Thursday, August 29, 2013

Book Musings (Depression: Looking Up From the Stubborn Darkness)

In his book, Depression: Looking Up From the Stubborn Darkness, Ed Welch says something intriguing about the role of death in long-term depression in chapter 11, "Depression Has Its Reasons".

"Death. The worse part of the curse is death. You have lost loved ones, you will lose more, and they will lose you. There is no good death. If you lose someone to a sudden heart attack, you miss good-byes and closure. If you lose someone whose chronic disease made death more predictable, you agonize with him as the disease changes him into someone he was not. Death, indeed, is a timeless enemy. 

It's said that depression welcomes death, but it is not so much death that is welcomed as it is the alleviation of mental pain. Death itself is an enemy to everyone, and there is good reason to think that it contributes to the cause of depression even more than it is the result of it. 

Isn't it true that death--especially when it isn't aggressively interpreted through the resurrection of Jesus Christ--should leave us depressed? Death renders everything meaningless. Why work? Why love? Why seek pleasure? It is fleeting. Death swallows everything. Its tides wash away every footprint we hope to leave. Not that we are always thinking about it. Modern society has distanced us from death, and we do everything we can to avoid it. Physicians use a string of euphemisms, such as "passed away" and "resting peacefully." Comedians specialize in human frailties, but they won't touch death unless they quickly evoke images of angels and bliss. We might not consciously think about death, but be assured that, unless this enemy is dealt with head on, it leaves its mark on all earthly misery. 

Age-defying lotions, the worship of youth and the marginalization of the aged, "free-floating anxiety," panic attacks, Type-A personality, boredom, the obsession with health, the status of physicians, purposelessness, hopelessness, and most fears--you will find death and the fear of death right below the surface."

Let me reiterate this phrase from the above quote: "Isn't it true that death--especially when it isn't aggressively interpreted through the resurrection of Jesus Christ--should leave us depressed?

"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."
Galatians 2:20 (that verse, my friends, is the sound of hope).

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