Right now, I have been doing quite well when it comes to depression. While I have experienced some bouts of tiredness that result from overwork, they have not transmuted into depression. So it is a good time to look at my depression and think about something that I realized a while ago that has been a very important factor in how I deal with depression.
When I am depressed, I feel miserable. I am an introvert so I am not overly social but when I get depressed, it is worse. I feel tired all the time. I have a dark and negative view of life–nothing will work out. At the same time, my thinking gets distorted. I no longer want to write or work or lead Bible study–all of it becomes a job and half, a job and a half I would rather not have.
When I am depressed, I feel depressed. Very early in the process, I recognize what it happening and know I am depressed–my thinking tells me I am depressed. Because I am oriented towards thinking, I can probably figure out why I am depressed, it I can muster up enough energy and initiative to do it. When I am depressed, I feel depressed, my thinking is depressed and I can follow the thinking-feeling process around and around in circles. I feel depressed, I think I am depressed and both my thinking and feeling conspire to keep me there.
But I made a discovery many years ago. I have feelings and I am a thinking person–but I am also a person of faith. And that faith has a deep and powerful effect on both my thinking and feeling. It has a powerful effect no matter what–but when I actively and consciously involve my faith in the depression, it has an even more powerful effect.
It all came into focus during one spell of depression. For most people suicidal thoughts are part of the depression process at some point. But in a flash of divine insight, I realized that I generally didn’t give suicide much thought during my depression. It was there but I never really looked at it as a serious option. That insight was startling enough that even in my depression, I had to think about it.
Now, the process was slower and more difficult because of the depression but I eventually realized that deep down, underneath the depression, beyond the thinking, there was a powerful core of faith–I might feel depressed, I might be thinking depression but I still believed that God was there and that his love and grace were carrying me and that faith was more important and significant in my life than either the depression or the disordered thought process.
I believe–and that belief creates a solid and secure foundation for everything else in my life. Because I believe, I have hope–and the best and most effective antidote for depression is hope. The hope my faith produces isn’t dependent on what I am thinking or feeling, it isn’t dependent on what is happening or not happening in my life, it isn’t lessened by my depression. It is just there, forming the core of my being.
So, I get depressed–but because I believe, I am depressed in the presence and power of God and no matter how far down I get, that faith is going to be there. And because it is there, I know that the depression isn’t the end nor the be all of my life–there is more because of God.
And once I re-discover that core of faith, God can and does work within me to give me whatever I need to overcome the depression. And that is true whether the causes of the depression change or not.
As I write this, I am aware that it sounds like I am playing games in my mind or denying what is really going on. And I may be doing some of that sometimes–but the bottom line for me is that I am a person of faith and so I do believe that God is present and willing to help. And so I call upon that faith to help me when my thinking and feeling get distorted by depression or something else. And really, if that isn’t a valid expression of faith, what it the point of having faith in the first place?
May the peace of God be with you.