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  • How My Life Has Been Rocked By Depression

    April 9, 2013 · 89 comments

    “Depression, that’s why”.

    Whatever question you may have about my lack of social media interaction, lack of podcasting, lack of artistic expression, and more recently, lack of job, can be answered by that sentence.

    Depression is a broad term that people like me say so they don’t have to talk about anxiety, mood swings, physical pain, hopelessness and more. Especially when talking to people who don’t know much about it. Which is most people. Not that I’m actually talking to that many people.

    I’ve struggled with depression in general for a few years now. It started as a general feeling of doom. I went through every day just feeling like everything I did was bound to fail. A friend suggested I see my doctor for this, which blew my mind that you could (or would) see a doctor about such a thing. So I did and I was given a series of meds. Some worked for a while, some didn’t work at all, others brought out anger, and another made me want to sit on the floor all the time. Eventually through months of trial and error we found a drug that managed my serotonin levels and things were just dandy. They stayed that way for about three years.

    In those three years I had left my children’s ministry position at a large church in Kansas City for a church in St. Petersburg. Florida was where my wife wanted to raise our kids. Closer to family… and the beach. I was convinced that the high-stress of my former job was the cause of my depression. I didn’t even think to mention it to my new employer and pastor. It was something in my past that we had gotten through and over. The new job surely would make taking any pills unnecessary.

    Which was good because what I was taking was beginning to be more and more ineffective. The dread was gone… but it was now replaced with a general sadness and lack of motivation. I started to blame the meds. I also had a friend who gave me the impression that meds were wrong and that my goal should be to get off them. So I went cold-turkey. Bad plan. I didn’t realize there would be withdrawal symptoms. For three solid months I had a strong ringing in my head combined with something I’ve come to call “brain zaps” that felt like waves of static or electricity coursing through my brain. In place of the prescription meds I read up on natural cures for depression. I tried every supplemental combination known to man… with no effect on my mood.

    I started to get panic-attacks at night. I didn’t even know what it was for a long time. I just suddenly felt worse than anything along with chest pain and drastic sadness and despair. I blamed caffeine… so I gave it up. Seemed to help… for a while.

    Meanwhile I was holding down a job, doing podcasting as a hobby, artwork for spare cash, and being a husband and father. I enjoyed creating things, watching movies, Doctor Who, collecting Buzz Lightyear stuff, blogging and social networks, and ministering to children. As my general feeling of sadness grew the joy or motivation to do these things started slipping away. Even talking to people in the course of a day started to be something I would try to avoid. I should mention that the depression would come and go during this period of about a 2 years. I would get a rush off doing some big project or traveling to some big event only to crash hard afterword. The more successful an event was, the harder and longer I crashed. I would wake up and not be able to get out of bed. Even trying to take a shower seemed like the worst series of events I could imagine. I was so ashamed that I wouldn’t even call-in to work after a while.

    My wife and I felt like we needed to come forward about my situation to my boss (pastor), rather than wait for him to have to call us to the carpet. He was very understanding and gracious. Even though I knew he didn’t understand what was going on with me, he still was in full support and would have done anything for us.

    Then the bottom fell out of my entire life. Deep, dark, horrible sadness stole me away from everything good in my life. Almost constant anxiety pains in my chest. All I could do for most of my day was lay in bed and hold my breath and ball up around the pain. I cried almost constantly. A part of me knew nothing at all in the world was wrong… but no amount of logic could save me from these feelings.

    The word “Feelings” is so inappropriate when describing that I went through. Feelings are what we’re not supposed to make decisions on. Feelings are something that can be controlled or changed easily. The feelings of a depressed person are more like that fear that gets you in the night sometimes. When you just know someone is outside the window… and you can’t move. You know it’s stupid… but your feelings have control.

    When trying to describe my feelings during this time the only comparison I could make would be for you to imagine someone telling you your spouse has died, that initial jolt of pain, loss, grief and sadness you would feel… then the jolt doesn’t end. How could you do anything, work or play, when you feel that way? You can’t. At least I couldn’t.

    My doctor suggested a professional… a psychologist. He was hesitant to mention it, but I was to desperate to care about my pride. The new doctor tells me I’m bi-polar, that I have depression and an anxiety disorder and starts prescribing medicines that would hopefully manage these three issues. It’s been the better part of 10 months since that first meeting… and we’re only just now finding a medicine combination that seems to halfway work. Meds are a mixed bag. You want them so that you can be normal… but every one seems to bring it’s own set of weird side effects and changes to my moods and feelings. The worst part was finding something that worked… only to generate an allergy to it… in some cases life threatening allergies. It was like a dirty trick. I’d feel so much better, like a miracle had happened only to be shoved back into despair and pain all over again later on.

    The last time something worked was a few months ago around Christmas. The doc warned me that I might get over stimulated… and from the first day I knew it was having that effect, but it felt so good. I wasn’t high or anything… I just felt like the best of my old self! Suddenly everything that was such a chore just wasn’t. My passions for art, creativity, podcasting and ministry came back. I even signed up for the church’s Christmas play. My body started freaking out. My skin felt like every pore needed to be rubbed or poked. Only a shower could satisfy the millions of little cravings for stimulation that my skin had become. My arms started losing strength. It felt like I’d been hanging sheet rock all day. I didn’t want to but I had to tell my doctor. He took me off it and I went right back to being curled up in the bed, holding my breath and crying. Two days before the Christmas play I finally got the nerve up to tell my pastor co-worker that I wouldn’t be able to do it. Something that I’d been looking forward to had suddenly become on of the worst ideas of my life. She was so gracious even though I know it must have caused her to struggle.

    I couldn’t think of a good reason why I couldn’t perform as I wrote the email. So I told her the truth… well, a lightweight version of it. See I was horrified of my own condition. It was and is embarrassing. I had put every ounce of effort I could into minimizing my exposure… to putting on a happy pastor face for everyone. Even my own personality worked against me at this point. Normally I was the fun-loving guy who was quick with a joke. Eternally optimistic and eager to take on the world. Now I was the very opposite of that… but I had to keep up the illusion or people would know. So when I told my co-worker about what was going on… although I just told her I was dealing with some depression, it was a huge deal.

    So suddenly all at once everything I was just died, again. Thanks meds! Even now I’m in a place where some new meds seem to be working. I’ve learned not to trust good feelings. They just make it worse later on when failure comes.

    I was taking more and more time away from the office. On the days I did go in all I could do was sit in my office, door closed, and cry. Praying to God that no one came to the door to see. I was useless. My duties started to pile up as I was not doing them. Phone calls that weren’t made, forms that were not filled out, questions that went unanswered, and input that I so often gave went unoffered. Things weren’t getting better. Eventually someone was going to call me out. So I called myself out.

    I went back to my boss and laid it all out. Tried to the best of my ability to explain how things were… and that he deserved someone in this position who could do the job. I offered my resignation. He wouldn’t hear of it and offered several options to my current work week that might help me to get through this period. For different reasons those options didn’t work out and I insisted on resigning. He reluctantly accepted. Two weeks later it was time to tell the church I was leaving that very Sunday. We told them I was leaving due to medical reasons.

    So that was a month ago now. It’s been nice to have a stress-free environment where I’m not letting people down constantly. Naturally other stresses come. I now feel like an unemployed loser who is failing his wife and kids. I once was a somewhat respected children’s pastor… now it’s a good day if I can say I’ve showered and stayed awake for more than 8 hours. The meds I’m on now seem to be working somewhat… but I’m getting little muscle spasms here an there that I’m worried are going to cause me to have to ditch this stuff as well.

    So where is God in all of this? He’s been pretty quite as of late. I’ve prayed and begged and nothing changes. Apparently this is just something I’m going to have to go through. Like what happened to Job. He wasn’t going to feel better after what happened to him… he just had to stay faithful. That’s what I’m trying to do. I am generally optimistic that this period in my life will end. Either by the meds or by time passing. I look forward, with a little fear, to what my life will look like after. I’m not high on becoming a children’s pastor again any time soon… but at the end of the day I’m going to do whatever God leads me to do. Does any of this have a purpose? I don’t know… but is it going to ruin the rest of my life? No.

