Have you ever become depressed without knowing the reason why? Everyone has, at one time or another.
People often don't know why they feel down. Short-term depression is usually caused by an event or trauma that is upsetting at the time. The death of a spouse, the loss of a job, divorce or an argument can cause feelings of loneliness, failure and despair. Children disappoint parents and vice versa.
There are more causes of depression that you can imagine. Sometimes a chemical imbalance causes depression. If that is the case, one should see a professional counselor or a doctor.
Mildred was unable to sleep. All her sense of joy was gone. She lay in bed, fuming about her husband and some other members of her family. She was unappreciated, she thought. Her husband was nice to most people, dealing with friends and acquaintances, but he was quite different at home. There he allowed his temper to flare and acted controlling. Mildred was indeed angry at him, and other people too, whom she felt took advantage of her.
Mildred became depressed. "What's wrong with me?" she asked herself. Nothing actually has happened to cause me to feel sad." Yet she thought she might need to take a sedative to help alleviate her unhappy frame of mind. Mildred became frightened and concerned with her mental state. She remembered words her mother and grandmother quoted. "Never let the sun go down on your anger."
Being a person who needed definite answers, Mildred searched her Bible. She mostly remembered her mom's warning: "What if he dies during the night. Think how you'll feel knowing you last quarreled or felt anger toward him." Ephesians 4:26-27 states, "Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold."
So not only will remaining angry cause you to become depressed, it leaves the door open for you to sin. Who knows what unkind remarks you may make or what damage you may do to the person with whom you're upset? Characters are destroyed, fights can follow, and other types of violence can result when you're angry.
After reading the Scripture and meditating on her present state of emotional health, Mildred realized anger was the demon causing her depression. Even if what she imagined was true, what good did it do her to dwell on it? She was unlikely to change her husband.
Mildred decided to concentrate on changing herself. She realized that true happiness did not arise from appreciation and thanks anyway. Rather, the key to her happiness was selflessness. The more she gave and helped others, the happier she was -- a main reason for her, usually present, joy and positive attitude.
Mildred recognized that she was hurting her sense of well-being by remaining in a stew. She was tense, felt unloved and miserable. She also felt she was hurting her physical health in addition to her mental health. Her insides swirled and tossed. Her anger was like a cancer. The unproductive part was that no one seemed to care that she was angry because they were unaware of it. She was careful to conceal her feelings, an even worse scenario.
If people did realize her anger, they disagreed they had done anything to offend her. Mildred couldn't think of a way to get even, and even if she could have, she didn't believe in seeking revenge. She had no choice except to forgive, leave her self-made prison and let the fresh air inside. Amazingly, Mildred's depression left immediately. She again chose to radiate feelings of love and forget her imagined or actual unfair treatment.
One can decide to control his thoughts. Everybody occasionally becomes angry, and righteous anger is justified. But when you remain livid you harm yourself far more than those you're angry with. Indeed, anger is lethal.
Ellen Shuck holds degrees in psychology, religious education and spiritual direction and provides spiritual direction to people at her office.