We had been through the most difficult year of our lives.  The secret sorrows  I carried not only ate through my heart, but my mind and soul as well.  As a matter of fact, ten years ago I suffered a serious emotional breakdown.  Honestly, it was and is the grace of God that I am still here today to tell you about it.

The circumstances surrounding my depression and ultimate breakdown are not important, however, what I learned through that whole experience is.  Studies have shown that people are more inclined towards depression during the winter months, especially during the Holidays.  Over the last few weeks, a few dozen people have asked me for prayer because they were dealing with depression.   Because of this, I wanted to share from my very personal notes things that have helped this old girl stay afloat and unsinkable.

As missionaries, we have seen and experienced a lot in this world that can weigh our hearts down if we allow it to.  Abuse, injustice, addiction, human trafficking, at risk youth and death,  usually fires us up to do more, however, sometimes it just burns us out.  Life can be so painful, so difficult, and we need a Savior to help see us through.

Nothing can replace the Hope and Joy we have in Christ.  We need to bathe ourselves daily in the rich wisdom from The Bible and spend time in active prayer to have a better perspective on life.  When we forget to do those things, either because we are too busy or because we are too overwhelmed, then we lose our focus and the cares of the world can easily begin to weigh hard on us.  Soon we can hardly move and if we allow depression’s ugly tentacles to grab a hold of us, we don’t want to.   There are times when we need professional or medical intervention but above and beyond all that we need GOD.  We need the truth from His Word and the reality of His hope and love dwelling within us if we want to thrive.

I need to preface this by saying I am no doctor and I am not offering any kind of professional advice here on depression.  I am just sharing heart to heart some of the important things that I learned during my season in the miry pit.

7  Things to Never Forget~

 1.  Attitude of gratitude~  One of the best remedies for depression is a grateful heart.  Gratefulness takes the focus off ourselves and our situation and places it on God and all He has done for us.   Psalm 75:1  “We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name is near. We recount your wondrous deeds.”  Recounting His blessings regularly keeps everything in its proper perspective.

God would rather you take a step back and get stronger by spending time with Him than to step forward in weakness without Him.  

2.  God first, family {immediate} family second and toss the rest~  Prioritizing between things we feel we have to do and things we must do.   The “to-do” list, especially for mothers, is never-ending.  When struggling with something as serious as depression, one must prioritize.   God, your {immediate} family, spouse and children, are your priority.  Are there things that you can put aside from your schedule during this time of struggle?  There is no harm in taking a step back from the whirlwind of life so you can catch your breath again.  We are an easily distracted society, quickly overwhelmed and entangled by many things.   Because of this, we often feel guilty saying, “NO” to things and taking time off for ourselves.  What we forget is that if we are suffering, then everything in our lives suffer, including our family.  God would rather you take a step back and get stronger by spending time with Him than to step forward in weakness without Him.

3.  Shake the shame~ Shame was ultimately what shoved me into the abyss of despair.   Thousands of years ago, shame crept into a young man’s heart because he did not deal with his failures properly and it lead to a jealous rage that ended with him killing his own brother. (Cain and Abel)  How many times do we mishandle our failures and faults and forget to allow the precious gift of forgiveness to heal those painful memories in our lives?

4.  Get your 8 hours~  Our bodies are amazing creations and often tell us what we need when we need it.  Sleep is the first thing our body craves and needs when we are struggling with depression.  Do not feel guilty for putting in a few extra naps.  Even God rested on the seventh day.  Why is it that we feel we can do more than He did?

5.  Laugh away~  Does God have a sense of humor?  Of course He does, He created humor and He wants us to enjoy it.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Proverbs 17:22

One of my favorite ‘funnies’ from the New Testament was when the disciples were out on the boat in the middle of a storm.  There they were, huddled together in fear while looking out towards the horizon for their salvation.  Then here comes Jesus,  almost sneaking up on the frightened disciples and looking like some kind of apparition upon the water.  Oh the multitude of sermons in this little ditty!  First and foremost, we can see how the Lord comes to us in the midst of our worst problems, but also we can see that even the Lord Himself valued a good sense of humor during the worst tempest.

6.  Nutrition and exercise~  Our immune systems become weaker when we suffer emotionally.  It is no wonder therefore, when struggling with depression, one becomes more susceptible to illness.  This could be from a variety of causes such as bad food choices, hiding indoors in front of a television set, and a lack of movement from “couch-potatoitis.”  What is really needed when feeling the weight of despair is fresh air, sunshine and a healthy diet.  One cannot fight a battle when one is ill-equipped to do so.  I had serious stomach issues during my nervous breakdown and I was unable to eat well.  My doctor put me on the BRAT diet (plus a lot of cabbage) until my stomach was able to handle a normal diet again.  It did wonders for me.  Long prayer walks, lots of fruits and vegetables with a well running system will help us stay more physically and mentally able to handle anything that comes our way.

7.  Know when to get help~  Let’s face it, sometimes we need a little extra help.  You may need some counseling, medical or psychological help or all three.  There is no shame in asking for help.  I am eternally grateful for those who stuck by my side night and day, because honestly,  I may not be here today if it were not for them, their prayers, wisdom and loving care.  We were never meant to handle life alone and God does not want us to try to tackle our burdens like spiritual mavericks.  Let me finish by sharing a very intimate entry from one of my old journals.

 “Today I am reminded of the Fifth Station of the Cross, where Jesus, feeling the weight of the cross, fell to His knees.  Simon of Cyrene, whether compelled outwardly or inwardly, came to Jesus’ side and carried the cross. Jesus needed help carrying the cross.  Again, Jesus had aide in carrying His burdens.  Jesus came to earth not only to completely save humanity from its sinful state, but He also came to completely identify with the experience of humanity. Jesus had to know and feel what it was like to be broken and unable to carry on, so that He, once and for all time victorious, could identify with me and meet me in those needy places.  

I can never say, ‘I am alone, forgotten and misunderstood in my brokenness.’ or worse yet, ‘I cannot share my pain, or allow others or God into my life to help me with this burden.’ Every action and emotion in Jesus’ life on earth had meaning and purpose, with me in mind. He is therefore MORE than sufficient to meet all of my needs in every way, exceedingly above whatever I could possible imagine.” Not only that, He chose humanity, and the road of the cross because “He would rather die for me than to live without me.” He made a conscious choice to experience all of the glorious and grotesque of humanity because of His deep and most extravagant love for (you) and me.”



Stasia is mother to six beautiful children and wife to a dedicated, loving husband.  They have served as a family together on the mission field on four continents for over 30 years.  Stasia’s passion is to share in true colors the grace of God in her life.  You can read more about her and the ministry of the Women’s Bible Cafe here.  If this article has blessed you in any small way, please consider showing your support by clicking subscribe in the upper right corner.  Copyright© 2015 Stasia Nielsen All Rights Reserved