Why yes, I am a Christian on antidepressants…

Those of you who know me know that I am fairly private person. I am happy to share my story with anyone, but I am not the type who will shout it from the rooftops. So publishing this blog post terrifies me. But here’s the thing… I have had enough people in my life who seem surprised, disappointed, even betrayed when I mention the fact that I am on antidepressants. Someone needs to speak up. I guess that someone is me.

I have noticed there is this  thing in church culture- we are quick to affirm that other people should go to counseling, that it is OK if others are on antidepressants, but when one of us is struggling, we fall silent. It’s terribly hard to admit that you are the one who isn’t doing just fine on your own. But because of this, far too many suffer in silence. So, even though it goes against my nature to put this out here, here it is. I take a little blue pill every morning. And that is OK.

I have heard all of the arguments, doubts, questions about psychopharmacology. Isn’t taking a medication to change your emotional state covering up who you really are? Perhaps this is a thorn in your side, some way that God has created you to be. Shouldn’t you be able to pray more, trust more, eat better, do something to fix yourself? Isn’t medication the easy way out?

I remember the first time that I was truly depressed. I was a sophomore in college and I cried every day. I remember having a conversation in my dorm room and through my tears trying to explain that this wasn’t me. That I shouldn’t be crying right now. That all of this emotion wasn’t who I was. It didn’t make sense to the person I was talking to. And it doesn’t make sense today. But that doesn’t make it any less true. Depression had settled over my life like an itchy wool blanket. The me I knew myself to be was smothering underneath a thick layer of emotion that I couldn’t contain. 

But I didn’t get help then. I soldiered on. Then, a few years later, I (literally) ran half marathons around the fact that my dad was dying. I thought that exercising could cure the pain. I didn’t reach out for help. Neither did I when my first son was born and I wept through the entire first year of his life. 
It wasn’t until my daughter was born, when I felt the dreaded weight of the darkness rolling over my life again, when a trusted doctor gently suggested that I wasn’t doing just fine, that I finally reached out. And now, with a full glass of water each morning, I make a toast to life. 

  
We all know we live in a broken world. We all know that we ourselves are fallen. But when confronted with our individual brokenness, I fear that we feel pressure to fix ourselves. No one thinks that taking insulin for diabetes is cheating God’s ability to heal. People don’t judge women in childbirth for electing to have an epidural instead of enduring ‘the curse.’ But when the pain is psychic, we feel more skeptical.

I don’t feel that taking medication is limiting or changing who God created to me to be. Depression isn’t my identity. The struggle does not define me, nor does it take me deeper in my walk of faith. Instead it blunts me. It consumes me. It distracts me from this life that I love so dearly and my sweet savior who is ever present. Taking these pills, in my mind, is not walking away from a challenge set before me, it is more fully embracing the life I have been given to lead. 

So yes. I am a believer who believes in taking antidepressants. And if you are struggling my friend, if you find yourself in that deep hole, smothered by that thick blanket, trapped inside of emotions do not feel like they are yours… please.  Reach out. For counseling. For friendship. For humility and transparency. For medication, if that’s what you need. But mostly, reach out to others, and to God. This is not your burden alone to bear…

Selah. 

Advertisements

suffering

When is the last time you really suffered?  Have you ever?

photo 2As pathetic as this sounds, I suffered mightily trying to train for a 5K today.  At about 2.5 miles, I was done.  Walking.   My lungs were burning.  My calves were lead.  I was sucking air like a fish on a dock.  And to be perfectly honest, I was probably flapping and flailing in a similar manner as well.   It wasn’t fun. And yet, it’s something I chose to do. In fact, running (let’s be real here, JOGGING) is something I would even call a hobby.  Suffering, it is not.

achkaTwo weeks ago I got a Facebook message from my Haitian friend Achka.  He was telling me that he was completely out of money.  That he and his family had not eaten for three days.  Stop.  Think on that.  Three days.  When is the last time you skipped a single meal because you didn’t have any money for food, much less went days without eating.  This is suffering.  And yet, not voluntary.  I wired him money for food, and although giving the money may have made my family’s finances a it tighter, the reward was well worth the cost.  Once again, we didn’t suffer because of it.

The cross, that was suffering.  Physical agony.  Emotional anguish.  Torture beforehand.  Staring into the abyss.  And God chose it.  It was voluntary.  At any moment, Jesus could have miracle-d himself off of the cross and immediately been healed.  Comfortable.  Smug.  But, he didn’t.  For your sake.  For mine.  For the sake of grace and the redemption of mankind.

When is the last time you suffered, or even were uncomfortable for the sake of someone else?  How is this part of our Christian journey?  Are we called to suffer?  Are we called to sacrifice our comfort, for the sake of the Gospel?  To what level?  What do we, as Americans, do with this thought?