Tag Archives: depression

Two Sites on Facebook for you

I have two different sites on Facebook that I would urge you to consider joining, following, or whatever else you want to call it. Here are the links to them:



The reason it would be helpful for you to join one or both of these is that it will help get the word out about this FREE BOOK. I firmly believe that this book can serve as a blessing to many. I’ve already received a couple dozen notes from people suffering from depression, or family members of the same, who have benefited greatly from the Gospel in the book. Please help me spread the word.

Thanks much!
Todd Peperkorn
aka DMR

I Trust When Dark My Road NOW AVAILABLE FREE online


The wait is finally over!

Nearly three years after I began the process of writing this book, it is now available for free download. The free print version will be available sometime in mid-late July. It is at the printer as we speak.

I would urge you to go to the website listed below and order as many copies as they will let you or as many as you need. then download the book and start to get a sense of it. I am very excited and anxious to hear your thoughts on this, and I pray it will serve as a blessing to the Church.

I would especially like to thank Maggie Karner, Al Dobnia, Sarah M. Shafer, Philip Hendricksen, and the entire staff at LCMS World Relief and Human Care for their kindness and work in helping this project come to fruition. They are a wonderful group of people!

So check it out and let me know what you think.

In Christ
Pastor Todd Peperkorn
I Trust When Dark My Road: A Lutheran View of Depression

To request your complimentary copy,
call 800-248-1930, ext. 1380,

How to order "I Trust When Dark My Road: A Lutheran View of Depression"

The following is the blurb that is on page 10 of the Spring 2009 edition of Caring, from LCMS World Relief:

Free Resource Explores Clergy and Depression LCMS World Relief and Human Care’s newest resource reflects Rev. Todd Peperkorn’s personal journey through depression, I Trust When Dark My Road: A Lutheran View of Depression. LCMS WR-HC Executive Director Rev. Matthew Harrison recommends the book to all associated with professional church work: “This book offers a path to hope, and a future through Christ.” Dr. Beverly K. Yahnke, a licensed clinical psychologist, writes in the book’s forward: “When one’s mind and soul journey across the ghastly landscape of clinical depression, the adventure may challenge faith, hope, and life itself. … Peperkorn invites us into the world of a depressed Christian who remains reliant upon God’s grace.” The book is expected to be available in mid-June. To request your complimentary copy, call 800-248-1930, ext. 1380.

I am still trying to figure out if there is a way of ordering them online. LCMS World Relief is currently working on setting it up on their online store. As soon as that is available, I will give you the link. But in the meantime, I would encourage you to call and order as many as you want. The more that are ordered up front, the more helpful it is going to be for them in determining a print run. Please call them directly.


PS Yes, my super double secret identity is now officially not secret anymore.


Physical and Mental Illness, and how we treat them differently


I am currently laid up with a physical illness. Nothing serious, so don’t fret, but it reminds me again of how differently we treat physical and mental illness. Here’s a little compare and contrast:

    1. In physical pain, we seek to find the cause and solve it. In mental pain, we try to suppress it.

    2. In physical pain, the one in pain receives sympathy and care. In mental pain, the sufferer is avoided because they are somehow tainted or weird.

    3. In physical pain, the congregation prays for the afflicted. In mental pain, the afflicted suffers alone because mental pain is never shared.

    4. In physical pain, the assumption is that this is not the sufferer’s fault. In mental pain and illness, the assumption is that there is something wrong with the person.

Those are my initial comparisons. What’s on your mind?


Why do you go on medication, and why/when do you go off of it?

One of the questions that regularly come up to me has to do with the ons and offs of medication. When and why do you go on medication, and when and why do you go off of them? While the two are related, they are not the same.


Why go on medication?

