I put together a newsletter every few weeks for my subscribers called The Youth Ministry Round Up. I fill this youth ministry newsletter with articles, videos, quotes, etc. and in the last Youth Ministry Round Up I featured a video called The New Great Depression by Moth and The Flame.
The video, featured below, is the story of a boy who dealing with a monster. This monster is depression and it’s wrecking his family. Take a look at the video, and then scroll down for thoughts on my journey with The Monster.
This is not my first post about depression, but because it’s May and mental health awareness month, I think it’s appropriate to share how I tame my monster with the hope that it will help you tame yours.
My monster has been around for 17 years, maybe longer, but I became aware of it in 2002. My monster has two heads, anxiety and depression. My highs a really high and my lows are really low. If I don’t take my 20 mil pill for a while, I start blurting things out that are based in fear and it’s like I’m having an out of body experience listening to myself say thing that I wish I could stop. Bad monster.
Anxiety, left unchecked, eventually grows another head, anger. Thishead flails around yelling and threaten al that is good to me. I become angry when I can’t seem to change my situation or myself. Frustration overwhelms me and then the shutdown begins. My brain just can’t hand the burden and I get tired; tired of trying, tired of people and sometime tired of life. My monster is a wicked thing, but my monster knows it’s not really in control.
For those who may not be aware, you can be a Christian and struggle with depression. We’re all subject to the fall and its consequences.
I did’t ask for this two-headed, sometimes three-headed, monster and I haven’t committed some great sin that “allowed” my depression to manifest, it just is. But as I said, my monster is not in control, I am. The monster only appears when I don’t take care of my mind and spirit. My monster is a result of my inattention to small issues. My monster grows and shrinks based on how well I am taking of my mental health.
Medication does its part in taming the monster, but my faith has the whip and chair. My mental health is rooted in my identity in Christ not in my feelings. My monster was defeated through Christ on the cross and my monsters days are numbered.
Scripture plays a big part in reminding me who I am and Whose I am when things seem to be coming apart. One of my favorite verses is from Isaiah,
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3
I also like the Message paraphrases it,
People with their minds set on you, you keep completely whole, Steady on their feet, because they keep at it and don’t quit.
God cares for our minds as well as our souls. They’re connected. If one is flourishing it expresses itself in the other. I keep my mind on all the good God has done in my life (Philippians 4:8,9) and it far outweighs the damage the monster has wrought, putting my life in perspective and balance.
I can’t afford to feed my monster negativity about myself of others, otherwise it grows out of control. Every try to tame a 500lb three-headed monster? That’s why I keep him lean and manageable.
There are some days my monster is playful, helps me be creative and get work done. In some ways I have made friends with my monster, but I understand that, left unchecked, my monster would destroy all I have. Some days my monster wins in spite of all the care I may take, but it’s rare.
If you have a monster, regardless of how many heads, just know that your monster and my monster are related, which in some way makes us related. Whether you’re a pastor, a believer or an atheist who struggles, know that we’re in this together and in the end we will win.
Take care of yourself. See a therapist. Call a friend. Launch a prayer. But don’t ever give up. Don’t let the monster win.
Just in case you need more encouragement, here’s a video of me talking about mental health and ministry.