Like a large percentage of other people, I suffer with depression. And like countless others, I coped by covering it up. I pushed down my feelings and put on a “brave face.” Before I knew it, keeping up the façade was taking up every bit of my energy and keeping me from being the child of God created in His image. I did not want anyone to know that I struggled in my everyday life so much so that even simple tasks and decisions loomed like insurmountable obstacles. Although my husband knew I experienced depression, even he did not know the depths of despair that often accompanied me.
I covered up because I thought that somehow depression was my fault. It was a character defect that I was ashamed of and had to eradicate. And this is what I call the deception of depression. Depression leads us to believe all sorts of untruths about ourselves and the world. It misleads us into thinking that we are somehow “not enough,” that we are terribly flawed and not worthy of the love of others. That’s why depression is accompanied by feelings of low self-esteem and worthlessness. We are often told that Christians should not feel depressed, as if it is our choice. In addition to being diagnosed with clinical depression, a great deal of the hopelessness I experienced was a result of the negative, critical input I received in my formative years. This input was so ingrained in me that it was a prominent part of my persona.
Although I sought professional help, it was not enough. Therapy brought me a long way to be able to deal with the layers of feelings that had to be unraveled. What was missing was God’s input. I was listening to the world instead of my Lord. Philippians 4:8 tells us “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” So I began my journey of replacing the deception of the world with the truth of the Word of God. The assurances of hope I received from the Bible literally transformed my life.
It is important for us to know that God does not cause the brokenness in our lives. Rather, He uses our brokenness to draw us to Him. God wants us to have His peace instead of the turmoil of the world. My book, Beyond the Deception of Depression, outlines twelve tenets that will lead to a more victorious life so that you are in tune with God, at peace with yourself, and in harmony with others, even if you aren’t depressed. We must accept Christ, embrace His values, and feast on His Word. True transformation is only possible if we seek the Lord and His ways. One of God’s promises I have claimed which gives me comfort and strength is that God will never leave me or forsake me.
And that is my hope for others – that they too will receive the abundant blessings God has in store for them. Just like the Israelites who were blessed by God to be a blessing to others, I hope that this book is a godsend to those who read it. I recently received affirmation of that through an unexpected God moment. Asbury students call alumnae once a year to pray for their needs. During our conversation, this stranger on the other line told me that she read my book and was blessed. And that is my desire for you, too.
Martha O’Reilly, author of Beyond the Deception of Depression, is a native of New York who relocated to Florida in 1988. After a thirty-year career in the corporate world, Martha received a master of divinity from Asbury Theology Seminary and became a pastor in The United Methodist Church. She is now retired and resides with her husband, Jim, in St. Augustine, Florida.