There are some folks you simply want to un-busy your life long enough to sit with, to make memories with, and my dear friend, Dr. Michelle Bengtson has long been one of those people for me. I love her enthusiasm for life and her desire to make a difference in the lives of hurting women. Today, as we celebrate the release of her book, Hope Prevails: Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression, we’re inviting her to share a slice of her heart with you. My hope is that you’ll come to love her as much as I do.
Guest post: Michelle Bengtson
She looked at me briefly then diverted her gaze.
“I’m afraid if I allow myself to start crying, I won’t ever stop.”
I reached across the table, softly set my hand atop hers, and responded. “I know. I’ve said those very words before. With healing, comes an end to the tears. But you have to feel it to heal it.”
She hung her head low, taking in what I had said, not sure she liked the truth it contained. And very certain she didn’t want to feel the pain.
“Can I tell you something I’ve never told anyone else before?” she asked, seeking permission before fully disclosing her pain.
“Of course. You can share anything you’d like. You’re safe with me. Remember, I keep confidences for a living,” I said with a smile.
“I’m not sure I want to go on. I don’t think I can take anymore, or that I see the point.” She stared up at my eyes waiting for my reaction, expecting me to be shocked. But I wasn’t. I rarely am. “And the strangest thing is that I’m not sure how I got here or what to do about it. All I want is to feel better…maybe a little joy, but maybe that’s not possible for me.”
Fortunately, I knew. “The first thing you need to know is that I understand. I’ve been there, and it sounds like you are telling my story. The only difference is that I’m on the other side now. And the next thing you need to know is that those thoughts are not your thoughts. Those thoughts are being fed to you by the enemy of your soul.”
“What do you mean?”
Scripture says, “The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy, but I have come that they might have life and have it to the full!” You have an enemy whose goal is to steal your joy, kill your peace, and destroy your identity through this beast of depression.
But I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t have to stay that way. Because Jesus came to give you life to the full. He did it for me, and He wants to do it for you!”
We went on to discuss the spiritual side of depression… that the Bible talks about the fact that we wrestle not with flesh and blood but against evil powers and principalities of the unseen world (Ephesians 6:12).
Depression affects people today in epidemic proportions. Maybe you’ve never suffered with it yourself (and if not, consider yourself blessed!), but I can guarantee that you have a friend or family member who has.
As a neuropsychologist who has treated medical and mental health disorders for over 20 years, I can tell you that the most common treatments for depression are medication and therapy, and both of those help, but as long as we neglect the spiritual aspect of depression, we are in essence using only a band aid. And the enemy of our soul counts on that. God said, “My people perish for lack of knowledge.” We must arm ourselves with God’s truth in order to effectively eliminate depression.
The first place the enemy attacks is in our mind, and scripture tells us he is the Father of Lies, incapable of telling the truth. He will quickly feed us thoughts that say “No one understands,” “You’re the only one to go through this,” “If you tell anyone, they’ll treat you differently or leave you alone,” “You’ll be embarrassed if anyone finds out,” “Everyone would be better off if you weren’t here,” “You’ll probably always feel this way,” or “Maybe you’re just joy-immune.”
That’s why Scripture is so clear that we should first 1) guard our heart and mind, but also 2) take captive every thought. We have to fight him by standing on God’s truth, countering his lies with the truth of God’s word.
For example, when you think, “No one understands,” remember that scripture tells us that “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
When you think, “Everyone would be better off if you weren’t here,” remember that scripture tells us, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for a future and a hope!” (Jeremiah 29:11)
When you think, “You’ll probably always feel this way” or “You’re just joy-immune,” remember that God promises, “weeping may last for a night but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).
“Do you really think there’s hope for me?” she asked as a single tear rolled down her cheek.
“I know there is!”
“How do you know?”
“Because, God is no respecter of persons, and what He has done for me, He longs to do for you as well. But there is a reason Jesus asked the lame man if he wanted to get well…it often requires work on our part. It did for me and it will for you too.
You’ve got to actively pick up your sword and fight the enemy with the truth of God’s word. Now you know how. It won’t necessarily be easy, but it’ll be worth it. I can promise you, Because of Him, Hope Prevails!”
(Do you have a friend who suffers with depression? Leave a comment to be entered to win a copy of Michelle’s book, Hope Prevails. Also be sure to share this post for an extra entry!)
Dr. Michelle Bengtson (PhD, Nova Southeastern University) has been a neuropsychologist for more than twenty years. She is author of the book “Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression” She lives in the Dallas/Fort Worth area with her husband, their two sons, and three dogs. Connect with Michelle on her website or Facebook or Twitter.