GUEST POST: Depression in the time of coronavirus

I met Chris and Heidi Ness in Ethiopia a few years ago when I was teaching a two week class at the Bible college in Addis Ababa. They are amazing folks who now work in Italy.

Chris has some needed words about depression in times like these so he let me share them here.

SOME THOUGHTS ON DEPRESSION FROM SOMEONE WHO HAS STRUGGLED WITH IT

As someone who is prone to depression and who gets energized by being with other people, this lock down during Covid-19 has not been easy. I live in Italy which has surpassed China in the number of deaths due to the virus. The government here has taken strict measures, even here in the South where it isn’t near as bad, to curb the spread of the virus, which limits us to going outside only to taking out the trash and to go grocery shopping. One can go to the doctor for more urgent matters, but I had to stop physiotherapy for a nagging shoulder injury, in the middle of my first phase of treatments.

The other day I shared a quote on Facebook that as I look back perhaps oversimplified depression. While depression was only a small part of the quote and I believe that the quote had great truth, often a statement oversimplifying depression can be discouraging to a person struggling with depression.

I know first hand.

There was a quote going around Facebook recently that said something like “if you change the letters around in depression, it spells, I pressed on.”

Let me offer some perspective to an oversimplified quote like that. During the height of my depression, my problem was that very thing, trying to press on. I was trying to pull myself up by my bootstraps, pressing on the best I could, and it was not working.

While there was a measure of pressing on and not giving up that kept me going until I could get the help I needed, for a while it was pressing on that kept me from getting help. My family and I were living and serving in Ethiopia, we were under a lot of stress, and my wife Heidi was also dealing with depression related issues as well as physical issues.

When we got to the end of our rope, we stopped pressing on, “gave up” and got help. Since Ethiopia did not have the resources we needed, after a few weeks we found ourselves in the loving care of Christian counselors at Ministry Resource International (MRI) in Kirkland, WA. It was there that a long journey of healing began for both Heidi and I. That healing journey included hours of counseling with people who modeled Agape love to us. MRI introduced me to an amazing Christian Psychiatrist that came to MRI twice a week to meet with me, who for a time prescribed anti-depressants.

It didn’t take long before I trusted Dr. O’s (as he was known) judgment to help me navigate this, for a time, with meds. This is a very short testimony of God’s healing love in my life. I could go on, but it might turn into a book. So, I am not against inspiring quotes put on social media, yet I do have a few thoughts at least for myself that I will keep in mind before posting.

1. Is this oversimplifying a larger issue?

2. Will this encourage or discourage (even if my intent is to encourage) others?

3. What is the context of the quote? Maybe I’ll look into it a little deeper.

Though I am not a professional, nor am I a quick fix, follow these steps and “boom” you’ll be better, kind of guy, perhaps I will share in the future about the slump I found myself in, during the initial phase of this Covid-19 lock down and how I am responding.
— Chris Ness, Italy

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