10 September 2003

Diagnostics? cont.

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!

8 September 2003


Ok. Here’s a question for y’all. In asking this, I’m well aware that some of you may very well be the object of my inquiry, but so be it. Hopefully you will have a good response. My wife and I were talking about depression and modern diagnosis of the condition. It seems that every time we watch T.V. we can hardly avoid a commercial asking if we have “these symptoms,” and if so, we should consider seeking medical help because we very well could be depressed; which can be none other than a chemical imbalance and we are in need of expensive medication. The medication, of course, is readily available by the pharmaceutical company that paid to air the commercial during prime time. Now on to the next part…

While in New Hampshire recently (see previous post) one of the other two graduates at J.D.’s ceremony spoke of being depressed. All three of the graduates were asked to prepare a 10-15 minute speech about what life at the Mansion had been like, and how God had worked in them the past year. Karl (the one to whom I’m referring) spoke about a life of drugs and depression. When he arrived at the Mansion (which by the way is not a rehab facility; they accept no one who does not come willingly, and while the “students” must stay at the mansion while in the program, they are free to leave at any time. Back to Karl…) he was on meds for depression. He spoke of being consistently tired during work, barn chores, prayer & share time, and study times. Most of the time, he had to be propped up or kept awake by his peers and mentors. He spoke of praying to God to help him with this, and after some time, decided that he needed to cease taking the meds and attempt to live “drug free” with the help of God. He then stated that after only a few days off of the anti-depressants, he felt more awake, full of vigor, and happier than he had in a long time. He’s been off them for months now, and has said that he was depressed, and still gets depressed because of a cycle of guilt and shame and unrepentance in his life. He said, “A lifestyle of sin, distrust, and shame; yeah, that’ll make you depressed. That’ll give you psychological issues. But the love of Jesus sets you free to hope and remember that you are loved despite your ugliness.”

So, the question goes…While I am aware that there are people who TRULY do have a chemical imbalance and are in need of medication, where does/should the line get drawn? I see and know more and more people who are suddenly being diagnosed as “depressed” and are on Zoloft or Prozac. In many cases, these are Christians. Before I get a comment on it, no, I’m not a cultitst that believes that Christians should avoid medication because “Jesus heals all things if we just have enough faith to claim the healing…” I just don’t think that it’s the fact that “medical science” can now help more people to be properly diagnosed and then medicate that. I see our society as a whole slipping down the tubes, and a big part of that is the refusal to accept consequences for our actions, and hence the over-medication of the general population. The worst part of it is that children are not left out. There are more kids on Prozac, Zoloft, and Ritalin now that there ever have been in the past. SO, what do you say people? I’m eager to hear your responses.