Depression

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I learned today that Pastor Rick Warren’s son Matthew committed suicide. At times like this there is a lot of discussion concerning mental illness. In the main, I find that most of the talk is healthy, in that we talk about different kinds of mental illness and how to help friends and family who find themselves in its often deadly grip. It may seem obvious, but it bears repeating that no family is immune. No matter how comfortable financially, no matter how together spiritually someone may seem, disorders of the mind are equal opportunity foes. Even these days, when we would like to consider ourselves more enlightened, it’s not easy to talk about. People struggle for years with depression without telling anyone, fearing the social stigma attached.

Although I gave my life to Christ when I was 12, by the time I reached college age, my relationship with God had started to slip. Personally, the problems I had later on were magnified by the fact that I didn’t take these issues to God. For that matter, I didn’t seek professional help either. Instead, my wife was left with the awful chore of trying to support me emotionally. She saw me through some terrible times, but I will always regret that she had to suffer such pain trying to help. There are many levels of depression. I suffered for years with feelings of inadequacy and crippling fear that sometimes made it hard to leave the house. I forced myself to work, but was often held back by this unnamed fear. Please understand that I don’t claim to have an easy answer for the multifaceted issue that depression is, but for myself the abandonment of my faith caused me to be so much more vulnerable. I am thankful to God that I made it through the worst of my own pain. I hope in some way by the grace of God to be able to help others who are going through it too.

Two years ago my older brother, Jay, who had suffered with his own mental pain and substance abuse took his life in the same way Matthew Warren did. The resulting pain our family endured was compounded by the fact that he did it shortly before my Mother died as a result of cancer. It’s a time that almost seems unreal now. I understand what the Warren family is going through and I’m praying for them as they grieve the loss of Matthew. I know one of the things they will do is something we all should seek to do as well, try to find ways to help others. We aren’t always aware of the positive impact we can have on those around us. This is a good time to reach out.

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11 Comments

  1. Joel, thank you so much for sharing all of this. You truly have a gift for words and compassion. As long as I have known you I have appreciated your gentle perspective. I’m so sorry to learn about your brother and mother, but thank you for opening that up to us.

  2. Thank you for your compassionate and understanding words.

    The news of Matthew’s death has struck me very personally.

    Like Matthew, I am a Christian with a mental illness who has attempted suicide.
    Unlike Matthew, by the grace of God, I lived to tell about it.

    My fervent prayer in this is that out of the senselessness that is suicide, God would graciously bring something good. When I read posts like yours (and others), my hope that God will increases.

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