    So I’m done hiding this thing. I’m a freaking mess and I’m just going to have to deal with how people respond to that. That’s why I tried to keep it secret by the way… people’s reactions and/or judgments. There’s this thing about mental health issues that make people forget common sense. First off most people think taking medicine for depression is a bad idea or outright wrong. That’s stupid. Any other disease in the world you can take meds for without risk of judgement… but pop a pill for depression and you’re accepting defeat or something. Then there are those in the church who think that depression is a judgement or a demon. So it’s either God punishing me for secret sin or the devil has taken over my soul. That’s fun. Lastly there are those (and I was once one of them) who think that depression is just an excuse for some people to do nothing with their lives. I’m sure someone could look at me right now and mistake that for the truth… but nothing is further. I long for the day when I can enjoy things again. When I can be in public without trying to avoid everyone. When I can work to help provide for my family. Most of my anxiety came from worrying about letting people down and losing my job.

    Hopefully this reaches the right people. I’m sure some of you out there can relate on some level. I’m sure some of you have it much worse than I do and have a much longer tale to tell. And I’m sure that some of you will roll your eyes and move on to something less…. depressing. I just felt like I owed my Internet peeps an explanation and I’m finally able to type it all out.

    Articles like this are supposed to end with advice for others going through the same thing. I don’t have any except to say just stay alive and don’t give up.

    Next: The Worst Question You Can Ask A Depressed Person

    Update: General Well Being Update

    • Terri B.

      Awesome! Your openness is so needed! I am a Christian Social Worker, but also know about depression! I also go to that big church in Kansas City where you impacted my children greatly- who are adults now. Thanks!

    • Drew

      I’m sorry to hear this. Good luck and I’m praying for you and your family.

    • Jani

      Thank you so much for sharing, James! You are a stand-up guy. I’ll be praying for you.

    • Barb

      I have been wondering where you guys went. I miss hearing the podcast. I will keep you and the family in my prayers. This was very heart breaking to read but it is good to see that you aren’t going to just keep quiet about it. May God see you through this.

    • Nate St.C

      I understand James. I was first diagnosed with depression when I was 11. I went from being a straight A’s student to being the same as you said, taking a shower was a mountain to tackle. I attended probably less than 15% of 6th and 7th grade. I was hospitalized 3 times for suicidal ideation. I tried more meds than I can remember. The one that worked best made me gain 50 pounds and the drs took it away, so I understand that frustration too.
      I am glad you are strong enough to keep your faith in all this. For a few years I blamed God, accused him for turning on me, and in my eyes returned the favor by turning on Him. That was the worst thing I could have done because it made everything worse. It took a while to realize truly nothing could pluck me from His hand, and God had been the only thing that has literally kept me alive through everything.
      I dropped out of school permanently when I was 16. I was too anxious to face the world, so I escaped to Azeroth, a world where the consequences of my actions couldn’t let anyone down because it was all fake. Thats where I spent two years of my life. Literally playing for 20 hours until I couldnt stay awake, because as soon as I turned it off I would immediately have panic attacks. So then I would sleep for 20 hours and repeat. I actually would listen to Nobody’s Listening most of the time I played. You were the only thing that made me smile.
      I let the depression win like that for 2 years. When I realized that, I finally checked myself into the hospital by my own will for the first time. The intensive dialectical behavioral therapy really helped. I got my GED and went back to the old job I had.
      I will be 22 in May. Almost half of my life has been spent with depression. It is a factor of every day I face. But the last year I have successfully been off meds, living on my own for the first time, playing in a rock band touring part time, working full time as a manager at a restaurant, and I have an amazing girl I am going to spend the rest of my life with.
      I lost all of my teenager years to depression. I still am not totally free. But I am in control if my life enough to function basically. I am not in control of my emotions, but I have learned how to not let them control me.
      James, I am praying for you. I know where you are. I have been there. And I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up there again someday. I hope my sharing has helped in someway. It is the least I can do after the hundreds of hours of smiles and laughter that you have brought me.

      • nlcast

        Thanks for sharing man! So glad things worked out. Hope they stay that way.

    • Scott Covert

      James,

      Thank you so very much for this very timely look behind your curtain. With the recent death of Pastor Rick and Kay Warren’s 27 year old son, after a life long battle with Mental Illness, and their amazing transparency about it, there is great interest in better understanding and ministering to folks plagued by this misunderstood collection of diseases. You said in your blog “Does any of this have a purpose? I don’t know” and neither do I, but I can see great and wonderful things that God can do with it. For instance, I’m certain this has been, and will be read by many that now don’t feel so different or like they are the only one. And I’m even more certain that it has been, and will be read by many, many people that now have a better understanding of the human side of something they only thought they understood before.

      You have brought great entertainment to us, my friend, and now you bring something far greater, a chance to learn and grow. God has blessed you with so many talents, especially in your ability to communicate artistically, humorously and effectively. When the time is right, your struggles will bring Him glory, of that I am certain. Until that time, my family will pray for you and your family.

      Peace.

    • norwegiagirl

      Hey James, I want to let you know that you are not the only one with this struggle. While I have not been diagnosed with depression, I have had my own bouts with it (Including skipping out on work.) . I have also had close family deal with it and it is a very real condition. I am glad you have started to figure out your medications and lifestyle changes that will work for you. I also know the feeling of being without work and feeling like you aren’t contributing. After reading your post it seems like your job just wasn’t compatible with your life at this point. It may be again but right now it isn’t. And that is 100% okay. Seriously.
      I know you haven’t felt like talking to anyone lately but if you want to talk you know that I am here. Even if you just want to hear someone else talk and just listen. Here for that too. You know how to find me.

    • Bill Baske

      James let me say that my 2 oldest daughters love the podcast kid podcast that you guys do. No pressure though. Being 9 and 6 they are happy to listen to old episodes over and over again. Listening to hours of you on podcasts it seem like we are old friends who have never met. This news saddens me deeply .My family will keep you and yours in our prayers. I know God will pull you through this for his glory. Blessings to you and your family.

    • Eric W

      Maybe the lesson God has in this is right here. What you are doing now. You are putting a Christian face on a terrible illness. Too many times in my early years I heard, “You are too young to be depressed,” or “if you were saved, you wouldn’t be depressed.”

      Many Christians, such as yourself, are coming out of the dark closet, and letting people know that Christians can suffer too. Not only are you a believer, but as a pastor (and not former, as you still pastor, even if it is through this message), you add even more weight to the argument.

      I like your advice at the end, and sometimes it is the only advice to give. Stay alive, and don’t give up. Sometimes that is the hardest part. Keep it up.

    • fayej

      Oh gosh do I understand 🙁 so sorry. It sucks, the worst part is the how depression is looked upon, like you said, especially from within the church.

    • Luke Barnett

      James and Nate, thank you for sharing. I’ve been seeing and reading a few different personal posts on people living with depression that I think God wants me to take it seriously. I’ve lived with depression in some shape or from since I was about 18, I’m now 30. Tried some Meds that worked and made me itch, so that was awesome. Not
      I don’t know if I manage it now. I go through desperate black spots that sometimes last for days or weeks on end. But I think I need to bury my pride and hold on to Christ – and seek help. Thanks for your honesty. I pray James that you keep getting stronger as a father, husband and guy. Hope u can geek out with Iron Man 3 brother. God bless

      • James,

        This was a very courageous thing you did. I don’t know what you’re going through, can’t even imagine what it’s like. I don’t really know what to say except God will see you through this and I’ll be praying for you. That sounds so cliché, I know, but know that it’s true.

