How Does the Atonement Help With Depression

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
Kipper
Posts: 300
Joined: 27 Aug 2012, 07:45

How Does the Atonement Help With Depression

Post by Kipper » 31 Oct 2021, 08:00

My wife tells me I'm the unhappiest person she knows. She keeps telling me that I need to apply the atonement to change things and that is what it's for. I don't get it. I'm not always depressed but usually quite unhappy and I can point to specifics that make me feel that way. Unhappy with my situation, where I live, the fact that my wife has taken over every part of our existence from what we do with our money to where we go to eat. The church has played a role and my reaction to my negative experience makes me feel less than...and instead of hearing me or reaching out I get the avoiding eye contact etc.

There's lots more to it but my point is how am I supposed to "use/apply the atonement to give me peace". I was given a pamphlet about Christ's Atonement but I don't understand how it applies.

This is a spiral situation that makes me feel worse because I look worse to others around me and that makes me feel worse and so on...why can't people just hear me and help me with specific issues I'm going thru. BTY psychologists just put me on meds and sent me on my way. Sometimes I feel it's the same with church leaders, just fast and pray and come back in a month. Any mention of my negative experience is avoided conversation.

How do I apply the atonement to bring me peace and happiness in place of this downward spiraling, lonely unhappiness? This is not sustainable.

Cnsl1
Posts: 225
Joined: 05 Jan 2009, 01:33

Re: How Does the Atonement Help With Depression

Post by Cnsl1 » 31 Oct 2021, 11:56

Maybe use the atonement to just have faith that God loves you and hopes for you to feel better.

Then maybe look for a therapist skilled in cog behavioral therapy, which based on my understanding of the research in depression, is the better first line intervention rather than meds. Meds can work great, but first step is therapy. Therapist will also look at things like exercise, sleep, diet, sunlight, and social interaction to see how those things might be affecting your depression.

I haven't seen any evidence that praying more, reading scriptures, or going to church is great in the treatment of depression. Anyone who tells you that is speaking anecdotally or hopefully, and is ignorant of the research.

That's my 2 cents

Minyan Man
Posts: 2076
Joined: 15 Sep 2011, 13:40

Re: How Does the Atonement Help With Depression

Post by Minyan Man » 31 Oct 2021, 14:35

First of all, I am not a mental health expert. My question would be: can a person be unhappy without being depressed?
My answer is yes. These are different situations. I personally don't believe that application of the Atonement would help.

This is an overview of what Depression is: https://www.who.int/health-topics/depression#tab=tab_1

I know a member of the church who is clinically depressed, goes to church every week & is still depressed after being
treated for (8) years or more.

Roy
Posts: 6452
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: How Does the Atonement Help With Depression

Post by Roy » 31 Oct 2021, 14:43

I agree with Cnsl1,

The atonement is an amazing story. The God of the universe loves you enough to come and suffer a horrible death in order to overcome suffering, sin, and death for you. He declares with his actions that you are WORTHY of His love.

The atonement can also be a large source of comfort in making changes and not needing to answer for the person you used to be. You have grown and that's not who/what you are anymore.

I also feel that the idea of the atonement can help as a tool to help let go of the pain and resentment from things that have been done against you in the past. It may be comforting to believe that God/Jesus know exactly your pain through the atonement. I personally find some comfort in believing that My god would not dismiss my pain or say that I was somehow selfish or shortsighted or not faithful enough in feeling my pain. My God will cry with me and then, maybe when the tears have subsided, He will help to heal my pains. There also may be some comfort in letting go of grievances - giving them over to God and believing that He will take care of it. I believe that healing from past trauma can only be attempted after boundaries and protections are put in place to prevent reoccurrence. Even then it can take a long time. Nobody should tell you that you shouldn't feel how you feel.

All that being said, It sounds like there is more going on in your life and I am not sure that the atonement would be a panacea (or magic cure all) for those things.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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SilentDawning
Posts: 7388
Joined: 09 May 2010, 19:55

Re: How Does the Atonement Help With Depression

Post by SilentDawning » 02 Nov 2021, 00:57

"How does the atonement help with depression?"

