One of the best writings that I have seen describing “Depression” is by Sarah Loucks. She doesn’t write about what to do about depression, but there will be some suggestions after you read this down to earth, graphic description. Keep an open mind.
It’s a subject no one wants to approach. Why? It’s too final… too disturbing…too somehow “unreal”. Yet, everyday someone is saying to his or herself, “I just can’t go on. It is just too overwhelming!”
It is real to them, but probably not to those around them. How could they do such a thing? How could they even think such a thing?
When a high-profile person with everything to live for, such as Anthony Bourdain, commits suicide, the news media gives out briefly a phone number (listed in this title) and begs the watcher to call “if you feel that you are having dark thoughts.” This is good advice, but reaching out for help is usually before a person gets to the place of extremely dark thoughts which leads to irrational thoughts.
Mental health and how to deal with depression as well as other problems needs to be readily available and taught by parents, schools, churches and other institutions. The afflicted person needs to see the possibility of a light at the end of the tunnel. Mostly, they have to be given HOPE and support.
So often those who don’t think there is a light or can’t see there will be something better waiting for them just around the corner need intervention before it is too late. Families who suspect dark thoughts have to reach out. Parents may think that their teenagers are “just going through a growing up stage.” All phases of mental anguish should be taken seriously. When you see a problem, give the person the opportunity to talk and know there is help and most of all… that they are loved by you and by God.
Conversations and questions cannot be too late. According to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, these are some of the statistics that we would rather not think about…but should!
- Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.
- Almost 45,000 Americans die of suicide each year
- Men die by suicide 3.53x more often than women.
- On average, there are 123 suicides per day.
- White males accounted for 7 of 10 suicides in 2016….highest in middle-aged white men
Mental illness and depression can hit all people regardless of age or skin color. We all know this is true and that statistics will not fix the problem.
- Based on the 2015 Youth Risk Behaviors Survey, 8.6 percent of youth in grades 9-12 reported that they had made at least one suicide attempt in the past 12 months.
- Girls attempted twice as often as boys (11.6% vs. 5.5%) and teens of Hispanic origin reported the highest rate of attempt (11.3%), especially Hispanic females (15.1%) when compared with white students (6.8%) and White females (9.8%)
- Approximately 2.8 percent reported making a suicide attempt that required treatment by a doctor or nurse.
What are the warning signs of someone who may be suicidal?
- Talking about suicide, hurting themselves, death, or dying
- Seeking access to firearms or pills
- Withdrawing from friends, family, and society
- Having severe mood swings
- Feeling hopeless or trapped
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs
- Sleeping all the time or having issues with sleep
- Uncontrolled rage or agitation
- Self-destructive and risky behavior
- Giving away personal belongings
- Telling people goodbye for seemingly no reason
People who suffer from a mental illness, alcoholism or drug abuse, a family history of suicide, history of trauma or abuse, terminal illness, chronic pain, social isolation, or a traumatic life event such as loss of a loved one may be at an increased risk for suicide (credit: Jenae Sitzes)
There is help for you or someone you know. Believing in the LIGHT at the end of the tunnel is God’s way of showing you that He has something good for you!
God has a plan for your life. Reach out for the help you need!
We have all heard the song, “I’ll be home for Christmas”, but what if some of the people you love will not be there? What if you were not invited to be with your family members in some other location? You may have a family member in the military that is far away and the thing he or she would like most is to be with family, but it is impossible. The song mentioned above is a heartbreak song for many.
There also may be family members who don’t want to share Christmas with you and have made that choice. It is never easy to come to the realization that someone does not want to be with you on one of the most special times of the year…especially for Christians. The question is…How does One deal with a reality at this time of year…or anytime, for that matter?
We really have one of two choices. It can be to let our emotions and disappointment weigh us down OR turn our directions toward a time of thankfulness for all the other blessings that we have.
First, look around you. Do you have other family members who are excited to be with you? Lavish them with your love…for they have not turned away. Do you have a roof over your head and food on the table? Rest in your most comfortable chair and eat with gratefulness. When the old, dark thoughts begin to come back and cloud your day, refuse them and look at the stars or the beautiful trees outside and realize that this life is too short to spend it in mourning…especially things that you can’t change.
Take someone by the hand and give them this message:
For us here in Florida, it may be down by the lake or through a green park, looking at the winter flowers.
Decorate a tree or a bush outside. Turn on some cheerful Christmas music…sacred or otherwise. I never knew how anyone could come up with lyrics like “Grandmother got run over by a reindeer”…but maybe it is good to chuckle and then shake your head because we would never say something like that about our Grandmother.
Give your pet an extra pat on the head and a bone in his stocking. What, no stocking for your dog!? Find one. Our beautiful 14-year-old Golden Retriever passed away this year, but I still strung lights around her memorial garden and whispered to her beautiful spirit, “These lights are just for you, Gracie”. Surprisingly, a beautiful rose appeared on the bush above her little tombstone in the middle of winter.
If none of these spark your imagination or lift your spirits about missing family or friends, turn toward someone outside the family. The scriptures tell us something that we should be doing, not only at Christmas but always.
