Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Depression: A Personal Explanation from One Who Suffers

I have a friend who has struggled with depression for many years.  We were talking about the effects of depression on many members for whom it (and other similar issues) are difficult to control.  He shared the following and gave me permission to share it here.  (the bolding is mine; the underlining his)  I hope it helps someone, somehow, in some way: 

One of the issues that I think can stand some scrutiny is the issue of what happens to worldview with a mental illness. All my life I was taught "The light of Christ is given to all men so they can know good from evil. If you do what's right, you will be blessed (always with the caveat that it may be in the next life that you are blessed, leaving you holding the bag in this life)." This is a great principle. It sounds like a law of physics or a mathematical equation - when you do x, y will happen. You pray, you get a feeling someone is listening. You serve others, you get a warm fuzzy feeling inside. So what happens when it doesn't work for you? Did I just fall out of the human race/all men category?

We like rules to be comprehensive and without exception so we can count on them. Without rules that follow accepted patterns, the apple cart is upended and the whole world around you goes into flux. "I don't know what I can count on anymore when life itself seems to change on a daily basis." This way of thinking could end tomorrow, or it could go on for decades or until the end of my life. It is a shame that we mentally ill folk are so complicated ("Doc, what do I do?" "Take two aspirin and call me in the morning." "Bishop, I don't feel things anymore. How do I feel the spirit?" "Just pray, and it will come to you.") The 2 + 2 equation breaks down like light around the event horizon of a black hole (perhaps a more apt analogy than I intended!) Thus, it is not unreasonable to conclude that for some members or non-, just doing the "prescribed" church standard answers will not necessarily result in an invariably positive result. Ergo: faith crisis that may or may not have a resolution subject to missionary discussion-level prescriptions for "finding the truth."
I am not looking for anyone to diagnose or try to treat me or my issues. I have shared what I have shared simply to put forth the idea for discussion that there are people in the faith community of the LDS Church for whom the normal rules do not appear (I chose that word carefully) to work the same as they do for many others, or even themselves earlier in their lives. This is not a necessary consequence resulting from sin, lack of faith, apostasy, or not "doing the right things." I invite you to comment on this as you see fit.

If I could speak for others who may feel like me, I would want to say "we just want to know that we are not excluded (by biology, by genetics, by disease, by spiritual state, by nature) from what other faith-holding saints are able to feel and recall on a daily basis that guides them on their walk through life." But I have to admit, I do feel like God has made an exception for us and struggle to believe that what happens in my life and my heart are evidence of a "loving" Father in Heaven.

It is possible to feel alone standing in a room crowded with people - depending on if you feel excluded (not even necessarily by them but from them). It is extremely difficult when you feel the same way about God.


Radel said...

Thank you for sharing this. I struggle with depression and some Sundays are unbearable. This was a great explanation. It is good to hear my thoughts come from someone else, to feel not alone. Thank you.

Papa D said...

Thank you, Radel. I appreciate your comment - deeply.