My answer -- it doesn't. It's a great message for inspiring the healthy mind to shed bad character traits, but for someone suffering from depression there isn't a lot of help there. I know, because I tried it. I can't even get myself to feel forgiven for mistakes I've made -- what makes me feel forgiven is my own abstinence from the unChristlike behavior.

What has worked for my own depression is medication. I would suggest that first. Depression, in my view, is biological, and meds help for it...
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

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DarkJedi
Posts: 7569
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: How Does the Atonement Help With Depression

Post by DarkJedi » 02 Nov 2021, 04:55

My first impression as I was reading the original post was you needed to see a therapist. Then I got to the part where you said you had and they gave meds. I am not a psychologist and I didn't sleep at a Holiday Inn but I do work closely with psychologists and psychiatrists. Meds while sometimes necessary and important mask psych symptoms, they don't "cure." Maybe a different therapist? One who doesn't rely as much on meds?

I do find some comfort in the atonement of Jesus Christ - the Christ who heals. But, it is more abstract than that in that I think the majority of the healing will take place after this life. I do believe healing can happen here and now but it doesn't always (or even usually). In my darkest times I find a little comfort in one of my favorite quotes from a church leader. (Joseph Wirthlin, October 2006, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/stu ... e?lang=eng)
I think of how dark that Friday was when Christ was lifted up on the cross.
On that terrible Friday the earth shook and grew dark. Frightful storms lashed at the earth.
Those evil men who sought His life rejoiced. Now that Jesus was no more, surely those who followed Him would disperse. On that day they stood triumphant.
On that day the veil of the temple was rent in twain.
Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Jesus, were both overcome with grief and despair. The superb man they had loved and honored hung lifeless upon the cross.
On that Friday the Apostles were devastated. Jesus, their Savior—the man who had walked on water and raised the dead—was Himself at the mercy of wicked men. They watched helplessly as He was overcome by His enemies.
On that Friday the Savior of mankind was humiliated and bruised, abused and reviled.
It was a Friday filled with devastating, consuming sorrow that gnawed at the souls of those who loved and honored the Son of God.
I think that of all the days since the beginning of this world’s history, that Friday was the darkest.
But the doom of that day did not endure.
The despair did not linger because on Sunday, the resurrected Lord burst the bonds of death. He ascended from the grave and appeared gloriously triumphant as the Savior of all mankind.
And in an instant the eyes that had been filled with ever-flowing tears dried. The lips that had whispered prayers of distress and grief now filled the air with wondrous praise, for Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God, stood before them as the firstfruits of the Resurrection, the proof that death is merely the beginning of a new and wondrous existence.
Each of us will have our own Fridays—those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces. We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again. We will all have our Fridays.
But I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death—Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come.
No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, Sunday will come. In this life or the next, Sunday will come.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

Kipper
Posts: 300
Joined: 27 Aug 2012, 07:45

Re: How Does the Atonement Help With Depression

Post by Kipper » 02 Nov 2021, 05:33

This gives me lots to think about Roy. As with SD's comment it brings up another dark corner "that I can't even get myself to feel forgiven for mistakes I've made" (I am haunted by past decisions and actions) "-- what makes me feel forgiven is my own abstinence from the unChristlike behavior." This could be an atonement application, maybe it is a rope to grab onto to pull me up out of the well if I stay persistent and don't let go.

I have tried to let go of the pain and resentment and letting go of grievances but this is where the church comes in. It's the obstacle I can't get over. It is there every Sunday and every General Conference when I'm faced with the institution who forced themselves on me at a time when I was rebuilding. Of course I let it happen but that's what I was taught to do, be obedient. I know this has stopped my progress but I literally feel like I'm in somebody's house (not God's) who robbed me and they don't care about my loss and I'm supposed to act, no not act, I'm supposed to continue on as if nothing happened. It's made it really hard to trust their words and have faith.

