I am obviously not a psychologist, but to me, Jarena Lee’s experiences mirror the experiences of a lot of my religious family members who have dealt with depression. What first spoke to me was when she was tempted to drown herself after her first interaction with the lord. I was genuinely shocked that someone could feel so strongly about religion, but the idea that she had depression didn’t occur to me until after she got sick, simply from the intensity of her feelings. This is something that I’ve seen happen very often, people falling into physical illness because of the strain depression puts on the body, or simply mistaking the symptoms of depression for illness.
In a way, her thought process is parallel to black churches thoughts on depression in this day. Although I’m not sure she had depression, the idea that her sadness was brought on by the devil in an attempt to sway her away from God is an idea that I have heard many times. Today, the cause of depression in the christian world is usually attributed to a “demon of depression,” or the devil trying to, “get you down.” To me, this idea kind of resonates in the way she speaks about her sadness and illness.
Here’s an article that talks about depression throughout history, and the things that have been thought to cause it.
Here is a video that talks about depression in the black church: