Friday, January 11, 2013

Church Callings and Depression

A friend once told me she was struggling with depression and that not being able to magnify her calling in the Church was making that depression even worse.  She asked for my advice.  The following is what I wrote to her:

If your calling is leading to depression, ask to be released - with an honest explanation of the depression. Say something like:

"I need to get a handle on my depression. I have to focus on getting me right. I can't serve in this calling any longer. I don't want to have this calling, not serve and be guilt-ridden for it, so I need to be released - immediately."

Understand that your health is more important than a calling, so remember that "guilt" doesn't apply in a case like yours. You are not "guilty" if you are doing something constructive and necessary to battle depression.

I can't say that forcefully enough.
Your depression and its effects are covered by the concept of "Atonement" ("redeeming" you from things you didn't choose) - and recognizing that a big part of accepting the Atonement is placing your mental and emotional health first and tackling it as the core issue is a huge step in dealing properly with depression. It's not selfish; it's not wrong; there is no "guilt".
If something you are doing is causing clinical depression, stop doing it - even if it is a church calling.  You can return to serving in a calling (that one or another one) once you have a handle on your depression. 


Cameron VSJ said...


I have a quick question about your blog, would you mind emailing me when you get a chance?



Paul said...

Depression is a tricky thing, if only because of our cultural response to it (in and out of the church). The "lose yourself in the service of others" model can be dangerous when misinterpreted in the hands of someone with clinical depression driven by brain chemistry.

I think your recommendation is spot on.