Depression in Midlife Women: The Healing Power of Faith and Service

Updated on December 29, 2019
nybride710 profile image

Lisa has lived with depression for more than 30 years. This series investigates depression from the perspective of middle-aged women and up.

church
church | Source

Although I have been a Christian for more than 25 years, I may as well have been an atheist during the period of deep depression that started shortly after I turned 50 and lasted for more than a year. I could not feel God’s presence and had no interest in praying or getting involved in my church. Worst of all, I didn’t feel like I deserved this supernatural love that so many of my friends seemed to have no trouble attracting, experiencing, and acting out in their day to day lives.

Even if there was a God, I reasoned, I had no reason to believe He could love me. I was a bad person and too broken for that to ever happen. I spoke about the origins and false beliefs that I’m unlovable and unworthy in my last article It’s Time to Fire Your Inner Critic! Sadly, not even my faith could shake these false beliefs until I started standing up to them.

Because I found myself so unworthy, I became hostile to the things I once believed in with all my heart. I then sought out confirmation bias on the Internet and with others in-person to demonstrate to myself that it was all a bunch of hooey. My husband continued to believe all the while, something I found foolish at the time but now appreciate so much that he never gave up on me.

God Came Back When I Decided to Live Again

As I said yes to life, I could feel the calmness of what I believe to be the Holy Spirit take over my mind and body. I began to experience deep love for and interest in others, seeing their humanity and viewing them as someone God created and loves. A lifelong shy introvert, I seemed to blossom into a happy, outgoing person within days. My relationships changed dramatically for the better, something that thrills my soul because I just didn’t know how to make that happen on my own. I believe this song by Casting Crowns describes very well where I was and how God met me right there.

Church, Please Stop Shaming People for Anxiety and Depression

While I was at one of my lowest points in my mental health struggles, I heard it preached from the pulpit that anxiety is sin and nothing more than practical atheism. I can hardly describe how horrible that made me feel, considering I have battled both anxiety and depression my entire adult life. I did not need to hear at that moment that I was sinning when I was in fact dealing with mental illness with a variety of complex causes, including brain injury and childhood trauma.

It’s not that I needed for anyone to say just go on feeling terrible and don’t try to do anything about it, but what I did need was love and non-judgmental acceptance. That sermon made me feel worse about myself than I already did. It hardly prompted me to repent and stop being anxious and depressed on the spot.

I have also heard of churches being against psychiatry and medication, which I feel is wrong. Far from showing a lack of faith in God, people who reach out for any type of help should receive praise and not condemnation. After all, God gave us the science of the mind and doctors who prescribe medication for a reason.

Just as I did with my 2008 divorce when I had a pastor stop speaking to me and others judge me harshly without knowing the situation, I will preach to my dying day that we all need to stop judging and start loving. The treatment I received was almost enough for me to walk away from the church altogether and it affected me for years. Let God figure out if the behavior or belief of others is wrong. That’s His job, not ours.

Note

This article discusses my Christian faith and how it has helped me recover from severe and chronic depression. If you don’t share this belief, please take what you can and leave the rest. This isn’t the place for arguments about Christianity. Thank you.

When Faith Seems Impossible

I understand not everyone is Christian or has any type of faith at all. I also understand it can seem impossible to trust a traditionally male God if you experienced deep wounding by men. I wasn’t ready to go back to it at first either. My hope for anyone reading this is that making the decision to stay alive will bring a strong faith in something outside yourself. The force of life itself is powerful. I just happen to believe that force is the Holy Spirit sent from God to provide comfort and guidance in everyday life and the love and power to move beyond survival to a life of extraordinary service.

Healing from Depression by Serving Others

Depression turns us inward to the point all we can think about is how miserable we are and what a burden we are to others. We become so consumed about protecting our secret of deep depression that we scarcely even notice anyone else. When I decided to start living passionately, I promised God I would use the gifts He gave me to try to help others even though it made me incredibly vulnerable and I was still suffering myself. That is the main reason I write about my depression journey in the first place. God never gave me the gift of words to keep them all to myself.

Not everyone writes for a living, but everyone has something to offer the world. I simply prayed for a discerning spirit so I could truly see and respond to the needs around me. A donation here, a kind word and a smile there is all it really takes to start making a difference. It ensures that my time on this planet counts for something other than feeding my own misery.

Of course, churches and volunteer organizations always need people to help as well. I do what I can while still devoting plenty of time to my own physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness journey. I certainly can’t give to others when I let my own needs slide. The important thing is that I get out of my own head and operate from a place of gratitude and service.

In short, having faith and loving and serving others brings me hope that I could not have fathomed in my darkest days. Regardless of what you believe about God, I feel that is very good news indeed.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Lisa Kroulik

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • nybride710 profile imageAUTHOR

        Lisa Kroulik 

        3 months ago from Minnesota

        Thank you so much, Candace! I appreciate your friendship and support. Can't wait to meet you in April and so glad these have been helpful for you.

      • profile image

        Candace Lazzaro 

        3 months ago

        Great post. I had a wonderful church in Portland. Poppy Smith who is Christian writer who also acts as a councilor at my former church in Oregon. She's written several books that might be of interest to you. She's on my "friend's list". Depression is a big issue for me. Your posts have been encouraging.

      • nybride710 profile imageAUTHOR

        Lisa Kroulik 

        3 months ago from Minnesota

        Thank you for reading and commenting, Eric. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas.

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        3 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        We are dealing with it here Lisa. Group hugs seem to be helping. Her sisters in Christ are stepping up. We refuse to do "well" here. We must help each other thrive. But I tell you it is hard right now. My son and I went through problems yesterday. And then spent time as to how to work through them. No fixing just help.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, patientslounge.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)