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Franciscan Spirit Blog

Finding God in My Depression

Feb 9, 2022
Man stands at a window | Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash
Depression has taught me that perhaps the greatest act of trust is to know that how God heals us is way less important than how he loves us.

I have a passionate devotion to Divine Mercy. I sing the Chaplet and pray this prayer of surrender, “Jesus, help the signature of my life be the signature of your Divine Mercy, ‘Jesus, I trust in you.’ ” And I strive to live that surrender minute by minute. But as I fell deeper and deeper into the dark hole of depression a couple of years ago, the prayer began to sit on my heart like a heavy weight. It made it hard for me to breathe.

When you are depressed, you are trying to articulate a pain you don’t understand. A tiredness for which there are no words. A despondency you are sure makes you immoveable. And a crisis of faith that echoes with one deep, begging question, “Where are you, God?” And the replies come from those who love you: “It will get better. God’s got you.” “Just turn it over to him. He works miracles.” “Have you asked God to heal you?” “Trust him. He has a plan.” All true. And all, for me in that moment, useless advice.

As depression engulfed me, everything was filtered through a fog of despair. All the encouragement to trust God and his providence became either a criticism of me for not being able to heal myself with my faith, or a criticism of God for not being willing to heal me.

What I discovered, thankfully, in time to save me from the rapid spiral of depression, is that sometimes faith, hope, and love in an intangible spiritual sense are not the answers to our desperate need. Sometimes we can’t find safety and solace in prayer and in the Church because we are no longer safe to ourselves. Sometimes faith alone is not enough to save us.



For me, safety came in the form of a hospital bed, a caring and attentive psychiatrist, pharmaceutical drugs, a month of intensive psychological care, and continues today with the same components to maintain my mental health. There was a point when I thought a diagnosis of bipolar disorder meant I was made all wrong, called into question God’s reliability, made it even harder to trust him. With a couple of years of good mental health care, what I now know is that I am not that diagnosis. I am not bipolar. I have bipolar. The way I have green eyes and dark hair and an unnaturally loud laugh.

Learning to live with mental illness was a long process. Learning to trust God again has been an even longer one. The truth is the mercy of God is in the faces of the professionals who sort through my pain with me and guide me to healing. The wisdom of God is in the scientists who can put my brain chemicals back together with a tiny blue pill. The delight of God is in me recognizing that my life matters enough to pursue what I need to live it fully awake and alive.

It turns out that where God was in my depression was waiting behind the office doors of that psychiatrist and under the lid of a prescription bottle, and in my darkest doubts and deepest fears. Depression has taught me that perhaps the greatest act of trust is to know that how God heals us is way less important than how he loves us. And that he loves us in the dark as much as he loves us in the light. That he loves the mentally ill parts of us as much as he loves the spiritually healthy parts of us.

And that sometimes he hands us that love in the encouragement of our faith, and sometimes he hands it to us in a little blue pill that gives us eyes to see again.


When We Were Eve

Comments

Renee
Wed, 02/09/2022 - 09:36 AM
Renee
This is what I needed to hear. Depression is in my family and I struggle. Thank you for telling me I’m ok. Bless you and your ministry.
rickchem
Wed, 02/09/2022 - 12:45 PM
rickchem
thank you for your inspirational message. may god bless you always.JESUS I TRUST IN YOU.
Dave
Wed, 02/09/2022 - 02:41 PM
Dave
As one who has been there, I think you’ve done a good job of putting into words what depression is like. It’s not an easy thing to do. This is a good reflection on how God works through professionals to restore health. I encourage others to seek help, especially if they are obsessed with suicidal thoughts. May God bless you with continued good health.
Laura
Wed, 02/09/2022 - 03:41 PM
Laura
Thank you for your honesty. The hellish pit of depression is horrible. God willing more people will get access to helpful mental health professionals and care.
Jeana
Fri, 02/11/2022 - 08:19 AM
Jeana
It is so critical to campaign against the stigma of mental illness. Thank you for sharing so people realize mental instability does not define you. God is with you every step of the way through awareness, people and resources He puts in your way.
lucia borg
Fri, 02/11/2022 - 08:20 AM
lucia borg
thanks for this. Just what I needed right now. today God showed me His love in your writing. God bless you
Mike
Thu, 02/17/2022 - 08:12 AM
Mike
Thank you for your words. Bless you.

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