What is the relevance of spiritual faith to a depressed person?
My short answer would be that it absolutely necessary for recovery, but that it is also a two- edged sword.
The purpose of this chapter I will be primarily talking about Christianity. I will also talk about the role of twelve step groups a little later in the chapter.
I must point out that I am a Christian and have been so for the greater part of my adult life. I was not brought up in a church going Christian family, although I think that my father believed in God. In some sense, I might have been a Christian as a young boy, although I didn’t verbalize the prayer of salvation because I had never heard it and wouldn’t have known what it meant. As kids growing up the nineteen fifties and early sixties, we were blessed that the public school system was favourable towards prayer and the daily reading of Bible stories. As all my elementary school teachers included these two routines following the playing of Oh Canada, the Canadian national anthem, I assumed that it was mandatory for my elementary grade teachers to lead us in the Lord’s prayer and to read to us from a book containing Bible stories.
I now think that because of these two spiritual exercises practised by the public school system I came to believe in God. In reality, I cannot remember a time where I doubted God’s existence. I was probably not a saved, born again Christian, but could definitely be considered to be a believer. This does not mean that I always tried to walk out the Christian lifestyle. There were many times in my life when I didn’t.
I didn’t officially get ‘saved’ as it is termed in Christianity until I was twenty-seven years old. This occurred only because an ardent local minister came to my mobile home to witness to me. Ironically, this was not the first occasion would someone tried to lead me to the Lord.
Around two years earlier, a young Christian couple came to my apartment to share the Good News of the Gospel with me. During this occasion I was not receptive at all to hearing about Jesus. I only recall that the man who tried to witness to be me was called Hugh and for years after I felt sorry for the way I treated these young evangelists.
Hugh, if by some miracle, you have been reading this blog post or listen to my podcast show, I want to sincerely apologize for my behavior that evening. I just want you to know that you planted a seed and that I became a born-again Christian two years after you witnessed to me.
This has entirely nothing to do with today’s topic, but I just looked up at the calendar on my desktop computer to see that I am writing my first draft of this blog on July 14, 2017. On this day or date, I should say, that in 1966, I was at the Winnipeg Arena watching the Rolling Stones in concert. I can recall that my ticket cost fourteen dollars, the Rolling Stones only played for twenty-five minutes, with sound transmission coming through their woefully inadequate Vox amplifiers and that the girls screaming from the audience almost drowned out The Rolling Stones’s music.
Now back to my original topic, depression and spirituality. My whole thesis is that the depressed person has to one degree or another lost hope. The answer, of course, is to regain the lost hope or possibly experience hope for the first time. That’s where Christianity comes in. The Gospel message offers the guarantee that if we have truly given our life to the Lord, when we get to heaven we will enjoy an eternal and wonderful life.
There are certain theological streams that seem to contend that this is about the only promise that Christians can count upon and that this only occurs after physical death and the end of our earthly life.
Although this hope can be very comforting, I was also looking for hope during my earthly lifetime. I was never quite satisfied with a Christian theology that implies that our life on earth was just to be tolerated as we attempted to live a holy life, but that for the real reward, we would have to wait for heaven.
This morning Keith Ross was hoping that listening to Creflo Dollar’s message would help to improve his mood and provide him with some inspiration. He did attend a local church occasionally. but preferred to stay at home and watch services via the internet.
Keith had many TV preachers that he watched including Joel Osteen, Joseph Prince, Patricia King, Jim Richards and Todd Bentley. Many years ago he got introduced to the Charismatic stream of Christian theology through the influence of one of his old girlfriends.
He preferred to believe in a positive, motivating theology. He knew that there were more conservative feel theologies out there, but over the years he had become very disenchanted with them. Keith’s father had been a Baptist preacher who taught a very conservative view of the Bible and the Christian life. Keith had always thought that there had to be more to Christianity than this and his former girlfriend had shown him that that he could go much deeper in his relationship with God.
Keith wanted to believe that God loved him and wanted him to be blessed with good health and financial prosperity. He did not want to get rich. He only desired to get all his debts paid off death and to have enough money for a comfortable lifestyle.
