Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
What this saying from the Beatitudes has meant to me personally is that those who suffer from depression will someday inherit the lightness of happiness. I admit it; I’m in the middle of a depressive episode right now. It crept up on me, soon overtaking even my desire to get out of bed in the morning.
I’m up today, I’ve even had a bath and put on street clothes. Never mind that it took me until 2:30 pm to do it. I’m doing the things you are supposed to do to come out of such a period: taking my medicine, going to the gym, walking. But sometimes, depression is as sticky as superglue, and the usual measures will not remove it.
What is a day in this mind-set like? Well, you get up and get a cup of coffee. (Thank God the coffee maker is automatic; otherwise, you might just do without.) You get back in bed and think, I am going to get the house ready for Thanksgiving today. You look at the clock and think, I’ll just wait another hour. And then I’ll get up and do it. I want the house to look nice.
You walk to the kitchen and stand in the doorway and think, well, I’m hungry though, so I’ll eat something first. So, you eat breakfast, but then you feel tired again. I’ll just go lie back down for another hour, and then I’ll clean the house.
By now, it’s four o’clock in the afternoon. Your mood becomes even gloomier because now it’s too late to get the house clean, and you’ve wasted a whole day. Maybe I’ll feel better tomorrow. I’ll just go to bed early, and I’ll have the energy to do it tomorrow.
This kind of depression is not related at all to whether things in your life are going well or not. It doesn’t mean that you are existentially unhappy. It just sits atop your happiness like a wool blanket weighted with heavy rocks. You know you could be happy if you could just lift this blanket off. Instead, you crawl onto the couch and turn on the TV, allowing the blanket to continue enveloping you.
What helps to get me out of this? I don’t know what I would do without my supportive wife. She takes care of me when I cry for no reason, makes me laugh, and helps me get out of the house. We have just started attending a church where the people we have met there seem genuinely interested in getting to know us. That makes me feel better. And, of course, I know that God never gives up on me; in fact, God has reserved the kingdom of heaven for me and has called me blessed. I’ll go with that.