About the Author

Sarah Mae has a past that would be her present if it weren’t for Jesus. A blogger, author, and co-author of Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe, she’s currently writing The Complicated Heart, a book for broken-hearted lovers of Jesus. Learn more at @thecomplicatedheart on Instagram or...

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  1. Sarah Mae,
    You wrote a piece not that long ago in which you shared, vulnerably, your struggles with this very same thing…and your battle with depressive thinking. Some negative self talk is what we all do, but when it goes beyond, it may be symptomatic of something bigger. I had a teacher who once said to me, “I’ve never seen anyone scare themselves into succeeding like you do.” I had that same negative, condemning self talk….”you’re so stupid…you’re going to fail….everyone else is smarter than you….”. I look back now and realize that I had a chemical imbalance in my brain…depression. It can start at any age. It wouldn’t be diagnosed until many years later, but these were the forerunner symptoms. I had very little self esteem. I succeeded at things only because I worked myself into the ground because I was sure that I would fail. Not surprisingly, I saw some of the same traits develop in one of my children. Depression and mental illness is genetic. Yes, definitely we need to replace the negative thoughts the enemy puts in our heads, hold them up to scripture and if they don’t match up, then throw them out. This is easier to do if something else isn’t at work. I am no doctor or psychologist, but after the piece you wrote about yourself and now about your child…I’m just putting the puzzle pieces together. It wouldn’t hurt to have your child meet with you with a professional. Self loathing and ultra condemning talk is often symptomatic that something needs some help. Scripture is powerful and is excellent to meditate on, but it’s hard for it to sink in if the other voices (the enemy) are screaming louder. Praying for you….been there and know the pain….
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

    • I’m so sorry Bev, but I just have to give another perspective to this. Just for us to consider. “Scripture is powerful and is excellent to meditate on, but it’s hard for it to sink in if the other voices (the enemy) are screaming louder. ”
      I’d say amen to the first part of the sentence, but there is no “but”. There’s only “but God”. Nothing is too hard for God and His word, cause it’s the Holy Spirit working through the word. That makes it totally different. The enemy can’t be louder or greater than the Word.

      All I want to say is, let us not be afraid that our children will be depressed too. Let us only trust in the power of God’s word and His love that works in us.

      This is not against you Bev in any way. My heart just feels broken for this topic and it’s too hard to explain all in one message like this. I know you mean it well – and so do I. It may be that many won’t understand what I’m saying but I just pray that God would reveal the point…

      • I appreciate your sharing about the power of God and His Word, Maija. He absolutely can overcome anything we face in life and give us victory through Christ. Bev didn’t express fear. God uses His Word, prayer, good friends’ support, and He has given us a variety of means of help. I know Bev is speaking for herself, but I would simply add that the brain is an organ and needs good care. If we go to doctors for help for any part of our body, and God doesn’t condemn that (I’m thinking even about the physician Luke, author of the Gospel as one Biblical example), it would make sense that we can seek help for our brain as well. I don’t think we have to have a mindset of fear and superimpose fear or expect it for ourselves or for our children, but when problems manifest, we go to God to seek guidance for the source of our difficulties, and sometimes He leads us to physicians. The key is in running to Him, and in discerning what He guides us to do and then doing it. God bless you in your strong faith, and God bless Bev in hers.
        Lynn Morrissey

        • Well said Lynn, thank-you for your well spoken words,
          Just yesterday I read an article about a lady nearby that had jumped off a ferry. For six hours Search and Rescue looked for her. Just as they they were about to pull up the life ring they found her. She hid from them the whole time. They said, normally people can only survive two to three hours in the Pacific. This lady had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and chose to end it. But God obviously had other plans, (it turned out she was diagnosed wrong). This lady wasn’t well emotionally, God intervened and sent help.
          Blessings to all,
          Penny

          • thankyou Penny–a riveting story of God’s intervening grace. Reminds me of the old English hymnist Cowper, where something similar happened when he was about to jump off a bridge. You have good words here.
            Lynn

        • Thank you for your comment, Lynn. As I said, there’s so much in this topic that I simply can’t say all I’d like to say here. But you’re right. Everyone does according to their faith and that’s totally fine.
          In this case I would suggest to do exactly as you said and ask God what to do first. I just wanted to encourage Sarah to also trust that God is big enough to overcome those lies with the truth that sets us free. And there are times when doctors can’t even help us, but He always can. I’m in that place right now.

