I Really Hate Depression, But it Has an Upside

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Photo: Todd Diemer

I Really Hate Depression, But it Has an Upside


Here comes a personal post.

I’ve been going through a tough time. You might say I’ve been in a mild depression.

I’ve written about my depression in the past. In case you were wondering, it still shows up and kicks my butt sometimes. It’s like a really difficult friend who shows up in town unannounced, before you realize he’s there, he’s crashing on your couch.

I feel I am on the upswing now, which is why I am able to write about it.

Depression is much like a thief. It shows up in your life and it just takes. It takes your energy; it takes your personality; it takes your hope. It just takes and takes and takes!

In the foreword to The Catholic Guide to Depression (recommended!), J. David Franks puts it poignantly:

“To be depressed is to be a wound open to the stinging air of reality."

In truth I can say, I hate depression and what it does to me.

But as bad as depression is, it does have its silver lining. You can’t see it so well when you’ve in it but it is there.

As crazy as it sounds to associate benefits with depression, I’d like to share with you 6 aspects that I’ve come to embrace.

1) Depression lets others show compassion for you

Sure we pray that we might seek to love more than to be loved. But sometimes we are more on the receiving side, and that’s more than ok.

I count myself deeply blessed by my wife, who steps up her heroic charity when I am experiencing depression. She reminds me in action that she doesn’t love me for my strength, talents or accomplishments. She loves me in my weakness, and I love her for that.

By the way, you can read her take on supporting a spouse with mental illness here.

As well, in messages of encouragement and prayers from friends I see their compassion and love. It’s a good reminder that I don’t achieve or earn the love of others. Like God’s love, it is a gift.

As St. John Paul said in Toronto: “We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father’s love for us.”

2) Depression lets others who are struggling relate to you

I wouldn’t have imagined how many people could relate to my struggle until I went public about my depression. Since then I have had many people reach out to me to share their challenges. I feel grateful to offer a word of support, sometimes offer advice, and to include them in my prayers.

If you share your struggles, you may find that they allow someone else to open up to you.

3) Depression reminds you that you aren’t the one who’s calling all the shots

Believe it or not, I am susceptible to pride like anyone else. When things are going good, I can tend to take too much credit for it. Maybe I feel, “Hey, I’m a big deal!"

Depression grinds all that to a halt and reminds me of my frailty. It brings to the forefront my powerlessness. And, in some ways, that’s a useful thing.

Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa says that “our very weakness itself may be a privileged occasion for us to experience the power of the Spirit. Every single thing, in the life of the Church or in the life of an individual believer, takes its power from the Spirit, or is without any power whatsoever."

4) Depression can be a time for conversion

I’ve heard so many conversions came about when someone was physically injured (cf. St. Ignatius). It’s strange how that kind of challenge takes us off our feet and gets us reevaluating what is the driving force of our life. And in that time, we open up a door and let God in.

Depression is to me like a recurrent injury. It knocks me off of my feet a bit and reminds me vividly that I need a saviour just like everyone else.

Depression is to me like a recurrent injury. It knocks me off of my feet a bit and reminds me I need a saviour.

I hope it brings me to greater conversion.

5) Depression enables redemptive suffering

God has ordered it such that our suffering can have a redemptive aspect. Again from the introduction to The Catholic Guide to Depression:

“In Christianity, suffering not only calls for hope of future deliverance; suffering actually becomes redemptive. The Christian’s suffering takes on meaning when it is united to the redemptive suffering of Jesus Christ on the Cross."

In other words, as he invited us to, we pick up our cross and follow him (cf. Matt 16:24; Luke 9:23).

Is there anyone, on a special intention that you can offer your suffering for? 

6) Depression can be a seedbed where faith takes root

I take great encouragement in this excerpt from the foreword to Catholic Guide to Depression:

“To trust the Father even when all light is extinguished; all signs of his presence are gone: this is Christian faith, and that faith- mysteriously- hopes and loves without limit."

You know where good things really grow? In manure. When depression makes you feel like everything is going to crap, remember that.


Am I grateful for my depression? It’s hard to be grateful in the moment. It’s like saying “Am I grateful that my house is flooded?” Well, no. It’s really inconvenient that my house is flooded. I want the water to be drained, I want my furniture repaired, I want it to be like it was before.

But when loved ones help me and share their own struggles; and when I am reminded of God’s provision for me and deepen my reliance on him; and when I reevaluate the importance of the damaged things… then I can maybe say, “Yes, I’m grateful for the flood."

Because I have seen how God draws good out of our suffering.

Question: Is there any silver lining that you've seen in your depression? Please share. 

You may also like: How Being Tested by Depression Brought Growth

Crazy as it sounds to associate benefits with depression, here are 6 that I’ve come to embrace. — Josh Canning

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