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Walking a Fine Line

New statistics out today indicate that up to 68 percent of people within ministry are dealing with symptoms related to depression or have actual depression. That’s a staggering number. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this is more than a ministry problem. It is a caregiver problem.

Ministers are regularly reaching out to others, taking on the problems of others, and dealing with stress from the situations that arrive in the lives of their congregations. The same is true of caregivers. They are day in and day out reaching out to help, taking on the challenges of their depressed loved one and dealing regularly with stress that can arise at the drop of a hat.

Ministers deal with long hours, high stress, family issues and a jumble of emotions as a result of taking on the problems of those they serve. Caregivers are no different. Often family issues arise because too much time is being spent with the depressed loved one and other family members feel neglected. Caregivers forget their role and take on the problems of their loved ones, not taking the precaution to keep emotional distance. And way too often, the emotions that arise in caregivers are not addressed or are allow to simmer until they boil over.

Ministers also, many times, don’t seek help when something is not right with their lives. If it is depression, the muzzle is often put on and no one is the congregation knows or suspects that something is going on because of a fear that people will not accept it. Caregivers also, too often, don’t seek help from others, thinking they can handle the situation themselves. Or they choose to keep it a secret, fearing that there will be repercussions from others. The ugly stigma rears its head once again.

We are all agreed that depression is an terrible disease. But we don’t all agree on the fact that we have to open the windows and let the secret out. We also don’t realize that we need to shut out depression by choosing to stay healthy no matter what it takes. Depression is waiting for us caregivers to be other victims. Guess what? We don’t have to be. We can care for our loved ones who are suffering but we don’t have to join them in the disease in order to help them get well.

– Bernadette


2 Responses

  1. Excellent article. Thank you again for the transparency and clarity you bring to the issue. I’d love to repost this on my caregiving/ministry site, as well as PTSDPerspectives.

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