Heather

Helping loved ones with depression

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I have had multiple people who are close to me who have dealt with or are dealing with major depression, and it's been a very difficult things for me to know how to support them and understand it. It's difficult to make sense of it. It's absolutely crazy, the way they think, the things they do. Crazy to me, but it's their reality and what they feel and believe.

I remember back in 2012 searching on LDS.org for something, anything about crisis and depression, to help me have a better understanding of this illness from a gospel perspective. And there wasn't anything. Nothing helped. The best information I got from it was from non-Church resources and that helped me to have a much greater understanding and compassion for what they're going through. I knew that this was a illness that you can't snap out of someone, and while in it, it's incredibly difficult for the person to seek help and get help for it. Depression is a real thing. A real scary illness that needs real professional help to cure. And there truly isn't anything anyone else can do but try to be supporting and understanding. You can't fix something you didn't break.

So, as I'm trying to understand this better, I find myself with my family, including my parents and my husbands parents (my father-in-law had not been active in the Church since 1978) lucky enough to be sitting in the Conference Center for the Saturday session of October Conference 2013. It was the first time I had actually "been" to Conference and this was such a special event to be able to be there with everyone.

And guess who gets up, yes, Elder Holland. I felt like we had won the lottery of all Conference tickets. I didn't know this was his session to speak, and I was so excited. And then he starts to speak on the very subject that had been overwhelming my life for the past two years. And I felt like he was speaking right to me, right to those who were with me. I had overwhelming feeling, stronger than I had at any point in my life, Heavenly Father does really know me and cares about what I'm going through. No one may understand this craziness that I don't even know how to explain, but he does. He knows I needed this. He knows so many of us need this talk right now.

Flash forward to today, and so many things are better. So many things have been fixed. There are still some things that are broken, but I feel confident they can get better. I feel like no matter what comes up, I can get through it. I feel happier. I feel happier knowing that I am the one who decides whether I'm happy or not, and I can be happy no matter what situation I'm in, because I choose to be happy.

Any my father-in-law? He called us recently to let us know he was called as Executive Secretary in the Bishopric. He is planning on going through the temple soon for the first time and wants us to be there for it.

 

 

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Guest LiterateParakeet
2 hours ago, Heather said:

I felt like we had won the lottery of all Conference tickets.

You were there when Elder Holland delivered this marvelous talk?!  That IS the lottery of all Conference tickets.  That talk was an answer to fervent prayer for me too.  

So sorry this has reached so many in your family and friends, but I'm glad things are getting better. 

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9 hours ago, Heather said:

 

Any my father-in-law? He called us recently to let us know he was called as Executive Secretary in the Bishopric. He is planning on going through the temple soon for the first time and wants us to be there for it.

 

 

@Heather    Are you and your husband going to be able to go to this?

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I fought major depression my entire life until a little over four years ago.    The last nearly eleven years I was suicidal.  I was tried on nearly two dozen psychotropic drugs, none of which worked.  They didn't do a single thing to help.  I went through about a dozen therapists, several of whom were LDS.  All they did was to tell me what to do without letting me talk.  That didn't work.  What did work was finally dealing with my past and talking. 

I had to deal with years of sexual abuse and rape.  I eventually found my wife, who practically had to use a crow bar to force me to talk.  Once I started talking, I talked about the same thing over and over again until the memories began losing their power and became less painful.  My wife studied psychology for quite a while, so she was able to ask the right questions.  I had suppressed many memories, which slowly began to return.  The more I talked, the more they returned. 

It was like I was a little boy all over again each time a new memory popped up.  I could vividly remember the abuse, the physical pain, and the terror from each and every time I was forcibly raped and molested.  Even as I write this post, my heart is racing and the fear comes back a bit.  Many people who deal with depression have some unresolved issue from their past or a current issue that causes them dissonance.  Until they deal with those issues, the depression will continue.  Some depression is situational and they may need to get out of the situation that is causing the problem.  If that isn't possible, then the only way to deal with it is a change of perspective.

The one thing that everyone overlooks is the role evil spirits play in depression.  While they may not necessarily always cause the depression, they often make it much worse.  This is where the priesthood comes in.  I have found that whenever my mood changes for the worse for no apparent reason, I need look no further than to the evil spirits causing the trouble.  Bishop Edwin D. Woolley, the grandfather of both Elder J. Reuben Clark and Pres. Spencer W. Kimball and personal friend of Pres. Brigham Young.  Bishop Woolley gave an interesting talk in general conference.

Quote

I have learned that we are sometimes troubled and we scarcely know why and what about and, although we may strive and pray, yet we find it almost impossible to remove that feeling; we feel very different at other times, there is a different atmosphere around us, our feelings are different, we enjoy a great deal more, and still we do not pray any more, we are not anymore faithful than when suffering from those unpleasant sensations and still we enjoy a great deal more.

