In the Virginia Christian last month, Dr. Mark E. Poindexter of West Side Christian Church wrote an insightful article (pdf linked: mentalillness-article) which I found not only moving but informative. As part of the Park Street Christian family now for over a year, I have been humbled and enlightened to walk along a fellowship who has faced the challenges presented by mental illness, especially depression. This is an invisible affliction for many. It seems if one is not curled up in a ball unable to move – their issues remain overlooked. And if, indeed, they do ball up in a corner, they are often stepped over, or gently patted on the back encouraged to “get over it” with the sweetest of intentions [oh, please get over it].
Though I have not struggled (as of yet) with depression, my strong, stoic mid-western German father did…as did his mother. The dark shadows that only the depressed see are crippling and often left my dad in bed for days at a time. Then, there are others in my life who self-medicate to keep the darkness at bay, but sadly it still lurks, and is often complicated by substance abuse. Depression, mental illness, just like alcoholism is therefore truly a family disease.
One of the most devastating results of hidden, cloaked and deep depression can be attempted or completed suicide. Yes, for some, depression (and other mental illness) is indeed a terminal illness. There is much research to be done and much public education required to help rid us of this sad ending. One way to help promote gains in this arena is helping fund the fight. On October 22 there will be several from our fellowship participating in SPARC’s walk for suicide awareness. You can find more information on http://www.sparchope.org/
In the meantime, if you or a loved one is struggling with emotional strife, please seek the help that is available and know that there are those who deeply and prayerfully care.