I hesitate to share what it's actually like to be severely depressed. At this point, I doubt it will ever stop feeling so raw to reflect on the worst aspects of it. And at the same time, the not-so-hardcore depression junk is difficult to write about, too. How to put these things into words...
Do I put my opinions on depression medication out there and risk being reviled (because I know it could hurt more than a few feelings no matter how delicately I try to handle it)?
Do I give tips on how to claw one's way out of the pit of despair?
I think I'm just going to share what I think depression is, in its most basic form. That will probably make any future posts more understandable. And I hope you'll bear with me and leave off all scoffing until you've at least read the whole thing.
I believe that depression is rooted in temptation. Temptation to be depressed, that is. And that being depressed is the result of giving in to that temptation.
I will say that I don't think that's the case for every single type of depression. However, based on my experiences and observations, I do think temptation is generally the case.
Those of you who have suffered through depression will understand how absurd that sounds. After all, if it were a temptation, wouldn't I be able to just turn around and metaphorically walk away from it? Wouldn't I be given a choice to "just say no" instead of suddenly finding myself over my head in it and all spiritual helps mysteriously unavailable to me?
Apparently, some temptations are different from the run of the mill I-am-tempted-to-slap-you-but-I-won't temptations.
There are lots of temptations like this. And most people will have to struggle with at least one of them. One of the strangest things that has come out of my personal journey is sympathy for people who suffer from same-sex attraction. They feel like that attraction is hard-wired in them; something they couldn't change if their life depended on it. I've thought it is like being a quadriplegic surrounded by 100 ft. steel walls and being told you have to climb out or you're a bad person. Same with depression. But I know that both can be overcome.
I am one who underestimated the power of depression to lock a person up in it. But my reflections and studies have led me to believe that not doing everything I can to escape the trap of depression is succumbing to temptation.
After all, "Men are that they might have joy." 2 Nephi 2:25
I think the best way to summarize this will be to share what has been at the top of my favorite scriptures list since June. I read this a month or so after I diagnosed myself and was quite shocked to find such an applicable record in the scriptures that I had to read it twice to make sure I wasn't just making it up.
It would seem that totally amazing Nephi, the Book of Mormon era prophet, knows what it's like to smacked with depression.
17 Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.
And right there in the scriptures is something to remind where my perspective should be. (Though having a reminder and actually being successful in returning to proper perspective are very different things!)
2 Nephi 2:20-29
26 O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?
27 And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to temptations [See?!? Nephi says it, too:)], that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul? Why am I angry because of mine enemy?
30 Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.
32 May the gates of hell be shut continually before me, because that my heart is broken and my spirit is contrite! O Lord, wilt thou not shut the gates of thy righteousness before me, that I may walk in the path of the low valley, that I may be strict in the plain road!
33 O Lord, wilt thou encircle me around in the robe of thy righteousness! O Lord, wilt thou make a way for mine escape before mine enemies! Wilt thou make my path straight before me! Wilt thou not place a stumbling block in my way—but that thou wouldst clear my way before me, and hedge not up my way, but the ways of mine enemy.
34 O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.
35 Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen.
What do you think? Good place to start? Agree or disagree with my conclusions? Anything you'd like me to get into next or shall I just continue to fly by the seat of my pants?