The Struggle is Real
Updated: 5 days ago
While preparing for this week's blog, I went through some sort of "funk" I couldn't shake off.
A heavy fog surrounded me and I knew that I was spiralling down into a hole that I may not be able to get out off. I also knew that in order to get out of that hole I had to intentionally push all dark thoughts to the side. As a child of God, I knew that my hope lies in Jesus Christ alone. Try as I might I could not get out of the thick fog of despair.
An online news article published recently said that local mental health practitioners have seen a sharp rise in suicide cases and mental illnesses among Filipino students in the last few years.¹
Depression and suicidal thoughts were primarily attributed to a sense of disconnectedness as kids nowadays spend more time online than have actual physical contact with friends and family members (who may not be around because they work abroad). Pressure to perform academically and meet high expectations, and exposure to traumatic incidents (i.e., sexual abuse, armed conflict, "chaotic" environment, etc.) are also contributing factors. A study made in 2013 about depressive symptoms among students from a private university² showed that students who had a low to moderate level of closeness with family members and peers had a significantly higher level of depressive symptoms. Those who were not satisfied with their financial status also showed the same results.
Fractured families, invasive social media, high academic expectations, financial worries, abuse, and real world conflicts are pressures that millennials and iGens face today. Information overload, because of instant access to any kind of data via a mouse click or a tap on a phone screen, adds stress to an already burdened young person. Admittedly, earlier generations have not experienced this kind of pressure. We're all learning how to address the multiple issues this generation is facing.
Know when someone is facing depression
Some tell-tale signs of people suffering depression are as follows:
sudden mood changes
refusing to go to school (or work)
creating dark writings (hopelessness, worthlessness, anger) or disturbing artwork
slow thinking, speaking, or movement
marked weight loss
unexplained headaches, backaches, etc.
frequent suicidal thoughts and attempts.
Walking through the darkness
I started to feel down when I could not control situations concerning me and around me. I felt disconnected, helpless, hopeless, and trapped. It was difficult as I pushed on through this mire I was in. Thank God for friends who checked on me out of the blue saying they were thinking and praying for me. Listening to worship songs also reminded me of God's goodness and faithfulness.
Slowly, I started to go back to my daily Bible study and contemplation until breakthrough came just recently. I realized that I could not do anything about my situation and had to completely trust God. After all this time, I was still doing things my way and did not trust Him one hundred percent!
God showed me that He was allowing me to walk through this darkness so I'll learn to fully trust Him.
Where He's leading me next will require total trust in Him. It was unnerving and humbling to let go of how I thought things should be. God showed me Moses had to unlearn his first 40 years of Egyptian training when he fled to the desert. For another 40 years, Moses learned to be a shepherd to helpless and stubborn sheep. When He was ready, God called him out of "training" to lead the nation of Israel out of oppression. Moses dedicated the last 40 years of his life to leading the stubborn Israelites into the Promised Land.
There is no easy fix to sadness or depression, but what I found is that people praying for me helped a lot. Most of all, I thank God because as my Father I felt His presence throughout that period. I nearly gave up but He never did. Choosing to ignore negative thoughts was a powerful decision. Intentionally reading the Bible at the end of the day filled my mind with thoughts of God's goodness and greatness.
I know it's not the same for everyone but I know trusting in Jesus Christ, having God as my Father, and the Holy Spirit to reveal things made a lot of difference. It is through that I have hope that I will overcome anything.
If you know anyone who needs help and needs someone to talk to, the numbers below have people ready to answer calls 24/7. I use to work at one of 700 Club Asia's affiliates and know this for a fact.
700 Club Asia Prayer Center, +63-2-737-0700
CBN Asia Prayer Requests - link includes live chat and contact numbers for 24/7 prayer centers nationwide
700 Club Prayer Center USA, +1-800-700-7000
CBN Prayer Center - link includes online prayer request and articles related to prayer and counseling
Helpful online resources (some specific for children and teenagers):
Next week: To Be Or Not To Be On Social Media
¹Tomacruz, S. (2019, January 24). A cry for help: Mental illness, suicide cases rising among youth. Retrieved March 13, 2019, from https://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/in-depth/211671-suicide-cases-mental-health-illness-youth-rising-philippines
²Lee, R. B., Sta Maria, M., Estanislao, S., & Rodriguez, C. (2013, November 06). Factors associated with depressive symptoms among Filipino university students. Retrieved March 13, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3819248/