While we don’t get to provide a transcript for every episode, I thought some of you would want to see more than a list of the questions KC asked me. So, in case you can’t listen for some reason, here is the full transcript for Episode 25 of the 4:13 Podcast!
Jennifer: Hey there, I’m Jennifer. Welcome to the 4:13 Podcast. Today I’m spilling the beans about depression. I get asked lots of questions online and in my conferences about depression, and I’ve experienced it. So, today I’ve pulled a bunch of your questions and I’m not going to pull any punches. You ask I’ll answer. As usual on this bonus Spill the Beans episode, it’s unrehearsed, unplugged, and unplanned. So buckle up and let’s get honest, so we can get free. Come on KC.
KC: Welcome to the 4:13 Podcast where practical encouragement and biblical wisdom set you up to live the “I CAN” life because you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength. Now your host, a woman who bungee jumps from seven and a half stories above her own common sense, Jennifer Rothschild. Did you really bungee jump?
Jennifer: I really did.
KC: Oh my, you know what, I am so sorry. I actually watched you bungee jump at the Fresh Grounded faith conference. You guys rolled the clip.
Jennifer: Yes, we played a video, and I had that big 80’s hair. You’re right. You said that well—it was seven and a half stories above my own common sense. Because, okay, I’ll say this KC, there’s something about falling that’s in a way kind of euphoric, but then when you get jerked back up and you realize you are breaking every law of gravity, it just does not feel right. And I remember just praying, “Dear God, please help me not to wet my pants.” I was so scared. It was the best thing when I landed on that little pillow of whatever it was like a balloon on the bottom. But, yes, I did it. I’m glad I did it.
I only did it because my husband basically said you would never do that and I am competitive to a fault. So, if you don’t want me to do something that’s what you do, you just kind of give me the opposite and I’m going to do it. So, anyway, I wonder about you. Have you ever done anything fun like that? Have you? What have you done?
KC: I bungee jumped once into the lake.
Jennifer: But you landed in the lake?
KC: I landed in the lake, and that was super fun. But, last summer, I did something in Branson, Missouri, called Arrow Diem, and it’s like a ridiculous fun way to fly the great outdoors.
Jennifer: Wait a minute, like in an airplane?
KC: No, you like put on a flight suit, and you do walk up a bunch of stairs. But you get to the top where there are some instructors, and there’s this huge fan, this huge fan and with your instructor you fall, just a free fall into the fan.
Jennifer: So the air is holding you up?
KC: The air blows you and your instructor into the air. You know those dreams you have—those dreams you have of flying—and you don’t want to wake up because you’re flying. Am I the only one that has those dreams? Anyway, but this is reality, you are flying, and it is amazing, and it is so much fun, and this will actually preach Jennifer Rothschild.
KC: The more you relax, the higher you fly, that’s what the instructor tells you over and over again. You’re too tense, let go, relax. The more you relax, the higher you go.
Jennifer: Okay, that does preach. I’m thinking you might have tuned in today thinking you’re going to hear some questions about depression and you just heard exactly what you needed to hear today because it is true. In life, you know the looser our grip, the more we feel held by God, right?
Jennifer: Okay, well, if that was like a dream flying, bungee jumping is more like a nightmare that you want to wake up from.
All right, well, let’s get right to it. Like I said, we have pulled out some Spill the Bean cards that were all about depression. But, don’t you worry, I hope you’ve already figured out this will not be depressing. This is going to put a smile on your face, and I believe that some of you are really going to be able to relate to this and I pray find some hope and some affirmation.
But before we pull out the Spill the Bean cards, I looked at some stats, okay, because I knew we were going to do this. I knew we were going to talk about depression and I just wanted to make sure that I kind of had a good understanding and I even printed out something for you, KC, that I want you to read us in a moment, which is really the true symptoms of depression.
But what I found is, that according to the American Psychiatric Association, that depression affects about 1 in 15 adults in any given year and 1 in 6 people will experience depression at some point in their lifetime. And women tend to be more likely than men to experience depression, and some studies even show that one-third of women will experience a major depressive episode in their lifetime. So, that was me, and I’m going to tell you about that in a minute, but just so that we’re super clear what I’m talking about when I’m talking about depression on this episode, we printed this out from the American Psychiatric Association the symptoms of depression. KC can you read those to us?
