Measure of strength.
Thank you to Mariam Williams for her thoughtful and sensitive words about depression (NCR, Dec. 4-17). Unless a person has been afflicted, knows someone who has, or works with psychiatric patients, it is difficult to understand or empathize. It's hard to imagine losing hope--we tend to take this virtue for granted until it disappears or fades.
Though people with depression are viewed as weak or self-absorbed, the truth is very different. It requires a heroic measure of strength and endurance to fight these symptoms while pretending that everything is fine.
A major depressive episode, especially when left untreated, can be frightening and traumatic. The expectation that authentic Christians are cheerful and upbeat all the time is indeed a myth--some of our saints have been depressed and written about it.
Education is welcome, but it's no easy task to talk openly about this issue and no easy task to find words to explain depression from within.