Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

Several members of the New Direction community face daily battles with depression and other forms of mental illness.  The rejection, marginalization and isolation they often experience as LGBTQ+ Christians can exacerbate these realities.  One of our hopes at New Direction this year is to talk more about mental illness and de-stigmatize it.  Together, we can learn how to best support one another as we pursue mental health.

Mary, who participates in our Mississauga Gathering group, has agreed to let us share a blog post she wrote describing aspects of her journey with depression, and how it relates to her faith.  We’re grateful for her vulnerable, honest, vivid writing, and for this glimpse into her experience.


Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust by Mary Pepper

An excerpt from a journal entry of mine:

May 20, 2013We all experience a bit of death each day. He leaves a bad taste in our mouth and an ache in our heart. These past few months I have tasted death more acutely than ever before. I have felt close to him – felt his hot sticky breath on my skin and his talons gripped around my neck.  Depression is terrible. It is agony of the heart. How are we to live through all this pain? It is devastating and destructive.

Since my depression began, I haven’t written much about matters of faith or religion. That’s not to say matters of faith haven’t been on my mind; they’ve just been a bit too heavy for me to put into words. Living with depression has been an incredibly spiritual experience. For me, the pain and suffering of depression happens at soul-level.

Growing up in a Christian home and attending church regularly meant that words like sin, brokenness, evil, and death were familiar. Usually these words referred to the idea that the world isn’t as it should be. Depression has become a good real-life example of that concept. When I say depression has been a spiritual experience, I mostly mean that depression has taught me so much about death. Not just physical death, but spiritual death. The Bible teaches a lot about death – most religious traditions do. Whether or not you count yourself a religious or spiritual person, I’m betting you’ll recognize that the world has some terrible stuff in it and you wish that stuff would go away.

Isn’t it true that sometimes life just feels really heavy? For me, depression has meant that the heaviness of life is always apparent, often crushing me under its weight. Depression has meant a loss of ambition, vision, mission, desire, and passion. It’s kind of like having a constant existential crisis that has no cause, no solution, and no