It was six years ago yesterday that Stephen Fry wrote a now famous letter to a fan on the subject of depression. You can read the whole thing here.
In the letter he likens depression to the weather:
Here are some obvious things about the weather:
You can't change it by wishing it away.
If it's dark and rainy it really is dark and rainy and you can't alter it.
It might be dark and rainy for two weeks in a row.
It will be sunny one day.
It isn't under one's control as to when the sun comes out, but come out it will.
It really is the same with one's moods, I think. The wrong approach is to believe that they are illusions. They are real. Depression, anxiety, listlessness - these are as real as the weather - AND EQUALLY NOT UNDER ONE'S CONTROL. Not one's fault.
They will pass: they really will.
Spoken like a true believer! Indeed, spoken like the Christian author Tolkien: "it's only a passing thing this shadow, even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines it'll shine out the clearer."
But Fry isn't a Christian and he doesn't believe that "this shadow" is a passing thing at all. If Fry was consistent he'd say,
'The sun will come out and then go back in, and then explode and consume the earth in a terrifying fireball. None of this is under your control. But everything will, most certainly, get worse.
All the best,
I really like Fry's letter. I think it was wonderfully thoughtful and very helpful. Be he has a choice. He can have his atheism or he can have an answer to depression. He can't have both.
And for Christians, surely this is the ground on which to engage atheism: pastoral theology!