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On-Line Kick Depression Party! Come, Celebrate!

love heartIt takes a village to kick depression.

Come to the Party!

On-Line Kick Depression Party

suggested by our readers.

Open to anyone who has or has lived with someone with depression.

Let’s celebrate by sharing with one another the good stuff that has happened to us.

Let’s celebrate the times we have kicked depression,

even if it is just a tiny glimpse of the good life.

When: August 15th

Where: Depression’s Collateral Damage Blog at https://depressionscollateraldamage.wordpress.com/

What’s taking place:   A sharing of all the positive times that depression has disappeared, whether for a moment or for a length of time.

Write a comment on what happened or any thoughts you have about kicking depression.

Send it to depressedlovedone@gmail.com before August 10th

We will post them on August 15th.

And please, between now and then,

pass this onto your friends

on facebook, tumblr, twitter,or those in your address book or any other place.

We want this party to reach people

so they will all know that depression can be overcome in some way, shape or form.

And together we can kick depression.

Let’s get that support going and growing.

Let’s beat the stigma.

Come, kick depression with us.

people on world

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Here I Am. Really?

Yesterday at church I cried. I didn’t cry because I felt the deep presence of God. I didn’t cry because I was especially touched by the words of the presider. I cried because of a song.

Here I Am Lord, by Dan Schutte is a song that has been around for many years. I know the words by heart. I have sung it numerous times. But yesterday I could not sing. I tried. I wanted to. I just couldn’t.

Why? Because I was powerfully and achingly aware of a God who didn’t seem to care, who seemed to be shutting doors, who wasn’t hearing our cries. I was aware of the people who were supposed to ease the pain and were choosing not to. And those thoughts were very strong because my husband standing beside me could no longer feel happiness, could not leave the darkness that he was dwelling in, could not feel the love of God or people.

Depression does that. It robs the person and the people who care for that person of the presence of hope. There comes a time where you feel no hope that the medicine will kick in, that the cloud will lift, that this will become something of the past.

All who dwell in darkness now, my hand will save…..really?… when this darkness has gone on for such a very long time?

Who will bear my light to them? Whom shall I send?….yes, who? No one thinks of meals or breaks or any kindness when the disease is depression. What light will shine through a darkness so heavy that the pressure is physically felt?

Yes, yesterday was a rough day but today is new and we begin again. I only ask that for the millions of people who suffer from depression out in the world and for the millions more who care for them that somewhere at sometime they will feel the healing touch of their Higher Power, however they see that Power, and that they will feel the physical care of that Power through a fellow human being. I hope for hope for them.

– Bernadette

Suicide – No Judgment, No Guilt, No Blame

Not long ago I read a piece about suicide, which focused on the emotions of those left behind.  I’m thankful this is not an experience I’ve had to live through,.  And because I haven’t had this experience, I can’t say for sure how I would feel if I were in those shoes.  But here is an important statement Bern and I were given when we were interviewing both a psychiatrist and a psychologist for the purposes of “Let Me Sow Light: Living With a Depressed Spouse.”  We’ve both gone back to these words again and again in our work with people who care for a depressed person:

Suicide is, sadly, sometimes the fatal outcome of the illness called depression.

In other words, sometimes people die from depression.  Sometimes people die of cancer, or diabetes, or any number of other illnesses. When people die of most illnesses  there is no blame assigned, family members rarely feel guilty.  When people die of most illnesses, “religious” people don’t tell us the dead are headed for hell.

But when a person suffering from the illness called depression dies through suicide caused by that illness, all of these painful and hurtful consequences come into play   There are plenty of reasons why: stigma, fear, a history of demonizing suicides within the established church.

I appreciate the words of David K. Flowers on this subject.  David is a pastor and a counselor with a B.S. Clinical/Community Psychology and an M.A. in Counseling.  I recommend you check out his blog at http://davidkflowers.com/ for excellent thoughts on faith, spirituality, the state of the world, and mental/ emotional health.  Here’s what David had to say in a post about suicide:

“Someone recently asked my opinion on what happens to those who commit suicide.  Will they ‘go to hell?’

Before I give my take on this, I must start off by saying that no one but God has any business saying who goes to hell and who doesn’t.  It’s not the church’s job, or any pastor or religious teacher’s job, to declare that any specific behvior puts someone on the fast track to hell.  Show me a pastor or religious teacher (or institution) making declarations about who is going to hell, and I’ll show you a case of spiritual megalomania, since this assumes levels of knowledge no human being could possibly have…

No, suicide is not mortal sin.  I suppose there may be cases where a man kills himself in the same state of rage from which he might kill someone else, and in this case there is no question that what is known as sin would be involved.  But to assume that this one act of sin leads immutably to hell is a huge leap.  It’s an even bigger leap to assume that any one act, especially an act committed from a place that is so clearly “not well” ties God’s hands and prohibits him from the exercise of mercy.  And finally is the fact that most suicides are not in any way rational.  They are based in a deep kind of illness which is deserving not of punishment but of compassion.  Suicide is painful enough for family members who have lost a loved one to it.  They do not need the additional pain of thinking their loved one has separated himself from them both physically and spiritually in that one act.  We need a more nuanced theology to deal with this, based less in fear and desire to control, and more in compassion and understanding of the love and goodness of God.” (This text originally appeared on DavidKFlowers.com. Check out the full post at:http://davidkflowers.com/2010/02/suicide-hell/)

Those of us who live with a depressed person recognize what a monstrous illness it is.  We commonly experience anger, loneliness, fear, and feelings of abandonment when someone we love suffers from deep depression. I’m hopeful that one day we’ll all realize that when suicide becomes the fatal outcome of this illness, those involved should not be left to experience guilt, blame, and shame.

