She's a woman who, one would think, has it all. She has health, beauty, wealth, talent. Her home is impeccable, her husband loving, decent,faithful; her children, capable; her grandchildren adoring and adorable. She is loved and admired by all who know her. Who could ask for more?
To a close – and very surprised – friend, she confided: "I struggle so with depression. Some days I feel like I can't bear to leave the house. I want to climb in bed and pull the covers over my head."Depression. It's a burden carried by so many. Often there's no outward sign, and the burden is carried alone, with few to know or understand or help.
Someone sprains an ankle and shows up with a limp and a cane. There's sympathy and understanding and patience with his slower pace. There's great care not to jostle him, especially not to further bruise the injured part.
But all of us have injured parts. We carry within us bruised psyches, hidden insecurities, feelings more tender and vulnerable – and sometimes more painful – than any taped ankle. The man hurrying grimly along the street may need far more understanding and patience than the one limping along with his cane.
True depression is an extreme form of inner bruise, full of pain, slow and difficult to heal. Its causes may be complex – chemical imbalance, for example – and may respond only to professional care. The sufferer is often powerless to help himself. Friends and loved ones can only respond with the kind of loving care that any ill person deserves.
For others, a deeper understanding of who and what we are may help. We may need a clearer realization of our nothingness.
What kind of statement is that? some will ask. One of the deepest symptoms, if not causes, of depression is a conviction of worthlessness. How can more of the same help? Consider this: The person who relies on his own strength, his own intelligence, his own goodness or importance, is vulnerable. As any part of the strength or intelligence or goodness or importance is stripped away – as it inevitably is – he becomes diminished. He can become, in his own eyes, worthless. Severe emotional problems can follow.
God has provided a better way. King Benjamin spoke of it in his address to the Nephites:
". . . as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have tasted of his love, and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily . . . if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God. . . . (Mosiah 4:11-12.)
The message is that we are nothing without God, but that with Him and through Him we are everything, made in His image, worth His whole redeeming mission and sacrifice. With the humility of that perspective, we can find peace. We can live with our weaknesses because we lean on so much more than our own strength.
He invites us to make Him our foundation, and that foundation cannot be shaken. We cannot be stripped of self-image when we know that all upon which our self-image is based is gifted from God.
For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God . . . for all the riches we have of every kind? (Mosiah 4:19.)