vrijdag 25 april 2014


Depressed Christians
We are born in a fallen world and are tainted by sin and imperfection from conception. These imperfections are physical, psychological and spiritual. Since the world is a fallen world in which we are affected by all kinds of factors suffering is often unmerited and not equally distributed. One way in which people suffer is through depression. Depression can have many causes both physiological, psychological and spiritual but regardless of the underlying causes it is a serious condition.

Helping a Depressed Person
How to Reach Out and Help Someone While Taking Care of Yourself

Depression: Signs & Symptoms

When a family member or friend suffers from depression, your support and encouragement can play an important role in his or her recovery. However, depression can also wear you down if you neglect your own needs. These guidelines can help you support a depressed person while maintaining your own emotional equilibrium.

Helping a depressed friend or family member

Depression is a serious but treatable disorder that affects millions of people, from young to old and from all walks of life, christians and non-christians. It gets in the way of everyday life, causing tremendous pain, hurting not just those suffering from it, but also impacting everyone around them.

If someone you love is depressed, you may be experiencing any number of difficult emotions, including helplessness, frustration, anger, fear, guilt, and sadness. These feelings are all normal. It’s not easy dealing with a friend or family member’s depression. And if you don’t take care of yourself, it can become overwhelming.

That said, there are steps you can take to help your loved one. Start by learning about depression and how to talk about it with your friend or family member. But as you reach out, don’t forget to look after your own emotional health. Thinking about your own needs is not an act of selfishness—it’s a necessity. Your emotional strength will allow you to provide the ongoing support your depressed friend or family member needs.

Understanding depression in a friend or family member:

Depression is a serious condition. Don’t underestimate the seriousness of depression. Depression drains a person’s energy, optimism, and motivation. Your depressed loved one can’t just “snap out of it” by sheer force of will or by a simple prayer, a spiritual act or a step of faith. 

Do not make the depressed person responsible for his/her depression. Do not communicate guilt, avoid blaming your love done for their condition, directly or indirectly. Statements like ''maybe you did not pray enough....,'' ''Maybe you should do this....,'' ''why are you always so negative....,'' ''happiness is a choice....,'' ''if you had listened to me then....,'' and the like are unhelpful and unfair as the depressed person does not choose to be depressed.

Do not take depression personal
The symptoms of depression aren’t personal. Depression makes it difficult for a person to connect on a deep emotional level with anyone, even the people he or she loves most. In addition, depressed people often say hurtful things and lash out in anger. Remember that this is the depression talking, not your loved one, so try not to take it personally.

Do not deny, hide or minimise the depression and its effects

Hiding the problem, denying it or making it look smaller won’t make it go away. Don’t be an enabler. It doesn’t help anyone involved if you are making excuses, covering up the problem, or lying for a friend or family member who is depressed. In fact, this may keep the depressed person from seeking treatment.

Don't try to fix

You can’t “fix” someone else’s depression. Don’t try to rescue your loved one from depression. It’s not up to you to fix the problem, nor can you. You’re not to blame for your loved one’s depression or responsible for his or her happiness (or lack thereof). Ultimately, recovery is in the hands of the depressed person.

Is my friend or family member depressed?

Family and friends are often the first line of defence in the fight against depression. That’s why it’s important to understand the signs and symptoms of depression. You may notice the problem in a depressed loved one before he or she does, and your influence and concern can motivate that person to seek help.

Be concerned if your loved one...

    Doesn’t seem to care about anything anymore.
    Is uncharacteristically sad, irritable, short-tempered, critical, or moody.
    Has lost interest in work, sex, hobbies, and other pleasurable activities.
    Talks about feeling “helpless” or “hopeless.”
    Expresses a bleak or negative outlook on life.
    Frequently complains of aches and pains such as headaches, stomach problems, and back pain.
    Complains of feeling tired and drained all the time.
    Has withdrawn from friends, family, and other social activities.
    Sleeps less than usual or oversleeps.
    Eats more or less than usual, and has recently gained or lost weight.
    Has become indecisive, forgetful, disorganized, and “out of it.”
    Drinks more or abuses drugs, including prescription sleeping pills and painkillers.

How to talk to a loved one about depression

Sometimes it is hard to know what to say when speaking to a loved one about depression. You might fear that if you bring up your worries he or she will get angry, feel insulted, or ignore your concerns. You may be unsure what questions to ask or how to be supportive.

If you don’t know where to start, the following suggestions may help. But remember that being a compassionate listener is much more important than giving advice. You don’t have to try to “fix” the person; you just have to be a good listener. Often, the simple act of talking to someone face to face can be an enormous help to someone suffering from depression. Encourage the depressed person to talk about his or her feelings, and be willing to listen without judgment.