The next morning Keith Ross woke up and felt miserable. It was another morning where he felt as if he had never slept during the night. He groggily got off his ragged, old, broken down couch where he slept most nights. He often fell asleep on the couch while reading or watching TV.
Keith frequently watched Fox News before he went to bed. When he was young man, he was very much a socialist, but as he got older, he began to see the negative characteristics of a totally socialized society. At first he wasn’t crazy about Donald Trump, but during the first six months of Trump’s presidency, Keith was starting to really admire the way the new president took tough stands on issues that he strongly believed in.
He got himself his favorite glass of water from the kitchen and began taking his massive regimen of medications and dietary supplements. Keith followed this with a bowl of Raisin Bran cereal. He’s actually preferred Frosted Flakes, but he had recently decided to be more careful about his food choices.
As soon as he finished his breakfast, Keith felt so tired that he lied down on the couch. After about five minutes had passed, he got up and looked out the window. The sun was shining brightly. He promptly turned on the weather channel to check today’s forecast. The weather channel reported a high of 28°C with sunny skies throughout the day. He started to think about going for a bike ride. Keith looked up at his beautiful, black Giant mountain bike parked a few feet behind his flat screen TV.
“Yeah, I heard something about that,” Rick answered.
“Well, it’s true, but the story has been greatly exaggerated. I spent about two weeks in a psychiatric rehabilitation facility in San Francisco. I was there basically for observation so that the doctors could make a diagnosis,” Misty explained.
“So, what did the doctors come up with?” Rick asked.
“At that time they told me it was manic depression. My psychiatrist in Winnipeg changed the diagnosis to schizo-affective disorder.”
“Yeah, I remember you telling me about that. Do you need to take medication?’
“Yes, lithium. For a long time, I wasn’t really taking it. I just lied to my doctor and my parents telling them that I was taking the lithium regularly. I got busted when they eventually took a blood test. The test showed that there was no trace of lithium in my body.”
“Why didn’t you take your medication?”
“Because it made me feel worse. To be more precise I didn’t feel any emotions at all when I first started taking it. Plus, it was making me gain weight.”
“So, do you take lithium now?” Rick asked.
“No. My new psychiatrist in Winnipeg put me on chlorpromazine after he changed my diagnosis to schizo-affective disorder,” Misty answered.
The restaurant was starting to get very smoky. It appeared that most of the customers were puffing hard on their cigarettes while they sucked back the strong Salisbury House coffee. The smoke in the air was starting to make Rick’s eyes water.”
“Let’s go back to Memorial Park. It’s getting too smoky in here for me,” said Rick.
Rick and Misty started walking back across the Osborne bridge. Misty thought she saw the shadowy figure of a man trying to climb up on the railings of the bridge.
Rick said, “It looks like that guy is going to try to jump over the bridge.”
Both Rick and Misty started yelling, “Hey man, stop! What are you trying to do?”
“Leave me alone. I’m going to jump,” the man answered.
“Let’s talk a bit first,” Misty said.
“Talk about what?” the man asked.
“About anything. Misty and I have been looking for someone interesting to talk to.” Rick answered.
“I’m not an interesting person and anyway you’ve got each other to talk to,” the man said.
“Let me be the judge of that. How about the three of us go to the Sals and get a cup of coffee? It’s starting to get chilly out here.” Rick said.
“I don’t even have enough money for a coffee, man, and I just smoked my last cigarette,”
“What’s your name?” Misty asked.
“Norman or just Norm.”
“Hi, I’m Misty and this is my boyfriend, Rick.”
“Like I said, I haven’t got enough money to go to the Sals and I’m kind of busy here.”
“Okay. I’ll tell you what. You come down from the railing and I’ll pay for your coffee and anything else you want to eat. Don’t worry about cigarettes. I just opened a new pack. How about it?” Rick asked.
“Well, I guess I could have my last coffee and cigarette before I leave this world.” Norm answered.
“That’s great. I’ll give you a smoke right now,” Rick said.
When they got back the Salisbury House, Norm ordered a Big Nip, and an order of fries and a coffee.
“Thanks guys. I haven’t had anything to eat yet today. My dad kicked me out at around ten this morning,” Norm said.
