Monday, December 11, 2006

I was Debating, but now I'm Sure


I have had an idea for a post in my head for a very long time. Been debating whether I should do it. I've thought it could be helpful to others to hear, but there is a potential that this could lead to some backlash for me. The real debate, I suppose, has been whether I want to open myself up to that.

But tonight, I drove by a church in a nearby town and, immediately, my decision was made. Their lighted sign prominently proclaimed the following message:

"We are to blessed to be depressed."

Now, lest you all think I am going to don the gear of the grammar police, let me assure you that this post is not about the difference between a preposition and an adverb (as important as that is....)

Let me begin by saying that I think I am fairly cognizant of the fact that I am blessed. I might even be so bold as to say that it is possible I am more aware of my blessed estate than the average person. I am abundantly, immeasurably blessed.

But you know what? I am also depressed.

I don't know what that person meant when they put up those words in front of their church. Perhaps he did not intend for "depressed" to be interpreted in the clinical sort of way. Perhaps he was simply trying to find a word that rhymed with "blessed." I don't really know.

But I do know this: there are plenty of Christians out there who think that depression is a state of mind that can be overcome by a good dose of faith.

You should really think more positively. Don't you appreciate all the things God has done for you? If you would submit to the Spirit, you would find joy.

No one, Thank You JESUS, has ever spoken such words to me, but I know similar things have been said (or whispered) in churches all over the country. It's hurtful and counterproductive.

I believe that there are many Christians out there who feel ashamed to begin treatment for depression. They won't see a therapist or take a pill, because they feel like doing either is some sort of failure on their part. There are pastors out there who tell their congretations that anyone who sees a therapist isn't trusting God to take care of them. People feel guilty about taking a medication for myriad reasons.

I have seen a therapist; a good Christian therapist who prayed with me before I left every appointment. She wasn't some sort of hocus-pocus soothe-sayer. She just knew a whole lot more about how the brain and emotions "work" and taught me pracitcal strategies that I WAS NEVER GOING TO HEAR BELLOWING FROM THE CLOUDS DURING MY PRAYER TIME. Make no mistake, God was (and is) doing the work of healing me. He's just doing it, as he has done with so many others throughout Church history, through another believer. Imagine that! Using a sister in Christ to bring me healing. (I don't know if you've noticed, but he's big on that kind of stuff.)

I believe that part of the blessing to be found in what I am going through is that I can encourage and minister to others who may be going through the same thing, or know someone who is. I want others to know that depression doesn't happen because you lack faith. Or because you aren't thankful enough. Or because you aren't submitting to God enough.

Having said that, I am going to drop the big bomb because I think this could be potentially freeing for someone who is reading this:

I just finished a year-long stint on Z0l0ft.

Now, let me be clear before I say anything else, I am NOT advocating that every depressed person start taking Z0l0ft (or any other medication.) The reason I mention taking this drug is because the benefits were, for me, unbelievable. I can't exactly describe the differnece it made but I can give you examples:

- I cried less.
- I laughed more.
- There were times when I felt happy to the core of my being, for NO DISCERNABLE REASON.
- As the feelings of anxiety and overwhelmed-ness (?) subsided, I was able to start doing things that I needed to do to combat depression. Things like exercising and restoring some semblance of orderliness to my home. Both of those things affect the severity of my depression, but in my depressed state, I couldn't even begin to tackle them. Now that I have had time to practice these things, I feel more prepared to handle them when I am not on medication.
- I enjoyed my family more.
- I have been able to think more clearly about what things are important to me. What I really want to make time for personally and within my family.
- I feel like I have a better understanding of what it means to be more emotionally balanced. Now, when I start to feel that heaviness set in, I am able to recognize it for what it is, and take steps to curb it, rather than just letting it continue as if it was "normal."

That year on medication helped get me over a huge impasse that was growing worse with each passing day. Feelings of anxiety, heaviness, lonliness. I felt overwhelmed. I was despairing. I don't deny that exercise and diet change can affect positive change in the life of a depressed person. I just didn't have it in me to make those changes. I needed help. And that medication was it. I believe God used it to help me through that impasse.

Now that I am off the medication, I am a little scared of falling back into those feelings again. I am, however, at a place where I am much more able to be proactive. A year ago, there was no proactivity in me. There was nothing "pro" at all!

I am sure there are people out there who question my faith or my devotion to God because of my depression or the treatment I have chosen. So be it. If this motivates anyone towards getting help and healing, then that's a small price to pay. Right now, I am counting it a blessing to have had the kind of treatment I did. God used it to reveal himself - and myself - to me in a new way.

