Dealing with Depression
This year, for Mental Health Awareness Month we asked Disciples to respond creatively to this question: Where do you see God in your mental health journey? We received recorded songs, poems, essays, and other reflections from people across the denomination. This post has resources and content that will help in your journey of finding professional help. To watch our intro video about this series, watch it here.
Content warning: Some of the submissions below deal with suicide, self-harm, and other topics of anxiety and depression.
A Collection of Poems by Barbara Marie Minney
Frozen silence entombs
in a frigid mausoleum
reflects a canvas of hopelessness
in a surge of finality
buried as if it never existed
in a hole that will never be filled
in a canyon of warped thinking
Dragging itself along a path
in the direction of nowhere
Avoiding harmful things
only increases anxiety
in what may be missed
like a porcelain doll shattered
in a thousand pieces
Desperately clinging to the normality bridge
daring to plunge
in an expanse of monomaniacal intensity
Confused by not wanting to die
but not wanting to be here anymore either
in that void of nothingness
Beseeching a benevolent God
to be stronger than the melancholy
in believing it
the depression never really leaves.
you might think it is long gone,
but it turns up again
like a needy relative
with his hand out
asking for another piece of your soul,
pretty soon you wonder if there will be any left for yourself
…or for God.
I need to know
I’m not an imposter,
acting in a play,
playing a part,
written for someone else.
I’m blue as the bluest
blues ever written,
the worried notes
in the groove of
the twelve-bar chord progression
scratching through my head
like an old 78
on an antique store turntable.
Sanctuary is nowhere to be found
an uncaring world so overwhelming,
its dark voice
asking me to give
more of myself
than I have left to give,
leaving me feeling so insignificant.
finding the lovely
bits of the world
is never enough,
the storm always rages,
the taste of rain
in my mouth,
the savagery of the wind
in my face.
Enough is enough.
I am the author
of my own play,
my own leading lady,
my own heroine.
IS THERE ANYTHING FUNNY ABOUT DEPRESSION?
An essay by Barbara Marie Minney
I was searching for books on depression, and I came across The Hilarious World of Depression by John Moe. I have engaged in a lifelong battle with clinical depression, and it was back with full force in January. I did find a lot in the book that I related to, and I was able to process a lot of the book in a poem. While Mr. Moe’s book was entertaining. I must admit, I fail to see any humor in depression.
I do not know exactly when I first became aware of my depression. One of the things that depressed people learn early on is to hide it. I am sure that my father also experienced bouts of depression, but he would vehemently deny it. Depression is often viewed as a sign of weakness, and it is scary to talk about. I remember an extended discussion with my former counselor about the concept of “showing up.” No matter how bad I felt or how many drugs I was on (at one time I was on three antidepressants at the same time), I always “showed up” for work or that social event, because that was what I was expected to do.
I went through numerous counselors and medications, but there never seemed to be any solutions, that is until I accidentally found the counselor that truly saw me for who I was. She helped me answer that most basic of questions “Who am I?” and set me on the path of finally living as the authentic self that God intended.
I have found that there were several factors that prevented me from finding the serenity and peace that God wanted me to have. First, is understanding that depression will come and go. I may be on a high for a while based upon some success, perhaps the acceptance of a poetry submission, but it does not last long. Second, I was raised to be a perfectionist and that creates a lot of frustration and stress in my life as a writer. Third, there is the “imposter syndrome,” which is a biggie for me, and I would venture to say for a lot of LGBTQ+ individuals. I am constantly wondering if my success as a poet is due to the fact that I am a transgender woman who writes poetry or am I a truly talented poet.
In my opinion, we must bring the discussion about depression and mental illness out into the open so that more people can get the help that they need. This is particularly crucial for those of us in the LGBTQ+ community who all too often succumb to suicide. I have been on the edge of that abyss myself a couple of times in my life. Suffice it to say that I was able to not let the depression overwhelm me. I am in a much better place now with the love and support of my wife of 40+ years, an affirming church community, and a strengthened faith in a loving and accepting God.
Song, Letting Go by Diana Tyler
Webinar, Grieving Well: Addressing Grief and Depression for Clergy and Leaders
NBA’s Mental Health & Wellness Director Joselyn Spence and NBA’s Interim XPLOR/Young Adult Leadership Development Coordinator Rev. Rae Karim talk through grief strategies for clergy members. This webinar explores the foundations of grief: what we grieve, how we grieve, and the ways we can grieve well. We will also explore best practices for grief support.