Finding One Reason to Keep Living (Fighting Depression)

Depression is a real bastard.

If it’s ever visited you, you understand.

Such a clever and persuasive liar, it doesn’t require facts to rob you of your hope. You may have all the evidence in the world in front of you that life is beautiful and that you’re doing fine and that there is good reason to be grateful—and it can convince you otherwise.

Depression can mount a case for your despair so seemingly iron-clad, so apparently reasonable, that you find yourself unable to accurately see anymore; your family, your abilities, your marriage, your friendships, your achievements—even the simple joys found in an ordinary day all become invisible.

And when you are in that place of thick blindness, when you are so completely certain that everything has gone to hell, it can be impossible to find a reason to keep going.

Little by little you eventually lose your impetus to stay.
The energy to continue gradually leaves.
Your perseverance departs.

That’s the thing that people who don’t live with depression don’t understand. You aren’t a “suicidal person” wallowing in sadness and contemplating ending your life, as much as you are an exhausted person who has been so drained of hope, that you now believe the lie that your mind tells you that things will never be better. You believe this terrible second is permanent.

There have been many times when I have been close to that place, nearly fooled into fully surrendering to the misery of the moment. I know that there are millions of you out there right now who know this place well, who are standing in the hopelessness as you read these words.

And friend, the only advice I can give you is:

Find one reason to keep living.

It needn’t be something at all grand or profound or consequential; just the smallest thing to stoke the fires of your heart here and now.

Think of song that never fails to move you and play it—on repeat if you have to.
Watch a movie that always makes you laugh. It will probably make you laugh again.
Go to that place with the fish tacos that knock you out, and order a mess of them.
Visit the woods or the beach, or whatever spot in nature allows you to breath deeply and slowly—and breathe.
Snuggle a dog, paint a picture, take a drive, call an old friend, take a bath.
Look at the lines upon your fingertips and realize they have never been repeated in the history of the planet.
Lay back in the grass—watch the clouds pass in and out of your peripheral vision and feel the earth turning, and realize it is time moving and propelling your forward.

This is not simply busy work to distract you from your sadness, it is an invitation to a dissenting opinion from the Universe.

Allow Life to come and argue on behalf of itself. Be reminded of the staggering beauty that you are surrounded by, even with the pain it comes with. This won’t erase your sorrow or change your reality or magically fix the things within you that got you here, but it may download just enough lightness into your mind to get you to the most important moment of your life—the next one.

That is the greatest battle with depression: pulling yourself through the present despair, to a place just slightly in the future, where you may be surprised by joy or feel less tired or see something differently. You deserve to experience that place.

Don’t allow that lying bastard to write your story for you. 

Right now, in this difficult, unsteady, desperate moment—find one microscopic reason to keep living—and live.

Stay.

You are loved and worth fighting for.

Be encouraged.

 

(Note: If you’re struggling with depression, desire to self-harm, or suicidal thoughts, talk to someone.

Help can be found here and here and here now. You are worth fighting for.)

 

 

 

126 thoughts on “Finding One Reason to Keep Living (Fighting Depression)

  1. Your timing is always a trip! God how I wish your church was out here near Detroit so I could attend. I’ve been thru some crap in my life and even experienced a crippling panic disorder some years ago which was hell, but worked it thru and got my life back. But in spite of everything, I never experienced true depression… Until now. My marriage of 30 years is coming to an end and I have zero control over it… Over ANYTHING. I now know the place you described so very well. I don’t want to die, but I don’t know how to live with this pain and every single thing you offer as a thing to grab hold of for some kind of comfort or reason, is just a reminder of everything I will no longer get to share with him. I’m doing everything I know to do to behave my way through this and help myself, but I’m just so lost. I’ve spent so much of my adult life involved in outreach and ministry which fell apart within me with all of the “religion and politics” and I became an activist for unity and my then husband converted to Islam and is involved now with a Muslim girl, although it’s not all about him… I have to live with the shame and guilt of all I contributed to the breakdown of the marriage, etc. I’m just lost man. Anyway, I will be holding on to this blog (as I do with all of them… I have a folder for you. ) and I know I will read it again and again. Thank you John.
    Laura U.

    • And my husband then converted… Not my “then husband” because we are not yet divorced, although he has already moved on. 🙁

    • Oh Laura, I felt your pain in every word. Having been married for 37 years now, I cannot imagine a life separated from that comfort and peace. That kind of change is very painful. I have seen it happen to friends and family.

      I hope you can find the moments and create some peace for yourself as you go through this valley. You know you are not alone but that is not going to change anything. And when you come through that valley and into the sunshine again, it will be all the more warming and precious.

      I will pray you strength and a way to find God’s love to sustain you. It can be so painful but sometimes, moving on is all we can do. May God bless and keep you.

    • Oh Laura, my heart goes out to you. I pray that you have someone you can reach out to. Someone you can lean on to walk through this with you. Even though it feels like your world is crumbling, you do have control over one thing – your own reaction. Even if it seems impossible to do anything now, please find someone you trust to help you – a friend, a family member, a therapist. Support will help this storm be just a smidge easier to walk through.

      You are valued, you are strong, as you have already shown to be by what you have already walked through. You can do this too, as unfair and awful it is. I will be praying for you.

      • Marcia, thank you so much. I isolated for a while because I was in such a deep funk and also simply because I didnt know where I fit anymore having left the church and all the politics and BS, my husbands conversion, etc. And you would not believe what I’ve been thru in an effort to get a therapist. Between insurance issues and the system being so over-taxed, I can’t get in with anyone and dont have the stamina to fight thru the red tape anymore. It’s hard to not take it personally when I’ve been such a care giver and now feel rejected when I’m in crisis. Intellectually I know better, but I’m still hurt and frustrated. On a definite positive note, people have been reaching out to me in a variety of ways so I have slowly but surely building a trusted support circle.
        Thank you for your response Marcia. <3

        • Laura, my brother-in-law went through a divorce he did not want from a woman he still dearly loved and he too crumbled from the weight. And as luck would have it, he made surviving it his mission and has now found a woman who loves him as he deserves and he is the happiest I have ever seen him.

          He is a good Christian man and the divorce was hard on him on several levels. God will see you through to restoration and maybe even better than life was before. Hold on to that.

            • Laura, sharing like that is where the internet can shine! It is always a risk but when you can offer your own experience and folks can see that they are not alone, I think it helps us all.

              Making friends you can share with is important. I am so happy to see people reaching out and sharing, because we are all in this together. No one should feel they walk alone.

              • Sadly, though, Sandi, too many people do walk alone. That is why I am so gla to see Taylor posting today as well as Laura nd everyone else.

                For some reason even in 2017, there is still a stigma attached to mental illness. especially depression.

                Too many Christians have been subject to too much abuse when they have been deprssed because of out-moded thinking which has been proven wrong.

                But there are cruel people out there who will still tell a Christian that if they are depressed it is their own fault becaue they lack will power, are lazy, have not completely yielded their life to Jesus, have unconfessed sin in their lives or are even demon possessed.

                A lot of superstition surrounds people’s thinking about depression, particularly in the undereducated and uninformed. Another place for fake news to flourish.

                • It’s true, Gloria, there is much stigma. In some ways depression is more accepted than other mental illnesses, but that goes back to that sad thing. Because they’ve been sad they think they’ve been depressed, so they can relate. So it’s accepted as ok to be depressed. But then when they run into someone who is truly depressed and in the fog of unfeeling, they don’t understand why the person can’t move on just they did. They think it’s something that can be controlled, and if it’s not, then there’s something worse wrong, when in fact depression is just like any other physical disease. No always controllable. Meds help, but don’t do it all. Same with diabetes. Same with heart conditions. It’s just that diseases like depression, schizophrenia, bi-polar are diseases of the brain. And just like diabetes, can hit anyone in any tax bracket, in any part of the world. When the powers that be take away, or don’t give to begin with, mental healthcare, the last laugh will probably be on them, because I know very few people who aren’t touched by diseases of the brain in some way, either having one themselves, or a loved one who has one of them.

