The front-page headline caught my attention: "Brain mapping may guide treatment for depression" (The Boston Globe, Jan. 6).
What intrigued me in this article was the description of a psychological treatment for depression called cognitive behavioral therapy, a "series of lessons that trains patients to recognize their negative thoughts - 'I'm worthless' or 'It's hopeless' - and combat them with facts."
Dr. Zindel Segal, a University of Toronto psychiatry professor, said cognitive therapy helps patients "develop a capacity to talk back to this depressive propaganda."
Facing severe depression several years ago, I found it imperative to combat such thoughts. But I learned to face down the darkness with spiritual facts. Instead of psychological treatment, I chose to rely on Christian Science treatment, a Christian system of healing that includes scientific prayer.
The spiritual facts that I relied on to offset the dark thoughts come from the Bible, especially the first chapter of Genesis, which explains that God made each of us in His own image and likeness. I also turned to the truths in the book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, which shows how to find healing by following Jesus' example and teachings.
I felt bombarded by thoughts such as "I want more money," "I want to be more advanced in my career," and "I feel worthless." Listening to these thoughts made me miserable and often made me want to commit suicide. But I knew from past healings I'd had through turning to God's power that I needed to listen to God, divine Mind, not to these dark, angry thoughts.
Through lots of tears, struggles, and prayer, I began to admit that I couldn't find my way out of darkness on my own; I needed Christ, the saving power of God, to help me turn away from the negative thoughts and to hear what God was saying to me.
Mrs. Eddy described the Christ as "the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness" (Science and Health, page 332).
Many times I acknowledged that Christ was my Savior and was guiding, strengthening, and speaking to me. This helped me find even small evidences of God's presence and goodness to be grateful for - seen in the beauty of a flower, the unwavering care and love of friends, the comfort of my home. Gratitude was lifting the shade of darkness and letting in the light.
I had to let go of willfully insisting that things be the way I wanted them to be and instead let God be in charge of my life and let Him guide me.
As I did this, God showed me that my worth came from Him, from how He made me as His child - good, intelligent, joyful, loving, free to contribute something positive to the world. I stopped measuring and judging myself materially - by the amount of money I earned, where I lived, how advanced my career was. I began to actually feel that God loved me and was satisfied with how He created me. I started to feel more satisfied.
The negative thoughts didn't suddenly vanish, but a breakthrough came when I realized that I had a choice between light and darkness. I could choose dark, willful, angry, impatient thoughts, or I could choose patience, willingness, love, joy, obedience.
This was a battle, but little by little I realized that there wasn't a power forcing me to live in the darkness. I saw that I could let go of dark thoughts because they didn't have power over me.
Mary Baker Eddy wrote: "The substance, Life, intelligence, Truth, and Love, which constitute Deity, are reflected by His creation; and when we subordinate the false testimony of the corporeal senses to the facts of Science, we shall see this true likeness and reflection everywhere" (Science and Health, page 516).
Now I no longer focus on measuring my accomplishments, but on recognizing my worth as God-created, not self-made. The depression, along with the suicidal thoughts, dissolved in the light of humility and obedience to God. I feel joyful and content doing the work God is asking of me, and I no longer feel constantly pressured to achieve more.
Jesus said: "I am the world's Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in" (John 8:12, "The Message," Eugene Peterson). I have found that Christ light. It is God's gift to every one of His children.
A thought from the Bible
I will not leave you comfortless:
I will come to you.