Why I learned to talk about depression in public

Of all the chapters in The Year of Small Things, the hardest to write was about self-care. For one, pretending you’re Dorothy Day feels good; prophetic, even. Talking about depression doesn’t.


But. It’s important to talk about with other people if only because it shouldn’t be awkward. Vulnerability was the posture I wrote from, and now that people are seeing the stuff on the soft underbelly (I’ve had three children, what do you want from me), people have felt compelled to share their own mental junk.

I preached this message yesterday at Sycamore Creek’s Potterville campus — the crux being we have to take care of ourselves because if one part of the body of Christ isn’t well, the whole body can’t be well.  And, I said, this is a problem because we generally suck at taking care of ourselves.

I noticed that instead of the obligatory “good job” handshakes I usually get after my message, I got people’s real stories. Heartbreaking ones and redemptive ones.

It’s a beginning. A big beginning.

Usually when you hear about self-care in the church (or mental or physical illnesses) the message veers in one of two unhelpful directions:

Mental health (or poor health, sickness, bad breath) is a sign that one doesn’t have enough faith in Jesus. CLEARly if only I had uttered some secret Jesus phrase I could’ve saved myself years of prescriptions and doctors’ visits.

Or! Maybe mental health (and all the rest) are a sign of un-confessed sin. If I just admitted to God that I killed that guy in Reno I would be freed of my suffering.

It should be noted that I never killed a man in Reno.

I want to share with you the message I gave Sunday, in the hopes that all y’all who have junk will see we all do.

Click here to view the sermon online. This is the entire second service, which is contemporary service. To listen to other sermons in the series, click here and here.



2 thoughts on “Why I learned to talk about depression in public

  • Erin,

    Thanks for taking the risk and having the courage, maturity and faith to, first of all, acknowledge and attend to your own self-care in the face of years of depression, and secondly to write about it (ch. 11) and preach about it. It was a treat to see you preaching/teaching in your own context. Maybe I will have the opportunity to witness this in person some day!

    As you were sharing about the woman with 20 years of blood flow, I was reminded of a chapter and reflection I read recently from: Irene Alexander, STORIES OF TRANSFORMATION AND HOPE: MARY’S GOSPEL, “Touching the Untouchable: The Woman Bleeding” (ch. 7)–stories told from the “interviews” of Mary Magdalene with people transformed by Jesus. Did I tell you about this book already? I read it since you and I just had that long talk/sharing.

    I am not surprised that people were touched by God’s work coming through you.

    Love and prayers,


  • This drove home for me the exact wording of the greatest commandment. Love your neighbor AS you love yourself. Not INSTEAD of loving yourself. Thanks, Erin.

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