Grumpy Friday

This has been my most emotionally difficult week since moving to California, demonstrating that as therapeutic as a radical change in lifestyle and life situation can be, it does not completely rewire one's psychological circuits.

I can identify many contributing factors: it has something to do with the onset of Daylight Saving Time and my own highly-specialized version of SAD: Time-change (Mal)adaptation Disorder -- which to my knowledge has not been formally recognized by the medical establishment, but I'm sure it will be as soon as someone figures out how to patent a new drug (or better yet re-patent an old drug) to treat it. It also probably has something to do with PMS. Add to that the spiritual and social stress of coming up on Easter without having settled into a church yet (long story). Stir in a good portion of run-of-the-mill frustrations, multiplied by a whole new set of bureaucracies. And, finally, throw in a major deadline to retrigger latent perfectionistic tendencies.

Reading the essays on "overcoming spiritual depression" in the latest Tabletalk magazine didn't help, either. Really, I expect better from Ligonier. At least I have the resources not only to recognize that the analyses offered don't fit with my experience, but to identify the assumptions that render them not only psychologically but theologically and biblically inadequate. (I know, it's bad form to assert that without providing an argument, but you know, it would make me more depressed to write a full-blown critique, and I've got that major deadline previously mentioned hanging over me, so I will have to leave it at that for now.)

It makes me angry on behalf of readers who trust ministries like this to provide good counsel, who might be dissuaded from seeking valuable medical care by statements such as "People, of course, are free to take medication. Medication should, however, come with a warning. ... When sufferers understand that God has a purpose in suffering, they tend to pause before they reach for psychiatric medication."

Yeah. God has a purpose in suffering; therefore beware of medical treatment. Imagine saying that to someone with MS.


So here I was in a bout of depression, irritated by the facile biblicism offered up by an evangelical publication, but then I found myself reframing my own emotions in reference to the gospel precisely as the magazine suggested.

It just seemed incredibly petty, in the grand scheme of things, to wake up on Good Friday feeling sorry for myself. (And you think you're having a bad day?) So I got up and got on with my life.

But this is one way I know that this is a lesser situational relapse rather than a full-blown episode of depression. I've been through Good Friday in a state of major depression before. When that is the case, it DOES NOT WORK to chide oneself for petty self-pity. In fact, it's a good way to get on a downward spiral, heaping guilt on top of the self-loathing the depressed person already feels. The way to spiritually survive Good Friday in a depressed state is not to compare one's sufferings with Christ's, but to identify his sufferings with one's own. Remember the depth of God's love for us, that he took on the full expanse of human suffering in order to save us. The point is not that Jesus had it so much worse than I do now, the point is that Jesus understands what it is to feel utter misery. He can be trusted. Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with confidence!

Really, I probably agree with more in those troublesome essays than I reject, including even the caution against jumping too quickly to a pharmacological remedy for negative feelings. Still. Sometimes you read these kinds of things and have to wonder whether the authors have the first clue what they're talking about. (And if they don't, why don't they keep their mouths shut and their pens still?)


David and Sarah said...

Hope you're feeling better....

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