James 1:27 says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
My husband and I have been surprised on returning to Florida from Virginia, how many people around us are either recent widows or in the last few years have become widowers. We decided to visit them for a while to listen to their thoughts and feelings. One lady has just recently lost her husband and will be having Christmas lunch with us. I mention this to say that when we are feeling “blue” about family situations, it changes things when we reach out.
Don’t forget the different organizations that make it possible to help children who are in need. Recently a child had written to her teacher that he only wanted Santa to bring a ball, some food and added…”I need a blanket.” If that does not pull you out of doldrums, you may need to examine charities like Samaritan’s Purse that brings smiles to children around the world. ( See Operation Christmas Child..Samaritan’s Purse)
Christmas is not all about giving or getting. I recently told someone that if I would receive a letter from my children saying anything of appreciation for me as their Mother, THAT would be “the best Christmas present of all.” So often Christmas is hard on those who have had expenses throughout the year and the funds are just not there for presents of any kind. Kind words and thoughtfulness is only the cost of a 50 cent stamp.
I close with this thought, with the help of a little friend, on the real reason for the need to choose a better outlook on the season:
VIDEO Winchester Cathedral Choir (Turn up sound)
What does it take to love someone so much that one will leave one’s own country and family to follow that person to a people unknown even if it means being homeless and not certain when one will eat the next meal?
We have an example of this in a love story that makes one think that there may have a purpose in some twist in the road that we know not of. We, in the modern world, may even learn a few things from their experience.
I’d like to introduce you to two people.They will be familiar to some…and perhaps not know to other readers. This saga started when the men of the family died, leaving two women, Ruth and Naomi, alone and destitute. Today it would be like a family having no money in the bank; no one to pay the mortgage and not even food stamps would make things the way they used to be. I’m certain at this moment someone is thinking, “I know that feeling for I’ve been there. I even had children that I had to support. “
It may have been a different time in history and these women may not look like you or dress like you, but suffering is the same regardless. The feeling of hopelessness,however, did not mean that there was not faith. Faith was one thing that was abundant in their lives. It is the stepping out on that faith that is the hard part. It is somewhat like wandering in the dark, but believing that there is a Hand that guides.
Decisions had to be made. These two women had a special relationship. Naomi accepted the fact that Ruth had a loyalty and love for her that began when Ruth married her son. They lived in a culture that expected the men of a relative to stand in the gap for the women in their lives. There was no such thing as “women’s lib”. If a brother died, often another brother would take her to be his wife. It was a matter of keeping the family together and the name to continue. The women were dependent upon this custom, which may have led Naomi to take Ruth and return to her own homeland. No one had told Naomi that they would care for her. Ruth also knew that her decision was a difficult one to go with Naomi, but because of her love she was willing to make this choice. Being a foreigner, Ruth could be subjected to all types of prejudice. In essence, she and her mother in law were homeless.
(The lesson…we often have to make decisions even when we do not know what those decisions will lead us into.)
Being a wise women, Naomi, told Ruth to go to the local fields and glean what she could so that they could take the grain and have something to eat. It was a custom when the field owner was harvesting to leave a certain amount of grain standing for the poor. Today we would call it a giving of a 10% or helping out our local food bank for those who need help feeding the family. Naomi did not ask her to stand on the road side with a sign about being homeless and needing help. She only ask her to work and warned her to stay close to other women and to be careful of those who might have bad intentions to her. This she did.
(The lesson: We can pray and hope, but sometimes we have to simply get out there and work…maybe not the work we want…but do what is necessary at the time. )
Because Naomi had come back to the land where she grew up, some of the people knew her and the word soon was out that Naomi was back with her daughter in law. This was news to a distant relative, Boaz, who owned the land where Ruth went to glean. He was curious about the young woman. He instructed his workers to leave her the best portions.
(Lesson: Sometimes God opens a door and makes events happen using people to bless us in a greater way than we expect.)
Even though it is not mentioned, it appears that Ruth and Boaz may have gotten to know one another in the field, for Boaz actually took the matter to a council to see if some man would want her for a wife. Courting and love relations, as we know it today, were not the usual route toward marriages. They were arranged as families united often for economic purposes. None of the men were in favor of the offer, so Boaz, Naomi’s relative, now has his own decision to make.
Ruth goes to Boaz and lays at the end of his bed. Nothing more is told about the relationship, but Boaz decides that Ruth will be his own wife.
The story does not end there for Ruth and Boaz had a son named Obed, who was the grandfather of the future great King David. Naomi also became the baby’s nanny.
So often the readers of the Holy Scriptures are turned off by the long line of genealogies, but they are actually important. I must admit that I have skipped many of them. This one was especially important because Jesus became part of this lineage. (See complete lineage)
(Lesson: As we put our lives in God’s hand, we do not know what wondrous things He is working out.)
One must remember that God is not a respecter of persons. His eye even knows when a sparrow falls. If you are in the middle of a troubling situation, do not give up. There is much life to live and many bends around the corner of which you are now not aware. As you reach out to Him, God will be in control.
“All very interesting, but that was a different country; different race and different religion than I am. How can this story apply to my life?”
We are all God’s creation and He even knows when the sparrow falls from the trees…as the deep voice of Sam Gary sings for us in HIS EYE IS ON THE SPARROW.