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Author Topic: Depression (and other fun mental afflictions) and Spirituality  (Read 10094 times)

Sage

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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.)
Maker, though the darkness comes upon me,
I shall embrace the light. I shall weather the storm.
I shall endure.
What you have created, no one can tear asunder.

-Canticle of Trials 1:10

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HeartShadow

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Re: Depression (and other fun mental afflictions) and Spirituality
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2011, 02:34:12 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.)

 
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.

Star

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Depression (and other fun mental afflictions) and Spirituality
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2011, 07:48:20 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?

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?
"The mystery of life is not a problem to be solved but a reality to be experienced."
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Sage

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Re: Depression (and other fun mental afflictions) and Spirituality
« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2011, 07:51:36 pm »
Quote from: Star;1029

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!
Maker, though the darkness comes upon me,
I shall embrace the light. I shall weather the storm.
I shall endure.
What you have created, no one can tear asunder.

-Canticle of Trials 1:10

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Star

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Depression (and other fun mental afflictions) and Spirituality
« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2011, 08:52:25 pm »
Quote from: Sage;1032
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!
"The mystery of life is not a problem to be solved but a reality to be experienced."
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Aisling

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Re: Depression (and other fun mental afflictions) and Spirituality
« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2011, 10:18:11 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?

 
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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KittyVel

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Re: Depression (and other fun mental afflictions) and Spirituality
« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2011, 02:04:53 am »
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?

-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 Edit: July 05, 2011, 02:06:29 am by KittyVel »
<3 Rest in peace, Christiana. I love you so much, and I miss you like crazy already. At least you\'re not hurting anymore...May you ascend. <3

caelestisraven

Re: Depression (and other fun mental afflictions) and Spirituality
« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2011, 03:43:59 am »
This is long I tend to ramble- sorry lol

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?

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 from: Sage;749
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 Edit: July 05, 2011, 03:46:07 am by caelestisraven »
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Thorn

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Re: Depression (and other fun mental afflictions) and Spirituality
« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2011, 02:11:02 pm »
Quote from: Aisling;1117
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.
"Faith and and reason are the shoes on your feet.  You can travel further with both than you can with just one." - Babylon 5
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Dragonfly68

Re: Depression (and other fun mental afflictions) and Spirituality
« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2011, 02:17:47 pm »
Quote from: Sage;749


 
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.

arkeiryn

Re: Depression (and other fun mental afflictions) and Spirituality
« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2011, 03:39:12 pm »
Quote from: caelestisraven;1215
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.


This is so me. Unfortunately, I know exactly what I'm doing but can't make myself stop doing it very easily. And I am worried that it's going to affect me spiritually as well; I've only just started exploring paganism as a viable belief system.

Quote from: Sage
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.


I'm not on meds any more, either, ever since I realised that they weren't helping any more. Oh, they helped when I went on them nearly two years ago, but after coming off them and feeling no different most of the time and actually better some of the time, I've decided to stay off them. (I've tried various other ones too. They either do nothing or make me even more of a bunch of crazy :P) However, I still find things difficult, and I haven't even tried energy work or anything else yet. I am still at the reading-everything stage rather than the practising stage -- although I tried to do electrokinesis when I was younger. Yeah, 99% of the time it failed :P

I'm hoping, once I get more into the practising (at the moment I no one knows about my paganistic leanings so I'm leery of practising) that it'll actually help, rather than be one of those things that end up dumped by the wayside when I feel like s***.

(I'm trying not to be too melancholy; today isn't a Bad Day but it's not a Good Day either.)
"That which yields is not always weak."

"Yes my lord, but questions are dangerous, for they have answers"

Stardancer

Re: Depression (and other fun mental afflictions) and Spirituality
« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2011, 04:59:34 pm »
Quote from: caelestisraven;1215

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 tried replying earlier today, but leechblock kicked in and I lost all I wrote...

Hi, I'm Stardancer and I have chronic depression, undiagnosed, undoctored, untreated, uneverything. Because - says the demons in my head - if I go to a doctor, it means I'm admitting I can't do everything on my own, and that I'm not perfect and not holding up to the (imagined) demands of society, and then I'm fast into another tailspin of panic. The same goes for admitting stuff to friends and family, so I mostly put on the face also for my husband (though he probably suspects/knows a lot more than my depression gives him credit for).

The quoted bit describes my spiritual pursuits during bad periods, very well. I can do my shielding and prayer and be really comforted and strengthened by them on good days. On bad days I tell myself 'well the comfort only lasts a minute, so what's the point?' I have a little bit of success trying to tell myself that life is lived minute by minute, so that minute of comfort is better than none.

