By Will Ratliff (Guest Post)
I recently wrote an article at “The Better Samaritan” (a Christianity Today blog) about how the Church can better serve those of us who deal with depression, and was honored to do so.
While creating the piece, I asked friends and family for their input. My brother Will Ratliff sent me a list that I had to share, because I couldn’t include much of it in the post. Here are seven things he wants Christians to know about depression:
1. I’m not always depressed. It can come at any time. It’s not necessarily something I can control or just “pull myself out of.” There are good days and bad days – and I don’t know which will be which.
2. Don’t assume I struggle on specific days (i.e., lost loved one’s birthday, anniversary, holiday, etc.). It’s not necessarily helpful to remind me that I’m supposed to be struggling on those days either. The day before or after could be harder (or two or three days removed). Not everyone experiences depression and grief in the same way.
3. Invite me to lunch, coffee, or dinner. Engage with me and keep connected with me. And don’t be offended if I decline. I always appreciate the invitation – even if I don’t feel up to it. And don’t give up on me. Keep trying. When I do accept, you don’t have to tiptoe around my mood, and you don’t even have to bring it up. Let’s have a normal conversation. It’s always good to get my mind off things (and myself) and just feel and be normal.
4. Encourage me to exercise, get outside and get some sun. Better yet, invite me to do those things with you and some friends. All of those things can help release endorphins which can help swing my mood for the better.
5. Just because I’m in a crowd of people and laugh and joke around doesn’t mean I’m not struggling or feeling lonely. And it doesn’t mean I am. Mood swings are complicated and I’m good at hiding them when I need to.
6. I don’t expect you to say the right thing or do the right thing. A lot of times just your presence is enough. Learn to be the kind of friend who can just sit and be with me. Some call it the “ministry of presence.” And it can be powerful.
7. Letting me know you’ll “pray for me” isn’t always helpful. What would be more helpful? If you know I’m struggling, check in with me or do one of the things above. Stay engaged with me and be patient. I’m not discounting prayer, but engaging with me is like prayer in motion.
Bio: Will describes himself as a follower of Jesus, husband, father, and musician. He says, “My goal is to help you grow in your faith and freedom that you have in Christ. I want to share my journey and help you develop your relationship with Christ, be able to ask questions, and find the freedom you’ve been seeking. I want to help you move beyond status quo religion and help you grow in your Jesus journey and ‘kick status quo religion in the faith’!” Find Will’s “Adventure Life” blog, resources and podcast here.
Note from Dena: I hope this post was helpful. I’m really proud of my brother and am so grateful he shared these tips with me (and you). Be sure and right click on the resources image above to save to your phone for future reference.