                  One of the things I like though, is the fact that when the subject is brought up, it generally comes out how they’ve been touched. And each time that happens, it lessens the stigma a little more. Eventually it will be seen as a much needed part of healthcare. In the meantime… hang on tight with the rest of us!

                  • Eli, I don’t believe I have seen you here before, so maybe you don’t know that I intensely dislike it when anyone shortens my name in any way. This is an important boundary for me, so I hope in the future you will respect this limit I’ve set.

                    You wrote ” they don’t understand why the person can’t move on just they did. ” I think that is an important concept. People do indeed think that if they can kick it, then so should others and they are all set to offer prescriptions, forgetting that there is a continuum of depression and a difference between sadness, grief and actual Major Depressive Disorder which for some reason people refer to it as clinical depression.

                    It is also certainly true that all of us who have experience with any form of mental illness help others when we share our experiences.

                    • Gloriamarie Amalfitano, thank you for setting your limit. It’s a fair thing to do and I appreciate you being up front about it. You have a beautiful name! I have been on before but it’s been awhile. The title of this article just sucked me right in. I’ve a family member with severe depression, among a zillion other things, and I have depression. Not as severe as hers, I think. I’ve been spending a lot of time volunteering with my local NAMI group. So anyway, this grabbed my attention. The only other I took part in was The Christians Who Defunded Jesus. I’m afraid politics has just gotten so dark lately, that I finally moved on and try to stay on the peripheral when it comes to Washington. Kansas. Indiana. The darker places. Thanks, Gloriamarie, for your response.

                    • Eli, thank you for appreciating my boundary. It’s astonishing to me that there are those who think it is there to be walked all over.

                      You wrote “I’ve a family member with severe depression, among a zillion other things, and I have depression. Not as severe as hers, I think.” I’ve learned that it is important to think of depression as a continuum. And people cover the entire spectrum.

                      Whatever level of depression you have, be gentle with yourself.

                      “I’m afraid politics has just gotten so dark lately, that I finally moved on and try to stay on the peripheral when it comes to Washington. Kansas. Indiana. The darker places. ” Oh, I hear you. I take action but try not to dwell. But I have to take action as best I can.

                      One way to persist in resistance is my FB group, Gloriamarie’s Progressive Stuff, where I post actions, petitions, info, actual news, evidence, facts. There’s a pinned post that I highly recommend people read. I also ask a screening question so I can keep the spammers and the trolls out. All who read this are invited.

                      https://www.facebook.com/groups/gloriamariesprogressivepetitions/

              • Man Sandi is that ever true. The internet can be a monster as it actually has been in regards to my husband as he is SERIOUSLY ADDICTED to his public persona/fb following, and his phone in general. I swear he would need a medical detox to not die from withdrawl if he put it down, BUT… fb and the internet can be such a wonderful powerful resource in so many ways which it is already proving to be for me. I’m already out of my hardcore funk and am moving forward. Gonna suck for a while but I’ll be ok. 😉

    • {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{Laura}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}} Your words are heard. I am so sorry we live so far apart or I’d be over to drink tea, watch Dr. Who, and generally just hang out. I hope you have someone to talk to, a professional in the mental health field to help you find your way through all this stuff.

    • My marriage was only 20 years, but I wrote about my own journey below. Please don’t give up on finding a therapist. And insist on one you are comfortable with as well. As someone who still has bouts of depression and 4 decades of battles behind me, the skills I learned in therapy make all the difference, along with rejecting the traces of Calvinism I had absorbed in my youth. I lived in a pit of inner despair for years, but now I can dance on the mountain tops. It isn’t an easy, but the journey itself worth it.

      And realize that you are also grieving, for divorce is the death of the relationship (at least in that form). It also a birth though, a likewise painful process. Separate who you are from the roles you fulfill and let that person take the lead. May the Spirit give you strength, hope and Light.

      • Yer so cool Gloriamarie. Someone else mentions the mental health support above which I responded to about hitting the wall. But I’m starting to rise up. I’ll be ok. 😉

        • {{{{{{{{{{Laura}}}}}}}}}} Something I will never understand is why insurance companies make it so hard to get mental health services. Honestly, doesn’t every human need good mental health????

          I have no idea what sort of faith background you have, but if you are part of a church, or something, is there a priest, pastor, minister?

          Jewish Family Services have all kinds of resources as do Lutheran Family Services.

          One place to look might be the NAMI website.

          If you are by any chance a Medicaid recipient, you might be eligible for free services through your County. The mental health clinic I volunteer at is a County agency.

          I am pretty good at doing google searches for people i far away states but I would need to know what town or city in which you reside. I wouldn’t want you to post that here, but if you do Facebook, you could PM and i would see what I could find for you.

          • Bless your heart Gloria! I have been connected to and aware of much of what you’ve suggested… Its just a long story. But thank you for offering to get involved. Just since sharing my initial post here, things are shifting in some important ways for me and I think I’m gonna find my way. But appreciate you very much!

            • Dear Laura, you wrote “Bless your heart Gloria! ” Given that I don’t recall seeing you post here before, although maybe you have, and given that maybe you have not seen all of the various comments, and why would you read them all, you more than likely do not know that I really hate it when people address me as you have done. My name is not Gloria, it is Gloriamarie and I set a boundary around my name that I am address by my actual name, no shortening and no initials. I hope in the future you will choose to respect this limit I’ve set.

              A question. All my life I have been taught that “bless your heart” is meant as an insult. Is that how you meant it? I would hate to think that as I have offered to be of service to you, yet at the same time, I am not a mind reader and don’t know how you meant it. Would you please explain what you mean it? Thank you.

      • Thanx A. I hear you and have actually plugged into many resources over the years to deal with all kinds of crap I come from so I hear you, and I tired. But it just aint happenen right now. Other kinds of support is showing up though… As its supposed to go I believe so I’m rolling with it. 😉

    • {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{LAURA}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

      SO much to relate to there. I was married for fifteen years to my first husband and while we had our ups and downs, I was not at all prepared for the day he picked a fight, allowed it to escalate to a brawl, and stormed out, returning hours later with the police and a restraining order; I was never to set foot in my home of fifteen years again.

      When I met my husband John, I fell in love at first sight even though I didn’t trust it or myself but he was what I had been looking for all my life and it will be fifteen years for us this December.

      Sometimes the darkest hour comes before the dawn.

  2. Well said and often it is the moment that can save us.

    There are so many people hurting, living in a kind of pain that is the worst kind of trap to escape from. There are so many reasons, triggers and additions that also make it a very deep hole to climb out of. One with slippery sides, ladders out of reach and worst of all, people holding you down or not being supportive when you need it most.

    I am not sure how anyone survives depression alone. The need for help is so great, even as the desire is to push everyone away. It is a cruel mind trick.

    I wish there was a one size fits all but even counting on the love of God is a choice we have to make. It is really hard sometimes when you do not see God’s footsteps in your life. Even when you look for the signs, you cannot see them. God is carrying us then, but we too often do not know it. Depression is so cruel, it convinces you of all the wrong things.

    When I have a worse day, I open the Bible to just a random flipped page and I either get a blessing, a message or a good laugh.

    May God’s sustaining Grace find those who are hurting and manifest in a way that reaches them.