Don’t expect a single conversation to be the end of it. Depressed people tend to withdraw from others and isolate themselves. You may need to express your concern and willingness to listen over and over again. Be gentle, yet persistent.
Ways to start the conversation:
-          I have been feeling concerned about you lately.
-          Recently, I have noticed some differences in you and wondered how you are doing.
-          I wanted to check in with you because you have seemed pretty down lately.

Questions you can ask:

    When did you begin feeling like this?
    Did something happen that made you start feeling this way?
    How can I best support you right now?
    Have you thought about getting help?

Remember, being supportive involves offering encouragement and hope. Very often, this is a matter of talking to the person in language that he or she will understand and respond to while in a depressed mind frame.

What you can say that helps:

    You are not alone in this. I’m here for you.

    You may not believe it now, but the way you’re feeling will change.

    I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help.

    When you want to give up, tell yourself you will hold on for just one more day, hour, minute — whatever you can manage.

    You are important to me. Your life is important to me.

    Tell me what I can do now to help you.

Avoid saying:

    It’s all in your head.

    We all go through times like this.

    Look on the bright side.

    You have so much to live for why do you want to die?

    I can’t do anything about your situation.

    Just snap out of it.

    What’s wrong with you?

    Shouldn’t you be better by now?

(Adapted from: The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance)

Taking care of yourself while helping a depressed person

There’s a natural impulse to want to fix the problems of people we love, but you can’t control a loved one’s depression. You can, however, control how well you take care of yourself. It’s just as important for you to stay healthy as it is for the depressed person to get treatment, so make your own well-being a priority. If you fail to do this it will affect you and your loved one negatively and you may start becoming resentful or bitter.

Remember the advice of airline flight attendants: put on your own oxygen mask before you assist anyone else. In other words, make sure your own health and happiness are solid before you try to help someone who is depressed. You won’t do your friend or family member any good if you collapse under the pressure of trying to help. When your own needs are taken care of, you’ll have the energy you need to lend a helping hand.

Tips for taking care of yourself

Think of this challenging time like a marathon; you need extra sustenance to keep yourself going. The following ideas will help you keep your strength up as you support your loved one through depression treatment and recovery.

Speak up for yourself. You may be hesitant to speak out when the depressed person in your life upsets you or lets you down. However, honest communication will actually help the relationship in the long run. If you’re suffering in silence and letting resentment build, your loved one will pick up on these negative emotions and feel even worse. Gently talk about how you’re feeling before pent-up emotions make it too hard to communicate with sensitivity.

Set boundaries. Of course you want to help, but you can only do so much. Your own health will suffer if you let your life be controlled by your loved one’s depression. You can’t be a caretaker round the clock without paying a psychological price. To avoid burnout and resentment, set clear limits on what you are willing and able to do. You are not your loved one’s therapist, so don’t take on that responsibility.

Stay on track with your own life. While some changes in your daily routine may be unavoidable while caring for your friend or relative, do your best to keep appointments and plans with friends. If your depressed loved one is unable to go on an outing or trip you had planned, ask a friend to join you instead.

Seek support. You are NOT betraying your depressed relative or friend by turning to others for support. Joining a support group, talking to a counselor or clergyman, or confiding in a trusted friend will help you get through this tough time. You don’t need to go into detail about your loved one’s depression or betray confidences; instead focus on your emotions and what you are feeling. Make sure you can be totally honest with the person you turn to—no judging your emotions!

Encouraging a depressed person to get help

Beating depression, one day at a time

You can’t beat depression through sheer willpower, but you do have some control—even if your depression is severe and stubbornly persistent. The key to depression recovery is to start with a few small goals and slowly build from there. Feeling better takes time, but you can get there if you make positive choices for yourself each day and draw on the support of others. Read Dealing with Depression

While you can't control someone else’s recovery from depression, you can start by encouraging the depressed person to seek help. Getting a depressed person into treatment can be difficult. Depression saps energy and motivation, so even the act of making an appointment or finding a doctor can seem daunting. Depression also involves negative ways of thinking. The depressed person may believe that the situation is hopeless and treatment pointless.

Because of these obstacles, getting your loved one to admit to the problem—and helping him or her see that it can be solved—is an essential step in depression recovery.

If your friend or family member resists getting help for depression:

Suggest a general check-up with a physician. Your loved one may be less anxious about seeing a family doctor than a mental health professional. A regular doctor’s visit is actually a great option, since the doctor can rule out medical causes of depression. If the doctor diagnoses depression, he or she can refer your loved one to a psychiatrist or psychologist. Sometimes, this “professional” opinion makes all the difference.

Offer to help your depressed loved one find a doctor or therapist and go with them on the first visit. Finding the right treatment provider can be difficult, and is often a trial-and-error process. For a depressed person already low on energy, it is a huge help to have assistance making calls and looking into the options.

