The preschool Dotter goes to is part of a Baptist church. She gets a dose of religion daily--they read Bible stories, color Bible pictures, sing little kids' religious songs, say "Hi!" to Pastor Steve, and every summer we get Vacation Bible School. While it's not my cup of tea, I have to say that it seems that they're getting a good little dose of edukashun, and a lot of contact with loving people.
As a child, I attended high church Episcopalian services with the paternal grandparents on an irregular basis, went to a religious preschool, and attended "Monday Sunday School" for about a year with my best (Jewish) friend, Reggie. In the end, though, I seem to have turned out fairly okay, so the Baptist preschool is probably not going to chain my child to religion for life.
They have a sign out in the front of the parking lot that changes religious exhortations on a weekly basis. Sometimes it's cute and funny, sometimes it makes me stop and think, sometimes it's a mysterious John 3:22 which makes me pull out the Good Book to see what the heck they're trying to say (sometimes).
This week's mini-homily is "We are blessed to be depressed."
Okay, we know where they're going with this one. Just think, you could be dead, instead! Which is, when you come down to it, true.
But to those who suffer from depression, it's not exactly a feel-good sentiment. "Oh, hey, I know you feel like you've got a black hole in the pit of your stomach, and you feel like it's not worth the effort to get out of bed--but, hey, buck up! You're alive!"
Woohoo! Yes'm, yessir, that'll just kick that ol' depression silliness in the ass! I'll just hop out of bed, dash into the shower, and sing a happy tune!
The subtext, surely, is that if you tuuuuuurrrrrn to JESUS!, your life will be filled with JOY!!!!, the clouds will part, the storms will disappear, the sun will shine, the birds will sing, and you'll find unicorns in the woods. (Okay, maybe not that last one...)
I can't deny that some people do, indeed, find religion and find that it helps them find the strength to claw their way out of depression, misery, loneliness. But there are also people who have had religion in their lives only to find themselves floundering, helpless, when they encounter some life stressor that sends them into a tailspin, and then they have the added stressor of questioning one of their foundational beliefs.
There's a certain subset of folks who when they encounter other people in the midst of a depressing life situation try to cheer them up with platitudes. Lost a leg in a car accident? "Dear, just think--it could have been much worse!" Had a miscarriage? "Oh, it was all for the best, I'm sure!" Waiting for an adoption referral? "The child who was meant for you just isn't ready yet!"
Yes, it's a good idea to look for the good in these situations, otherwise you'll be mired in the muck for a long, long time. But telling someone these things just doesn't help. It's like telling a longtime smoker, "You should quit! Do you know what that's doing to your lungs?!" Well, yes. But until the person dealing with smoking, the lost leg, the miscarriage, waiting for the referral finds within him or herself the ability to hang onto whatever good there is in life (however miniscule it seems at the time), telling that person, in essence, "Buck up!" is kind of poking them in the wound.
"Blessed to be depressed" just doesn't hack it as a psychiatric prescription.
At 11/04/2006 09:19:00 AM, said…