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Author Topic: Depression (and other fun mental afflictions) and Spirituality  (Read 11919 times)

Sharysa

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Re: Depression (and other fun mental afflictions) and Spirituality
« Reply #30 on: February 28, 2012, 08:05:09 pm »
Quote from: Sage;749
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?

 
I have had to deal with clinical depression for the past few years, and it affects my spirituality quite a lot. Usually it just saps my energy so I get apathetic about everything, but sometimes it goes the other way and I get stressed about things I don't normally have a problem with: Not having an altar/shrine, not celebrating the holidays in a "pagan" manner, not doing any rituals for the Morrigan, not meditating/praying/formally thanking her for whatever she might have done for me, etc. Essentially, it makes me think "I'm a bad pagan because I don't do/have pagan stuff."

I don't have a physical pagan community (most of the groups are in San Francisco, which is about an hour away, and I can't find any Irish reconstructionists among them), so there's no support there by default. However, my online community (TV Tropes, and now here) is very supportive.

Being a solitary is part of the problem, sometimes. I'd really like getting into verbal discussions about things, but there's nobody I can talk to without needing a LOT of expository explanations. Physical presence aside, talking face to face is a lot faster than waiting a few hours/days for a reply.
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earth_dragon

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Re: Depression (and other fun mental afflictions) and Spirituality
« Reply #31 on: March 19, 2012, 08:59:51 pm »
Quote from: Sage;749
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.)


Oh, I think this is a great topic! I have bipolar disorder and boarderline personality disorder. And the biggest thing I've found is that, when a low period strikes me, I can be an energy vampire *and not mean to be*.

This is something that causes me great sorrow.

On the other hand, when I'm too far up, my energy is positive, but erratic, which still makes it hard to be around. I have to work very hard to make sure my energy is focused and steady. That makes its safer for both me and those around me.

My spirituality is something I want to be able to draw refuge and comfort from, a safe haven. And I try to do this when I'm in a low period and struggling, but it's tricky when the negative voices are telling you that you're not worth it, or that it's all pointless. I hope to become better at this as I move along in my path. I've strayed from my path for the past few years, so this has gotten more difficult, but I'm working my way back. Finding my way to this forum will be a big help, I think.

Etheric1

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Re: Depression (and other fun mental afflictions) and Spirituality
« Reply #32 on: March 19, 2012, 10:34:19 pm »
Quote from: Sage;749
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.)


I have this wonderful condition too.  It's harder for me to be spiritual when I'm in one of those depressed states.  I'm fortunate that I do have people I can turn to, however, the bastard thing about depression is I don't want to talk about it, so that can take some effort to reach out.  But I do go to therapy and that has helped a lot.  My personal take on depression is it's a form of unexpressed anger turned inward.  Yet it also distorts my perception of things too - which is a fairly well documented thing with depression.  

As a Kemetic, I've found certain gods are helpful.  For me, and this is just my UPG, I have found Set to be very good at helping me get in touch with my anger, pulling my psyche apart to examine just what I'm hung up on (which isn't generally apparent when I'm depressed) and he's also good for dispelling illusions.  But I know he's not for everyone.  YMMV.  Sometimes I have the energy to do a ritual to him, sometimes not.  But when I do, I generally feel a lot better afterwards.   But it does take more effort for me if I'm depressed, so a quick meditation doesn't always do the trick and I have to try to just power through a full ritual to him.      

Otherwise, with depression I have noticed it is important to do self maintenance to keep it in check - ex: watch my diet, try to get exercise, take my supplements, and also listen to music. All these are more helpful for me to keep me from slipping into a bad head-space.
No matter how dark the fur, the bunny is still fluffy. - Mel\'s Law of Dark Fluffs.
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Nyktelios

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Re: Depression (and other fun mental afflictions) and Spirituality
« Reply #33 on: March 19, 2012, 11:20:05 pm »
Quote from: Sage;749
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?

 
Well, I struggled a lot with anxiety and depression when I was a teenager, and not as much now, though I do still get bouts of it here and there. I think I've just always had a very sensitive personality, so when kids would pick on me in school, and my family (mostly my father) would put me down at home for one reason or another (I was too effeminate, not a normal boy, too fat, not athletic enough, not outgoing and talkative enough, etc.), it would really hurt my feelings and make me feel bad about myself. There was a time when I flat out refused to go to school, and I spent about three years in therapy and on various medications.