Encourage the person to make a thorough list of symptoms and ailments to discuss with the doctor. You can even bring up things that you have noticed as an outside observer, such as, “You seem to feel much worse in the mornings,” or “You always get stomach pains before work.”

Supporting the depression treatment process

One of the most important things you can do to help a friend or relative with depression is to give your unconditional love and support throughout the treatment process. This involves being compassionate and patient, which is not always easy when dealing with the negativity, hostility, and moodiness that go hand in hand with depression.

Provide whatever assistance the person needs (and is willing to accept). Help your loved one make and keep appointments, research treatment options, and stay on schedule with any treatment prescribed.

Have realistic expectations. It can be frustrating to watch a depressed friend or family member struggle, especially if progress is slow or stalled. Having patience is important. Even with optimal treatment, recovery from depression doesn’t happen overnight.

Lead by example. Encourage your friend or family member to lead a healthier, mood-boosting lifestyle by doing it yourself: maintain a positive outlook, eat better, avoid alcohol and drugs, exercise, and lean on others for support.

Encourage activity. Invite your loved one to join you in uplifting activities, like going to a funny movie or having dinner at a favorite restaurant. Exercise is especially helpful, so try to get your depressed loved one moving. Going on walks together is one of the easiest options. Be gently and lovingly persistent—don’t get discouraged or stop asking.

Pitch in when possible. Seemingly small tasks can be hard for a depressed person to manage. Offer to help out with household responsibilities or chores, but only do what you can without getting burned out yourself!

The risk of suicide is real

What to do in a crisis situation

If you believe your loved one is at an immediate risk for suicide, do NOT leave the person alone.
It may be hard to believe that the person you know and love would ever consider something as drastic as suicide, but a depressed person may not see any other way out. Depression clouds judgment and distorts thinking, causing a normally rational person to believe that death is the only way to end the pain he or she is feeling.

When someone is depressed, suicide is a very real danger. It’s important to know the warning signs:

    Talking about suicide, dying, or harming oneself

    Preoccupation with death

    Expressing feelings of hopelessness or self-hate

    Acting in dangerous or self-destructive ways

    Getting affairs in order and saying goodbye

    Seeking out pills, weapons, or other lethal objects

    Sudden sense of calm after a depression

If you think a friend or family member might be considering suicide, talk to him or her about your concerns as soon as possible. Many people feel uncomfortable bringing up the topic but it is one of the best things you can do for someone who is thinking about suicide. Talking openly about suicidal thoughts and feelings can save a person’s life, so speak up if you're concerned and seek professional help immediately!

Bring Your Life Into Balance

Dealing with Depression

Dealing with Depression – You can’t beat depression with sheer willpower, but you can make a huge dent with simple lifestyle changes and other coping tips.

Self-Help and Treatment

Depression Treatment

Depression Treatment – Learn about the many effective ways of dealing with depression including therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes.

Antidepressant Medications

Antidepressants – What you need to know about antidepressants, including their benefits and risks, so you can make an informed decision about what’s right for you.

Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation Techniques for Stress Relief – When practiced regularly, relaxation techniques can relieve depression, reduce stress, and boost feelings of joy and well-being.


Suicide Help – Feeling suicidal doesn’t mean that you are crazy, or weak, or flawed. It only means that you have more pain than you can cope with right now. But help is available.

Suicide Prevention

Suicide Prevention – Suicide prevention starts with recognizing the warning signs and taking them seriously. Talking openly about suicidal thoughts and feelings can save a life.

Of course in all these things one should focus on God in prayer, asking His help, healing and guidance and faith that as we do all we can and draw near to Him, He will also draw near to us and guide us in truth and love.

