At first I was surprised by persons with depression who refused to seek help. As I continue in my life coaching ministry, I am no longer surprised. Many men and women who are depressed seek no help of any kind or seek incomplete help, like antidepressants and nothing else. When the antidepressants no longer work, they sink into hopelessness and say, “I guess I’ll always be depressed; there is no hope for me.”
There is often a feeling of shame that one has depression, something best not discussed with anyone. There are comments such as,
“I fell into depression because I’m weak and a failure.” Then comes, “I can fight my way out of it” or “I deserve what is happening to me because _________________” or “I guess this is just the way it’s going to be for now and I have to live with it.” These are all horrible lies.
Men especially may feel they have to do something on their own, without seeking help. If they can’t handle the situation, they are failures and there is shame. Although women often try to connect with others about their condition, many feel there is something wrong with them, a weakness best kept hidden. They are not as prone to take action on their own, but to just accept, “This is the way it is.”
A wife or girlfriend who expresses her worry about her partner’s condition can trigger a man’s vulnerability to shame. Instead of accepting a woman’s concerns of wanting to connect with her partner, he can identify them as a critical statement that he has failed her. Her concern is perceived that it is all somehow his fault, and so he moves into isolation and in turn isolates his partner. Marriages and commitments can break apart at this point or, if continued, never be the same again.
It becomes a vicious circle. The man longs for respect and a sense that he is fulfilling the male role, but he instead is confronted by his “weakness” and shame, and lashes out. The woman, on the other hand, feels more isolated and fearful of what the future holds.
And so both the man and the woman feel the sting of defeat, the sense of failure, the advent of hopelessness.
And then there is the choice – give up and descend into the pit or seek help from professionals, friends, and someone who has been in depression and lived to triumph over it. If there is anything I’ve learned about depression, it’s that a person can’t overcome it easily on his/her own. The lie is that depression is painful and shameful, and you need to deal with it on your own. The truth is that you need others to help you with your condition, just as certainly as you need others to help you with diabetes, a heart condition, or cancer.
And there is the needed shift from your values to God’s values, from physical and soul concerns to Spiritual concerns, and a shift from despair to the hope that comes from trusting God for our future. That’s the road to triumphing over depression. I pray that each person suffering from depression will walk away from the road of lies and step onto the pathway of truth.