On Sunday, we hold a joint Priesthood/Relief Society meeting during our normal block meeting schedule. The topic for discussion was depression.
This appears to be a growing problem in society and in the LDS community in general. This was the second joint meeting on this topic in our ward. This motivation has come from our local stake and ward leaders, not sure if this came down from Church headquarters.
They talked about the stigma associated with it asking for and finding competent mental health assistance. What was not discussed was the Church's culture that can lead to depression and mental health issues.
I live in an area where the bulk of the people are college educated, upper middle class to wealthy ($400k-$millions per home -- and the new construction just keeps going and going), professionally successful, family oriented, church oriented and community oriented. Most of the women with school-aged children are not gainfully employed in the workforce. They are too busy doing a million other things.
The hidden secret is that LDS women in these areas are stressed out with the demands the LDS and community culture places upon them. The pressure they place on their children to be perfect Mormon kids, to get straight As, to take college-level course in high school, to score scholarship-level on the ACT.
They are leaders in scouting, primary, young women and relief society organizations. Their efforts are are more often geared toward their peers and not to those they are asked to serve. Impressing their peers trumps their efforts associated with those they are actually asked to serve. How many Eagle Scout awards were earned by mothers and not by the scout? How many women have time-consuming callings in the Church at the same time their spouses also have time consuming callings?
They volunteer at schools, PTA and for community programs. They keep immaculate houses. They maintain weedless gardens. They attend religion, genealogy and continuing and higher education classes, some working on advanced degrees.
They support their spouses in their profession. They attend every one of their children's school, sporting, church, etc. events. They try to get in their daily exercise. They sleep 4-6 hours a night.
These women are so busy trying to compete with others in their communities, they really cannot take time to really enjoy life. Vacations -- more tiring than staying home -- are taken to tell others where they went and what they did. (Most of the time the vacation has something to do with Disneyland or some high-priced amusement -- biggest waste of money, human time and culture we have in the USA, IMHO.)
Many of these women have no lives. Their lives are geared 100% toward making sure their children are popular and successful.
These LDS women are truly great women. Overachievers is an understatement. They make things happen. But the cost is that many suffer from depression. It is impossible for every kid to be the top athlete, musician and on the honor role. In their efforts to take top price in mother, wife, community and church leader of the year, they fall short. How do others see them? Inferiority complexes dominate.
The medical community will give out anti-depression medication at the drop of a hat.
The depressed Mormon, more often than not, is a direct relationship to culture in which they live and participate.
Real chemical imbalance, depression and mental health issues do exist. But many are a direct impact of the high-demanding LDS community. That's the dirty little secret that will never be mentioned by the ecclesiastical authorities.
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