I am excited to welcome Dr. Michelle Bengtson to the prairie today. She recently published a book titled “Hope Prevails: Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression.”
This book that is a gift to anyone who knows someone or lives with a mental illness themselves. As the daughter of a woman who lives daily with a mental illness, I am looking forward to continuing to read Michelle’s story. So please welcome her!
From Joy-Immune to Joy-Full
Dr. Michelle Bengtson
That’s where I was.
At least that’s what I believed.
As I looked around me it seemed like everyone else was so full of joy and yet I had none. In fact, depression was all I could see as the dark night of my soul enveloped me.
Why were they the lucky ones? Was I not as deserving? Was I not as worthy? Was I not as special? Was I not as important?
I wasn’t even sure I knew what joy was. To me, it was just a word in a Christmas carol.
I wasn’t even sure how I had fallen in this deep, dark well. I was the doctor—the neuropsychologist who treated patients with anxiety and depression for twenty years. Shouldn’t I have been able to prevent depression from enveloping me?
At least I knew how to treat it, right?
That’s what I thought.
And so I embarked on all the treatment strategies I had suggested to my patients for nearly two decades: therapy, medication, diet, exercise, rest. They all helped, but they were not enough to eradicate the depression that wreaked havoc in my soul.
I cried out to God that if this was all my life was going to be, I didn’t want this life. I begged Him to take me home to Him. But if He chose not to do that, would He please first show me what I was missing because I refused to go back to being the doctor treating patients until I knew that what I had to offer really worked. And lastly, I begged Him to make my depression count for something…to use this pain for good…to bring me out better than I had gone in.
He very clearly spoke to my heart, not in an audible voice, but to my heart He clearly said, “If you do not deal with the spiritual root of disease, it’s like putting a band aid on an infection and hoping it will get well.”
That began my journey into understanding the spiritual contributors of depression, and cooperating with God for complete healing, wholeness, and restoration.
God so vividly made me aware that we have an enemy. John 10:10 says that “The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy, but I have come that they might have life and have it to the full.”
That enemy seeks to 1) steal our joy, 2) kill our peace, and 3) destroy our identity. But that’s the end of his influence, because neither the enemy, nor depression 1) determine your worth, 2) dictate your destiny, or 3) separate you from the love of God! And that’s reason to maintain our hope while we walk out our healing!
While there are genetic contributors, and chemical contributors, and secondary and reactionary contributors to depression, the enemy is the biggest contributor to depression and he does so by interfering with our minds and lying to us about who we are.
Scripture tells us that “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Essentially, we have to pay attention to our thoughts, determine if they agree with what God says, and if not, reject them and instead, embrace His truth.
For me, this began with writing one single scripture on a post-it note, and putting it where I would see it every day. Every time I saw it, I recited it out loud because “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Then I wrote down another, and another, and another. Before I knew it, I had over 100 scriptures on post-it notes all over my walls, mirrors, car dashboard, and light switches to remind me of the truth of what God says about me.
I was speaking at an event and a woman came up to me and asked if she could pray for me. Never one to turn down prayer, I happily agreed. As she prepared to pray, she hesitated. I looked up to her with a question in my eyes. She responded, “I usually pray for people to receive His joy. But I’m not going to pray for that for you. You clearly are already filled with His joy! So I was just asking Him what He wanted me to pray for you…”
As I left, I prayed prayers of gratitude because I don’t think I will ever forget being so depressed that I was seduced by the enemy of my soul into believing the lie that I was “joy-immune.” And now, I am full of His joy!
Scripture says, “Weeping may last for a night, but His joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). The dark night of my soul lasted a very long time, but God was faithful and brought His joy in the morning!
Not only that, but I recognize many of the other lies he had whispered to my heart, that I also believed…the lies that I was not as deserving, worthy, special, or as important as others who appeared to be joyful. Christ died for one and all. That levels the playing field. I am as important and as worthy as anyone else, and THEY are as important and as worthy as I am, and so are YOU!
Hold on to Him, and the hope He offers. He came so that YOUR joy may be full as well!
Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
For a Free eBook on How to Help a Depressed Loved One, click here: http://drmichellebengtson.com/how-to-help-a-depressed-loved-one-ebook/
For more helpful information about what you need to know when you have a depressed loved one, read here: http://drmichellebengtson.com/10-things-to-know-if-you-have-a-depressed-loved-one/
For more about what not to say to a depressed loved one, read here: http://drmichellebengtson.com/what-not-to-say-when-a-loved-one-is-depressed/ while here are suggestions about supportive things you can say to a depressed loved one: http://drmichellebengtson.com/what-to-say-when-a-loved-one-is-depressed/
Dr. Michelle Bengtson (PhD, Nova Southeastern University) is an international speaker, and the author of best-selling “Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression” and the newly released companion “Hope Prevails Bible Study.” She has been a neuropsychologist for more than twenty years. She is in private practice in Southlake, Texas where she evaluates, diagnoses, and treats children and adults with a variety of medical and mental health disorders. She knows pain and despair firsthand and combines her professional expertise and personal experience with her faith to address issues surrounding medical and mental disorders, both for those who suffer and for those who care for them. She offers sound practical tools, affirms worth, and encourages faith. Dr. Bengtson offers hope as a key to unlock joy and relief—even in the middle of the storm. She and her husband of 30 years have two teenage sons, and reside in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. She blogs regularly on her own site: http://www.DrMichelleBengtson.com
For more hope, stay connected with Michelle at:
To order Hope Prevails: http://drmichellebengtson.com/hope-prevails-book/
Twitter: http://www.Twitter.com/DrMBengtson (@DrMBengtson)
To order Hope Prevails from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Hope-Prevails-Insights-Personal-Depression/dp/080072707X/
This week, my guest poster Michelle and I will be linking up with Kelly and the RaRa linkup, Holly and Coffee for your Heart and Kristin and Porch Stories.