Fighting the Shame of Depression

After my first real battle with depression I was talking to the women’s pastor at my church about it.  She asked me if I would share about it at an upcoming women’s conference. I knew it would be hard but I wasn’t prepared for just how hard it would be to move from the safety of a few close friends and family members knowing about my struggles to a wider group of people that I did not know very well.

ashamed woman

The feeling of vulnerability was overwhelming.  I remember when the women’s pastor announced the conference in church saying, “…and Tracey Metzger is going to share about her recent bout with depression…” I felt all the blood drain from my face. I felt dizzy and found myself wanting to run out the back door.

Now I know what that emotion was.  It was shame.

Shame is similar to being embarrassed but worse.  It does weird things to your body.  Embarrassing – is tripping up the stairs or having toilet paper stuck on your shoe as you come out of the restroom.  But shame is different.

Shame is not momentary; it takes up residence inside your heart.  And you don’t want to hide for a moment – you want the earth to open up and swallow you.

My shame came from the misguided belief that if I was as strong in my faith as I professed to be that I would not suffer from depression.  Somewhere I had bought into the misconception that if I just prayed enough or in the right way with enough conviction that I would be able to conquer it. Depression makes you feel like you are doing something wrong.  I’ve actually heard people in Christian circles say things like, “Depression is pride turned inward” which only contributes to the fallacy that the person suffering has control over it.

Depression, when it is a result of a chemical imbalance or mental illness is debilitating and not something that someone can just snap out of.  I believe that prayer helps but sometimes it helps in the form of God leading you to the right medication or doctor.  There are testimonies of people that have been delivered from depression miraculously just like there are people that have had tumors disappear.  But there are also people who need medication and still have rough days just like all the treatments in the world cannot treat some major illnesses.

We live in a fallen world where illness – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual abound.  What we don’t need are stigmas and judgments that lead to shame.

But where sin abounds (I believe that the all of the ugliness in the world is a result of the fall of man), GRACE abounds much more. Let us pray for more and more grace so that people who are suffering will not feel ashamed and can get the help they need.

This blog was inspired by the various editorials, posts and blogs I have read in response to the passing of Rick and Kay Warren’s son. The only good that can possibly come from this is more conversation and openness about mental illnesses. Praying for abundant grace, peace and comfort for the Warrens and all who are close to them.

9 thoughts on “Fighting the Shame of Depression

  1. Tracey,
    Thank you for being brave enough to share about this topic. I know you have discussed it before but it more people need to here this! I have suffered with depression during different seasons in my life too and it seems so frustrating and hard to explain to someone else who has not went through the darkness. The shame and guilt I have felt during these periods in my life have left me feeling very alone and afraid. I have fought back with the help of wise counsel, the aid of supportive friends, the right thyroid medication and other changes in lifestyle to help me deal with the depressing times. I am now in a period of happiness and doing very well. I do everything I can to avoid the darkness and pray everyday that my joy will stay. Maintaining my thyroid levels at the correct balance is vital for me to have sustained quality health.
    I always pray for those of us that have issues of such as this to find peace with ourselves and know that Gods grace is enough. I know I am not alone. I always say that I can do all things through Christ because he gives me strength Phil 4:13. I never give up or give in, I just keep on keeping on. There is always something positive that comes out of something negative. We have find out what it is and use it.

    Be blessed,

    Sherry

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    1. So true Sherry…thanks for joining in the conversation. I know that I am not alone but whenever I share a blog like this one I realize just how many people struggle. Love Phil 4:13 – one of my go-to verses as well!

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  2. You have such a way of telling what is other persons heart and on their minds. NO ONE LIVES and/or LEAVES THIS WORLD UNSCATHED (badly bruised) because of LIFE.

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  3. Omeria

    Tracy thanks for sharing this story. I too years ago struggled with chronic depression. Saw many therapists,took many medications trying to be a better wife, mother and friend. I wanted to be a better person for myself as well. I was ashamed of what I felt was a weakness, a flaw in my being. Only when I came to now know Christ and His amazing grace, with prayer was I released. The scripture that resonates in my heart is Jeremiah 29:11 ” For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future”.

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  4. Cammie Allen

    Thank you. I have suffered depression for all of my life and sometimes it can be a struggle even while being on mediction. Is there a group that meets where you can talk about your struggle and know that you are not alone?

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    1. Cammie,
      Yes, unfortunately medication doesn’t always work. Sorry to hear that you struggle too but thank you for commenting it does help to know that we’re not alone. I don’t go to any group meeting but I have others in my family who battle depression and we are all very open about it so I have a great support system which is a blessing!

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  5. Suzanne

    Hi, Tracey, thank you for sharing. I suffer from depression and bi-polar. I am on medication and have learned to seek God when things get dark. Where He is darkness flees. I work in ministry and recently revealed that I was bi-polar to a ministry leader. There was dead silence on the phone, then I heard, “you never told me that.” I haven’t heard another word about it. It’s a scary topic to many. We are all fearfully and wonderfully made!

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    1. Suzanne,
      You are so right. It is a scary topic to many and I understand that. The more people who talk about it the less scary it will become..that is the hope anyway. I have a family member with bipolar and it was a rough road for a while but thankfully he is doing so much better. I love your last sentence…Yes! we are… Blessings to you!

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