it really does feel like this toddler is flinging things around. The toddler would be depression slinging things around and creating just mass chaos where you can't even hear yourself think. If you lack in the closet. He still didn't bang on the door.

It's one of those things that it's almost impossible to get away from depression can be so tricky, I think because there are no easy answers. I think sometimes we long for easy quick fixes. If I do this, I'll be pulled out of my depression when you suffer from depression. It's just not that easy. It's a process. Yeah, let me let me get into that because the church's response to depression is the perfect place to address the and you know good intention. People will say all you need is the word of God, all you need is prayer. All you need, and in some cases that might truly do the job. You know you might get a lift from your relationship with the Lord and in that is understandable.

That's what we all want to see good times right when you're feeling down, but sometimes, especially if it's physiological. Those answers are a little trite. They don't necessarily bring the result in the relief that's needed and you know God works in all of this, he created us, he knows the biochemical responses in our brain, our bodies, etc. but speak to that nuance of the fact that if we have diabetes or we have kidney failure will be very open to doing dialysis or taking medication to control her blood sugar. Whatever might be, but when it comes to you know the issues of brain chemistry in the fact that we may not have enough serotonin or other things in our chemical makeup in our brain that taking medicine can be a good thing to give you the relief that you need in that area and it's a battle is an evil really is a battle in and you're absolutely right. Medicine can be a huge help. Now now sometimes it can take a little bit to actually balance medication. So it really helps people even that is not a quick fix, but it's truly something that people who have depression that struggled from depression often need.

It is a chemical imbalance. Oftentimes you need to have something to help regulate that I think that psychology, you know, going to a counselor can be a huge help for a lot of people began reading the word and praying to God. Clearly, those are the places to start. That's exactly right. In some ways it's almost like you look at your physical health right you need to do a lot of things to stay healthy. You need to exercise need to eat right.

That exercise can have lots of different prongs to it. All of those are really critical for keeping your body healthy.

Sometimes you need well all the time you need those same tools to keep your mind healthy and some people need more tools than others. They need that medication.

They need the ability to regulate whatever chemical imbalances are causing them to suffer up all AC as our guest today on Focus on the Family and he's captured his story and some great insights about depression in his book published by Focus on the Family called beauty in the Browns, and we've got copies of that here at the ministry of just out by the website.

The link is in the episode notes a poem ask you again for the benefit of the listeners with how to depression words recognize that what age were you happy think it took root of what was going on, just to better understand your story. Sure, honestly, I was one of those people who went undiagnosed for a long long time. I had struggled with anxiety. Growing up I was apparently too nervous, quiet kid who took a lot emotional baggage on himself right as I grew up I grew into college-age student, I fell in love. I suffered what I consider my first real bout of depression soldiered through that.

Then when I was probably in my mid-20s I had what can only be described as kind of a total breakdown. I've always been a person who dealt with emotional trauma in my gut you know I would have stomachaches. I would have known it would just bother me one morning I woke up and I just felt completely sick to my stomach. I had not called in sick at work ever, but I did this day and I wound up spending the next three weeks flat on my back on the couch not able to do anything. I still thought that it was mainly a stomach issue and we went through quite a bit of time several weeks actually trying to figure out what was going on with my stomach. Nothing physically was wrong with it.

So we started put to pursue some other avenues and we discovered that I was dealing with a severe depressive bout essentially of Paul in the book you share about how you felt far away from God and and how that I think kind of increased her depression is yet a moment ago you talked about not feeling this close. So how would that feel like for you to be far away from God and how would it impact your depression when you're in the midst of hard-core severe depression.

You almost or at least this is the case for me to almost feel dead. You almost feel empty.

