The winter of the soul II


“To you, O Lord, I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy: ‘What gain is there in my destruction, in my going down into the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness? Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me; O Lord, be my help.’ ”  Ps.30:8-10

I visited my doctor today.  To my disappointment he explained that for those of us with depression, although the medication is not becoming less effective, the symptoms can bubble up again. His answer was to increase my meds for now and hope that this will do the trick in lessening my symptoms.

I feel discouraged. I am already adverse to medication, unless absolutely necessary. Beginning medication was a big and scary step for me a year ago. I had heard all the arguments for, and against. I have one friend who has been depressed most of her life and she does not take medication. She struggles along and copes in her own way. Courageous one.

A year ago I was so tired of fighting. Fighting the darkness, the fatigue, the anxiety, and overwhelmedness that seemed to engulf me. I decided to go on antidepressants.

The result was that I became a more content, happier person. I could feel joy again. I could talk to others again – even strangers! I could make decisions and plan my days and weeks. I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the daily stresses of life. I didn’t feel the fear of facing a full day with the kids. I have been happy with my decision and have been able to enjoy the last year of my life more fully.

So it was with great disappointment that I again faced the symptoms that sent me to the psychiatrist in the first place. I thought the meds were doing a great job for me! This fall I was happy; I was content in mothering my children. As I mentioned, the signs were subtle and crept up on me so quietly that I hardly noticed. It was that conversation with my mom and dad that alerted me to the familiar sadness inside. It is so easy to explain away my feelings:

“Oh, it’s probably because of my life situation – the kids are still quite young and needy. My job is emotionally exhausting…”

“I just haven’t been sleeping well because the kids have had me up during the night….”

“I can’t find the motivation to _____   because I’m just tired out taking care of the kids…”

“I’m addicted to sugar… my mood swings and irritability are probably due to me eating sugar…”

But then I notice the ever subtler thoughts that plague me:

“Am I lazy?”

“Why can’t I …. ?”

“What is wrong with me?”

These statements, especially the last one, are a recognition that what I am dealing with is beyond mere laziness, mind-over-matter, emotional control/will kind of things.  Before I was diagnosed I did lots of online surveys about depression, I even visited my family doctor and charted my moods, etc. I explained away my darker days and other symptoms, even after taking the surveys. I always attributed it to pms, or life situation. How could I be depressed, I wondered, if I have good days? I’m not crying all the time, I don’t want to harm myself, I didn’t feel hopeless, or guilty.

It was only after visiting a psychiatrist (only after much coaxing from a friend!) that he saw plainly what I was struggling with. At first I felt frustrated: I didn’t want to be labelled and I didn’t want something “wrong” with me. But afterwards came a sense of relief: there is a reason that I was struggling so much. And there was a solution to help me feel better.

As I mentioned I am not a big fan of medication. I struggled with whether or not God would want me on medication. After all, our God promises healing.

“He (the Lord) has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendour..”                       Is.61:1b – 3

If you look at Luke 4: 17-21 we see Jesus proclaiming that this Scripture is about him.

In the end I decided that God could heal me despite me being on medication. Because our God is bigger than anything. God is bigger than biochemical imbalance and God is sovereign over medication. I believe that taking medication is the right choice for me right now.

But I also believe that one day I will experience healing.

“You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.”      Ps. 30:11-12



3 responses »

  1. Kristen,
    Please keep talking openly about depression. The world, and maybe especially the Church, need to hear it. You have hope in the darkness, that is clear. I love how you can put words, elegant words, to your experience. That’s a gift – one that God will use to impact others. Thank you!!

  2. Pingback: Why you are never alone, even when you feel that you are « Heart Murmurs

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