KC: Depression symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include the following: feeling sad or having a depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed, changes in appetite, weight loss or weight gain, trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, loss of energy or increased fatigue, feeling worthless or guilty, difficulty thinking or concentrating or making decisions, and then, of course, thoughts of death or suicide.
Jennifer: Yes, and here’s the thing, those symptoms, I mean, that’s not a hard-and-fast list, meaning that in order to say that you are depressed you have to have every single one of those. But what doctors do say is if you have a certain amount of those or if you have all of them at varying levels and they last for two weeks or more, then that’s usually considered depression. Because we all have bad moods, we have sad situations. We have like those messy Mondays and just those days that we just don’t feel ourselves.
Serious depression is something that KC and I are clearly not qualified to talk about. We are not professionals in this field, so if when you heard any of those symptoms read if any of those really resonate with you and you have some concerns, I’d ask you to do two things. One, talk to somebody you love and let them know and then secondly talk to a professional, either your physician or if you have a counselor, but talk to someone who is a professional in this field who can help you.
I did experience many of those symptoms, and truly I never knew it was depression when I was in the middle of it. During this time, it was about nine months or so, before I figured out what was going on. I was traveling, and so I’ll never forget the night I was in Virginia at a conference—a Fresh Grounded Faith conference—and I had really been struggling. And, so, one of the things that showed up with me probably uniquely because of being blind is that I was having a lot of trouble staying oriented. So what you rely upon your eyes to do for you which is trigger memory and keep you with a sense of context, I have to do all that in my brain.
Everything is memorized. I’m constantly mapping out my surroundings, paying attention, and so when I travel every weekend that’s a whole lot of mapping that has to go on, so I know where I am. And, when I’m on stage, I’m constantly having to pay attention to how many steps I just took, which way I’m facing, so there’s a lot of mental energy going on is what I’m trying to say. So during these nine months, I started to get a lot more disoriented, and I would find myself on stage like trying to share the plan of salvation, and I didn’t realize that I had been turned around. I was talking to the back wall instead of the audience. And so I would laugh like a big girl, but inside I was humiliated, but I was also starting to become very alarmed.
And so the first thing we did is we got a stool and put the stool on stage. Well, then I would have the stool on stage, and it would help me kind of orient where I was, but then I would get confused as to where was the front of the stage and where was the back and I would have the same problem and be facing the wrong direction. Okay, so this is humiliating, and it’s increasingly becoming alarming. So at that point, we decided to put some tape on the back of the stool so I would always feel the tape and know which direction I was facing.
All right, that context is there for you to understand that not only was I physically being affected, I had no orientation, I was getting real shaky, my balance was terrible, I also couldn’t remember things probably because all my mental energy was going into trying to stay oriented. And so I would be up there—I’ll never forget the night I was just so mortified. I was teaching out of the book of Habakkuk, and there’s this beautiful scripture in Habakkuk in chapter 3 around verse 17, I think, where Habakkuk is saying though the olive crop fails, though there are no figs on the vine.
KC: I love this one.
Jennifer: Yes, I love that verse. Well, you wouldn’t have loved it when I quoted it. Because here I am and I was just this spiritual fervor, I said when the olive crap fails.
KC: Oh no.
Jennifer: Yes, I said olive crap. Okay, so that was just one example of how I was mixing up my words, but in that same evening, I said, “Now everybody, I just want you to turn back to the Book of November.” I meant numbers. Okay, these were just small examples. So, I’m like thinking what is wrong with me? I can’t think, I can’t find where I am, and all I’ve got is my brain, and my brain is not working. So now fast forward, now you’ve got the context where I’m standing in Virginia. I’m finishing up a message, I have my stool, and I start doing what I call the backward hula, okay, and that’s me just putting one of my hands kind of behind me and I’m like waving it a little trying to feel where’s the stool. Well, I couldn’t find it.
