Depression – finding hope and healing
A Christian Science perspective.
A mental health study recently released revealed that "73 percent more American adults and 50 percent more children are using drugs to treat mental illness than in 1996."
Depression in particular has become a struggle for many. And an article published in U.S. News and World Report titled "Depressed and coping: treating depression when medication fails" offered myriad alternative remedies, including lifestyle changes to manage symptoms (April 24). That article also quoted professor of psychiatry Michael Thase, who said, "Drugs are quicker acting and take less work in the short run, but they only suppress the problem."
The desire of the medical profession to alleviate the suffering caused by depression is admirable, but there is another option. From my own life, I know there's a way to gain freedom from depression without dependence on drugs and without using some other method to suppress the problem.
The ever-present grace and protective power of God, divine Love, provide hope and healing. The Bible promises, "With God all things are possible" (Matt. 19:26). Even in the most difficult struggles, no one is beyond the loving care of the infinite Father-Mother God. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, described this divine healing power as certainly able "to correct the discords of sense, and to lift man's being into the sunlight of Soul" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1996," p. 202).
Nearly 10 years ago, several life circumstances pushed me into the darkness of depression. I was captive to constant fatigue, insomnia, deep sadness, and repetitive patterns of negative thinking that looped in my mind. I couldn't think straight, and fear engulfed me.
I withdrew from life and was so ashamed that I told no one, not even my husband. I felt forgotten and abandoned by God, and basically had lost my sense of being His beloved child. Spiritual study became incoherent to me. I finally confessed all this to a friend, who encouraged me to try drug therapy.
Having relied on prayer for treatment of any sickness I'd ever confronted, I didn't feel drug therapy was the answer for me. At the same time, however, I'd become resistant to any solution, because I believed I could never be cured.
In a crisis moment, I found myself hours away from home, alone in a hotel room, crying. I knew I finally had to reach out for healing, so I called a Christian Science practitioner and asked him to pray for me. I could feel his conviction of my mental and spiritual safety as God's child, and I quieted down. He assured me that healing was inevitable. He shared some comforting verses of a hymn and promised to continue to pray for me.
Shortly after I hung up the phone, I felt the lightness of Love wash over me, unlocking the viselike grip of depression that had felt so long like a prison. I felt more at peace. Later I realized I had experienced the truth of this statement from Mary Baker Eddy's book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "Become conscious for a single moment that Life and intelligence are purely spiritual, – neither in nor of matter, – and the body will then utter no complaints. If suffering from a belief in sickness, you will find yourself suddenly well. Sorrow is turned into joy when the body is controlled by spiritual Life, Truth, and Love" (p. 14).
From then on, fear gave way to hope, as the uplifting influence of the Christ illuminated my thinking. A gentle clarity returned to my consciousness and I was more alert to the need to resist negative thoughts. Further calls to the practitioner for help through prayer helped me gain spiritual strength. My joy naturally increased as I felt more grateful and peaceful with my life in God's care.
This healing has been permanent. The effect of prayer has restored my confidence that I am always safeguarded by God's loving presence, and that I don't need to fear that I will slide back into the depths of depression. The resistance I'd felt to healing has been replaced by a pure trust and receptivity to my divine rights as God's child. Needless to say, I have never again forgotten the great healing power of God's love.
As children of God, we are all always lovingly remembered and cared for by Him. The unforgettable Truth of God's healing power is summed up by the Psalmist, whose words offer permanent hope: "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies" (Ps. 103:2–4).