Karin Colliander, Clinical Psychologist
The days in Sweden are getting colder and shorter and the colors in the forest behind our house are changing, from a lush green to yellow, orange, and red. Nature is preparing for a change and for a period of rest and slumber before the spring will awake everything with its energy and warmth again in about six months’ time. Autumn is my favorite time of the year and I think that one reason for that is its promise of rest and calmness. The afternoons are starting to get dark already around 6 p.m. and on my evening walks I can see lights in almost all windows, the Swedish people´s way to oppose the darkness and allow the light into our homes.
To suffer from depression or anxiety is often described as living in darkness. During my almost 20 years as a Clinical Psychologist, I have met many young people (mainly parents with infants) who have suffered from depression and/or anxiety. When I think about them and their (often very different) ways back to a life without the darkness of their illness, two things stand out:
Something happens when they start to share their feelings with someone. Just knowing that you are not alone, helps.
Our physical and mental health are connected. Depression and anxiety are often associated with physical symptoms like headaches, tension, fatigue etcetera. Take all physical symptoms seriously and talk to your doctor about them, but be aware that they may be your body´s way of telling you that you need to share your psychological symptoms with someone and ask for help regarding them as well.
The Bible says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it”. No matter the darkness you may feel inside at the moment, no matter how dark the months ahead seem, there is a light that will overcome all darkness. I know that it may be hard for you to believe in that right now, but you can rest assured in the knowledge that the light – Jesus – exists no matter the strength of your faith. My husband is a leader of our local scout group, and last week after they had said the “scout prayer” one of the girls in his squad said, “But, I don´t believe in God”. My husband answered, “It's ok, God believes in you”.
The next time you see a tree with all the autumn colours or when you realize that you need to switch on the lights in your house earlier than last week because of the darker evenings, remember that God believes in you and is walking just next to you, no matter how small your faith may seem, and that he has promised that “the light will overcome darkness”, both in nature and in your life. Remember also that God can work through people around you to help you on your way out of depression, so talk to a friend, a doctor, a psychologist, or someone else that you trust. Look for a “Hope in depression course”, online or (post corona….) in a church close to where you live. God believes in you and his light will overcome the darkness.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger please call 999.
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts reach out to the Samaritans at:
or call 116 123.