And so my assistant she was on the front row, and she sees this, and she finally comes up and puts my hand on the stool which was the right thing to do, and it was helpful, but when she did it something inside me broke, but I held it together. And then I was going to sing a song at the very end, and I start doing the backward hula again, and I cannot find the mic which is right where it was supposed to be, right behind my stool. She comes up again, and this time she puts my hand on the microphone. Well, that was it, I didn’t hold it together, and I’m trying to sing, and I’m crying. I mean, oh, it was awful, okay.
I finally get offstage. I go to the bathroom. I’m crying. I can’t even sign books because I can’t stop crying and this is not my personality at all. I go to the airport. I cry my whole way through security, which I’m thinking sometimes now they’re used to that, but anyway, I cry my whole way through.
I get on the airplane. I’m sitting by the window. I’m crying on the airplane. I put in my headphones with my computer because my computer talks to me and I’m typing, and I remember so clearly what I wrote because I reviewed it so many times later. But, in it, I basically said it was a prayer journal and I just basically said to the Lord, “That’s it. I cannot do it anymore. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Other people are capable of doing this better. My audience is probably feeling sorry for me and embarrassed for me. I’m not effective, and besides that, I just can’t do it and I don’t want to, and I quit. I cannot do this anymore. I’m just empty.” So I get home, my husband, Phil, who has watched me for nine months struggling and fighting this, says to me you really probably need to go see a doctor and I cried, “No, I don’t need to see a doctor. I just need to pray more.” Literally, I cannot leave at all.
So, the next day my friend, Lisa, calls me. She goes, “You really probably need to call a doctor,” and I said, “You’re right,” and I went to the doctor.
Okay, I get to the doctor, she does some blood work, some tests with saliva, and all this anyway and then she comes in to tell me. And, it was so sweet, she puts her hand on my knee, and she said I need to tell you that based on all your symptoms and based on what I’ve seen in your bloodwork and in all these tests, you are depressed. We’re talking clinical depression here and most likely initiated from menopause which I didn’t realize the impact that would have. And so your brain has a couple of chemicals that make you feel good and function well. One of them is called dopamine, and my dopamine was just bottomed out. And so that was for me the beginning of a journey of understanding depression because I’m not depressed. I’m a happy girl. In fact, my maiden name is Jolly, okay? I’m saying, I get it honestly.
KC: You’re Tigger. Yes, you’re a Tigger in an Eeyore world.
Jennifer: And I’ve got some Eeyore in me sometimes for sure, but yes. So anyway, I’m telling you this story because some of you this may be our first introduction and you need to understand that the questions that I’m asked are based on women who have really understood a little of my story, but I also know that I’m not the only one who struggles. I hear from you, I know that some of you really struggle, and I know you love some people who do, and so that’s why today we’re going to just tackle a few of these questions. We’ll see how many we can get to, but, KC, you’ve got the card, so why don’t you just start us with the first question.
KC: Okay, here’s the question and, by the way, you will find a full transcript of this Spill the Beans on the show notes at 4:13podcast.com/25. The first question is this, I already know the answer, and sometimes I don’t, but I know the answer to this one.
Jennifer: Okay, what?
KC: Is it unbiblical to be on medication?
Jennifer: Oh, that’s so perfect that that’s the first question. Okay and here’s why, because I didn’t finish my story with my doctor. I’m glad I didn’t now. So, my doctor says to me, I have this prescription that I want you to take, and I got, to be honest, my first thought was, “I can’t take that. I’m a Christian. I have faith. If I have faith why would I…” etc. And, she knew a little bit about me and what I did, and it’s like she could read my mind, and she said, “Let me ask you a question. If I had just told you that your liver was sick and I said I have a prescription here for your liver, would you think that showed a lack of faith to take the liver medicine?”
I said no, and she said your brain is an organ and your organ—your brain—needs some medication to get balanced and to get well. You’re not going to be on it forever, but you need it now for your brain to heal and to get well and there’s nothing that is unspiritual about taking medicine to bring healing to your body.
Jennifer: It was perfect. And so I will say this to you the person who asked this: Is it unbiblical to take medication? I think the church sometimes is confused. If someone has a broken leg, we don’t shame them for wearing a cast. If someone has diabetes, we don’t shame them for taking insulin. But if someone is diagnosed with a disorder that requires medication—a psychological condition—sometimes they are shamed for feeling like they should have enough faith or that shouldn’t occur. And I would like to say, as a living testimony, that that’s something we need to become more educated about and less ignorant about and more grace-filled about.