  3. I just read your article. I’m experiencing depression and have been on meds a long time. And today I especially feel susceptible to those negative thoughts. I’ll try to do one of your suggestions today and hope that this moment if negativism will be momentary. Thank you

    • {{{{{{{{{{{{{Dinatika}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}} I hear you. I am sorry that today you feel especially susceptible. Some days we are more vulnerable, aren’t we? I’ve been volunteering in a mental health clinic for a long time and I know how important it is to have someone who listens. I hope you have that.

    • Dinatika, praying you luck with whatever coping and efforts you can use. Just keep trying until you find what is most comfortable for you. There is no ‘one size fits all’ and sometimes it take years of work for it to click into place. Know that people do care and the world, while cruel can also be kind.

      Also know that the negativity is not you, it is not about you and it cannot claim you. I am sure you have heard the expression, “let go and let God” and many think that means to give up or quit trying but it really just means to take that moment and let the rest take care of itself. Look for the good and hang on to it!

      The most beautiful thing about prayer is that it is free and you do not have to believe in it for it to work. You all now have this many more people praying for you.

  4. WARNING: THIS WILL NOT WORK FOR EVERYONE
    To those wonderful folks who battle depression.
    I too am bedeviled by the Black Dog, as it was so eloquently put.
    I was on 3 antidepressants and an anti psychotic and kept going lower. I was diagnosed with a severe neurocognitive cognitive disorder. In other words the beginning of dementia.
    I worked with my psychiatrist to wean off all drugs one at a time. It was a long process.
    Today I have regained my old inappropriate humor (think that crazy old uncle who is great fun and refuses to behave like the elderly person he is).
    BE CAREFUL
    Anti depressants are a wonderful solution.
    May the God of all mankind guide us.

  5. Depression is a bigger liar than my ex-husband was… and that’s going some. And sadly, religion can make it worse, if that religion teaches that humans are insufferably evil and worthless, or teaches that women must submit to their husbands, even if that husband is abusive; this includes all most all forms of fundamentalism/evangelicalism. When someone is struggling with depression, telling them they are a worthless sinner is *not* helping, it’s pushing them further into despair. Please, please don’t do this.

    At the same time, my faith is invaluable in my own fight against this monster. When I could find no hope, I leaned on the Gospel that proclaims hope to all. “Jesus” became a multi-purpose one-word prayer. My ex-husband would say, “You’d better call on somebody closer,” to which I would retort “There ain’t nobody closer.” It was as literally true as it was metaphorically; we lived 8 miles from the nearest branch of law enforcement. Thankfully, it never descended into physical violence. I got out in time, but it took more than my faith. I’m only here today thanks to the 3 years of psychiatric treatment I finally got decades after it was needed (for reasons my ex had nothing to do with). In fact, my faith was also contributing to my woes, because of the reasons I stated at the beginning of this rant. It comes from pain caused by religion and healed by faith.

    • A. Nonymous, in my years I’ve seen the harm “religious” people can do to anyone with depression. Sadly, there are still some very ignorant and even superstitious people out there who believe that depression is a matter of one’s will, that one can get over it if one tries hard enough.

      Depression is not a matter of the will and one can’t just “get over it” as it is a very insidious illness that is more physical than mental. I hope with all my heart that you have someone to talk to who listens.

    • A.nonymous, I just want to tell you that you are good, you are valuable, you have a right to be here and treated with equally and dignity. I’m sorry that you were told otherwise, especially by the very people who should have helped you but beat you down even further. I’m glad you got treatment just as I had to and even better I am glad you are out of an abusive situation. I am personally estranged from the Catholic Church, the church of my childhood, due to who I am, a bi male.

      Just be gentle with yourself, speak your truth, and remember that you are a child of God as we all are. Please don’t let anyone treat you any less again.

  6. Excellent point A. Nonymous, faith that is based on fear, control, power or dogma is as dangerous to the hurting, seeking, depressed mind as no help at all (and personally, I do not see how it helps anyone else either). The God of love, compassion, empathy, and continued renewal onto the peaceful path is the only one who can heal and help. And that God is right there in the Bible.

  7. Good to see through another’s eyes and words that which we don’t experience ourselves.
    Would that all differences of all people could be better understood through understanding and well thought out teaching.

  8. John P, one strong disagreement with this blog: most depressed people are NOT sad. They ARE depressed: “deep-pressed” and generally not feeling anything at all when it gets really bad. I am also an expert on the Stygian Depths. I am currently trying a regimen with a dose of Wellbutrin 3 times what I was taking (but no other anti-depressants, like I had been). I haven’t taken it long enough to know if it will help, but it has certainly removed the side effects of taking 4 anti-depressants at once. (New psychiatrist; the old one retired.)

    I am not the only one who would have objections to the use of “sadness” as a description of depression in the clinical, medical sense of the word. “Depression” is one of those words that means very different things to different people. People who are sad may say that they are depressed. But those of us with diagnosed (chronic) depression…don’t usually say the reverse (“I’m sad”).
    I am generally a happy person–but when the blackness comes, I feel — nothing. Nothing good, nothing bad.

    But I do applaud, loudly and standing up, your explanation of what we call “suicidal ideation”–thinking about killing ourselves. (I’m a vet and get my healthcare from the VA. I am asked each time I go into the clinic about suicidal ideation. Sometimes the answer is yes.)
    I am exhausted, I don’t see any other alternative and so I ponder how much of my medication I would have to take to die. I also think about walking into the Pacific Ocean and not stopping.

    BUT…then I think about my husband, who also has had these kind of thoughts (but is on better medications now), and I know that I will never willingly leave him. In turn, I serve as his lifeline as well.

    I believe that I have had depression most of my life, even when I was a child. (I didn’t think of suicide then, but I did have an awful lot of escapist fantasies.) The chemicals that create that depression in my brain have worn a deep and narrow trench, leading straight to the depths and it is a default response to the world. The medication I take is “filling in” the trench so that depression becomes harder to “access” or have arise. (That trench after all is a two-way street.)

    And yet while I do talk about depression when talking about my diagnoses and medical issues, I am not a sad person. Somehow, even unmedicated, I have been able to live a good life (so far, and still ongoing); I have family, friends, and so on. So this was not an attention-grabbing response, really! I talk about this as openly as I talk about my arthritis or my fibromyalgia. Mental health needs to lose that stigma of demons and possession (yes, still prevalent today) and just become “health”, mind AND body together. That’s how they work, usually how they run and to treat them as two completely different things–and one of the shameful–is missing the richness of our whole bodies and how mind and body work together. Mostly.

    Thank you for talking about this. Thank you for the suggestions … getting out, into Nature –even if it’s just petting the cat–is usually a good way to (at the very least) stop sinking in the tar.
    I repeat your words: if you, or someone you know, is thinking of killing/hurting themselves, seek (professional) help immediately.
    If you do not have a doctor or cannot afford one, CALL:
    National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
    Call 1-800-273-8255
    Available 24 hours everyday –they also have an online chat available if you prefer texting.

    YOU ARE NOT ALONE. WE are here and we HEAR you!

    Peace and Blessings!

