I’m one of those people for whom depression will be a constant struggle for at least awhile longer. My depression does NOT, however, need to be compounded by guilt for it anymore.
A common teaching in Fundamentalist Christianity is that depression carries with it a burden of sin. The person suffering depression is taught that this is merely an odd manifestation of that person’s pride. How they rationalize this goes as follows:
Our depression is due to lack of contentment and to a discrepancy between how things are and how we WANT things to be or think they SHOULD be. We think we know better than God. On top of that, our self-pity and selfishness are sins that we should be repenting of. Same goes for self-loathing. Self-loathing is taught to be discontentment with God’s will when he made us, and is a subtle expression of arrogance because we indirectly think we know better than God. Again, a sin to “repent” for.
Pretty messed up. And when a person’s depression becomes truly dangerous, there are the additional teachings about suicide being murder and if you knowingly do this, then it might mean you weren’t “saved” to begin with.
On top of all this, many Fundies have an aversion to modern psychology/psychiatry, teaching that it is a “Godless system that gives people excuses for their sinful behavior.” They teach that light should have nothing to do with darkness, and Christians should not mess with “things of this world,” which often includes psychology. What DO they teach? If you’re depressed, you should be singing hymns, reading your Bible and obeying. Get rid of your sin, including your depression. Bring your thoughts and emotions captive to the will of God.
I was in danger. I was very suicidal, and was exhibiting symptoms of Autism. This all, of course, went untreated (obviously, I’ve gotten out of that system and have had this properly identified). The church’s “treatment” was condemnation, brainwashing, spiritual abuse, and it only made the problem worse.
I don’t have to feel guilty about it when my depression hits. It’s a problem, yes. But it’s not a problem that I have to feel guilty about. I don’t have to live as a slave to those lies anymore. I guess the truth really does set you free, huh?