What? The Struggling Christian?
Me: “What does it mean to be human?”
Me:“What does it mean to have sufferings as a Christian? Are involuntary mental sufferings a sin: A sign of lack of faith? A sign of Christian immaturity?”
Just a normal day with a very lively conversation with myself.
The start of my 100 day challenge was a real nightmare to me, but I was ready, atleast partially, to embrace it. Because the rewards are far greater than the risks that I was going to take.
Since then, a lot of things had been bugging my mind, and a lot of them still are unanswered. Its probably due to the neurochemical imbalances in my brain due to my attempt to shift my circadian rhythm to an 8-hour degree. But still, there are facts that remain true in my experience. And one of them is that I fell deeper to clinical depression.
Facing Depression As A Christian:
Battling Through Mental Sickness
and Social Misunderstanding
I want to stress out that the above illustration does not really depict my reality, but I have found that this feeling, mentality, and even treatment, is not uncommon among Christians.
I am by no means against the Church, pastors, leaders, or people. I am only here, expressing my experiences and my efforts, to educate, for us as a society, even as children of God, to become better in handling this issue.
I am a Christian, after all.
But I am currently under the struggle of depression.
“But how can you get depressed Pyl?”
“Isn’t Jesus your savior and your life?”
“Hasn’t He given you eternal salvation, forgiveness, and joy?”
“Can’t you just lift up all your burdens and cares to Him, and then just feel all happy?”
“You’re being weird, Pyl. You just need faith!”
“If you’re like this, there’s no difference between you and the unbelievers!”
I am a Christian. I believe in Jesus, that He gave His life to me and died on the cross for me, something which I totally do not deserve. An undeserving being that has been given perfect love by Love itself–that’s who I am.
But I still am currently stuck (but fighting) in the pit of clinical depression. Why? Because of humanity.
The Science Behind It:
Not Just A Feeling, Nor A Choice,
But A Mental Sickness
Doing my research, I have found out that depression as a Christian is not uncommon in this world: I am not alone in this struggle at least. Praise be to God for the Internet for I have found out several Christian testimonies. And with these new knowledge, I act to share the education to my fellow brothers and sisters (along with supported links in case you are that concerned, curious, or serious of a Christian minister):
- Depression is not a choice, nor is it a simple feeling. It is not simple sadness, simple lack of faith (Well, probably. But which human has perfection?), more so a choice. If I can just snap out of it, why wouldn’t I? Asking a depressed person to try not being depressed is tantamount to asking a person who’s been shot to try and stop his/her bleeding.
- The cause of depression is manifold, but genetics and neurochemical factors are one of the big ones. Depression is not a simple emotional matter nor a simple state of mind, but it is an illness, with a physical basis. I am convinced that to truly fix something, we need to examine its roots to have a better understanding on how to fix it.
- Depression, just like any mental illness, is not a sin as the Church may sometimes point it out to be. A common notion exists that all disease and sickness could be traced to sin, most especially in the days of Jesus. The Savior of the world knew this was not true, and He proved it.
I am not going to explain the scientific details of my points further because the links will be kind enough to do it for me to you. So if you’d be willing enough, it won’t hurt you to go clicking those links. I would appreciate that in fact.
In Pursuit Of Perfection
Being a Christian and a person who’s in constant pursuit of perfection, I had this strong feeling of guilt whenever I fall into the isolated pit of depression. And I can’t keep but ask the following:
“Am I not supposed to be joyful?”
“Isn’t the Church going to judge me for being this incapable?”
But asking myself those, I hit a solid wall and came to a better question.
“Weren’t there notable Christians in the history who fell into the same pit too?”
Didn’t David write most of the Psalms from this same pit?
Didn’t Paul console himself to rejoice from this same pit?
Didn’t even Jesus Himself also wept from this same pit?
*sigh of relief*
Its comforting to know that I’m not the only one experiencing this.
On Thoughts Of Understanding:
The Sickness Under The Human Lens
In hopes to share what it feels like to be under depression, let me incline you to watch this video from World Health Organization.
Depression has his fancy of poking at me.
Just like any worldly illness, it has no excuses.
On The Path To Proactive Understanding:
Clenching My Mental Fists Through Grace
I am taking proactive action to learn to tame the black dog.
I have already identified my triggers, took a logical approach in examining it, throwing away almost all possible temporary crutches, and looking up to God’s grace in the process.
With no one to easily talk and confide to, I have found comfort in researching and studying the problem (like what I’m obviously doing right now), trying to use mobile apps such as MoodTools and 7CupsOfTea, working out more vigorously, praying, keeping close a journal, etc.
I am still in the middle of the process, but by the grace of God, I am digging my way out of the pit. At one point in my life or another, I’d have to examine this issue deep down anyway. All I could say, I couldn’t ask for a more better opportunity. I had to fix this at one point or another before its going to affect any other things. And in fact, I am actually learning more about myself, even humanity itself, in the process of writing this.
So I can’t say that depression has zero uses: It actually helps me to be seated in the seat of humility.
A Case of Christian Depression:
A Case of Humanity
Perhaps I needed this.
Perhaps I needed to realize that it is okay to be imperfect:
That I am still human.
That it is okay to be flawed.
That humanity is broken.
Because it is, that is, until the day of perfection.
But as it is now, it is in my hands, along with the constant grace of God, to learn to tame this.
And probably, just probably, I might even teach my black dog a few tricks.