Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sunday Morning

"The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness,
but who can bear a broken spirit?"
Proverbs 18:14

The Bible translations I have researched do not contain the word "depression."  I have searched online regarding this as well & it appears no one else has been able to find this exact word used either.  Words like downcast, forlorn, sad, discouraged, disheartened, mourning, troubled, miserable, despairing, & brokenhearted are used instead, but they all mean the same thing, don't they?  Roget's Thesaurus indicates they do.  

In our lifetimes we all struggle with depression now & then.  Sometimes we will hear someone say "I am so depressed today" but really they are just indicating they are a bit sad about something.  The actual definition of depression, per Merriam-Webster, is "A state of feeling sad.  Dejection.  A psychoneurotic or psychotic disorder marked especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking & concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite & time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection & hopelessness, & sometimes suicidal tendencies."

A lot of people don't understand what real depression is.  If you dare to tell them you are depressed & perhaps share with them some of the things you are struggling with, they will tell you to "snap out if it" ... or they may suggest that you "get your mind off it" by busying yourself with some sort of activity.  

Sometimes there is a concrete reason for your depression that you can put your finger on.  A close friend or family member has died, you've lost your job, or your house has burned down.  This is what's known as "situational depression."  This is the type of depression we all struggle with now & then.  This is also the type of depression that can be overcome rather easily.  You can, as an old song suggests, pick yourself up, dust yourself off,  & start all over again.  You can choose not to be depressed by these things.  You can choose not to let them ruin your life.     

Clinical depression is something else altogether.  You know you're depressed but you cannot choose to be otherwise.  Sure, there are some bad things that you have to deal with in your life but you are keenly aware of the many blessings you  have.  You can recognize the fact that you are actually a very lucky individual compared to many others but you are still depressed.  Sadly, this type of depression will not just "go away" by you busying yourself with reading or crafting or taking walks or any number of other things, & this type of depression is not something you can just "snap out of."  You have no control over how you feel.  One moment you are shopping or crafting & feeling okay, & then suddenly a heavy curtain of gloom descends upon you & there's nothing you can do but wait for that curtain to lift again.  It might lift within an hour.  It might take a few hours, or days, or weeks, or months.

Clinical depression can oftentimes be relieved with medication.  Unfortunately there are people who have bad reactions to various medications & must do without it.  Counseling, more often than not, is a waste of time.  You may be able to force yourself to pray.  Even "God, help me!" is a prayer.  God understands what you are going through.  He can heal you.  However, He may not choose to do so for whatever reason.  Remember that Paul lived with some kind of "thorn in the flesh" ... some kind of physical ailment ... & he asked God three times to heal him.  God did not.  Why didn't He heal Paul?  There's a lot of speculation about this.  One account I've read indicates that God does not always heal a person because there is a purpose that person is fulfilling.  Their illness is strengthening them or it's strengthening others.  Of course there are those who believe that God heals no matter what & if a person isn't healed then they or the people praying for them are lacking faith.  All I can say about this is who had more faith than Paul?  Who did more good works for God than Paul did?  If anyone should've been healed, it should've been Paul!

I understand the logic of this pertaining to conditions like paraplegia or cancer or crippling arthritis, but the connection to clinical depression is rather cloudy to me because once again the person suffering from clinical depression cannot just choose to be better.

If someone tells you they are depressed, don't just tell them to "do something" or "snap out of it."  Don't, as I've personally been witness to in the past, tell the depressed person "I don't want to hear it!" & then change the subject.  Take some time to listen to the person.  Just offer them a little time & a kind word or two.  You may not be able to help them overcome their depression but if nothing else you can let them know you care.  Most importantly, pray for them.  They desperately need prayer.      


TheCrankyCrow said...

Very insightfully and thoughtfully stated, Shirlee. I think more than most physically manifested illnesses, depression is a condition that others cannot understand or empathize with unless they, themselves, have experienced it. It is perhaps easier to imagine what it might be like to not have use of one's limb, for example, than to imagine not being able to choose an attitude. And far more difficult to appreciate how truly crippling and disabling it can be. Praying...Smiles & Hugs ~ Robin

A Primitive Homestead said...

You are so right. Just having someone to listen & pray for one is a help. Blessings!

ohiofarmgirl said...

You are so is so difficult. My Mother just went to be with Jesus and I am so beside myself. I have never felt depression but I now understand how you sit on the sofa and don't move, don't even want to to move...sad beyond control. I would love prayers too. Dianntha