Talking about depression

I understand the desire to make depression legitimate by framing it in purely medical terms.

To get as far away as possible from the idea that it’s a mere choice or some kind of flaw or weakness in character, in spirit or faith, in maturity. To avoid any hint of blame or complicity for people and systems that may otherwise be thought to be part of the issue.

And yet I worry that we risk losing so much by limiting our understanding of depression to ‘chemical imbalance’ as if anyone even really knows what that is and how it works and why.

Surely the abundant life includes experiences of deep grief, sorrow, anger, and fear as well as the more pleasant feelings; not all pain is pathological. Surely our physiology and our mental and emotional and spiritual being are intimately interconnected, mutually influential. Surely our personal history, our culture(s), influence and are influenced by both. Surely the existence of evil, the challenges of the human condition, even the bits outside our immediate personal experience, also influence us. Surely we can come to a richer, deeper, broader understanding of mental, emotional, spiritual health, that accepts the benefit for some people of certain kinds of medications and / or certain kinds of therapies, and that also is willing to explore the subtle nuances and limits of agency and relationships and circumstance.


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