Wednesday, February 16, 2011

In the Way of the Spirit

There seems to be some sort of concensus that depression is capable of completely blocking the spirit of god.

I have pretty bad depression, especially for the past year.  I'm on several medications and still not doing great.  And I understand where people get this idea that valid religious experiences are impeded by depression; I have trouble feeling joy or even interest in anything.

I'm pretty sure my parents, who have stopped trying to convince me to cling to my former faith (for the moment), expect that I'll be somehow spiritually viable again once my depression is under better control.  I know some other people think this of me.  My father-in-law has severe depression and left the church years ago, and I know people think the same of him.

I don't know what to think about this... It's certainly better than having people say that I'm either sinning or offended, I guess.

The thing is, I'm pretty convinced in my atheist ways.  I don't know if I could ever go back to the doublethink of my former self, holding conflicting ideas in my mind simultaneously.  I'm addicted to thinking clearly and completely, now.  So if I'm ever in better shape at some point, I don't know that I'll be returning to my previously pious self.

The other thing is, my mom always assures me that the way I see things is tainted by my depression, and I could see things more accurately if I weren't depressed.
I'm skeptical.  The fact that depressed individuals are unhappy is unrelated to the question of whether or not they have an accurate view of the world.
In fact, it's been shown that most people have a "personal fable," a view of themselves that is better than the reality of the situation.  Nearly everyone will list themselves as "above-average" in categories that they value.  Guess who doesn't do this?
You got it, people with depression.  They tend to pretty accurately assess themselves, turns out.

The world around us is a terrible place.  The human race is on the fast-track toward its own destruction, people are killing each other brutally all over the world, and the human condition is based on the concept of living in hope of whatever comes next, ending finally in death and probably-false hopes of an afterlife.
I mean, damn, we live in hell!  So is it the happy people who are really accurately viewing the world, or is it the unhappy?

I actually really enjoy entertaining the concept that the most "well-adjusted" and happy are actually victims of some kind of insanity that is built into human beings to keep us from dying of despair as a species.
So your religion makes you happy.  So what?  Yeah, me losing my faith coincided with the worst depression of my life so far, but what of it?
Does you being happy about something make it true?  If so, how exactly does that make any sense?


  1. Left the Church/depressed -> "oh it's just because he can't see clearly b/c of his depression"

    Depressed and join the Church -> "oh it's so glorious that the gospel has helped them!" (implying that they could see "clearly" despite depression).

  2. So, you're implying that one cannot think "clearly and completely" and also remain LDS?

  3. I don't suggest that this is the case for everyone, but for me, so far, it is. My best efforts to seek truth have not led me in the direction of the LDS faith.

  4. pessimism is actually true optimism. Optimists hope for and even expect a favorable outcome and are often disappointed because of this worldview perhaps even spending the majority of their time disappointed. Meanwhile pessimists expect everything to be unfavorable so in truth are often pleasantly surprised that things went better than they expected. I firmly believe pragmatism is actually a euphemism for pessimistic true optimism. Otherwise why buy a fire extinguisher if you optimistically hope to never use it? Rather expect your place to burn down and be pleasantly amused when it never does.