The fourth stage in recovery is known as Depression.
Arguably the longest phase in recovery, it is important to realize that this is a necessary phase. The person is grieving not just for some metaphorical loss, but for the real loss of future potential.
The length and impact of this stage can be affected by loved ones who bring up and discuss the organization in front of the individual.
A friend, and fellow poster on reddit described it in terms of a relationship.
You learn your significant other betrayed you. You broke it off. Whenever you go to a family gathering, your family continues to talk about that significant other. That he/she was so nice, or what he/she has been doing lately. They think it was your fault the relationship ended, and you were the one to call it quits, but you know about the betrayal. When you try to talk about why it hurts, they blame you. If you bring up the reasons you felt betrayed, they say “It doesn’t bother me”.
Hence, being around the same friends and family, if respect for emotion is not shown, can push this stage to take months or even years.
A feeling of laziness, or not caring. Activities that used to be exciting drop off or are no longer interesting. The person may dwell on the metaphysical nature of life and its purpose.
An inability to focus and sudden outbursts of sobbing are not uncommon.
Members are most likely to use people in this phase to compare themselves to when they say “The church makes me happy”, “Sin never was happiness” and other similar phrases that imply that the person has brought this depression upon themselves.
Most common symptoms
Slower than usual response time. Turning away things that one once loved, or people one spent a lot of time with previously. Difficulty facing long-term decisions that can trigger thoughts about end-of-life decisions.
Reviewing the decisions in life, or re-thinking the past and wishing it different over and over is common.
This phase is the most likely to be coupled with alcohol or drug consumption.
Cutting, personal injury and thoughts of suicide may occur.
Typical phrases in conjunction with this phase
“I’m so sad, why bother with anything”
“Why does anything matter?”
“What is the point of putting effort into things?”
I don’t want to do [x] activity. Can’t you just leave me alone
I need time by myself to think.
How to move on
The most important thing to realize about this step is that it is necessary. The loss of the pathways connected to future plans in the brain that must be rewritten is very real and takes time to re-write. Until they are re-written, bouts of “loss” and grieving will be felt.
Secondly, in order to move past this step, new opportunities and purpose must be found. Many find it in another religion. However, many, upon rejecting the LDS faith, find similar issues in other faiths. In this case, finding meaning in projects, work, or other hobbies can be very helpful.
Exercise has been proven to reduce anxiety and depression.
Efforts to “Leave a legacy”, a physical representation of one’s goals and life that will outlive the individual or helping others who are still in the organization to cope as they leave can be very beneficial to easing the anxiety and depression during this step.
The third most important thing to realize is that this phase ends. You may feel trapped, lost, or hopeless. A spouse, a parent or a leader may push you back into this phase over and over; but it does get better over time. And one day, you’ll be in a place that is so far from this, that you’ll hardly remember the pain.