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Depression Help

RH-JesusAtEmptyTomb1

Easter Depression can hit people hard. Religiously, Easter is when Christians remember the death of Jesus. It’s a time to reflect on His sacrifice and what it means to you that He died for your sins. You’re supposed to fast, or at least cut out certain foods. Churches resemble dark tombs with shrouded statues and an empty altar.

I always felt sad at Easter but when I became severely depressed, Easter became a nightmare. My mind was pre-occupied with despair and thoughts about death. Going to church I wanted some message of hope that would lift my spirit. Instead, the message reflected only on Jesus’ suffering and sacrifice. I remember thinking, “What about my suffering? Aren’t I sacrificing myself to a world that doesn’t care about me?”

I know that suffering and sacrifice make up half of what Easter is about. Easter is also about the joy and hope that comes from the empty tomb. But while joy and despair exist together in the human heart, the dichotomy becomes unbalanced when you’re depressed. Depression tunes your thoughts into the suffering and sacrifice part of Easter.

I also hated the guilt trip. My self-esteem was shot and I kept lying to myself about things I had done. I felt guilty about things I should never have felt that way about. Good Friday mass was about Jesus dying for my sins. While I understand what it means theologically, it sucks when you have to feel guilty about someone’s sacrifice year after year. Okay, Jesus died for me. But I wasn’t there. It’s like my grandparents doing something bad and I’m indirectly responsible because I’m their descendent. Inherited guilt isn’t healthy when it’s generations removed.

Collective guilt won’t work on everyone because guilt diffuses. But depression sucks guilt into you, even guilt you know isn’t yours. I got angry that Easter mass tried to make me feel guilty when what I really needed was hope.

One Good Friday mass I attended did focus on the message of hope. The pastor focused on the positive side of death, telling us how grief can turn into joy even when we feel most despairing. Just because you feel horrible when someone you love dies doesn’t mean you won’t ever feel joyful again. Know that joy exists and that it will come to you.

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www.tereziafarkas.com

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