For years, Pastor Perry Noble told parishioners that the solution to mental anguish and depression was simple: pray more, read the Bible and work hard to memorize scripture.
But his own battle with depression and anxiety later changed all that, causing him to reverse course on nearly everything he had said and felt about mental illness.
Noble, pastor of NewSpring Church in South Carolina, revealed on his blog this week that he began relying on anti-depressant medication after experiencing thoughts of suicide.
“In 2008 I entered into the darkest time of my entire life that lasted for around three years,” Noble wrote. “It was brutal. I even gave suicide serious consideration.”
After working through his depression by changing situations in his life and going through biblical counseling, things were looking up. Noble said both he and his doctor decided that anti-depressants weren’t the best course of action at the time.
“I secretly held this as a badge of honor, that I was somehow a better person because ‘I did not need medication’ to defeat depression!,” Noble wrote.
The preacher said that he thought his days suffering from depression and anxiety were behind him, but he was wrong. Despite doing a sermon series on stress and anxiety at NewSpring in 2012 and even deciding to start a book about his personal story, Noble said the creeping feeling of desperation eventually returned.
“As I began [writing my book] the feelings of anxiety and worry began to slowly slither back into my life like a snake sneaking up on its prey,” he wrote. “I remember writing a chapter in the book, driving home and having a panic attack in my living room.”
His struggles with anxiety returned and, after speaking with his doctor, Noble decided to take medication, despite his previous belief that anti-depressants were for “weaklings.” Looking back, he said deciding to take medication was “one of the best decisions” he had ever made.
Now, Noble wants to help others break through the stigmas and assumptions surrounding mental illness.
“I’m not ashamed of the fact I am taking an anti-depressant and have done a complete 180 in regards to how I used to feel about them,” he said. “It was quite humbling for me to begin to do something I once considered to be a sign of weakness.”
Noble’s revelation, which will be documented in his upcoming book, “Overwhelmed,” comes at a time when Christians are considering new ways to address mental illness. Many of these efforts were sparked or intensified after Pastor Rick Warren’s 27-year-old son, Matthew, committed suicide last April.
Warren is planning a daylong event next month in collaboration with Saddleback Church, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange and the National Alliance on Mental Illness to help churches learn tactics for reaching those suffering with mental ailments.
Featured image via PerryNoble.com