You can't deal with anything and that includes your relationships. God felt not just distant but absent mentally. I knew that he was there, but I couldn't even process that fact. And that's a very different thing. I think knowing that he's out there in these lift with you and he loves you even if you don't feel the closeness that you wish you could yeah I found it interesting you mention the book were you had your son and that help to disguise her kind of paper over your sense of depression. Why was that and what were you benefiting from in terms of the birth of your first child. I think the main thing that happened when my son was born is that it helped pull me outside of myself. One of the interesting things about depression is that it inherently shrinks your world, your world grows smaller and smaller and smaller until you can only really think about yourself and how miserable she that is a very difficult thing. My son's birth to be quite candid, was completely unexpected. My wife and I were not married. We were going to college. He was very stressful, difficult time.

I was dealing with some depressive issues then and it felt like when we learned that Wendy was pregnant with our son. It felt like our whole world was caving in.

It felt like we were just at the very very bottom. But the thing about it is that unexpected pregnancy and all the stuff that comes with it helped focus my mind, instead of being so tied up within myself. All of a sudden I had more people to think about. I had a future wife to think about. I had a future son to think about. We had a future that we had to build together.

And so that was a strong catalyst for me to actually grow out of the depression. I can't say pull myself out, but I sort of grew out of it and when I think that that's a really important tool to deal with depression is the ability as much as you can to focus on others that's really good that's important and I think the idea that you're thinking of the future is so hard for people struggle with depression absolutely futures important. That's important to God. Yes and a role for you, your spouse, obviously your children you had a daughter next and you thought maybe things were in a good place and it was all rolling pretty well and then what happened things about depression is. Some people suffer from it. Once they have one very serious bout of depression and then it's gone.

For others it's like a terrible horror movie franchise, which is keeps coming back and this was an unexpected thing for me. I did have beautiful loving wife. I had two great kids. I was dealing with, you know, some strong career moves that I was when I felt fulfilled. In some ways, even though the stress was ritzy overwhelming.

Apparently so the depression at that point in time took me by surprise. I was really surprised to find myself flat on my back and that couch near the basement for three weeks try really weeks trying to cope. It was it was hard to even go to the bathroom.

Let me ask you a boy and that's a huge statement.

I mean that. But your wife for those of us that may be, are not suffering and that way but were close now because were were the spouses. What was she going through what was she observing what was she feeling and how was she making everyday moving forward. Wendy, my wife did everything she could.

She would come down and she would, you know, be kind to me and rub my head in you know try to take down food, which I would meet she would encourage me to go for walks, she would one of the times that I remember most strongly was she I like you say I had been down in the basement for three weeks I'd been isolated very much from even my own family. She brought down my kids just to see if that might help and I was so appalled with myself that in that moment just looking at them. Look at me was one of the most difficult moments of my life. You know, because as a dad you want to be strong you want to be there. You want to be with your kids and I wasn't in a place where I could do that and they looked at me with such fear right yeah and I felt completely worthless and a failure as a dad and of course that doesn't help one's depression well and I so again I so appreciate this Paul because literally millions of people will suffer from depression and anxiety and they're going through something might be in the basement right now and somebody is turned on this radio program more than listening to podcasts.

Whatever might be.

I do need to ask what at the end of the three weeks.

What was the snap one hold you out. What got you on your feet upstairs or speak yeah it was a process and what I talk about in the book is that for me. It required three things required love it required time and it required a really timely kick in the rear.

It honestly, what does that sound like it was when he was really good about just letting me deal with it and I think that sometimes depression is one of those things that you need to walk through it does. It just does sometimes take time but at the end of the three weeks when he came down. She sat down beside me on the couch and she looked at me so lovingly and so caringly and she said you know sometimes I don't know whether I need to just give you a big hug or a kick in the butt, and I think that that was perfectly timed. A lot of depressed people can't hear that kind of thing without it won't help a lot of people who are really in the depths of the mother of their depression but because I had had some time to process the fact that I felt loved and cared for, not only by my family by my coworkers who'd been missing me for three weeks I was off the job for three weeks. They should a lot of support and that was really important to me. When he came in exactly the right time to say maybe you just need a kick in the butt and it wasn't a complete turnaround. It wasn't like I was all better. It actually took several weeks several months really before I felt myself but it did get me out of the basement, while interesting, but let me let me ask you is rewinding in here there's couple of questions. I really want to make sure we answer one is you've developed some mechanisms to be able to stave off the depression nibble.

