Learning To Read

The first time that I read a book from cover to cover was when I was in highschool. Our English teacher assigned us a project of reading a book and then making a review out of it. Being a highschool kid who never had any interest in books, I got myself a random fiction book called “The Twelfth Angel” by Og Mandino. It was a book that told the story of a little American kid who’s into competitive baseball.

And the book taught me the value of “never, never, never, never, never giving up.

A Whole New World

Reading the book was fun and exciting. It was like I was dragged into a whole new world with interesting characters, and where I can think and feel what the characters think and feel at the moment. After two months, I finally finished the book. Man, does it feel good to finish a book from cover to cover! Then my sister showed up. She asked me if she can borrow the book. I agreed. She took the book from me, she read it on her spare time, and then after one week, she was finished.

She finished the book in just a week, while I struggled to complete it in two months.

That was the time when I said to myself, “I have no talent in reading. I hate reading books.

Three Reasons To Read

Everything changed when I got into the later years of my college days. I now consider myself an evangelist of reading. In fact, just last year, I finished reading 41 books within a single year. I’m still a naturally slow reader, but I try to atleast put a portion of my time towards reading.

And here’s why I think you should too. I can probably list tens, or maybe a hundred, but I’m going to give you just three reasons why you should read books:

First, because the world-class guys do it! Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Benjamin Franklin. If I am to name one thing that these guys have in common, it is that they realize the importance of reading. These guys have been reported to be voracious readers and that their reading eventually contributed to their success. If these guys who are already at the top did it, and are still doing it, why aren’t we?

Second, because it’s fun. Books can take you not only to different places, but to different eras and even different worlds as well. Imagine, time travel at the palm of your hands! Who would have thought that I could get to experience being in the Romantic Period of Europe? Or who would have thought that I could learn the childhood years, the aspirations, and the habits of one of the Founding Fathers of America? Books open to you how big the world is.

Third, because it makes you smarter. Studies have shown that reading books improves the following: Concentration skills, creativity, self-awareness, knowledge, empathy, and that’s just to name a few.

Reading As An Investment

The simple act of reading might be one of the best investments that we can make. It improves many aspects of our life, and it improves us as a person and as a society overall.

If you can remember what I just shared earlier, I have no talent in reading. I was born a slow reader. And I just got into reading late into my college years. But I now realize the importance of reading.

And a thing that I also believe is this quote that I found to be true. It’s goes like this:

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”

So I had a clinical depression that lasted some weeks, if not months.

But I finally started to beat it down until it became nothing but a pulp!

Through books, articles, videos, lessons, prayers,
and most especially my experience,
I can share to you how I beat depression.

Because you certainly can!

blackdog
“What have I got to do with you pal?”

BREED OF THE BLACK DOG:
Depression In Its Definition

Depression is a sickness.

It is a serious and deadly one.

It is  a major cause of
unproductivity, loneliness,
sadness, vices, insanity,
and even suicide.

It robs its victim’s peace of mind,
focus, need to sleep,
and ability to think properly.

It can be a vicious and destructive loop,
like a poisonous pit that entraps
and slowly kills its hapless victim.

It slowly destroys life,
until the victim loses vitality,
even the will to live.

It lasts from weeks, to months,
and even years.

But the good news is,
healing is just waiting for
you to take hold of it!

Taking Hold of Healing

Again, depression is a sickness.

It is an abnormal state of the human physiology and can be explained by the neurochemical imbalances in a person’s brain.

In my own personal case, I decided to take a proactive approach to cure my condition.

I studied, I researched, I read books, I conducted personal experiments.

I did what I saw that I could!

Until finally, after a week’s effort, I can finally say that I beat it.

