I woke up in a good mood for the first time in a long time today. And so, obviously, I think I should talk about depression.
I’ve actually been thinking about this topic for a long time (like, years) and have talked to my dad about it several times (since he and I both struggle with it). I’m talking about depression and spirituality.
Now, not everyone who reads this will consider themselves “spiritual” or interested in spiritual things like religion and God. But for my homies who go to church regularly, or study scripture daily, or even make the smallest effort to feel the spirit in their lives, I’m talking to you. Especially those of you who also suffer from depression. Feeling the spirit while on medication is hard. Let me explain why.
Antidepressants (and probably other medications meant to help the mind) help balance chemicals in the brain. Depression, for example, occurs when your brain isn’t producing enough serotonin (a chemical released when you feel happy). Serotonin affects more than just your mood; it can affect your memory as well. When you take an antidepressant, it helps balance the chemicals in your brain so that you have normal, functioning levels of chemicals like serotonin and dopamine.
I, myself, have been taking the same antidepressant medication for 7+ years. That’s a long time to be on one medication. And in the last 3ish years I’ve noticed a change. Or, more correctly, a lack of change. I’ll feel my feelings but have zero motivation to do anything about them. If I’m mad, oh well. If I’m happy, oh well. I won’t do anything about it, to change it or sustain it. The medication makes my brain foggy and my memories hard to access. Things I studied in college are gone. People I knew as a child are nameless faces.
Let me be clear though, I’m not a walking vegetable with no feelings or insight. I can still THINK and FEEL. It’s just a lot harder to access those feelings. The medication tends to turn the light off in my brain so that I just coast through life, never changing and never getting better.
Ironically, I think the Spirit works almost like a medicine too. It helps swell certain feelings and shut down others. I find it hard to access the Spirit through the fog of my medication sometimes. That’s partly to do with memory and party to do with motivation. It’s getting harder and harder for me to remember spiritual insights I received as a teenager before I started taking medication, and it’s harder and harder to find the motivation to do things like pray daily or go to the temple.
It’s a daily struggle, that’s for sure. And I’m looking into trying other medications that might bring back my motivation to do things like volunteer, make goals, and attend the temple. But life is all about making sacrifices, trying new things, and being a better person. So if it takes years to get back to that level of spirituality where I can actually access those feelings, then I will never stop trying to get there. Because taking medication to get through my day is important, but having the Spirit with me daily is the ultimate goal.