As some of y'all know, I have some issues with depression/Generalized Anxiety Disorder. It started when I was very young, around age 10 or earlier. Over the years I've tried a large assortment of therapies and drugs, and currently it's pretty well controlled with Effexor and having set up a system of accountability (so I don't try to duck/ignore anything that makes me anxious, a 'solution' which of course causes more problems than it solves).
Still, there are times when stress is high and it kicks in, and I have to change or increase medications or add some talk therapy for a while. When that occurs ... I cut down or completely cut OUT doing deep spiritual work.
You may be asking 'why' - why would Fern 'turn from the Gods' when she seems to need them the most?
Well, I don't turn from the Gods - I still talk with them (and they get their messages across to me). Same with the nature spirits, and the ancestors. And I still meditate, since that helps (as does exercise, for that matter) But I do respect the intertwining of body/mind/spirit. And I've found that it's best to work with one variable at a time.
J. H. Brennan wrote about this in the introduction to Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki's WONDERFUL book "The Ritual Magick Workbook". He talks of having nervous breakdowns after starting his occult studies, and goes into why esoteric training easily and often increases depression to such an extent that it will push you over the edge. The short reason is that MOST spiritual/occult things you do - in any system - are DESIGNED to influence all of your energy systems. And all of your energy systems (physical, mental, spiritual, chi, endocrine, emotional, sympathetic and parasympathetic, kundalini, etc - ALL OF THEM ) interact in ways that are intricate and powerful.
So, the last time this happened ... probably not coincidentally while the coven I'm in was doing a year of Kabalistic workings (and I was prepping the working on Binah, for goodness sake!) .... I took a leave of absence from the coven I'm in that allowed me to have space to adjust drugs/therapy without the added variable of continuing the Kabalistic (and other) coven work. I felt it would be detrimental to MY mental health to continue at that time, and unfair for me to burden my High Priestess with mediating any effects my out of control spiritual/occult energies could have on the coven's Group Mind. (For the record, I'm SURE she could have handled doing that!)
And I bring this up now .... why?
I'm so glad you asked that! I bring this up because lately I've seen a whole lot of folks who have depression or other emotional and mental challenges who really really want to work on their spiritual development ... whose depression or mental illnesses are not currently under any control at all. And I'm scared for them. These paths we walk are dangerous even for those who aren't pre-disposed, and for those who are pre-disposed but controlled and aware of the dangers and early warning signs of trouble. For those whose mental/emotional issues are NOT in control - on this path lies madness.
Literally. Madness. Dousing yourself with gasoline and jumping into bonfire madness. Not peace. Not initiation. Not MORE control, but LESS control.
Stop. Don't do it. Don't do energy work. Don't do trance work. Don't do Pathworkings. Don't attend 'transformative workshops'. Don't attend Pagan festivals, where folks get ungrounded as it is from all the energy darting about.
Pray, yes. Talk with the Gods. Make offerings. Honor the cycles of nature. Attend generic public rituals. Stay grounded with exercise, good food, good air, talking with real counselors, try on the appropriate prescribed drugs.