Warren’s story

In September 1992, I scribbled on a piece of paper, “It’s so difficult to hang in there. I’ve lost control of my life. It’s impossible to think positively. Will things ever change for the better? I’m not sure I’m able to continue, to keep going. I’m lonely, unhappy, scared, guilt-ridden, a failure. What can I do to change the situation? It’s hard to see where God is involved. What else do I have to lose? I’m sure I’m gradually giving up. It has been such a long time.”

I felt as though I’d fallen into a bottomless black hole and was unable to climb back out. A terrible tiredness and lethargy of body and mind, insomnia, despair at facing each day, an inability to make simple decisions—the list could go on—meant that many times I asked for God to take me home. Clinical depression is so much worse than you can ever imagine. Charles Spurgeon, who suffered from clinical depression, said, “There are dungeons beneath the Castle of Despair”. I’ve been there.

I never doubted that God loved me. We have been friends for far too long. I continued to read the Bible and pray, mainly for others, and I read many Christian books, but the complete and agonizing darkness persisted.

My road to recovery began when in desperation brought about by the increasing intrusion of suicidal thoughts (I’d put my affairs in order and had accumulated the appropriate number of tablets), I sought professional help through my church’s pastor. I was referred to a caring Christian psychiatrist and placed on a course of anti-depressant drugs. With the added help of counselling over a 12-month period, I gradually began to claw my way out of the black hole. It is only in recent days that the darkness has completely lifted and the horrible fear of again falling into the agony of depression has been left behind.

During those years of suffering, I needed the care and support of friends who were there for the long haul. I simply needed to be loved as Jesus loved. I didn’t need to be condemned nor judged nor ignored, but shown compassion, understanding and huge amounts of patience. I needed to be encouraged to think positively, to be reminded that I did have some value and that, in God’s time, I was going to be restored. The visit, the phone call, the note, the hand on the shoulder can all play a part in the restoration process.

An invaluable means of support continues to be weekly meetings with three or four Christian mates where we discuss a passage of Scripture, talk about personal issues and pray together. To know that I have these friends who would stand with me, no matter what, is a marvellous and gratefully accepted gift from God.

I’ve been a Christian for almost 50 years, but perhaps the most useful years are yet to come.

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