          • Maija,
            My prayers are with you, that you will receive the help that you need.Please read my comment above, I hope that it may give you some hope…..
            Blessings,
            Penny

          • Thank you, Penny. 🙂 This is nothing too serious tho, only hard to live with. But I’m not giving up hope.

          • And thank you, Maija, for your kind understanding. It’s so true that though we thank God for means of communication like blogs and FB, they are not the same as indepth conversations, where we can dialog, ask specific and nuanced questions, her voice inflections, etc. Yet as we graciously try our best to communicate via these imperfect means, I do believe God works. I sense that by your kind response. And yes, it is a deep subject for sure. 🙂 And yes, docs surely don’t know all the answers and some are very arrogant. I’ve fired a few! But God has used them to help as well. I’ve suffered serious bouts of depression since my teens, and the Lord ultimately has been my refuge. But as I see this condition really widespread in my family, and have begun to think more about what I said to you and Bev, I also realize there may be something physical going on. I’m taking it to the Lord, and asking His help. Bev’s comments really hit me (in a good way, I thnk). Again, thank you for the sensitive dialogue.
            Blessings,
            Lynn
            And through all this, my prayers and gratitude to SarahMae for a beautiful post and her compassionate mother’s heart! I had failed to express that.

      • I am going to add my two cents to this conversation. I too suffer from depression. In the past I also dealt with low self,esteem. I have been a Christian for a long time and during this time, I have been dealing with these issues. The word is powerful and life changing. I read it daily and spend quiet time. I know and understand what Bev was saying. It is very hard for me to hear, read, comprehend the word at times when other voices or negative thoughts are so loud. When you are in that depressive state of mind, you look at things through cloudy glasses and it is hard to believe anything during those moments. I felt so guilty when the doctor put me on medication to help me because of well meaning sisters in the Lord at my church. They kept telling me to pull myself up by my bootstraps, read and believe the word and I would be fine. Until I researched, got counseling and learned that depression was a disease and genetic, i couldn’t understand why I could not just pull myself together. I have now been on medication for many years and it has changed my life. I believe God uses doctors, medicine and many other sources to heal his children. I have finally come to peace with this disease. I thank Bev for helping me understand depression and in talking with her, I finally don’t feel guilty that I take medicine to help me. this is an issue that needs people to understand, have compassion and not be so quick to say just believe the word and Holy Spirit. It’s not being afraid that our children will get depression. I trusted in the word, God and prayer but still have to deal with depression. I am thankful for the word to help me through my journey each day facing whatever I have to face. Thanks Bev for an honest, open realistic discussion on depression. I read your blog at your web site on depression and it was very helpful for me a sufferer of depression and for my family and friends who sometimes don’t understand what depression does to someone.

        • Dear Kathleen. It seems to me that you heard me saying things I didn’t mean and that is not a surprise in such a short message I wrote (with my smartphone btw…)
          I’m not going to answer everything I’d like to, but a few things only.
          First and foremost, I don’t believe that it is about what you have heard in the church before. God is the one working in us, we can never do anything on our own. For Him anything is possible (please read eph 3:20-21).

          And guilt is never from God. Not EVEN when He corrects.

          I just believe God can heal anything with or without doctors, even depression. 🙂
          I’m not sure if you saw my previous message as I had to reply on Pennys message. Maybe you want to read that too. 🙂
          God bless you sis! ❤

        • Maybe I’ll just add my previous message here again so Lynn will also see it if she hasn’t yet:

          “Lynn, I couldn’t agree more. I’m so not willing to just be right – and that’s not a good motive to write. I’m thankful for your kindness as well.

