I’m no theologian or Psychiatry professor when looking at the effectiveness of faith or belief when it comes to depression, but the role or faith or self belief when discussing such a condition has always interested me
At first glance it would seem that external faith, i.e a belief in a higher deity or power, is more effective than internal self belief as huge comfort can be gained through the belief in an all powerful form or entity, and as regards self belief there are few more damaging conditions than depression, or other related illnesses
Yet, as the years have gome by, and I have learnt to come to terms with my own on going depression, I have come to wonder whether this is really so
That sound a bit odd, and, as you read on,(hopefully), you might accuse me of sitting between two stools, but I hope you bear with me as I try to explain what I mean
There is no question that conditions such as depression are debilitating. They rob you mentally and physically of energy, they fill you with self doubts, panic attacks, and a whole host of other nasties that we are all far too familiar with, but, in my experience the worst of all the effects is the deep sense of hopelessness, self loathing, and failure that besets you at every turn.
In essence, at it’s most severest you know that your and your life is carp, you feel like crap, you look like crap, and there is nothing but nothing more inviting than a 6ft deep grave
I do not deny any of the above, and by mt own admission , on several occasions, my mind has been so scrambled, that death has seemed to be not only the perfect option, but the only option as regards ending my inner pain
As such, it may seem a daft thing to say that I still believe that self belief is more valuable than any external belief, and yet I swear it is true
Think of a tree growing in a forest, and you may see what I mean. There you are, a once magnificent but now decidedly ill giant redwood. Your roots suck up whatever sustenance they can, while you leaves and branches soak up the sun, but you are still ill. Your leaves turn yellow, your branches grow bare, and, eventually, both begin to fall to the ground.
What is the answer to such ills, ah, there you have a dilemma. Bringing the above metaphor down to earth, you are the tree while the sun is your chosen deity ; that wonderful all giving source of power which, if you play your cards right, will support you for ever more.
The obvious answer would seem to be to regrow your leaves so as to absorb more sunlight, and subsequently use the resultant power to cure your ills, but what if you are not in a position to absorb the sunlight that falls upon you.
What if you have lost faith in the absorbance of your leaves, what if a virus is sweeping through your cell structure, a virus which you cannot destroy, and one which if unchecked, could bring you crashing down to the ground
If this is so then is there anything the sun can do to help you, for, if truth be told, do you not find yourself totally alone
Well what if you do find yourself alone, what harm can be done by trying to go forward, and trying to believe in yourself, however pointless that may seem?
If you fail, and you fall further, you’ll be dead anyway, so failure, which by now is so complete, is inconsequential, so why not look at life differently. You may well be blinded by your illness, and mentally dead as any Dodo, but I recall the words spoken to me by a psychotherapist
She had Multiple Sclerosis, and I told her that, rather like a shell shock victim, there was nothing left that I could do. Her reply was short and simple and it has stayed with me to this day.
“You say you can’t change anything”
She told me
” But you can walk and talk, you can move around freely. Look at me, stuck in this wheelchair, and with an illness that will probably send me to my grave”
She was right , and I admire her for her honesty, and it was the start of a very long journey to where I am today
Of course it’s hard, and at times seemingly downright impossible, but, as I said earlier, what have you got to lose. You have no self belief, you have no interest in being alive, and your life is one unending pointless misery, so what have you got to lose
Does this mean that faith and religious conviction are irrelevant. Certainly not, and I admire those who believe in their chosen deity or mentor guided lifestyle. I have no such faith, and my belief in myself, and in humanity, as a species, is even lower; that is something I will carry to my grave. It is good to have such a faith to support you, but such faith is useless unless some kind of regrowth occurs from within
So where do you start. You chose, it’s your body and your mind, but just go for it. Blindly if you have to, and with as much support as is available, but just go for it, as you have absolutely nothing to lose
What then, keep on going. Sure it’s tough, yes, there will be reversals and lapses, and, if you are unlucky, flashbacks may well hit you like a well aimed broadside, but I repeat again; what have you got to lose
oh yes, two tips worth passing on while I am on this subject. regulate your progress as if you were driving car, and keep a video or a written diary. You wouldn’t speed in a town centre, or crawl at 20mph on a motorway, and if you keep a diary you have progressive points of reference on your journey to come. Write down or record both the highs and lows though, both are just as valuable.
Does that mean you’ll defeat your condition, probably not, but think of the benefits that will accrue from such a journey. If all goes well you will
- understand your condition
- find out about yourself
- learn from both the positives and the negatives
- find out that you are not, and need noit, be alone
- be able to cope better when the inevitable dark days come, and finally
- be there for others, as others have been there for you. To support them, to listen to them properly, and to maybe show them away out of the mire.
Of course there are no guarantees, and you are a unique individual with a path and resolution all of your own, but read the posts of my Guest author JOANNR7 or take it from one who has been actively suicidal, who has nearly been sectioned twice without any chance of saying no, and who has, on more than one occasion, broken down completely when someone has shown some affection. There is a chance that you can make it, no matter how bad or how hopeless life may seem.
So it is that this post draws to a close, but I repeat what I said earlier. External faith is good, so long as it doesn’t harm anyone, but it is redundant if you have no belief inside.
What ever you face though, I wish you luck and success on your journey, but, as ever I leave you with a video which I hope you will enjoy