FREED FROM DEPRESSION
About seven years ago, I became gripped by an overwhelming self-consciousness and fear. I was almost constantly afraid of making mistakes. I felt a great pressure to be "perfect" all the time, and that this "perfection" was my responsibility. It was a terrifying burden to be constantly comparing myself to a standard of human flawlessness, and I lived in fear of not measuring up. The fear left me feeling depressed and trapped.
After a while, I called a Christian Science practitioner and asked her to pray for me. Part of our prayer was about correctly identifying me as the reflection of God. She and I both knew that there was no bad or guilty self connected to me as God's reflection. Still, I felt as though I was constantly under attack.
Months went by, and I thought of little except my desire to be healed. I could not see a way out of this depressed state, yet I knew with unshakeable conviction that there is nothing that can't be healed by God. At times I felt so weighed down by what I thought was my responsibility to be perfect that I knew it was only the promise of healing that allowed me to see any worth in living.
Through it all, the practitioner continued praying with me. I called her many times from social engagements or at work, at my wits' end and feeling utterly beaten. Though I felt horrible all the time, it was clear that I had only two options—give up and live my life lost and depressed, or rebel against the horror and commit myself to seeing past fear to spiritual truth. My choice was obvious. During those months, I became much better acquainted with the Bible, and with Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. I realized with some amazement that my answers were in those two books.
The practitioner and I worked together over a few years. As time passed, I had to admit that progress was taking place. It was if I had left on a trip and there were miles and miles of rugged, difficult terrain ahead, but I could clearly see that I had put some difficult miles behind me as well. It began to dawn on me that I was being healed.
Yet I still felt clouded with angry thoughts and ugly feelings. I could see that my life was illustrating what Mary Baker Eddy referred to as Chemicalization, or "the upheaval produced when immortal Truth is destroying erroneous mortal belief." Her explanation continues, "Mental chemicalization brings sin and sickness to the surface, forcing impurities to pass away ..." (Science and Health, p. 401 ).
Even though I knew healing was going on, I continued having thoughts and feelings more violent and awful than I'd ever imagined I could have. I realized I was terrified because I was accepting these thoughts as my own. But how could I, the creation of the God who is Love, be a home to anger, bitterness, and fury? This insight began to revolutionize my concept of myself. I realized that I could separate these thoughts from myself and know that they were only devilish suggestions trying to distract me from God's goodness. My powerful prayer was to know them as nothing, and move on toward living a wholesome life.
I often wondered, "Who will I be when I am free from all this?" The practitioner exhorted me to have faith in my ongoing transformation. It often took strength and persistence beyond what I thought I had, but ultimately I found that I could do it. I could look forward to emerging from this experience a better man.
One morning as I was getting ready to go to work, a thought came to me that eventually led me to freedom. I had not had time to read the Bible and pray as I usually did, so as I walked out the door, I simply prayed, "God, protect me today. I need to live my life." Over the next weeks, I began to treasure the meaning of that prayer. It was a great shift to really trust God with my life. Trusting Him took my attention off the fear, and let me live life "to the hilt," as the practitioner often encouraged me to do. Instead of trying to do things "right," I began to concentrate on living with inspiration. It was like learning to fly. As the false supports fell away, I felt lifted up little by little on the wings of fresh inspiration. Sometimes it was something as simple as asking, "Does God love me?"—and immediately knowing, "Yes! He does."
With each trusting step, I began to see that the responsibility to be perfect was not really mine but God's. We only have to mirror God's perfection. Little by little, there were moments when I was honestly glad to be alive. Then those moments began to string themselves together. New people, jobs, and opportunities came into my life. I found that at each step of the way I had a choice between self-pity and knowing myself as God's incredibly worthy child. I got better and better at making the right choice.
The healing didn't end with just finally feeling normal. I also began to see that I had opportunities to help others who were feeling badly, to be generous—to defy fears about my own situations by giving to others. I treasured the idea that I was not a patient, but a healer. With this understanding, I was truly mentally and spiritually free!
I gained oceans of spiritual treasure in those hard years, but one of the most beautiful convictions was that the life that God gives is not just tolerable, it is wonderful! Having come through this challenge, I now feel like a soldier girded with spiritual weapons. There's not a vestige of depression left in me, and moreover, I know I can never again have something that God never gave me. I have a self-control that I never guessed was possible. God has made me "a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (II Cor. 5:17 ).
Through it all, and with deep and humble thanks, I've gained a joyful peace with God and myself. Perfection—God's work—is done, and it is my joy to live and explore the Father-Mother's creation.
JAMAICA PLAIN, MASSACHUSETTS