From my experience, here are the steps that I took that greatly contributed to my healing:

  1. Physical Wellness
    • Physical exercise is a major key factor in my healing. It not only releases happy hormones in your brain, but it also keeps your body’s wellness in check. From my 100 pushups, I moved higher to include repetitions of whole body circuit training and doing 100+ pushups every day. It was physically taxing, but this was a strong investment towards the healing that I needed. But you don’t need to do the pushups, just get some serious workout.
    • Sleep routine is also one that I made sure to contribute to my physical wellness. Depression can be caused by irregular sleep patterns (which I am guilty of), thus I deliberately scheduled my time and my sleeping pattern to make sure that I only get the enough sleep my body needs for its optimal performance and healing.
  2. Identify Your Triggers
    • Writing down what contributed to my depression helped me alot. This is not only a step towards healing, but it is also a safety step to ensure that I’ll be resistant to it in the future. I thought that this is a step to learn. And it was.
      Write down all of the possible triggers, and learn how to deal with them.
  3. Appreciate Life
    • Deliberately desiring for a shift of mental perspective.
      I did what I could to experience new things, from eating new things, to going to places, to reading new books, just so I could gain a better perspective of life. Depression usually messes with a person’s point of perspective as it did with mine, but it should change. It is supposed to, for the sake of healing. And it can.
    • Learning to notice the small but nice things of life.
      I learned to realize that all the things here on Earth are really just bonus things. All the possessions, status, assets, enjoyment, and everything in this life are just bonus things that have been given by God. So they are worth to be appreciated. Physical life is temporary. We don’t deserve most, if not all, of the things that we currently have. It is all by God’s grace.

  4. Read the Bible Daily
    • “I have no right to be depressed when I’m not even reading the Bible.”
      That’s what I made sure to think everytime I wake up in the morning. Coping with the sickness, it has become very, very difficult to read the Bible. Every since the sickness got me, it takes supernatural strength of me to do it! But I pushed myself. I pushed myself. Because truly, I have no right to be depressed when I’m not even reading what the Creator of the Universe has to say to me on a daliy basis.
    • Worshipping and thanking God for everything.
      For the air.
      For the life.
      For His love and trust.
      For my family and my friends.
      For my computer.
      For my clothes.
      For my job.
      For everything.
      No matter how small or big.
      Even when I did not feel like being thankful.

      Because we should not live by feelings nor by what we think, but by faith.

    • Prayer.
      Again, it takes supernatural strength of me even to pray!
      But I knew that it is God’s will for me to be healed and for me to learn from this. So I prayed and declared healing everyday.
      I also thank the prayers of my family, friends, and my brothers and sisters in the Church.

      There is no use in focusing your mind on the sickness, instead focus your mind towards perfect healing.

  5. Taking Time
    • Healing is a gradual process.
      Don’t beat yourself for being sick just like what I did to myself, be it physical beating or mental beating. It takes time. I even asked for a rest period from my job. I withdrew temporarily from all of my commitments for me to gain the time that I needed. I don’t necessarily encourage this step to everyone because personalities greatly differ from one another. But just realize that it can take time, and that you can shorten that time if you decide to be deliberate.

I pray and desire the healing of everyone who is currently suffering from this condition.

If you are one of them, I want you to know that you are not alone.
I also hope that my experience and my new knowledge contributes to your accelerated healing.

Because there is healing in Jesus’ name.

black_dog_ecard_heel

What? The Struggling Christian?

Me: “What does it mean to be human?”

Me: “…”

Me:“What does it mean to have sufferings as a Christian? Are involuntary mental sufferings a sin: A sign of lack of faith? A sign of Christian immaturity?”
Me: “…”

Just a normal day with a very lively conversation with myself.


The start of my 100 day challenge was a real nightmare to me, but I was ready, atleast partially, to embrace it. Because the rewards are far greater than the risks that I was going to take.

Since then, a lot of things had been bugging my mind, and a lot of them still are unanswered. Its probably due to the neurochemical imbalances in my brain due to my attempt to shift my circadian rhythm to an 8-hour degree. But still, there are facts that remain true in my experience. And one of them is that I fell deeper to clinical depression.

Facing Depression As A Christian:
Battling Through Mental Sickness
and Social Misunderstanding

elusive
Credits to Adam Ford for this webcomic.

I want to stress out that the above illustration does not really depict my reality, but I have found that this feeling, mentality, and even treatment, is not uncommon among Christians.

I am by no means against the Church, pastors, leaders, or people. I am only here, expressing my experiences and my efforts, to educate, for us as a society, even as children of God, to become better in handling this issue.

I am a Christian, after all.

But I am currently under the struggle of depression.

“But how can you get depressed Pyl?”

“Isn’t Jesus your savior and your life?”

“Hasn’t He given you eternal salvation, forgiveness, and joy?”

