September 7, 2014
I have felt a need to write a little about depression. We have about 6% of our missionaries receiving some kind of help for depression. While missions certainly bring great joy, they also bring tough experiences such as being away from home for the first time, being in a foreign country, not being able to speak a new language, new food that doesn’t always agree with you, little communication with home, and living with someone you may not pick as a friend if you had your way. Missions will exacerbate old behaviors.
There are two types of depression we deal with: 1. Depression caused by a chemical imbalance in your body, 2. Depression caused by sin. We love a talk given by Stephen Robinson called “Healing in His Wings.” Quote: “Grief, despair, guilt, and depression can be caused spiritually by sin. But grief, despair, guilt, and depression can also be caused physically by hormones and by body chemistry. If our depression is caused by sin, no amount of counseling or medication will make it go away. We must repent. But if our depression is caused by our chemistry and by our hormones, no amount of prayer or fasting or faith or scripture study will make it go away. We must seek professional help.” Fortunately for all those missionaries who deal with depression in our mission, we have trained professional help here to guide us.
We have watched those whose depression is caused by sin, gain great relief quickly through the atonement of Jesus Christ. As they learn how to overcome their sins, their countenances change. We see smiles and clear eyes again. We have also watched those whose depression is caused by body chemistry just keep trying and putting their shoulder to the wheel. Medications don’t work overnight – it takes time and patience. Companions make a huge difference in these missionaries. We applaud their courage to wake up and work each day!