Writings
By
Jane Ault

Depression: A Diagnosis, Not An Indictment



Come quickly, Lord, and answer me,
    for my depression deepens.
Don’t turn away from me,
    or I will die.
 Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning,
    for I am trusting you.
Show me where to walk,
    for I give myself to you.

Psalm 147:7-8 (NLT)

“I think you are depressed,” my doctor said. “You need to see a counselor.” “NO!” I wanted to scream. My body stiffened. I felt indignant but managed to keep my cool. A month later, when I saw her about another problem, she again asked me to consider seeing a counselor. I agreed to let her give me a referral. Two weeks later I met with the counselor. She said, “You are depressed.”

I felt embarrassed. That made me feel more depressed. How could I, a counselor, myself, need a counselor? How could I, who in years past was depressed but spent money and time to work through issues, be depressed again? For a week or so, I felt defeated.

Then, I realized that depression is not an indictment. It’s a diagnosis. Depression does not mean I am a criminal. It means I am human. Christians, as well as those of other faiths, and those of no faith can become depressed. Denial of depression deepens it. Acknowledging it is the first step toward recovery.

In Psalm 147 (quoted above), David acknowledged his depression. Then, he called on the Lord for help. Every time I’ve admitted that I’m depressed and prayed for help Jesus has heard my prayer and provided the help I need. In a way, depression can be called a “friend”. Not a friend I want to walk with for very long, but a friend who alerts me to the fact I need help.


Depression is a Friend of Mine

A friend? (I hear you ask.)
I can’t imagine why you want her
Get rid of her—and fast

She will ruin you completely
She will take up all your time,
She will rob you of your energy
And use up your last dime.

I used to think as you do
About my friend, Depression
I was embarrassed by her presence
Until I learned this lesson:

Her purpose is to warn me 
To tell me something’s wrong;
In some way my life’s off balance;
Perhaps I’ve worked too long.


I have overdosed on sugar
With a resulting glucose plunge
Or my hormones are not flowing
Like they were when I was young 

I just might be a couch potato—
Neglecting exercise,
And my windows are all shut
No fresh air can get inside.

So, my body’s lacking sunshine—
Not much serotonin remains.
I may have buried anger,
Covered over guilt or pain

I might have buried anger,
Felt helpless to confront
Persons or situations
That are painful or unjust.


Or I’m hiding painful memories
And rejecting who I am;
So, I deny my giftedness
And feel like a sham.

Because of lies I’ve sheltered
In my subconscious mind,
I try to change direction
But cannot do what I design.

I may have experienced a loss
And not fully processed grief;
In the circumstance I’m facing,
I’m questioning my belief. 

The problem might be simple
But, often, it’s complex.
Depression won’t play God
She can’t tell me what to fix.

When I’m given knowledge
I become responsible,
I must take some steps to change
And overcome that obstacle
 
Depression is not pleasant;
She’s a friend of confusion
But she certainly won’t leave me
If I ignore her intrusion.

Yet, Depression does respect me
Yes, she is polite;
When I do the needed action
She, eventually, takes flight.


6 responses to “Depression: A Diagnosis, Not An Indictment”

  1. Beautiful poem. I can see what you mean by depression being a friend. I don’t care for that but looking at depression as a warning of something being wrong is helpful and that is okay. I like the line that says that depression is polite and will step back and take flight, or something like that. I just wish I knew more about how to handle anxiety better. Anxiety also warns you of problems but it seems harder to fight sometimes.

    • Thank you for reading my post, Penny. I’m glad you liked my poem.
      Yes. anxiety is also hard to fight. I am sorry you struggle with it. Sometimes, I do, too. In one class I took, I learned that anxiety comes from uncertainty. There are so many uncertainties in life. Life is very unpredictable. So, I try to hang on to what is certain: Jesus loves me. That certainly helps. Yet, in everyday life, I can easily get distracted by the unsolved problem I have today.

  2. Depression can be so crippling. Thank you, Jane, for giving a new outlook on the benefits of depression. Just as physical pain tells us something is wrong with our bodies, depression tells us something is wrong with our mental and/or spiritual health. Pain is never pleasant, but if we listen to it, it can put us on the path of healing. That is really good insight.

    • Yes, Sandy, it’s best to acknowledge depression as well as other kinds of pain rather than ignore it. It’s usually a signal we need to make and adjustment of some kind.

    • Thank you for sharing this about yourself, Judith. I think sensitive and artistic people are prone to depression. It’s something I’ve had to deal with for my entire life.

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