1. Is feeling a sense of hopelessness the same as not having faith in God?
In many cases, feelings of hopelessness can be an important way of emotionally processing our way through things, or simply a result of being temporarily overwhelmed. It’s very important to remember that there are a lot of reasons why a person might feel hopeless, anxious or depressed.* It isn’t always just a negative attitude that needs adjusting with a douse of positive cliché or a quick slap to knock someone out of.
2. You’ve experienced a broken home, abuse, addiction and the loss of a baby. How are you not bitter at life or even God?
It has been a rough ride. For example, after I lost my baby, I was so anxious and depressed I couldn’t work, drive the car or leave the house. Finding God was a huge turning point for me. Learning the truth about Him and His love made it is so clear that these horrible things do not come from God. They’re not consistent with His character but are the result of living in a world wrought with the devastating effects of sin. At the end of the day, God is my hope and I know that I am never really walking this journey alone. I have learned that God may allow certain experiences—positive and negative—but I always end up being able to draw from them to help encourage someone else through the same things.
3. Surely God is powerful enough to take away our depression or anxiety?
Of course He is and often He does! I’ve experienced that many times. However, it’s not really fair to blame God for our battles. I know that sometimes my own thinking patterns, behaviours and actions have contributed to my issues and levels of depression, so only I can take responsibility for that. There have also been times that I learned powerful lessons and grew stronger having faced certain trials. Sometimes it’s more about trusting God and who He is. I have found that God is love.
4. What do you do to ensure depression and anxiety don’t overwhelm you?
I’ve learned to get a better balance of the elements of my life and to recognise signs and triggers; things like hormone changes, big life changes or lack of sleep and neglecting good nutrition. Other things people (including myself) can do include: praying and asking God for help; claiming Bible promises; allowing positive thoughts to dominate and focusing on gratitude; plenty of fresh air, exercise, water and sunshine; connecting with family, friends and engaging support; taking time to regularly relax, have fun and be a bit silly (a good laugh releases endorphins!); good distractions and artistic creativity projects work wonders.
5. How can we help a loved one who is suffering
Educate yourself about anxiety and depression, not only through reading, but by talking to others who have come through it or been a support. They will have some great ideas to help. When engaging with a person who is feeling depressed or anxious, it’s important to listen to their thoughts and feelings, without judgement or trying to fix it, so that they are able to process and feel heard and validated. A great way to help them is to have them help you with a special or “important task” where they can find a sense of meaning, purpose and accomplishment. But remember to also look after yourself! Supporting someone through anxiety and depression can be exhausting. Make sure you take time out to connect with healthy friends and engage in fun and enjoyable activities and hobbies.
* For a list of causes of anxiety and depression, and practical help, visit www.braveenough.org