Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I Take Zoloft: Part Two of My Struggles with Anxiety and Depression...

Each night before I crawl between the sheets, I pop a blue pill out of the back of a blister pack and into my mouth. Swallow it down with a bit of water.

I fought white-knuckled at first.


"You are a child of God. You are saved by God's grace and mercy. He lives within you. You should not have to take a pill to feel normal. Fight it, Amber. If you don't, you're a disgrace to His name," I shouted within to myself.


And then one day, I found myself so disconnected, so frightened, so threatened, so deep in a thick darkness, that I couldn't even breathe. I was suffocating in my own skin.


And only out of necessity did I surrender to the daily routine of an antidepressant.


But, boy, did I fight it. In fact, I weaned myself off of it after about ten months. I did okay for awhile, but then I slowly found myself back in that dark hole. And if you've ever been depressed, you know the exact dark hole I'm talking about.


And this was my struggle: If my faith was strong enough, I wouldn't have to be on a mood-elevating medication. If my faith was strong enough, I should be able to feel better by really focusing on God's goodness and His blessings in my life. If my faith was strong enough, I should be able to work through this on my own and with His help.


But this way of thinking only kept me living as a prisoner of my fears and anxieties. I wasn't living free and in the fullness of God. And sometimes He offers help in a way that's different from what we picture.



Maybe one of His helps to me was wrapped up in the disguise of a little blue pill.


You see, there's one thing to live a life of worry. I've been there. Before my anxiety disorder showed its ugly face, I was a chronic worrier. But it was something I could talk myself out of. I could reason with the worry, bring it into the obedience of Christ.


But when I experienced full blown panic and anxiety and the resulting clinical fear, there was absolutely no way I could talk myself out of my feelings. They felt as real as real could feel.


Those feelings kept me from leaving my house. They kept me from getting in a car and driving to town. They kept me from doing things that I did before without a second thought. And no matter how much I tried to reason them away, no matter how much I tried to bring them into the obedience of Christ, they remained and they held me down with their full weight. They kept me living in a dark, oppressive, scary place. The literally tormented me.


This is when I knew that I needed more help than I could give myself.


I've been on Zoloft for the second time now for almost one full year. And when I went back on it last October, I made my mom vow to not let me go off of it until I had been on it for at least two full years.


And I've come to the acceptance of it now. I still have days when I feel slightly defeated for having to take an antidepressant to be able to function. Days when I wonder if I could do it without the meds. Days when I wonder if I'm really myself; or is it just the medication making me feel like I do?



It's on these kind of days when I'm so gracious for His tender, loving reminders that He speaks down into the depths of me. "You are my child, Amber. You are exactly as I want you to be. And all of this is serving a purpose that you are incapable of fully understanding. So trust me, dear daughter. I love you fully and completely and without condition or restraint."


And the Zoloft hasn't eradicated my anxiety and panic attacks. I deal with those anxious thoughts almost every single day. But what it has done is this: is it has reeled my mind in, roped in the irrational, erratical thoughts, and made it easier for me to look the thoughts in the face and deal with them. Before, I saw my fears as reality. Now I can examine them, analyze them, and identify them as lies.


So what the Zoloft has done for me is made me able to deal with my disorder. And now, God is working on retraining my way of thinking. He has used the medicine to stabilize my thinking, stabilize all the chemicals in my body, so that I can correctly identify a fear as a lie and then deal with it in the proper manner


So, what's my point in this post? Why do I find it so pressing to share all of this very personal and potentially reputation-tarnishing bit of info with you? (And I say this because there are some in the Christian circles who openly condemn the use of any kind of antidepressant in the life of a believer, chalking up the fears and anxiety to lack of trust, lack of faith, and presence of unconfessed sin.)


My point is to encourage you. If you are on an antidepressant, you are not inferior. You are not weaker. You are not unusable. You are not a crazy lunatic.


And you are not alone.


I really appreciate Sheila Walsh's honesty in sharing her need for the use of an antidepressant. She is a woman who has been and continues to be greatly used by God. And I'm sure that her testimony of the necessity of an antidepressant has freed many women from the guilt of self-condemnation. I know it has helped me, and I have remembered her testimony often.


So, don't think that you're second-rate because you're on an antidepressant. Don't believe the lies from the enemy that God can't use you because you are medicated.


Instead, accept it as a form of help that He has given you. And then decide to let Him use you to encourage other women who are also on antidepressants or struggling with the thought of going on one.



Because when we can take the hard things in our lives, the things that we'd really rather keep hidden in an effort to protect our pride, and we expose them for others to see, we can make ourselves vulnerable and humble enough to really be used by God to impact others.


2 Corinthians 12:9 ~ But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

6 comments:

Monica said...

Thank you for this post! I have been struggling over going to the doctor with my anxiety. I pray and I pray hard but I still have those panic attacks and not sure what to make of it. When I have a panic attack I feel just like you said,"I am suffocating in my skin". Maybe a little medication will help me identify what is really causing my anxiety. Blessings to you today!

Kim and Eric said...

And the Zoloft hasn't eradicated my anxiety and panic attacks. I deal with those anxious thoughts almost every single day. But what it has done is this: is it has reeled my mind in, roped in the irrational, erratical thoughts, and made it easier for me to look the thoughts in the face and deal with them. Before, I saw my fears as reality. Now I can examine them, analyze them, and identify them as lies.


THIS IS EXACTLY HOW I FEEL ABOUT TAKING ZOLOFT.

But I also wonder all the time if I'm not being faithful enough. I can say thought, when I feel anxious, I turn to the Lord immediately, and that's probably what God wants.

I do wonder if God wants us to take medicine or just depend on him. What about birth control? Or chemo? Where do you draw the line on prayers and modern medicine? Did God bring us medicine because we are in such a crazy world?

Mike/Cindy said...

Thank you. I also take an anti-depressant and reading your post makes me feel so much better about it. I hate that I have to take it, but I am grateful to be in a better state of mind, so it's worth it.

Audra Hamil said...

Thank you Amber. It's like you got into my mind and put all of my thoughts in print. Blessing's to you for sharing so that I do not have to feel like I do not measure up to what the world thinks that a Christian women should feel. I am so blessed to have been led to you and the other ladies.
Love,Audra

Holly said...

Love ya Amber! Wish we were closer. You are such a blessing to so many! I appreciate how real you are! Miss you!

Cindy Lu said...

I am so glad that you shared this with us. I felt the same as you a few years ago. That was until my Dr. put it this way to me. Depression is a medical condition just like being a diabetic. A diabetic takes insulin and doesnt feel as though they are week in doing so, so why should you feel that taking your medication for your condition any different. Just a different light on things that seemed to help me. God Bless
Cindy