Depression can be debilitating! But it can also be overcome!
Hope Prevails! And Dr. Michelle Bengtson shares how!
Giveaway! So read to the end!
Heart”wings” sisters and dear sisters-in-Christ all over the world, we are blessed today! I have the privilege of introducing you to Doctor Michelle Bengtson, one of our Heart”wings” sisters, the author of Hope Prevails: Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression at HeartWings Blog.
I love visiting with Christian authors and usually put their biographies near the end, but so that you know what an awesome guest we have today, I decided to place it here, before getting into our visit.
BIO: Dr. Michelle Bengtson (PhD., Nova Southeastern University) is an international speaker and the author of best-selling Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression and the newly released companion Hope Prevails Bible Study.
She has been a neuropsychologist for more than twenty years, and is now in private practice in Southlake, Texas where she evaluates, diagnoses, and treats children and adults with a variety of medical and mental health disorders. This doctor knows pain and despair firsthand and combines her professional expertise and personal experience with her faith to address her patients’ issues, both for those who suffer and the ones who care for them.
Using sound practical tools, she affirms worth and encourages faith. Dr. Bengtson offers hope as a key to unlock joy and relief—even in the middle of the storm. She and her husband of thirty years have two teenage sons and reside in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. She blogs regularly on her own site: http://www.DrMichelleBengtson.com
Dr. Michelle, so many sweet sisters are suffering from depression and all the maladies it brings. Writing HOPE PREVAILS, you’re able to reach so many more, but I know that’s a lot of extra work. When did you first come to the knowledge you wanted to write a book?
I started writing as a child, submitting pieces to writing competitions in children’s magazines. I loved writing so much that I knew that eventually writing would encompass a greater part of my life. Unfortunately, Caryl, I think many professors in graduate school think it’s their role to beat every ounce of self-esteem out of their students, in theory, to build them up again. Sometimes that building up again never happens.
Mercy, that seems like a pretty tough row to hoe. One would think a professor would be full of encouragement and bolstering self-esteem!
When I went to graduate school, a couple of key professors had me convinced that I couldn’t speak or write, so I gave up my dream of being a writer. Almost two decades later, I attended a writer’s conference (quite ironic in itself, since I didn’t think I could write) when one of the instructor’s had us take ten minutes to pray and ask the Lord what He had to say to us.
What a great thing to do! And what did you hear?
Two things. I heard the words “Hope Prevails,” and I clearly heard Him speak to my heart and say, “You can continue to listen to those voices who told you that you can’t write, or you can listen to the One who gave you the gift and instilled the desire in your heart.” From that day on, I’ve never looked back.
Well, there you go! That is so awesome, and proof our God is so faithful in the plans He has for us! I love Him so! He once told me something very similar. Could you share a little about your practice?
By day I am a board-certified clinical neuropsychologist and have been in the mental health field for close to twenty-five years. Patients come for an evaluation to determine the cause of their difficulties, which can range from ADHD or learning disabilities to depression or anxiety, to concussions or dementia. After the evaluation, I interpret the data, determine the diagnosis, and then offer treatment suggestions to give them help, hope, and healing.
Each one is surely blessed! I’ve heard so much about your new release. Would you share it with our readers? And feel free to mention your first book as well.
I’m glad to. The first, Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression released in August 2016. In that book, I share not only as a doctor who diagnoses patients with depression, but I also share my own personal story about finding healing from depression.
The interesting thing was that when I went through depression, I tried all the things I had suggested to my patients to do for years, which helped, but it wasn’t until I started addressing the spiritual roots of depression that I found true healing. That’s the part that I share most about in Hope Prevails.
I believe we often go through bad experiences–in part–so we’re able to be more empathetic. I’m certain you going through that helped so many others more than you ever could before your personal experience with depression. So what inspired the second title–exciting, I might say!
It was in response to reader requests. I’ve just released the companion Hope Prevails Bible Study in October 2017. The Bible study was very intentionally written so that you could go through it individually or as a companion to the original Hope Prevails. I also very intentionally wrote it so that someone could go through it by themselves or in a small group format.
I teach a Monday morning Bible Study and look forward to checking it out. I think it’s always fun to see what didn’t get cut. Did you have something that didn’t make it into the final copy?
The publisher of Hope Prevails cut the very last chapter I had written for the book which was about how to help a depressed loved one. Because I felt that was such critical information—-because if you’ve never battled depression, it can be hard to understand—-to know how to best support someone who is battling it, I made it available as a free download on my website for those who buy the book.
A great idea! I always love reading the dedications and acknowledgment pages. Who did you dedicate your book to, Dr. Michelle?
