The Good in Depression

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There is a stigma to depression as there is a taboo to death talk. Much more so in the Chinese culture.
In an episode in the medical series Amsterdam, an American Chinese mom took her 21 year old daughter, Amy to see a neurologist because of migraine. The meds were not working and the doctor surmised that stress might be a factor for her migraine. He recommended that the girl see a psychiatrist for counselling. He gave the mom a calling card of the psych. The mom was upset. She said: 他说你神经病。(He thinks you’re crazy.)

In the subway, the girl said: Maybe Dr. Frome can help. The mom reprimanded her for being ‘weak.’ When the mom turned to throw the calling card in the trash bin, Amy walked right into the oncoming train. Miraculously, like any fictional story, she survived and was taken to the hospital.

And so the drama goes on to show how it was in Amy’s life. Crying, she finally admitted to the doctor the stress to perform, do her best and put on the good brave ‘face’ and not be depressed because she is having the ‘good’ life – she was well-cared for and given all that she needs and wants. She initially turned down ‘talk’ therapy because she could not bear the thought of her mom not talking to her if she did.

The two doctors involved – the neurologist and the psych argued about the case. One said it is because of shame and fear. The other said it is because depression is a stigma. I believe it’s both. Stigma is when someone views you in a negative way because you have a distinguishing characteristic or personal trait that’s thought to be, or actually is, a disadvantage (a negative stereotype). Stigma attached to mental illness leads to shame and fear of rejection and judgment.

Why was I weary in admitting to depression? I was ashamed and guilty about it. During the dark times when I was depressed, these were my thoughts. Am I not a Christian? I am not living on the streets – homeless and penniless. Perhaps I am ungrateful. Perhaps I do not have enough faith. If I shared my depression, I might be ‘judged’ for these same thoughts.

In the past, when I told my stories on depression, friends privately thanked me for sharing. A couple of them shared my stories to their friends. Some empathised and encouraged me saying that I am brave and candid – an authentic person. A few shared their own stories – either to encourage me and/or to ask me for prayers.

I realised once more that God works out all things (even my depression) for good (mine and others’). There is a purpose for my depression – so I might be mature and complete (James 1:2-4). How? So that I may grow my faith, that I will learn humility, that I will be strong and courageous in the Lord, that I would practice to rejoice in the Lord, that I would experience God’s comfort through His Word and His children. I thank God for friends who accompanied me in this journey through prayers, encouraging words and listening ears.

Lastly I truly believe that my depression allows me to comfort others with the same comfort that I receive from our heavenly Father.

2 Corinthians 1
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. Amen.

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