          Yep, that might really be true and I think that we can’t mostly even divide mental from physical. I mean our thoughts effect our body condition and vice versa. Proverbs says it quite clearly. So I guess it is important to take care of both, the mental and the physical issues. Still, Jesus can (and I believe wants to) heal both. But He can use doctors as well as we are still growing in faith. this is just what I believe God has been revealing me during my illness. Ps. Note that I’m from Finland so my English is not perfect, but I’m doing my best “

          • Additionally, here is a scripture that I find interesting concerning this issue (and there are lots of similar scriptures in proverbs) :
            Proverbs 17:22 ” A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones.”

            Oh and I hope my English is not too hard to understand, please ask if you’re not sure what I tried to say. 🙂

      • Lynn, I couldn’t agree more. I’m so not willing to just be right – and that’s not a good motive to write. I’m thankful for your kindness as well. 🙂

        Yep, that might really be true and I think that we can’t mostly even divide mental from physical. I mean our thoughts effect our body condition and vice versa. Proverbs says it quite clearly. So I guess it is important to take care of both, the mental and the physical issues. Still, Jesus can (and I believe wants to) heal both. But He can use doctors as well as we are still growing in faith. 🙂 this is just what I believe God has been revealing me during my illness. Ps. Note that I’m from Finland so my English is not perfect, but I’m doing my best 😉

  2. Loved reading this here, self doubt and not reaching his measure (God) has consumed me these past few days all fueled or justified in my husbands eyes… that’s the hurt and the thought in my head. Too ashamed to share to those who are my friends- it’s amazing how the devil can excerbate those niggly feelings. My eyes looks like a blow fish from crying all puffy and red. I’m not sure why I’m opening up here but I prayed for Gods comfort and to receive his fix! Please pray for me sister your post is so very timely God is listening xx

    • Jas, you are A beautiful creation, a child made in His image. I’ll br praying for you sister.

    • Zephaniah 3:27 The Lord your God is in your midst,
      a mighty one who will save;
      he will rejoice over you with gladness;
      he will quiet you by his love;
      he will exult over you with loud singing.

      Praying to Him who is the God of comfort, as you clothe yourself with the full armour of God! (Especially the helmet of salvation, protecting your thoughts and the breastplate of righteousness protecting your heart) Amen. love a sister in Christ

  3. I finally had to let self doubt go. Finals hit me hard this year combined with tremendous health issues. Being the oldest student in the program really brought the self doubt on like a full force tornado. What changed? Acceptance. I accepted the fact that I just might have to take an expensive course over again. Turn it over. I have to turn over my self doubt to God. Thank you for reminding me that I am a child of God.

  4. I do struggle with this. (One of those things I know I should have “outgrown” by now, but . . .)
    The one and only thing that comes between me and negativity is the irrefutable Truths about God that lead me into believing Truth about myself. It makes my heart sing to know that you are already in the process of building this fortress around your child’s heart.

  5. Sarah Mae,
    Yes, we all have this “Hag in the Attic” I call her. She is constantly breathing opportunities when we are tired, buy into someone else’s beliefs about ourselves or just feeling low, she will come barreling out of the attic on a nanosecond. This is where I personally turn to scriptures and also the community at (in)courage helps as well.
    We as women need to speak our truths no matter what! Truths so real and authentically without pointing fingers and blaming. We are such miraculous souls created by the Creator-God. However, this fast-paced, instantaneously, the negative society we live in can be a real challenge sometimes.
    Thank you for leading this conversation, it is REAL.

  6. Sara Mae,

    This spoke to my heart. I have this self loathing of myself. I tell myself everyday that I’m to fat and I’m not good enough to have friends. I also feel like I’m not good enough for my own family so much so that I have tried to commit suicide twice. I keep telling myself it will get better, but I keep doing it. I don’t know how to make myself stop feeling this way.

    • Dear Gina,

      Thank you for being so vulnerable with your struggles. I cannot ignore the fact that you have confessed trying to commit suicide twice.
      As a Christian and a counsellor I would encourage you to seek professional help, especially if you have a plan and are intending to harm yourself again. You are a child of God, who is fearfully and wonderfully made – and often when you are mired in self loathing and condemnation – it is hard to accept and believe this truth about what God says about you. With the support of friends, family – God’s intervention and healing through Doctors, medication and counselling your negative self-talk and your life can turn around. Please don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for help. It’s hard – I know – I’ve been there, but there is new life and a brighter future ahead.

