I have struggled with depression most of my life. It tags along, uninvited, like a strip of toilet paper stuck to my shoe.
I finally came to the conclusion that depression greatly influenced my son’s suicide. Working through all the guilt, and growing in the process, I feel I would be remiss if I did not share my personal thoughts of what I have come to understand. In doing so, it is my purpose to nudge this silent killer out into the open and shine light where there has been mostly darkness.
Parts One and Two of this opinion piece probe depression from a different angle, one that is outside the diagnosis of clinical depression. It is intended to help broaden our view of this invisible disease. Let me say up front: clinical depression has diagnosable components requiring medical attention like any other disease. It is not my intention to imply otherwise.
My description of depression is neither clinical nor scientific, but an endeavor to see it from a spiritual viewpoint. We are, after all, spiritual beings. It is doubtful that you have read anything that connects depression to spiritual thought, but anything to do with the mind is spiritually related. It is the seat of reason; the one place where we are influenced for either good or evil. Think about it: where else can decision-making processes be influenced but in the mind? If it were possible to quantify, I wonder how many decisions made by folks suffering from depression could be traced to a negative, invisible force?
Much to my regret, my son undoubtedly inherited a weakness for depression from me. Trying to connect the dots after his death led me to suspect that depression dogged his steps ~ like a “hired gun” hounds his prey ~ most of his young life, leading him to finally give in to the weight of his problems and end his pain.
Let’s set the stage with a bit of world history. Sin entered our pristine planet when Eve was blindsided by the first lie ever uttered. It came from the mouth of a dazzling, camouflaged serpent curled up in a lush fruit tree. As predicted, decay and death soon followed. Conflict appeared, whereas before, all creation hummed in harmony. Thus, a “spiritual war” between good and evil commenced here on Planet Earth.
Our first parents had barely begun to live their story before their firstborn son became so angry with his younger brother that he murdered him. Sad to say, this same evil continues to this day. If one listens to news reports, how can there be any doubt that we are rapidly becoming a lawless society?
The devil was a murderer from the beginning. He has never been truthful. He doesn’t know what the truth is. Whenever he tells a lie, he’s doing what comes naturally to him. He’s a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44b
Ever since you and I took our first breathes in this world, we have been influenced by both good and evil. (If you doubt this is true, do you remember when your good-natured, bubble-blowing baby turned into a tantrum-throwing toddler?) Now that I have your attention, let’s ponder the dark side of our existence for a moment. Using our imaginations, let’s pretend that we can see into a realm which is closed to our eyes. In this piece, Depression has been given characteristics and a voice to appear more real, almost human, thus sharpening our instincts.
Depression speaks to me: “Hi there. Have we met? Ah, yes. I remember you. Pardon my momentary memory lapse. I oversee the care of so many clients that I sometimes forget names, but I remember watching you grow up. If memory serves, ‘fun-loving’ best described your personality back then, am I right? I tread silently, secretly, leaving no evidence that humans can detect, so you couldn’t see me, but I was there . . . watching you. Like a cat patiently watches a mouse hole, I was waiting for an opportunity to cast a pall over your life and change your personality from fun-loving to dull and drab. How does change like that come about? It’s mind control, pure and simple. Let me explain.
“I’ll begin by sharing our plan for mind control. Beginning at birth, my plan for all babies is the same. My staff and I keep our eyes on them, watching their personalities take shape. We carefully note the nuances of facial expression and body language which we can influence as they grow. Like warming and shaping clay, we have more influence over children while they are young and pliable, like tender shoots. This gives us greater control over their minds. In addition to their age, we zero in on children we perceive to be weak, sickly, or introverted. They make our job easier.
“The success of our mission during the formative years is virtually guaranteed if we get parents involved. If we can coerce them to reprimand their children constantly with negative phrases such as, you’re nuthin’ and you’ll amount to nuthin’, these words will transfer to autopilot and likely repeat in their heads for the rest of their lives, unless they wise up and realize that they are being manipulated (like you did later in life).
“Now back to your life. I, personally, took you as my client. While you were busy growing up, attending school and making friends, I kept you worried whether or not your friends could tell that you suffered from me. Later on, it didn’t matter whether you were seeking employment or searching for that special someone to marry, I was always right there in your head, whispering suggestions to keep you off-balance, bewildered, and insecure. Naturally you wondered if everyone else felt the same way in their heads, (but you wouldn’t dare ask them). You worried that something was wrong with you. You were experiencing what we call ‘predictable outcomes.’ Time tested methods over thousands of years has always yielded depressed minds. Yes, we agree with the experts. It is all in the mind.
“My goal for you was simple. Destroy your self-esteem. I worked hard to ensure that you felt insecure, unloved, and even invisible early in your marriage. I wanted you to feel too ashamed to tell anyone how I made you feel, unless, of course, you were willing to pay for a shrink’s advice. I made sure you would never admit to anyone that you were depressed. Your life was perfect as far as others could see. Who’d believe you if you tried to admit otherwise? You figured out that trying to tell someone your secret left you feeling even more ashamed and depressed . . . a vicious cycle of entrapment. My plan was working beautifully!
“By the time you had become a mother I had become a permanent fixture in your head. Factor in chronic pain from this and that, and you were so enslaved to exhaustion that I now had the perfect setup to push you down, way down into the dark well of depression. Mission accomplished! You had not the slightest inkling that I was enmeshed in your life. I love it when nobody suspects me!”
“At times, I feel overwhelmed and my depression leads me into darkness.” Dorothy Hamill
Scripture from God’s Word Translation (GW)
Next blog concludes this 2-part series