Why is it, and what is the reason? Why cannot we feel the same when we are busily at work day by day? There are periods when we will be happy and comfortable in our minds for weeks and months, and then after this there will be clouds, and there will seem to be no possible means of eradicating those unpleasant feelings from our minds. Though we may pray and contend against the powers that trouble us will all our faith they still hang around us for days and in times that are past, I have known such to be the case for weeks.

I do not know that I can fully explain to you the reason of this, but I can give you my ideas and opinion upon it, and my opinion is this, that evil spirits sometimes come and make a violent attack upon us to endeavor to overcome us; They will gather around us, get into our houses, and be a source of great trouble to us, and we may try to cast them out, yet it will take a season to do this; it will be some time before we can get those evil spirits away from our persons and our habitations, and I believe that the experience of others will correspond with mine when I say that it requires all the power within our grasp, at such times to cast them out.

I view this as a trial of our faith. I have had some experience in this matter, and conclude that the time the enemy comes upon us is the time when we must exert a double influence, that he may not gain more power over us than is necessary to try and test our integrity.

There is something upon my mind that is rather singular, but still it has a bearing upon this subject; it is a matter that occurred no longer ago that last night, and I will mention it to illustrate this part of my subject.

I perceived there was an evil spirit about my habitation, but still it did not take possession of any member of my family, still I could not pray him out of the house before I went to bed, nor could I succeed after I had retired, and the consequence was he tormented me all night; I did not sleep good nor rest well, and there was not that peace of mind that there is at other times. I know that there was an influence there that was endeavoring to thwart me in my designs, and make inroads into my family.

Have any of you ever felt so? What is the reason that we sleep so much better sometimes than we do at others? It is because there is a spirit around that is contrary to our faith and doctrine, and that is opposed to that exaltation that we are aspiring to.

The devil is a good deal better acquainted with ‘Mormonism’ than a great many of this people are, and he knows what we are endeavoring to do and to obtain, hence he endeavors to throw every thing in our way to oppose us he possibly can, and he is ever ready to thwart us in every thing that will tend to exalt us in the kingdom of God.

We read of one man who had a legion of devils and when the Savior cast them out they went into a heard of swine. Devils are ever on the alert, they are right on hand, and only let the least vacuum be made and they are ready to enter in, and there is a great deal more trouble to get them out that it was to admit them.

Discourse by Bishop Edwin D. Woolley in the Bowery, Sunday Morning, May 17, 1857. Deseret News, Jun 3, 1857, Pg. 100

When you're troubled by evil spirits, do as we are taught in the temple ceremony and cast them out and then get a blessing.  This isn't a cure all for depression, but it does help.

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I really appreciated Elder Holland's talk.  It was well thought out and compassionate.  It may help some to understand the realities of depression.

I was a little disappointed that he only brushed a bit onto the causes of chronic depression.  But that really wasn't the point of his talk.  So, I guess I can't blame him.

I was asked to give a priesthood lesson on this very speech.  I decided to bring out the chronic aspect of it more.  Many in the class were of the opinion that this is "all in their head".  "As long as we stay true to the Gospel, we'll never be depressed." 

Here are some of the thoughts I had on the topic.

1) The LDS social services counselor I spoke with said it is impossible to be depressed and feel the Spirit.  The Spirit makes you feel joy and peace...  depression makes you feel, well, depressed.  Such emotions cannot coincide in the same being at the same time.  This is not to say you can never feel the Spirit.  But the more chronic the depression, the fewer opportunities one has to feel it.

2) There are many causes of depression.  It's difficult to put it all into one basket.  

  • Sometimes it is a triggering event.  For those with single episodes, it is something major, like a loved one dying.  For those with chronic depression it is usually coupled with the following other methods. (No, this is not an exhaustive list).
  • Sometimes it is chemical.  This mainly feeds into the "cry-baby" syndrome.  Some people have a hormonal pre-disposition to feel sadness on a larger scale than the average person.  So, any slightly disturbing event becomes magnified in that person's mind.  This can be due to injury or congenital.
  • Sometimes it is Pavlovian response.  If someone yelling at you as a child always preceded a major beating.  Then anyone yelling at you will make you feel like you just received a major beating.
  • And YES, sometimes it is demonic.  Some people are particularly prone to feel the negative emotions of evil spirits (as Jojo says).  Who is the most miserable of all?  Satan seeks that all men should be miserable like unto himself.  I have known the feeling of evil spirits and I can certainly relate to the idea that evil spirits can cause some to become depressed.

