In the Tomb of Depression

Tomb door and window_2034
Image by hoyasmeg via Flickr

I look in despair
As I consider the events that have transpired over the last few days.
How I had put my hope in you
And now you are gone, taken away just when we were starting to believe
That you might just save us from our misery.
This stone tomb before me
Has within it my hopes and dreams
That are now forever lost, forever destroyed.
How can I believe in God now
When justice is nowhere to be found?
It seems my faith was entirely misplaced,
And all I have left is the sheer weight of your absence.
A disciple at the tomb of Jesus, circa AD33

I’m dabbling here in the theme of Easter, especially as I look back over the years that have transpired since leaving the faith. Being a rather emotionally sensitive individual, I didn’t take well to the existential crises that followed, and through my investigation I determined that I must be suffering from depression.

How I’m glad that the country I live in isn’t so enamored by the use of antidepressants as the U.S.A.!  I’ve read that antidepressant medication advertisements are all-too-common there, whereas they are rather strictly administered here primarily through psychiatric assessment.  I have a few times been prescribed antidepressants, only to look more closely and find that they do not deliver in most cases, and only end up adding grief through side-effects.  Now, I’m not suggesting they are completely ineffective, as I do believe there are uses for the medication in severe cases, but for those of us like myself who are generally despondent yet able to function I believe should steer clear.

The path to recovery has included many hours of counselling and reading a wide range of books.  In the process I’ve even studied two semesters of a psychology degree, as the subject matter interested me enough to consider pursuing a career.  From my study, I’ve reached the following conclusions:

The best view of depression is to see it as a sign that my life is off track in some way
Most of the books I’m reading pretty much centre on this theme.  Instead of seeing depression as a disease to be medically treated, it is viewed as the symptom of underlying life factors.

Depression occurs in the context of some form of relationship dysfunction
For me, I see the lack of loving relationships in my life to be the key factor that drives my depression.  It is an outgrowth of low self-esteem that was caused by traumatic life events and my early emotional formation.  I have fallen into a pattern of avoidance and withdrawal rather than approaching and engaging in life.

The way through depression involves a mindful approach
Instead of being enslaved to my behavioural conditioning, I can mindfully engage the present moment with a level of awareness that accepts what-is without judgment.  This meditative awareness, known as mindfulness,  is borrowed from Buddhist philosophy and now sits comfortably within Western psychology.

I’ve left my faith within the tomb.  There will never be a resurrection of the belief system that I once held, which is a good thing as I have grown to a more mature outlook.  At the same time, I’ve felt at a loss to comprehend life in a way that does not include the intervention of an almighty God.  

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