Soul Surfer

Last weekend my daughter asked me to take her to the movie Soul Surfer. I was a little wary of the religious aspects of it since she’s still working through her own beliefs, but it wasn’t a bad movie for a 14-year-old girl working through depression regardless of religion. The story of determination and hope outshines any messages of faith it had so I think it’s a decently positive movie for nonbelievers as well. The times they touched on religious belief may be comforting for believers and eye rolling for nonbelievers, but for this nonbeliever they didn’t try too hard with the attempts to associate real world events and human strength to a godly purpose. I think it’s a story about believers without necessarily trying to spread belief. I know I would have hated watching this movie for myself but maybe I’m less critical because I did it for my daughter.

If you don’t know it, it’s a movie based on a true story about a surfer that survived a shark attack but lost an arm. The family rightfully thanked the friend’s dad for what he did to save Bethany more than they thanked their God for saving her. It saddens me when believers give all of the credit to the supernatural and don’t give any credit to the efforts right here on Earth. If you’re going to believe in gods then I still expect you to acknowledge the efforts of humanity since I’ve never seen the gods work without our “help.” Even when it comes to the inevitable question of “why bad things happen to good people?” the answer is the same as you’d get from any human with or without religion. Sometimes things just happen and there is no reason we know for it. They try to suggest that there was tie to an unknown purpose and possibly that was to serve as an inspiration to others. However, the inspiration we can get from Bethany’s strength is for anyone to be inspired by without or without gods.

It was the challenges faced by Bethany and how she dealt with them and overcame them that was the topic of discussion for us. We talked about depression being my daughter’s shark or maybe even her arm loss. We talked about how something that seems so hopeless and terrible at the time can be overcome and there really is a reason to continue living and continue working to be better than our current conditions. We talked about how Bethany and my daughter both have help along the way to survive but ultimately it was Bethany’s strength, determination, and desire to do more and better that made her the better person she has become. Not once did our talk bring up god, religion, or anything supernatural because it wasn’t necessary for the conversation. Not everyone needs such things to give them hope. My daughter felt a little hope and a little happiness to see a fellow teenager girl overcome and triumph. It was a good moment and I hope things like this can provide some amount of help while we work through overcoming her depression. The movie may not have touched my “soul” but it was a nice moment with my daughter that through her it touched my heart. I wish for Bethany’s strength for my own daughter and anyone else that needs it.

Depression

I haven’t posted in a while and the reason is depression. It’s not really about me even though I haven’t been feeling as mentally well myself because of this. Our teenage daughter has been diagnosed with clinical depression. You may think of depression as just a feeling but it’s an actual medical condition where your own body and mind is working against you. “True clinical depression is a mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with everyday life for a long period of time. The exact cause of depression is not known. Many researchers believe it is caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, which may be hereditary or caused by events in a person’s life. “ Major Depression from NIH

The situation has been getting worse and worse with raging hormones and the move to high school as some personal life events that could be impacting her. However, she’s described it as a feeling of deep sadness that can’t be shaken no matter how good or bad life is going. It’s such a sadness that caused her to think terrible thoughts and engage in self harm which could have had a disastrous ending. She’s also been hospitalized and is working with various medications to help her with this disorder. This is an ongoing issue but we’re hopefully done with the self harm and risk of suicide. I know it has only been the fact that her mother and I have been watching over her and intervening in her activities is the reason why she is still with us today. I implore any of you parents that are dealing with similar situations to read up on depression and get your loved ones actual help from medical professionals if it’s so serious that they need that.

Since this is an agnostic blog I will get to that tie-in now. Earlier in the dealings with this problem our daughter started to try all sorts of things to feel better. One of her best friends is very active in her Methodist church and invited our daughter along so they could spend more time together. Our daughter ended up joining the church and now considers herself a Christian with a healthy amount of skepticism as she tries out belief. She enjoyed the youth activities at the church even if many things were confusing to her as a former nonbeliever. We didn’t agree with religion as an answer but we didn’t criticize or talk negative in any way about it since it was a choice she was making to use it as another tool to help herself. I do believe the social aspects of church are healthy and useful to many people regardless of the truth of religion itself, but like everything else she was trying it didn’t help her depression and she continued suffering until it turned into self harm and other issues that forced us to seek medical help.