I found myself describing what it feels like to someone thusly: It's as I have a feral monster like a Tasmanian Devil clawing at my face and chest area.  I struggle with it and feel the despair that comes with possibly being overcome by it (being killed by a wild animal is not a pleasant thought).  In the early stages of treatment, Empress (Mrs. Carb) was able to come to me and pick it up by the scruff of its neck and put it on a shelf.  It wouldn't go away.  It would sit there making faces and noises at me from that shelf.  Eventually, I could ignore it.  Later, I found my own ability to tear it off of myself and put it on the shelf.  It will still make noises at me, and I've still got to treat the wounds it gave me in the brief encounter.  But I am able to ignore it much more easily and quickly.

This may sound very much like a devil (especially a Tasmanian one).  But I'm not so sure.  It also has characteristics of the Pavlovian response (childhood issues).  And I wouldn't put it past me to have a chemical issue as well.

I experienced one week of really bad events all at once.  I began feeling bad.  I wondered why all my usual methods didn't seem to be working.  I realized that it was because that instance I was feeling "real" depression for "real" reasons that sane people get depressed over.  The methods didn't account for reality biting so hard.

But these are only causes.  The actual definition is a spiraling thought process.  You have some stimulus.  You feel bad.  You think even worse.  You feel worse...  Breaking the pattern is the secret to overcoming depression.

And that is where the love and counseling and prayers really help.

Edited by Guest

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Guest MormonGator
On March 10, 2016 at 1:07 PM, Carborendum said:

 

And that is where the love and counseling and prayers really help.

This thread is a great idea...

...And so are your thoughts Carb. 

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On 08/03/2016 at 5:01 AM, Heather said:

I have had multiple people who are close to me who have dealt with or are dealing with major depression, and it's been a very difficult things for me to know how to support them and understand it. It's difficult to make sense of it. It's absolutely crazy, the way they think, the things they do. Crazy to me, but it's their reality and what they feel and believe.

I remember back in 2012 searching on LDS.org for something, anything about crisis and depression, to help me have a better understanding of this illness from a gospel perspective. And there wasn't anything. Nothing helped. The best information I got from it was from non-Church resources and that helped me to have a much greater understanding and compassion for what they're going through. I knew that this was a illness that you can't snap out of someone, and while in it, it's incredibly difficult for the person to seek help and get help for it. Depression is a real thing. A real scary illness that needs real professional help to cure. And there truly isn't anything anyone else can do but try to be supporting and understanding. You can't fix something you didn't break.

So, as I'm trying to understand this better, I find myself with my family, including my parents and my husbands parents (my father-in-law had not been active in the Church since 1978) lucky enough to be sitting in the Conference Center for the Saturday session of October Conference 2013. It was the first time I had actually "been" to Conference and this was such a special event to be able to be there with everyone.

And guess who gets up, yes, Elder Holland. I felt like we had won the lottery of all Conference tickets. I didn't know this was his session to speak, and I was so excited. And then he starts to speak on the very subject that had been overwhelming my life for the past two years. And I felt like he was speaking right to me, right to those who were with me. I had overwhelming feeling, stronger than I had at any point in my life, Heavenly Father does really know me and cares about what I'm going through. No one may understand this craziness that I don't even know how to explain, but he does. He knows I needed this. He knows so many of us need this talk right now.

Flash forward to today, and so many things are better. So many things have been fixed. There are still some things that are broken, but I feel confident they can get better. I feel like no matter what comes up, I can get through it. I feel happier. I feel happier knowing that I am the one who decides whether I'm happy or not, and I can be happy no matter what situation I'm in, because I choose to be happy.

Any my father-in-law? He called us recently to let us know he was called as Executive Secretary in the Bishopric. He is planning on going through the temple soon for the first time and wants us to be there for it.

 

 

The focus of ones happiness is what causes depression.

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6 hours ago, letmeoff said:

The focus of ones happiness is what causes depression.

Proof?

Did you watch the talk? 

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I have struggled with depression for years. It's unfortunately a pretty common thing - they say it's the "common cold" of mental health.

There are many causes of depression. But it is real. And it is indeed hard to just "snap of it." Depression is not just a bad mood.

Other people have discussed the many possible causes. It can certainly have a physical cause. For example, some older men have low testosterone, and simply getting a shot can fix the problem.

Usually, in my experience, depression is not so easily fixed. A person with more than mild depression should definitely get medical and psychological help. Despite some of the negative experiences expressed here, a competent doctor and a competent mental health counselor can help a lot. 

One thing that helps many people is CBT (Cognitive Based Therapy). The basic idea is that your thoughts determine your feelings. If you have distorted thoughts ("I am no good," "I'll never get married," etc) then you will naturally feel bad. CBT can also help with anxiety.