    • This is one of life’s problems that no one person is exempt from.
      From time to time we are all faced with this issue.
      From failures, to life’s problems , to hurts and illness we cannot change.
      But when we have Faith , Hope , Love we can bear it.
      Having a vision of tomorrow, Heaven, life after , whats to come , and knowing there is hope we can see thru the storms of life.
      Keeping My Hope , Mindset, emotions in check with the reality that NO one person is exempt.
      We are all in the frail, failing , decaying life the same.
      But Know this : All will soon pass and change and the hope of the new beginning will soon come.
      Coming of our lord and savior to redeem Us, His People, Chosen , Elected to be in the Family of God thru Jesus Christ who being in the form of man , died on the cross and rose , so we can have this hope.
      OUR HOPE is in OUR Belief, Trust, Hope of what is to come.
      Salvation thru Jesus Christ
      A restoration of the fallen to the chosen.
      Storms of today to the heavenly , changed spiritual beings of tomorrow
      Everything in life can be lost, stolen, taken, hurt, destroyed Except my Holy , communion, relationship with the Father thru his Son Jesus Christ.
      Death, Pain, Struggle cannot separate me from my God.
      Holy and Accepted in the Beloved
      Keep YOUR eyes upon Jesus , the only savior to the world, The only lasting Hope, The only one who can satisfy the Soul .
      All the rest are counterfeits

      Since I have come to know , trust, believe in Jesus Christ My personal savior I don’t have the same views as i used to. pain, suffering , calamity all are part of the flesh, and spiritual things let me see past and realize the issue is mankind, Fleshly desires, human emotions, ego, pride, selfish will.

  9. This is one of life’s problems that no one person is exempt from.
    From time to time we are all faced with this issue.
    From failures, to life’s problems , to hurts and illness we cannot change.
    But when we have Faith , Hope , Love we can bear it.
    Having a vision of tomorrow, Heaven, life after , whats to come , and knowing there is hope we can see thru the storms of life.
    Keeping My Hope , Mindset, emotions in check with the reality that NO one person is exempt.
    We are all in the frail, failing , decaying life the same.
    But Know this : All will soon pass and change and the hope of the new beginning will soon come.
    Coming of our lord and savior to redeem Us, His People, Chosen , Elected to be in the Family of God thru Jesus Christ who being in the form of man , died on the cross and rose , so we can have this hope.
    OUR HOPE is in OUR Belief, Trust, Hope of what is to come.
    Salvation thru Jesus Christ
    A restoration of the fallen to the chosen.
    Storms of today to the heavenly , changed spiritual beings of tomorrow
    Everything in life can be lost, stolen, taken, hurt, destroyed Except my Holy , communion, relationship with the Father thru his Son Jesus Christ.
    Death, Pain, Struggle cannot separate me from my God.
    Holy and Accepted in the Beloved
    Keep YOUR eyes upon Jesus , the only savior to the world, The only lasting Hope, The only one who can satisfy the Soul .
    All the rest are counterfeits

  10. Thanks, JP. Your post means a lot to us that know close people who committed suicide. Suicide doesn’t erase the pain, it just transfers it to others and no one can predict who will be most affected by it. This is why suicide can be “contagious”. As the pain is transferred to others on the edge, they too will consider suicide. If they do it then others will have to bare the pain regardless if they can or not, and so on.

  11. It takes a great deal of courage to speak out and claim that one has Major Depressive Disorder, that the Insidious Dark hounds one.

    I’ve been volunteering in a mental health clinic for a while now and am part of a team that teaches people the skills of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. While I say I teach it, I think I learn more from the others than I ever teach them.

    DBT is all about learning to manage This Moment in Time so that one can get a grip and not make things worse and very likely make things better.

    It has four sets of skills: Mindfulness; Interpersonal Effectiveness; Emotion Regulation; and Distress Tolerance.

    What I like about it is that it teaches me to be completely non-judgemental about what is happening, to observe, describe, and choose my course of action. In the time I’ve been teaching it, I’ve really learned some awesome stuff.

    I wish everyone in the USA who is part of the epidemic of Major Depressive Disorder had the opportunity to learn DBT skills. It is life-changing stuff.

    I have found help for people in distant parts of the USA simply by googling “DBT and the name of the community and state.” Hope this helps.

    • Having engaged in dialectical behavioral therapy, I believe that DBT is a treatment protocol that everyone, regardless of mental health status, would find helpful. I will shout to the rooftops how life-changing it can be. First, it focuses not just on symptom management but recovery. It is practical and empowers one to see the choices that lie in front of them and to reclaim them–choices that were robbed from them by depression or other mental health challenges. It helped me take my life back, and allows me to this day to better engage in self-care without feeling as if I don’t deserve it. With DBT, individuals can learn that even at their lowest point, recovery is possible. You can feel better.

      • Thank you, Sharon, for your support of DBT. It is such an excellent, practical way of life. The psychiatrist who developed it is a former Roman Catholic nun and I find every aspect of DBT compatible with the Gospel.

      • Yes, DBT is a valuable tool, but it doesn’t work alone for everyone. Lack of mental energy and brainfog of depression can prevent you from actually executing on what are positive changes that DBT has given you. I am on two anti-depressants, in therapy, and still I have days when my focus is shot and I feel like everything neurological is going wacky. At that point no amount of DBT is going to get me through that 2-3 day episode. It is then I focus on doing only what I must do and no more.

        • Robin, I hope I did not give the impression that DBT alone is sufficient. I merely wished to mention it as a tool few people have heard of.

    • Taylor, I am really glad to see you posting today.

      No, no one is born into political or religious ideology. Some of us are socialized into it, but even when that happens, we have choice.

  12. John, Your wonderfully apt and touching words have hit a chord with me. I tried to end my life June 2016 but survived. The one thing you said that held really true for me was finding one thing to treasure. Lats night it was watching a hedgehog take food from the aucer I put out. Never even moved away as I watched and talked softly to it – thank you x

    • {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{[Tony J Griffin }}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}]

      I am so glad that you are still with us to write these words and share with us a lovely moment with a hedgehog.

      Life is full of a million such miracles every day but we take them for granted because they seem commonplace to us. Sometimes I am just so delighted by the clouds or a bird’s song. These things speak to me of God and the love with which we are blessed.

    • Tony G, so glad to see you made it through to encourage others. Finding the moments can indeed be the path. The universe is full of glory some folks never stop to enjoy. Bless you for holding on.

      • Hi Sandi, Such a battle every day but I shout out loud every day when that feeling comes over me “I won’t give in” and say a little prayer to give me strength . Living alone makes it hard some times more than others. Even a late walk to my local conveneince shop where the staff know me where I can have a chat helps, as do words like yours xxx

        • There you go Tony, you do what works for you and keep on trying. Depression is cruel and it plays tricks so keep on shouting it down and reaching out. This blog can get ugly when we forget our purpose but it is also a kind of community of friends willing to listen and share and that can be light too.

          • I think on of the most crucial things I have ever learned about depression is what a huge honking flaming liar it is.

  13. Thank you very much, John, for this post. It’s a great help for those who are fighting depression. Like me, since almost five years. But, praise be the Lord, yet standing. Thanks again.

    • May you be given strength. I have clawed my way back from the bottom of the barrel since last June 21 but the sides are still slippery. John’s words are an inspiration. Tony, Derby, U.K..

  14. Dear John Pavlovitz and Reader:

    According to a report released Monday by the Psychiatrics Journal, 3.4 percent, or a staggering 8.3 million American adults, suffer from “severe psychological distress” (SPD).

    Other quotes:

    The severe and deepening economic crisis paired with an increased lack of access to decent health care overall has resulted in tragedy for a large section of the population who can find no way out.’

    ‘The suicide rate has increased drastically in the wake of the economic crash of 2008 for nearly every demographic…’

    ‘Over half a million people in the US are homeless on any given night, and data reports that anywhere from 20 to 25 percent of the homeless population suffers from some form of severe mental illness, compared to 6 percent of the rest of the population.’

    http://tinyurl.com/lymheso
    by Kathleen Martin
    22 April 2017

    Leaving the most vulnerable of its population exposed as we do, history will remember our regime among the most profligate.

    Blessings!

