by Pastor Brian Young
Recently, I finished reading a book by Martha Manning called, Undercurrents: A Life Beneath the Surface. A personal memoir, Undercurrents is Manning’s riveting personal account of her struggle with severe depression. Dr. Manning, herself a psychologist, a wife, and a mother, found that her emotional life had begun to spiral downward over the course of one year in the early 1990’s. What started as episodes of discouragement, gradually grew into something far worse, even unimaginable.
Hers was not simply a blue mood or a lack of enthusiasm. It was a paralyzing despair that robbed her of any reason for being. Each day presented yet another offering of failures, disillusionments, and setbacks. Any achievements grew increasingly empty. Manning’s, committed as a psychologist to helping others with their emotional barriers, found herself in a life and death struggle to clutch any kind of soulful satisfaction. Her life had become lost in a fog bank with no lighthouse in sight.
Her husband and daughter found themselves unable to say or do anything to lift Martha’s spirits. Words of love and care, pats on the back, and truth-filled reminders all fell empty on the floor. There was no simple solution, no silver bullet, no quick remedy.
In our culture, there is such a strong stigma attached to mental and emotional struggles. Manning describes her feelings of abandonment by others, feeling singled out as uniquely damaged when they discovered her depression. Perhaps it is because we think that mood disorders are a flaw in character. I myself walked a road of severe depression in my late teens and early twenties. I know first-hand that the most noble attempts to talk oneself out of it can fall flat. Depression feels like an emotional fatigue for which there is no rest.
As a Christian pastor, I believe with all of my heart that God’s truths can set us free inside. Yet, I also know that the healing scalpel of these truths can be painful. The journey to healing can be long and arduous, filled with setbacks and discouragements. Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate that it is ok to struggle. It is no indictment on one’s character to suffer from depression. Sometimes medicine is necessary to help, along with a loving connection in community to recalibrate the roadmaps of the
mind and heart. But above all, we all must affirm those struggling with loving acceptance and care.
If this path of darkness is familiar to you, please don’t withdraw. Reach out. It will take time, but please don’t believe the lie that you are “damaged” or that hope is gone for good. Though now hidden, there is hope awaiting you…
Whispering Pines Church
Coal Creek Canyon