(July 3, 2006)

Earlier this week a blogger wrote about the importance of wanting wellness if we want to be well. “As far as I am concerned, the most critical component of achieving wellness is wanting it….Wellness doesn’t occur in a vacuum. Whether you believe that bipolarity and/or clinical depression is a biochemical condition–or not–the only way to achieve wellness is to be willing to ask the difficult questions, and live a life that matters.”

I had written a comment expressing my frustrations with someone I’m giving support to who doesn’t seem to want that wellness. At least she doesn’t pursue it as I wish she would. I wondered at what point I should back off. The blogger followed by talking about her feelings on the issue: “So, I guess my answer is that I believe the woman you’re talking about needs to find professional help. And she needs to “step up to the plate” so to speak. If you continue to allow her to “take” from you, you’ll have nothing left. And if she decides that life isn’t living, ultimately that’s her decision.”

But, when I think back to what I felt like when I was depressed, and how difficult it was to be well, and how important it was for me to have the people I loved not give up on me, I can’t see myself giving up on others. Perhaps backing off a bit and not staying too close is good for my own health, but I feel I need to stay available.

In his book, New Light on Depression, Harold Koenig wrote some things that I have taken to heart. He wrote: “Love – unconditional love – is the ultimate long-term antidote for depression, for at its core love is connected with faith and hope.”

I feel that we need to always remind people they are loved and not withdraw that love from people when they’re going through hard times. One of the most important things a person with depression needs is to know that there’s someone always available. Knowing that someone is available who understands because she’s been there herself is invaluable.

Since starting Living Room, I’ve given support to quite a few people. While it isn’t easy, it can be rewarding too. Though I walk with them through their valleys, I also experience with them the relief when they climb out again. When they call me and spend some time expressing their feelings to me and I have no answers, we can always turn to God at the end of the call. When I feel helpless and don’t know what to say, we pray together. And those prayers are powerful. I feel the presence of God’s Spirit. We call on God to give the person strength and patience. We ask him to embrace her and to help her feel his love. We turn everything over to God. When we hang up I feel I can leave it all behind because it’s in God’s hands, not mine. This is how I can usually manage to support people without it getting myself down.

As a Christian I need to be a conduit of Christ’s love. And I’ve found that it’s a joy to be that. It’s rewarding to be that. And to walk with someone through their depression – to talk with them and to help them go to God with it – is a privilege.

I don’t expect that everyone should be able to do this. I don’t judge people who are not able to do this. We all have gifts that make us unique. This just happens to be mine.