dinsdag 22 april 2014

Marx was partially right about religion

Karl Marx stated "Religion is the sign of the oppressed creature, the sentiment of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the masses." Sigmund Freud said "Religion is an illusion and it derives its strength from its readiness to fit in with our instinctual wishful impulses."
Most Christians tend to quickly dismiss such sentiments as being anti-Christian, invalid, and even label them as satanic. But such an approach is too easy and can point at a lack of intellectual and spiritual integrity on our part.  Jesus and his apostles never dismissed their critics out of hand but engaged them, affirming some things, and correcting others. Although I am a committed follower of Jesus Christ and His teachings I concur with both Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud that religion, even Christianity has often been abused as a virtual drug to satisfy our wishful desires and impulses. I also concur that underlying this abuse of religion as an opiate to dull our inner pain and emotional emptiness is the experience of oppression. This oppression can be political and economical, but the worst and most widespread oppression of the individual is actually psychological. In order to relieve the pain of emotional neglect, oppression or abuse many people find relief in addictions. These can be drugs and alcohol, but also sex addiction, adrenaline addiction or addiction to anything else that gives us an emotional high.
Religion, even Christianity can be abused as a drug, particularly mystical or charismatic emotional Christianity can easily be abused this way. In an attempts to fill the inner emotional void people chase after mystical experiences that temporarily make them feel loved and accepted. However the high soon wears off and the inner emptiness or pain resurfaces prompting a new search for an emotional high. The perpetual search for an emotional religious high distracts us from honestly facing our pain, it distracts us from taking responsibility for ourselves and from truly developing a healthy relationship with God and healthy relationships with other people. The use of religious experiences as a source of emotional fulfilment is in contradiction with the true love for God, oneself and one’s fellow humans and does not translate to living responsible fruitful lives of love for God, self and fellow humans. The solution to this is to admit that we are addicted to religious highs and that we are using God and religion for personal emotional fulfilment rather than honestly facing our spiritual and emotional poverty.  Next we need to admit our responsibility for not living in accordance with the Law of Christ. We also need to accept that all the power to live godly lives on earth has already been entrusted to us in Christ and that we actually can live fruitful lives on earth.  This includes overcoming the effects of the various forms of oppression we may have experienced in our lives and which may have programmed us in various ungodly ways. Once we choose to live in obedience we will actually discover that in a healthy relationship with God and our fellow humans we experience long lasting emotional fulfilment.

vrijdag 18 april 2014

What to do when it feels everyone is against you?

What do you do when you feel the whole world is against you??????
You wake up in the morning just like everyone else, but what you wake to is a life of stress and constant struggle.

You never seem to do anything right. Every which way you turn someone has a go at you about something you have done, or haven’t done or couldn’t do, or is out of your control.

You feel everyone is making demands on you. You can’t even answer the phone as there is always someone on the other end wanting something from you.

You partner blames you for everything that’s amiss in your lives.

You do everything possibly for your family but still your actions are not good enough. They seem to treat you as if you’re an embarrassment to them or that they just don’t have time for you.

You labour for your partner/family time and time again, going out of your way to make sure there ever whim is granted. You go without things so they don’t have to go without. 

But you get to a time when everything is just too much, you are drained and have no more to give. Every way you turn is another negative response knocking you down further and further till you feel the whole world is against you?

What can I do?
You look at the few options that seem open to you. Yet there is no hope in any of them but to just stay and endure. So you pick yourself up and brush off the hurt and despair and get up in the morning trying to piece together a better attitude and you go back to the labour of love like every other time. You cope better for a while until it all gets too much again and you fall back into this empty despair again.

So what do you do when you feel the whole world is against you?

Do you just repeat this same scenario time after time?

Do you walk out and leave it all behind you?

Do you take the ultimate escape and escape life entirely?

Do you sit with your friends time after time moaning about your desperate situation and talking bad about those you hold responsible… till all your friends leave you because there is nothing left of the friendships anyway?

Do you get strong and put your foot down and say things are going to change around here? Only to worsen the situation, and have them hate you even more?

Do you sit there and do nothing and just pretend nothing is happening and things aren’t so bad?

Are you looking for love somewhere else? In an affair or in self-soothing behaviour using alcohol or drugs, religion or popularity and success?

Do you plod on hoping one day things will change?

All the above scenarios are counter-productive, they will not help you in the long run!

Then what can I do?
What can you do if it seems that nobody loves you?

Well, it is time to embrace the truth that nobody can make you happy inside.

It is also time to embrace the truth that no amount of money, wealth, success or achievement will make you happy inside.

Happiness is a choice; it is your choice!!!

There are people that endure the most horrible events and still come out happy. There are those that become unhappy as soon as the smallest thing does not go as planned.

If you keep dwelling on past suffering, mistakes or misfortunes you won’t do anything except put a wedge under the door to invite more misfortunes into your life. But if you take responsibility for your own happiness you’ll gracefully overcome those feelings of dread, one by one.

You need to stop seeing everything as a personal attack, and even if someone attacks you personally choose to see enmity or resistance as a challenge for you to constructively respond to it and as a learning opportunity. No-one can do this for you. Only you can motivate yourself to that point!

Take your negative glasses off and start looking at yourself and others with positive glasses of love and compassion, of fogiveness and patience, of kindness and joy.

But I don't have the strength to take the negative glasses off and put on positive ones!!!

In God you can find all the strength, love, joy, kindness, patience you need. Surrender to Him andlet Christ rule in your heart and let pleasing Him be the greatest priority in your life. Seek Him in prayer and meditation and handover all that bothers you to Him and trust Him to deal with it. Let His word fill your heart and mind and accept His promises in faith. He really loves you and He can be trusted. Also surround yourself with positive people who do the same. People who live within the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of God is in them through the rule of Christ although they are still on earth.  Wherever there is the rule of Christ, there is a heart filled with love (Romans 5:5) and inner peace and happines (Romans 14:17).