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  • Writer's pictureKeith Haney

The Thief Within: How Depression Steals Our Authentic Self

A woman sitting in a chair

Depression is a topic that I want to approach carefully. Many people I know and care deeply about have and are dealing with depression. That are many misconceptions about depression. One of the biggest myths is that depression means you're sad. 

Truth: People may think depression is just a case of the blues, but its symptoms are wide-ranging and can manifest themselves physically. Common ones are feeling sad, empty, or hopeless, like you can't get out of bed, completely losing your appetite, and sleeping too much or too little. "Another one is psychomotor agitation, which is feeling like you can't sit still, or psychomotor reduction, which is when it seems like you're living in slow motion," says Goldfine. Excessive fatigue and anhedonia, a.k.a. When you no longer enjoy things you used to find pleasurable, also make the list.1

Depression feeds the mind with an identity entirely contrary to how God sees us and would describe us. For example, in Psalm 139, the psalmist says, "I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well." 

In Ephesians 2:10, Paul uses workmanship to describe our identity, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." The term does not do the Greek word justice. The word translated workmanship means "a thing of God's making"; "handiwork." Here, it refers to the spiritual creation, not the physical.2 Paul reminds us that we are God's masterpiece, the crown jewel of His creation. Depression causes people to devalue what God has created to force people to see themselves as not necessary, even irrelevant. You were designed for a purpose. You have a higher calling. Often, you are in a place mentally where survival is all you can muster. The emptiness you feel inside is not what God desires for you. He wants to fill you with His love and joy, but depression robs you of that ability to feel that joy and to know that love. 

Joy can return.

I am not a Polly Anna here when I say that joy can return to a person dealing with depression. Depression comes in many forms and for many reasons that even the medical profession cannot always get a handle on. Depression can be brought on by a variety of reasons, such as the death of a loved one or a traumatic event in your life; it could be genetic; ultimately, a chemical reaction occurs in the brain so that levels of serotonin and other happy-making brain chemicals are depleted. Whatever is causing your depression, there is hope that things can get better. It is not an easy path nor a mere one-size-fits-all solution. May you find comfort in Matthew's words of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23 In that day, you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.

I would encourage those battling depression to not do so alone. Find a support system. Some people see you as God sees you, fearfully and wonderfully made. They would describe you as Paul describes you, as the handiwork of God. And they would join you in praying that God would help you see your heart turn from sorrow to rejoicing again. 

 2 Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 345). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

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