My spiritual mother, Margie Houmes, was instrumental in helping me understand who I am in Christ. I dedicated Hope Prevails to her. The dedication was to be a surprise for her, but unfortunately, she died in a motor vehicle accident a couple of months before the book released.
Aww . . . that’s so sad, and I’m sorry for your loss. I know how difficult it is to lose a mother. I can’t decide which is harder for those left—-many months of suffering or a sudden passing. I guess both have pluses and negatives. So, is there one particular message or “moral of the story” you hope readers walk away with?
In going through the dark night of my soul when I battled depression, I learned that no one is immune—not even the doctor with all the alphabet soup after her name. I also learned that we have a very real enemy who seeks to steal our joy, kill our peace, and destroy our identity, but God loves us so much that He doesn’t allow the enemy to determine our worth, dictate our destiny, or separate us from the love of God. Because of Him, hope prevails even in the pit of depression, or cancer, or bankruptcy, or divorce, or any other trial you might be going through right now.
I wonder if there’s anyone who’s never tasted depression but doubt it. I know sometimes, if you’re going through hard times, it helps to get away and just do something different for a few days. Is there anywhere you’d particularly like to travel?
I am always most at peace and most relaxed on a beach surrounded by turquoise water. I love vacationing at the beach. One day, I will fly to Bora Bora and stay in one of those huts with the glass bottom floors and just soak in the beauty, and write to my heart’s content.
Ah, the beach is beautiful. God blessed us with a trip to Cabo San Lucas this past February. But my dear husband isn’t a water kind of guy or much into summer. Autumn is his favorite season. Spring’s mine, what’s yours?
I enjoy every season, but my absolute favorite season is fall because I stand amazed at the glory of God when I see the leaves in all their brilliant, majestic color. I’m known to stop the car and take photo after photo after photo because I don’t want to forget the beauty.
I like fall, too, watching the colorful, falling leaves perform a final dance of praise to God. I have no doubt He has much left for you to do! When did Holy Spirit first call you into this ministry of helping depressed people know freedom?
God put the dream of writing in my heart as a young girl, but then led me into the male-dominated field of neuropsychology in my early twenties. Sometimes things don’t always look or turn out the way we think they will. You know what I mean?
Absolutely! Matter of fact, I’d say maybe most the time His plans differ from what we thought!
Only in the past five years or so have I seen how He has begun to merge the two so that I can offer hope into some very dark places. Now I speak and write to encourage and offer hope about things like depression, anxiety, stress, and grief from a Biblical perspective, so He is using both of my giftings together.
That’s a wonderful and tangible thing to see and know that you know you’ve helped so many. Before we call it a day—-I know how busy you are—-could you take a minute to share a testimony of a time when God moved mightily in your behalf?
You see, I just love testimonies. We will overcome by the Blood of the Lamb and the Word of our testimonies, loving not our own lives even unto death . . . that tickles me, the ‘even unto death’ part, because I consider death such a grand promotion these days!
Certainly. With Hope Prevails, I really started writing it as a resource to help those not in a position to come into my office for help. I receive calls and correspondence from people all over the world, asking for help. So I wanted to write a resource that would extend beyond the four walls of my practice.
Several years ago, the Lord really impressed Isaiah 61 on my heart which basically says “I have anointed you to share the good news to the nations…” but I didn’t know how He would do that. A short while after Hope Prevails released, I received a letter from a young girl in South Africa who had attempted suicide at least ten times.
Yes, she had gone to her pastor for help, but even he was at a loss for what to say or do. She happened upon my book at a bookstore that was going out of business. Because it included her name, Hope, in the title, she bought it then later wrote to tell me that it was exactly what she needed to give her the guidance and direction she had been looking for to overcome her depression.
She also shared it with her pastor and his counselor sister and told them that it was her source of hope! That is an example to me of how God can do more than we can ask or imagine for our good and His glory.
Dr. Michelle, thank you so much for sharing with us today! I loved getting to visit a bit and pray God’s continued blessings and favor on you!
ANSWER the question below in a comment on this message and your name will be entered to win a copy of Dr. Michelle’s Hope Prevails Bible Study! To be awarded NEXT FRIDAY, December 8th!
For more hope, stay connected with Dr. Michelle at:
Book: Order Hope Prevails / Website / Blog / Facebook /
Twitter @DrMBengtson / LinkedIn / Google+ / Instagram /
Pinterest / YouTube / Hope Prevails from Amazon / Order Hope Prevails Bible Study from Amazon
When you are going through a difficult time, what keeps you hopeful or gives you hope?