Thursday, October 11, 2012

Because God even uses depression and anxiety for your good...

I like this place here to be a positive, cheerful place. But I'm also a proponent of believers remaining transparent and honest with one another. I'm not comfortable with disguises or facades.

So what does one do when her heart is shrouded with a darkness that she just wholeheartedly prays would go away? What does one do when her mind cannot find calm? When her mind cannot seem to grasp onto any peace?


She writes in transparency.

Hence, you are reading this...

I went off my Zoloft this past May. I had been feeling good, still struggling a bit, but that's been the commonplace since all of these struggles started in 2009.

And I did okay for awhile. But as the summer progressed, I struggled more. And then when the days started to shorten and my life became crazy and busy again, I began to feel the shroud of darkness settling back over my soul.

I did battle with prayer. I did battle with the Word. But this mind of mine just kept on its cycle of a downward spiral. The struggle is hard to explain, I think, unless you've been there too. Then I believe you can probably understand exactly what I'm speaking of. (I know I never used to understand. Before it happened to me.)

And when it got to the point, at the beginning of September, that I was struggling to function, to move through each day, to find joy in things that I normally enjoyed, it became evident to me and to Brad that I needed to go back on the Zoloft. So I went to my doctor. I shared my struggles with her again. And she said...

"Amber, life is too short for you to live half of your life miserable and depressed."

I think I definitely struggle with depression and anxiety disorder. No, I know I do. But Brad and I also recognized a pattern in my life. Two weeks out of each month, I REALLY struggled.  I felt the darkness deeper than normal. I could hardly muster the strength and courage to go anywhere besides church or to my family's homes. I found it hard to be around other people (when normally, I like to be around others.)

And, of course, these two weeks of intense struggle were hormonally related.

And so, I've been back on the Zoloft since the beginning of September, about a month now.

And I had my first panic attack this past Monday in a long time. And I think I know why ~ that "time" of the month, I was sick, the day was dreary and drizzly, and I had to take an hour long trip by myself to a place I wasn't incredibly familiar with.

But I did work through it, I kept driving, I got to where I needed to get, and I tried to make the most of the day. But it was frustrating. And I was disappointed in the setback.

But I suppose life is full of setbacks, isn't it? It's how we respond to the setbacks that defines the path we tread upon.

Will I let this setback define the rest of the course? Or will I accept it as a setback and then rise above it, not allowing it to define my destiny?

Because, truly, my destiny is that of a child of God. And we know that...

And so I'm trying to give myself grace. Allowing myself to have these feelings, trying to accept them as things God is permitting in my life to grow me.

And I'm determining in my mind to not let myself become a "victim" of depression and anxiety and panic attacks. I want to think of these things as trials that God has allowed in my life to serve His greater purpose. I want to look beyond the here and now of my struggles and remember that there is a much bigger picture than what I see before me.

He has a purpose for all things, good and bad, that He allows into His children's lives. {Romans 8:28}

Do I believe that? Do I believe that with all of my being?

Do you believe that?

And another thing He spoke to me this morning during my quiet time, is that He wants me to discipline myself to look outward during my periods of struggle.

My natural inclination is to turn inward, not necessarily in pity, but in an attempt to protect, to control. I put myself in a tight cocoon. It feels more comfortable.

But yet it doesn't.

Because it allows me to focus on myself, on my struggles, on my depression, on my anxiety.

So, I want Him to show me, to gently teach me how to turn myself inside out during my struggles.

And that's why I'm writing this.

I want to turn myself inside out for Him and for His purpose.

I want to trust that by turning inside out, He will use my life for His glory.

I do not want to be a victim of the enemy's ploy. I do not want to wallow in self pity. I do not want to be me-focused.

I want to be "others" focused even in the midst of my mental turmoil.

That's what He wants.

Because what I see as a pitiful, pathetic weakness, He sees as a way to display His strength.

What I see as a hindrance to living, He sees as a way to teach me to really live fully IN Him.

What I see as an obstacle to reaching out, He sees as a way to make me more approachable and usable by Him.

So this is my prayer this morning...

God ~ I want You to use me. Fully. With all of my fears, all of my anxieties, all of my depressed thoughts. Take them. Use them to grow me. Fill me up with Your Holy Spirit and then empty me into the lives of others. This life is not about me, contrary to what this world tells me. This life is about living fully for You. Father, help me to trust in Your unconditional love and Your unending grace and mercy and always-present hand on my life. Father, work mightily through my weaknesses. Bring glory to Your glorious name through my life.

Because Your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise You.  ~Psalm 63:3