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CAN JOY COEXIST WITH AFFLICTION?

Introducing You to Chronic Joy Ministry One of the “content categories” for my posts on depression and faith is to familiarize you with helpful resources: books, blogs, and organizations. Today’s post is an interview with the President and Co-Founder of Chronic Joy Ministry, Pamela Piquette. The ministry includes, but isn’t limited to, persons who are chronically depressed. Here’s their mission statement: Radical Hope. Compassionate Change. Equipping Those Affected by Chronic Physical and Mental Illness through Community and Education Rooted in Jesus Christ.   When and why did you launch Chronic Joy Ministry? Chronic Joy began because we felt such a profound need to do something for those affected by chronic illness. In addition, there is a deeply personal connection that inspired those first steps. My daughter and I–as well as my ministry partner and co-founder, Cindee Snider Re, and four of her five children–have multiple chronic illnesses that dramatically alter our lives. We all have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which by definition affects connective tissue in the body responsible for supporting and structuring skin, blood vessels, bones, and organs.  One result is a deficit in the protein collagen. Categories of EDS, as well as the nature and severity of symptoms, vary among individuals. …

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WHEN GOD’S SPIRIT GAVE ME WRITER’S BLOCK

The Story of an Unfinished Poem I haven’t ever tried to kill myself, nor have I been whisker-close to doing so.  But I have thought that death would be preferable to living.  A lot of times. When a pall of depression overwhelms me, negative thoughts vie for control of my spirit:  hopelessness about immature traits that I still display; frustration over unanswered prayers for loved ones; battle-weariness due to being pummeled again and again by temptation; dismay due to an incapacity to smile or to laugh; aggravating physical pain that escalates as I age, especially due to chronic back issues. I’m well aware that we all know pain and struggles, but a depressed mind exaggerates the normal stressors and problems that everybody experiences. Often, when I’m in the vise-grip of despair, I try to describe my inner state in poetic form.  Today I began scribbling such a poem.  The first two lines immediately popped into my mind: I want to die.  The reasons why do not add up.  They multiply.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              But I couldn’t finish it. I struggled more than usual to depict my emotional state in words. I identified a few reasons why death would be better (so I thought), …

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THERE IS A KIND OF HEALING MORE IMPORTANT THAN PHYSICAL

Chronically ill? Recently lost a loved one? Recurring episodes of depression? Physical disability? If any of these conditions describe you or someone you love, absorb the perspectives and comfort of Joni Eareckson Tada’s Beside Bethesda: 31 Days Toward Deeper Healing (NavPress, 2014). Joni, a quadriplegic for almost 51 years since a diving accident at age 16, writes a compact but powerful  devotional book marked by raw transparency and deep knowledge of God’s Word.  Each reading offers a snippet from her story, and Bible texts that sustain her. Insights I gleaned include, but certainly aren’t limited to, the following:   *Honest, desperate prayer is a means of resiliency during affliction. One of my highlighted excerpts is this: “God may not always say yes to specific requests at specific times, but He will always say yes to the cry of a hungry heart that needs Him more than anything else.”  She also wrote, “I learned a long time ago to stop asking God why, but I frequently ask Him for how.  How am I going to go forward?  How can I endure this?  How can I stay positive and productive as I battle the chronic pain?”   *Memorizing Scripture fuels persistence during suffering. She views her …

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ANSWERING QUESTIONS ABOUT DEPRESSION

An Interview with Dr. Stephen Farra   I interviewed a colleague who helped develop the Psychology Program at Columbia International University, Steve Farra. Steve has extensive practical experience in counseling and psychotherapy, as well as top-notch academic credentials. (See his bio at the end of the interview.)  He will help you better understand the nature of and treatments for depression.  Here are questions I asked him, and his responses.   What are the most common forms of depression?  It is important to distinguish between temporary distress (from life events), and true depression (which is more an on-going state of mind/brain, and is typically longer lasting and more severe).  There are several sub-categories of true depression, including forms that are primarily psychological/cognitive in nature (produced by relentless toxic or negative self-talk), and full major depression that involves imbalances and shortages of neurotransmitters in the brain–primarily serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.  Full-blown major depression can appear with or without “delusions” in the form of grossly distorted and false beliefs.   What is the difference between depression spawned by a loss (unemployment, death of a loved one) and ongoing, recurring bouts of serious depression?   Grief is not depression, but great loss can lead to …