Written by cycleguy on July 14th, 2014

Over the last few weeks I have had the honor of hosting a guest series on Depression by Kari Scare. If you are new to this spot of the blog world, you can read her story here. Then you can read the other installments here, here, here, and here. I want to thank Kari for sharing her story and answering questions. I know by the response she has struck a chord. This is her last installment of the series, but I think the “reach” will go beyond my blog. She answers the most probing question for me today.

What can I do or say as a pastor (or anyone do) who has never suffered from depression to help those who do suffer?

While I was at my most depressed, I received little to nothing of what others said or did to try and help me. I just couldn’t see anything positive. Looking back, I realize that even though I didn’t think so at the time, having people just not give up on me even when I had given up made all the difference. No matter what I said or did, they always took me back and forgave me.

The best counselors and friends I had were the ones that simply listened but maintained boundaries in that they refused to climb into the pit with me. They were able to maintain mental and physical health in their own lives and

not let me pull them in the pit. So, I saw them as stable people that accepted me for where I was as well as for examples of where I wanted to be.

While some did suggest I simple “change,” for the most part the people in my life allowed me to be however I was going to be, not really accepting the behavior, but loving me regardless. And when they saw any positive, whether momentary or a step toward change, they latched on to that for as long as the wave existed even when they knew it would fade. This went a long way helping me make small, gradual changes that over time added up to make a huge difference in discovering victory.

Related to this, those who did not try to force me to change were the ones I wanted to be around. I know most of them were praying for me, but they did not try and insist I change. They accepted me for who I was at the time. When I did reject them, which I did as intimacy of any sort was thin at best and impossible at worse most of the time, they did not take it personally. They knew, somehow, it wasn’t meant personally. They gave me the space I needed, even letting me be miserable, and were always available when I came out of the darkest corners of the pit for a while.

Generally speaking then, the people in my life who had never suffered depression, helped me by staying consistent with who they were, by accepting me for who I was and where I was, by seeing beyond where I was and to who I could become, and by praying for me.

My husband said he felt helpless when I was depressed, and I guess he kind of was. I assume that’s how many people who have not had depression feel. The odd part is that this is how people with depression feel too. So, realize that the helplessness you feel in not being able to help the person get out depression is similar to the helplessness the depressed person feels in being trapped in it. Interesting, don’t you think?

Thanks so much Kari for taking time out of your busy schedule to help out. Your posts have been a real blessing. How can this post help you help others?


23 Comments so far ↓

  1. Daniel says:

    Bill, thanks for this series of posts. Kari, I am not sure why seeing myself in someone else’s pain would bring me some comfort, but it has somehow. I can tell you that there were some people in my life who put huge pressure on me to “get over it” (i.e. my depression) who are no longer part of my life. I had to distance myself from them. In fact when some of darkness had passed, they became so associated with my pain, that I just never could let them back into my life due to the negative feelings that they became connected with. Blessings to you and may God keep you and protect you.

    • cycleguy says:

      You’re welcome Daniel. The posts have been a help to me. I think you are right to distance yourself from people who only tear you down.

    • Kari Scare says:

      I’ve had the same thing happen, Daniel. I don’t have much connection with people from my past, largely because I just can’t go to the place where they exist in my memory.

  2. I actually spoke about this on Sunday in a message on hope. Sometimes people tell us to “have faith” or “have hope” and it makes it worse because if you could just work it up, you would have already done it. Instead, we have to encounter hope by meeting the God of Hope. That’s what makes a difference to us. Thanks for this series, Kari and Bill. Wonderful posts.

    • Kari Scare says:

      Well said, Jason. Probably the best thing others did for me, as I alluded to in this post, is to set the example of a steady life. And the best ones at that were those who were developing their own relationships with Christ. They set an example for me to follow and even lean on.

  3. Ceil says:

    Hi Bill and Kari! This question posed by Bill is such a good one. I think when we are faced by someone drowning, we all want the right life-preserver to throw. I know I don’t want to make anyone who is feeling bad, actually feel worse!
    I really appreciated your honest answer Kari. Just being able to listen is a wonderful grace, and it’s so wonderful that it is actually helpful. I hope you had many people who could give you the gift of their ears, and showing you that they cared.

    • Kari Scare says:

      My husband played a key role in listening for sure, especially in that he was there through the whole things. Others played a part too, but they were there for parts and not the whole. Listening. Setting boundaries. Staying steady. Not getting in the pit. These all helped tremendously. They all went toward patiently waiting for me to climb out. Thanks for your encouragement, Ceil.

      • cycleguy says:

        The other factor is one I am faced with Ceil. When a person has not faced whatever the issue is, how can he help someone else? I can’t lie and say, “I know how you feel.” i also don’t want to just slough off someone who has a legitimate need.

        • Kari Scare says:

          If you did say, “I know how you feel…” your intention would backfire and simply not work anyway. Again, just listening is key. But a big part is not writing off what the person is feeling. In other words, it needs to be okay that they are feeling what they are feeling. If they’re told “You shouldn’t feel that way” in any way, shape or form, your effectiveness evaporates. Or, if they’re told that what they feel, say, think, etc. is not accurate or true or whatever… they’ll shut down too. At least, this is what I did. I wanted to be heard, to be accepted & not to be patronized. Does that help at all?

  4. floyd says:

    This adage came to mind as I read, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

    It really is about listening and caring with sincerity. That’s the exact calling for all of us! Amazing how the actions we’re called to is the best medicine for others as well as ourselves.

    Thanks for your insight and honesty, Kari. God bless, sister.

    • Kari Scare says:

      That adage definitely applies here. And you’re so right about simply sticking to our calling to love with sincerity. Great points! Thanks, Floyd!

  5. Thanks for sharing. Don’t stop being who God made you to be. As my wife says, it is okay to abnormally normal.

  6. Debbie says:

    Thank you Kari and Pastor Bill for such an important series. It’s really helped me to hear how you felt Kari and what helped the most. God has given me a very special friend who struggles with depression, and I keep learning from her .. .and what you have said echoes so much of what she’s shared when she can. One of the last times that she fell out of communication with me, and then was able to start up again later, God showed me to just receive from her and not try to encourage her or give to her so much right now. It only made things worse when I did, but letting her tell me things about God or give me things made her feel so much better. 🙂

    • Kari Scare says:

      You are being exactly what she needs by simply recieving from her. She is recieving from you too, just not words so much as actions and attitude. I’m sure she is at some level thankful for someone who doesn’t push her. Looking back, I know I was. I’m blessed to know this series has been helpful to you.

      • cycleguy says:

        I’m glad the series was good for you Deb. I think one of the hardest things to do is to be empathetic without mothering. Kari approached it well.

  7. David says:

    Thanks for your courage to share your story, Kari. And thanks for the insight it gives to those of us who might be around others who suffer with depression or may even suffer some ourselves.

    Thanks, Pastor Bill for the 2nd chance series that led up to Kari sharing more of her story. They were both encouraging and insightful.

    • Kari Scare says:

      I’m glad you found it helpful. It was a good exercise for me to go through too. I am thankful that Bill asked too, it has been good stretching.