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    Depression (and other fun mental afflictions) and Spirituality

    Note the sarcasm in the title.

    I was diagnosed with minor depression last October, but I'm fairly certain I've had it at least since the 10th grade if not since elementary school. Because of this, it's difficult for me to trust myself and the spiritual experiences I have. It's also difficult to sense energy or muster the strength to be open (emotionally, mentally) to any sort of connection. For many years I thought I was doing it wrong, but with the diagnosis of depression I understand it's just a stumbling block in my brain. It's not my fault, and it gets better with drugs and therapy, but it is something I have to be aware of.

    Also, it's easy for me to "binge" on energy when I am in the mindset and when all that energy fades away... hello seriously bad emotional state.

    I'd like to start a conversation about the intersection of spirituality and depression, anxiety, severe esteem and body image issues, or really any mental/emotional imbalance at all. How does depression (anxiety, etc.) affect your spiritual life? What obstacles do you encounter, and how do you get around them? Do you find much support from your religious community (both on a local and a broader scale), or is support and understanding hard to come by?

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    Re: Depression (and other fun mental afflictions) and Spirituality

    Quote Originally Posted by Sage View Post
    Note the sarcasm in the title.

    I was diagnosed with minor depression last October, but I'm fairly certain I've had it at least since the 10th grade if not since elementary school. Because of this, it's difficult for me to trust myself and the spiritual experiences I have. It's also difficult to sense energy or muster the strength to be open (emotionally, mentally) to any sort of connection. For many years I thought I was doing it wrong, but with the diagnosis of depression I understand it's just a stumbling block in my brain. It's not my fault, and it gets better with drugs and therapy, but it is something I have to be aware of.

    Also, it's easy for me to "binge" on energy when I am in the mindset and when all that energy fades away... hello seriously bad emotional state.

    I'd like to start a conversation about the intersection of spirituality and depression, anxiety, severe esteem and body image issues, or really any mental/emotional imbalance at all. How does depression (anxiety, etc.) affect your spiritual life? What obstacles do you encounter, and how do you get around them? Do you find much support from your religious community (both on a local and a broader scale), or is support and understanding hard to come by?

    -Sage (Ellen M.)
    Biggest problem I have is taking my own work seriously.

    I mean, I KNOW I'm working - my FK stuff totally hits the intersection of spiritual and physical work. If it's not an offering to the Universe, I don't know what is. At the same time .. when people start taking it seriously, I want to run. I can't take it seriously. I can't take ME seriously!

    As far as support - I'm really lucky. I currently know all my co-religionists personally. And they're friends. They refuse to LET me sink into too far of a mopeypants state. Which doesn't make it easy - but does make it possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sage View Post
    I'd like to start a conversation about the intersection of spirituality and depression, anxiety, severe esteem and body image issues, or really any mental/emotional imbalance at all. How does depression (anxiety, etc.) affect your spiritual life?
    Hmmm. I have a similar-but-not identical thread I was going to start, and I'd like your opinion about whether it's something you'd see fitting into this discussion, or whether it's different enough to get its own thread. I was going for how stress and your religious life interact--do you find religion helps you to get through crushingly stressful times, and if so how, and does it ever seem more of a negative thing (one more thing to do, one more thing to try to keep track of, etc.), and how you cope with trying to keep a healthy religious practice going when highly stressed.

    Because, um, that's kind of where I'm at right now. I'm struggling with... stress, or at least that's what I'm blaming it on for the moment... and finding that there's just so much crap in my head right now that stuff gets pushed out. And religion is some of what's falling out. I just totally space even looking at the religious calendar to see what's coming up, much less doing anything about it. I don't like it, but I don't know what to do about it either.

