Depression, as many of us have reason to know, is typified by sadness. It’s a state most usually marked by despair and imbued with a sense of isolation. The outlook of the depressed is generally bleak, negating the possibility of hope.
Prayer, a state which many might consider a lifeline out of the state of depression, is the state of being in communication with the divine. Far from being sad, bleak, lonely, or hopeless, the state of prayer is often marked by great joy, even ecstasy. Many consider it a touchstone of hope and faith.
Even though one of these states may well be the antidote for the other, it is easy to see how, like oil and water, they could prove difficult to mix. It is also easy to see why it might be difficult for a depressed person to pray.
Getting Off The Ground
To be heard, the depressed person has to take a chance. He has to ‘step up to the mike,’ as it were, an act that for many depressed people might be considered as tantamount to climbing Mt. Everest . Never mind that communication exists as the modus operandi most of us humans use to vent, bond, soothe, create and grow. Its often alien territory to a depressed person, as depression is the innate enemy of expression. Even the name says so.
Burdened by sadness he’s unused to sharing, the depressed person is sorely out of his element when trying to string words together to make sense of his emotions. Yet, while sadness may be anathema to the joy and peace that many associate with prayer, it doesn’t have to be so. Many approach the divine in times of sadness with heavy hearts. Once the depressed person realizes the form of expression his prayer takes is less important than the desire he has to reach out he’s halfway home. Prayer can be like talking to a friend. It is so for many. Moreover, for the depressed individual, unused to communication, any words, even the simplest, will do.
The hurdle of expression, while huge for a depressed person, represents a mere half of the battle. Communication demands its own reward, which is knowing someone heard it.When it comes to prayer that reward hinges on faith, the faith that someone is listening allied with the hope that having heard what was said, the someone will act in some way upon it. Alas, where is the reward in stepping up to the mike if you believe that you’re playing to an empty stadium?
How does an isolated, sad, bereft of hope and faith, in short, a depressed individual, decide to not only share, but share with an entity he can not see or hear? Clearly, a lack of the hallmark faith and hope usual to most regular prayer-offerers qualifies as one of the reasons depressed people find it difficult to pray. And yet, paradoxically, once the depressed person decides he must express himself to someone, or something, expressing himself to an unseen entity may prove one of his easiest decisions.
Generally, there are reasons that the depressed person has learned to hold onto his feelings. Odds are he has experienced harsh judgement, or dismissive comments. Sharing one’s thoughts via pray with the divine entails none of these possibilities. The divine does not interrupt, criticize, or rush to snap judgements.
As for the hope that having heard the prayer, in whatever form it takes, the divine will act upon it, time can only tell. However, the mere act of expressing long repressed emotions should prove immensely satisfying to the depressed individual. Millions of therapists the world over count on this effect. However, and with no desire to mitigate the wondrous effects of prayer, or therapy , the price of prayer is more within the budget for most depressed persons. Consider it one of the incentives.