Depressed? Yes. Guilty for it? Nope.

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?

Robin Williams: A Victim Among Multitudes.

The recent death of Robin Williams has brought the somewhat socially taboo topics of depression and suicide to the table.  These topics are so often swept under the table or dismissed using any number of clever conversational tactics.  

Robin Williams was in good company where depression is concerned.  According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), around 16 MILLION (almost 7% of adult Americans) had at least one major depressive episode in a single 12-month period (as of 2012).  See http://www.nimh.nih.gov/statistics/1mdd_adult.shtml for more info.  According to an article on MarketWatch, general unhappiness is on the rise. I can speculate that depression rates will be seen to climb as well.  

Depression is a common problem, and it can be debilitating.

Unfortunately, depression sufferers are sometimes met with responses that are the rough equivalent of grabbing a patient’s broken leg and giving it a good twist.

Just as a person can accidentally cause physical injuries to someone else, we can cause psychological injuries as well if we behave callously. 

If you are having some issues with depression and choose to talk to me, you will NOT get the following:

  •  ”Stop being so self-centered/selfish. Maybe if you’d think about others more than yourself, you wouldn’t have these problems.”
  •  ”You need to repent. You’re obviously estranged from God and need to get your life right.” (yes, I’ve heard this said on MANY occassions)
  •  ”Pull yourself up by your bootstraps and get over it.”
  •  ”Just turn that frown upside-down!” 
  •  ”Um… can we talk about something happy/socially acceptable?” (or some other thing that implies this)
  •   Slowly backing away as if you are contagious or are teetering on the edge of mass murder
  •   “God doesn’t let suicides into Heaven, you know.” (if I had a quarter for every time….)

What you MAY get from me, if I am able to say anything useful at all:

  • Yes, I actually DO understand. I know the feelings, I know the symptoms, and I know how debilitating those symptoms can be in their most severe forms.
  • Yes, get some counselling (I’ve gone myself), but I want to stress that this is not something you should be ashamed of. Also, counselling can be done discreetly. Remember privacy laws, after all. If you just go in for counselling, NOBODY HAS TO KNOW! It’s none of their dang business.
  • If you have been suicidal in the past, even if you have acted on it, you survived it.  I hope you have had amazing moments since then that have made you happy that you got to experience them.  Please remember those times if you’re slipping again.  
  • One of the best preventative things you could do is the thing a person suffering from depression often wants to do LEAST:  Interact with someone.  A common response of depression is to isolate, to withdraw.  Try not to do this. Try to interact. It can be like moving through molasses to do it, but do your best.

Those suffering from depression need compassion and encouragement.  Those of you who are not personally familiar with its effects may need to use some patience (and tact), especially if you are accustomed to being able to pull yourself back up without a hitch.

Mixed Tenses

Before I could see life clearly, there was only smoke, fog, a choking ash.  Before the wonder there were partitions separating “Godly” thinking from “worldly” thinking. Before my microscope, there was only Answers In Genesis, my Bible and my John MacArthur Bible Commentary.

I’m still transitioning from “before” to “after.” I would like to think that I have already made the transition, but I keep finding “befores” popping up in my thinking.  I still find myself fighting the impulse to go back to my abuser, for instance; even now, nearly two years after I ran.

Tallying and explaining the “befores” and “afters” that have taken place thus far will take ages. Identifying and categorizing the befores that still exist in my after will be daunting.

While I have improved, I am still a sentence of mixed tenses.