Is Depression Real

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Religion and Spirituality  |  House: Booksie Classic

Claire does not believe that depression is real. But then her favorite Christian author is found dead from suicide. Maybe there is more to mental illness than she originally thought.

Chapter 1

 

Once a week, my friends I have a little book club. Lately, we have been reading books by Trinity Morlow, a very popular Christian writer for teens. This week, we read The Freshman, which told the story of a high school freshman that had a hard time at the beginning of high school. She had a difficult time fitting in and often found herself being bullied. Eventually, she started going to church and found Jesus and then turned her life around.

Book club was meeting at my house today so I made a pitcher of lemonade and filled a plate full of cookies. I put everything on the coffee table and a few minutes later, Ruby, Amy, and Keisha had arrived.

“Shall we begin with prayer?” Ruby suggested.

Keisha decided she would lead the prayer.

“Lord, I thank You for this great group of girls and the opportunity to spend time together. I pray that You will lead this discussion we are about to have so that all praise, honor, and glory will be for You. Amen.”

“Amen,” we all repeated.

“So who would like to begin with their overall reaction to the book?” I asked.

“I really thought the book was interesting,” Amy began. “You do not often read about depression.”

“In what way is this book about depression?” I asked curiously. “Emily was bullied at first and then she found Jesus, made friends with people at church, and then decided to help other bully victims by telling them about Jesus.”

“Emily was clearly depressed shortly after she started high school,” Amy said.

“You only think that because Emily was being bullied. Of course she was not very happy during that time of her life.”

“Maybe the bullying contributed to her depression,” Amy insisted. “Emily was definitely depressed though. At one point, she really just wanted to stay in bed and not deal with the world.”

“You mean she did not want to deal with the bullies.”

“No, I mean the world. Remember, she lost interest in homework, chores, and writing, her favorite activity.”

“So maybe she was just lazy or bored. She was not depressed.”

“Why are you fighting this depression thing, Claire?” Keisha asked curiously.

“You think she was depressed too?” I asked.

“I do as well,” Ruby admitted.

“There is no such thing as depression! Depression is just another word for sadness. But really, it is not a mental illness like people think it is. With a positive attitude, a person would no longer feel depressed. But instead, people are so discontent with their lives that they are unable to ever feel happy again. And then the depression label gets stuck on them.”

“So you do not believe that depression can be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain?” Keisha asked.

I shook my head. “I think you guys are digging too far into this. Emily was a teenager. She was acting like any other teenager. She was acting like a bullied teenager.”

“So what was your reaction of the book?” Amy asked me.

I could tell Amy, Keisha, and Ruby all believed that Emily was depressed but since I did not agree with them, Amy decided to change the subject. Maybe if I told them my reaction to the book, they would agree.

“I liked it. It was a story that should be encouraging to students that are being bullied. It is also great for people who do not know Jesus.”

My comments sparked some discussion but it was not as animated as before.

 

Chapter 2

 

As soon as book club was over, I cleaned up the snacks and then went to watch the news for my social problems class.

“And now, onto some sad news for fans of the author, Trinity Morlow,” the anchorman said.

My ears perked up. Did he just say something about Trinity Morlow?

The screen switched from the anchorman to a reporter standing in front of an old apartment building.

“A week ago, Kristi Kimble was found dead in this apartment due to what appeared to be a self afflicted gun wound,” the reporter said.

Why was the reporter talking about someone named Kristi? I thought the story was about Trinity Morlow.

“According to those that knew Kristi, she was an unsuccessful writer that suffered from depression. She mostly kept to herself. It was only when her sister came to clean out the apartment that she found secrets that led her to believe that Kristi was leading a double life. Kristi was also the popular Christian writer Trinity Morlow. Not much is known right now other than that her death is being ruled a suicide. Back to you, Tim.”

No, Trinity Morlow could not have committed suicide! Trinity was a Christian. She had to be based on what she wrote in her books. Trinity would not have committed suicide because Christians do not believe in suicide. They know that God has a plan for them and that while things may seem tough, God would help them through it.

Would Trinity even be able to go to Heaven if she did commit suicide? I mean, she took her own life!

Of course, while suicide was a sin, God would view it the same as any other sin. All sins are equal in God’s eyes and because of it, we are condemned to death. It is a good thing God loves us all so much that He sent His Son Jesus to die for all sins. Now, everyone can go to Heaven if they accept this forgiveness and surrender their lives to Jesus.

