Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straightforward pathway had been lost.
Ah me! how hard a thing it is to say
What was this forest savage, rough, and stern,
Which in the very thought renews the fear.
– Dante Alighieri, Inferno
I have a question, but I’ve yet to find anyone who can actually answer it for me.
Years ago, I went to my (then) primary care physician. During my check-up, we talked about random things – sports, the weather, etc. – and I honestly never gave much thought to it. At the end of the visit, she gave me the usual spiel: “I’ll contact you when your test results come back,” and “You really should look into doing more exercise,” but then added something that’s bothered me a lot:
“Based on our conversation, you seem to be dealing with depression. You should see someone about that.”
She wasn’t the first person to say that to me, nor has she been the last.
I’ve discussed this with friends and family, mainly because I’m used to getting various viewpoints before making a decision. That’s a huge problem for me – pulling the trigger on something based solely on my own understanding of things. I’m a well-educated person with a decent share of real-life experiences, yet I am constantly afraid I will commit and error that will negatively affect me or leave me a laughing-stock. It is difficult, painful, and frankly, embarrassing, to not be able to make a decision without asking for advice.
But I digress.
The consensus was that my physician was wrong – not because she had misdiagnosed me, but because depression doesn’t exist. These people (in summary) stated that “depression” was something created by the medical field to take advantage of the “weak-minded,” as a way to generate more income. That it was a way to push various toxins (i.e., drugs) onto an unsuspecting populace, and that the only result from all of this was self-destruction.
Worse, they continued, the idea of this type of mental health care was – at its core – anti-Christian. By embracing the idea of depression, one was in effect pushing God away and opting to rely on man-made “science.” Because this “science” saw Man as possessing independent self-determinism, rather than promoting a fellowship with God, it was to be avoided at all costs.
“Trust God, not Man,” they said.
This mindset baffles me because I see this as being rather myopic. Is not a priest or pastor a counselor? Don’t they provide therapeutic advice to those who seek them out? I mean, what’s the difference – other than where they’re employed?
I remember a discussion from a class I’d taken (far too many moons ago to count), where the topic centered on “God-made versus Man-made.” When one person stressed that everyday items were “Man-made,” another stated that he was in error.
“So you mean to tell me that God made that trash can?” the first student asked, incredulously.
“Technically,” came the response, “yes.”
There were some giggles and what-not, but the second student continued.
“If you believe that God made Man, then you have to believe that He gave us our intelligence. God put it in the mind of that inventor to create that trash can, and since we cannot accomplish anything without His help, that means God had to have helped construct that can. Ergo, that trash can is God-Made.”
Now, I know that argument can be taken numerous ways: Using this logic, one can blame God for any type of social ill or destructive tool imaginable. For the idea of hate and poverty, just as easily as love and justice. It’s a rather interesting argument that seems to have few limitations in its scope, and yet . . . I don’t know if it answers my personal question –
Namely, is pursuing a medical solution to a potential problem anti-religious? Does partaking in therapy put one at odds with God? You can argue that God created the person who becomes a therapist, gives them the intellect to purse the field, and the ability to endure the necessary training. With that logic, isn’t therapy (at least in concept) compatible with faith?
I get that a therapist is only human, and as such, he or she brings the same types of baggage – biases, prejudices, fears, etc. – to their profession that we each bring to our own. It’s not outside the realm of possibility to engage a therapist who rejects religious belief – some rather emphatically – but it is equally not beyond that realm to find one who is not only has a relationship with God, but embraces it as a part of their practice.
My problem is that I’m starting to feel that I need help. I need guidance. I need someone to help lead me out from the forest of my life and into the open meadow. I need my own Virgil to set me back on the straight and narrow, because honestly, I’m not doing something right.
See, here I am again, seeking the advice of a collective, rather than making my own decision. But I’m willing to admit that I’m not a particularly wise person and outside advice often helps me see reason and the path I’d best follow. Perhaps I should be more firm in my own beliefs – to decide something on my own. Maybe this is another thing to work on in 2019 . . . don’t you think?