“So what have you been doing all day to keep warm?” Misty asked.
“I’ve been riding the bus. My dad bought me a monthly bus pass before I got the boot,” Norm said. “I don’t know what to do or where to go. Two months ago my mom kicked me out of her place.”
“Don’t worry we’ll figure something out,” Misty said.
Norman Robinson was only nineteen years old, but he was already starting to take on the appearance of a homeless person. He was tall and very thin. Misty noticed that Norman had a missing front tooth. He had a large hole in the front of his navy blue parka that made it look like he had vomited on his coat. The hole was actually a result of Norman helping his dad remove a defective battery from his car. In the process of completing this task, Norman had gotten some battery acid on his jacket. The acid had burned the hole in it.
Misty turned to Rick and said, “Let’s take Norm over to my place. I think my dad might like to talk to Norman.”
“What makes you say that?” Rick asked, looking somewhat befuddled.
“My dad has changed a lot since the summer. I’ll tell you about it later, but he now has a job working at a homeless center,” Misty answered.
“Wow. Lloyd has a steady job now,” Rick said.
“Look you guys have done enough for me already. After I finish my coffee and smoke I’ll just walk back to the bridge,” Norman said.
“I don’t think that’s such a great idea,” Rick said. “You don’t have a place to go tonight, do you?”
“That settles it. You’re coming with us,” Rick said firmly.
Rick, Misty and their new friend walked back to Rick’s car that was parked on a street next to Memorial Park. When Rick tried to start his car the engine wouldn’t turn over.
“Damn,” Rick said. “I just put a new battery in two weeks ago,”
“Open the hood Rick and let me have a look,” Norman said.
“In less than a minute Norman asked Rick to try starting the car again. This time the engine turned over immediately.
“How did you do that?” Rick asked.
“It was just a loose cable. I was training to be an auto technician so I knew what to check first.”
“Wow, thanks a lot man,” Rick said, feeling both surprised and grateful.
One morning, Misty’s mother, Sheila Roberts was doing her morning devotions. As a devout Christian, Sheila had long established a habit of having a quiet time with the Lord before she started her day. Her devotional time included reading from her Bible, praying for herself and others as well as remaining quiet and waiting for God to speak to her. Today, Sheila heard the Lord speak to her spirit, “Sheila, I’m going to do a great work in your husband, Lloyd, because I love him very much. I am asking you to include Lloyd in your prayers every day.”
Sheila did not hear an audible voice, but she knew in her heart that she had heard from God. After the incident at the rock concert during the summer, Sheila had been thinking about Lloyd. By this time, she had forgiven Lloyd for allowing his daughters to get involved in a dangerous situation. She had loved Lloyd at one time, but since she became a Christian and Lloyd didn’t, Sheila felt that her husband would have a negative influence on their children. She could not say that Rick was a bad person. In many ways he was a good man, but she could no longer tolerate his immaturity and his harmful addictions. What she really wanted was a godly husband and Lloyd certainly was not. Sheila decided to call her pastor Randy Neufeld to discuss with him what the Lord had told her.
Lloyd Roberts was just waking up from a short nap he had after supper. As be reached for his pack of cigarettes, Lloyd could still remember the dream he had. He was in that zone where he was just coming out of the dream state, but was not yet fully awake. Lloyd was used to having many dreams while he slept, but there was something different about the ones that he had been having lately. His most recent dreams all seemed to have some spiritual or religious theme to them.
A few minutes ago, Lloyd had seen Jesus in his dream holding a little lamb in his arms. The other night he dreamed that he was sitting in a quiet, peaceful location by a stream. When he turned his head he could see a man who looked like Jesus waving for him to walk over to where he was standing. Lloyd scratched hic head before putting on his baseball cap with the Ford logo on it. He had started to notice a bald spot near the top of his head and thought that if he covered it up he wouldn’t have to think about it. What he was now thinking about was the significance of his dreams. His daughter, Sasha had been a Christian for awhile now, but Lloyd was wondering what kind of influence her new boyfriend was having on her beliefs. Lloyd expected Sasha would be home in a little while. He would ask her what she made of his dreams.
