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February 8, 2010 / Mark Kerrigan

Living the Bible Helps Battle Depression!

This past weekend, I attended a men’s retreat with my church. During this time, I was fed—both physically and spiritually—with what may turn out to be a powerful tool to battle depression.

Yes, I’m clinically depressed, and if you don’t already know my story, click here to learn more about me.

Like most other people who have sustained a traumatic brain injury or have acquired brain trauma—from hypoxia, a car wreck or some other external event—I suffer from chronic depression.

But what does the retreat have to do with depression?

For starters, I learned that every other man—or person, for that matter—has a similar story. It may be that his dad walked out on his family when he was 11. It may be that he’s going through a difficult time in his marriage. It may be that his 18 year-old daughter is pregnant. But everyone has a story. I am not alone in my battle with challenges—and neither is anyone else.

During the final session, Dr. Tim Lovett, the guest speaker, said somcething I couldn’t believe was coming from a Baptist Preacher’s mouth: “We as human-beings don’t need more Bible knowledge; We need more Bible doing!”

Sure, don’t throw stones, I thought. Then Dr. Tim went on to say that the best way for us to honor God is to live the Be-Attitudes. It took a minute for that to sink in, but when it did, it hit me like a 250 lb. linebacker!

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out Galatians 5:22:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.   (Gal 5:22-23 NIV)

So if I practice the Be-Attitudes in my daily life, I will be doing what the Almighty Father wants me to do! I began going through the Be-Attitudes, one by one, and checking them off in my head if I could honestly say that I practice that particular Fruit of the Spirit.

The one that caught me was Joy.

Since my head injury, I really have not been that joyful. Sure there are times when I’ve been happy, even ecstatic, but looking back over the past two decades, I can’t really say that I’ve been “joyful.”

We’ve all heard that if you want to do something, you should fake it ‘til you make it. I can hear my earthly father saying, “You know, Mark, when I was you’re age and I didn’t feel good, I would make an effort to ACT LIKE I was feeling good. Then before I knew it, it wasn’t an act.”

So by living the Be-Attitudes, I could actually change my outlook and even my demeanor! And all the while, I’d be worshiping God Almighty.

How it’s affecting my life

Having to relearn how to walk at the age of 16, I have probably over-compensated with some of the muscles in my legs and hips. This has caused a wearing-down of the cartilage in my joints, which causes me significant pain with almost every step.

And this pain affects my attitude: I get sullen and moody—sometimes even mean to my wife and son—the people who matter most in the world to me.

Since the retreat, I’m trying to “pretend” to be joyful even though I may not feel like it. I’m trying to fake it ‘til I make it.

Most of the time, I can force myself to concentrate on being joyful rather than on the pain, or the depression I so commonly experience. You might try it, and make sure you let me know if it helps!


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