I spent several years being depressed.
I suppose this is not uncommon to say anymore, with the massive number of Americans who are on psychoactive drugs for anxiety and depression. I was on some, for a while, but I quit taking them because I said to myself one day "I will not cheat the pain away with pills." I was enamored, really, with my own feelings. I wanted to feel everything, experience everything that came my way--pleasure, pain, whatever. Chasing the experience was what I wanted.
I wrote bad poetry about the experiences; the sense of loss, of the pain of the soul being forced to live in a modern world, without touchstone or baseline or values. I idealized (and idolized) myth and symbol. I worshiped at the altar of my own clever, creative vanity. And the circumstances of my life were an unending source of misery to me.
When I ask myself if things have changed, I am presented with an interesting conflict of opinion. Certainly many, if not all, of the problems that I have in my life now are exactly like those I had before. My sins, the passions that beset me, they are largely the same. So, what is different? Why am I no longer a morose, depressed person who sees all leading to a hopeless end?
The only answer that presents itself is: the cross.
My shift of perspective, my willing submission to Christ, makes the difference. Sure, I am still a sinner. I am still a passionate man. But I no longer glory in sin, or boast of my passions; I am grieved of them in my meditation. I do not want them anymore--and what a difference that makes. When I stopped wishing that the God of the Ages would just countenance me, and let me be what I want, let me do what I want, that is when the depression went away.
I know, it seems counter intuitive to modern folks. Not getting your own way--or, rather, learning to not want your passions--is the way to overcome depression, anger, and anxiety. Learning to want the will of God, for us to live in chastity and holiness of life, that is how we overcome the hell of our feelings, emotions, and reasonings.
God help me, the Cross has made all the difference.