Today, as promised, I want to share some takeaways from the book Moving Beyond Depression: A Whole-Person Approach to Healing by Gregory L. Jantz with Ann McMurray.
In praying about how to share enough to give you a view without actually sharing the entire book since…time and space are not infinite here on the web…I decided to just share five thoughts.
I am not saying they are the top five…just limiting myself to the first five that come up.
So here we go:
Right out of the gate this book spoke to me because if you have ever struggled with depression, you know that one of the tell-tale signs is the sneakiest. It’s not an overall deep sadness…no…it’s a flatlining in your emotions and response to life.
It’s the realization one day that you no longer feel much of anything. As one who has walked through two seasons of depression (not just seasons where things are hard and you feel sad…depression is different), it is easy to be duped into thinking you are “managing your emotions with maturity” and suddenly realize you have pretty much closed the door on all emotions.
But God wants to move us towards health and thankfully an alarm goes off when you realize that you are responding to all the things…happy, sad, in-between…with the same level of disengagement and an unexplained tendency to having tears slip out of your eyes as you watch your life from a strange and lonely distance.
There is a stigma that attaches itself to depression. A sense that you aren’t strong enough, aren’t spiritual enough, aren’t smart enough and you have succumbed to something that braver, holier, wiser friends don’t fall for.
This is a lie, as is most of the internal voices that accompany depression are good at shouting.
You are not alone and you are not crazy.
I love this quote from the opening page of the Introduction to the book. Please enjoy the irony of the date chosen to make this prediction. Remember the book was published in 2003:
“Across the globe, by the year 2020, depression is projected to be second only to heart disease as the leading cause of debilitating illness. It’s everywhere; it’s increasing; it’s serious. This isn’t just a global case of the blues.“Gregory L. Jantz, PH. D. Moving Beyond Depression; Waterbrook Press, 2003, pg.
The approach of the entire book is that God did not make us for this kind of dysfunction. We were not created to be sad, depressed, anxious, afraid, broken, and detached from the fullness of the life we have been given.
In the subtitle of the book, we see the focus is on a whole-person approach to be healed. Body, soul, spirit and mind must be fully engaged to break free from the imprisonment that depression can bring to a person.
The reader is encouraged to journal through the reading of the book and I know some of you are not “journalers’ (okay…apparently that is not a word but we are going with it) but let me reassure you of something. The questions and suggestions given are not the odd and awkward ones that sometimes are asked in a book like this.
I found the suggestions for journaling my feelings and experiences to be very helpful in the process of addressing my tendency towards depression and helping me develop new patterns of living and thinking that set me up for whole-person healing.
One of the exercises at the end of each chapter is an affirmation for you to carry with you as you move forward.
An example would be in the chapter on Living Life on Purpose, the chapter helped me work through activities I am involved in and which ones are draining and which ones are filling. As I wrote down the various things that take up my time, I found that a lot of them are both. They drain me but they also fill my life with purpose and meaning.
The author points out that we need to not only recognize that some of our necessary responsibilities DO drain us, so we need to focus and be thankful for how they also FILL us AND how we need to make sure we are balancing the activities that are filling activities with our other tasks each week.
For instance, for me…caring for and helping out with family is both draining and filling. I am 63 years old and the physical and mental energy of caring for our little guys does make me tired…but it also is very rewarding. So it is important for me to acknowledge the wear and tear, embrace the gift of filling that we have been given AND make sure I make time to pursue creative activities and healthy life choices during other times in my week so that I am balanced.
The moving ahead affirmation for this chapter is:
My life is worth a strong foundation of optimism, hope and joy.
The book opens up a lot of buried places where hurt and betrayal and misunderstandings may have created an atmosphere that fosters depression in people.
It reminded me somewhat of the Unhindered series we did recently at church in that I had to face some things that I would prefer could just stay buried or used as excuses for my current advantage to not work hard on this sanctification thing…sigh…
But what I really loved about this book was the way it moved from identifying those things that have left scars and wounds into forgiveness.
Forgiveness for the perpetrators.
Forgiveness for the ignorant who didn’t even know they inflicted pain.
Forgiveness for myself.
One of the things I encountered a lot as a Sunday school teacher of adults was the guilt and shame of past mistakes that continue to haunt long after one has repented and sought and received forgiveness from God.
The exercise with this chapter was very powerful.
I was instructed to stand in front of a mirror and say out loud: Laura, I forgive you for ___________ . In the exercise, you fill in the blank all those things you hope no on ever finds out about you. Fill it in with the thing you did yesterday that you wish you hadn’t done.
Of course, you ask God first and any person you harmed or failed to help…but then yourself.
It did something powerful in my soul to do this.
So there are five takeaways from a million.
I did tell you there was one caveat and this is it ——
Chapter 7 is Physical Causes of Depression and it has some very good material but it definitely needs to be reviewed with a physician or counselor before following any advice regarding medications! The author, at the time of writing, was concerned with the go-to practice of prescribing medications rather than bringing about healing through only counseling. I spoke with a therapist who I greatly respect and she validates that medications do have a place in helping those who have depression. So please, if you read the book, take that into consideration and do not disavow medications for yourself or others if they are truly needed and beneficial!!!
I hope you got some good out of all this sharing today.
I hope you are moving towards healing in every area of your life…depressed or not…you are precious and God wants you healed and whole <3