“Can’t you just lift up all your burdens and cares to Him, and then just feel all happy?”

“You’re being weird, Pyl. You just need faith!”

“If you’re like this, there’s no difference between you and the unbelievers!”

*sigh*

I am a Christian. I believe in Jesus, that He gave His life to me and died on the cross for me, something which I totally do not deserve. An undeserving being that has been given perfect love by Love itself–that’s who I am.

But I still am currently stuck (but fighting) in the pit of clinical depression. Why? Because of humanity.

The Science Behind It:
Not Just A Feeling, Nor A Choice,
But A Mental Sickness

Doing my research, I have found out that depression as a Christian is not uncommon in this world: I am not alone in this struggle at least. Praise be to God for the Internet for I have found out several Christian testimonies. And with these new knowledge, I act to share the education to my fellow brothers and sisters (along with supported links in case you are that concerned, curious, or serious of a Christian minister):

  1. Depression is not a choice, nor is it a simple feeling. It is not simple sadness, simple lack of faith (Well, probably. But which human has perfection?), more so a choice. If I can just snap out of it, why wouldn’t I? Asking a depressed person to try not being depressed is tantamount to asking a person who’s been shot to try and stop his/her bleeding.
  2. The cause of depression is manifold, but genetics and neurochemical factors are one of the big ones.  Depression is not a simple emotional matter nor a simple state of mind, but it is an illness, with a physical basis. I am convinced that to truly fix something, we need to examine its roots to have a better understanding on how to fix it.
  3. Depression, just like any mental illness, is not a sin as the Church may sometimes point it out to be. A common notion exists that all disease and sickness could be traced to sin, most especially in the days of Jesus. The Savior of the world knew this was not true, and He proved it.

I am not going to explain the scientific details of my points further because the links will be kind enough to do it for me to you. So if you’d be willing enough, it won’t hurt you to go clicking those links. I would appreciate that in fact.

Christian Guilt:
In Pursuit Of Perfection

Being a Christian and a person who’s in constant pursuit of perfection, I had this strong feeling of guilt whenever I fall into the isolated pit of depression. And I can’t keep but ask the following:

“Am I not supposed to be joyful?”

“Isn’t the Church going to judge me for being this incapable?”

But asking myself those, I hit a solid wall and came to a better question.

“Weren’t there notable Christians in the history who fell into the same pit too?”

Didn’t David write most of the Psalms from this same pit?

Didn’t Paul console himself to rejoice from this same pit?

Didn’t even Jesus Himself also wept from this same pit?

Didn’t other Christian people like Charles Spurgeon, this guy, and this guy, also struggled to live in this same pit?

*sigh of relief*

Its comforting to know that I’m not the only one experiencing this.

On Thoughts Of Understanding:
The Sickness Under The Human Lens

In hopes to share what it feels like to be under depression, let me incline you to watch this video from World Health Organization.

Depression has his fancy of poking at me.

At people.

Even at Christians.

Just like any worldly illness, it has no excuses.

Because, humanity.

On The Path To Proactive Understanding:
Clenching My Mental Fists Through Grace

I am taking proactive action to learn to tame the black dog.

I have already identified my triggers, took a logical approach in examining it, throwing away almost all possible temporary crutches, and looking up to God’s grace in the process.

With no one to easily talk and confide to, I have found comfort in researching and studying the problem (like what I’m obviously doing right now), trying to use mobile apps such as MoodTools and 7CupsOfTea, working out more vigorously, praying, keeping close a journal, etc.

I am still in the middle of the process, but by the grace of God, I am digging my way out of the pit. At one point in my life or another, I’d have to examine this issue deep down anyway. All I could say, I couldn’t ask for a more better opportunity. I had to fix this at one point or another before its going to affect any other things. And in fact, I am actually learning more about myself, even humanity itself, in the process of writing this.

So I can’t say that depression has zero uses: It actually helps me to be seated in the seat of humility.

A Case of Christian Depression:
A Case of Humanity

Perhaps I needed this.

Perhaps I needed to realize that it is okay to be imperfect:

That I am still human.

That it is okay to be flawed.

That humanity is broken.

Because it is, that is, until the day of perfection.

But as it is now, it is in my hands, along with the constant grace of God, to learn to tame this.

And probably, just probably, I might even teach my black dog a few tricks.