Sunday, July 8

The Blessings of Depression

I think I know what the feeling was... or at least where it came from. I looked back in my writing, my journals, and my thoughts... and found that it sandwiches depression. Sometimes before, sometimes after, but never far away.

And I wonder.

I've had a realization recently that depression, at least in my life, has been a huge part of developing who I am... I've almost written a post on the benefits of depression a dozen times, but depression itself - at least the utter low part of it - doesn't do much good in my life except force me to turn to God. Which is incredibly important. But not exactly what I was trying to put my finger on.

I think that what I've been trying to explain or understand is that, alongside the low of depression, there are periods of in-between. The time between depression and normalcy, where some parts of my brain are functioning perfectly, and other parts are not... and those periods... I think... hold some of the reasons for who I am today.

I remember learning once that depression acts severally - and has discontinuous effects on different parts of psychomotor skills and motivation. That's why anti-depressants can be dangerous... they lessen the physically paralyzing part of depression before addressing the psychological low.

One part of depression that I've identified in my own life discounts most of the things that I've done in life; another part discounts everything I've done; another part of it makes me feel incredibly alone; and yet another dulls me to the needs of others...

The timing of those parts shifts and flows. Sometimes one hits alone, sometimes they all hit at once.

I think the most poignant feeling of urgency comes when the mix hits just the right combination. When most of what I've done in life seems worthless... but not all... when I feel terribly and incredibly alone... but still want to be with people... when I don't have major sins to repent of... and when I'm still cognizant of the needs of others.

In those minutes and hours, I find myself focusing on the few things that really matter in life... the Church, sharing the gospel, keeping the commandments, and finding ways to help others become better. And in those moments, I subconsciously jettison everything and anything that doesn't directly apply. I pick up the mundane aspects of life just like anyone else. But when it hits me, video games, novels, and bike trails meet the same fate as sports, music, art, and working out at the gym. They cease to exist entirely.

On the one hand, that's a bit frustrating. It means that I have to reestablish goals and routines every time I fall into or come out of depression. My workout schedules have never been stable, partially for that reason.

On the other hand, it means that tomorrow I could wake up as a completely new person... and probably will. It opens doors to restructuring my life, has made it easier for me to make decisions in becoming who I am today, and refocuses me on what's really important in life.

I wonder if science will ever identify the positive aspects of depression... the creativity that some artists link to it, or the passion and purpose that I've found it fuels in my own life... and then find an herb / create a pill / identify a diet / etc / that would enable everyone to get the good psychological aspects without the bad.

Or maybe they're intertwined. And when the Lord gives a trial, the trial itself is an opportunity for a blessing. The creativity, the passion, and the purpose... aren't a part of depression, but can come as a result of the experience in life.

I don't know. But it's an interesting thought.


  1. Interesting post. I'd never heard about the different 'parts' of depression but it makes sense and matches some of my own experiences with mental illness.

    Here's a question -- have you ever gone to a 12-step group or studied any 12-step materials? I'm finding them very helpful as tools to help me apply the principles of the gospel and look more objectively at my anxiety, insecurity, and unhealthy thought patterns that often lead to depression. It's been great for me.

  2. I feel this way too about has, in recent years, helped me to grow and develop who I am ways that I would not have been able to without it. Without my depression, I would not have been so acutely aware of the fact that I am human, the fact that I cannot do everything, and how much I truly depend on the Lord. It has also developed in me much more compassion for others. Some people get major trials in terms of things "going wrong" in their lives...some of us get it all in a different way..."neatly packaged" in the form of depression. Nice post!


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