In world that loves being happy - why do I feel depressed? A vulnerable and honest conversation as one woman who has battled depression shares how she found hope amidst the pain and darkness. We confront one of the biggest questions facing Australians today.
Our guest: Angela Cook works as priest in charge at St Augustine’s Moreland Anglican Church in Melbourne’s inner north. She grew up in Taree on the NSW mid-north coast and studied science before working in Christian ministry.
This conversation was recorded in partnership with St Augustine's Anglican Church in Moreland.
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Bigger Questions asked in the conversation
Now Ang, now whilst we’re both based in Melbourne now, we do have a common connection point about places we lived when we were growing up? Taree - the jewel of the NSW mid-north coast! Did you like growing up in Taree?
Today we’re talking with Angela Cook about being happy. So Ang our smaller questions to you are about ‘happy movies and TV shows’. Now are you a fan of happy movies at all?
Happiness in our culture
So Ang, there seem to be a lot of movies about happiness. There are lots of films with ‘Happy’ in the title, yet there are virtually none with Sad or Depressed in the title. Is there something in our culture that we desire happiness?
Do you think our culture expects us to be happy?
Ang’s story of depression?
Whilst there are a lot of so-called happy movies in the world, this is not quite the case for you. Can you share a bit about your struggle?
But Ang, you are an outgoing, extrovert, you have a bubbly personality, you have lots of enthusiasm and love having fun, how could you have depression?
Do you see it as a mask? Is that your way of coping?
So when did you realised you struggled with this?
You went to university, this was a pivotal step for you, wasn’t it?
So you’d been travelling with the expressions of depression for many years, how was it when you got that diagnosis?
But you were a Christian believer, with purpose, you’d even been to Bible college, why didn't that help?
A Suffering saviour - Isaiah 55
There are verses in the Old Testament book of the Bible, Isaiah, which were helpful for you, why is the Bible helpful for you when you suffer from mental illness?
Isaiah 55 starts with the invitation,
“Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!”
This is a call to come to the Lord for satisfaction. When you’re suffering acutely from a mental health issue, do you feel thirsty?
So how does this call from the Lord to the thirsty resonate with you?
Isaiah 55 goes on to say in verses 8-9 says,
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
How did these words help you with your depression?
It says that the thoughts of the Lord are higher than our own thoughts. So is this significant for one with depression to not trust your own thoughts?
These words particularly spoke to you after college when you had a particularly tough time. How did that work?
Isaiah 55 concludes with these two verses in verses 12-13:
You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
for an everlasting sign,
that will endure forever.”
This passage speaks of joy and even some hope of a better future - where juniper and myrtle will grow instead of thorns and briers. As one suffering from depression, do you think that joy and hope are possible?
Is that why are you a Christian?
The Big Question
So Ang, why can’t I be happy?