Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Depression vs. Hope

by Marsha Ward

Creative people seem to have a gene that predestines them to live on the edge of madness, teetering back and forth between darkness and light. Many authors, musicians, artists have wild mood swings or battle the impending doom of depression. In some extreme cases, they lose the war, and we are left to mourn for them.

I've been dealing with depression lately. It's not fun, and sometimes I just want to drag myself into a hole and pull it closed behind me, shutting out the world. These feelings are crippling to an author, both to the mind, the spirit, and the body. They can be triggered by--among other things--events, powerful emotions, electrical spikes in the brain, or imbalance in brain chemistry.

The trick is recognizing the onset of the condition. I'm probably a little late in that recognition, but I hope not too late to prevent a full-blown depressive period. I need to get past this, because it's very difficult to write or even participate in life when I'm in such a hole.

Folks who have never experienced depression or mood swings have no understanding of these conditions. They tend to think depression is just a case of the blues that can be turned around with a fun outing, thinking positive thoughts, scripture reading, or fervent prayer. While I don't discount the positive effects of such actions, sometimes only medical intervention and medication will help. We don't expect a type 1 diabetic to forgo daily insulin. Medical conditions that result in depression also need medication, either for the long term, or for shorter periods.

God loves his creative children. He has given them immense powers of expression in a variety of media. He also holds out hope, though prayer, meditation, scripture study, priesthood power, the Gospel, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. These vital elements have been available to me to help me keep the darkness at bay, and I am using them. I'm also going to visit my doctor.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, recently gave a General Conference talk called "The Infinite Power of Hope." As I read and pondered it, and participated in a recent Relief Society lesson that was derived from it, I felt the stirrings of greater hope.

I've never doubted that God loves me and has great blessings in store for me, but external pressures, spreading myself thin, and taking on too many duties and responsibilities have almost tipped me over the edge into darkness. I'll always have to guard against that, but for now, I have hope to get me through until the darkness fades and I once again walk in the sunshine.


Elodia said...

Thanks for this post. As a gal with some very close connections to depression, I appreciate your eloquent words on just what it is to suffer in this way. Thank you.

Stephanie Black said...

Marsha, I'm so sorry for what you've had to endure. Thank you for your insightful post and may that sun shine soon and brightly!

Karen Hoover said...

Hugs going out to you, Marsha. I know how tough it can be to fight the depression and keep moving forward, especially creatively. I hope you find some peace soon and the writing flows once more.

Marsha Ward said...

Thank you all. I appreciate your thoughtfulness.