“Blue on blue, heartache on heartache
Blue on blue now that we are through…
Now the trees are bare
There’s sadness in the air
And I’m as blue as I can be”
– “Blue on Blue”, Bobby Vinton
Neglect to change the water in a fish tank, and it will soon cloud over. Depression clouds the judgment of abuse victims, in much the same way.
Causes of Depression
Depression is a serious illness characterized by changes in brain chemistry. Genetics, stress, major traumas such as war and child abuse, and medical conditions including AIDS, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, and lupus can all play a role.
Grief at the loss of a loved one is generally distinguished from depression. The first can, however, lead to the second .
Shift Toward Blue
With depression, we see the world through “blue colored” glasses, no longer capable of assessing ourselves or our situation accurately.
All our failings – failings we have in common with the rest of humanity – are magnified. Our defeats are remembered; our good qualities and genuine accomplishments, diminished in our eyes or forgotten entirely.
Because depression is a mood disorder, we are unaware of this shift toward blue. The world looks bleak. Our situation – whatever it may be – appears hopeless to us. Our lives feel meaningless. In effect, the water in our fish tank is cloudy, and we cannot see past the glass.
Only if we take a step back, and become mindful of our dark and sorrowful mood, are we likely to recognize that our judgment has been skewed.
Our actions are reflections of an inner reality. Psychiatrists and psychologists attempt to gauge the state of that inner reality by asking such questions as how frequently we have cried, and whether we have contemplated harming ourselves or others.
We, too, can make a conscious effort to monitor our mood. This is not a substitute for psychotherapy or psychiatric medication. It is rather akin to a diabetic patient monitoring his/her blood glucose.
“I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock…” (Ps. 40: 1-2).
For some, depression is temporary. For others, it is a lifelong challenge. Depression is not, however, sinful. Nor is it a sign of insufficient faith. God does not abandon those of His children suffering from depression, any more than He abandons those suffering from cancer.
 As an illustration, a woman tenderly cares for her terminally ill husband. On his death, she grieves the loss. Her grief does not, however, lift. Gradually, she becomes more and more despondent – imagining that she should have done more.
ANYONE WITH THOUGHTS OF VIOLENCE OR SELF-HARM SHOULD SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL ATTENTION
The spiritual counter-part of depression will be addressed next week in Part 2
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