I am sure that Trinity had done all that. She often talked about becoming a Christian in her books. Most of her books had the characters becoming Christians in the end.

There had to be some mistake. Trinity’s death was probably a murder but since there were few clues, nobody wanted to investigate it. I mean, why would a successful Christian author commit suicide?

 

Chapter 3

 

“Did you hear about Trinity Morlow?” I asked my friends at lunch the next day.

“Yeah, I could not believe that she committed suicide!” Ruby said. “I would have thought that she would have trusted God. That is what she was always saying in her books.”

“I believe her death was a murder,” I said.

Ruby, Amy, and Keisha burst out laughing.

“I think you have been watching too many crime shows, Claire,” Amy said.

“You cannot honestly believe that a Christian woman committed suicide.”

“Why not?” Keisha asked. “Christians are capable of suicide, even though we are told to trust God.”

“But why would she commit suicide anyway?” I asked. “She was young, successful, and a Christian. She also made a lot of money. She had her whole life ahead of her.”

“But there are sources that say that Trinity Morlow had depression,” Ruby said. “And if she had depression, than none of those things probably mattered to her.”

“Trinity Morlow was not depressed!” I insisted.

“Oh, so you are saying that Christians also do not suffer from depression?” Amy asked. “I thought we ended this conversation yesterday.”

“Do you really know that much about depression, Claire?” Keisha asked. “Where does your unbelief come from?”

I had not really thought about where it might come from. I guess one day, I just realized that all people are capable of choosing their emotions and must live with the consequences. I told all this to my friends.

“Maybe you should do some research about depression and learn from those who do believe that depression is real,” Ruby suggested.

“But than that means you need to research my side,” I retorted.

“I wonder if there were more signs that Trinity Morlow was depressed in her other books,” Ruby said.

“Oh, come on,” I said. “That book we just read did not contain depression and none of her other books do either.”

“Maybe instead of choosing to read a new book for this week, we should reread an old book of Trinity Morlow’s and look for signs of depression,” Amy suggested.

“That is ridiculous!” I exclaimed.

Keisha was on her phone looking for something.

“Hey!” she said as she looked up. “It appears that Trinity Morlow did not write a suicide note.”

“Than it could be murder!” I said excitedly.

“Instead of a suicide note, she left an autobiography,” Keisha said with a look at me. “And it is going to be published very soon.”

“We will definitely have to read that,” I said. I was curious what would have led her to suicide.

“And in the meantime, you research depression,” Keisha ordered me.

 

Chapter 4

 

That night, I researched why Trinity Morlow would commit suicide. I actually typed my question into Google and found a lot of people who had made comments on this one site.

One person had actually listed all the symptoms of depression.

 

If you have any of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention!

  • Persistent sad, anxious or ‘empty’ feelings
  • Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in ordinary activities
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Eating disturbances
  • Decreased energy, fatigue, and a feeling of being slowed down
  • Thoughts of death
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Difficulty in concentration, remembering, and making decisions

 

I was kind of surprised by some of the symptoms. I thought depression was just sadness. But maybe depression was not a synonym for sadness. Not that I believed depression was a real illness. But there were sure a lot of symptoms that people attributed to depression.

Another person wrote that writing is one of the top ten professions in which people will suffer from depression. They said it was probably because writers tend to dig into themselves as well as have a lot of self doubt in what they write.

Many people posted the depression does not mean that a person should commit suicide. All over the site, there were links and numbers to resources that could help people thinking about suicide.

There were also several others that thought the same way I did though.

 

Depression is not mentioned in the Bible and did not exist during Biblical times. It is a modern invention to legitimatize sin.

 

While all this research helped me understand what people thought was attributed to depression, I still did not believe in it. Maybe I would just reread Trinity Morlow’s books to see if there were any signs that might say she had been ‘depressed’.

 

Chapter 5

 

I told my friends the next day that I still did not believe in depression and they recommended that I go to the depression support group at one of the local churches.

“You have got to be kidding,” I said when Keisha suggested it. “Why is this such a big deal anyway?”

“Just go talk to someone after the meeting.”

That is how I found myself at the church waiting for the meeting to get over so that I could talk to someone.

