Depression: You've Gotta Have Faith

Heaven by  elynnfant  (Jennifer Burton) on etsy

Heaven by elynnfant (Jennifer Burton) on etsy

In the summer of 2012, I started writing about depression. Ultimately, I wrote thirteen articles that were published monthly at the online magazine Scoutie Girl.
A part of it includes my experience with a long, dark episode of depression. But mostly, my goal has been to remind myself of good things to do and help others to help us when we’re unwell: something I couldn’t do when I was down.
The first full week of October 2015 encompasses Mental Illness Awareness Week in Canada, so I thought, why not republish these? So, here they are. Where possible, the articles exist as they did in 2012-2013, with links to originals.

Depression: You've Gotta Have Faith

I heard all kinds of crap when I was at the bottom. Things like, “Try praying, it will really help.” And, “Oh. You don’t have a congregation anymore, do you?” And, “Have you tried letting go and letting God?”

None of these questions or advisings made me feel any better. If anything, they made me feel more disconnected. I felt like a failure. Like, not only was I moving at a slug-pace, I also wasn’t rosarying myself to wellness. In fact, each time I heard, “Have you tried God?” I thought, “Yeah, just like I’ve tried all of the drugs and everything else. And it doesn’t work.”

However. . .

Now that I’m on the other side, I can see how people really, actually, meant well. I have compassion for their positions of feeling well and good in the comfort of prayer and congregations and connections and choir-song and prayer books and little black beads. And that they wanted to share all of that.

From it, I believe two things: that an honest, heart-filled spiritual connection can make a difference, and that we each come to it in our own time, if at all. As in, it can’t be prescribed.

While still in the bottom of depression, I took a trip to a Buddhist meditation retreat. Looking back, I really don’t know how I did it. I still had a lot of social phobia and wasn’t far from the days where I felt confused when trying to decide what to have for lunch. I literally don’t know how I made it on two planes, two ferries, and a shuttle van to get to my destination. I had a mantra on my way there: “I am a smart person. People less smart than me can do this. I can do this.” I made it there and back. And while there, I learned to breathe. We practiced vipassana in silence, and my burden lessened.

On the other side of darkness, I now know that moments of spiritual connection are a kind of magic that truly elevates. And it sounds woo-woo, doesn’t it? Now that I’m feeling well, I can also feel that truly knowing there is something bigger than us mere humans can help us through.

In whatever form it takes, there is something bigger, on a spirit level, that can support us.

Even if, like a boyfriend I once had, you believe that “it’s all a fairy tale,” why not throw caution to the wind and, say, believe in a fairy tale? We did as children. “Belief” is the key part, not what the belief is in. So long as we are as honest as we can be with ourselves, and no one is getting hurt, what can be so wrong?

Throwing your worries and hurt to a great spirit lessens the burden you carry. And as your burden lessens, maybe you start to feel lighter. And feeling is the object, isn’t it?

I am writing this because I had an experience. I am in no way a medical professional. I had an experience, and I have learned a lot from it, and that’s the foundation of all of this.