Girl Talk Show Notes: Season 2: EP # 9: Depression in the Church

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Girl Talk Season 2: EP# 9: Depression and the Church Transcript

[INTRODUCTION] [MUSIC PLAYING]

Carol: Hi there, you are listening to The Light FM’s Girl Talk Podcast. My name is Carol.

Alicia: This is Alicia

Tricia: This is Tricia.

Carol: This episode comes from a conversation I had with a lady. We kind of ran into each other and she said she listens to the Podcast quite a bit and she said, “One thing I would like to hear you discuss is…” and I always brace myself when these conversations come up because some of the topics I feel qualified to talk about and some I feel unqualified to speak about.

This one is going to be tough; I’ll just go ahead and throw that out there but she is really struggling with depression. She said, “I want you guys to address how the church and we as believers deal with depression in the church.” I kind of went wow that’s a big topic so we’re going to tackle it today. I think we all have some stories that we can share, and some insight into that.

One of the first things I would like to say to you is if you clicked on this episode because you are struggling with depression my first recommendation to you would be to seek help. Find somebody that you can talk to if you’re not part of a small group, then tell somebody tell somebody what you’re struggling with. I’ve always heard that depression loses its hold if you voice it and if you take one step out of that darkness you can actually see hope and light.

I would say first off seek out some help whether it’s professional counselor, a friend, just tell somebody. Nothing grows in isolation and nothing good happens in isolation I wouldn’t think or at least for me it hasn’t. I tend to be one of those personalities and you ‘all know this I’m pretty honest about things but I have really high-highs and very low-low’s; my personality swings that way. I completely understand this, but I will say on that same spectrum I’m a very good performer. I can act like I’m having the greatest day ever and you never know what is going on inside of me.

I was in counseling and still need to be and years ago when I went through it when my life had kind of fallen apart my counselor said, “You’re basically like a functioning alcoholic you go do you’re thing song, and dance during the day ha, ha, ha-ha. “Then you go home and close your blinds at night and you withdraw from everything, from life and that’s not a good place to be.

So, I want you to know that I had that struggle from time-to-time. I’m not just talking about the blues when you have a bad day I’m talking about those extended periods of time when you find yourself not able to get out. So, are there thoughts, opinions, and Tricia I know you have a great background in helping people with that kind of thing and I will say one of the greatest things that Tricia has ever given me is the gift of talking about exercise. I tell people now I’m in a period of my life where exercise is not about losing weight or been healthy anymore it’s about mental health for me because it does something to my brain that nothing else has done not, not:

  • Medicine
  • Counseling

Those things have been helpful in their season and talking about it is helpful to but exercise does something for me that I can’t quite explain and maybe you can because you’re a lot smarter than me.

Tricia : No I’m not.

Carol: Let’s talk about that for a minute in taking care of your body because that’s the first thing that seems to go. Whenever you find yourself depressed and getting down what do you do? You want to stay in your sweatpants and not go and work out you want to stay in your sweatpants, and eat cookie dough, or at least I do. I get to craving sweets something awful and that’s one of those identifiers for me when I really have a strong craving for sweets, and trash, you know those are the kinds of things when I’m like “What is going on with you exactly?”

Tricia: I love that you used the word identifier which I think you mean shows you that something is going on, it’s identifying that there might be a problem brewing. I love that word I think that’s a very helpful term. I’ve never actually heard it said like that but it’s a great one. One of the BIG Identifiers for people who are starting to go down that hole of feeling depressed is moving away from self-care and especially the exercise. Anything that’s good for you eating health foods, drinking enough water, taking time for yourself, getting good sleep, and exercise all of those things when we start to find ourselves avoiding them we can Identify that as a sign that we’re not moving in a good direction.

Now for me exercise has been so therapeutic because just getting out even if its 20 minutes and doing something reframes my experiences.  It takes me from “Oh I’m not taking care of myself to Oh I just took care of myself” and once you take that first step it’s easier to take the next step and go “Oh maybe I won’t eat that cake that I was going to eat and instead maybe I will try to have a salad or burger.”

If you can just get started with just moving your body a little bit it will signal to you that you do have some control. I have struggled with depression, but more, I struggle with anxiety and they’re very similar … they’re like sisters or brothers; very connected. When I start to have that sense it’s because I feel like I have no control over what’s happening and no control over how I’m handling it, all of those things. When you do something to take care of yourself like exercise you are showing that, “Yes I do have control, I made this choice and so I can make another good choice.”

Carol: I tend to be an all or nothing girl I’m either all in and doing it full bore or I’m not doing it at all, and one of the things you told me that kind of set me free was, “You don’t have to spend all day in the gym” like in the course of your day if you can find 20 or 30 minutes to do something whether it’s ride a bike, go for a walk or just do something, then that kind of took the pressure of because I think the tendency is to think you have to go spend all day at the gym and you don’t.