Keisha had talked to the support group leader earlier in the day and told him that I was looking for someone to talk to. He said he would see if he could find a volunteer from the group. I think Keisha thought I would scare everyone away if I randomly approached them and asked if I could talk about their depression.

“Are you Claire?” a teenage girl about the same age as me asked as she approached me.

I nodded.

“I am Gwen,” the girl said. “Let’s go somewhere more comfortable to talk.”

I followed Gwen into a room full of comfortable chairs and couches. We both took seats so we were sitting across from each other.

“So I was told that you had some questions about depression,” Gwen began.

I really did not know where to begin. I also did not want to offend this girl, no matter what she decided her mental status might be.

“Do not take this the wrong way,” I finally said, “but I do not believe in depression. I believe that we choose our emotions and must live with the consequences. With a positive attitude, we can all be happy.”

Gwen smiled and I was relieved that I had not offended her. “Depression can be difficult to understand if you have never experienced it firsthand,” she said. “I know when I first realized I had depression, I had a lot of misconceptions. I thought depression was all about sadness and suicide. I had no idea that there were so many more symptoms to depression.”

“But sadness is still the biggest part of depression, right? Why can you not just have a positive attitude and snap out of it?”

Gwen laughed. “I tried that when I first found out that I had depression. It does not work that way though. Depression is just like any other illness. You cannot snap out of cancer, diabetes, or heart disease. It really angers me when people tell me to get over my depression. If I could, I would. Nobody voluntarily chooses to be sad.”

I guess I had never thought about a person choosing to be sad. I certainly would not choose to have a sad life.

“Are you a Christian?” I asked. I was still having trouble understanding how God and depression fit together. If a person had Jesus in their heart, I would think that would be enough to overpower depression.

“I was not at first. I thought when I gave my life to Jesus, I would no longer feel depressed. Unfortunately, depression does not work that way. The chemicals in my brain are messed up.”

“I am still having trouble understanding depression and God.”

“Claire, depression is going to be difficult for you to understand because you have never gone through it yourself. I hope you never do either. I would not wish depression on my worst enemy. I think you should talk to Pastor John about this. He can give you a lot more information about God and depression.”

“Maybe I will do that.”

“But Claire, God does fit into my depression. There was a time when I was angry at God. I barely had the will to live let alone do anything else for Him. I told God that He could not use me through my depression. God just laughed and told me that He was God and that He knew what He was doing.”

“And what is God doing?”

“I actually work with depressed individuals in our group. Not everyone is a Christian when they first start coming. I am able to relate to them since I suffer from depression myself and I use those opportunities to tell them about Jesus.”

“Do you happen to read the books by Trinity Morlow?” I asked curiously.

“I love her. I was sad to hear of her death.”

“Do you think she was depressed?”

“It would not surprise me. A lot of writers suffer from depression. We actually have a poet and a fictional writer in the group that suffer from depression. But you should check out this other published Christian writer. She  also suffers from depression. She writes about God and depression. She says she uses her gift of writing to tell people about Jesus as well as raise awareness for depression. Her name is Kelsey Shakowski.”

I had never read any of her books but maybe it would not hurt to read just one to get her perspective on God and depression.

“Thanks for talking to me, Gwen. I really learned a lot.”

“Glad I could help,” she said before she got up to leave.

 

Chapter 6

 

I picked up a Kelsey Shakowski book from the library after I left the church and started reading it the second I got home.

Surprisingly, I liked it. I was reading Another Chance to Live. It was about a teenager that tried to commit suicide by crashing her car. She did not succeed but did end up paralyzed. She has a rough time transitioning back to regular life because no one trusted her. She did end up meeting some Christian friends who told her that she needed Jesus in her life but she did not think her suicide attempt would be forgiven.

After I finished reading, I got online to do some research about the author and actually found an interview with her.

 

An Interview with Kelsey Shakowski

 

When did you find out you had depression?

 

I was sixteen when I found out that I was depressed. It was summer and I was spending a lot of time just sitting on the couch, staring into space. I thought I was being lazy. There was also something else though that just did not feel right which I later recognized as overwhelming saddness. That is when I realized that I was depressed.

 

When did you become a Christian?

 

I became a Christian four years later, when I was in college. I actually thought that my depression would go away after that since I was so happy to have Jesus in my life. Unfortunately, depression does not work that way.

 

When did you decide to write about depression and God?

