Hi Steven Liszewski, I agree that the theories sound a bit like a stretch, and isolated findings from the Miller group might seem ridiculous. At times I felt like I was grasping for straws, and harsh feedback from a few friends (many of which suffer from depression and take medication for it). But I quickly realized they read the headline and not the full article. The truth is we will never know the incidences of depression before mental healthcare and writing came about. And we never will.
But undeniably the present narrative of depression is oversimplified into something inherently bad that you have to fight to get over, that has no potential for good. This article and these findings do not deny that people in the throes and midst of depression are suffering, and that it is an ordeal for so many that has damaging implications.
And a long time ago I would have agreed that there was nothing good that would come of it. But the narrative that we’re depressed and there’s something wrong with us (a chemical imbalance of serotonin) is just as damaging as the depression itself. If you’re hating yourself because you feel depressed, I don’t see how that helps. I used to beat myself up for being depressing all the time instead of accepting it, looking for any kind of magic that could “fix” me.
It wasn’t until I found faith that the idea that suffering is used for good came to me, and that it wasn’t wrong to suffer. Holding these ideas have liberated me in my personal fight against depression, knowing that it will all make me better and for good, and that’s something I don’t feel like people hear enough. Yes, they hear things like “it’ll get better” and “it’s just temporary” but what then? What are you left with? I genuinely believe I have become a far better person, kinder and deeply more empathetic and understanding due to my personal struggles with anxiety and depression, and, as Romans 5:3–5 tells us, “we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame.”
Perhaps the idea that depression and suffering can be for good and adaptive is one much more ancient and core to our beliefs than even academia and our mental health discourse would dare admit.
Thanks for getting me to think on these things, Steven.