        Cheers,

        John

    • David Weyers

      I’ve been staring at this page for awhile trying to think of what to say. How to be supportive. I can’t even begin to understand the agony you have been going through. But I had to say that we love you and support you. You have given so much joy and laughter over the years it is heart breaking to read this. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

    • janie gausmann

      So I am glad you shared. My story is similar. Im a CP too.

      I found some answers in just being still, and seeking. I would be glad to share with you if you are interested.

      from a long time fan —

      janie

    • That’s gotta be tough .
      Its double tough to write it down. Shows there’s an inner strength in all of us. Sometimes I think the lesson of Job should be 2/3 of the Bible so people don’t miss it.

    • Jim,
      Thank you for being able to put into words what I could only feel.
      After 14 years in the full time ministry (8 pastoring a church that did well) things started to change. I had no idea what or how to even describe them but I wish I knew then what you have explained so well. The problem is, I couldn’t have understood any more than you did, what the problem was or what it was that I needed to deal with. This much I do know, those who are in the ministry (both fellow pastors and denominational leaders) have no idea how to treat or deal with depression in fellow believers. I felt shunned or avoided. I was not being able to describe why I would begin to cry, or canceling rehearsals last minute (not good), making worse not having anyone to reach out to help me keep from making rash decisions. My wife and family suffered the slow and impossible to understand changes taking place in my emotional well being. Later, I resigned a position that I loved thinking that the change of venue and increase of responsibilities would help the overwhelming hopelessness that I was drowning in. Of course you know how enormous a mistake that would result in.
      In my situation, bi polar has never been determined but depression never stops. My children have given me grandchildren that make me so happy, but I remember a joy before all this started that has never been again available.
      Oddly I have learned something through all this. God has always been faithful and I love Him and continue serving him, but just as my mental struggles with joy and peace have been affected by this depression, my spiritual joy and peace have also been as elusive. No, I have not lost out on my hope for His promises but the grey cloud that came slowly over my mind, my hopes, my plans, also slowly came over my Spiritual being. I understand David’s writings so much better, and they depress me so much more than before.
      I now own my own business, serve as a musician at my current church, have the responsibilities of caregiving my 93 year old father with Alzheimer’s and my wife’s 85 year old father who has many health issues complicated by his dementia. I would say that I have my depression at bay, but I’m always having to “check it at the door” in every event of my life.
      With that said, thank you again for describing what I’ve been through in a way that, in so many ways mirrors my own experiences.

      • Amy

        Thx for adding the the spiritual struggle component. That is the deepest part of my struggle. Where it all fits in.

    • Stephanie

      Praying for you and your family!

    • nlcast

      Thanks so much everyone for your support! I’ve read every comment… and will continue to. I am greatly comforted by your words and stories. Thanks!

    • James, my heart hurts for your pain. I had been growing concerned about you after not seeing anything from or about you for a long time.

      I can relate to your feelings of total failure, that there’s no hope, that you have no energy to even improve anything.

      You were very brave to be so open about this, and I’m thankful that you were. The best thing that helped me in my dark times was being honest to others and allowing them to help me, even though I just wanted to lock myself in a room and die.

      Depression is often a chemical issue, so it’s very real and _not_ wrong to try treating.

      Some songs that really meant a lot to me were Casting Crowns’ “Praise You in This Storm” (from Lifesong) and Barlow Girl’s “I Believe in Love” (from How Can We Be Silent). If you don’t have these songs, I will gladly buy them for you.

      I also found a lot of comfort in the Psalms and marked passages that stood out to me by writing the date that I read it next to the passage.

      Please tell us, your community who have missed you, if there’s anything we can do to help. Even if you just want one person per day to leave a voicemail, send a nice note, or remind you to enjoy the sun.

      I truly mean this, James, I will be praying for you. And that’s not my churchy response to say that I’ll forget, but I do really mean that I will pray for you.

    • Christian

      Hey Pastor James, Its Christian Suddreth, just wanted to say I love you dude! And im praying for you every day. I cant wait to see you, hopefully soon!

      • nlcast

        Thanks man. You’re the best!

    • Amy

      James, admit I’ve never listened personally but there are two VERY faithful listeners in this house and I get the recaps on a consistent basis. Anyway thank you SO MUCH for your vulnerability and transparency. U have come the closest of ANYONE putting words to this monster that doesn’t stay in the darkness of the night just the soul. WOW (in the amazing sense not horrified) and thank you are all I can say!

    • Michelle

      Thanks for being transparent. Without going into detail, I just want to let you know I get where you’re coming from. Praying for you.

    • Rachel Byrne

      Hey P James. I totally understood every single thing you wrote. I know I told you I’ve had both anxiety & depression although was not diagnosed bi-polar but it is so hard to tell people when your sad and they are looking at your life like what’s wrong with you and you really don’t have anything to tell them because “technically” everything is going great. Some people make fun of me cuz I go to the movies ALL the time but for some reason that is my happy place and if I am feeling down or even that I’m starting to spiral down I go see a movie or shop at Target. Don’t know if the happy book we made you has helped at all but please know that you are not alone and there are many of us who understand and have been where you are at. You are in my prayers 🙂 Your friend, Rachel

    • Jan Burch

      Hey my Friend!

      I love you dearly and have you in our prayers every night. I wish I could just give you loads of hugs right now. You are such an awesome, talented man and I hate that this is happening to you. Just feel the love from all of these people and be encouraged. Again, I love you so very much!

      Jan

    • DennisMM

      Pastor, I’m sorry to read of your struggles. As a bipolar person, I fought through untreated illness for 25 years before finally seeing a psychiatrist who got me on medication. Unfortunately, the meds only do so much, as you have learned, and they often have side effects that are disturbing or even disabling. Keep trying, though. That is all we can do, keep trying!

      I am not a religious person and will not push my lack of belief on you, but I have to disagree with so many of the posters and say that the strength you need comes from inside you and from those around you. Your faith in your god may help you to a certain degree, but it takes people to make pursuing your health a worthwhile endeavor. If you don’t hear your god sometimes, if your prayers don’t seem to bring you succor, perhaps more mundane efforts are what you need. Just a thought.

    • James,
      you are a huge blessing to everyone you come in contact with, you have an amazing ability to communicate and entertain. Ministry is heavy. I was in ministry for a while and it is a heavy load to bear, and it seems to press down and compact things that are hidden in you. I exploded out of ministry into a serious depression for a while. I think you are smart to take meds, and I think you are correct that this affliction is not simply a sign of hidden sin. I think it is very real, and definitely not an excuse to be lazy. It is your battle. But never let these things be an excuse for not doing the right thing. I do believe we are always supplied to do right within our means. I’m praying for you my friend. I always saw a real talent in you that could really blossom into something big. I think that if any such thing is in store for you, it is good you fight these demons now. Regardless of what you are entitled to, fight the desire to be a victim in this. I have a friend who is a really solid, good man and he is struggling similarly. This stuff happens to the best of us. You are not alone – you are fighting a battle many others have also fought. You are also not alone because a freaking ton of people admire you, love you and are praying for you. Thanks for everything you have done to make our lives the opposite of depressing. I hope we get to hang out again some time, having you down in California with John was awesome!

      Ethan

    • Kathy

      James,

      I’m so sorry to hear about your very tough situation. I wondered too what had happened, you just seemed to drop off the radar. While I can’t say I have been through exactly what you have been through, I have seen very difficult days that I thought I couldn’t make it through,
      I have no easy solutions even though I wish I did. I just know that in my hard times I did better when I trusted Him. But then you already know that.
      I care about you and I will pray for you.

    • Mike “CornNerd” Cornish

      Hey, James.

      I’ve been worried about you, man. I’ve really been missing the podcast(s).

      Thank you for sharing this with us. I won’t pretend to know what you’re feeling, but I’m glad you worked through it to update us.

      As a fellow Christian and geek, I look up to you. I remember listening to your most recent “Stuff I Wish I Could Say” podcast and looking forward to being as great a father as you. I remember listening to your most recent “Geek Loves Nerd” podcast and being thankful for someone who is willing to share their experiences as a Christian. You’ve taught me a lot and entertained me well for years. You barely know me, but I feel like you’re an old friend.