Lloyd had recently attained employment as a residential care worker at The Main Street Mission. He found that of the many jobs that he had worked over the years this was probably one of the few that he actually enjoyed. Lloyd liked the street people that he got to know and was starting to feel that his life was finally starting to have some meaning.
Lloyd was beginning to mature as he entered his mid forties. The incident that happened at the rock festival had shaken Lloyd up. It now occurred to him that he had some serious responsibilities as a parent.
Lloyd’s dog, Pigpen started barking loudly while scratching the front door with his paws.
“Hang on. I’ll be right there.” Lloyd hoped that his voice was loud enough to be heard outside the door.
When Lloyd answered the door he was greeted by Misty and Rick and a young man that he did not recognize.
Lloyd moved closer to Rick to give him a hug. “Hey, man, I haven’t seen you in a dog’s age. Pardon the pun, Pigpen.”
“Hey, Dad. I’d like to introduce you to our new friend, Norm. Rick and I just met him tonight at The Sals on Osborne,” Misty said, while brushing some snow off her coat.
“Why don’t you guys park yourselves in the living room while I put on some coffee. I’d offer you guys a beer, but I’ve been on the wagon for awhile now.”
“Yeah, Dad’s been sober for six months now. He joined Alcoholics Anonymous,” Misty said proudly, just before she sat down on the couch.
“At the last AA meeting they gave me my sixth month pin,” Lloyd said proudly as he walked towards the kitchen.
After the coffee had perked Misty brought out a silver tray with the cups, coffee and creamer.
Lloyd sat down in his black recliner.
“I’m sorry I haven’t been around to see you Lloyd. I’ve been keeping a low profile since Sasha and I broke up,” Rick explained.
“That’s what I figured,” Lloyd said. “Well you don’t have to worry about that Rick. Sasha’s cool with it. She says she still likes you, but she has a new boyfriend now. In fact, they’ll probably be here soon. Lloyd then turned his attention to the new guest.
“So how did you get to talking with Rick and Misty?”
“Actually, I first met them on the Osborne Bridge. I was getting ready to jump in the river,” Norm answered.
One day in August Rick walked to the Canada Employment Center to see if he could get some help finding a job. He was two credits short from attaining his high school diploma and realized that with this small amount of course work he would need to at least, get a part time job. At this time, he did not think that he would return to playing hockey for another season. Last year had been much too stressful for him and now he would have a lot of free time on his hands. Rick felt that he would need to get a job to keep his parents happy.
As he entered the employment center Rick was nervous. He had worked one summer at his dad’s printing plant and had a very negative experience while working there. Rick did not yet realize that he lacked the manual dexterity, fine motor skills and spatial reasoning required for most factory jobs.
Rick walked up to the reception desk and was told to pull a number out of a machine. He was directed to take a seat in the waiting room and wait until his number was called.
Rick found an empty seat and took a look around the main floor of the employment center. It was a very drab place that rendered a rather depressing mood. After waiting approximately fifteen minutes Rick heard his name called and was greeted by a young attractive female who asked him to take a seat in her work area. The employment counsellor did not have a closed- in office. Her office space was separated from her co-workers by grey rectangular partitions. This arrangement didn’t give the client any feeling of privacy as one could hear what people in other sectioned off work areas were saying.
The employment counsellor shook hands with Rick and said, “Hello Richard, my name is Arlene Johnson. What can I do for you today?”
“You can just call me Rick. I’m here to find a job.”
“What kind of work are you looking for?”
“I’m not sure,” Rick answered. “I don’t know what kinds of work are available to me.”
“Well, that all depends upon your education and work experience.”
“I’ve got my grade 11 and I’m just two credits shy of my high school diploma. I worked at my dad’s printing plant one summer and I used to have a paper route.
“Do you like working with your hands Rick?”
“Not very much. I’m not very good with my hands.”
“I have to be honest with you. Most of the jobs you could apply for require a grade twelve education and manual dexterity or fine motor skills. We occasionally get referrals from employers for manual labor jobs, but I don’t have any referrals right now,” Arlene said.
Rick was now feeling very uncomfortable. “So I guess you really don’t have anything for me today?”
“Not really. What do you do in your spare time?”
“I play hockey, watch tv, listen to music and read.”