We go on medication simply put because we need it. There may be many factors which go into that decision. It may involve mood, basic functionality, self-image, the ability to handle situations or stress, being able to interact with other people, to keep us safe from ourselves or others. You know your own list. For myself, I knew I had to go on medication when I found myself hating the things that I love: my family, my wife, my vocation as pastor, even my hobbies and the things that I enjoy became a burden. I couldn’t handle living any longer, and so something had to change. While one can go the route of simply counseling or natural remedies, in my view and after much reading on the topic, I simply haven’t found any cure or natural remedy or counseling method that is more effective than anti-depressants. Can you go other routes? Yes. Can they be effective? Yes. But I don’t believe that they will work as quickly or as well as modern anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication, and the body of research seems to continue to support that view.

That’s why I went on medication, both initially and that’s why I went on them the second time.

Why go off medication?

The reason we go off medication should be fairly simple: we go off medication because we no longer need it. Now that sounds very simple, but we often invest massive amounts of emotion and other negative energy into the decision to go off of medication. Here are a few that I see and hear pretty regularly:

1. I don’t want to become addicted.
2. I don’t want to be on medication for the rest of my life.
3. Taking medication makes me feel weak or out of control of my own body.
4. I don’t like the side effects.
5. I can’t afford to take them anymore (iow, money or insurance problems).
6. I have found a better alternative way of treatment.

Now out of that list (and I look forward to hearing yours), four of them are basically emotional responses to medicine (wants and likes and feelings), one is money based, the the final one is experimenting with others ways of treatment.

But remember that initial reason on why we go off medication: we go off medication because we no longer need it. Unless you are a doctor, it is very unlikely that you will be able to determine when you no longer need it, since the medicine working is what makes you have a normal, functional life in the first place.

So how do you know when you don’t need the medication? Here’s a tip: you can’t know by yourself. You’re not a doctor, you’re not a pharmacist, you’re not God. It takes outside evidence. It takes some level of expertise that most of us do not have. It’s why God gives us doctors and nurses and medication in the first place.

If you think you want to try going off your medication, I would suggest the following steps:

1. Wait a month.
2. Talk to your doctor about the possibility of going off medication.
3. Wait another month.
4. Talk to your spouse about it, and anyone else whom you trust that may have some wisdom on the subject.
5. Wait another month.
6. Talk to your doctor about it AGAIN.
7. Then come up with a reasonable timetable and a way of evaluating what changes happen as a result of going off the medication.

One thing is for sure. Don’t willy nilly try to do this. Don’t just decide you are going to “see how you feel” by stopping to take it for a while. That is just not wise.

If you are desperate, send me an email and we’ll talk about it directly. I’m happy to pool my wisdom/foolishness with yours.

Be at peace,

Who Switched Off My Brain? (Book Review)


Who Switched Off My Brain?
By Dr. Caroline Leaf

A parishioner of mine recommended this book to me, and so I read it a couple weeks ago. I checked it out from the library, so I don’t have it in front of me, but I wanted to give a brief review of it at least.

The author is I believe an evangelical Christian of some stripe. Basically what the book does is tries to explain in lay terms how the brain works, and the role that what she calls toxic thoughts and emotions have on your physical, mental and spiritual well being.

I found the book extremely helpful. It is easy to read, explains a lot of the things that many of us sort of know or suspect but can’t really explain, and does so in a positive, useful fashion. If you are trying to get a grip on how your mind works and why, this is the book for you.

I would also say that it would reinforce cognitive therapy in a general sense. Which I count as a very good thing.

My only caveat on the book is that because of her american evangelical background, she looks at forgiveness simply as a choice that one makes, and not as a gift given by God through the Word and faith. This didn’t distract me overmuch, but it is a caution. This, by the way, is also my general caution regarding cognitive therapy. It is a good and salutary method of counseling, as long as we can understand the role of God’s Word in creating faith in the process.

Anyway, it’s a good book. I recommend it, and I’ll probably buy it somewhere along the way here.


After Easter

We are now in the afterglow of the resurrection of our Lord. It is a good place to be.

