I was clinically depressed once.
The downward spiral began when lack of funds forced me to move off campus spring semester of my freshman year of college. Smoldering anger toward my parents and myself (because of the litany of bad decisions I made with a high school boyfriend) also contributed to my depression. Day after day I felt damned by God. For over a year, I was numb to every experience except the piercing pain within and the seemingly inescapable feeling of dead weight on my physical frame. It’s a feeling with which those who are depressed are well acquainted.
Depression mercilessly tortures the soul it inhabits.
Theologians often speak of hell as separation from God and his grace. If hell is separation from God, then those who are severely depressed often feel like they are experiencing a living hell—separation from God—but also separation from others and separation from themselves. But depression need not be severe to wreak havoc on a life.
Glimpses of Grace
Since then, I haven’t experienced depression to the same degree or duration. But like many, I’ve had a few very mild episodes of what has been called “situational” or “circumstantial depression.” In the meantime, I’ve counseled and comforted many college students and parishioners who have suffered from depression.
Below, I offer some of the words of encouragement and spiritual practices that have provided hope and comfort to me and to others. These practices give us glimpses of God and grace in the darkness.1