I’m lucky enough to have never suffered from chronic depression.
But it does sneak up on me from time to time.
Every once in a while I’d just as soon stay in bed and am lucky that my office is a mere 3 feet away or I’d never make it.
Today is one of those days.
For the most part my depression revolves around my hormones. This week for example, I just so happened to forget the shot of testosterone that my body needs to stay “balanced.”
Nothing to panic about, but all-of-a-sudden I’m really tired and the next thing you know I’m sitting here alone without even the gumption to put on some sad music.
I remember a time when I didn’t really believe in depression as a clinical diagnosis. It’s relatively common and unforunate for religious folks to catch one of those reading-between-the-lines teachings like “depression is in most cases a primarily spiritual problem.”
It’s the kind of thing that preachers don’t usually say in explicit terms, but often subtly and inadvertently imply that it’s a lack of faith or understanding that’s left you in a lurch and prescriptions or therapy may be just a band-aid.
Obviously I don’t disregard spiritual health as a factor in mental or physical health, but in my experience the way in which the church commonly approaches such things in a reductionary manner leaves many of the sufferers with (at best) a load of guilt and (at worst) an unresolved chronic problem with a variety of biological and social components. †[Note: that is a long post for another day]
But even outside of overtly religious subcultures I imagine that like most things, we all doubt its existence until we experience it ourselves.
The hardest part for me is the frustrating paralyzation.
How badly I want to go outside, play with the kids, or even just stand up or speak… but I just can’t.
I’m finding it easier to embrace these moments because I’m learning how temporary it is, that a day watching movies and crying during AT&T commercials will subside by tomorrow when the testosterone kicks in and I’ll pick the butt back up where I left it and resume kicking.
For me, difficult experiences like this are where I discover compassion.
It’s rarely in the moment of suffering (either in a big or small way) that I consider others, but every single challenging circumstance or condition that I’ve endured has brought me at some point in the future face-to-face with another who is hurting in the very same way.
I rarely have advice for the suffereróthe depressed or rejected or sick or damagedóbut I have a story.
And nothing matches the power of a story to encourage, challenge, inspire or in the very least bring a bit of humor when it seems like laughter is something in the distant past.. something maybe you dreamed about years ago.
For more on reductionism by both religious and secular intervention listen to Tim Keller’s podcast episode “The Wounded Spirit.”