Thanks to this title, I bet you all think I have some magic solution to this conundrum. But ha! I don’t. This is where I’m writing to open it up to a discussion.
I have written just once before about spirituality and a connection to God as it relates to depression/mental health problems, and my conclusion was and stays the same: my deep faith in God and knowing that He is there and ready to help and support me carries me through the toughest times, but I don’t feel it at the toughest times very well. It feels like a thick cloud has covered the heavens and all I have left are memories that God is there.
Where does this leave me when I know we’re supposed to lay our burdens at the feet of Jesus? That we can’t carry them ourselves, that we absolutely need divine help? When I am depressed, I don’t feel much except distance: from my family, friends, those I logically know support me but, as I’m in it, feel far. I’m muffled. This distance especially takes in God. It can be difficult for me at times to feel Him because I tend to be a deep thinker. It’s hard to make SENSE of it: how in the world does He do what He does? How can He possibly know ME, just me, so well that he’s really there for me all the time, any time I need Him? He has billions and billions of children He loves as much as He loves me. How can I matter so much when I’m one tiny speck? It baffles me, even as that logical part of me can look back and tally up times I have no doubt He was doing things for me and supporting me.
When others say, and I remember talks or scriptures telling me to do this, Lean upon the Lord, let Him take your burdens, and so on, I have absolutely no idea how that works when I’m depressed in a way I feel surrounded by cotton, my ears and mind just stuffed with it. He won’t take away the depression. I know that over years of experience. So how do I lay those burdens down when He won’t take them or make them feel lighter?
Midway through my life, I don’t have an answer to this question. I simply know that there are plenty of beautiful, joyous, strong times in my life, and the darkness, the aloneness, do take good, long breaks… Well, sometimes shorter, sometimes longer… Is that hope, that knowledge from the times that I get to be above the clouds and feeling those rays of God’s love, enough? Is simply having faith and experience to know that tough times don’t last the best I can do in terms of laying down my burdens and showing faith?
One thought on “How to approach faith when depression clouds the mind”
Back in 1990 I had been going through a two year bout of major depression. The several medications which doctors has given me only made things worse. I elected to go to a mental hospital in Fresno which my doctor had suggested to me. When there I realized that I could not feel God at all. Even when down, I could always feel Gods presence. But everything was very dark and I felt nothing. It was frightening. Then I rembered the 23 Psalm. I was glad they made me memorize it in Sunday school. I kept repeating it in my head. When I came to “Yey, though I walk through the Valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil for thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” I then realized that i was walking through the valley of the shadow of death. So, as in the Russian story of the pilgrim, I just kept repeating these words over and over. I knew if i couldnt feel, i needed to memorize to the point of KNOWING. Eventually I was given some Prozac, which turned out to be a miracle drug for me.
Hope this helps.