      I say all that to say this: I’ll be excitedly awaiting your return. I know many others will be doing the same. Take the time you need — you’ve served us well. No matter where you go from here, you’ll always be the podcaster who had the greatest impact on my life. If you choose not to return, I only hope that you’ll let us know so we can give you a proper goodbye. You deserve it.

      I’ll be praying for you.

      – CornNerd

    • Greg Hertfelder

      In a world of platitudes, knee-jerk solutions and formulaic I-was-this-bad-way-and-now-I’m-better articles, this blog is refreshingly transparent. Hopefully writing it was therapeutic for you. Everyone has phases in their life and unfortunately, we never know why bad things happen until much later – and not always. I know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, I just hope it isn’t the headlight of an oncoming train. Wait, that didn’t come out right. Seriously, I’ll be praying for your healing. Why? Because I’m your brother in Christ, that’s why.

    • Matt Lundy

      Your strength is amazing. I can’t imagine how hard this was. From one kids pastor to another thank you for your years of experience being poured out through the kid ministry podcast. Even if you are done with kids ministry for good I want you to know that you have given me so much support just through that podcast. Your ministry lives on through the work that ALL the kids pastors you have touched snd given advice to do weekly. Thank you for your candidness and prayers will go out for you and your family daily.

    • Cole Johnson

      Dear James,

      I’ve never spoken to you, but I listened to Nobody’s Listening for about 4-5 years. I had some emotional struggles as I kid who stuttered severely and I came to lose faith in myself. The podcast always put me in a better mood, always helped me sleep at night when I was crying in self pity. In my mind you are definition of a positive person. I can’t thank you enough for what you’ve done. And now with all you’ve been through, I can only take a moment and pray that you’ll be ok. You have so much support, don’t fight this alone!

    • beth

      Good for you getting up the courage and writing about where you are in your walk. By sharing this you have helped make someone out there not feel so alone with this I am sure! I have struggled on and off with anxiety issues for 10 years. I am in a much better place than when it all started…I remember feeling like I had lost myself somewhere. I remember feeling alone because like you said there is a shame and stigma associated with mental health issues. But if we don’t take courage and share our stories we are left dealing with this alone, and defeated….Just where the devil wants us. There are unfortunately many people that deal with some form of mental health issues but if we rise up we can all be a support for each other!

    • Erin

      It wonderful to hear from you! Be well!

    • Jennifer H

      What courage it took for you to share this. I hope you find peace in this very real struggle. Peace to you and your family.

    • Dan Snook

      Love you brother. I am grieving for you. I have struggled for nine years with panic attacks. They used to make me so incredibly angry! I felt like I was freaking out and was afraid of making a complete public mental case of myself for no “apparent” reason at all. I refused to accept that I needed medicine because I was convinced that Jesus and I could handle this. I wanted Jesus to heal me. I don’t know why but He chose not to. Little faith? Maybe. Let the hyper faith say what they want. I was desperate to be healed and never was. I was never suicidal but very often found myself COMPELLED to do the most dangerous or most inappropriate things. I felt like I must be demon possessed at times. I knew that I wasn’t, but I was fighting some things that felt stronger than me and it was very, very scary. Unlike you, the day I went on meds was the day that changed my life. I can not imagine the wear and tear of dealing with those things long term with no relief. I love you brother and I too am praying for you!!!!!

    • pron

      pj, I really miss you dude… and my heart is shattered for you. plz know I’ll be in deep prayer for you. I know it may be nearly impossible to even imagine right now, but expect a miracle. I’m sure you’ve heard it all, but nothing is beyond our all-mighty Jesus…

      please, just stay close to Him like you obviously are.

      Job’s ending will also be yours.

    • James, I don’t know if you’ll read any of these comments or mine in particular but I just wanted to say that I just discovered your Nobody’s Listening podcast in the last two years as that’s as long as I’ve owned an iPod. Anyway, I really enjoy it and was sad to see you hadn’t made one since December. Now that I know why, I for one will be praying for you and anyone else with this affliction. I myself don’t have it so I can’t relate to that but that doesn’t mean that I, as a brother in Christ can’t pray for God to heal you. Don’t lose faith man. God is still in control.

    • Elisabeth

      Hi James,
      I just wanted to add to all the comments above. I’m genuinely praying for you, and also Jen, Jenna and J. I pray for peace, strength, and the ability to keep going through the pain and fog to one day emerge from the other side.

      May God be with you and bless you and your family. I can only begin to imagine what you are going through, but thank you so much for sharing what you have – it really gives insight for those of us who have not gone through this personally.

      Hope to hear from you soon.

      With much love from New Zealand,
      lizbiffgrace

    • Melinda Stortenbecker

      Hey James

      I totally understand, my friend. I suffered from postpartum depression for 16 years before I found out that I wasn’t just a lousy mom, lazy person who spent hours asleep and wouldn’t answer the door or phone for days at a time. After having my Margaret, just getting dressed by 3 pm was a huge accomplishment. I don’t even remember my BJ until he was about two except for a few major moments.

      Finally, two friends who had just had babies discussed their struggles with depression with me, unbeknownst to each other. It was what I needed to go my doc and request meds. Didn’t want to, but loved feeling like I’d woken up. I started talking about it at the scrapbooking classes I taught and was amazed at the number of folks who either have battled depression or had loved ones who did. A very wise friends at one of those classes said almost exactly what you did. She said, “You know, if someone has diabetes, no one says a thing about them taking medication. Depression is the same and no one should say anything about anyone taking medicine to make themselves better.”

      Getting my mind and energy back enabled me to start studying nutrition and how our diets really affect our whole selves. Unfortunately, after about a year, I could feel the darkness coming back and knew I was going to need to get more meds, when I tried a nutritional product called Mona Vie. I don’t know why or how, but it restored me and allowed me to wean myself off of the drugs and didn’t have side effects. I don’t sell it, but it’s available and I could get you a bottle to try if you’re interested. You don’t have to stop any medications, but it seems to start helping the body to balance itself.

      This was a little longer than I’d anticipated, but I want you to know you are not alone and I’d love to chat with you and Jen anytime. Sending love.

      Melinda

    • Quinn Anderson

      James,
      That takes a lot of courage. I really admire and respect you for being able to share that with so many people. I will admit that I was one of the people who thought that depression was an excuse until it became a reality in my immediate family. You may already know this or maybe not, but your work, simply in your podcasting alone, has built you a community and family of people who genuinely care for and love you.
      Yah, myself and I’m sure a lot of others miss the podcasting, but you and your family are more important and you’re doing the right thing. Your work has brought so much joy to me and my family through your efforts and I want you to know that your through your passion for laughter and faith in God have brought laughter and happiness to my home. I know we’ve never met other than a few stories sent into Nobody’s Listening, but you do have one shoulder to cry on even if it’s on the other side of the country.
      Life seems to have this bad habit of happening. Some trials are hard and some aren’t but I do know that the Lord never gives anybody anything that can’t be conquered. And in many cases, the conquering can’t be done until we’ve exhausted every possible ounce of our faith and own ability and we have to put it into the Lord’s hands. Blessings always flow heavily after the trial of our faith.
      I’m sure you already know most of this but really, it’s just to let you know that myself and many others understand and are here for you in any way we can be. You and your family are going to be in my prayers and if I can help, please let me know. Take care James. We love you.

      Quinn “Thumper McDumper” Anderson

    • Janice

      James,

      Thank you for sharing your story. I want to offer you a word of encouragement and pray that your heart can find hope in it. My husband suffered much like you are but today he is happy, content and enjoying life. Hang in there and keep looking for something that works for you. It took him a while to finally find what worked for him medically but now that he has he is living and enjoying life. I watched him struggle for a long time but it is awesome to see him living life with joy and peace. He couldn’t have done it without meds…he tried…didn’t work for him. Praying that you will keep searching until you find what will work for you.