I've posted these before, but the two books that helped me most personally were:

  • Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, by David D. Burns (a CBT approach)
  • The Complete Idiot's Guide to Zen Living, by Eve Adamson and Gary McClain

But as I said, there is no one fix for depression. It depends on the person's situation.

 

If you have no experience with depression, then please do everyone a favor and don't try to imagine how to fix it. It's not something you can understand unless you've seen or experienced it.

 

Edited by tesuji

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2 hours ago, Eowyn said:

Proof?

Did you watch the talk? 

Well focusing on being happy is like searching for the good life. Job searched for the good life and in end the good life caught up with him.

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Did you watch the talk? 

I think Elder Holland was very inspired to bring this subject forward: not  just to comfort those who suffer, but to combat some of the prejudice and ignorance around it. Here are a few of his words about clinical depression. Do you disagree with him?

Quote

these afflictions are some of the realities of mortal life, and there should be no more shame in acknowledging them than in acknowledging a battle with high blood pressure or the sudden appearance of a malignant tumor.

 

Quote

Everyone is going to be anxious or downhearted on occasion. The Book of Mormon says Ammon and his brethren were depressed at a very difficult time,2 and so can the rest of us be. But today I am speaking of something more serious, of an affliction so severe that it significantly restricts a person’s ability to function fully, a crater in the mind so deep that no one can responsibly suggest it would surely go away if those victims would just square their shoulders and think more positively—though I am a vigorous advocate of square shoulders and positive thinking!

(Italics mine.)

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On March 10, 2016 at 2:18 AM, Jojo Bags said:

I fought major depression my entire life until a little over four years ago.    The last nearly eleven years I was suicidal.  I was tried on nearly two dozen psychotropic drugs, none of which worked.  They didn't do a single thing to help.  I went through about a dozen therapists, several of whom were LDS.  All they did was to tell me what to do without letting me talk.  That didn't work.  What did work was finally dealing with my past and talking. 

I had to deal with years of sexual abuse and rape.  I eventually found my wife, who practically had to use a crow bar to force me to talk.  Once I started talking, I talked about the same thing over and over again until the memories began losing their power and became less painful.  My wife studied psychology for quite a while, so she was able to ask the right questions.  I had suppressed many memories, which slowly began to return.  The more I talked, the more they returned. 

It was like I was a little boy all over again each time a new memory popped up.  I could vividly remember the abuse, the physical pain, and the terror from each and every time I was forcibly raped and molested.  Even as I write this post, my heart is racing and the fear comes back a bit.  Many people who deal with depression have some unresolved issue from their past or a current issue that causes them dissonance.  Until they deal with those issues, the depression will continue.  Some depression is situational and they may need to get out of the situation that is causing the problem.  If that isn't possible, then the only way to deal with it is a change of perspective.

The one thing that everyone overlooks is the role evil spirits play in depression.  While they may not necessarily always cause the depression, they often make it much worse.  This is where the priesthood comes in.  I have found that whenever my mood changes for the worse for no apparent reason, I need look no further than to the evil spirits causing the trouble.  Bishop Edwin D. Woolley, the grandfather of both Elder J. Reuben Clark and Pres. Spencer W. Kimball and personal friend of Pres. Brigham Young.  Bishop Woolley gave an interesting talk in general conference.

When you're troubled by evil spirits, do as we are taught in the temple ceremony and cast them out and then get a blessing.  This isn't a cure all for depression, but it does help.

To Jojo and all of you; thank you so much for this. I'm a new member to this forum and I came with specific difficult questions which don't have as much content that I feel has helped me much. My fiancé suffers with depression and these types of forums have helped me so much in understanding him more. I know how to help him physically and spiritually. These tips, articles, and content in general has done wonders in relieving his stress, worries, anxieties, and other ailments that come with depression. I know that it was with the Lord's guidance that I found this thread. Thank you all

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I have loved ones who suffer from depression, and in ways it also can greatly affect, and be challenging for those around them. Its a type of illness that really affects all of us, and it is sad to see how many still do not understand that it truly is an illness that should be handled with the same compassion, support, and understanding as anything else. My prayers go to all of you who have shared your stories, and I grateful for your willingness to share of yourselves in that way. Someone in need may read them.

 

On 7/18/2016 at 7:50 AM, Faith_In_Every_Footstep said:

To Jojo and all of you; thank you so much for this. I'm a new member to this forum and I came with specific difficult questions which don't have as much content that I feel has helped me much. My fiancé suffers with depression and these types of forums have helped me so much in understanding him more. I know how to help him physically and spiritually. These tips, articles, and content in general has done wonders in relieving his stress, worries, anxieties, and other ailments that come with depression. I know that it was with the Lord's guidance that I found this thread. Thank you all

Sorry to hear your fiance has struggles, that must be difficult on your relationship. What questions did you have?

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