What kind of Christian gets depressed?
Raise your hand if you have ever heard it said “A Christian should never be depressed!”
Raise two hands if you’ve ever struggled with accepting the fact that you are depressed.
I see you and, trust me, my both hands are up.
This Christianity we have ehn? The one that was popularised in the ’90s and early 2000s; the one that says you only need to praaaaay, fast and pray some more; the one that says our problems are caused by witches, wizards and ‘village people’? In my opinion, this christianity has done more harm than good.
Before we attempt to answer the question, we should know that depression is not primarily a ‘spiritual problem’. I mean, depression is not a disease of the spirit. It’s a disease of the mind—a mental illness.
You know what this means? It means spiritual exercise has a role to play but its role does not replace other strategies that could be engaged for healing.
Now more than ever paradigms have to shift. People must realise the role of physical exercise in maintaining healthy bodies and minds. People must appreciate the role of informed dietary choices in boosting the immune system and overall body health. People must realise that therapy is not a sin and psychiatry is not for the demon-possessed.
We must prioritise building safe spaces for hurting Christians to unpack. We must prioritise building our minds by the word of God, constantly engaging transformation by the word we read daily and not merely reading as heedless routine. We must consciously reach out and most importantly share our stories.
In caring for the whole man we should begin with understanding what it means to care for our spirits, our souls and our bodies. Then with this knowledge genuinely connect with our community (of believers and unbelievers).
So, what kind of Christian gets depressed? Any kind. Spiricoco Ijeoma, soft-spoken Ebeano, Kelechi the Bible study coordinator, Hamzat the Prayer secretary, Ubong the Kingdom financier, Tongue-talking Ita, Felix of cruise, Die-by-fire Damilola, Sherifat the new convert, Patricia the Christian discipler…
What kind of Christian could get depressed? You, I, every kind. This is why we must prioritise our health.
And when next you pass by a Christian physically or virtually (via their statuses, tweets, group comments, social media posts) and the Holy Ghost asks that you check on them I hope you forget the biases in your mind and love like the Father would.
Could I ask that you share joy sincerely? That you patiently ask “how are you really doing right now?”; that you prayerfully place a call, send a voice note or plan a visit; that you remind them of the goodness of Jesus; that you strengthen their faith; that you light up dark spaces in the way only you can.
Because every kind of Christian can be depressed.
First published in Touch Magazine, July 2022.