Antidepressants and Christians

In a previous post, I shared about my infertility induced depression, and use of a low dose antidepressant.

Over the course of our infertility journey, I’ve chosen to share this detail with specific people, and intentionally kept it from others. Why? Not because of embarrassment or shame. Those aren’t emotions I have in relation to my need for antidepressants.

It’s because some people, Christians included, have a very difficult time expressing their opinions appropriately, and I am very much “over” subjecting myself to that type of attitude. Do you know what I mean? Have you ever been around someone who airs their thoughts on matters in such a way that it couldn’t possibly be more obvious they haven’t actually spent any quantity (or quality) of time truly thinking it through? These people are likely at the bottom of the list when you consider empathetic personalities in your life.

I’ve wrestled greatly with the emotions people like this illicit in me. I range from feeling disgust and anger (on my bad days), to pity and willingness to give the benefit of the doubt (on my good days). Usually, the fight is over indulging my natural reaction instead of submitting my thoughts and feelings to the Lord, and allowing Him to give me the grace to view them through His eyes.

So, my head knows how I ought to react. My heart wants to push those people’s heads through walls.

I usually come out somewhere in the middle – simply visualizing myself telling them off, but also asking for forgiveness for being so stubborn with obedience.

I think what upsets me the most, more than simple ignorance on their part, is how hurtful those words can be to someone who is already in a vulnerable place. How much damage can actually be done by expressing an opinion in such a careless way.

Heck, I’m positive I’ve expressed an ignorant opinion or two in my lifetime. I’m not above reproach here. What has changed for me, though, is my desire to very cautiously and selectively verbalize those thoughts. I have a level of sensitivity, now, to how my thoughts might negatively impact someone else. And to the fact that I may be an idiot and need to do some reading before opening my big mouth.

This brings me to the particular topic of antidepressants, and the taking of them as a Christian.

Whether you end up seeing my point by the end of this, or not, the best takeaway I could ask for would be that my perspective gives you pause before you rush to comment on someone’s choices, especially if you haven’t walked in those shoes yourself.

Here are some of the reasons I feel at peace being a Christian who takes an antidepressant:

  • (I’m going to start with what might be my most ignorant point) If there wasn’t a chemical problem in my brain, the medicine wouldn’t work anyway – right? Therefore, the problem is not necessarily one of weak faith or denial of who God is.
  • Much like Christians aren’t immune to other illnesses, I don’t believe us to be exempt from experiencing real depression (chemical imbalance). Antidepressants, therefore, stand equal in my mind to surgery to fix a heart, hearing aids, or glasses. A blessing and help for a problem with no other treatment. In other words, counseling, relaxation techniques, meditation, reading the Word – none of these avenues actually fixed the chemical imbalance that my brain experienced. I needed actual medicine.
  • No tenet of my faith has changed since taking antidepressants. I didn’t refute or deny God’s perfect, constant goodness when in the thick of depression. I always believed that He is sufficient, loving, ultimate. What changed was the connection from my brain to my heart. Medication released an emotional roadblock so that I could actually experience the feeling of peace and contentment that should come from this understanding.

True depression causes your body to betray your mind. I knew the “right” things, but my body wouldn’t allow me to feel rightly. My memories of depression include the vivid impression of something extremely heavy sitting in the exact middle of my chest. I can breathe, but it’s like my lungs expanded around some object which kept the rest of me weighted down. My veins felt heavy. Like the blood pumping through my body didn’t want to get out of bed and do its job. Everything in me wanted release from the oppression that depression causes. De”press”ion is how that word lands with me. I’m being pressed with sadness, despair, exhaustion. I’m sinking under water, and can’t get to the surface because, even though I know all it takes is swimming that direction, I’m being pulled under by forces beyond my control.

And so.

All I ask is that you take the time to evaluate if what you want to say needs to be said. I’d also like to add that it would be worthwhile to consider whether your opinion is actually correct. Even if it is! There’s a way to communicate. And, there’s a time to communicate. And sometimes, there isn’t.

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