      Hugs,
      Janice

    • Sara Kathryn S

      I was right before I turned 14, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). The excess of hormones like testosterone caused my emotions to rocket up and plunge downward. I suffered from mild depression, but believe me, it certainly did not feel mild. My body was doing crazy things. Mostly, I felt hopeless and didn’t want to do much of anything. I knew I was a Christian, but I lost my faith temporarily. I knew there was a God, I just could not reason with myself that it was Jesus. Until my parents realized I needed medical treatment, I never knew anything was wrong with me, only that I was suffering from a sin nature and needed a powerful Savior. Back then, I was so sick that I thought everything I did was because of my own lack of self-control. Really, it was my hormones deluding my thoughts. While I still need a powerful Savior, it isn’t because I have more testosterone than a teenage boy.

      After being shifted around from doctor to doctor, had blood test after blood test, and being diagnosed and re-diagnosed, we were finally able to pinpoint the problem and start some medicine: birth-control pills. I was embarrassed. I figured other Christians would judge me. After a few months of success, we tried natural remedies, only to have the same crap come back. I had to start back on the “BCP”s. Although I am feeling much better now, I have recently had to add vitamins and another medicine to ward off the depression that tried to sneak back in.

      During that time, I listened to Nobody’s Listening. I really cannot tell you how much happiness your show brought into my life. Every time I would listen to an episode, it would make me forget about everything I had gone through and had yet to finish. It gave me hope. To this day, it is something I thank God I was allowed to stumble upon.

      I didn’t mean to write my entire life story, but I say all of that to say this:
      I can’t understand everything that you and your family are going through, but I know enough to beg God for Him to give you grace, and peace, and the perseverance to overcome this. And I know without a shadow of a doubt that He can. He did it for me. Remember that you have many, many, many people praying for you and for your family.

      God bless

    • James, I just read this in my devotions tonight and thought it might help you so I will share:

      Until You Pray

      After the invitation to prayer and the assurance that He will answer, God added an addendum to the policy He gave Jeremiah: “Call to Me, and I will answer you” (Jeremiah 33:3a). What’s the answer going to be like, God?

      First all, “ . . . I will tell you great things you have not known” (v.33b). I will inspire you with greater understanding and knowledge than you could achieve on your own.

      Let’s think about Jeremiah here for a minute. God instructed His prophet to remain unmarried as a sign of the harsh judgment that God was bringing to correct Israel in their rebellion. Jeremiah’s audience was heavily involved in idol worship. They were into deception and debauchery. God’s people were fully engaged in this blatant rejection of God. This is as clear as it gets: If something is going on in your life today and you’re wondering about God’s character, “If God really is X, then why is Y happening?” The answer to that dilemma is prayer. God says, “Call to Me, (in that moment) and I will tell you great things you don’t know.”

      It doesn’t matter if you’re going through heartbreaks in ministry or family or in your career or whatever. These crises are prime times to go to God and say, “I’m not seeing it, Lord. I’m not feeling it. Why would You allow us to go through this?” Now the answer God provides is not necessarily coming directly from Scripture. But insight to help you understand what’s happening and why it’s happening will come through prayer! And you won’t know this until you pray!

      Prayer: Almighty God, You know the things I’m afraid to bring up to You because they seem to cast doubt on Your goodness or sovereignty. Remind me that I don’t have to “cover” for You. Show me that I can trust You with things that look impossible to understand or to endure. Teach me that You will always be with me, even when I don’t understand. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

    • Nick

      Hey James,
      Saw this pop up on my facebook today and gave it a read. I have been a silent listener (aside from commenting on your youtubevideo of “if my wife knew she would slap me”). Try to keep on trudging through, my mom is bi-polar and I grew up in a house dealing with the highs and lows of a bi-polar individual. I can only imagine the agony of actually living it. God has a plan…..but remember he will never give you anything more than you can handle. You are a good man and I know without a doubt that you have helped sooooo many people. I found your podcast NL about 6 months ago. I listened through most all of Nobody’s Listening (up to like 201, havent plugged in my ipod to get downloaded casts in months since I just bought a house and my wife an I had a baby). Now I have gotten through about 60 eps of Geek Loves Nerd. You have saved me from boredom at work, given me and my wife some laughs as we listened to some together and helped me keep some positive stuff in my ears! I will keep you in my prayers. You have given so much to so many for so long, it is time for you to take advantage of the help and take time to tackle this new challenge. God bless man! =)

    • David

      Pastor James,
      I am so sorry to hear of your struggles and my heart aches just reading your story. Thank you for being so transparent. I wondered what you were going through and appreciate you sharing your plight with us (your friends), for we now know how we can pray for you. There has to be a reason for this stage of your life. I deeply believe that you are a person with so much potential and I hope and pray that you will get on the other side of this nightmare soon in order for you to realize what God has in store for your life.

      Our family will continually lift you up in prayer to our Almighty God, who can do anything. Take a quick look around you and understand that an all-powerful God made EVERYTHING you see, including the eyes through which you are viewing His grand creation. If this is so (and it is), He can certainly help you with your desperate situation. When, where and why is up to Him. While I can’t relate specifically to your experience, I KNOW that I serve a God who can heal you. There IS a purpose in all of this and I will earnestly pray for you to be shown what it is.

      Please call me at any time. I will leave my phone number on a FB message.

      May God bless and keep you!!
      David Bishop

    • Pat

      Pastor James,
      Thank you for sharing from you heart…Not an easy task with all that you have gone through…you are wrong about one thing that we will think you are a loser. You are not…the kids love you and I for one loved all that you did with the kids. My grandchildren loved coming to Kids City….God does and will have a plan for you…I have a friend who son is dealing with severe depression also…We get together every night for prayer and we will add you to our list. If there is anything you need please give a shout. Your talent is amazing. I wonder why we have to go through these things…One day we will see and get the answers. I know God will and is using this now as you share…….I know for one I don’t understand depression at all, we seem to think if they would just do this then they will be okay…but you sharing your heart has made me see things very differently…God Bless you and your family and you will be in my prayers until God answers….We all love you…and your family. May God Bless you and keep you in His loving Care
      Pat

    • Dean

      Hey James,
      I’m so proud of you for sharing your story. I’ve lived with depression for 20+ years so I can truly relate. I want to encourage you to keep going and know that you’re greatly loved and respected, even though there will be days these beliefs will be furthest from your mind.
      All my love to you, Jen, and the kids.

    • Andi G

      Pastor James…thanks for your transparency during this trial. I’m so sorry that you’re walking through this. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Love, ag.

    • Joanne

      Pastor,
      Your post was passed on to me by my friends, the Rombalskis…just wanted to tell you of a book that helped me considerably in that it made me feel less alone in my struggle….I also gave it to a few people I knew so that they could understand I wasn’t “just sad” or “just going through a phase”. It’s called The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression by Andrew Solomon. It’s about Solomon’s personal experience with lifelong depression. Having read a ton of books on the subject, this is the by far the most comprehensive and, I found, the most helpful. Here’s to hoping you have some moments that are bright….

    • Susan Murray

      Hi Bro. James! Yes, I was curious as to what your medical condition was that caused you to step down from your childrens’ ministry but never had a clue as to what you and your family were going through. I’m so sorry and don’t ever think for once that I would judge you for one moment. Life sometimes dishes out cruel “thorns in ones side” and sometimes we can simply “get over it” and continue on and sometimes we have to stop and let God do His thing. I will be praying for you. You undoubtedly have had a lot of “tips” so I won’t even go there unless you ask me for it. You and your family are on my prayer list now and I look forward to hearing that you have beat this ugly thing. No pressure; just go with the flow as much as you can. God be with you and thanks so much for sharing your testimony. And to think my life is bad sometimes! God be with you and bless you! You DID make an impact on MANY lives and you will do it again, so don’t let Satan rob that from you!