    What do you think? Same thread, or should I take it into its own?
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    Re: Depression (and other fun mental afflictions) and Spirituality

    Quote Originally Posted by Star View Post
    What do you think? Same thread, or should I take it into its own?
    I think you're definitely describing a similar situation to what at least I'm going through. Depression and stress are inextricably intertwined with me - sometimes I don't know where one ends and another begins. I think, however, there's nothing wrong with having multiple similar threads, and there are some differences between stress and stress plus mental disorders. I'd contribute to both threads!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sage View Post
    I think you're definitely describing a similar situation to what at least I'm going through. Depression and stress are inextricably intertwined with me - sometimes I don't know where one ends and another begins. I think, however, there's nothing wrong with having multiple similar threads, and there are some differences between stress and stress plus mental disorders. I'd contribute to both threads!
    And looking at it again, I think I'm going in a different direction anyway--you're asking how does this stuff affect and shape your spirituality, and I'm asking more... almost the inverse, really, how religion affects the stuff (whether as a tool to help cope with it, or as something that makes it worse, or whatever). So I'll go start that thread now.

    Sorry for the momentary derail!
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  6. #6
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    Re: Depression (and other fun mental afflictions) and Spirituality

    Quote Originally Posted by Sage View Post
    How does depression (anxiety, etc.) affect your spiritual life? What obstacles do you encounter, and how do you get around them? Do you find much support from your religious community (both on a local and a broader scale), or is support and understanding hard to come by?
    Depression makes me doubt the value and worth of my work, spiritual or otherwise. Severe bouts of depression makes me doubt myself and my abilities in ways that I can't even fathom when I'm not depressed.

    The biggest obstacle I find is my own willingness to believe the lies depression tells. Depression does not say "Hey, you're doing a great job." It says things like "You are wasting your time with this. You really don't know anything. Why don't you give up?" If I even entertain these thoughts for a moment, it's like hitting a brick wall in the middle of my path. As soon as I let one of these negative thoughts take hold, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Work that came easily before becomes awkward and difficult.



    For me, the best defence against this is a good offense. It means regular tough-love pep talks to myself about being proud of what I've accomplished on my path so far. It means forcing myself to share experience and knowledge even when normal self-doubt creeps in. It also means staying active within the spiritual community. The community doesn't necessarily provide direct support for dealing with depression, but more indirectly, by giving me a place where I can get relatively unbiased, objective feedback on what I do. Sometimes, I just need to hear that second opinion about things to snap me out of self-doubt.
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    Re: Depression (and other fun mental afflictions) and Spirituality

    Quote Originally Posted by Sage View Post
    I'd like to start a conversation about the intersection of spirituality and depression, anxiety, severe esteem and body image issues, or really any mental/emotional imbalance at all. How does depression (anxiety, etc.) affect your spiritual life? What obstacles do you encounter, and how do you get around them? Do you find much support from your religious community (both on a local and a broader scale), or is support and understanding hard to come by?

    -Sage (Ellen M.)
    I have some on and off depression, general and severe social anxiety, body dysmorphia, and binge eating disorder. (I'm a fantastical cocktail of so many wonderful ailments!) Honestly, a brand new bout of depression has turned me towards religion, and has caused me to seek out the guidance of any strong and comforting deity that was willing to listen. Anubis contacted me first, and He brought me a very deep sense of calm and comfort. After awhile, I became very interested in Sekhmet and Mafdet as well, after learning of their power and what they represent. Unfortunately, my depression and anxiety cause me to be very skeptical of any and all spiritual encounters that I have.

    I unfortunately have no religious community, so that kind of support is nonexistent for me. I have an online friend who has just been introduced to Kemetic religion, and we have decided to learn together, so I will soon have a friend to lean on when it comes to that. The only IRL support for everything going on in my itty bitty head is my boyfriend, who can't relate to all of my issues (some of them he can, though), but is very supportive of every responsible decision I make (which is incredibly helpful in and of itself) and is a wonderful listener when I need to vent.
    Last edited by KittyVel; 5 Jul 2011 at 01:06 AM. Reason: forgot some things
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    Re: Depression (and other fun mental afflictions) and Spirituality

    This is long I tend to ramble- sorry lol

    Quote Originally Posted by Sage View Post
    I'd like to start a conversation about the intersection of spirituality and depression, anxiety, severe esteem and body image issues, or really any mental/emotional imbalance at all. How does depression (anxiety, etc.) affect your spiritual life? What obstacles do you encounter, and how do you get around them?
    I was just thinking & blogging about this subject actually. I have suffered from depression for almost my entire life. I have a panic disorder which led me to agoraphobia. I can have severe panic attacks over everything.