Otherwise I write a todo-list for the day, make a little heart *blush* by the babysteps I really need to take, and write a short statement of celebration for what I accomplish. I have set up obligations for myself of offerings 4 times a week, and I do feel pretty guilty if I miss one. I try to make it up on the good days, and tell myself that Their love is not diminished by my faults or sickness.
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Finn

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Re: Depression (and other fun mental afflictions) and Spirituality
« Reply #12 on: July 07, 2011, 11:44:27 pm »
Quote from: Aisling;1117
The biggest obstacle I find is my own willingness to believe the lies depression tells.  

 
I know these lies. But I wonder: does depression tell only lies? Can it also tell truth?

I ask from a position that believes it can, and does, tell truth. This is based on contemplation and readings around the subject of "the dark night of the soul" (particularly St. John of the Cross' work entitled the same), acedia, and melancholia in general. Basically, the spiritual dimension of depression.

Which isn't to say that clinical depression is a spiritual disease. I have to admit, I don't think it's a wholly physical disease, or even a physical and emotional disease, but a disease with consumes every part a human can experience the world with. I do think there is a spiritual element, which, if plumbed, can lead to truth.
Fight evil: read books.

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Stone Temple Roses

Re: Depression (and other fun mental afflictions) and Spirituality
« Reply #13 on: July 08, 2011, 12:58:06 am »
Quote from: Sage;749


I find that my depression and anxiety stop me from doing things on my more bad days. I'm on a path of drugs and therapy that works for me more times then it fails but I still have bad days where I'm depressed and can barely move. I find on those days I cannot get myself to even read about my path, let alone pray, do a spell or even do a simple rite.

My anxiety stops me from going out and meeting others so I've restricted myself to the solitary path. I also find that I have a hard time meditating and often have a hard time sticking to doing just one thing at a time. Like this message has taken much longer to write then normal since I've been looking at other webpages. I don't figit or have a hard time sitting still but I can't seem to concentrate the way it says I should be in the books.

Hopefully this will change.


He didn\'t have a word for "home" but he knew it was something to be protected at all costs.

JuniperMorgan

Re: Depression (and other fun mental afflictions) and Spirituality
« Reply #14 on: July 08, 2011, 01:28:30 am »
Quote from: Sage

-Sage (Ellen M.)

 
I was first diagnosed with severe acute depression when I was 17, after multiple suicide attempts.  The depression began around the age of 10 and progressed unchecked until I was hospitalized 7 years later.  The ironic part is that my mother was a former nurse and herself undergoing therapy throughout that time, and my godmother, whom we lived with, was the charge nurse on the acute psych unit at the local hospital - neither of them had any clue of what was going on with me, including the suicide attempts until the high school called my mother in over concern on an essay I wrote.  I never bothered to deny my attempts and confirmed I would try again.  Hence hospitalization.  

I never had any insurance - so my mother weaned me off the medications as early as she could get away with.  And even now, as an adult I still have no insurance so have no formal treatment for this ailment.  On my worst days I still find myself thinking of ways I haven't tried - but manage to somehow pull myself back from the edge by my bootstraps as it were.  

I am a solitary, with the notable exception of observances with my spouse.  So there is no real community support in that regard.  Since losing my job nearly 4 years ago, I've been trying to pursue my dream of being a writer - with full supporrt from my wife.  It has kept me mostly homebound to the point I was borderline agoraphobic - and my patience for people is at a minimum.  To try and combat that I forced myself to join a bowling league so that I had to get out of the house and socialize at least once a week.

I found great comfort in my spiritual beliefs until too many negative occurrences happened too close together and I lost track of my path and observances.  

I know that when I am actively following my path my Bad Days are fewer, and so I am trying to force myself back into that direction.  The decision to rededicte myself and actively pursue bringing more of my spirituality into my life had me finding this group, within 24 hrs. of my rededication.  I took the hint. :)

Good days I feel confident and able to accomplish anything I need to.  Off Days I sleep a lot and stare vacantly at my computer and or the TV.  Bad Days I sleep even more, don't turn on the computer so that I don't have to deal with people, don't answer the phone unless it's my wife.  Worst Days, I sleep, and ask my wife for many hugs, and cry in the shower in the hope that the negative head talk will go down the drain with the water and my tears.

I'm starting to decorate my most occupied spaces with images of Diety, prayers and anything else that might help prop me up.  Even to the point of making a folder of inspirational images and sayings that randomly change my desktop so that I can't get so used to one image that I no longer see it.

My fur kids also help tremendously.  They make sure in get out of bed at least a little while even on the worst days, and their uconditional love and purr therapy are great comforts.
You can also find my ramblings at my blog although I\'m not the best at regular updates.  I\'m working on fixing that. Or look for me on FB here or Google+ here. :)

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Site Assistants
[Non-Staff Positions]
Webmaster:
Randall