  15. Anybody notice how none of the fundies are interested in people who suffer from depression—not a single comment so far? It speaks libraries about where their hearts are.

    • Charles, I confess I am not quite comfortable with what you have said here. In the responses I saw comments from people I don’t ever recall posting before. For all I know, they are people who are to the right of you and I politically and theologically who also have known depression.

      Depression is a hideous thing. It decimates people. It is also an illness that people are afraid to admit to for various reasons.

        • Have you ever considered that this Anonymous is the Anonymous mini-me? Can you imagine the real life conversation ?

          “Hello, may I introduce myself. I’m you. You’re me. Hello me. How can I help me today, me? Do you not agree with me, me? Excuse me, me, may I talk with me right now, if you don’t mind, me?”

          Disclaimer: This is NOT how person with Disassociative Identity Disorder talks because they believe each identity is a different person with different names and personalities. The above statement is not to make fun of people with a real mental disorder but rather only for satire and comic effect to show what a farce this situation is.

  16. I hesitate to comment since I haven’t ever suffered from severe depression, I have tasted it a time or two, especially lately, but not what people in this thread have talked about. I am humbled by all your stories, I am impressed with the compassion that has been in each of the posts. You give me hope for those people close to me who battle this very real health issue. You also have given me a better understanding of what they go through. Someone said it was not unlike diabetes and that is so true. Now if we can only educate everyone else of that fact. I will pray for each and everyone of you, may you know peace and love.

    • Kathleen B., I welcome your comments because they are compassionate and seek to understand and support people, not condemn and berate them. And allies are always important to any ’cause’ because the allies cannot be seen as serving their own interests. It also shows me that you really do try to follow the Example Christ set before us. May the blessings you ask for sake of others be returned to you seven-fold.

  17. I wish that I could tell you how much I appreciate not just what you write but the way you write it. As a writer it’s such a joy to read someone’s work that is well-constructed, uncomplicated and unburdened by pretentious vocabulary and frankly, just an honest voice. That being said, I am moved every time I read your work, be it a call to action or a balm to some wounded part of me. Thank you for this piece in particular. Sometimes we need to be reminded to take a break from trying to save the world and worry only for a moment about saving ourselves. To know that we need only find our way to the next moment, where life will be different if not better. To know that nothing lasts forever, and even at our worst, we are “such stuff as dreams are made on. ” There is comfort in knowing that someone else understands the thieving nature of depression. May God bless us all.

  18. I can’t help but notice a diversity of people posting encouraging each other and many helpful helpful comments here. It goes to show depression crosses all lines but so does compassion.

    blessings to all !

  19. Be kind to those who suffer and find a gentle disposition as depression knows no boundaries and cuts through the spirit as the edge of a blade cuts through flesh.

    To those in pain and those who suffer in silence with the loneliness and torment of confusion….be kind to yourself.
    There exists many who share your feelings and will gladly support you.
    Don’t delay medical attention out of fear of being marginalized.

    Always remember – you are loved and needed by those close to you and more often than not, by those who seem distant.

  20. I really needed to hear this today – sometimes John’s comments touch me more than others – this really hit home. I’ve been depressed for a long time – I even saw a counselor earlier this year, who just told me I needed to get out and meet people. Has no idea about the basic issues I face.

    • I urge you to try a different therapist– and I deeply question the qualifications of any therapist who would tell someone suffering from depression that they ‘just need to get out more’. That is appalling! I also caution against religious-based counseling unless that person also has a clinical degree. Faith can be a tremendous addition to clinical therapy, but in my experience it is *not* a replacement.

      I tried to pray my way out of depression for 30 years as it slowly grew worse. Three years of therapy/medications gave me the respite and tools I needed to succeed in climbing out of that pit. I now have a decade of knowing what it feels like to want to dance for sheer joy.

      Please do not give up. I know it depression often feels like you are groping in the darkness, but there are hands reaching out to you into the darkness too. There are ladders out of that pit, but you cannot find them if quit searching for them.

      May the Lamp of World join with that spark of hope within you and illuminate the darkness so that you may find your path.

      • Thank you for that wonderful comment. When I read Larry R Carmichael’s comment I knew that he needed to look for another therapist, and have been debating the best way to say that, you did for me. I have several family members who are psychologists and I know that we can be well meaning and not come across that way, so wanted to be sure how to say it. You did great. Peace and Love,

    • Larry R. Carmicheal, I am so sorry the Insidious Dark has you in its grip. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. I am glad to see you sharing about it. It has been my experience that anyone can call him or herself a counselor. That counselor you consulted seems to display a lack of training in mental health issues.

      Perhaps talk to your primary care doctor for a referral to a psychiatrist and a psychologist as peer-reviewed study over peer-reviewed study tell us that a combination of meds and talk therapy is most effective.

  21. Thank you for this. Such a profound message about the nature of depression. I remember when I was in that place for several months just not wanting the pain to continue, but life did get better. It took time, but I am glad to still be here.

    • Catherine, I am sorry you ever had to grapple with the Insidious Dark, but glad you made it through to the other side.

  22. I’m a Pastor With Depression. For Years I Thought I Had to Hide It.

    By Jason Chesnut 5-10-2017
    Print
    I was serving as associate pastor to a small church in southern Wisconsin, just a year out of seminary, and I couldn’t get out of bed. I slept all the time. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t see any future ahead of me. I was filled with a despair I couldn’t put into words. My primary care doctor diagnosed me with anxiety-related depression. It was 2011.

    There was no way I could tell anyone about this diagnosis. Forget talking about it in regular conversation — I’m a pastor, for God’s sakes, a leader in the Christian church. I couldn’t be dealing with this. I needed to man up, I told myself — I’d get tough, and pull myself out of this nightmare.

    “Demons” have never been part of my religious vocabulary. Growing up in a fundamentalist Christian community, spending my teens as an agnostic, then becoming a Lutheran pastor, at every turn, my faith journey made me wary of terms like that. I mean, it wasn’t like I was living in a scene from The Exorcist, right?

    But ever since I began walking with depression, that term has taken on new meaning. Depression lies to me. It is relentless. It tells me I will always feel this way, that I’m not deserving of help, that I am a burden, a waste — that my life is thoroughly hopeless. The demon of depression tells me that this is my fault. It tells me that I am utterly alone.

    Mark’s gospel, in particular, depicts numerous instances in which a demon is present. The possessed person is often blamed for this, but Jesus never uses that logic himself. He doesn’t condemn a possessed person for their reality, and he doesn’t tell them to just get over it. Jesus does what Jesus does: He heals them.

    The more time I spend with these stories, the more I identify with the demon-possessed people — the Gerasene demoniac (5:1-20); the masses outside Simon’s house (1:32-34); the boy with the unclean spirit (9:14-27). As a biblical storyteller — someone who learns biblical stories by heart and tells them to others — these intense moments have become an inextricable part of me.

    So, yes, even in our 21st-century Christianity, when we say that God’s story is our story, this has to include the demon-possessed.

    I left Wisconsin a year after my diagnosis and found myself in Baltimore, starting a new Christian community. I also started a video company that expands my call as a pastor, telling the stories of God and God’s people.

    I’m now in a city I love, surrounded by a network of friends, and doing work that fulfills me. But the demon remains. It is nothing if not persistent.

    People, even the most well-meaning among them, will often use the Bible to try to help. They don’t usually head to Mark’s gospel, though. They’ll throw Philippians my way, referencing things like “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (4:13); or they share Paul’s letter to the Romans, encouraging me to “increase” my faith so that I will “get better” (4:20-21); they send me “inspirational” quotations from a Google image search.

