I am extremely grateful that people come here to read what I write. In fact, I’m usually quite astounded, because there is no shortage of reading material on the Internet, and there are a great many writers out there more talented than I am.
My post about Faith in America went up after a 50-day hiatus, and I feel as though I owe you readers an explanation.
I am subject to depression and have been off and on since I was in my teens. Most of the time, I’m able to manage this condition by taking a nightly dose of an SSRI anti-depressant. I’ve taken a lot of powerful anti-depressant drugs in my life, and nothing has worked as well with as few side effects as this new class of drugs known as SSRIs. It’s one of the mysteries of the brain that scientists don’t really know why they are effective in combating depression. But they are.
Except when they aren’t. Every so often, my depression seems to overwhelm the ability of the drug to keep the chemicals in my brain properly balanced. The current theory of depression is that it is caused by some improper balance of neurotransmitter chemicals, primarily serotonin. When I’m under stress or I’ve been sick or I’m traveling and not getting enough rest and exercise, depression sometimes gets the better of me.
It is estimated that 9.5% of the US adults suffer from depression. The symptoms can vary. In my case, I feel tired and can’t get enough rest. I feel unhappy and can’t find pleasure in things that are normally enjoyable. I begin to feel as if dark clouds are swirling around me. I become irritable. Concentrating on my work takes much more energy than usual. And my ability to be creative disappears.
I started a great many blog posts over the past couple of months, but they were all a mess. Incoherent. Moody. Not suitable for public consumption. And I wasn’t able to finish any of them.
We do not have dual, separate natures. Our spirit is very much entangled with our physical being in this life. Therefore, what affects our bodies may also affect our spirit. Depression can make it difficult for us to experience God’s presence. We know from Paul’s testimony (2 Cor. 12:7-9) that God sometimes chooses not to heal us of certain physical ailments, despite our prayers, our faith, and His knowledge of the way these things will limit us.
Despite his prayers in Gethsemane, Jesus was not permitted to avoid the pain and suffering of the cross.
My depression is nothing like what Jesus endured, I want to be clear about that. But the cross teaches us that our short lives in these bodies will include suffering. That can mean the pain of losing a loved one to an unexpected, early death. It can mean disabling, physical injury or illness. It can also mean psychological difficulties. Despite these things, the love of Jesus and the presence of the Holy Spirit are unchanged.
Jesus gave his disciples this warning, and this promise:
I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. — John 16:33
My depression seems to be lifting and my ability to write seems to be returning. I appreciate your encouragement of my work here on AnotherThink and I appreciate your prayers. We’re in an interesting season as we move towards the 2008 presidential elections. I’ll have more to say about that and other things relating to faith in these postmodern times, in the next few days.