Sunday, October 6, 2013

Depression and the Spirit: Take Three

For those who watched the afternoon session of General Conference (or would like to), Elder Holland had a few things to say about depression and the Spirit, too--directly on point:
Either he is reading this blog (previous posts available here and here - make sure to read the readers' comments) or we have all been thinking along the same wavelengths.  Very cool either way.

Responses to Elder Holland's talk?


  1. Thanks for your post. This is my reaction to his talk. I also have earlier posts about the connection between depression and being "past feeling" as you said in your other post.

  2. I have to say that I was pleased to hear Elder Holland address this topic. I think he addressed it in a way that many people need to hear. There were many people who responded with positive comments about what he said, from professional psychiatrists and psychologists to people who have depression and other mental health problems.

    There were a couple of things that he said that I liked. First he did not go to either extreme when addressing the issue. That is, he did not make it purely a spiritual matter, but acknowledged a physical component to it. Second, I liked how he made it a point to say that mental health issues were not always tied to sin or some failing on the part of the person who has those problems. This is perhaps one of the hardest things to deal with both in myself, and with how others respond to my problems. As other commenters have mentioned, all too often people tell us to just snap out of it, or “square our shoulders” and we cannot. We cannot “snap out of it” any more than we can snap out of appendicitis or a broken leg. But there are things that we can do to make it bearable.

    I also like how Elder Holland emphasied prayer and faithful church attendance. It may be a small thing, but doing the small things such as going to church, and the temple, and taking the sacrament, really does help. As he said we may need to seek the help of competent professionals, but don’t forget the help of the Lord. Also we should not discount the help of medicine and medical/psychological professionals just because we “have faith”. I have seen people refuse any medical help just because they say they have faith in God. I do not think we should go to either extreme because if we do we may miss the blessings and help that can make our life better and bearable. (This reminds me of a quote by Susan Cooper from her Dark is Rising series, “The Dark can only reach people at extremes—blinded by their own shining ideas, or locked up in the darkness of their own heads.”)

    I also like how he mentioned those who are caring for those with mental illness. I does take a lot of charity, patience and forgiveness to care for someone who suffers from mental issues. It is just very hard when not everyone understands how hard it is to do simple things, like remember things, or get motivated to do things, or pay attention.

    I don’t expect a miraculous change in the way mental illness is perceived by church members, but Elder Holland’s talk will help when dealing with it on an individual basis.