    The stigma around mental illness only makes the silence and shame worse. Unlike a broken leg, I don’t have a tried-and-true pathway to healing and wholeness. The medication for our brains is not fully understood, even by professionals. It’s a lot of guesswork. We simply don’t know. That unknowing is often paralyzing and downright scary.

    One of the most insidious parts of mental illness is the feeling that no one else could possibly understand what you are going through. The isolation is immense and inescapable. Your brain feeds into this, and the demon wants nothing more than for you to suffer in silence. This is an acute distress for those in the church, where our identities are usually rooted in commandments around community. Mark’s gospel is again instructive, as we see Jesus in Gethsemane, “distressed and agitated,” telling the disciples that he was “deeply grieved, even to death” (14:33-34).

    What a searing image. If Jesus suffered with all humanity during the Passion narrative, wouldn’t that include mentally as well? As Christians, we are really good at proclaiming the full divinity of Jesus, but when it comes to his full humanity, we often skirt around the issue. But in a country where 16 million adults suffer from depression each year, and where many politicians recently stood in the White House Rose Garden to celebrate the passage of a bill that would classify mental illness as a preexisting condition and allow states to opt out of covering it at all, we desperately need a savior who suffers with us.

    My depression is frustratingly, deeply, a part of me. My brain chemistry is wired in such a way that I struggle, through no fault of my own. But I do not struggle alone. As a Christian leader, this is my fervent hope and prayer.

    Jason Chesnut
    The Rev. Jason Chesnut, ordained in the ELCA, created and developed The Slate Project, an innovative Christian worshiping community that gathers both online and face-to-face in Baltimore City.

    https://sojo.net/articles/i-m-pastor-depression-years-i-thought-i-had-hide-it

  23. The Silent Stigma of Mental Illness in the Church

    By Robyn Henderson-Espinoza 5-10-2017
    Print
    Christianity has a bad habit of diminishing the body in favor of elevating the mind. For Plato and Descartes, two philosophers who have heavily influenced the Western church’s thinking on spirit and flesh, the body was imagined as an inferior attachment to an idealized, spiritual mind.

    What this has created is a divide between body and soul — a focus on the care of the soul in our churches, with little attention given to how the health of mind, body, and soul are integrated. This has not only created bad religion, but has meant that Christians overlook the prevalence of mental illness in their churches. And this is affecting church communities in significant ways.

    The belief that bodies don’t matter is often informed by theologies and ethics that do not integrate the body with the soul. This is a common experience in the church, said Dr. Kathryn Ott, Assistant Professor of Christian Social Ethics at Drew Theological School. In an email for this story, Ott wrote:

    Various experiences of church may provide sanctuary, community, and welcome depending on the type and severity of mental illness. Yet, in the routine life of a church community, those with mental illnesses are often further marginalized by behavioral and spiritual requirements that through faith one should get better, find happiness, serve not be served, or be disciplined to a collective form of worship.

    According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization, nearly 1-in-5 adults in the U.S. — 43.8 million people — experience mental illness in a given year, and 21.4 percent of youth 13-18 will experience a severe mental disorder at some point during their lifetime.

    Churches don’t often name the reality of its members living with experiences of mental illness.

    “ … mental health is often erroneously intertwined with weakness or lack of willpower,” said Pam Rocker, Affirming Coordinator for Hillhurst United Church in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. “Many [Christians] are not encouraged to seek counseling, but instead are encouraged to pray harder and have more faith.”

    In an effort to begin the conversation within a church context, some Christians have found that their personal testimony is the best form of evidence. Singer-songwriter Jennifer Knapp shared her own story with Sojourners, of how discussions of mental illness in Christian circles were largely related to sin and suffering.

    “In my own life-long management of depression, I have experienced the best and the worst of faith-based responses to my mental health,” she said. “At its worst, I have experienced utter rejection from the church. Other times, I’ve been counseled to absorb my sufferings as a punishment for my sins and a call to repentance. At its best, I’ve been fully embraced as I have come and have experienced healing, restorative empathy in a spiritually knowledgeable community.”

    Many churches don’t have a robust theology that accounts for those who live with experiences of mental illness. Rev. Alba Onofrio, spiritual strategist at LGBTQ justice oriented Soulforce, said that salvation-focused strains of Christianity — like evangelicalism, which emphasizes “tests of faith” on the way to being “born again” into a sinless life — don’t leave much room for “a good answer for why good, believing Christians still suffer so much from illness.”

    “Some say it’s a test, being put through the fire; some … remind us that ‘God never gives us more than we can handle.’ Both of these, quite frankly, are crap,” Onofrio said. “I don’t believe God gives us mental illness or cancer or any other suffering as a test of our faith or a punishment for the lack thereof. And I know from the incredibly high statistics of suicide among certain marginalized communities that some times we are absolutely faced with more than we have tools to handle.”

    The bottom line, Onofrio said, is that illnesses and disabilities don’t fit in to mainstream theologies. Because of this, Christian ethics and moral imagination often diminish people who live with experiences of mental illness.

    Beyond individual care for those in the pews, however, is the question of systemic policies that prevent health and healing. And here, too, Christian narratives matter in the public square.

    “Even when we are brave enough to name evil, we tend to focus on individual actions or people as the culprit, not systems of injustice, not empire, not Christian hegemony,” Onofrio said.

    From policymakers writing bills that gut expansive coverage for mental health to the ongoing privatization of insurance companies, there are already many barriers to access for care. One-in-five adults in the U.S. experiencing mental illness in a given year means this issue lives in the church, and it’s important to recognize how theological and ethical narratives shape the ways in which we create or don’t create access for mental health care for millions of people.

    Ott points out that social structures like poverty, racism, sexism, and violence can enhance or diminish health, just as can biological or genetic factors.

    “Both of these aspects constrain ‘choice,’ as Christians theologically and ethically understand moral decisions. They also suggest that the response to mental health issues should be equally diversified in terms of advocating for social justice, individual health care access, communal support, research and education,” Ott said “Churches need to make the shift away from stigmatizing mental health as a moral failing or result of personal sin and instead promote theologies and provide resources that support and sustain those with mental health issues and their families.”

    Today, our health care system — like the church — is rooted in a culture of whiteness, one that perpetuates a logic of dominance. While completing doctoral work in Colorado, I noticed that Kaiser mental health facilities were located primarily in affluent communities. This creates one kind of barrier to access — for many people of color, even if we can physically get to a clinic, we do not know how to navigate the system, which is another barrier. Oftentimes, we fail, which means our mental illness goes undiagnosed and, worst, untreated.

    In 2009, I was diagnosed with a mental illness. As a non-binary trans person of color, my Latinx heritage and family of origin did not school me in ways to access health care. But I was then-partnered with a cis white woman who worked in health care and knew how to navigate the hospital, so I received access to the best health care in Chicago. I was connected with one of the best psychiatrists in Chicago, who was not queerphobic or transphobic, and was able to change medicines easily. And because my cis white partner knew that the integration of head, heart, and body was important, we later joined a support group in Chicago with the Depression & Bipolar Support Alliance.

    I was dependent on my white cis partner to not only help me but advocate for me, and my treatment was all due to my cis white partner knowing how to navigate the health care system. Whiteness enabled me to have access to mental health care. And I was lucky.

    When white ethics infuse Christian theology, Christians are less compelled to shift the moral discourse around access to care or to advocate for something different. But there are ways ahead, and Christian voices like Pam Rocker’s are leading the way.

    “Important to us all is the work of the care of the whole self, which can be called ‘intelligent flesh,’” Rocker, from Hillhurst United Church of Canada, said. “ … ever so slowly, more people are speaking up in their faith communities about who they are, and how mental health issues affect them and their loved ones. Many faith leaders are being open about their own journeys of mental health, and this makes a huge difference in us knowing that we are not alone and that we are worthy of getting the support we deserve, without the judgment and stigma.”