-Amy

Sin does not cause depression.

This is going to be a rant.  Some of you who read this will agree with what I say, others will disagree and some of you will be incensed by what I have put on paper.   Be that as it may, I’m going to say it anyway.

Sin does not cause depression.   Yes, you heard it right.  Sin does not cause depression nor does God deliberately cause this darkness just so someone will become a better person.

Depression is an illness so terrible and stark that no one would actively seek it as a means to grow in the spiritual life.  And with such a burden to bear, when priests and ministers talk about how a person can find relief if they only ask and turn it over to God, it makes my hair stand on end. It’s not that easy, that simple.  All a platitude like that serves to do is to make the depressed individual feel that for some reason he is not good enough, is not really letting go, is not trusting God. Often for the depressed person an even worse downward spiral occurs as a result.

Even worse is the talk about sin being the cause of depression.  Do we deliberately commit depression?  Do we forget to include happiness in our lifestyle making a sin of omission?  When we look at the types of depression, are we talking about mortal or venial sin?  What stupidity!

We insist upon carrying out the myth that we know what God is thinking.  We speak with authority, insisting that God says this or says that when in reality, our discovery of God  is ever changing. and when we think we know what God is or thinks, we find ourselves back at the beginning of getting to know God.

So how in heaven’s name can we speak definitively that God gives us depression to help us grow in the spiritual life?  Granted, we can use all trials to grow and we can use depression but does God “gift” us with depression?  Is depression a result of the person sinning? I find that hard to believe of a loving, ever changing God.

It’s time that spiritual leaders looked into depression in more than a superficial way before expounding on what God does and doesn’t want in regard to depression. I don’t picture a God lying in wait to zap us with depression, who is waiting for us to say the magic words so this God can wave the magic wand and make the depression disappear.

And to that end I am leaving when sermons or homilies talk about how easy it is if we give it over to God and I refuse to read books on depression that use Scripture quotes so justify making depressed people and their caregivers more guilty and stressed than they already are.  I choose instead to look at a loving God who hurts when we hurt and cries when we cry and rejoices when recovery is achieved.

-Bernadette

Faith, prayer, and difficult times – we can’t know everything.

As I admitted in a recent post, I’m a full-time church employee. Lest you jump to any conclusions about what that means, let me add this caveat: I’m generally the polar opposite of the sort of “religion” we so often see in daily media. Just wanted to clear that up off the bat.

My day job is to work with children and families in matters of faith, and that means I’ve learned over the years to look at most issues theologically. Politics, relationships, pop culture, families, business, justice – whatever the issue, I tend to see it through a theological lens. For me, what this means is that I apply what I personally have learned to be true about God – not what some learned person, higher-up in the organization, or even written text has to say about God. A simpler way to put this is that I think for myself in matters of faith.

A great deal of what I’ve learned about God I discovered through quite a few years of “doing the right things” – praying, reading the bible, attending bible study groups – throughout the time my husband suffered from uncontrollable depression, panic and anxiety. I spent these years trying to make sense of why God’s answer to my prayers for my husband’s (and consequently our family’s) healing from mental illness seemed to be “No” or “Wait.” To say this was a difficult time would be a laughable understatement. It was a time of darkness, despair, and hopelessness. It seemed to last forever. And in the end I concluded that God simply no longer cared about us. “Doing the right things” didn’t help me. It was only in hindsight, when healing finally did begin after a good twelve-year period, that I learned to see the ways in which God was with me – us – during this time.

Which brings me to something our congregation’s lead pastor said in his sermon last Sunday, walking through the questions so often asked by myself and others: “Why do bad things happen to good, faithful people” and “Where is God in the darkest of times?” I appreciated Mike’s honest answer to these questions. That answer was “I. Don’t. Know.” In fact, no one can ever know. We will never, in this life, know the all the answers or make sense of the darkness and despair that are always a part of life. What we do know however, and the answer we can safely give to those who are hurting, is that the God who loves and has created every one of us has promised to be with us. Maybe sometimes we’re not able to recognize that fact, but it doesn’t mean God has broken the promise or is not there. It simply means we don’t get it yet, and that’s okay. From my perspective, I’d say that anyone who claims they do have the answers to these questions is dabbling in the realm of playing God, and is more likely to further damage those her are hurting than those who admit they just do not know. I would also say that in dark times, in my experience, God is crying right along with us, hurting just as much as we are.

If you’re one of the millions of people out there who are asking these questions due to the mental illness of a loved one (or for any reason, for that matter), I hope these thoughts help you to hang on, even if only for today.

-Amy

Want to hear the whole sermon? You’ll find it here: http://www.holycross-elca.org/audio/sermon020313.mp3