PANIC sets in when we first recognise the signs of depression. There’s a hasty revision and reassessment of plans, then we may be relieved; we finally know what’s wrong. But ultimately none of us are relieved we have depression.
If we think of mental illness as our psychological needs not being met, it is appropriate to be depressed or to suffer depression. There will be times — moments, hours, weeks, entire seasons of life for many — where we will be estranged from our psychological needs. There’s nothing more common in life than to feel our needs aren’t being met.
Depression is no weakness to be ashamed of. Though we feel exposed and vulnerable, indeed to the point at times of exposing ourselves and being vulnerable, we ought not to be ashamed. Depression and being depressed is normal. Even having a depressive disorder is relatively common.
Our depression is a story of our grief; that we cannot control an unpredictable world, full of situations that make us vulnerable. Yes, depression is grief, for grief has discovered a challenge too difficult to accept, which is what depression is when we’re overwhelmed. Simply put, our psychological needs are not being met.
Depression is not only about our grief — feeling out of control in an out of control world — it is also God’s grief. God grieves eternally because He created us to have our needs met. He never created us to live empty, lonely, hurt, vulnerable lives. It grieves God when we live life without meaning, hope or purpose.
The closest we have to the concept of how God feels when our needs aren’t met is parenting. Parents all over the world understand exactly how God must feel — well, as exactly as a human being can imagine how God must feel.
Our depression is about our grief, having lost access to the meeting of our psychological needs, and for that, God grieves eternally.