So, I am going to try not to write about religion very much because I don’t like to preach at people. I do think this subject is important enough to break that rule though. Please read it with an open mind.
There is a certain stigma which engulfs mental health/mental disorders which often emotionally ostracizes those suffering from everybody else. This is the same stigma which creates stereotypes and misconceptions about mental disorders. I have a strong rooted belief that most of the fear and accusations come from a lack of understanding.
As a woman who has lived with clinical depression for a large portion of my life, this has affected the relationships I have with everyone around me.
There are generally 4 types of people I interact with.
Group 1: The best of them all, the ones that are compassionate and caring. They help me get through the everyday struggles and pick me up when I am down.
Group 2: People that take my disorder so seriously that they forget that I am a normal human being as well. They have good intentions but take it to the extreme.
Group 3: People that dismiss me as lazy or mopey. They automatically assume I am making up my depression or over exaggerating.
Yet, none are worse than the last group of people.
Group 4: The people who blame me for my depression.
There is a specific sub-category of Group 4 I would like to focus on in this post: Religious people.
I was born to Roman Catholic parents into a Roman Catholic family and went to a Roman Catholic church in the beginning of my childhood. Some would call me a cradle catholic; however, there hit a point where my family stopped going to church and I needed to determine my own faith.
I always knew I believed in God, but I took this time away to learn about other religions. After seeing what there was to choose from, in high school, I reestablished my ties with the Catholic Church. They had the beliefs which aligned most with my own.
However, there was and still is one BIG issue I still have with Christian religions, specifically Catholicism. Many old-fashioned Christians believe that mental disorders are God’s way of punishing the person.
Before people freak out and tell me I am wrong, I am not talking about all Christians. Some Christians are the nicest, most understand people I have ever met. But, I have been told by different priests and pastors of multiple branches of Christianity that it is my fault I have Major Depressive Disorder.
This causes a TREMENDOUS battle in my faith life. How am I supposed to align myself with a religion that believes the struggle I have on a daily basis is my own fault?
Some have suggested more prayer to cure me, other say I need to get more involved in the church or go to confession more often. But here’s the big issue with any of these so-called solutions to my problem: Why would I choose to inflict myself with the debilitating effects of depression? If it was that easy of a fix, you really think I wouldn’t do anything necessary?
I may not be the best Christian, I am by no means a saint; but I am religious. I have a strong faith life. I pray regularly. I follow the gospel to the best of my abilities. When I slip up, I go to Confessions. I am not doing anything which I could see God deeming as terrible enough that he’d inflict me with such a cruel punishment.
Would someone like to explain to me how I am causing my own problem? Because I would love to understand how people could believe something so harsh and hurtful.
Furthermore, anyone who would blame me (for ANY reason) for my own depression, please educate yourselves on the disorder. Major Depressive Disorder is caused by imbalances in the brain. Try to be understanding. It is nothing of my own control or doing. There is little that can be done to regulate it without medication or therapy. Healthy eating and exercise help (which is why I do both of those things). But, even with medication and therapy and healthy eating and exercise and anything else you could suggest, there is nothing which can cure me of this.
Let’s all break down the stigma of mental disorders and help spread the truth today!
Lots of love,