Honestly, I don't think the therapy helped much, although it was nice to have someone to talk about personal things with who I knew wasn't going to spread all my secrets around. Medication mostly just made me feel numb, I didn't like it much. Actually it was when I discovered paganism that I started to feel better about life. Not only did it give me a more positive worldview, I for once felt like there were other people out there who thought like I did. Changing one's religion doesn't work miracles, obviously, but it did give me a more positive outlook. My religious views have changed a lot since then, but I guess they are still similar in function. There are certain deities I turn to when my life feels like it's a mess, and while I wouldn't say they actually change anything externally, having faith kind of does give a person a sense of inner strength.

As for community, I don't really have a certain religious community I belong to, in particular. I have noticed that depression seems really common among pagans. One of my friends who is pagan went through a lot of similar struggles with depression and a tricky family, and we were supportive of each other and tried to help each other out during difficult times, so that was nice.

Generally, i think I've gotten good at recognizing when I'm slipping into a depressive mood and try my best to put a stop to it. I try to take a step back and notice when I'm being irrational ad oversensitive, and tell myself that life is not as bad as my brain is making it out to be in a particular time of stress or bad luck, and that things always turn around eventually. I also find herbs like chamomile, basil, and St John's Wort can be very helpful in calming me down and improving my brain chemistry. I wouldn't say I'm "cured" of depression, because it's really a life-long battle, but I manage to handle it a lot better than I used to and rarely notice those kinds of moods anymore. Spirituality and religion help, as do supportive friends, regardless of whether they are part of one's religious community. Going for walks or some other form of exercise is really important, too. I have favourite routes and neighbourhoods that I like to walk through, and it actually helps a lot.

Anyhow, that's my little testimonial lol.

Mandi

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Re: Depression (and other fun mental afflictions) and Spirituality
« Reply #34 on: March 21, 2012, 04:39:11 am »
Quote from: Thorn;1413
^This

When I'm depressed I tend to slide into nihilism very easily and a very concrete form of atheism comes with it.


This is so me.
I have bipolar, so when I'm manic it's hard to slow down and take spiritual things seriously, but when I'm depressed, it's hard to care about anything, spiritual or not.
I also have the issue of people assuming that paganism may be another manic 'phase'. On my depressed days, I nearly prove them right, but I'm trying really hard not to.

veggiewolf

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Re: Depression (and other fun mental afflictions) and Spirituality
« Reply #35 on: March 21, 2012, 02:16:54 pm »
Quote from: Etheric1;46519
...

As a Kemetic, I've found certain gods are helpful.  For me, and this is just my UPG, I have found Set to be very good at helping me get in touch with my anger, pulling my psyche apart to examine just what I'm hung up on (which isn't generally apparent when I'm depressed) and he's also good for dispelling illusions.  But I know he's not for everyone.  YMMV.  Sometimes I have the energy to do a ritual to him, sometimes not.  But when I do, I generally feel a lot better afterwards.   But it does take more effort for me if I'm depressed, so a quick meditation doesn't always do the trick and I have to try to just power through a full ritual to him.      
...

 
This.  Neb.y is very good at helping me switch from blue emotions to red ones...and I find red ones easier to power through.
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Etheric1

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Re: Depression (and other fun mental afflictions) and Spirituality
« Reply #36 on: March 21, 2012, 03:14:57 pm »
Quote from: veggiewolf;46673
This.  Neb.y is very good at helping me switch from blue emotions to red ones...and I find red ones easier to power through.