    If one of our greatest social sins is the lack of access to mental health care, it is a moral imperative begin a discourse around mental health in our faith communities so that we are not silencing those who live with experiences of mental illnesses.

    Robyn Henderson-Espinoza
    Robyn Henderson-Espinoza, Ph.D, is Public Theologian in Residence at Faith Matters Network in Nashville, Tenn., and Visiting Scholar, Vanderbilt University Divinity School. Follow them on Twitter at @irobyn.

    https://sojo.net/articles/silent-stigma-mental-illness-church

    • Gloriamarie, sometimes I can’t get my head around why we need the millions and millions of papers written on Theology to follow the simple examples of compassion, mercy, service, and social justice that Jesus did.

      Are we the “weird” ones and authoritarianism is the default setting in America? Is this really why we truly can’t accept a “fascist-lite” authoritarian blowhard as President but most people seem to think this is all normal? I have reached the limits of my understanding here.

      • Well Robin FWIW, I am with you. It does not have to be so complicated, complex or authoritarian. I think it is job justification writ large.

      • Robin wrote “Gloriamarie, sometimes I can’t get my head around why we need the millions and millions of papers written on Theology to follow the simple examples of compassion, mercy, service, and social justice that Jesus did.”

        Believe me, I’ve had that same thought. But if the comments to this blog prove anything, they prove that we don’t agree on what it means “to follow the simple examples of compassion, mercy, service, and social justice that Jesus did.”

        Maybe we need all the different ways to say it because different approaches speak to different people.

        “Are we the “weird” ones and authoritarianism is the default setting in America? Is this really why we truly can’t accept a “fascist-lite” authoritarian blowhard as President but most people seem to think this is all normal? I have reached the limits of my understanding here.”

        No. The “weird” ones are the authoritarians but they look like the default setting because, at the moment, they are the loudest voices. You know the squeaky wheel gets the attention.

        I posted something earlier today that proves it was “cultural anxiety” that got Trump elected. People terrified they would lose their white privilege voted for him. Most registered voters did not vote and what we have to concentrate on in 2018 is getting people registered to vote and educate them why they need to vote.

        We need remedial classes in civics.

    • Dear Gloriamarie Amalfitano:

      Once again, it’s Gnosticism Forever! With few exceptions, we don’t see it at the end of our noses! Personally, I find it amusing when those terrible, unbelieving theologians end up being better scholars than their fundie counterparts.

      Blessings!

      • Dear gdd, as I have observed for decades now, there is a very strong Gnostic element in the evangelical, fundamentalist, non-denominational churches.

  24. Dear John Pavlovitz and Reader:

    US children’s suicide-related hospital admissions double in last decade

    ‘New research indicates a devastating development amongst the most vulnerable section of society. The number of children and teens ages 5 to 17 hospitalized for suicidal thoughts or self-harm in the United States
    has doubled since 2008.

    The finding are based on a study abstract titled, “Trends in Suicidality and Serious Self-Harm for Children 5-17 Years at 32 U.S. Children’s Hospitals, 2008-2015” prepared for presentation at the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting in San Francisco May 7.’

    http://tinyurl.com/mfts9db

    Blessings!

    • As tragic as this is, gdd, I can only think it will be exponentially worse ifTrumpNocare passes the Senate.

      • Dear Gloriamarie Amalfitano:

        Agreed!

        Wednesday evening, I joined a bunch of Lutheran guys at a local pub where we discussed the upcoming lectionary passage and quotes from two of Wednesday’s wsws.org articles.

        I explained that whether or not one holds a socialist perspective, we cannot in either case be oblivious to issues that the Socialist Equality Party [alone] is raising.

        Blessings!

        • Socialism is the only equitable economic theory. I mentioned working on a pilot program for the negative income tax. It’s what convinced me. People got out of poverty and stayed out of poverty.

  25. This post reminds me of one of my new favorite songs. It’s called Courage by Orianthi, featuring Lacey from Flyleaf. It’s about this very topic. It’s a great song, and boy, can Orianthi rock! Here’s a link to the music video.

    • Great son Ryan, thank you for posting it.

      “♫Courage is when you’re afraid,
      But you keep on moving anyway
      Courage is when you’re in pain,
      But you keep on living anyway
      It’s not how many times you’ve been knocked down
      It’s how many times you get back up
      Courage is when you’ve lost your way,
      But you find your strength anyway
      Courage is when you’re afraid
      Courage is when it all seems grey
      Courage is when you make a change,
      And you keep on living anyway ♪”

  26. I have never told my story here, not the full story. I really didn’t want to give the trolls fodder to use against me but I have decided that is a cowardly as posting anonymously.

    I have been disabled due to Major Depressive Disorder since Feb, 1995. I had already been in treatment for thirty years and had been depressed for six years before my mother realized something more serious than shyness had me in its grip. Something I have mentioned was that I was sexually molested as a child and my parents didn’t believe me. It took some serious acting out on my part before I got any treatment.

    Mental illness is genetic in my family. My mother has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, my father had Borderline Personality Disorder. Google them to see why it is so unpleasant to be the child of such people.

    Always somewhere along the continuum of depression, as a feminist, I was going to be self-reliant, self-sufficient and no mere mood was going to keep me from accomplishing what I wanted. Then too in my early twenties, I fellowshipped with evangelicals, non-denominational churches and the like. When the Insidious Dark had me tight in its grip, they were full of helpful advice such as I needed longer Quiet Times, I had unconfessed sin in my life, I had not completely yielded myself to Jesus, I wasn’t doing God’s will for me. You can’t imagine how I prayed, confessed, yielded and sought.

    Took me three tries to get through college and I eventually graduated with a most excellent BA in Biblical and Theological Studies from an evangelical college north of Boston. By then I also started to attend an Episcopal Church and knew I had found my spiritual home. By then I had also met the man I would marry who later raped me and I divorced him and went to seminary. Graduated with an excellent MA in Church History but by then, I was exhausted. Fighting depression every single day, going to school, working part-time, I was too exhausted and was being treated for narcolepsy. I gave up my dream to get a Ph.D. and become a university or seminary professor.

    Spent the next twelve years trying to earn a living in the business world which only depressed me further because the values of capitalistic America are not Christian values and I couldn’t stand the compromises I was making with my faith in order to do my job. One company was committing securities fraud while going through their IPL to trade on the Nasdaq. I blew the whistle on them and they went out of business It didn’t help that Reagan had tanked the economy and despite doing my job brilliantly I was laid off several times.

    During all of this I constantly saw a psychologist, took my meds under the supervision of a psychiatrist, was active in my church, served on the vestry etc. Even though I could barely get out of bed in the mornings. I would sleep all day Sat when I could and after church, sleep all day Sun when I could.

    The economy in MA moved into depression and there was no work and ever so reluctantly drove cross-country to move in with mom. Within three months I had a job and my own apartment, a church, and very deep depression. I slogged on until a co-worker came to work with pneumonia which I caught.

    I was ill with that for seven months and when I finally was well again, realized I would have to start looking for a job and had so many anxiety attacks that I had to be treated for Anxiety Disorder. I decided to apply for permanent disability and my psychiatrist was very discourageing because he said Social Security did not consider Major Depressive Disorder a disabling condition. Which motivated me to contact every single person who0 had provided me with mental health treatment, made sure I had current contat info and sent in my application with an appendix of thirty-five years treatment.