    • Hannah

      Thank you for sharing. You are a hero to both my husband and I because of your honesty and support. We want you to know that we still think the world of you. I don’t really know what else to say cause I’m always worried about saying the wrong thing and weirding someone out… So this is me trying not to be odd… I think I failed. Crap, um nevermind;-) you rock PJ thank you for sharing you have been on my mind a lot lately and now I know why. Josh and I will be praying for you. Let us know if you need anything.

    • Kathey

      Hi Pastor James,

      I sent you a personal response through facebook and hope you’ve gotten it, but I want to say here how extremely proud of you I am and how incredibly brave you are.

      Depression is such a ugly monster and attack from Satan. I fought it after my husband was killed and had to pull myself up by the lowest of bootstraps because of my beautiful children. It wasn’t easy and I still fight that demon.

      Stay transparent, open, honest, and keep Satan at bay by exposing his ploys. He’s not wanted or welcomed here. I’m praying for your protection, mind, body, spirit and soul! Lord, hear my prayer

      Love you and God Bless You!!!

      Kathey

    • My dear Pastor James, I heard about you yesterday from Pastor Gloria, but did not find the blog until today. I spent several hours crying and praying for you last night and then I found the blog this afternoon and read it. Most of the things that you spoke of I have personally experienced for myself. The worst time of my life happened to me a few years ago. I was in a black hole for many weeks and months before I sought help from the medical profession. Don’t be afraid to do that. I tried many medications to no avail and then the doctor gave me one that worked well for me. I am still taking a mild anti-depressant which I feel are necessary for me and I would recommend the same for you if that is what you and your doctor feels it is. Just remember that this is not the end of the world. God is still in control and there are many of us who are praying for you. Love you and your family.

    • ICLTN

      I’m a longtime podcast listener and I just want to say that you and your creativity have touched so many people, myself included, and we are all pulling for you and we love you. You may never know how many people you have helped through hard times, myself included, but I know it’s not an insignificant amount. I think I can fairly safely speak for all of us that you haven’t let anyone down. You never owed us anything to begin with, and we’re grateful for the parts of your life you’ve shared with us, both the happy and the sad. Honesty can also be healing, and I hope that the outpouring of support and love from your grateful listeners and friends can make even the smallest impact on lightening your suffering. Don’t be afraid to fail us, because you never will. I’m praying for you and your family along with an army of others and I know that we won’t forget. I can’t say I understand depression, but your openness about your situation has helped me learn more about how it really is, and I know in simply opening up you have helped many. Don’t be afraid to lean on people as you also lean on God and work to find answers. We are all here for you and willing to help in any way we can. Thank you again for everything you have created and shared over the years.
      Love in Christ,
      Heather (ICLTN)

    • Lee Ann

      I feel like I’m right there with you in all this depression stuff. I’m so mad that I have a good reason to be sad. Of all the people, why me? Why did He think that I could handle losing my baby boy? I’ve grown fond of telling Him how very wrong He was!

      So you know me. I have nothing to offer. I’m in the pit myself. But I do believe that God is able to heal things that we bring into the light. The secretive, hiding part keeps you ashamed and stuck. So here’s to getting unstuck! I, for one, am very proud of you for being so honest.

      We don’t really say I love you in our family. I guess it’s just weird. But I do. You’re my brother.

      Lee Ann

    • Christine

      Thank you for talking about it. It helps me see what my Mom struggled with for half of the time she was my here as my Mom. She started when I was a freshman in high school (1989) and lost the battle in 2003. I did wonder from time to time if she was crazy or had a demon, or was just plain lazy. I was sngry with her, because at that age I had to become the mom for three younger sisters, and the reader of all mail, notes, including the sucide notes, and bills, because I was the only one who could. It was hard to see and I did not comprehend what was happening at all. With every new medicine came new behaviors or other weird side effects, even to the point that she was constantly trying to scratch her skin off.
      Later on, the same year she passed away, I was involved in a horrific accident. I was in my late twenties. Sometime in the midst of my 15 surgeries, I was struggling to stay awake. I slept the good part of each day. The Doctors and my ex-husband thought that since my Mom struggled with that I must be struggling with it too. I tried to fight them on it. But in my late twenties no one really thought to look elsewhere for a problem. So they started me on meds. Each one with another side affect, aggression, anger, picking at my skin and leaving permanent marks, feeling of despair, and feeling nothing as if I had no soul and everything that made me, me was gone. It wasn’t until I had to have emergency surgery on my heart that anything else other than depression could be the diagnosis. After that heart surgery, the medicines combined to make me unable to speak, I clearly remember this part. I would not eat either and my husband was exasperated and left to file against me for divorce and custody of the kids. To shorten the story some, when he was gone, my body began to shut down, so the Dr. removed the antidepressants and things became normal again. They told me I was never really depressed, I tried to tell them that, but my heart was giving out causing me to sleep all the time.
      Now I write this because, I remember how deeply it hurt as people accused me of being crazy, lazy, demon possessed, selfish, and uncaring about my kids. I know the meds can help some people for a time, but what I also know is that people judge when the chemicals from these medicines take over your behaviors. Many times I felt like I was an onlooker trapped behind my own eyes but completely unable to feel or control my own body. That is a scary place to live. To this day there are a handful of people who still judge me because of that horrific time in my life, but G-d replaced them far more friends than I had before. Everything that I lost, with one exception, has been given to me bigger and better. God is faithful, hold on to Jesus and try to ignore all the harshness of people, even the ones you love the most, After leaving the hospital from the heart surgery, I had no family or friends that would talk with me for a very long time. It was very lonely, but Jesus was there even when I was angry with him for allowing all of it to happen. God is faithful and it won’t last forever.

    • John Knipper

      You “reached me,”
      brother. Thank you.
      John

    • Stephen

      My brother and I have been wondering where the podcast went. I’m so sorry you have to deal with this and I will be praying for Christ to take it away. It’s so sad how Christians put pastors into an entirely different category (and one that is nearly impossible to live up to) than anyone else. You aren’t gods. We’re all human, we all struggle. I just want you to know that you have given so many people happiness through what you do, so take all the time you need to find your own happiness.
      From another person you’ve affected,
      Stephen

    • Robert Herrington

      James,

      I just read your post and I want to thank all the people who have already commented so positively. I hope you are encouraged by the outpouring of those you have touched in real life and those you have inspired in the web-o-sphere. I’ve lost count of the number of podcasts whose hosts have said that you inspired them to start their own show, myself included.

      I have not experienced what you are going through from your perspective but I have experienced some things as a spouse of someone who struggles with depression. It’s like a blanket of heaviness that covers the whole family. Part of your responsibility right now is to allow Jen to be strong when you cannot. Anyone who has listened to any of your shows for any length of time knows how you feel about your family. You are truly blessed to have them.

      I sincerely hope that this public expression of your illness helps to aleaviate some of your stress. Doing this was as important as you finding the right medication.

      And to those Christians out there who think its wrong to take medication for mental disorders, you’re right! Everyone knows blood-letting is the way go. (Sarcasm) 🙂

      Anyway, you are well loved and appreciated even though your brain sometimes lies to you. Do what you need to when you can and let others help when you can’t.

      Love you man.

    • Theinfamousemma

      James ,
      I know exactly what you’re going through. I am still struggling with it and battling habits ive formed to tolerate with my depression. But I absolutely understand. I’ve been there and still go there sometimes. And I understand the fight, the fear, the pain, the struggles, and the disappointment that go along with it. And it is so helpful to know that there’s someone that I look up to who actually struggles with something too. Keep up the fight, and I’m praying for ya, and I know you’ll be able to get through it just like I am getting better with therapy and medication.
      Be strong and God bless.

    • Larry Lute

      James,
      I want you to know how very appreciated your children’s ministry has been, what a tremencous blessing you have been and are. I appreciate your openess and candor in talking about the depression.

      I feel like God will use this for ministry too.

