More on the subject of depression…Hmmm…good questions. Good comments James and Joel. (See Comments: Diagnostics?) Much to chew on. As for the questions from a certain short neighbor…
Not being anything near an authority on the subject, I think that persistent, recurring unhappiness would be depression, yes. I think I’d say that feeling “blue” would also fall into that category. I’m not sure where you’re going with asking what we want out of life, but if this is also a contributing factor to depression, then, hmmm… no I’m not quite sure yet what I want or what God asks of me (or Janna and I) right now. I think this can lead to a spirit of discontent, but I would seperate that from depression.
I think that all of these feelings; blue, sad, discontentment, and being unsure of what you want, are definately signs of being depressed. However, what human being doesn’t have days or perhaps even lots of days like this? I even made a previous post about being depressed because I was lonely here in the woods, yet a few days later I was better. My spiritual father says that many times, depression and all those feelings I described, can be attributed to the “unknown-ness” that lay ahead. I especially like to know what’s coming, and I don’t like anything messing with my life and changing things around. Rather that letting God guide me, I’d rather that He tell me what the rest of my life is gonna be. (Where’s the fun in that, eh?) But I can seperate the “blue” days from the “grey” and those from the happy days. Despite having depressing days, I can honestly say that everyday, I smile and find much to be thankful for and happy about. Doesn’t mean I’m done whining or being depressed. Fr. Schmemann wrote in his journals about dealing with a depressed woman. He says, “Yesterday I had a long pastoral talk with a woman in deep depression.” He lists some of the reasons for her depression and then says this, “Total darkness, a state of blasphemy. While we were talking I felt quite clearly the demonic character of a depression. I felt her acceptance, willing acceptance of blasphemy. I felt also the weakness and inadequacy of psychiatry and psychoanalysis. There is no way that they can drag people out of this darkness ‘if the light that is in you is darkness…’ I told her; you can do only one thing, renounce blasphemy, eject yourself out of this lie, this surrender. You cannot do more, but this is the beginning.”
I think that this is precisely where I’m coming from. As I stated before, I would not assume to ever “diagnose” anyone properly, as I do believe that there are people with chemical imbalances. I simply think that they are not as plentiful as we would be made to believe. I think James is absolutely right in saying that many times it is about feelings: “I think people in our society today are terrorized by their feelings. There is the unwritten rule that you should follow your feelings regardless of the consequences, and I think people are often shocked to find out that following their feelings doesn’t produce the results they want.” The woman with whom Father Alexander spoke, put in todays context, would most likely have been told that she was severly depressed and needed medication. Rather than being told that, “Hey, you are loved and despite all the pain in your life, God is still just as present now as he ever was.” she gets medicated. Can this really help her? Is it really “loving” her to give her candy when what she needs is much more? What happens when she wants to go off the medicine? Will she again slide into a depressed state, and perhaps be worse off than before, becuase the root of the problem was not addressed? It just seems to me that, as per the cultural norm, the answer is to shut off the bad feelings and go after the good. Everyone wants to be happy, but so many seem to be unable to be genuinely happy. I talk to so many people (and fight it in myself) who seem to feel constantly alone. This, I believe, more than anything is at the root of many evils and depression. In our Western, individualistic society, we have fooled ourselves into believing that “I don’t need anybody. I can use them when I do, but I will decide the course of MY life….etc.” Again people, I’m not saying that I fully understand all of this, just that I have some opinions, and I am open to learning more. I have several very good, close friends who are on meds, and in no way are my questions an attack on them, merely an opportunity for growth and understanding. Again, let me know what you think!