    Three weeks later, I was deemed disabled. When that happened, I was free to at long last learn to manage my symptoms, not just get through the daily grind. I revisited things I had loved to do when I was younger but had given up. I was in therapy, saw a psychiatrist, explored my spiritual side.

    It took me ten years but I finally had a period of a few years without a depressive episode. But then mom had a heart attack, I had to be her major caregiver and I am lousy at being a caregiver. So I relapsed. After a few years, I was able to get mom into a Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly and they became her caregivers. I took an outpatient program in Dialectical Behavior Therapy, continued with treatment and to my surprise and joy, I have been symptom-free for the past three years, the longest period of my life.

    For a little over a year now, I have been a team leader in DBT and it blesses a lot of people. And that’s my story. I ampoorer than the churchmouse, but I am finally symptom free.

  27. I am a pastor who in 1999 was terminated by a former church while hospitalized for chronic depression – in contravention of the labor code. You might appreciate that two of our children are now psychologists but not much into church.

    • {{{{{{{{{{TWC}}}}}}}}}}}} I am deeply sorry thin has been your experience. My gosh, what horrible things Christians due to other Christians with mental illness. I have been struggling with Major Depressive Disorder all my life and I know first hand how vicious other Christians are. Especially because they glom onto the fake news about mental illness.

  28. Gloriamarie Amalfitano, Thank you. This is the most comfort I’ve found in forever (over ten years).I feel that maybe here is a place for me to relate and gain support from others . One minute at a time. It all started with John’s Facebook posts after the election that changed the world. Thank you, John

    • {{{{{{{{{{{{Heidi}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}} “Thank you. This is the most comfort I’ve found in forever (over ten years).” You are very welcome.

      “I feel that maybe here is a place for me to relate and gain support from others .”

      Yes, you will receive support here. I’ll be honest with you, you will also possibly be attacked in very hurtful ways by people who really do want to hurt you. But we will rally around you if that happens.

  29. Depression lies. It’s its main form of attack.

    I have a book called Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teenagers and Outlaws. It has a lot of good tips and their all rated on how safe they are and how effective they are. The language is pretty strong but it’s saved my life so many times.

    Just keep busy.

    You CAN get through this.

    I believe in you. <3

  30. Let’s End the Stigma: Share Your Mental Health Story

    According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, roughly 1-in-5 adults in the U.S. experiences mental illness in a given year. That’s 43.8 million people — and many of those millions are Christians. And yet a stigma and silence around mental health persist, in our churches and our communities.

    As Robyn Henderson-Espinoza writes, theologies that emphasize mental illness as a “test of faith” or evidence of sin leave little room for people to find comfort, solidarity, or healing in their communities of faith. Instead, many suffer in isolation, their struggles ignored or even amplified by those places where they seek spiritual sustenance.

    Mental health and its treatment intersect with a number of other crucial justice issues, including racism, sexism, and LGBTQ justice. If our faith compels us to care for and be in solidarity with others and especially with those who are particularly vulnerable, we must be willing to talk about mental health.

    (Don’t miss our reported story on how churches do, and don’t, act as spaces of healing; and one pastor’s story on his struggle with mental illness.)

    May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we want to hear from you — how has mental illness affected you or your relationships? How has it been discussed in your church? Where do you find the support you need? Tell us your story, and we may feature it on our site.

    If in immediate crises, please seek help. You can find contact info to talk to someone via phone or text here.

    https://sojo.net/let-s-end-stigma-share-your-mental-health-story

  31. I really needed to read this right now, this very moment. The last 6 months have been hellish. On January 3rd, my husband of 25 years announced that he no longer loved me, no longer found me attractive. I had suspected for months that he was cheating on me, but he denied it at that time. There was a woman at work who was going through something similar in her marriage, he said, a confidant. He agreed to give marital counseling one more try. Three days after our first session he told me that he was indeed in an affair with that woman at work. He couldn’t continue therapy under false pretenses.

    I have never been so devastated in my life. I had already been in a deep depression for months, as he pulled farther and farther away from me. I retreated into a shell of myself, barely functioning. I’m disabled. I’ve had debilitating chronic pain since 2006, caused by damage to my nerves from chemotherapy. These revelations from my husband made that bodily pain seem like nothing. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t concentrate. I could barely hold it together for weeks.

    Our son is graduation from high school on Sunday. He’ll be going off to DePaul University in August. I feel superfluous, unnecessary, irrelevant. I lost my faith in God years ago, watching the Catholic Church get into bed with the Republican Party to roll back contraception coverage in the ACA. Last year’s election debacle was even worse, watching Christians embrace Donald freaking Trump.

    So, that’s my litany. As bad as things have been lately I have reasons to persist. I can’t imagine not being here for my son. He still needs his mother, even away at college. I’ve got my dogs, 2 little Shih Tzu goofballs. They keep me sane. I have no idea what will happen with my marriage. He’s not trying, but he’s still here. I’m not willing to throw in the towel yet. And the physical pain is something I’ve learned to deal with. There have been times when it was so bad that I would’ve ended it, except for my son. I’ve written a book here. Thanks to anyone who reads it.

    • {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{Elizabeth H.}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

      My heart is deeply grieved by what you have shared. As one who was also betrayed by her husband, my spirit resonates with your words.

    • Elizabeth, I read it and my heart hurts for you. As the mother of two sons, your right you know, your son does need you, and the world needs you. Just wanted you to know you are in my thoughts and prayers. As I used to tell my boys , always remember, when one door closes it allows another to open and sometimes we find a treasure. Peace and Love,

    • Elizabeth H, you coming here to share your own pain and frustration is one of the blessings of this blog. John P writes messages that resonate with many people and often some friendships and support forms that we can enjoy. Many times we can learn from each other too.

      Your story is heartbreaking because such failures can make us feel it is our fault, we didn’t do enough, our illness was too much, we couldn’t make it work. But it takes two! If one partner decides to cheat and looks outside the marriage, that is not the fault of the one left behind. You are not “to blame” and you need to know that.

      Find what gives you purpose and your son and the dog babies are certainly good reasons that you are needed. My own children are in their early thirties and they still need their mom, still value my support and counsel and I find great joy in seeing them build their lives. So hang on to that and be kind to yourself.

      When you cannot take full strides, take baby steps. They all will get us where we are going. I am sending good thoughts and prayer that God will show you He is still holding your hand, so you know you are never alone. And you are welcome to the community we have here. We argue, we SHOUT, we puzzle it out and sometimes, we feel the Grace of God as we see the light of love that God called us all to offer. I hope you find that too.

      • Sandi, you did it again. Perfect and it reflects how most of us feel here. As an aside, my sons are 47 and 54 and they still need their mom. And that is one of life’s blessings. Of course, I tell them I didn’t go through the valley of the shadow of death to bring them into this world so they can ignore me. Guilt helps too. Peace and Love,

  32. Pingback: Advice to help combat the lies that depression will tell you – BoomBox

  33. The tiredness that comes with the thick cloud that you can’t see through called depression. Sometimes you can feel it starting to creep in and sometimes you just wake up and it’s back. No reason. It’s just back. And if you’ve never been there then you won’t understand this at all. You can just snap out if it or make it go away.
    And then when you’ve had cancer and you’re ok now there’s guilt to add to it. “but I’m alive. I’ve been given another chance at life. Why should I want to go away”. And you don’t really want to GO Away. It’s really the depression you want to go away. But you can’t escape it. Because the cloud has enveloped you and can’t see the other side.

  34. Pingback: One Reason to Keep Living – My Mind Snaps

  35. Pingback: One Reason to Keep Living | KitoDiaries

  36. I came so close last night. Now I’m crying. But I’m here today, and that’s what counts. Thank you, John, for understanding.

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