For many pastors, Lent represents a trial of time, emotions, energy and just plain work. It is the six weeks which are both wonderful and incredibly taxing. Not to mention taxes coming right after Easter this year! So In the midst of all of this hoopla, I always find myself reveling in and enjoying the joy and festiveness of the season, but also breathing a little easier that the toughest six weeks of the year are behind me.

Of course, we put so many expectations on ourselves during this season. Easter sermons are the toughest to write and preach for me. A part of it is that I feel like I have to put on an unnaturally over-happy face on in order to get it “right”. This year I tried to embrace the challenge of Easter a little better, preaching the text (Mark 16:1-8) without using unnatural preaching styles for me. I think it worked pretty well.

So what do you do after Eastertide, oh pastors and people? Is it a time of relaxation, a time to return to “normal”, or something else?


Life (Good Friday meditation)


Three years ago Good Friday I seriously contemplated taking my own life. I’ve written about it before. Here is my post from last year.

My observation from this year is that I am struggling with negative thoughts. Good Friday truly is good. This is the gift of life that God gives to each one of us in the death of His Son. But for me, Good Friday is a reminder of arguably the worst days of my life. I don’t like the association that I have between Good Friday and those dark days and nights. How do I replace these negative memories with positive ones? I feel sometimes like negative memories are a mental cancer that eats away at me, that draws me back into the darkness. I don’t want them. No, I hate them. But I don’t know how to get them out of my head.

I feel like I need a mental reboot somehow. I want to erase these memories, overlay them with something brighter, think of God’s mercy and not my own weakness and failings. It will come. I believe it.

Despite all of my own struggles, I have a wonderful wife and family, a great congregation, and very very good friends. They keep me alive, and keep me going.

God’s peace be with you all this day.


Preaching the Resurrection to the Mentally Ill


It is hard to overestimate how important preaching the resurrection is to the mentally ill, including the clinically depressed. That’s the illness I know best, but I firmly believe that this holds true for anxiety, manic depression, schizophrenia and a host of other mental illnesses.

The reason is simple. For the mentally ill, you are trapped in your own mind and body. Your brain is not processing as it should, and so the chemical changes in your body interact in a very bad way with the sinful nature which infects us all. If your sickness is telling you that things are far, far worse than they really are, and your sinful nature is telling you that God hates you, put these two together and you have a recipe for personal and spiritual disaster.

Mental illness works as a magnifying glass and amplifier for so many of the doubts and fears which infect us all. Everyone has doubts about the future. Everyone has moments of despair. Everyone has fears about what they cannot control. Everyone questions their own worthiness before God and before their fellow human beings. We all go through these. But for the mentally ill, especially the clinically depressed, these feelings are all consuming. The physical illness can easily lead to anfectung, the struggle of the soul.

So why does preaching the resurrection matter to the clinically depressed? It matters because in the resurrection of the body, there is a future and a hope that is real, that is concrete, that will happen to matter what may be going on today or yesterday or tomorrow. St. Paul puts it best:

“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” (1Corinthians 15:19 KJV)

For the depressed, there is no tomorrow.
For the depressed, there is only thick darkness.
For the depressed, there is only more misery.
For the depressed, there is no escape except the grave.

But not so the Christian!

There is a tomorrow in Christ.
There is light that shines in the darkness.
There is joy in the body of Christ.
There is escape not in the grave but through the resurrection of the body.

So, my fellow preachers, give us the resurrection. It is my only hope out of the darkness. Give me Jesus Christ risen from the dead. Nothing, nothing else will ever satisfy.

Easter is coming. I can’t wait.

Nearly a week on Zoloft


It’s been nearly a week that I have been back on zoloft and clonapam. The side effects have been predictable: headaches, nausea and generally being tired. But overall I feel like my head is clearing up. I don’t expect to get the full benefit for another couple weeks.

Side effects always bother me. They just remind me that these drugs aren’t natural, and I worry that the side effects are worse than I really know about. But what I do know is that the alternative is worse. At least for me. It is in God’s hands. I am content.