So is that you feel those emotions coming up. You feel that desperation that can a closing and feeling. What are some of those things that you learn to do in order to avoid the depths of depression. One of them is just staying on a fairly reliable routine.

I find that when I'm on a routine when I am planning out my day that works for me.

It helps keep me busy for a lack of a better word, and I think that sometimes for the sort of depression. I deal with that busyness is a good thing looking out for others is much as we can to think about the well-being of your friends and your family as much as you can is a really important thing.

That's a great idea. Another very very simple thing is I started running.

I mean, this is really a bizarre catalyst. It doesn't sound very spiritual at all, but the process of running has really helped in a lot of different ways. Number one I think that the exercise can help not only keep your body healthy, but it can serve lubricate your mind, you can help generate some of those important chemicals that your brain needs to function well but the other thing that it does is it helps me understand my own depression better. Putting 1 foot in front of the other. That is so instructive to me on how to deal with depression.

It's depression can feel overwhelming life can feel overwhelming when you look into the distance and you think what you've got to do to get to know, whatever you want to get but if you just take it one step at a time. Can you take one more step can you take that step to the next day. Can you take that step to the next hour. Can you move forward.

That is so important when you're dealing with depression.

Just the ability to push forward, even if it hurts, even if it's painful Paula master it right were restarted when you talked about that distance and that friend of yours challenging whether not you even had a relationship with Christ and you've gone through the valleys. Now in your life and you have mountaintop experiences, your children, all those things you been in the basement and in the top floor I guess is a metaphor for that described that where you now because I don't want people to walk away from this feeling like maybe your friend was right.

Yeah yeah it's a really great question and I will be completely candid, I still very rarely feel a friendship with God where I feel him with me all the time where I feel that he is truly you know right next to me shoulder to shoulder, he can still feel distant that's just part of my walk of faith.

But at the same time, there have been moments like it feels like you walk under the sun for the first time after being in a cave for for months or years you feel that warmth you feel that preciousness you feel that joy and that does happen to me every once in a while and those moments help me get through those trying times. Now why I so appreciate the beauty in which you painted the picture because everybody's going to have a different sense of that doesn't mean God isn't or is anymore with the person that another person, but as long as you're confessing Christ and pursuing him. That's a beautiful way to look at a God is always near acid does say that absolutely gets our ability to understand that and work that out in our lives. I think that's absolutely true.

And when we think about God our relationship with God as a relationship. We think about the relationships in our own lives. We all relate to each other differently. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. The fact that we all enjoy one another's company in different ways. I think there's a beauty and that policies been so good. Thank you for your openness and your candor minutes really good to be helpful for so many of you know what I want to turn to the listener. You and just remind you that were here for you, I mean supporters have taken care of ensuring that we have Christian counselors here to talk with you and to pray with you and to put resources in your hand even like Paul's great book beauty in the Browns get in touch with us.

Don't be shy. Don't be embarrassed.

We have dealt with issues for 40 over 40 years and I doubt we have not come across something so do take us up on that.

Let us be a part of your healing journey. Let us introduce you to some things that will work. Let us if you don't know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. Let's start right there and don't shrink back. Don't be embarrassed you give us a call so we can arrange a time for counselor to call you back or maybe just talk through some resources that are available like Paul's book beauty in the Browns. We have a lot more as well. Our numbers 800 K word for donate. As you can hand out would like to say thank you for joining our support team. Your gift of any amount will make a big difference will say thank you by sending again.

800 K in the word family or check the episode notes for more complex that any time on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team. Thanks so much for joining us today for Focus on the Family I'm John Fuller inviting you back. As we once again help you and your family thrive right. I was convinced that nothing can change what was going on in our marriage and I want to try anymore but my commitment to God, help me try one more time. We went to a hope restored marriage intensive and it was life-changing. The counselors created the safest environment we could imagine so that let us really talk a much different course now I believe we received a miracle that week receive your free consultation and hope

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