Tricia: No, you don’t.

Carol: Just 30 minutes a day can make a HUGE difference.

Tricia: Carol it can start with 5 minutes and even if you did 5 minutes in the morning 5 minutes in the afternoon, and maybe 5 minutes in the evening hey that’s 15 minutes and your body appreciates it.

Carol: I remember and I think this was before Alicia came onboard, but you used to lead this walking workout in our prayer room up there.

Tricia: Yeah, that was [inaudible 0:06:32.4]. She would do it during our lunchtime and we would do it what 25 or 30 minutes maybe?

Carol: Yeah, 25 or 30 minutes just marching in place I mean we weren’t running we weren’t doing like pushups or flipping tires or anything like that, but that kind got me started to say “Now I can make a difference in my life just by investing this little time.” It has made the biggest difference so thank you for that because that kind of started the ball rolling for me to get in this mode of things that I enjoy, and to see that it had benefit.

Tricia: I think we’ll start with what you guys were saying and do self-care and recognize that this is how you’re feeling. What I kind of want to say is it’s real depression, and anxiety is real. How do you handle when someone says, “Well god doesn’t want you to be anxious and if you just pray and trust in him you won’t be anxious or depressed,” but those are real things.

Carol: Very real.

Alicia: Some of them are neurological, like it’s a chemical thing in your brain.

Tricia: It’s more than not trusting god because as you said at the beginning, what happens with the church. If you’re depressed in the church how do we help someone that is been told, “Well just pray and you should be better,” and they really need more than that. They need prayer and I think they need like what you said also at the beginning Carol is, “You do need to tell somebody.”

Carol: Right!

Tricia: You need to get help and you need to talk to people but I think you need a group around you that can professionally give you things you might need.

Carol: So, true. So, I’ll just tell you a little about what I have seen work. The tendency is when you tell somebody, “I’m struggling,” they want to help. If they’re your friend, they want to help, and they are going to say things that they think will help you even if they have never struggled with anxiety or depression, before they may not say things that are helpful.

I think on this side I can say if you see someone struggling, the first thing I need you to do is listen, and don’t try to come up with an answer. Don’t try to Bible-verse it away. I’m not saying the word of GOD isn’t power, it is. I’m not saying prayer isn’t powerful, it is. I’m not saying GOD isn’t bigger, he is, but I’m saying in that moment when people have started quoting scripture to me I will internally roll my eyes. I’m like, “I don’t know what is wrong it’s not helping,” and that feels even more helpfulness and that causes those people who are struggling with anxiety, and depression to go inward and that is the worst place to go because it just keeps getting deeper.

Tricia: I don’t want them to stop believing in god because they’re not feeling healed immediately. I think it starts with not judging other people or what they’re going through, and it’s hard because we all think maybe we have the answer that they haven’t thought of or they just don’t have the faith. We don’t know another person’s struggle. I was talking with some friends today and I had no idea one of my friends was waiting on a biopsy to see whether she has cancer or not and I had no idea.

She didn’t share that with everybody, and everybody has a battle and we all react differently, and we all have different seasons and sometimes with depression it can be literally that the chemicals aren’t connecting in your brain the way they need to. So, you can’t pick up you’re boot straps and feel better and sometimes you’ll need medication.

God has given us doctors, medications, and treatments that can help us so let’s not judge another person about how their handling their situation. Certainly, we want to pray for people and encourage them how we can and provide the support, and listen, but I think for me I’m trying to learn not to judge somebody else.

Carol: Yes because if somebody walked into church with a broken leg you wouldn’t say, “If you prayed more your leg would go back together right now.” You wouldn’t say that. If somebody has cancer you don’t say things like that, yet with depression or mental illness I think sometimes we don’t know enough about it and especially if you’ve not been through it.

Tricia: I think if you haven’t experienced it yourself or with a close family member you just have no idea what it really is like. It can manifest itself in different ways and it’s not always “I’m a sad person sitting at home or I’m anxious and can’t get out of my house.” It’s like completely not like that at all and until you have experienced it you just don’t know. So, I think it has this generalization that we all say, “Well I’m feeling a little depressed.” Well that’s different, that is a feeling that is important and good that you can Identify that, but that may not be the same as a clinically depressed person.

I think it’s hard to help people but to know you know what it maybe deeper than what we can understand on the surface, and everybody probably has different experiences  with it, even if you have experienced it yourself or know someone and you think you know what they’re going through you probably don’t. It’s kind of like when people are grieving and you’re like “I know what you’re going through.” Well, I don’t because my grief is different than yours.

