I don't talk about this topic publicly very often. It's something intensely personal to me.

But I have to make an exception for this.

You see, I've struggled with depression since I was in elementary school. The deep dark kind that prevents you from, from feeling. It's not just generic sadness. It's a wet blanket over your entire life. You can't pull it off you, no matter how hard you try.

I understand where Matt Walsh is trying to go but I don't agree the way he's going there.

I'm a deeply spiritual & religious person. Yes I consider those separate things. You can be religious without being spiritual. Religion is attending church services. It's participating in the physical tradition. Spirituality happens when your soul gets involved & you experience a deeper level connection to your beliefs. But that's a topic for a different day.

For years I prayed.

I prayed hard.

I went to adoration, to retreats. I read books. I listened to music. I cried myself to sleep and wrote desperate journal entries.

I wanted the blanket lifted. I wanted joy. I wanted emotion. Anything really. I just didn't want this total apathy that I felt 24/7.

But the simple truth is that clinical depression is not a spiritual thing. It's a chemical thing. And saying that is not taking the easy materialist way out. In fact, it was harder for me to admit that my brain was chemically broken & unable to feel emotions than it was to believe something wasn't right with me spiritually. It was easier to say "I'm not praying hard enough" or "I'm too sinful" than it was to say "I have a medical condition that causes me to not be like other human beings".

When you're clinically depressed, you can't sustain emotion like a normal person. It's not just about being sad. I really can't say that enough

The kind of depression Walsh is referring to is NOT clinical depression. It's the generic depression that every human being suffers at some point in their life. It's a sadness that weighs you down.

It's hell too but it's a hell that you can escape from on your own.

Walsh embraces a common misconception expressed by the larger public: take a pill & your clinical depression goes away.

As someone who's fought depression for so long let me say this: it doesn't go away.

It doesn't go away after a week. It doesn't go away after a month. It doesn't go away after a year.

Clinical depression must be treated through a combination of therapies. Drugs play a crucial role. So do psychologists. You see, you have to work with someone to learn tactics to confront the beast when it rears its head. The pill suppresses the symptoms (as all pills do) but it doesn't cure the disease. To do that you must learn to fight back.

Think about tearing your ACL.

You go to the doctor. You get pain pills, anti-inflammatory drugs. You have surgery. But that's not all. You also attend physical therapy to strengthen the muscles and other ligaments in the area.  You learn exercises to do when things act up, how to react to future pain.

Clinical depression works the same way.

You have to build the muscles and ligaments around it.

Simply taking a pill is easy. It is materialist.

But it's not enough.

To build on the ACL metaphor, we wouldn't call an ACL tear a spiritual disease or scoff at the idea that it's "just a medical condition" simply because you have to do more than take a pill & have surgery.

It's still a medical condition at its core.

There is absolutely nothing spiritually deficient in the soul of someone with clinical depression.

I've spent a lot of time in prayer over this issue through the years. My initial reaction was the same as Walsh's. But after grappling with it myself, I've come to a different conclusion.

This disease was put into my life by Christ. But so was my dad's diabetes. So is every disease. There's a reason for everything.

And that reason is not simply because we are sinful.

That is the easy way out.

Much harder is coming to grips with the fact that this is the way I was created. I still don't know why. But I know this is an integral part of His creation of me. Time & again He's lead me back to the psychiatrist when I've attempted to simply pray my way out of depression. I've never said "this is too hard" and called the psychiatrist.

Instead while spending time in prayer, that still small voice says that I need to see my doctor. As much as I hate it, I need to see a psychiatrist.

Some days I really hate that voice.

Yes, some people are miraculously cured of their depression. But too often we see those people and think that our lives must exactly reflect theirs and that if it doesn't, we simply haven't prayed hard enough.

So please please please do not say things like what Walsh says in the article. Please don't feed people the idea that they are spiritually deficient and that's why they are depressed. You're only making this worse for them.

Pray with them. Drive them to the doctor. Encourage them to see a therapist too. Listen to them. Really listen. Don't form judgments. Don't even think. Set aside your preconceived notions of depression. Just listen.

Like I said, I think Walsh's intentions were honest. I don't think he thinks less of people with depression.

But I think his ideas will harm mental health more than they'll help. People truly need to embrace depression as a disease. At the end of the day, it is a chemical imbalance. You need faith to confront it. But you also need faith to confront cancer & nobody is suggesting that cancer is a spiritual condition.

It's high time we developed a more holistic, compassionate view of clinical depression. It's high time we stopped labeling depressed people as just plain sad. It's high time we stopped telling people to pray away their depression or to simply take a pill & it will all be better. They're two sides of the same coin. Labeling depression as a spiritual condition will not help those who suffer from it fight it.

 It will only make them feel guiltier for not having "enough" or the "right kind" of faith.

 As someone with clinical depression who was told that it was a spiritual condition I can say this: it makes it worse. It doesn't help.

Please stop.


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