I didn’t know if I could be healed of depression
Originally appeared online in the teen series Trending - September 19, 2023.
From the outside, it probably didn’t look like I was depressed. It was the beginning of high school, and I was keeping up with my academics, athletics, and extracurriculars. But my friendships weren’t as strong as they’d been, and I felt like I was having an identity crisis. I was consistently moody and sad, and things seemed to be going downhill.
Depression affected my home life the most. I really needed my family, yet I found myself pushing them away. And I was making decisions that didn’t align with my family values. I was so influenced by the new “friends” I was surrounding myself with that it negatively affected my relationships with the people I cared about the most.
I knew I needed help, and I wanted to feel better. But even figuring out where to start was overwhelming, so my mom suggested I call a Christian Science practitioner to pray for me.
Every time I talked with this practitioner, I cried—mostly because it felt like things weren’t improving. But I also cried because what she shared with me was so loving and comforting, and I wanted to believe what she was saying—that in spite of how I was seeing myself and how I was feeling, I really was a child of God—perfect, complete, and whole.
I embraced the challenge of discovering how I could love myself.
Something else the practitioner was showing me was that if I could love others, I could also love myself, because all love comes from the same source—God, divine Love. That was hard for me. But I really wanted it to be true, so I embraced the challenge of discovering how I could love myself. I read a lot of testimonies about love and mental health in the Christian Science magazines. These brought me comfort because I realized that I wasn’t alone in how I was feeling and that healing is always possible.
At one point, the practitioner asked me to begin keeping a gratitude list. I started with giving gratitude for my loving family, for my education, and for having enough to eat. Then I was able to add more things to the list—a helpful teacher at school, a cross country practice that went well, the leaves on the trees changing colors. But the one thing I still struggled with was feeling grateful for me.
One night, after being in this dark mental place for about six months, I became extremely intoxicated after consuming a significant amount of alcohol. My parents took care of me and called the practitioner who’d been praying for me. This was a turning point. Not only did I make a complete recovery—a huge healing in and of itself—but I realized that my one-foot-in-the-door-one-foot-out-the-door approach to solving this problem wasn’t really working. I wanted to turn completely to prayer for a solution. With this realization, it felt like a weight had lifted off my shoulders.
I did turn wholeheartedly to God, but I still believed that my happiness was situational. I kept thinking and saying, “I’ll be happy when . . .” I thought that the friends I had, the way I looked, and how successful I was determined my happiness and my ability to love myself. But I was beginning to learn that being happy was really about recognizing—and leaning on—God’s all-embracing, ever-present love.
Something that helped me feel I could rely on God during this time was the opening line from Mary Baker Eddy’s book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings” (p. vii). I liked the idea that this pressure I was feeling wasn’t as legitimate as it seemed. I wasn’t on my own. I could turn to God and ask what to do next, and that didn’t have to be a hard process.
In addition to my gratitude journal, I began keeping a list of my God-given, spiritual qualities like patience, love, and intelligence. It became a joy to see the good unfold in my daily life and to recognize all the good I was expressing, too.
As I learned more about my true, spiritual identity, the decisions I did—and didn’t—want to make became clearer, and things naturally began to shift. I stopped hanging out with the people I was trying so hard to fit in with. I learned to be more independent, because I knew that I wasn’t really on my own and that God was guiding me. It also became easier to see that my worth didn’t depend on how I looked or on any outside validation.
It became easier to see that my worth didn’t depend on how I looked or on any outside validation.
I knew I was healed of depression when I was able to see past the darkness, and when instead of crying on the phone with the practitioner, I could share with her all of the positive things going on in my life. My relationships, especially those with my family, grew stronger. And for the first time, I felt I was catching glimpses of what it meant to love myself and to know that God created me.
A couple of months later, I knew I could continue my journey without the practitioner’s close support—something I’d never thought would be possible. It felt like the sun had come out after I’d been in the dark for a long time.
This experience helped me grow spiritually, in both my understanding of God and my appreciation for Christian Science. I learned that when I put my trust in God, I can find healing, even when a situation seems unresolvable.
I’m also grateful for the Christian Science periodicals as a place to go when you don’t know where else to turn. For those moments when you feel so hopeless and lost, reading someone’s healing experience can be the light that leads you forward. I know it was for me.