Ann Voskamp on the fire of depression

Ann Voskamp on the fire of depression April 12, 2013

“Have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire” (Jude 1:22-23).

Today I want to share an excerpt from one more article before returning to my own posts on this subject after the Weekend. This one is from Ann Voskamp. If you would like to find some more material, Ed Stetzer has a post collecting some of what has been written in the past week on mental illness. I’m praying all this outpouring of writing about this subject which has been a taboo in many churches will not just be a short-term response to tragedy but represent a major shift. Here is best-selling Christian author Ann’s contribution to the conversation:

We could tell you what we know.

That — depression is like a room engulfed in flames and you can’t breathe for the sooty smoke smothering you limp — and suicide is deciding there is no way but to jump straight out of the burning building.

That when the unseen scorch on the inside finally sears intolerably hot – you think a desperate lunge from the flames and the land of the living seems the lesser of two unbearables.

That’s what you’re thinking — that if you’d do yourself in, you’d be doing everyone a favor.

I had planned mine for a Friday.

That come that Friday the flames would be licking right up the the strain of my throat. You don’t try to kill yourself because death’s appealing — but because life’s agonizing. We don’t want to die. But we can’t stand to be devoured.

So I made this plan. And I wrote this note.

And I remember the wild agony of no way out and how the stars looked, endless and forever, and your mind can feel like it’s burning up at all the edges and there’s never going to be any way to stop the flame. Don’t bother telling us not to jump unless you’ve felt the heat, unless you bear the scars of the singe.

Don’t only turn up the praise songs but turn to Lamentations and Job and be a place of lament and tenderly unveil the God who does just that — who wears the scars of the singe. A God who bares His scars and reaches through the fire to grab us, “Come — Escape into Me.”

Read more at A Holy Experience – What Christians Need to Know about Mental Health.

Ann also wrote a follow-up to this article which quotes the verse from Jude I started this post with.

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  • That….was strong. That’s a language that is only spoken by those who have been in that choking, frantic place and it’s such a comfort to others who have been there – just to find that someone knows what it’s like and has found rescue.

  • I had been there a few times in my life. And one day God made me aware of the very moment I went from despondency into real deep depression. God taught me how to back-track my thoughts one by one and write them down. Then I took the list of worries and made a decision on each. Some I could handle at once, others I put a date for the next week on which I would attend it, and others I just confessed as sin and accepted God’s forgiveness and, with the power of the Holy Spirit blocked the enemy every time he reminded me of such failures. Since that time I immediately do something physical, like making a cup of tea the moment I become aware of serious depression, and follow the road of back-tracking and managing my depression that way. This works for me. I thank God that I have not yet been to the point of trying to take my life again. The more consistent I handle my bouts of depression, that the steep hill out of depression is leveling out. Praise God!