Thank you, precious Father.

If you have a question about my treatment, or if you would like me to pray for you, please leave a comment or contact me at inepti2d at yahoo dot com.

If you think that you or someone you know might be depressed, you can learn more here, or here.

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Blogger ShaggaBear said...

Thank you for sharing. We don't think twice about taking Advil for a headache. Why is it any different to take medicine for other kinds of aches? I'm glad you found your freedom and healing. And I'm sure your faith was increased because of it. God is faithful.

Tue Dec 12, 09:38:00 AM  
Anonymous mom a said...

I only wish I had known sooner (by years) what you have expressed in this post. Love you!

Tue Dec 12, 02:13:00 PM  
Blogger Shalee said...

Mr. Right is on an antidepressant because of a known chemical imbalance, not because he doesn't trust God. Shame on those who try to judge the heart. That is a position that I try to leave to the one who can actually see into it!

Well done, Lori. Well done.

Tue Dec 12, 03:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Linda said...

So glad that you were able to get help and proud of you for what you have written! I've known you for 10 years now and I'm so glad to be your friend. Wish we lived closer so we could see each other more than once a year. Love you, Linda

Tue Dec 12, 06:40:00 PM  
Blogger BooMama said...

I think it's great that you wrote this post...valuable info that I'm sure will encourage many people. Love your heart...

Tue Dec 12, 09:03:00 PM  
Blogger Brenda said...

Thank God for modern medicine! Without it, my mom wouldn't be alive today.

Thank you for sharing this.

Tue Dec 12, 11:17:00 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

6 years ago I took antidepressants for 6 months.

I needed them.

After my first baby I took antidepressants for 3 months.

I REALLY needed them.

Just wanted to tell you - you're not alone. I wish Christians would stop being ashamed. Or worse, shaming others.

Love you Lori! (hugs)

Wed Dec 13, 02:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Heather said...

Sometimes the Lord uses modern medicine and sometimes He doesn't. A good friend of mine is a Christian counselor and I am always amazed at the Christians who refuse to deal with chemical imbalances yet will take medicine for every other form of illness. Be encouraed. You are far from alone. There are many good, strong Christians who need help from medication to be healthy. I will be praying that the Lord helps you to stay afloat and even lifts you high above where you have been.

Wed Dec 13, 04:25:00 PM  
Blogger Tricia said...

Thank you for being brave and posting this. I've struggled with this issue myself and have had people regard it as a lack of faith, etc. But I agree wholeheartedly that God works through other believers in our lives and he also works through medication.

Fri Dec 15, 04:40:00 PM  
Anonymous MarillaAnne said...

you know ... i believe that a great amount of our emotions are generated by the thoughts we choose to have ... and that our emotions can be changed by changing our thoughts ... and that if we are aware of our emotions we can choose to change our thoughts ... BUT i also believe that the brain is very delicate and if the blood flow isn't working correctly, we are in HUGE trouble with our thoughts and our emotions ... AND taking care of the brain's health is W O R K WORK WORK WORK. (Exercise, careful diet, careful monitoring input from TV, movies, books ... etc etc etc etc)

If we can't get our thoughts and emotions lined up long enough to pro-actively work on the brain's health ... well ... that's where the medications come in. Medications improve the blood flow and, of course, the chemicals also. Then we can pro-actively work on developing healthy actions, thoughts, and emotions.

It's kind of like having headaches ... with some headaches we can just stop, relax, and breath a bit and the headache goes away. Sometimes the headaches come on so fiercely that we need medication in order to be able to even remember how to breathe -- much less relax.

I have been on Zoloft several times in my life. And honestly, I'm in a place where I'm again considering just exactly how much time & energy I should have to spend on manually getting myself on track about things that should be more automatically accomplished.

The best thing I gained from my first year on Zoloft was a new perspective of what normal can be. Sounds like you came away with the same blessing.

I started reading your blog because I noticed your link in BooMama's blogroll. Very nice to meet you and very nice to know there's someone "nearby" that I can compare Zoloft notes with.

have fun,

Thu Dec 28, 08:21:00 AM  
Blogger Luisa Perkins said...

You brave girl. Thanks for voicing what so many Christian women struggle through silently. I've been there, but thank the Lord, I'm not any more! Maybe we can talk about it sometime.

Mon Apr 02, 09:56:00 AM  
Blogger Annette Lyon said...

Found you on Luisa's link list. As someone with a family and personal history with depression, all I can say is amen and well put as I wipe away a tear.

Tue Jun 12, 01:11:00 PM  

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