Monday, September 24, 2018

Let's Talk About Depression: A Conversation Overdue

Depression is a common disorder that affects so many of us. It is a disease that hides beneath misunderstanding, stigma and our need to keep the status quo. What can anyone do for some one that is depressed? It's a difficult subject to approach, especially if you are not familiar it.

I Get Sad Sometimes Too: That's usually the first thing people say and it comes from concern and lack of understanding of the problem. Sadness is a biproduct of depression but it is not depression from my experience.

The way I would describe depression is an absence of the self. What if you could do something that would normally bring you joy and instead of feeling joy you feel nothing. The worst place to be depressed is your favorite place, doing something you love and all you feel is absent.

The initial thought is you will never feel anything or enjoy anything again. If you are without joy and you have everything you want, it doesn't seem like there is any hope.

What do you say to someone who is depressed? So instead of focusing on what not to say, what should the conversation sound like? First, you are not going to fix this for the person, one or two words or even a conversation is not going to solve the problem. All you can hope for is offering some relief for the symptoms.

Be patient: The person who is suffering with depression is looking for relief and is definitely feeling anxious for it to stop. Assure them the feeling will pass, it will get better and assure them the repetition of the same words and thoughts are not an aggravation.

When you are in this state you will try to touch all different thoughts and aspects of how you feel in order to explain the feeling. I have found myself repeating the same question, the same thought. The person listening needs to listen, not judge, not interrupt or decide it's time to get over it.

Ask questions instead of giving answers: Realize the person on the outside of the depressive state usually can not give a defining answer, it is a chemical imbalance or the brains state of trying to recover, often there is no one answer or fix.

Expand on thoughts, memories, hurts and joy-where ever the conversation goes, you are simply the wall that the depressive person can bounce ideas and feelings off in an effort to unravel the mass of feelings. I have noticed it's not just one thing, it tends to be a long and complicated tangle of all kinds of feelings, hurts and fears.

Get Active: Take your friend or family member for a walk while discussing the problem or feeling. Enjoy something outside in nature and realize they are not going to necessarily feel better, again you are only seeking small bits of relief.

A person suffering from depression will usually want to withdraw and sleep, inactivity is often a symptom of the soul licking its wounds. Activity and sunlight can definitely change that, go outside, get lunch, try to exercise against the initial thought.

When I was in college my room mate would insist we go swimming and my initial thought was always not today. I would go and I would thank him for insisting as afterwards I would enjoy a bit of relief. Exercise is actually the one definitive, temporary relief.

A friend in Need: This is not about you but really it could and should be. What a strange thought but if you can shift the focus to your own experiences without preaching and attempt to show the person in the state of depression that you might relate to their state it can often be comforting. The depressed person will usually ask questions, they will seek your experience.

I've noticed when I talk about someone and their problems it not only takes me out of my own darkness but it gives me a bit of insight. As you explain to someone else that there is hope and it's not the end of the world, your own mind and soul can often benefit from standing outside of the initial feeling.

Some companion pieces by Artbygordon

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Sunday, September 23, 2018

Let's Talk Religion, Yes, Really: Our Divine Selves

Faith is not of words but of actions: Why does the phrase "let go and let God", or "it's God's will" infuriate so many people? It sounds harmless and full of concern but the words are empty when you call across a chasm to someone who is drowning while you are safe on solid ground.

No, that doesn't mean you need to share the same misfortune but the saying talk is cheap is definitely an issue at times. Actions always speak louder than words; witness a very faithful person go through trauma and how they keep themselves joyful, not necessarily happy but joyful. This is the testament to God and his works in believer's lives.

Faith is not contingent on what happens, it is as constant and unyielding as the strength of our individual human wills. To see someone with such faith and joy is something that separates that voice from the chasm, it makes one want to walk the waters and follow someone, to be a leader of men.

A Fallen World: Bad things happen on earth, life is unfair, there are brutal acts and evil occurrences that occur everyday. The problem is the people that insist if you pray everything will work out, what does that even mean?

Prayers for a child dying of an illness and they still die, the question broached how could God let this happen if I was so faithful and prayed. There is a will that is working through our lives and that will is not what the physical human kind can fathom, than again the human mind can rationalize things and accept things that we should all question.

We are not supernatural entities, we are a species, a fallen broken species that usually choose virtue and civility over cruelty and evil. Still, the evil gene lives in all of us, the selfish, the resentful, the angry and prideful. We are all sinners and none of us, no matter how righteous, have any right to judge anyone else for just about anything.

Now the concept of right and wrong, if you follow what I just said than anything is acceptable which is what man has come to gratefully adopted. Right and wrong are subjective, we rationalize, we celebrate evil as long as it suits the human condition.

God's laws and what is right and wrong don't budge because of the day, much like the constitution which in my mind is of God. What is right is always right, what is wrong is always wrong. Man has a concience and this is an innate product of the species-we know what is wrong and right whether we follow our own compass or not.

I had a short debate with someone, online, about how man should be more like animals as they don't kill for sport and they aren't filled with greed and malice. I thought the idea was very much incorrect, we are just a moral conscience away from being animals.

Animals take what they need, the strong survive and the weak die, there is nothing personal and everything has a purpose, survival trumps morality in every instance. I believe humanity is basically good but the evil tendency and the lowest of our virtues doesn't go away.

I think we assume so many things of God's word. He needs to be worshipped, he is a jealous God-the devil would have us question what's so great about a God that needs to be worshipped. We are to worship and be part of a church not for God's glory but because he knows our souls fundamentally need other people and need to speak to a higher order than our earthly beings.

So many things we see from an earthly standpoint until the feeling of being connected to God becomes a memory, an idea and than a far removed concept. It is so easy to discount his present being in a world that celebrates everything that separates us from him.

My next post is about the journey: A large part of living a life with God as a constant presence takes focus, awareness and most of all trust. Trust the process, even while we are drowning, trust that the picture is larger and more complex than our earthly eyes can fathom...Next post.