One of the facets of depression and anxiety that I have often, uh, interacted with is the question of addiciton. (There could be some connection to OCD there, but I’m not up on that enough to talk intelligently.)
In my experience, the person suffering from depression longs to feel something, sometimes anything. There is a void and a darkness where emotions (good or bad) ought to be. There is a blackness that is hard, nearly impossible to penetrate at times. This darkness, this blackness and fog makes the depressed person want to break through somehow. In my observation the most obvious places where this happens are in some of these areas:
- Drugs (both prescription and non-prescription)
- Possesions (money or buying stuff or whatever)
I’m sure there are many others, and I haven’t experienced all of these. But I can understand the desire very well. It lies in every sinners heart: to have what you cannot have, and to feel what you cannot feel, to take what is not yours.
I think this is what makes the interaction between faith, the body and the spirit so difficult. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak, as St. Paul once said.
In depression, though, there comes a physiological desire to feel that Satan can use to tempt the sinner in the most viscious ways. How does he do it? He does it by convincing the sinner that because they are sick, they are owed these things. Whatever these things may be. And your body is telling you he’s right. You know things aren’t right. That you can’t feel as you should, and if you feel anything, it is only darkness.
So you try to manufacture joy, happyness, normalcy in some fashion. But you can’t. Once you start down these roads, they only leave you unfulfilled and more unhappy and depressed. So you want more. Try more. Get more extreme in your desires, and Satan rejoices that he has used your sickness to drive you into sin. So now on top of all your other problems, you have guilt. Great.
What do you do? I would suggest there are three areas from which healing can come. Spiritual, psychological, and physical/physiological.
No, I don’t mean crystals and reaching out to the great nirvana. Duh. By spiritual healing, I mean confession and absolution. Recognizing the difference between sin and not sin is critical, and you cannot do it alone. Go to your pastor. Confess to him, even if you’re not sure something is a sin. He’ll tell you. God will forgive your sins, release you from these false hopes and give you the firm foundation upon which your very life is based. But this simply must involve another person. You can’t think your way through this, or (dare I say) pray your way through it. You need another person (preferably your pastor) to speak the words of healing and forgiveness. Forgiveness always comes extra nos. God will give it.
This one is a little tricky. I know that confessional Lutherans instinctively believe that all therapy and psychology is satanic. They’re wrong. A good therapist is worth their weight in gold. I am blessed to have such a therapist. In order to kind of tackle these things head on, a therapist can help you understand the interaction between what’s going on in your body and how your mind reacts to it. In order for you to tackle this, I would suggest that you need to understand both the spiritual elements, and the mental/physiological elements to it. A therapist (or psychiatrist) can help with this.
If you can come to recognize that the way you are trying to “deal” with your depression is leading you into sin, or at least into unhealthy habits and lifestyles, then you have a place to start. You can’t blame your depression on sin, but at the same time, God does give strength to Christians to resist temptation. If we don’t believe that, we might as well jettison the Lord’s Prayer (sixth petition). Here are a few ideas that have helped me to one degree or another:
- If you’re married, talk to your spouse about these things. Addictions are nasty, and most any spouse will recognize what you are going through. Talk with them. Don’t hide it, as tempting as that is to do. It will only hurt you and them. They can help. They want to help.
- If you can find some outlet that gives you enjoyment without overtaxing you, that will help a lot. Maybe try something outdoors (tennis, golf, walking, whatever), something to occupy your time and mind (games, reading, television, computer games, whatever), or some other hobby that you can get some healthy fulfillment from (woodworking, even blogging!).
- Spend time outside. I know that sounds silly, but if you suffer from depression, your natural instinct is probably going to be to hide out in your bedroom, and just be alone with your fears and your mind. Take a nap, but do it outside. It will help to clear the fog, if even just a little.
- Recognize that if you have a physical addiction to something in addition to your depression, that it may require external help. Ask your doctor. They can help.
Well, there’s my wisdom on addiction for today. I’m sure there’s lots more. So what have I missed?