 
Yep, red ones go faster!  And I find they can give me clarity about the situation as well.  Plus, anger can be put to good use (if we want to, I've found sometimes just venting for the sake of it is pretty useful too - it's all about that shadow side Carl Jung talked about).
No matter how dark the fur, the bunny is still fluffy. - Mel\'s Law of Dark Fluffs.
Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear. – Albert Camus
You can easily judge the character of a person by how they treat those who can do nothing for them. - unknown
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Kneazle

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Re: Depression (and other fun mental afflictions) and Spirituality
« Reply #37 on: March 28, 2012, 04:03:17 pm »
Quote from: Sharysa;44440
I have had to deal with clinical depression for the past few years, and it affects my spirituality quite a lot. Usually it just saps my energy so I get apathetic about everything, but sometimes it goes the other way and I get stressed about things I don't normally have a problem with: Not having an altar/shrine, not celebrating the holidays in a "pagan" manner, not doing any rituals for the Morrigan, not meditating/praying/formally thanking her for whatever she might have done for me, etc. Essentially, it makes me think "I'm a bad pagan because I don't do/have pagan stuff."

I don't have a physical pagan community (most of the groups are in San Francisco, which is about an hour away, and I can't find any Irish reconstructionists among them), so there's no support there by default. However, my online community (TV Tropes, and now here) is very supportive.

Being a solitary is part of the problem, sometimes. I'd really like getting into verbal discussions about things, but there's nobody I can talk to without needing a LOT of expository explanations. Physical presence aside, talking face to face is a lot faster than waiting a few hours/days for a reply.

 

I've really related to this post. My major depression/anxiety makes every effort I try seem futile, especially the "I don't do/have pagan stuff so I'm a bad pagan" mindset. Hell, that depression and anxiety keeps me from doing anything but lurking on this forum.

I'm glad I found this thread because it's given me a slice of hope, which I'm lacking a great deal of lately.

Sorry I don't have more to contribute than a "thank you", but it's helped a lot more than you guys know.
"It was either a very large cat or quite a small tiger."

Etheric1

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Re: Depression (and other fun mental afflictions) and Spirituality
« Reply #38 on: March 28, 2012, 04:20:18 pm »
Quote from: Kneazle;47869


Sorry I don't have more to contribute than a "thank you", but it's helped a lot more than you guys know.

 
You've got nothing to apologize for.  It's good to see threads that affect people positively.
No matter how dark the fur, the bunny is still fluffy. - Mel\'s Law of Dark Fluffs.
Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear. – Albert Camus
You can easily judge the character of a person by how they treat those who can do nothing for them. - unknown
“We cannot change our memories, but we can change their meaning and the power they have over us” - David Seamands

PetitAlbert

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Re: Depression (and other fun mental afflictions) and Spirituality
« Reply #39 on: March 30, 2012, 08:31:23 am »
Quote from: Finn;2988

Through this perspective, my depression ultimately became a... thing that held several contradictions in a strange balance: it was (is) a crock of complete shit, it was (is) a holy thing, it told me lies, it told me truth; it was me, and it was not me all at the same time. It became mine, and I learned to... learn from it in the only way I could. It was how I survived.


Cheers for this, it is beautiful and true.

I especially like "me and not me at all at the same time". That's something I've been thinking about a lot recently. To what extent am I damaged, and therefore fixeable, in being always melancholic? And to what extent is this just who I am? It's a balance, of course, but I think I'm making some unjustified decisions about which bits I want to be me and which bits I don't. And it's just pride that lets me keep the sarcasm and art as my qualities, and reject the lazy-bed-days and panic attacks as "not me".
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PetitAlbert

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Re: Depression (and other fun mental afflictions) and Spirituality
« Reply #40 on: March 30, 2012, 08:48:23 am »
Quote from: Silverlight;44399
I am conflicted with the idea that happiness comes from within and not from external sources, because while I feel it is true for most people, I feel that it is very difficult for me.


The ancient greeks/romans had this concept - autarkia. Effectively, for a man to be truly happy he must be happy purely in himself and for his own virtues. Happiness in friends, fame, wealth etc is transitory and therefore less valuable.

The thing is, it's an ideal and trying to follow it perfectly - like all ideals - is impossible. It's good in moderation, but accepting that we are connected with other people has to be OK too. Because that's how humans are built, and denial never ended anything.

I try to remind myself constantly that my partner - or any of the nice things that make me happy - are a special gift or treat, a one off, something I could plausibly lose. He's a source of happiness, but I try to remind myself of the things I can do on my own that are also happy-making.
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30 Days of Magic: take the challenge now!