Sorry if I strayed a little, I appreciate the generosity and time you all spent to share your insight. It has been helpful.
Roy wrote:
31 Oct 2021, 14:43
I agree with Cnsl1,

The atonement is an amazing story. The God of the universe loves you enough to come and suffer a horrible death in order to overcome suffering, sin, and death for you. He declares with his actions that you are WORTHY of His love.

The atonement can also be a large source of comfort in making changes and not needing to answer for the person you used to be. You have grown and that's not who/what you are anymore.

I also feel that the idea of the atonement can help as a tool to help let go of the pain and resentment from things that have been done against you in the past. It may be comforting to believe that God/Jesus know exactly your pain through the atonement. I personally find some comfort in believing that My god would not dismiss my pain or say that I was somehow selfish or shortsighted or not faithful enough in feeling my pain. My God will cry with me and then, maybe when the tears have subsided, He will help to heal my pains. There also may be some comfort in letting go of grievances - giving them over to God and believing that He will take care of it. I believe that healing from past trauma can only be attempted after boundaries and protections are put in place to prevent reoccurrence. Even then it can take a long time. Nobody should tell you that you shouldn't feel how you feel.

All that being said, It sounds like there is more going on in your life and I am not sure that the atonement would be a panacea (or magic cure all) for those things.

Kipper
Posts: 300
Joined: 27 Aug 2012, 07:45

Re: How Does the Atonement Help With Depression

Post by Kipper » 02 Nov 2021, 05:39

That's pretty powerful, and hopeful.
DarkJedi wrote:
02 Nov 2021, 04:55
My first impression as I was reading the original post was you needed to see a therapist. Then I got to the part where you said you had and they gave meds. I am not a psychologist and I didn't sleep at a Holiday Inn but I do work closely with psychologists and psychiatrists. Meds while sometimes necessary and important mask psych symptoms, they don't "cure." Maybe a different therapist? One who doesn't rely as much on meds?

I do find some comfort in the atonement of Jesus Christ - the Christ who heals. But, it is more abstract than that in that I think the majority of the healing will take place after this life. I do believe healing can happen here and now but it doesn't always (or even usually). In my darkest times I find a little comfort in one of my favorite quotes from a church leader. (Joseph Wirthlin, October 2006, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/stu ... e?lang=eng)
I think of how dark that Friday was when Christ was lifted up on the cross.
On that terrible Friday the earth shook and grew dark. Frightful storms lashed at the earth.
Those evil men who sought His life rejoiced. Now that Jesus was no more, surely those who followed Him would disperse. On that day they stood triumphant.
On that day the veil of the temple was rent in twain.
Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Jesus, were both overcome with grief and despair. The superb man they had loved and honored hung lifeless upon the cross.
On that Friday the Apostles were devastated. Jesus, their Savior—the man who had walked on water and raised the dead—was Himself at the mercy of wicked men. They watched helplessly as He was overcome by His enemies.
On that Friday the Savior of mankind was humiliated and bruised, abused and reviled.
It was a Friday filled with devastating, consuming sorrow that gnawed at the souls of those who loved and honored the Son of God.
I think that of all the days since the beginning of this world’s history, that Friday was the darkest.
But the doom of that day did not endure.
The despair did not linger because on Sunday, the resurrected Lord burst the bonds of death. He ascended from the grave and appeared gloriously triumphant as the Savior of all mankind.
And in an instant the eyes that had been filled with ever-flowing tears dried. The lips that had whispered prayers of distress and grief now filled the air with wondrous praise, for Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God, stood before them as the firstfruits of the Resurrection, the proof that death is merely the beginning of a new and wondrous existence.
Each of us will have our own Fridays—those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces. We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again. We will all have our Fridays.
But I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death—Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come.
No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, Sunday will come. In this life or the next, Sunday will come.

