Hi, I'm new to these forums but I'm delighted to find such interesting discussions.
To give some background: I've dealt with depression since I was a child, along with some anxiety. I'm not medicated but I do everything I can otherwise to treat it - nutritionally, exercise, cognitive therapy. Medications simply have never worked for me.
A common problem among depressed individuals is low self-esteem, as well as an overblown focus on guilt. It's fairly normal to feel really down on yourself even if you have no concrete evidence to back it up and can't finger any particular sins. Related to this, I think, is the tendency to feel disproportionately bad about things that may or may not be real sins (scruples, it is called in the Roman Catholic traditions in which I was brought up).
As I explore Orthodoxy as a catechumen I am discovering the value placed on sorrow over sins, which is not foreign to me coming from the RCC. Yet it's something I've never focused too much on, because when I do, I tend to get very wrapped up in it, become discouraged, and quit. Sometimes it is just too painful to hear my own inner voices telling me I am terrible, and also hearing exterior ones from spiritual sources which seem to agree! I am not worried about getting too discouraged and quitting right now, because I really have nothing to go back to: there is nothing in my non-Orthodox life to attract me, because what I have found here is infinitely better and answers so many of the problems I had (intellectually, spiritually, and in every other way, really). But I do wonder about how you tell the difference between simple sorrow over your sins, and the tendency to become obsessed with your own sinfulness. It's sometimes very hard to believe God forgives me.
Still, I know that saints are characteristically joyful! Without confusing biological ailments (my depression probably is chemical) and spiritual ones, if it is possible, how do you balance feeling sorrow for your sins and feeling joy that God forgives them? Is there anyone else here who has experience with depression and spirituality? (By the way, I have a pretty excellent spiritual father with whom I started talking about this just recently, so I know if I am patient this will probably all soon become clear, but it never hurts to find out all you can, right?) Any recommended reading?