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Sharysa

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Re: Depression (and other fun mental afflictions) and Spirituality
« Reply #41 on: April 01, 2012, 10:12:42 pm »
Quote from: Kneazle;47869
I've really related to this post. My major depression/anxiety makes every effort I try seem futile, especially the "I don't do/have pagan stuff so I'm a bad pagan" mindset. Hell, that depression and anxiety keeps me from doing anything but lurking on this forum.

I'm glad I found this thread because it's given me a slice of hope, which I'm lacking a great deal of lately.

Sorry I don't have more to contribute than a "thank you", but it's helped a lot more than you guys know.

 
Don't feel sorry for feeling less alone.

You're perfectly welcome.
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tihana

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Re: Depression (and other fun mental afflictions) and Spirituality
« Reply #42 on: April 02, 2012, 09:50:20 am »
Quote from: Sharysa;44440

Thank goodness for this thread! It's a topic the books never seem to touch upon -mental illnesses- and when they do... it's not pretty. And by not pretty, they make you feel like you're doing something wrong or being a naughty little witch because you are poisoning yourself with medications. Damned if you don't treat it, damned if you do.

I myself have suffered from debilitating depression and anxiety since 2006 (to a point where I can hardly stand because I get so light headed) and I suppose that along with the fact I'm a perfectionist and very hard on myself at times affects my ability to study and do rituals: I can never fully commit because I can't help but question myself constantly and then feel worthless when nothing comes out right. That coupled with the fact there seems to be so little on this subject is extremely disheartening. But then you figure, well, every religion has every flavor of disability, mental or physical, and it does not affect their faith. But knowing and believing are two different things, like I know this fact but I feel so awful that it's hard to believe it.

This is my normal. It's a very crappy normal, but constantly longing for the better days is only going to make me feel worse. My psychologist always tells me to focus on the now, the right now, and it's true. But my god is it hard to, :o
« Last Edit: April 02, 2012, 09:50:53 am by tihana »

HeartShadow

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Re: Depression (and other fun mental afflictions) and Spirituality
« Reply #43 on: April 02, 2012, 04:33:19 pm »
Quote from: tihana;48523


 
There's a lot of VERY ugly victim-blaming in modern pagan circles with illness in general - especially mental illnesses.  Garbage about if you were "right with Goddess" or whatever you'd be healed.

I cry bullshit.

It's a smug way for people to cover their insecurities - if illness comes from NOT being right with Goddess, then all you need to do is BE right with Goddess and you're protected!  Right?  *gag*

We're physical creatures with physical problems, and that includes messed-up brain chemicals.  The answer isn't some herbal all-natural homeopathic hand-waving, or magic, or prayer, or getting right with God/dess/es.  None of that is WRONG, but really - if your brain chemicals are messed up, and there's a pill you can take that gets them to the point where you're better - well, better living through chemistry!  We don't have brains to NOT use them, right?

People who think that using modern medicine is bad should stop using antibiotics.  Let them use their right-with-Goddess to fix it.

Personally?  You'll take my prozac from my cold dead hands. :p

Etheric1

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Re: Depression (and other fun mental afflictions) and Spirituality
« Reply #44 on: April 02, 2012, 04:46:34 pm »
Quote from: HeartShadow;48571
There's a lot of VERY ugly victim-blaming in modern pagan circles with illness in general - especially mental illnesses.  Garbage about if you were "right with Goddess" or whatever you'd be healed.

I cry bullshit.

It's a smug way for people to cover their insecurities - if illness comes from NOT being right with Goddess, then all you need to do is BE right with Goddess and you're protected!  Right?  *gag*

We're physical creatures with physical problems, and that includes messed-up brain chemicals.  The answer isn't some herbal all-natural homeopathic hand-waving, or magic, or prayer, or getting right with God/dess/es.  

 
:thup: I think spirituality can help, but by no means can it fix everything.  We live in physical bodies and should not forget that.
No matter how dark the fur, the bunny is still fluffy. - Mel\'s Law of Dark Fluffs.
Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear. – Albert Camus
You can easily judge the character of a person by how they treat those who can do nothing for them. - unknown
“We cannot change our memories, but we can change their meaning and the power they have over us” - David Seamands

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