This is part two on my reporting on a presentation the women’s group in my church had last week on depression, anxiety, and spirituality. Part one can be found here.
As part of the presentation, we received booklets that listed the steps that the presenter suggested as a way to spiritually deal with depression and anxiety and deal with/repair the spiritual damage those illness can do. I’ll list each suggestion he gave with a few thoughts of my own.
Seek the Spirit and greater light and truth
Essentially this suggestion is to return to the basics of the gospel and make sure we’re doing the basic things that will bring the Spirit into our lives: attending our church meetings, praying, studying the scriptures, attending the temple, etc. As we do this, we open ourselves up to the influence of the Spirit, even if our mental illness makes it difficult to feel that influence. It also allows God to bless us because of our obedience.
I know for me, this made an enormous difference in dealing with my depression. Even when I hit a point when I honestly wasn’t sure why I was still going to church, I continued to go, as well as reading my scriptures and praying. The prayer especially made all the difference as I poured out my soul to God and asked for and received strength to keep going. I knew that no matter how I felt, I had a Father who loved me and wanted the best for me.
Believe you have the power to change
As Elder David A. Bednar said, “The enabling power of the Atonement of Christ strengthens us to do things we could never do on our own.” If we don’t believe we have the power to change and to overcome and deal with our illness, then we won’t. Nothing will happen. And part of dealing with a mental illness is recognizing what patterns of thought and behaviors contribute to it. But until we have that hope that we can change, that things can become better, we are lost in despair and things will only become worse.
We aren’t going to be perfect in this life. Period. End of story. We can come closer to achieving that through the Atonement of Christ, but on our own we are never going to be perfect. I know this is something that I struggle with. I feel like I should have my life perfectly in order and together right now and when it’s not or I slip up and slip back into patterns I had when I was in the midst of my depression I feel like a failure. I start to think I should just give up, because I’m always going to fail anyway, so why try? But that’s not the point of this life. It’s to keep trying, keep improving, even if it’s only by the tiniest bit. It’s not to beat ourselves up over every little failure.
Don’t believe the lies
Depression lies to us. Satan lies to us. We can’t believe those lies or they will destroy us. Here are some of the lies the presenter listed:
- Depression and anxiety come from sin
- I am unworthy and worthless
- I’m not as righteous, spiritual, attractive, or talented as others, and I’ll never be able to measure up.
- God does not love me, or has given up on me
- The principles of the gospel are true, they just don’t work for me
- I’m broken, damaged, and I can’t be fixed
The truth is, God loves you. We won’t be able to measure up to others because that’s not the measuring stick we’re supposed to use in this life. We can be healed through Christ. We have challenges in this life to test us and help us become more like our Savior that have nothing to do with our righteousness or lack thereof. The principles of the gospel work for everyone, even if we can’t see the immediate results. There is hope, and there is help. No matter how worthless or unworthy we may feel, we have infinite worth in the eyes of God.
Note: There are four more suggestions, but this post is becoming a bit long so I’m going to continue this in a third post.