Monday, April 22, 2013

The Depression Epidemic

{Photo published on web here}
The number of reported mental illness cases has dramatically increased over the past 70 years.  And, the types of mental illness have exponentially increased in the past 30 years.  Click HERE or HERE to read more statistics.

Scientific advances have made it possible for us to understand what is going on in the brains of those affected with mental illness.  And the dawn of the information age has significantly contributed to the widespread knowledge of these illnesses.

Stigmas are being shattered and stereotypes are being smashed.

In the last century, did we figure out only how to name these illnesses?  Have they really been around forever?  Or, are we discovering new disorders?  Or are we finding problems where there aren't any problems?

Some mental illnesses, like depression, have staggering statistics and are spreading like a plague around the world.

I think that mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, OCD, and eating disorders have been around for a while.  In his book, "A First Rate Madness", Nassir Ghaemi writes about famous historical figures who suffered from mental illnesses.  Ghaemi writes that twenty-five hundred years ago, Aristotle made the connection between creativity and mental illness and the link between "genius and madness".  Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill are also thought to have suffered from depression.  It is speculated, not proven whatsoever, that St. Catherine of Sienna lived with an eating disorder.

Even though it seems that these illnesses have been around for a while, I think the epidemic status is new.  For example: alcoholism, depression disorders, anxiety disorders, chemical dependency disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, and eating disorders are more common now than ever before.

The one thing that has been consistent since the fall of Adam and Eve, however, is the fact that there is suffering in the world.  No matter which time frame in history you focus on, you will find suffering among the people of faith.

God allows suffering in the world because through the suffering we grow closer to Him.  If there was no suffering, we would not be able to go to heaven.  Everyone must die in order to be with God.

Suffering is what you would call a necessary evil.

In the first world countries, you’d be hard-pressed to find a lot of physical suffering.  Today, we have so many luxuries.  Just look around you!  Our lives are full of modern conveniences that we take for granted every single day.  The chair you are sitting on, the shoes on your feet, the food in your cupboards...
We do not have to endure immense physically suffering on a daily basis in order to eat, sleep, support a family, or just to live.  We do not have to grow and harvest our own food if we don’t want to.  We do not have to sleep on beds of straw every night.  We do not have to go outside to go to the bathroom.  It is considered “fun” for some people (including me!) to sleep in a tent out in the wild with no running water and no electricity.  But you don’t have to go camping if you don’t what to.

Generally speaking for the United States, people live very comfortable lives.  We need not physically suffer in any way, shape, or form throughout our daily lives unless we go out of our way.

I believe that - because we no longer have to suffer physically in the ways we did a century ago - we suffer mental and emotional pain, instead.

God allows more mental illnesses in the world because we do not have physical suffering anymore.  God allows it because He knows that it will bring us closer to Him.  …Because only through suffering is eternal life possible.

Would I need God if I didn’t suffer from depression?  Would I think to turn to Him for help if my life was good?

Instead of cursing God for allowing bad things to happen, praise Him for giving opportunities to grow closer to Him.  You just have to change this little thing called perspective.

I believe that depression is my cross.  Depression is the path God choose for me.  Jesus embraced His cross before He carried it up the mountain.  I am to emulate His example.

I know that suffering from a mental illness is going to help me get closer to heaven.

During the time when depression kept me from doing anything, I thought that I was displeasing to God.  I thought that my body was a disgusting waste of space.  I thought, for sure, I wasn’t following His plan for my life.  It made me really sad to think about how disappointed Jesus was in me.

I kept begging God to make me better.  I prayed and prayed to be worthy of my life.  I told Jesus that if He was really there and if He really loved me, then He would heal me.

“My Child,” He said, “I am allowing you to suffer because I love you and I want you in Heaven with me someday.”

The only difference between a fallen tree and a bridge is perspective.

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