The other day I read a post over at Curly Miri’s called The D Word. It featured an interview with a woman who battles severe depression. It got me thinking about some conversations I’ve had with other Christian women about it. Go read it– I’ll wait right here.
Depression in Christians is a hot-button issue, especially when you start talking about medication. Auntie Em has had some experience in this area, so I’ll share what I learned.
I have had several bouts of depression that have required medication to get past. Usually they come in the winter months. The first time I got on an antidepressant was after my mother died in 2000. I was able to wean off of it, but got back on during several winters. I haven’t needed them for a few years.
For some reason, there is a stigma associated with Christians medicating emotional disorders- and I think it’s mostly from Christians! Honestly, nobody ever told me I should let Jesus heal my depression, and I would never say that to anybody else, but boy did I say it to myself, and apparently lots of other Christians do too. Here was my inner dialog:
What do you have to be sad about? You have a great family, a lovely home, a supportive church family… (GUILT)
Cast your care… I can do all things through Christ… the renewing of your mind… (FAILURE)
Just get over it. Make up your mind. Get moving and that will help… (WEAKNESS)
You are a Christian and a strong woman. You should be able to let God handle this and not need a crutch. (CONDEMNATION)
Dear hearts, we are often much harder on ourselves than we would ever dream of being to another. I finally got over my pride and took the medicine. I didn’t have to stay on it forever, and I might have gotten over it without it, but who knows how long it would have taken, and what tolls it would have taken on my relationships and life?
So, if you are having the same struggle I did, I encourage you to consider these things:
- While some amount and intensity of depression can be controlled by you (your rest, diet, stress level, and general health), sometimes you have a genetic predisposition and nothing you do will make a difference. (Like some types of diabetes are caused by lifestyle choices and others are yours by birth.)
- What would you advise a friend if he or she felt like you do? Would you tell them that they should be stronger, and do it alone?
- Do you know what you SHOULD be doing or feeling, or letting go of, but you can’t?
- Refusing to accept help CAN BE a manifestation of a prideful sprit.
- Does God approve of medicine for infections or blood pressure, but not anxiety or depression?
Please understand, I’m not trying to talk you into taking medicine that you don’t need, and I know everyone’s situation is not like mine. I’m just saying BE HONEST. Pray about your situation, and talk to a trusted friend. When you are depressed you are not your best advisor!
And in the meantime, listen to the great theologian Chondra Pierce talk about her experience with depression. And if you think Christians shouldn’t take medicine, well just “take off your glasses” while you watch! (If you don’t have 4 minutes, start at 1:50 to hear her philosophy, then to 3:28 to hear the punch line.)