  7. Sara Mae,
    Thank-you sharing your post. That was a very thoughtful script that you wrote for your daughter, your compassion will carry her through a long way.. Sometimes when thoughts we’ve heard get stored up we tend to repeat them. Ever since my kids were young I tried to teach them not to use negative words but sometimes they still managed to creep in. They are everywhere: school, TV, friends etc. But since not everyone does this, there is alot to be considered.
    Blessings to all,
    Penny

  8. Sarah Mae,
    Thank you for sharing your post and reminding me of. who I am. I usually do not comment here, but this came at the right time for me.
    I have been struggling a lot with negative self talk and being negative about myself lately. I just quit my job and was not received well. This made me feel as a bad person, not loyal, etc…These thoughts never go away. I’m indeed a Child of God who loves. Today is a new day full of blessings. Thank you.

  9. Thanks Sarah, I always enjoy your writing. I was struggling with negative self talk today so this post was well timed for me.

  10. My son says the same things, but I have to admit I also do it in my head. I’m just finishing up Breaking Free and out of that there was an idea to write down the truth specifically combating the lies being told. I bought tiny spiral memo pads and started filling them up, one for him and one for me. I am praying these little books will change our mindsets dramatically!

  11. Genetic, environmental, and yet spiritual. we all face the accuser of the brethren as believers. we must learn to silence him in our thought life, he has no right to accuse you when you are bought with the blood of Jesus. Job did not have a better covenant and promises.

  12. And He is never more delighted with us than when we bring Him our broken, repentant hearts and in exchange He gives us His Love and Forgiveness. Wow — What a trade!! What an awesome God we serve as His children!

  13. Thank you for your beautiful words, Sarah Mae, and the encouraging script you’re writing for your daughter. I am so sorry that she is suffering from this pain at such an early age. I know the enemy uses negative self-talk, self-loathing and depression to attack us, and this weapon seems especially effective against the followers of Christ. I don’t know why that is, unless perhaps that we just long to be better and are so acutely aware of our many shortcomings. I’ve read many helpful books in my struggle with these issues (and have been treated for depression), but I don’t know what to recommend that would be helpful for a child the age of your sweet daughter. My heart breaks for her, though, and I will keep you and her in my prayers. I know our Father hears our prayers and will heal her heart. Thank you for the reminder that as I mourn for a child I don’t know personally, how much more our heavenly Father mourns for His children who are in pain and how He longs for us to know in our “knower” (not just in our minds) that He loves us. May you and your sweet girl find peace and know how precious you are in your Father’s eyes. He loves you because you are His and He will never let you go. Blessings to you, and thank you again for your precious words.

  14. I would normally not tell about a blog as I haven’t had time to write in a whill because while working full time the Lord called me to go back to school and get my masters I counseling. I would never have listened if I hadn’t written the post, as I am “too old and too dumb” which keep hearing but knock them down.

    Bethbiskup@blogspot.com. Who is a bully?

  15. Sarah Mae,

    Thank you very much for being so open and honest here about your and your family. I also suffer from negative self talk. All it takes is one mistake or an argument & I hear “dumb, stupid, not pretty, etc.” I once heard a preacher say-like you did that we are fearfully & wonderfully made in the image of Almighty God. If we are made in His image & call ourselves those things-in a sense we are calling God the same thing. That helped me quite a bit. I was born with 2 punctured ear drums. No one really knew it, but I didn’t talk till I was 3 or so. I went to doctors in GA & they discovered the problem & did surgery. I wore hearing aids for a while, but now both ear drums are closed up. I can hear pretty good.

    I agree with people seeking psychological help. Even Mary Beth Chapman-Stephen C. Chapman’s wife has depression. It was diagnosed as a chemical imbalance. You just don’t know. I would pray about the situaion & see what the Lord says.

    Blessings 🙂