Spirituality and depression

Darla.Shame

“Let me be as clear as possible. Depression is not a “spiritual problem” or a sign that you are somehow failing God. Our life is our spiritual path, and we live it by responding to situations as they require. For some, that situation requires you seeking professional support for depression. That is spiritual enlightenment! It’s not being attached to false ideas about depression, and simply doing what the situation requires and seeking the help you need. 80% of people who have depression are not being treated. Don’t be part of that statistic!

The outcome of transformation, awakening, or enlightenment is not the absence of difficulties. It is coming into the awareness or correct perception of the true nature of things. It’s seeing the fundamental, unchanging, and underlying truth of your Self and all things. Meanwhile, you have a mind and body that has been conditioned by a lifetime of experiences and circumstances. We should not expect that those just magically and instantaneously disappear.

For example, an unenlightened person who has depression becomes an enlightened person who has depression. Either way, the depression is there. The difference is how you relate to your depression.

Consider that the enlightened person is awakened to the underlying, unchanging, and fundamental essence of who they are. Knowing this, they see their depression differently – their depression is not something they ARE but something they HAVE. They don’t judge it as something “bad” or “wrong,” but just something that IS.

What we resist, persists. People resist and strive to eliminate their depression because they have fundamentally attached their sense of self to it. But consider another option. Knowing that your depression is not even relevant to the truth and reality of who you ARE, why not make space for it in your life as something you HAVE. Think of all the things you have in your life. Just look around you right now and see the things you have – a lamp, a table, a couch, a coffee mug, a plant, a cat, etc… Okay, you have something else to add to the list. Depression. You have depression.

What does having depression mean?

Does it mean there is something wrong with you? No. There is nothing wrong with you. You are as God created you – complete and whole.
Does it mean you are a failure in your spiritual life? No. Let me ask you a question. If you have arthritis, does that mean you are not spiritual enough or not enlightened? Of course not. It’s the same with depression. We only see it differently because we have created a special category for depression, and falsely imagine it is different. But there really is no difference between arthritis and depression. Neither one are a sign of spiritual immaturity.

Our bodies and minds are the way they are as a result of a lifetime of experiences, circumstances, and conditions. For some people, that manifests in the form of arthritis. For some people, it manifests in the form of depression.

If you have depression, rather than making it/you bad or wrong and constantly fighting it and striving to fix or eliminate it, consider making a space of acceptance for it in your life. Do not judge it as “good” or “bad” – it just IS. What you are and what you have are two totally different things. What you ARE is complete and whole. What you HAVE is any number of different things, including depression.

Inside that space of acceptance, respond as the situation requires with your depression and let that be your path forward. Perhaps the situation requires that you take medication to manage your depression. Perhaps the situation requires that you make certain lifestyle changes. Whatever the situation requires regarding your depression, do it. That’s your spiritual path. In other words, part of your spiritual path is your relationship to your depression.

Depression has been something I’ve had to contend with in my own life. It’s not pleasant. But religion often adds insult to injury through the false notion that if we are spiritual enough and really know the truth or have enough faith, then we shouldn’t have depression. That’s like saying, if I’m spiritual enough, I shouldn’t have arthritis. I can’t tell you how insane that whole idea is.

Depression is different for every person – how one experiences it, the approach for treating it, how it manifests in a person’s life, etc. But consider that having depression is not an obstacle or antithetical to your spiritual path. Your relationship to your depression IS your spiritual path.
Major depression is a common and treatable mental disorder. If you or someone you love struggles with depression, it’s important to seek out help.”

***

The above excerpt is from my book, Notes from (Over) the Edge – specifically from a section in which I address the issue of depression.

According to the World Health Organization:
1. Depression is a common mental disorder.
2. Globally, more than 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression.
3. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide.
4. More women are affected by depression than men.
5. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide.
6. There are effective treatments for depression.

According to the Centers of Disease control:
1. 1 in every 10 Americans suffer from depression.
2. The number of people who are diagnosed with depression increases 20% each year.
3. People who have major depressive disorder are the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15 – 44.
4. 60% – 80% of depression can be treated with medication and psychotherapy.
5. 80% of people are not being treated who have depression.

Major depression is a common and treatable disorder. If you or someone you love struggles with depression, it’s important to seek out help. You can begin exploring how to get help at this site.

Latest Comments

  1. Ms. Stretchy Pants says:

    Reblogged this on 10 Minutes Past Coffee and commented:
    An excellent post about depression and spirituality from Jim Palmer’s Inner Anarchy blog. From the post:

    “But religion often adds insult to injury through the false notion that if we are spiritual enough and really know the truth or have enough faith, then we shouldn’t have depression. That’s like saying, if I’m spiritual enough, I shouldn’t have arthritis. I can’t tell you how insane that whole idea is.”

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