“But you don’t do much work with your hands?”
“No, not really, but I read a lot,” Rick said feeling insulted.
“Listen Rick. Can I be blunt?”
“Yeah,” Rick replied feeling annoyed.
“You need to get your high school diploma and you need to take up a hobby where you have to use your hands. After you do that come back and see me.”
“Thank you for your time,” Rick said as he got up to leave Arlene’s work area. When he got outside Rick lit up a smoke and said to himself, “So that’s that. I’ll go back to school to get my two credits and I’ll play hockey for one more year.”
Episode 5 of Chaos:
Roger had a regular morning routine. On weekdays he would turn on his phone and wait for a call from the school division giving him a substitute teaching assignment for the day. Roger did not really want to accept an assignment today. He had just finished a three day assignment teaching English at Murdoch MacKay Collegiate. Roger had a good time teaching there as the class was reading and discussing F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby. Although Roger had thoroughly enjoyed his time at Murdoch MacKay, he was getting older and felt like he needed a day off.
He also felt guilty when he spent too many days away from his writing. Roger wrote fiction novels and found that the writing process was very therapeutic for him. He decided that he would decline any teaching assignments for today and would spend the day working on his current writing project, a novel titled Winter Dreams.
Roger’s morning routine seldom varied. He would get up and boil some water for his Valentus coffee. Roger would then fill up a large glass with water. The glass that he used to wash down his medications was actually a large holder for flowers that he had purchased at Dollarama.
As he got older Roger appeared to be taking more and more medications. He had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder when he was in his late teens. His psychiatrist prescribed a cocktail of antidepressants. While drinking his coffee and taking his meds Roger would listen to one of his many Holy Bible audiobooks.
Roger had been a Christian since his late twenties. When he first got saved he was really just buying fire insurance. Roger simply did not want to go to hell. For almost three decades he really didn’t have an intimate relationship with the Lord. When Roger was in his early fifties he was introduced to Charismatic and Pentecostal theology through a co-worker. Since then he had been baptised in the Holy Spirit and received some of the spiritual gifts notably prophetic visions and words of knowledge.
Episode 4 of Chaos
Although he was officially retired Roger had not stopped working completely. He continued to work three to four days per week as a substitute teacher. Roger enjoyed substitute teaching much more than full time teaching as he now didn’t have extra work to take home in the evenings. Substitute teaching also got him out of the house several times per week. This helped alleviate Roger’s loneliness as it gave him something of a social life as he had an opportunity to visit with other teachers.
Fortunately, Roger was rarely bored. He had developed several hobbies during his teaching career and he now had more time to devote to them. Roger also picked up a couple of new hobbies after he retired. He had always enjoyed learning new things and developing new skills whenever possible.
He had truly loved his late wife Beatrice and believed that he could never again love a woman as much as he had loved her. Even so, he missed having female companionship. During one of his church’s weekly bible studies Roger had an attractive lady in her mid forties named Roxanne. They both felt a mutual attraction to each other and were soon going out for coffee after the Bible study had ended.
Misty arrived about ten minutes late for her afternoon gym class. She was finishing her cigarette at the smoking pod behind Maplewood Collegiate and was talking to a new girl who had just enrolled in the high school that day. While they were talking Misty lost track of the time. When Misty arrived at the lockers about five minutes late, the other girls were already in the locker room getting changed. Misty waited outside the entrance to the locker room and could hear the other girls talking. The girls’ voices were loud enough that Misty could overhear what they were saying. The dominant voice that drowned out the rest was that of Linda Saunders. Linda was a strong personality that attracted her own group of followers. At this very moment Linda was holding court with a group of four other girls. She had just overhead one of the other girls singing the praises of Rick Miller.
“Rick is such a great goalie. His play is the only reason that our hockey team is still competitive. I just hope that his injuries don’t keep him out of the line up too long. The Cougars have some key games scheduled for the next two weeks,” Sandra said.
“That’s for sure,” Tristan said. “I hate to say it, but I don’t have much confidence in Miles Meyers’ ability to lead the team.
Sandra and Tristan were so busy talking that they hadn’t noticed that Linda Saunders had walked up right behind them.