Pastor Bruce is a spiritual partner of mine who helped me through the worst times of my depression by praying for me and encouraging me. He is a friend as close as a brother, and I refer to him as The Great Encourager.
“Pat, I was at a John Maxwell seminar, and the leader of that seminar was talking about burnout and depression. He said
one of the biggest challenges of a person in depression is an inaccurate perspective of his/her life – ‘It won’t change; I’m stuck and can’t get out; my life will always be this way; my life has no meaning or purpose; it is hopeless.’
“Then he said the antidote to this negative view is a positive, truthful perspective – ‘It won’t always be this way; it will change; I will get better; I will not stay this way; I will find meaning and hope in my life; the best is yet to come.’
“Pat, both of these viewpoints are a self-fulfilling prophecy. Believe that your life is lost, and it will be. Believe that there are good days ahead, and they will be there.”
Interestingly enough, this is what Bruce and my brother were telling me when I was in major depression. And my response, which may be yours right now, “I don’t believe that. You don’t know what I’m going through. Both of you are Pollyannas. I have no control over my life. You’re telling me a fairy tale.”
But what else did I have to break out of my depression? So I started to talk to myself using their words of encouragement, though I didn’t believe they would do any good. I didn’t want to stay where I was, and in my saner and more stable moments, I knew they were right. Slowly, slowly, I began to change. It was very, very hard. I was telling my mind something it did not want to hear. Depression was in control and laughed at such positive words. But through the healing venues of body, soul, and spirit, and much encouragement from Pastor Bruce and others, I came out on the other side.
I expect I was as sorry a case of depression as my psychiatrists and psychotherapists had seen. I don’t think they believed I could pull out of my condition, but they too encouraged me and helped me, and they were happy for me when I finally stabilized and found a life of meaning and purpose – a twisting and tumultuous journey that took nearly five years.”