Sunday, January 10, 2010

Depression and Spirituality

I've read a couple of books, talked with various people, but perhaps I was just so depressed at the time I couldn't even extract a summary.

Bullying in the Church of England hit the news this week, which led me to a support site and a page on there really struck a chord with me.

For me there hasn't been bullying in my recent past (oddly enough I received a letter of apology for bullying that happened 20+ years ago, I never responded, I didn't know what to say, I didn't perceive that I had been bullied, so what do you say?), but the possibility of post traumatic stress disorder has come up, so as I read through, the ideas of illness and injury both applied.

I have particularly noticed difficulty in praying, it's always something I felt bad at and undisciplined at, but knowing that it was usually something I put effort into scheduling with other people. In September 2008, I began meeting with a small group to pray for the church that would become The Downtown Church, I went because God very clearly commanded me to be there, not because I wanted to be there! As time went on I found it harder and harder and many times someone would find me in floods of tears in the foyer. As I look back and see the early signs of depression, difficulty in prayer and bible study started to occur around the same time, but not before.

I realise how far I've come as a believer since my last battle with depression, during that, even getting me to church was fairly hit and miss and if I made it, listening to the sermon was not high on my list of priorities. But I have grown, I've missed a few Sundays in 2009, but only a couple were not physical illness and it's not just habit, it's because it's grown in importance as something I should do as a believer, such that however bad I felt I usually made it.

I find it hard to worship, often I don't join in with the singing, listening to it encourages me, but to truely worship is hard.

I'm still finding it very hard to pray, I want to pray before I read the bible and I do, but it's hard. It would be surprising if it were otherwise because depression effects how your mind works. I love to cook, but it's not just lack of motivation and low energy that makes it hard, actually functioning in the kitchen can be a struggle, there are things I do now to make it easier that I wouldn't have needed to do before, and hopefully won't need in future, such as having to get every ingredient out and lined up rather like they do on the TV. Following a recipe became very hard work, but having the imagination to go without was missing too (I'm the kind of cook that does both), but slowly it's improving, I was rather pleased with a chicken and cashew nut stir fry I produced earlier in the week.

However, I don't believe that depression cannot have a spiritual element, I can't go into the theology of demonic activity here, but if they are there, then medical treatment may not help until they are dealt with. However if I'm having a bad day, to quickly label it as satan discouraging me ignores the physiology, if I had a bad night of sleep and then random bad stuff happen in the day, it's hardly likely to be a good day!

Guilt, I'm not sure I even want to go there, feelings of guilt are a normal symptom of depression and I do feel I got into a cycle of depression, guilt, trying, failing, more depression.

I'm getting better, but I'm still depressed, we've found a treatment that seems to work, slowly I'm pulling bits of life back together. I'm abiding in the word each day, praying is much harder. Our church has a women's prayer meeting at 6.45am on Tuesdays, I'm being cautious and saying that for now, until I can get the get up at 7 habit down, it will have to wait, but it's on my radar, February maybe.

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