This post is the eighteenth in a series, “Lessons from my Father, Lewis Marler,” who lived from 1921-1998.
When my mother died in 1965, my father battled with various levels of depression off and on for the next thirty-three years until his death. I do not mean he was incapacitated by his depression, because he was able to work and be effective as a pastor in three congregations.
And for some persons who knew him as their pastor from 1965-1994, this might surprise them. But I do believe his deep grief and family history presented him with one of the biggest challenges of his life.
The first time I heard about his depression was when we met in Nashville, TN and my father poured out his heart in a way I had never known before. It was during that discussion that I understood how painful and how deep this struggle was for him. He told me that he had been seeing a psychiatrist for awhile and that he had been on medications. He added that he also supplemented that support with counseling from a therapist.
I was a seminary graduate by this time and had done my residency in a psychiatric unit of a hospital, both inpatient and outpatient. I had an understanding of mental health issues and told him I was glad he was seeking help.
But like many persons today, Dad came out of the “old school belief” that mental health issues were a “weakness” rather than something that could be treated medically, emotionally, and spiritually.
He didn’t believe this to be true for other people as he referred many persons to counselors, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals over the years.
But he also thought that somehow if he prayed hard enough, that he should not have to take medicine personally or see someone for it. But the important thing is he did get the help he needed. Because deep down, he knew better.
We had this conversation about getting support for his depression many times in his life. I am thankful that he talked to me about it and I am glad he got the help when he needed it. This support from doctors and counselors made it possible for him to help hundreds of other people through their own grief during his ministry.
Depression is the most treatable mental health illness of all. Encourage loved ones to reach out for the help they need. If you struggle with depression, see a counselor and talk about it. Talking really does help, and the right medication can make all the difference in the world.
Even though my father struggled with depression at times, as well as getting the help he needed, thank God he got it.
I hope you, and those you love, will too.
My father taught me so.
Resources for Depression:
- From Google Health
- Depression Resources
- Web MD
- National Institute of Mental Health
- Mayo Clinic
How about you? Do you find yourself having a double standard for yourself and others in regards to getting help? Do you believe it is ok to get help for depression and other mental health issues? What are some barriers for you to get over in order to be able to do so?
Will you share your story with us in the comments section? Or contact me by email?
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