Wednesday, May 10, 2017

when depression is good for you

St John Cassian talks to us today about depression in A Year with the Church Fathers. And he gives us good insights, though he seems to misunderstand depression just a little.

He says that when we're depressed, we should look to see what the fruits of the depression are. If our depression is making us more humble, meek, kind, gentle, and loving, then we're allowing depression to bring about good in our lives. But if it is making us irritable and angry and snappish and bitter, then we should stop being depressed.

That's where I feel like he doesn't understand depression. Most people I know who struggle with depression don't WANT to be depressed. They would gladly "stop being depressed" if they knew how. But sometimes the chemicals in our brains don't cooperate. Sometimes we are depressed no matter how much we try not to be. And I think that's a normal part of life for many people.

There are people who are never depressed. I've met people who tell me that they've only been sad or upset a handful of times in their lives... most days they're full of happiness and joy. And I'm happy for them. But many people I know struggle with depression on a regular basis.

While we can do things to decrease our proclivity to depression (get rest, eat right, exercise, read uplifting material, pray and or meditate, avoid depressants like alcohol), most of us will have to deal with unwanted depression from time to time in our lives. So, in agreement with St John Cassian, let's pray that God will use the pain of our depression to bring us the fruits of His spirit. That being depressed will help us to become more like Him... kind, patient, loving, gentle, and good.

If you're dealing with depression today, here are some ideas for helping to fight against it and bring joy back to your life again. While you're working on it, though, pray. God will help with the depression and He'll help the depression bring good fruit to your life.

God, thank You for helping us through depression ... and helping it make us better people.