Do any of these emotions describe you?
Whatever your problem, we want to give you immediate help. In a moment, we'll explain how the book works. You'll receive some great tools and a lot of encouragement in the days to come. But if you are currently struggling with depression—or any other difficult emotion—you need something to help you right now!
So let us begin with this: We understand!
Both Dr. Hennigan and I have struggled with depression in the past (as well as most of the other emotions described in the opening paragraph), and we'll probably continue to fight such feelings in the future.
If you're depressed, you may feel alone and misunderstood. Perhaps friends or family members have told you to “cheer up,” “think positive,” or “quit feeling so sorry for yourself.” By their comments, you know they do not understand the depth or seriousness of your problem.
Depression can often leave you feeling guilty about anything and everything. It can cause you to doubt God's love for you. It can even make you wish life would end.
That's why we are writing this book for you. We not only know what you're going through, we've also discovered some powerful tools that can help you win the battle over depression... forever!
One of the greatest helps we have is the wisdom found in God's Word. Take a moment to read the Scriptures below. We'll talk about them later in the week, but right now, just think about what they say to you. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:6-7, italics added).
God loves you! And you can give him your anxieties because he cares! As you progress through this book, you'll discover how to experience this love and care in your own life.
Now let's take a look at the makeup of this book.
First, it is divided into thirty chapters, or “days.” We have used this term for a reason: though you might enjoy doing so, the book is not designed to be read in one or two sittings. Instead, Conquering Depression: A Thirty-Day Plan to Finding Happiness should be read one day at a time. These bite-size chunks won't take long to absorb, are easy to digest, and should improve your spiritual and emotional health when taken on a daily basis.
Each day is divided into three sections: “The Power to Win”—positive steps you can take to ensure change in your emotional and physical well-being, coupled with Scriptures designed by God to help you ultimately triumph; “Strength for Today”—breakthroughs in medicine to help you conquer depression, guilt, and anger, analyzed and described from a Christian physician's perspective; and “Tools for Tomorrow”—LifeFilters that lead you, step-by-step, to help you analyze, understand, and solve your problems. Finally, a summary will help you wrap up and remember what you've just read.
For the next thirty days, we are going to be a team. In other words, you are not alone in fighting against depression. But Dr. Hennigan (Bruce) and I want your team to extend far beyond this initial month. So we are going to help you put together a strong team that can stay with you for the rest of your life.
Alone, fighting depression is almost impossible. With a talented, caring team you can actually win the battle. In opening this book and reading this far, you've already started winning. Now let's finish what we've started!
Knowledge Is Power
In the early days of modern medicine, doctors were perplexed at the alarming number of patients who died following surgery. Men and women undergoing the simplest of operations died from an unknown, overwhelming process. Surgeons would operate without gloves or sterile technique and walk from one operation to another, unknowingly transmitting infection.
How to Develop a Battle Plan
“If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8:31b-32).
The problem? These surgeons did not know about the microscopic world of germs. Unwittingly, they transmitted death from one patient to another.
After the development of the microscope, these unseen harbingers of death became understood. Armed with the knowledge of the microscopic world, physicians finally comprehended the underlying problems, and the adoption of sterile techniques represented a major step forward in modern medicine. Knowledge is power.
Through knowledge, the physicians were able to understand the underlying cause of these horrible deaths. My goal as a physician is to help you understand the disease of depression. I will do this by helping you gain knowledge in the coming days concerning your body's and mind's relationship to the processes that bring about clinical depression. Through the process of education, you will become empowered with knowledge to combat depression.
Part of our effort to help you with depression will involve the use of LifeFilters.
In medicine, filters are used to screen out unwanted microscopic life-forms in order to purify water. Without the filters the water might look pure, but it could contain deadly bacteria.
LifeFilters serve a similar purpose, helping you to screen out harmful thinking patterns leading to depression. Without the LifeFilters, your life might look good on the outside, but it could harbor negative, self-destructive habits.
Each day you will use a small card on which is printed a LifeFilter, a concept covered in The Power to Win and Strength for Today. On the flip side will be a Bible verse. By rooting yourself in the Word of God, you will begin empowering yourself spiritually to deal with that day. Think of the verse as a dose of antibiotic helping you to ward off the infection of depression.
LifeFilters are a tool. They remind you, gently, of what you have learned that day. Remember, learning leads to knowledge, and knowledge leads to understanding. Understanding depression empowers you to defeat it.
God's Word, LifeFilters, a Christian physician, and a Christian counselor: this is your team for the next thirty days. Together, we're going to help you learn to live above your depression!
You're not alone in your depression. We understand! And the news gets even better. Read again 1 Peter 5:7. Did you know that God wrote that verse just for you? That's right! God loves you. He cares for you. And that's why you can win the battle against depression, because you've got God on your side.
And he understands!
We want to help you understand the medical basis for depression. Learning about depression will empower you to conquer and defeat it.
Even if you have difficulty believing God loves you, take a moment to begin stretching your faith. We want you to pray and thank God for his love and care. If you need help, you can use the following prayer as a guideline:
Dear Father, I want to thank you for your love and compassion. You know how I struggle with my emotions. Sometimes they get the best of me. In the middle of those difficult times, please help me remember that you are greater than my depression. Help me learn to trust in you no matter what my emotional outlook. And may this book be used by you to help me become stronger emotionally and spiritually. I ask these things in Jesus' name. Amen.
We look forward to seeing you tomorrow for day 2!