Carol: Yes, absolutely that’s so true Tricia.

Tricia: I’ll tell you I’m starting some Christian counseling because I know I need to and It’s Christian counseling so it’s not going to be going to some trance or something, it’s Christian counseling, but it is another professional person to come alongside me and help me identify the thoughts that are triggering my anxiety, but the same could be the same with depression. What are some of the thoughts that are adding to my experience? How can I redirect those thoughts or reframe those thoughts or use scripture to handle it. It’s a professional person who has the belief system that I have who is going to come alongside me and I’m going to get a chance to share all my thoughts.

Carol: Here is the other thing that I will say because I believe everybody needs to be in counseling, and so here is one of the things that it helped me with. It helped me Identify some old patterns that weren’t healthy in my life that I didn’t even realize were even affecting me today. I didn’t realize that I think that way because of some kind of like you know people joke all the time, “I blame it all on my childhood” and you can laugh at that if you want to, but you’ve probably developed some unhealthy habits in your lifetime that you don’t even realize.

Tricia: Yes, you have no idea that you’re connected.

Carol: But that is your default and so one of the things that it helped me to do was like go back and go, Okay that makes total sense. That’s why I react that way. How do I cope with life this side of my tragedy or my crisis or whatever it is? How do I from this place move forward with life skills that will not only be a better employee better mom better person, and I’m more able to give to others but also help me be a better believer in Jesus?

Tricia: Oh, yeah and be able to share your story.

Carol: Yes absolutely! Here’s the thing we have to stop painting over depression because I feel like that is what we sometime we see it and we’re like, “oh we don’t want anybody to see that. We don’t have the means to be depressed we’re going to heaven ha, ha, and ha,” and we just paint over it. We pass by it thinking that it will just go away but we have to address it and we have to do that in community.

I am a firm believer because I have people who will look me in the eye and go, “Carol you’re not telling the truth.” Like they know me well enough, and you guys are that way to and you know if we spend a day in the office here and I don’t make eye contact with either one of you, you know something is going on. You ‘all know that because I get your text messages and you say, “What’s the deal? What is really going on Missy?”

I think once you start telling other people and once you share with one person it makes it easier for you to tell someone else and then you realize you are not alone, even though you’re situation maybe different than someone else your experience isn’t exactly the same. Like talking to the counselor when you were saying that Tricia they have professional experience, they deal with it all the time so you are not alone, you and no matter what it is that you are going through.

Tricia: [Inaudible 0:15:20.5] to get my appointment.

Carol: But you’re not alone and that’s one thing that I learned when we were dealing with it in our house because I didn’t want to tell anybody you know there’s shame in it which there shouldn’t be any shame but it is it feels embarrassing.

Tricia: It feels weak like I’m a bad parent if my child has anxiety. What am I doing wrong? But it’s real and you’re not alone you’re just not alone.

Carol: We have an enemy that is coming against us with everything and he knows what buttons to push and that is so true. So, our prayer for you is that you will get help you will say something, and our prayer for you also is that if you see something you’ll make a connection with somebody and you’ll reach out. God nudges me all the time to just like check on people like “Hey I’m praying for you today” and they’ll text me back and go “How did you know?” And I’ll be like “I don’t know anything god just prompted me to do that.” Or somebody will connect with me on level and just say “Are you okay? Is everything okay because you just don’t seem quite right?”

Those are the kinds of connections we want you to build through this Podcast through your local church, and we want you to be a part of these discussion. If we keep an eye on each other and if we connect with each other, we walk through these seasons of life. It is a season but when you’re in the middle of it, it doesn’t feel like a season it feels like a sentence.

Tricia: Yes very true.

Carol: I remember very clearly thinking “I’m never going to be happy again. I’m never going to feel joy again. I’m never going to really laugh again.” Although I was laughing a lot it wasn’t real laughter. It was a season of my life and god has used to grow me exponentially but you can’t see that when you’re in the middle of it.

So, it’s a season, not a life sentence, you may struggle with it from time-to-time throughout your life but you will come out on the other side. We do believe that you are loved. We love you so much we want you to get the help you need whether it looks like counseling, medication, there is no shame here, and there is nothing off limits when it comes to talking about depression and the pain you’re feeling right now.

We care about you deeply and we want this podcast to be a conversation starter for you and your community and your circle of believers; that is our desire for this podcast. If there is anyway at all that we can help you please reach out Girltalk@thelightFM.org. You can correspond with us on the Facebook page.

However, you get in touch the important thing is tell somebody and keep an eye on each other because we love you and want to see you grow. We want to see you come out of this season stronger women, and more solid believer in Christ and the promises that he’s given us, but you are not alone. We love you so much and we will see you next time we gather around these microphones for the Girl Talk with a Guest.

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