Roy
Posts: 6452
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: How Does the Atonement Help With Depression

Post by Roy » 02 Nov 2021, 14:16

Kipper wrote:
02 Nov 2021, 05:33
I have tried to let go of the pain and resentment and letting go of grievances but this is where the church comes in. It's the obstacle I can't get over. It is there every Sunday and every General Conference when I'm faced with the institution who forced themselves on me at a time when I was rebuilding. Of course I let it happen but that's what I was taught to do, be obedient. I know this has stopped my progress but I literally feel like I'm in somebody's house (not God's) who robbed me and they don't care about my loss and I'm supposed to act, no not act, I'm supposed to continue on as if nothing happened. It's made it really hard to trust their words and have faith.
For me personally, it has been important to build boundaries with the church. Essentially, I believe the church wants to be a huge priority in my life (so much that I would minimize or cut out other things in order to make more room for it). I do not feel that I can sustainably give the church such a big footprint in my mind and time. One way to go about setting boundaries would just be to say "No" to church. In my situation, I want to stay connected to the organization and "StayLDS." This for me means that I can say "yes" to some things, "no" to other things, and "yes, with the following limitations" to still other things.

I find that "yes, but with the following limitations" can be quite the challenge to maintain. Suppose I say yes to a calling but not to all aspects of the calling. It is likely that people will forget that you said that you couldn't do those aspects and look down on you for leaving them unfulfilled. Old Timer has said, "When they call me, they get me." That is great if you have the self confidence and social capital to make it work.

It is somewhat easier to say a firm yes to some things and a firm no to other things. For example, I do not pay tithing. I do not feel that what I would be willing to give would be seen as acceptable to the church. Why make a gift/donation to the church if I know that it will not be appreciated? For this reason, I have said "no" to tithing. I do go to tithing settlement and declare myself as a non-tithe payer (more info on that if you would like). It does mean that I am made to feel less than and insufficient at least once a year in a church setting.

I do say "yes" to callings/volunteering. I work most Sundays so that forms a pretty hard barrier/limitation on the types of callings that I can accept. DW and I worked in cub scouts for many years before they ended the program. I now serve as the Family History and Temple Leader which really isn't the best fit for me since I do not hold a TR and don't really feel motivated to help/compel others to do vicarious temple ordinances. However, it does not require Sunday attendance so I am willing to give it a shot.
I literally feel like I'm in somebody's house (not God's) who robbed me and they don't care about my loss and I'm supposed to act, no not act, I'm supposed to continue on as if nothing happened.
I believe strongly that before you can begin the journey of healing from trauma caused by another person/organization you must first make it so that the person/org. no longer has the power to cause further trauma. What steps do you feel might be appropriate to prevent a reoccurrence of the trauma you experienced? How can you "get on your own clock" and not feel that the church is overstepping in your life?
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

Kipper
Posts: 300
Joined: 27 Aug 2012, 07:45

Re: How Does the Atonement Help With Depression

Post by Kipper » 02 Nov 2021, 23:31

For me knowing how to set boundaries came too late as I was just becoming reactivated after more than 25 years and was being taught how to be obedient. I also was not aware of this site until after my crisis. I surely didn't know people existed who had a mind of their own. I think I would have just quit the church if not for this community.

I was asked two or three times to be in young men's leadership (scouting, priesthood etc.). I told them I wouldn't be able to do it along with the other things I was working on but they were persistent and I was told everything would work out. It didn't. In fact it was ridiculous to think it could. I had a daily commute of an hour and 20 minutes after work and was at the peak of my continuing education effort with classes at a nearby JC three nights a week. After a couple of months the Scoutmaster quit to pursue his dream in law enforcement and it just became a disaster for me not being able to "magnify" or even dutifully fulfill my calling. I eventually dropped all classes and spent the next five years doing a poor job trying to keep up with activities and meetings along with my work schedule. By the time my son came home from his mission I was wrecked. That's another thing I gave up, my son and I spent lots and lots of time together outdoors while he was growing up - camping, fishing and dirt bike racing. That whole life just vanished along with my financial and emotional investments. I never got any of it back. I became and still am really disenchanted with the institution and see everything and hear everything in a different light now. I am not "all in" and people can sense it and react accordingly. It's a consistent awkward experience that I would rather not deal with but what do you do.

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