Disclaimer: This offers no theological framework for depression. I am fully aware of theological arguments, etc. in relation to depression. This is a reflection, that’s it.
Depression is a subtle evil. A subtle evil that slowly erodes away every human faculty – mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual – until there is seemingly nothing left but despair.
A common misconception about depression is that it is a choice. One chooses to be depressed and, therefore, chooses to remain depressed.
But I can assure you that depression is not a choice.
I have struggled on and off for the majority of my life with depression. Most of my childhood was littered with coming and going thoughts of suicide and the vanity of life. I made several attempts to take my own life when I was in eighth grade and following through freshman year of high school. None of this was stimulated by school or friends. All of it revolved around a broken home and a broken family. School was actually my escape from the snares of a blackened reality.
But what was going on at home never seemed to be far from my mind regardless of where I happened to be.
Never once did I see it better to be depressed than to be joyful and satisfied. On multiple occasions I remember crying out, “Why? Why is this happening to me? Why can’t I just be happy? What is wrong with me?”
It was not a choice. It was a position that I found myself in that I could not escape, no matter what I tried.
And in those moments, the only solution to escaping despair and finally entering into joy filled rest is to completely remove the negative stimuli; to be free from the pain of being among the living.
Thoughts of suicide are more often thoughts of a solution than thoughts of an escape. Just as one would remove a thorn from the flesh – or a damaged limb from the body – because of the pain associated with its presence, so depression leads individuals to desire a removal of the conscious from the minute-by-minute pain associated with being alive.
The only difference between the two is that the former offers an immediate solution to the pain while still remaining consciously active in the physical world.
But no physical pain can compare to the pain caused by depression…
… the despair caused by depression…
… the fear, guilt, shame, and loneliness caused by depression…
And its onset is never able to be determined in advance. There are no assured preventative measures. There are no assured solutions and remedies.
There is no way to be assured that depression will not hold you captive to its self-destroying nature for the rest of your life.
And that is the most terrifying thing about depression. It is a cancer with no cure. A grotesque image of a fallen and broken world that lays burdens on individuals that are much too heavy to bear.
And this cancer crept its way back into my life in May of this year. It has come in intermittent bursts perpetuated by the interactions of my sinful nature with the sinful nature of other individuals.
And typically that is how it works.
Depression is relational in nature, feeding off of the actions and words of others that align with negative, self-deprecating, images of oneself or one’s current situation that they happen to be in, especially when these words and actions come from those who are relationally closest to the individual.
Nothing is more difficult and painful than being kicked while you are already down.
And, as paradoxical as it is, nothing hurts more than the attackers being those whom you love the most.
Depression is not a choice, but I really wish that it was.
It is more important than anything else to know where your friends, family, and even colleagues stand emotionally, physically, and spiritually. The wisdom of your interactions with those individuals greatly influences the nature and onset of depression. It is when person becomes tantamount to object that the operations of a system become more important that the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of another.
The influence that we have on each other is far more prevalent than we realize.
Without more care for the person than the result of the person, you never know when your actions will result in serious trauma for an individual.
Maybe that is why Jesus’ taught love and wisdom above all else.
And maybe that is why Jesus remains to be the only individual that most feel truly loved and accepted by.