I’ve not written about my experiences of depression for a while, and have my reasons for doing so. Recently I have been asking myself if my depression is something which I should battle with, or something I have to learn to live with.
I can only speak of my own experience of depression. The only thing I know for certain about depression is that it affects everyone differently.
Although I’ve only recently ‘come out’, I have experienced depression for a long time. Although I didn’t realise at the time, my first bout may have come when I was as young as 11. At that age I didn’t realise that there was such thing as depression. I felt constantly ill, even though there was nothing wrong with me. The doctor gave me some tablets eventually. I’ve no idea whether they were some sort of anti-depressant, anti-anxiety pills, sugar pills or indigestion tablets. Whatever they were they seemed to do the trick for a while. A few months later the symptoms came back. The doctor I saw on that occasion ‘prescribed’ putting Vaseline up my nose.
I suffered my first identifiable bout of depression in the summer after my first year of university, but it would still be (at least) another 12 years before I started to seek answers in the medical profession. Other periods of depression have followed. Many people talk about identifying triggers for depression. For me, my experiences have mostly been routed in some sort of human relationship experience (e.g. romance, bereavement, dispute). In my own mind my life can be divided up into encountering certain individuals and events associated with them. Not all these people are people I feel have wronged me in any way, but their own way they were central to my depression experiences.
Over the years I have met many people with depression or other kinds of mental health problems. Mental health problems do not discriminate by gender, religion, sexual preferences, educational background or wealth.
In the downtimes I think about what could fix my depression. A couple of years ago, when we were going through some reorganisation and possible redundancy, a career coach was bought in to help us. She asked a question along the lines of, “What would you do if you if won the lottery or had enough money you did not have to work or could do any job you liked, without having to worry about the salary?”. In the lowest points of my depression, such a question is impossible to answer.
I went to church this morning where Andrew Page was preaching on Colossians 1vv.15-23
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behaviour. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.
Andrew said a lot about the passage, but the phrase which will stick with me most was:
“You are not an accident”.