Depression, Vision, and Being Spiritual Enough

Robin Williams committed suicide. He suffered from severe depression: FACT

He was selfish. He wasn’t spiritual enough: WE HAVE NO IDEA

Yesterday the inter-webs set ablaze with opinions about our beloved icon’s death. But it was one particular popular, Conservative-Christian blogger (it pains me to link to him, but I want my friends to know what I’m talking about) who caught my eye as soon as he implied Williams wasn’t spiritual enough. If he just had more joy, Blogger claims:

“We are more than our brains and bigger than our bodies. Depression is a metal affliction, yes, but also spiritual.”

To which I respond with a giant: Nope.

I consider myself to have a deep faith in God and an extremely profound relationship with Jesus. Ministry is my life. I’m pretty sure I would die for my faith. Yet, I suffer from clinical depression. Explain, please. Because I don’t get Conservative-Christian Blogger’s logic.

When I was a kid, I wore glasses. At age 13, Mom and Dad said I could get contacts. I loved the way I looked without specs, but I hated touching my eyeballs. I skipped on the contacts and just stopped wearing glasses altogether. You’d better believe I was praying to God for better vision – all for the sake of vanity. It didn’t quite happen.

Fast forward to age 39 when a visit to the ophthalmologist proved I never should have stopped wearing glasses. My eyes are worse now, and it’s no surprise I’ll need additional lens assistance to obtain proper vision for the rest of my life. Never once did I ponder, “If I’d only have been more spiritual, I wouldn’t need glasses.”

Because that would be silly.

I cried in the doctor’s office when he diagnosed me with depression. “It’s not possible,” I sobbed, “I have everything I need to make me happy in life.”

He explained the chemical imbalance of my brain. In my case, having a stroke exasperated the condition. He promised if I began taking a little aqua and white pill, I’d feel a little better. I did.

Four years later, I felt good enough to stop the drugs cold turkey. (Don’t ever, ever, EVER do this. EVER!) I crashed. One night I fell so hard, the weeping and gnashing of teeth was too much for my husband to handle, especially with a 10 month old asleep in her crib ten feet away.

The next day, I was in therapy and back on the aqua and white pill. 

14 years have passed since that breakdown. I’ve been to different counselors and tried different medicines in effort to make me the best Andee I can be. Without a prescription, the good vibes in my head don’t connect. (I’m sure that’s the correct medical terminology.) When they don’t, it’s not that I feel sad. I feel…nothing. 

When I feel nothing, living doesn’t seem all that important. 
It’s not logical.
It’s a depression lie.

I believe Jesus raised the dead to life. I know he’s saved me more times than I can count. But do you understand when I want to give him a little medical help on this one? 

Thanks for your support. 

***If you believe you have depression, try this brief questionnaire for an initial assessment. In my case, I answered “Nearly Every Day” when I was off meds. If you suspect you have an issue, visit your doctor for a thorough visit. I believe with all my heart that God put us here together for a reason – to love Him and to love each other. This is me showing love for you.


  1. Sara G.S. says

    There are not enough words in all our human language to express how much I STILL look up to you and hang on words that come from your stinking smart, witty and wonderful brain. Broken as we humans may be, you continually show forth how we can claim God's gift of grace and wholeness in spite of it all. I only hope to continue to speak hard truths the way that I have watched you speak them. Love love love.

  2. says

    Years ago I had a friend who was secretly battling depression; he was also trying to get into ministry. His pastor told him that it would never happen because his faith was insufficient. If he had sufficient faith, he wouldn't need his anti-depression medication. My friend stopped taking his meds. The last conversation I had with him was an argument over gun control; he was upset that there was a three-day waiting period to buy a gun, and was worried that 'the government was going to take all the guns away'. At the time I didn't see the signs, and I wish I had. I never heard from him again.

    Three weeks later I found out that he had borrowed a gun from someone and shot himself.

    I've run into so many people who were told by their spiritual advisors that depression and mental illness are signs of insufficient faith–or outright demonic possession–and have suffered with heavy burdens as a result. In the case of my friend, the burden was too much.

    It is the judgments of men who place these burdens, not God. God provides us with the help we need to shoulder the burden He has appointed us. That help may come in the form of medication, or counseling, or both. There is nothing in Scripture that speaks *against* competent medical care! There is a great deal said about placing undue spiritual burdens on people, however.

    It's a lot like the old joke about a man stuck on his roof in a flood: a boat comes by and offers to rescue him. "No, God will deliver me," the man says. The water gets higher and a second boat comes. "No, God will deliver me," he says. Then the water completely engulfs the roof, and he's treading water, and a helicopter drops a rescue line. "No, God will deliver me!"

    The man drowns. In Heaven, he sees God face to face. "God! Why didn't you deliver me?" God looks at him and says, "You fool! I sent you two boats and a helicopter, didn't I?"

    Don't be afraid to take the boat, or the helicopter, if you need to. That's what they're for.

  3. says

    Steve, I can't even respond properly. I simultaneously want to cry and throw up. How heartbreaking. I do, however, totally believe God sends boats and helicopters all the time. We need to take them!

  4. says

    I cannot thank you enough for posting this. As I've talked with family and friends about my depression, the thing that I stress is that the depression tells me lies. I can talk myself "off the edge," by thinking "What would a rational, non-depressed Sarah say/do?" but that's the difference between depression that is managed and not well-managed.

  5. says

    Oh, Sarah, I'm sorry you have to suffer through this as well. If it's any consolation, I'm 44 and my parents are just now beginning to understand. Blessings to you and to all who continue to fight this monster who wants to take over our lives.

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