If you've ever felt depressed, you're in good company. Some of the Bible’s greatest heroes faced depression. Be gentle with yourself.
"Elijah was afraid and ran for his life...He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die...Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep." -1 Kings 19:3-5 (NIV)
Elijah, legendary prophet
Imagine, for a minute, that you're on Mount Carmel. You're watching the prophet Elijah as he stares down four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal. No one has sacrificed to God in so long, that the altar has broken to bits. Elijah repairs it. There's a drought going in, and water is more precious than gold, but Elijah orders 12 giant jars of water poured on the altar. Twelve jars! That's how sure he is that God's going to send rain.
And sure enough, God sends fire from heaven, and rain to end the drought, both in one day. Then, when King Ahab hitches up his elite chariot horses and gallops down the hill with a storm on heels. Elijah runs ahead of him on foot, leaving the royal racehorses in his dust. Amazing, right?
It doesn't seem like he'd have doubts
Elijah seems like he's someone who wouldn't have to struggle with doubts. He and God talk like old friends. God sends him fire and rain and miraculous gifts, and (spoiler alert) when he gets older, God's going to send a flaming chariot down, skip that awkward death phase, and bring his prophet home. Yup, if anyone has a right to be perfectly secure in his relationship with God, it's Elijah. But what happens right after his heroic day of firestorms and super speed?
Then he runs away
After one little threat from an angry queen, Elijah gets scared and runs for his life. First Kings 19 says that he "went a day's journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die…Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep." What? Yesterday, God worked miracles through him. Why run away now?
Depression does that to people
There were probably a lot of reasons that Elijah was acting so depressed. He may have been exhausted from his time on the run, with no mental energy left for Jezebel's crazy. He may have been so pumped full of adrenaline from the previous day's confrontation that he crashed hard and couldn't deal with all the negative thoughts. Things like that are understandable for those of us who deal with depression. No matter how successful your day has been, you don't stay on that high forever. You come down, hard sometimes, and it hurts.
How does God respond to Elijah's sudden attack of doubts and fears? Does he scold Elijah for not "staying strong?" Does he tell Elijah that he's disappointed in his prophet's lack of faith? No. Instead, God sends an angel to bring Elijah some food, so he can eat and go back to sleep. And when he finally has Elijah's attention, God listens to his prophet, encourages him, and helps him find a friend, Elisha, who sticks around for the rest of Elijah's life on earth.
Depression is an illness
If you've been struggling with depression or anxiety, if you're feeling weighed down and guilty for not just "keeping your chin up," relax. You're not lazy or weak. You aren't supposed to "just pray your depression away." Like any illness, depression needs to be treated. But it can be. You don't have to feel like this forever.
The information on this website can help
This website was designed to help you understand depression and anxiety and to help you get the treatment that you need to start feeling better. Plus, you'll find some tools to start feeling better on your own. This website isn’t designed to be a replacement for treatment by a mental health professional. Instead, you read this information alongside your treatment plan and give yourself as much support as possible.
Depression is different for everyone
Depression affects everyone differently. Your symptoms are unique to you. However, if you have been experiencing any symptoms for two weeks or longer, you may be depressed. The PDF you can download at the end of this article has a questionnaire you can take to more fully understand if you might be depressed, but remember that this will only give you a place to start. A doctor or mental health professional should make your final diagnosis.
If you've read this far, good for you! You're already making progress. You're addressing an important part of your health. We're glad you're here, and we believe that you can feel better soon. Healing may not happen all at once, and that's OK. Eat something, get the rest you need, and whenever you're ready, we'll be here. You don't have to do this alone.