 

I had always liked writing, and after I became a Christian, I decided I would become a Christian writer. But there was a really low point when I was in college and I barely had the will to live, let alone do anything special with my life. I told God that He could not use me but than He told me that was not true. God revealed to me that since I was familiar with depression, I should include this in my writing for Him.

 

It was almost like Kelsey Shakowski looked at her depression as a gift. I am sure she did not want it, but after realizing that God was able to use her through her problems, she decided to embrace what she had. I kind of got the same impression from Gwen today too.

I was not sure what I should believe about depression anymore. I guess maybe I should talk to a pastor. They are the ones that know God and the Bible better than anyone else. I would talk to Pastor John, even though he is not my pastor, just because Gwen suggested him.

 

Chapter 7

 

“You must be Claire,” Pastor John said when he saw me standing in his office doorway the next afternoon. “Please, come in.”

I entered his office and took a seat across from his desk.

“Now, you said something on the phone about wanting to learn more about depression. Are you feeling depressed right now?”

I told Pastor John about Trinity Morlow’s suicide and my friends pressuring me to learn more about depression.

“I occasionally will preach a sermon on mental illness,” Pastor John said when I had finished. “As Christians, we are supposed to be very accepting of one another, but often, we can become very unaccepting of people suffering from mental illness.”

“So I take it you believe that depression is real?”

“I do, Claire. But as I tell my congregation, it does not matter what you believe. But people suffering from mental illness are still made in God’s image and should be treated with respect. They still need to know Jesus too.”

“I guess I had never thought about it that way,” I admitted.

“You know, Claire, there are people that believe some of our Biblical heroes suffered from depression.”

“But depression is not mentioned in the Bible. How could these Biblical heroes have possibly been depressed? They were people of God.”

“Depression is not mentioned specifically in the Bible. But there are verses that suggest that maybe it was more than just ordinary sadness that these people were feeling. And who says that God’s people cannot suffer from depression? Trinity Morlow was probably depressed. The Christian author Kelsey Shakowski is very open about her problems with depression. They are God’s people just like David, Saul, Jonah, and Job.”

“I am still not sure what I should believe,” I said. “I have been presented with so much information that makes sense, but deep down, I am not willing to believe that depression is real.”

“Like I said, it does not really matter what you believe, as long as you are accepting of all people. But let me tell you something that someone once told me. She said that she does not voluntarily choose to be sad. She said she wants nothing more than to be happy, but it is not always possible.”

“So do antidepressants cause fake happiness?” I asked curiously.

“Antidepressants get the chemicals in the brain working right so that a person can experience happiness again. It is very real happiness though.”

“Ok.” I was still not sure what to believe.

“I suggest you go home and pray that God will open your heart to depression, Claire,” the pastor suggested.

I guess that was the only thing left I could do. I had already done research and talked to people.

I was still not sure why it was so important for me to believe in depression, but all this research was not hurting me.

 

Chapter 8

 

Parts of Trinity Morlow’s autobiography were published online to get people interested in buying the whole thing in a few months. I did have to admit, from what I had learned about depression, it did sound like she had been depressed.

I reread all her books. And there were signs that maybe some of her characters had been depressed too. The thing is, Trinity Morlow’s characters’ feelings were very descriptive. There was no way I would be comfortable writing about depression even if I did more research. It would be very difficult for me to write about something that I had not experienced firsthand. Maybe, just maybe, there was more to depression than I had originally thought. Trinity Morlow was probably depressed.

“Lord,” I prayed, “I am just not sure what to believe. I have always thought that there was no such thing as depression. I always thought we were responsible for choosing our emotions. But the thing is, a person can get over ordinary sadness. But nobody would voluntarily choose to be sad. And nobody would choose it for a prolonged period of time. Lord, I guess I now believe in depression. And I want to help people with depression so that they will not make the same mistake as Trinity Morlow. Amen.”

Suddenly, I knew why my friends had been pressuring me to learn more about depression. Last summer, Amy had become withdrawn and really did not spend much time with us. She must have been depressed but did not tell me. I would have to apologize for what I said about depression that day at book club.

I knew that I did not know depression like Gwen or Kelsey Shakowski, but like Pastor John said, people suffering from depression need respect and they need to know Jesus. I could help with both of those things!

 

 

 


Submitted: November 17, 2014

© Copyright 2021 Kimberly Adams. All rights reserved.

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