      Hang in there, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and God is that light. Don’t give up. We are praying for you and believing that the Lord will heal this either with drugs or outright. Don’t quit!

      I love you, Pastor.

      Larry Lute

    • James, you have a lot of fans. Some who are close and personal, and those like me, a total stranger bbut one who has come to know you through your podcast.
      I grew up with a mom who suffered from “mental breakdowns” which seems to be another way to label depression. She never was healed from it, but she did concquer it enough to enjoy life in her own way. I have my own disability, and know that it isn’t always God’s plan to be healed. Instead, it’s an opportunity to lean on him for strength to deal with that part of our life that was taken away. AsIf you don’t have a copy of it, do a search for the poem, Footprints in the Sand. It spoke to me during a time of a few years of personal grief. We all walk through low and dark times for one reason or another. Sometimes God delivers us from it, some things are an ongoing battle, and we need to pray for the strength to get through the ordeal, one step at a time. Happiness and wealth come and go, but the joy that following God can give can’t be taken away by our life circumstance. It would be selfish of me to say that I hope to see you back in the world of podcasting, but stay faithful to God and let people minister to you as you have ministered to so well through the podcast, and in your children’s ministry. You’re definitely not a loser, you have too many people who love you to be one of those.

    • As someone
      who has listened to your podacsts, its kind of like a one sided friendship where one gives to someone they dont know, and the other becomes attached to the giver that never knows them. Although I am unknown to you, you (and john) seem like friends that would hang out while the kids play at a youth function./ As a friend, I offer no judgement nor condemnation. I will do what I have always done. I Will Be there. When you are ready to walk (podcast) again, you will find many that are ready to walk with you. God Bless. Bro Petrella.

    • Dayna

      Hello James, Its great that you decided to write this all out. Sometimes it really helps. I’m glad you shared a bit of yourself with me and I will be thinking of you. I know you will heal for the sake of yourself and everyone who cares about you. Nobody’s Listening actually helped me through a very dark time of my life, so I know there are sometimes things in life that you come across by accident that end up changing your life forever. Stay strong, Blackoutgurl.

    • James,

      I was just shown this post a few days ago and I’ll be honest, it took me until now to process all you’re going through. As a son of a man who suffered with depression and bi-polar disorder I know that the last few months of struggle must have been earth shaking for you and your family. I am praying for you all.

      I would like to thank you for all you do for this community you’ve built. You inspired me personally to begin podcasting and sharing my passions online. These passions have now turned into a calling that I’m pursuing in my career. Just when I thought James had reached the pinnacle of his influence in my life I received an invite to be on NLCast and my show’s listener-ship increased substantially because of it. Now I’ve been missing your online content and all the inspiration you share with your community and then I am shown this post and again I’m inspired. I’m inspired that you are sharing your struggle with the same community you’ve built. I’m inspired that you’re starting a conversation that will break the misconceptions and idiocy of the religious view of depression and mental illness. Thank you James, for speaking out and for sharing your story.

      Again, I’m grateful for your influence on my life. Even now as you are going through all of this you’re influencing people and God is using you. You are HIS, you are AWESOME, and you are our friend. We all love you and are praying for you and your amazing family.

      Michael and Melinda Prince
      and Jason, Alivia, and Brenna

    • Jake

      Hey James! I’m a new listener, I randomly found you on iTunes back around the time you posted this. I enjoy the podcast so much that I’m starting from the beginning. I’m just finished episode 26, and I can’t seem to listen to them fast enough. I’m also going through a time of depression right now, and your podcast has been keeping me smiling through this very tough time. I want to say thanks for doing what you do! I’m not sure where you’re at now, but I’m hoping that you stay connected with all of us.

      Jake

    • Still missing you James.

      Every day I open my podcatcher and wait for the bling that announces all the podcasts for the day are done downloading. I slowly scroll down the list, expanding the treeview that will show me what’s new.

      When I get to the Nobody’s Listening feed, I hold my breath, and cross my fingers. Like a nervous teenage girl who’s waiting by the phone for a call from that special somebody, I expand the view and see that the feed is the same.

      Then I say a heartfelt prayer that you are having success today, and holding fast in walking with Jesus. Right now, and in each moment today. Let him be strong for you.

      Even if you don’t return to podcasting, we’ll meet someday (stalker) er… I mean Heaven. 🙂

      You’re in my head, and on my heart James.

    • Ryan

      Hi James – I’ve been a long time listener of the podcast and I just assumed you were really busy with life and that’s why the podcast hadn’t been updated in a while, so I checked out facebook and found the link to this blog.

      Your story sounds a little familiar to me, with feeling a high when you have a success, but then a low of self-doubt immediately after that can be stronger than the high.

      I wish I could say something really poignant and uplifting, but I don’t want to come off as being insincere. Just want to tell you “I love you man” in a manly, Christian brother way 🙂

      Be strong as you can for your family, and I hope you start to feel normal and happy again. I’ll be thinking of you and Jen and the kids. God bless you guys.

      I’m from America’s Hat – Canada. I’m also a Christian dad who’s into pop-culture and trying to make art here and there. I don’t have an official website, but I’ve got some art stuff out there on google – ie. threadless, teefury, etc.

      A fan and friend,
      Ryan

    • Dennis

      Love you James,

      I appreciate your honesty and wish so much I could help in some way with this . . . you are and will always be a friend and inspiration to me.

      Dennis

    • Erika

      James,

      I tend to be behind the news curve, but glad I finally found your post. Just another note to let you know you’re not alone. My husband suffered from depression for years after we left college and it took him a long time to realize exactly what it was and seek help. He thought he was literally going insane and it frightened both of us. After much trial and error he found some medication that brought him back. Neither of us realized how much depression had changed his personality until he started the medication – all of a sudden he was the person I first met and fell in love with again.

      I don’t generally suffer from depression, but I do have generalized anxiety disorder, and can understand a portion of what you’re going through on that end. I ignored it for a long time, thinking it would go away, but it just kept getting worse and worse until the anxiety was constant. That’s when I finally admitted I needed help and sought out therapists and doctors. I still struggle now, but things have been getting better. There are a lot of little realizations I’ve made about myself and about anxiety that have helped me to cope and deal with the dark moods that sweep over me from time to time. I’m still trying to get a good balance of medication, but thankfully no longer feel as hopeless about the situation as I did when it all started. One thing that really helped me, once I admitted it to myself, was hearing about other people’s battles with anxiety. I don’t want anyone else to go through what I have, but its nice to know I’m not alone and not beyond help. There are so many success stories out there, and I’m in the process of adding mine. So are you.

    • Super squeak

      :*(

    • Rocky

      Hi Pastor James,

      This would be my first time writing to you, even though you have been my friend and mentor for years. Your podcasts at HIACP have helped catapult me from a kids min volunteer to a full time staff position as Children’s Ministry Director. I cannot thank you enough for all of the tips and advice you have given to all of us over the years.

      So having said that, I would also like to say thank you for sharing your story. It certainly hits close to home for many of us. I hate to hear that you are struggling. I have struggled with depression and anxiety for a few years now. Having suffered with this myself, I am firmly convinced that it is not the depression that keeps us in bondage, but the silence, the secrecy, and the shame. Those are the things the devil uses… the silence and the secrecy, we do that to ourselves with the hopes to avoid judgement and shame, which is what we are already doing to ourselves anyway… It’s so exhausting and so… depressing and it’s just like the devil to use our own fears against us, am I right? The depression is an illness, like diabetes…. It can be managed, but it will always be there, just lurking below the surface. So every day, we get up and take a pill or two, eat right, exercise, take a shower, put on our makeup (ok, maybe you should skip that last one), and we walk out the door like nothing is wrong on the inside. And just like people are saved by others sharing the warning signs and risk factors of a disease like diabetes, people will be saved by you sharing your own story. It’s really amazing once you open up and tell others what is really going on in your life. It’s just the most incredible thing… You realize you aren’t alone, that you aren’t the only one who doesn’t feel like taking a shower or getting dressed or doing your job that you L-O-V-E. You aren’t the only one who just cannot make it out of bed today. By sharing your story, you have given yourself such a gift. You can now know that you are not alone, that you do t gave to keep secrets from your loved ones and that there IS NO SHAME HERE! (Sorry, I think I stepped into preacher mode there for a sec).