KC: The second question: What should you say when someone is depressed? I don’t want to over-spiritualize or minimize this person says, but I really have no clue what to say. That’s a good question.
Jennifer: That is a good question.
KC: And also, you don’t want to do the Christian thing where we’ll just pray it away. There is power in prayer, but what do you really say to someone.
Jennifer: How do you love a friend, how do you comfort someone.
KC: With real conversation.
Jennifer: Right, well, I think you first of all need to take the pressure off of yourself. So, if you’re a doctor or psychiatrist or a psychologist, then you can engage a person about depression all you want in a very educated and informed way. But, if you’re not, who would expect you to be able to. You don’t know. It’s okay that you don’t have a clue, so just be super honest. I’ve never experienced this before, I don’t know how to help you and love you in this, and I want to. Honesty is always the best bridge to build in any relationship, and then that person who might be struggling can say, “Well, you know what this is how it feels or this is what I think I need, or this is what I want,” and I think that’s the best way to handle it.
But, to tie a quick little easy pretty bow on it or to slap a happy Christian bumper sticker on it so that you feel better is not the way to love a friend—that’s just the way to protect yourself from something that makes you uncomfortable. So, I love that your question was that honest and so that’s the way you approach someone who’s depressed—with that same level of honesty, “Hey, this must be really hard, so sorry you’re dealing with it. I don’t have a clue—how can I best love you?
KC: So good! How can I best love you? What can I do for you? Number three—thank you for these questions by the way Spill the Beans! What was your greatest fear, Jennifer, when you went through depression—your greatest fear?
Jennifer: My greatest fear … it was that Phil, my husband, would just say, “Oh, that’s it. I can’t handle it anymore. You’re too much. It’s too high-maintenance. I can’t fix you, I can’t help you, and I just can’t handle it anymore.” Now if you knew him at all, you would know that that fear is completely unfounded, but most fears are, and I think that’s the thing to recognize with depression as fears become exaggerated and hope becomes minimized. Nothing is right-sized; everything is out of proportion. The negative feelings feel bigger, the positive feelings feel smaller.
If you’re in the middle of depression or you know someone who is, recognize that your fears are not always going to be based and rooted in reality, and so the principle that we always have to follow is that we’ve got to trust God and trust His truth more than we trust our feelings. We feel our feelings, we acknowledge our feelings, we recognize them, we hold them in front of us and analyze them, but we don’t think with our feelings and we don’t fully rely on them as if they are the truth. We trust God and we trust His word more than we trust our feelings.
KC: So good. You say that adversity is a teacher, so what did you learn from depression?
Jennifer: I think what I learned is that we are all broken and that it’s okay and that humility is a greater virtue than strength is because I think I had always relied upon my own strength. It was important for me to be able to tackle whatever the task and conquer whatever the fear. Well, hello, this is called the 4:13 Podcast based on that scripture “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” and I think if I learned anything from depression, it’s that I put the emphasis of that verse on the wrong two words and it was, “I can.”
I think I had such an I can … I can do this … I can do this until I couldn’t, and I think what depression taught me is that humility is far greater than personal strength and when we really live the through Christ that we have greater freedom. So for me, I think that was it because there’s so much freedom there. I don’t feel like I need to prove anything or impress. I just feel like I need to walk humbly with my God and it’s a happier way to live.
KC: And I like what they say, broken crayons still color.
Jennifer: Yes they do, broken crayons do still color.
KC: They still color and everyone has issues, and if you don’t think you have an issue then that’s your issue, and we’d like to welcome you to the 4:13 Podcast.
Jennifer: And to the human race.
KC: And to the human race. Welcome to life. All right, how can you find motivation each day when you’re depressed? This person said I just want to hide in my house, and I know I shouldn’t. And I had a friend that went through some depression, and she was saying that she would have to make a to-do list. Here this once multitasker, energized woman, now she’s making a to-do list: shower.
Jennifer: That includes brush your teeth.
