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I recently had the opportunity to visit on Your Hope-Filled Perspective with Dr. Michelle Bengtson with Carolyn Newell about her experience adjusting to life with a disability and then ensuing depression (see Hope in the Face of Blindness Episode 27). It was a conversation that many told me afterward was such an encouragement to them even though their daily limitations are different. If you didn’t get a chance to listen to that interview, I hope you’ll take the time to go back and listen. Our conversation was such a rich one that I asked Carolyn to share more of her experience of living with a disability and depression here.
There’s a Book Giveaway so be sure to read to the end!
Living with a Disability and Depression
By Carolyn Newell
People with visual limitations rely heavily on their memory. I know. I have a rare genetic form of blindness that slowly robbed me of sight. At age forty-nine, the disease began rapidly progressing until I was left with minimal sight.
Countless times, I have forgotten the milk sitting on the kitchen table. Not a bad memory, just a busy one. I have to remember an infinite number of things to get through the day, such as numerous keyboard commands for my computer, the exact location of everything in the house, in the fridge, and on my desk. I have memorized my color-coded system in my closet and dresser.
Limitations and Disability
I also feel depression is assisted by our faulty memories. When depression begins knocking at our doors, we forget who we are in Christ and the authority He has given us. My depression is triggered by some of my limitations. No matter what type of disability you live with, you have limitations. Even if you don’t live with a disability, you live with limitations.
They account for most of my stress, and that leads to despair and discouragement, taking me down the slippery slope of depression.
I gratefully remain on anti-depressants, but I need to sharpen my memory about who I am and what I can do.
The prophet Jeremiah says:
“The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?
I, the LORD, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give every man according to his ways,
According to the fruit of his doings.” (Jer. 17:9-10 NKJV)
That verse has always spoken to me concerning sin, but today, God shined a new light on it. Our hearts, meaning our emotions, are deceitful. I wrote about this in Eyes of Faith, but during the publishing process, the stress increased, I forgot my own words.
We cannot allow our feelings to overpower us. Many times, I find that happens with depression. I realize I lack the capabilities to accomplish something. I ask for help, and I am met with a straightforward “No,” or a “Yes,” accompanied by grumbles. Now I have moved from incapable to feeling like a burden. Hopelessness rushes in and I am ready to throw in the towel. If you live with a disability, you probably can relate.
Meditating on who God is
Our next Scripture describes two more points we must memorize:
Be still, and know that I am God; (Ps. 46:10a NKJV)
Stop. Cease. Take a break. Get away from the problem. This involves patience.
While you are being still, meditate on who God really is. Consider His attributes: strength, power, grace, and mercy. Pray to the God of the universe who is your Helper.
Examine your thoughts
Next, Paul tells us to take our thoughts captive (2 Cor. 10:5). We need to examine our thoughts which lead to our emotions. Are they godly? Thoughts that evoke feelings of inadequacy usually aren’t godly. The enemy wants me to believe I can’t do anything right, but that isn’t what God wants planted in the fertile soil of my mind.
What do we do with our stinking thinking? We speak the Word of God. It’s a powerful weapon in our hands and on our lips (Heb. 4:12; Eph. 6:17).
Remember who you are in Christ
Another reason to know the Word and speak it over our lives is so we don’t forget our Christian identity. We are God’s beloved children, and the devil doesn’t want us to believe that for one second. As God’s accepted and chosen ones, Jesus Christ has given us authority over our minds, our emotions, and our enemies.
I have found that I can retain peace rather than panic when I trust God. Does my problem get solved? Will my frustrations dissipate? Probably not instantly, but spiritual warfare is called war because it isn’t easy or quick.
When I recall who I am, who God is, and get rid of ungodly thinking, speak the Word, and take the authority given to me by Christ, I am on the road to victory.
Those things, my friend, we are all capable of doing when we possess a personal relationship with Christ. It may not eliminate all our distress, but when we remember, we are victorious.
About Carolyn Newell
Carolyn Dale Newell is a speaker and author of four books. Carolyn knows what it is to live with blindness, but she calls her disability a gift from God. She shares her stories of vulnerability and conquered fears in a vast buffet of topics suitable for retreats or conferences.
She is accompanied by her beautiful guide dog, Iva, a black lab who is adored by all.
Carolyn resides in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with her husband, Tim. She loves reading, pizza, and discovering new independence with Iva.
In conjunction with this post and the podcast interview, Hope in the Face of Blindness, Carolyn Newell is giving away a free copy of her book, Eyes of Faith: Winning the Battle Between Our Feelings & Our Faith.
Leave a comment below sharing with us one new thing you learned from this post about living victoriously despite a disability and you will be entered into a drawing to win a copy of Carolyn’s book.
You could also share this blog post on Facebook or Twitter then comment here to tell us where you shared it and you’ll also be entered into the drawing. The winner will be selected at random and announced next Monday, October 28, 2019, here on this post. Continental United States only.
For more resources for overcoming, visit:
- “Breaking Anxiety’s Grip: How to Reclaim the Peace God Promises” by Dr. Michelle Bengtson
- “Hope Prevails: Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression” by Dr. Michelle Bengtson, winner of the Christian Literary Award Reader’s Choice Award
- “Hope Prevails Bible Study” by Dr. Michelle Bengtson, winner of the Christian Literary Award Reader’s Choice Award
- 20 Ways to Fight Depression
- How to Fight Fearful Thoughts and Win