      There are so many things I have learned about myself over the years that help me to push through my depression. I have an ever growing list of things I MUST do when the depression monster rears its ugly head. I MUST MUST MUST read my Bible first, before absolutely anything else. If I try to do anything other than pee and push the button on the coffee pot, I will never even open my Bible. You see, I am not normally the jump-out-of-bed-and -read-my-Bible kind of girl. I get to it sometime later in the day, in the ten minutes one of my four children is not turning my hair gray before my eyes. I also have to eat regular, healthy meals, plan time to breathe, and occasionally lock myself into the bathroom and cry and scream for a few minutes. (That last one probably isn’t the best way to handle things, but it works like a charm.)

      Anyway, as you make your way through this journey, take note of the things that work for you. Write them down if you need to. Lots of love to you Pastor James. And many, many prayers will be said for you.

      May you have the peace and hope of Christ Jesus with you always.

      • nlcast

        “It is not the depression that keeps us in bondage, but the silence, the secrecy, and the shame. Those are the things the devil uses…”

        I love that thought.

    • this is a truly sad story. I am sorry for what you have gone through. YOu and your shows have always given to me and any moral support I can give i will.

    • James,
      I just found this today and I just want to say that I am so proud of you being honest about what has been going on. I was verbally and emotionally abused by my dad and friends for most of my life which caused a lot of damage. I lived in a place of darkness and cutting myself off from others because I didn’t want to get hurt by another person. I was taught to keep my mouth shut and to toe the line. I reacted to others very negatively because this is what I experienced at home and I didn’t know any better. I started a relationship with a man who had traveled a similar path of abuse and we taught each other how to love.

      I had been working with a spiritual director for a few years and she could sense that there was something else going on with me that was beyond her expertise and encouraged me to seek counseling. In March of 2011 I started my healing journey and through spiritual guidance and counseling I broke through the walls that I put up and I started doing the work I needed to to rid myself of all the garbage that was wearing me down. I graduated from counseling in October of 2012 and continue to marvel at the transformation that has taken place. So much so that I wanted and needed to share it with others. Once I started sharing my story of pain with others, I lost the shame I had over it because I no longer held it all by myself.

      I started the From Darkness to Light Online ministry in April of 2012 and in short episodes each week I share where I’ve come from, where I’m going and what I’ve learned along the way.

      That’s my story in a nutshell. The hardest thing to do to seek help is to take the first steps forward. In sharing your story here, you have begun your process to get healthy. I hope and pray that your journey continues to be positive and you find all the support you need. When you are ready to podcast again, we will be ready to listen. Take the time you need and seek God to journey with you.

      God bless you and your family.

    • 2bro’scast

      Hang in there man, u have been my podcasting mentor and still r i will be praying that Yah will heal u, YAH bless man

      • nlcast

        Thanks. Yah was what my brother David used to call my brother Johnathan.

    • I Believe In You

      You Have Been Such An Inspiration To Me! Your Cheerful Spirit, And Crizzlness! Stay Strong James ! You Are Not Alone

    • Mary Teson Fisher

      May God Bless You! Depression is an illness and should be treated as such! I hate that there is such a stigma surrounding it. I hope that you are able find peace.

      • nlcast

        Thanks for the comment. Yes. Peace has come. Things have been awesome for 11 weeks at this point. What’s that? Almost three months. Woot!

    • I’m a new listener to the NLcast, and I love it. Sometimes it’s the only thing that can put a smile on my face.
      I was on the website to see whether the podcast was still running or not, since the newest episode on my iPod is from June 2010, and I came across this post.
      I just wanted to let you know, from a person you don’t know from Adam, that I relate. I’m not bipolar, but I have depression pretty bad, and with every paragraph of this post, I found myself nodding and saying to myself, “Me too.”
      I also have generalized anxiety disorder; I know what it feels like to be curled into a ball, unable to relax, while knives shoot through your chest with each too-quick breath. I know what the whole nightmare scene is like as well. I’ve got the insomnia symptom pretty bad along with all that, which exacerbates it all.
      So I just wanted to let you know, like a lot of the other commenters here did, that I completely understand.
      And I don’t think I could say anything better than I have on my blog – http://elizabethaltenbach.wordpress.com/category/writing/devotionals-and-lessons/ (pretty much all the posts on this page). Yes, I just shamelessly hawked my blog, but take a look when you have time. I think it’ll do ya good. 🙂
      I’m still on the rough road of trying out different medications… I’m on my third antidepressant and my fourth anti-anxiety/anti-insomnia med. I still haven’t found the right cocktail (although margaritas are tasty…) but I’m not giving up, even though a lot of the time, I feel like there’s no point.
      People say just turn to God, or that God will pull you through (which is true), but those sayings don’t really help anything. My advice is to remember who you’re staying alive for; remember who you’re TRYING for. Your wife and your daughter, your family, your real friends (the ones who haven’t been scared off – yeah, I know how that goes too). Whatever you have to do; tie a string around your finger, get a tattoo on your arm, anything to remind you at your worst points that whether you feel it or not, there are people who love you and need you. That part’s pretty hard for me; I feel like people only talk to me because they’re so nice as to put up with me. I have a hard time believing that people actually love me. But they do, if I’m honest with myself. They’ve proven it over and over again.
      Love the podcast (I’m on Fish Cloverfield right now). Keep being funny!
      And kudos if you actually read this whole thing. (Fun fact: I used to think that kudos were something you ate, like Twinkies or Ding-Dongs.)

      • nlcast

        That’s a pretty deep blog you’ve got there. I read a couple articles and skimmed a few more. Thankfully, since this here post was written quite a while back, I’m doing much, much better. And through the memories of the worst days are very close, the experience is moving further and further away.
        I have found the right balance of medications (finally). The process seemed to take forever and in many ways was worse than the depression. Because it would make you feel better, normal, then stop working or screw you over with side effects.
        Hang in there, I went through several anti-everythings before they found something that would work for me… and it’s worth it once they do.
        I hope you’ll keep listening to NLCast – and check out my new show “Made My Day” at http://mmdcast.com

    • shir

      i listened to your podcast when i was 10 or 11 years old (i actually sent in a story about my dog once and it was read c: ). i’m 15 now, and i’ve developed major depressive disorder, anxiety, and an eating disorder. i just started therapy this january, and it seems to be working but the hopelessness is still there. to stumble across this and find someone who i looked up to so much as a kid is struggling through the same things helped me a lot. thank you for sharing your story.

      • Sorry I haven’t responded sooner! Thanks so much for this comment! I’m super-sorry to hear that you’re struggling… but keep on struggling! Just remember that everybody gets better. Everybody.

    • Tyler Gragg

      Depression Sucks. It sucks so bad that I want to beat it with a tire iron, maybe even run over it with a car sometimes. I’ve been in such a state of denial saying, “I’ve got Jesus in my heart so nothing can hurt me” for such a long time that I wanted to believe it. However, I couldn’t hold back the underlying doubts that there is a real illness here and it’s something that needs (through meds and Jesus) to be diagnosed and treated. Thanks James for living. You give us hope that there is a way to live again, one that brings a smile to our faces when we wake up.

      • Hey no problem. I’m just glad people are finding something supportive in all of my ramblings. I’ve found that the “Faith in Jesus keeps all the bad stuff from happening” thing to be total crap… as have many other people who have faced loss, tragedy or illness. That’s not a slam on God, it’s a slam on an incorrect understanding of faith… and a shallow one at that.
        I’ve found that though God doesn’t keep bad things from happening… he makes going through all of it worth it.

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