Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A Cloudy Day

I am feeling down this morning. I cannot put my finger on why. It's nothing and it's everything. When you are blue, it colors the world and all that's in it. Instead of just one thing, it is probably cumulative. It is likely a combination of things happening in my life and in other's. I lament teenagers dying in car accidents, friends who are hurting, the oppressive heat, growing older and watching the news just to name a few. 

I am not worried, though, because I know I will bounce back. I am fortunate my feelings are not clinical depression. I am just in a funk. I am melancholy. I recognize it when it happens and it just has to run its course. I usually try to stay away from other people when a dark cloud descends and just wallow in it until it passes. I also do this to avoid admonitions to "cheer up."
While I do not suffer from depression, many do. We do not like to talk about it. There is still a stigma to it and people can act like depression is contagious. Yes, being around someone who is sad can affect your mood, too, but you are not going to contract actual depression from them.
The church can sometimes be the absolute worst place for those suffering from it. This is because Christians often try to heal depressed people with platitudes. “Snap out of it.” “Count your blessings.” “What do you have to be sad about?” “There are always others worse off than you.” The one that gets under my skin the most is “I am too blessed to be stressed/depressed.” That is a smug, dismissive and callous thing to say to someone with anxiety or depression. You would not say to a cancer patient, “I am too healthy to have a tumor.”
It is not your job or even within your power to heal them. In fact, just about anything you might think of to “fix” them will likely come across as critical or condescending.  We sure do not need to tell people they just “need Jesus” or should read the Bible as some kind of heal-all. The Word does contain some wisdom and support and hope, but not easy answers as such.

To imply someone with depression just needs more faith does more harm than good. Instead, you should practice the art of just being there. Truly listen instead of thinking of the next thing to say. Let them know they are not alone. Offer to take care of small tasks that may seem gargantuan to someone who is depressed. Encourage them to explore treatment and be sincerely supportive of this. These are blessings that will not make depression go away, but may help make the journey more bearable.