Anxiety is what happens when we place our faith in fear. Depression is what happens when we place our doubt in love. And these two walk hand in hand.
What would cause me to think and say such a thing?
Anxiety and Depression come in all types and sizes. To suggest any kind of “one size fits all” here is more than a bit disingenuous. But, I’ll invite you to read on anyhow.
In my new book, “Love’s Resurrection: its power to roll away fear’s heaviest stone,” I assert that there are two primary forces working in conflict within the human mind. One is fear and the other love. I also contend that facing future uncertainty is universally met with faith that is based upon past experiences of fear and love. Everyone who believes there will be a tomorrow lives with faith. Those deeply frightened by past traumatic stressors find it natural to have faith in fear where tomorrow’s uncertainties are concerned. Their faith in fear produces some level of anxiety in mind and body. So I can probably connect the dots between past trauma and future anxiety with at least that much rationale.
But where does this notion of Depression being our doubt in love come from? Why would I even think to go there?
Traumatic stress triggers both faith and doubt, I believe. Only in reverse order to what had been before, which is why it is called trauma. Whether we experience a life-threatening incident ourselves, or in relation to a loved one, we entertain doubts where faith once proudly stood. We wonder if love will really last forever. The biblical promise of I Cor. 13:8 that “love never ends” begins to seem “too good to be true.” Faith in love’s fairness and future assurance gets lost in the mess of traumatic stress. Doubt begins to take over and create what I then call a faith vacuum where the future is concerned. Rather than despairing about our future uncertainties without any faith at all, we defensively develop a faith in fear itself. This takes over in our minds where doubt in love leaves off. Out of our Depression comes new Anxiety.
Clinically, when our Depressed mood turns into feelings of profound fear and anxiety, we may use the term Major Depressive Disorder to diagnose what is happening in our minds. We may notice changes in our minds. Or, if not, we may experience Major Depression as a bodily change replete with jitters, hyperventilation, or other panicky sensations in our bodies. Not to mention utter fatigue, or a drained feeling of emptiness in either mind or body.
Treating such misery as is found in our experiences of Anxiety and Depression is not easy, though it is simple. Simply producing more doubt in fear and more faith in love accounts for successful outcomes. But that’s never easy. Possible, yes. Easy? No way.
Many people look for a pill to swallow that might magically cure us. Not that easy, as a rule. Rather, what works with or often without any pill is something called “cognitive behavioral” therapy, where we learn to assess our fears in line with the facts. This helps us challenge our old faith in fear’s story for our future. We begin to doubt that our past traumatic events had the power to kill love in our lives. We begin to see that love still remains alive. And we go on to doubt that fear of tomorrow’s uncertainties will have the power to kill love in the future. From these doubts in fear’s ability to destroy us past, present, future, we begin to regain our sense of faith in love. Our future can now be restored or re-storied from one of fear to one of love. Anxiety and Depression can be most effectively treated and relieved in this way.
So why am I bringing up this topic now?
Because tomorrow’s US election day is filled with uncertain outcomes, whether in the short or long range future. And many of our friends and neighbors are anxious. They fear the worst, especially if they experienced the worst possible outcome in a past election. In the run-up to tomorrow’s actual count, which could extend into days in some places, there are people on both sides of the partisan divide who are afraid of America’s future. Their faith is in fear. And, regardless of the count, some will then find themselves doubting in love’s certainty against a backdrop of our national uncertainties.
If you are one of the many who are feeling anxious about tomorrow’s election results, here are some questions you might ask yourself yet today or tonight before going to sleep. If the worst possible results should happen to occur, how will you be personally affected? Will you be afraid to go on living? Will fear have the power to stop you from loving or being loved? Will fear have the power to control your thoughts every day? Will it have the power to stop you from helping and influencing your close friends or even unknown strangers? What can love help you do in the future that fear may try stopping you from doing? When love and fear have their future arguments inside your own mind after this election, which side will you take? How will that make a difference in your future regardless of this election?
You see, in a very real sense every day is election day in our world. Everybody is voting one way or the other inside their own minds. Some will take sides with fear against love. They will place their faith in fear, and their doubt in love. Some will instead vote for love against fear. But life is one grand election and we get to vote again each new day. Every day is election day.
Tomorrow’s results are no more certain than the next day’s or the day after that. Uncertainty demands faith. And doubt. Those are givens. But the best given of all is that we can choose between the truth of certain love and the lie of uncertain fear. And in that sense, our own preferred side can win every future election.