Preparing for Lent: Consider the possibility of giving up depression


February 25th — 7th Email

I have a friend who, although not clinically depressed has suffered as many of us do from an inclination towards a feeling state of depression.  One year I asked her how she planned on keeping Lent and we shared a little laugh when she said she was giving up depression.*  When I asked her after Lent was over how it had gone she said, “pretty good actually.” 

In her case this simply meant paying attention to the times in which she felt herself moving towards a dark place of feeling helpless or blue or bad about herself and then calling to mind her Lenten intention.  When she succeeded in doing this, she would look for some small way to change the path on which she was headed:  talk to a friend, go for a walk, or simply re-focus her thoughts in a more positive direction such as gratitude.

By simply cultivating a greater awareness of the times she experienced herself beginning to be sucked into depression and choosing even in small ways to try and redirect her focus, she found herself less frequently taken captive by depression.

This is wonderful example of what it means to broaden our freedom.

One way to counteract the pull of depression is to intentionally practice gratitude.  Here is a concrete suggestion for a positive way to spend the season of Lent:  each day (or perhaps once a week) send a card or an email to someone and express your gratitude for having them in your life.

*Please take note that in the case of a person suffering from serious clinical depression the suggestion that one might “give up depression for Lent” would likely be an unhelpful, even harmful.  In such a case reaching out for professional medical care would be the most important  first step to take.