Monday, 10 June 2013

Depression is a hell

Last night I had a dream about hell. Never mind the details - they aren't nice. The point is that it got me thinking about hell again and about the fact that I spent a good part of my life depressed - right up until my late 40s.

I want to say here, in case it helps others, how I managed to get out of my recurring depressed states. Finally, I actually managed to talk myself out of depression. For me, depression was all about the fight between the darkness and the light. I don't know about others, but that's what it boiled down to for me. I was depressed because I kept believing, on the basis of, admittedly, very good evidence, that darkness had the upper hand. All around me I saw unhappiness and I could see no reason not to be unhappy too.

But one day, when I was sitting, thinking, in my depressed state, by the grace of God two ideas came into my mind. Firstly, I realised that depression was a bottomless pit. That, in fact, it was like a hole you were falling in and that it didn't have a bottom level. You just keep falling and falling and falling. I realise now that I used to assume that I'd reach the bottom and then start coming up. But I was wrong about that. I saw that I would just keep falling if I stayed depressed and would never, ever come up. Just keep going down.

This idea caused me to see my depression in a new light. I realised that feeling depressed was useless, because the state of depression was never going to lead to my feeling better. I needed some other response that would help me.

It was at that point that I realised I had a choice - I could choose to be depressed and go into free-fall, or I could choose to be happy. Given that depression was a no-win, I convinced myself that being happy was the most rational option, even if it was based on fantasy.

Since then, I have discovered that Baha'u'llah says repeatedly that the Light is the thing that is all-powerful. So I can see that Baha'u'llah backs up the conclusion that being happy is the most rational way to be.

So, in my view, depression is a hell because it is eternal darkness. And I believe we have a choice whether to dwell in eternal darkness or eternal light. But there is no point in being in eternal darkness, so why not choose the light?


Susan Gammage said...

As someone who spent too many years in clinical depression, I absolutely agree with you, Allison! Thank you for sharing this!

I found when I started thinking of it as "self-pity", I realized I had a choice; whereas the longer I kept using the term "depression", I had a medical condition that needed to be medicated to manage.

I started looking at what the Baha'i Writings had to say on the topic and wrote a whole series on the topic which you and your readers might find helpful. It starts at: and has links to the other articles in the series from there!

Susan Gammage said...

As someone who suffered from "clinical depression" for over 30 years, I totally agree with your comments, Allison! Thank you for sharing it!

I found that as long as I related to the term "depression", I had a medical condition that required years of therapy (which didn't work) or medications (which I didn't like taking). Once I changed the term to "self-pity", I realized I had a choice, and could do something about it!

I turned to the Baha'i Writings for answers, and wrote a series of articles on what helped me recover. Since applying the Divine Remedy, I've been depression free for over 3 years! You can read the first article and get links to the others from:


Alison Marshall said...

Hi Susan,

I read your article. It is very good. There is much wisdom in it. I recognise many of the characteristics of self-pity that you identify. And, as you say, pulling one's self out of self-pity takes much effort. I'm at it everyday, trying to focus myself entirely on Baha'u'llah and a great deal less on the little things that relate to me.


Anonymous said...

Hi Alison: I wanted to share a miracle that just occurred. Today is a bad day for me. So I sat down and started doing small things that have historically helped me: drink coffee, read from my "In This Moment" meditation book, write down thoughts, read a prayer, do something from my to-do list. Well, I opened my prayer book, looking for an "Aid and Assistance" prayer and came across the well known, "Say: God sufficeth all things above all things..." prayer. For some reason I got stuck on the word "sufficeth" and though I have read this prayer many many times the meaning totally alluded me, and I realized I didn't really get what "God sufficeth..." meant, like at all! So I started Googl'ing "sufficeth" and came across its Merriam-Webster definition: "to be or provide as much as is needed, to be sufficient". The phrase "God sufficeth..." took on an extraordinary, if not a bit scary (I'm a control monster :)), meaning to me. Or, a better way said, I allowed the the prayer to reach me. And as I was Googl’ing the meaning of “sufficeth” I came across your site, and the link to the wonderfully soulful meditation on this very prayer. I’ve never been so engrossed as I was reading your post. Anyway, the miracle (for me it’s no less) is that earlier, before reading this prayer, I wrote down a mini prayer: "God, help me get through this day with a little joy. Thank you,” not expecting much, not expecting anything really. Well, after I read your meditation on the prayer I clicked on the main heading of your blog and went straight to your homepage, which had the blog post entitled: "Depression is hell.” Well, I burst out laughing - like, BURST out laughing, from my core I was tickled, NOT because depression isn't hell (I absolutely agree with you, and I also have found a new perspective on it from reading that post) but because the moment I asked God for help to get through the day with a little joy, it was all provided - including the "joy" part. I figured that God would help me through the day, but it would be a mentally sluggish endeavor where I would have to fight for my right to joy. Nope. God even provided the “joy” part, or a better way said, God helped me see the possibility of joy even in the darkness, and the truth is I got to truly laugh at this thing, this darkness, that has been so heavy and inpenetrable for a long time. I lightened up, literally.
It was astounding and remarkable to me. I never truly believed God would pay that much attention to my prayers and requests. Perhaps it is that, so humbled and bowed, I'm finally forced to ask for the "right" things? Thank you for writing this blog. Please continue.

Alison Marshall said...

Wonderful. I hope this proves to be a turning point for you, and that your days are filled more with joy than sadness. It's an ongoing battle to beat the blues - that's what I find. My only defender against it is remembrance of Baha'u'llah. But you can rest assured Baha'u'llah cares about you. He cares about those with a pure heart, and he will help you and heal you if you let him. There absolutely is a happy ending, if you choose it.