I sat facing her: her arms crossed, head down. When I asked her a question, her head raised almost imperceptibly, and she looked through her long dark hair covering her eyes. Unsure what she had to live for or who would miss her if she was gone, as depression had stolen all rational perspective. She wiped her eyes on the sleeve of her rolled up sweatshirt of the college she dropped out of the semester before.
“We don’t know what to do to help. We’ve raised our granddaughter for years because her own parents are not in a position to provide her with love or stability. Yet now she tells us she wants to change her gender and become a male, because she feels more comfortable identifying herself as a male. Our hearts are broken.“
“When you saw her a year ago she forgot conversations we’d had a week ago, or we had to remind her of appointments and plans. Now she forgets she asked the same thing five minutes ago, or what she ate 30 minutes ago. And she panics if we leave her to run an errand because she can’t remember where we went or when we will be home.”
As a neuropsychologist, each of these are typical of the patients who present in my private practice each day. Day after day my heart hurts when I hear of the pain born by each one who walks through my doors in search of answers.
I went into neuropsychology out of a desire to help people. No one ever warned me when I went into this field over 25 years ago that I would spend every day giving bad news:
- “Your child has Autism.”
- “What you’re struggling with is called Bipolar Disorder.”
- “Your concussion has robbed you of your attention and problem-solving ability, and is what has caused your personality change—you may or may not get that back.”
- “I’m sorry to say that the evaluation results are consistent with the early stages of Alzheimer’s Dementia.”
People relish hearing those results like they enjoy going to see an oncologist. I never thought of that 25 years ago when I was choosing my profession. I only thought of the questions that would be answered and the hope that would be offered.
“Lord, break my heart for what breaks yours. Never let me grow calloused to the hurts that hurt you and your children.”
Each day, wounded souls walk through my doors in need of hope, and longing for help. As each one comes in, my prayer is similar, “Lord, help me to see them like you do. Give me your words, your answers, your comfort, your solution. On earth as it is in Heaven. Not my will but your will be done here. In Jesus name, Amen.”
Jesus was our example of great compassion and mercy:
“Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” (Matthew 14:14)
“Jesus wept” (John 11:35).
With some patients, I am moved to tears with them. With many, I cry after they leave my office. I know the hard road they travel. And for many of my patients, I can relate to their situation because I have walked a similar road either myself or along side family members or friends.
God doesn’t tell us we need to have the answers to others’ problems or to give advice. God calls us to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15).
But it’s not easy. It requires moving outside our own comfort zone and being willing to step into another’s pain with them. Sometimes the best thing we can do is to just sit silently with those in pain. It requires sacrifice. It requires humility. It requires time.
I didn’t realize 25 years ago the degree of personal or emotional cost that would be involved when I answered the call to go into this field. But this is what Jesus did. He felt the hurt. He wept. He met the need.
He called us to be the church. He called us to empathize with our brothers and sisters. He called us to share His love, and to meet the need.
Lord, break my heart for what breaks yours…
In what way does your heart break for others like the Father’s heart breaks today?
“Hosanna” by Hillsong
A short brief about Hope Prevails.
Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression
Dr. Michelle Bengtson
Speaking from personal and professional experience, a neuropsychologist unpacks what depression is, shows how it affects us spiritually, and offers hope for living the abundant life.
Neuropsychologist Offers Hope to Those Struggling with Depression
-By 2020, depression will be our greatest epidemic worldwide
- An estimated 350 million people worldwide suffer from some form of depression
- As with the bestselling My Stroke of Insight, the author experienced the same condition she treats
- Helpful features include personal stories, biblical truths, prayers, and music recommendations
In Hope Prevails, Dr. Bengtson writes with deep compassion and empathy, blending her extensive training and faith, to offer readers a hope that is grounded in God’s love and grace. She helps readers understand what depression is, how it affects them spiritually, and what, by God’s grace, it cannot do. The result is a treatment plan that addresses the whole person—not just chemical imbalances in the brain.
For those who struggle with depression and those that want to help them, Hope Prevails offers real hope for the future.
Hope Prevails is available now wherever books are sold. To find out more, see: https://drmichellebengtson.com/hope-prevails-book/.