KC: Eat, brush your teeth, and just those three things she had accomplished something that day, that’s how heavy that time was in her life.
Jennifer: And that’s a perfect picture of what it feels like to be depressed, and so I think maybe you need to shift your goal. You may not find motivation, that’s just the bottom line. So you may not find intrinsic motivation if you’re depressed. Not yet, it might take some time, some counseling, some medication—whatever it may be—but don’t expect to feel motivated, I guess is what I’m trying to say. So instead of trying to find motivation, why don’t you choose accountability that might be a better choice? When you can’t find motivation, choose accountability.
Which means you’re honest with a friend and just like KC described his friend’s to-do list, your friend kind of helps you through that kind of stuff. Hey, did you shower this morning? Hey, we’re going to go to lunch at 12 noon, you be ready. And so maybe that’s something. Just the principle would be instead of trying to find motivations, choose accountability, and then I believe as you get well, motivation also begins to grow.
KC: How did you find courage to share? I feel ashamed this person says. I don’t want to be judged or get labeled.
Jennifer: Yes, I bet, baby. I don’t know that I ever found courage. I think what I found was compassion because sometimes when you’ve been broken enough, your compassion for others who are broken exceeds your own sense of timidity or self-protection. And I just realized that if I went through this inward dismantling and knowing the struggle that it was to have hope and faith and believe and move forward and even just take a shower, that if I was dealing with it, there were some women really struggling with it too, and so I didn’t need to have courage to share. For me, I just needed to have compassion, and I think that was my motivation.
And so, first of all, if you want to share with someone that you’re struggling with this, make sure you first share with safe people, who will give you a place to explore what it feels like to talk about this. But then realize that the Lord your God, He is a shield about you and He is the glory, and He is the lifter of your head—that’s right. And so you are safe in Him, so you don’t need to have any extraordinary courage, you just need to have faith that God has got you, He is going to shelter you, He is going to protect you, and He’s going to take what the enemy chose to try to use against you for evil and He is going to use it in your life for good and for the good of others. So that’s why no matter what the situation is we don’t give up, and we don’t give in, we just trust God.
KC: But you know there’s a saying that says find your tribe and love them hard, and you also have to let your tribe love you. And I remember several years ago I was going through a pit.
Jennifer: I know you were.
KC: And a buddy of mine knew I was, James, and he went after me, and he came to my house, and he rang the doorbell. And I was inside, and I wasn’t answering, because I knew he was going to tell me, “Man up, let’s go for a run, shake it off,” and I really enjoyed being indoor that day. And anyway this is the kind of friend everybody needs. James knew I was inside, wouldn’t take my hiding as acceptance of leaving me alone. The man scaled the back wall of my house, climbed over my deck, and busted in my back door.
Jennifer: Oh my goodness, God bless James.
KC: But not all depression is this way, just some depression is. But in my situation just a little bit of my depression was me thinking of me too much.
Jennifer: And that can do it. That is a good word, KC.
KC: It was KC thinking of KC too much, and so God sent me to Haiti and that healed me because I left on this missions trip with all these problems and all this drama and all these issues and I came back after two weeks in Haiti saying I have no problems anymore. I thank God for my bills, my car, everything.
Jennifer: That’s right.
KC: So there is a part of that depression that you’re thinking of yourself too much just a little bit, and when you think of other people there is great joy when you start serving and get your mind off you and on others.
Jennifer: Sometimes it is healthy to shift our gaze from ourselves. So, if you’re like KC wanting to hide from what you’re experiencing because it just feels like too much, tell somebody—tell a friend, call a counselor or a doctor—but do not do this alone because you’re not alone. So don’t convince yourself or let the enemy lie to you and tell you that you are. Or if you’re not struggling, but you know somebody who might be, then I want you to be just like James and in a theoretical sense I want you to break down their back door and you show up in their life with love, with companionship, and maybe even with some ideas of how you can go through this with them, so they’re not alone.
And I want you to know no matter what you’re dealing with you are not alone either, we are here for you. So remember, whatever it is that you might feel or face or even fear, you can do absolutely all things through Christ who strengthens you, I can.
KC: I can.
Jennifer: And you can, the beans are spilled.