    I discovered that in my darkest times I would just turn away from everything & everyone. One of the big things with depression is that you do often turn away from things you enjoy or care about. & my spirituality was no exception. I had almost completely lost all forms of practice. So something that could have helped me dealt with it & move through it I was turning away from.

    I am just now beginning to understand that turning away is not the answer. I always have the Goddess even at my worst. I need to remind myself this & use this to help myself work through my bad days.

    Its actually very interesting because panic disorders can be helped a bit with medication but treatment deals alot with behavioral therapy & many techniques that go hand in hand with many of the magickal techniques! In the middle of a panic attacking being able to calm myself down with focusing, grounding, centering and working with shielding helps so much.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sage View Post
    Do you find much support from your religious community (both on a local and a broader scale), or is support and understanding hard to come by?
    I am a solitary witchy but it has hurt me in some ways through online groups. I would be very involved in groups online even running some & then I would hit a bad day (which could last months) and I would turn into an overwhelmed mess would couldn't get out of bed and every responsibility I took on suffered & I let people down which could turn into a nasty cycle of guilt lol

    But besides my own personal issues I have never myself experienced anything negative from the community. Though I have seen others have problems. When you are in a group with people who are working with energy & inner workings it can be tough to admit that you are struggling. People may just tell you things like oh just pray & meditate and the gods will answer you. But being in a depressed state you might not actually be receptive to listening or be able to find a way to focus to meditate on your own. & then you feel even worse about yourself thinking you are doing everything wrong or not worthy.

    I have also seen some nasty people who can be very dismissive towards people asking for help by just lumping them in as a fluffy attention seeking emo wannabe goth chic. Sometimes the community can be witchier then thou so it can be tough for some to ask for help when they get that type of attitude.

    I ran a group once for pagan women online where they could share and get support & work on journal writing through issues. which was great until I bleh u can guess
    Last edited by caelestisraven; 5 Jul 2011 at 02:46 AM. Reason: added something
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    Re: Depression (and other fun mental afflictions) and Spirituality

    Quote Originally Posted by Aisling View Post
    Depression makes me doubt the value and worth of my work, spiritual or otherwise. Severe bouts of depression makes me doubt myself and my abilities in ways that I can't even fathom when I'm not depressed.

    The biggest obstacle I find is my own willingness to believe the lies depression tells.
    ^This

    When I'm depressed I tend to slide into nihilism very easily and a very concrete form of atheism comes with it. The (figurative) demons in my head can be very persuasive. If I look back when my head is clearer little of the negativity makes any sense, and the bits that do are fixable. But that doesn't help when I'm in the middle of it. I'm sure my spirituality could be a great comfort to me in these times - particularly given that my patron has some expertise is the area of mental illness, if it wasn't one of the first things targeted by my demons.

    Really need to work on that.

    For now, it gets reduced to a battle of wills - me vs. me. Eventually one of me gets exhausted and I either snap out of it or go curl up in a fetal position for awhile.

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    Re: Depression (and other fun mental afflictions) and Spirituality

    Quote Originally Posted by Sage View Post
    Well, I don't suffer from depression, does ADD count? I'm not been officially diagnosed with it, but I know several people with kids that have it and after being with me a bit they tell me I'm just like their kids. My daughter went online and found that test, seems I have most of the signs. Drives her batshit crazy.

    My problem is focusing. I get distracted VERY easily and tend to go off on side roads all the time. Makes for a very ummm....interesting time. Not sure if anyone else has problems like that, but would love some tips on how to handle ADD and spirituality.

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