Today’s blog post comes from a friend of ours named Ren. Ren is an ordained minister, whom you will also find posting regularly on social media. His goal is to encourage others by pointing to Jesus in every aspect of life. Ren shares his own experiences in order to help others through whatever battles they may face. In this post, Ren gives us a brief glimpse into what life feels like in a state of depression and shares with us one thing that he knows can help. So, stick around to read Ren's story and to find out what you can do for help with anxiety and depression.
“Like I have been electrocuted or shocked by bolts of tingly, sizzly, energy that is shooting up and down my arms into my hands and fingers,” that is the way I would describe the physical manifestation of the mental anxiety that I feel. And this is no once in a lifetime feeling. This is a common occurrence. I would say I feel this anxiety every day of my life. And why wouldn’t I feel anxiety? My wife is chronically ill, my daughter is chronically ill, and my son has his own battles with mental illness.
So, if you take all the health conditions in our household and couple that with the financial cost of taking care of everyone, the pressure I feel seems insurmountable!
Now, try to imagine handling all that when your brain is mush and all your thoughts are tangled together like spaghetti noodles in the bowl of a messy five-year-old. It is hard to imagine, isn’t it? Well, honestly, it is hard to describe but that is exactly the way I feel and have felt for a long time. I often feel like I cannot control my own brain, or like I am unable to make sense of my own thoughts. And, if I cannot make sense of my own thoughts, how can I convey those thoughts to anyone else? I have felt irritable and vacant. I have lost my drive, my passion, my assertiveness. All I want to do is hide away from the world as if being alone would somehow comfort any of what is going on inside of me. So, instead of being the one who takes care of the family; I have become the one who needs taking care of. I knew something was wrong with me but there was no way in the world I was going to openly admit that!
And then, one day, it happened – my wife had had enough! I remember her sitting down with me in our bedroom, looking me in the eyes, and in her most loving but direct voice she said, “No one in this house can stand you right now. I don’t know what is wrong, but you need to go see a doctor.” I went to the doctor.
In January of 2021, I was officially diagnosed with severe anxiety and depression.
At the time of the diagnosis, I was embarrassed and scared. I did not know what was worse, having the anxiety and depression, or having anxiety because I feared what people would think of me when they find out I struggle with depression. That fear is so real! That fear is so real because people can be so mean and judgmental. It was because of that fear I did not want to tell anyone, especially people at the church. Did I mention I am an ordained minister and was serving in a local church at the time of the diagnosis?
I couldn’t hide it though, not for long anyway. People found out and then my anxiety increased tenfold. Then one day I received a phone call. It was a friend from church. He called to tell me that he too was battling with depression. And the moment he said that to me, he and I were instantly connected. That shared suffering of battling depression served as a bonding agent for our friendship and brotherhood. I love that man! He knew I was married to a very supportive woman and have a loving family to help me. I am convinced though, that he thought I also needed a brother to walk alongside me. So, he became that brother. He watched over me like a guardian angel and has taught me some important lessons on this journey. He never judged me or thought less of me. He just loved me. His name is Mark.
Never will I ever forget the first time I met Mark. I was standing alone in the foyer of the church building, and he walked right up to me and introduced himself. Then he looked me dead in the eyes and said, “how are you?” To which I replied, “I am good.” Still looking me dead in the eyes, he said, “No you’re not.” I was taken back by his reply. I was speechless. All I could think was, “How do you know if I am good or not? You don’t know me!” And right then, he said something to me that I am still unpacking two years later. The words he spoke had a profound impact on my life. He said, “I am going to pray that God gives you peace.” His words just blew me away because he knew, he could see, that I was struggling with some form of mental illness. He was never condescending to me. He never oversimplified my problem. He never told to “get over it” or that Christians shouldn’t feel that way. He just prayed for me. He prayed for the one thing he knew no doctor could prescribe or counselor could facilitate. He prayed for peace in my heart and in my mind. He prayed that God would give me the peace that passes all understanding because he knew before I needed anything, I needed peace.
There is this constant storm of doubt and fear that swells inside me. Peace calms that storm.
There are many storms, in fact, that try to quench my zeal for life and service to the Lord. Peace calms the many different storms. Yes, it is peace that I need. But not just any peace, I need the true peace that comes only from the Prince of Peace himself, Jesus Christ. My friend Mark, he knew what I needed, so without waiting for me to ask for it, he prayed for it. He is like the friend who sticks closer than a brother. Oh, that I could be that type of friend to others.
Today, I am inspired to be more than just the author of an article to some random readers. I would like to be a friend to all the readers of this article and specifically to those who are battling with some form of mental illness. I would like to take this moment and be your Mark.
Please lean in and listen close: no matter how you are feeling right now, you are not alone. You are loved. You are cherished. You are safe, in the presence of Jesus because Jesus is your Peace. Jesus' peace is the cornerstone to healing, the cornerstone to living. His peace calms every storm and ushers in every joy. His peace takes the whirlwind of confusion away and replaces it with clarity.
If you struggle with mental illness of any kind, I am praying that God gives you PEACE.
A Friend in Jesus
We would like to express our gratitude to Ren for sharing this post and his words of encouragement with us. If you want to learn more about Ren's mission, you can find him on TikTok (@ren_waterfalls) and Instagram (@be_encouragers)
@ren_waterfalls #jesus #god #mentalhealth #pray #jesustiktok #christiantiktok #gospel_tiktok #trials #love #church #christiantiktokcomunity #talk ♬ original sound - Ren Waterfalls