Shame spun wide like a tornado removing every stationary, immovable thing in my life. It wasn’t that my life was spinning out of control because it wasn’t. It had stopped spinning altogether while everything moved faster around me. I had been diagnosed with clinical depression years ago. More than once I sat in a doctor’s office desperate for help only to stare at that white slip of paper with terrible handwriting feeling like I was a failure.
You’ll need to take 20 milligrams of this to get your groove back.
For months I held onto that prescription, then in desperation would fill it and not take it. When I did try it I never stuck with it. I went for long walks, cut back on caffeine, and started taking vitamins.
I went to counseling. I spilled every single thing that could be holding me back except for one. I have a diagnosable and treatable mental illness. I have been through my fair share of trauma and felt like it was my job to be okay as a kid. I wanted to protect everyone else except for me. For such a tiny kid I sure felt like I was big enough to fix everyone I loved so desperately. I often had physical symptoms that looked like a stomach ache and tears easily shed if you looked at me the wrong way. Decades later after two miscarriages, two miracle babies, and a hysterectomy at thirty-one…something had to give. I had a few choices. I prayed hard and had lots of prayers reaching heaven on my behalf, and if nothing else worked, maybe…maybe as a last resort I would try prescription meds. Try everything else first.
Shreds of memories swirled around me each time I sat in a counselor’s office while used Kleenexes littered my lap. Some call it seasonal depression. Some call it going through hell and back a few times. Either way, it’s brutal. Spring and summer would be blissful and energetic. Fall would be vibrant and beautiful, but when the air became colder, so did my heart. I had a love-hate relationship with fall because I knew it meant brittle and bare branches and a numb heart would follow. You may think of cute boots and long for the smell of pumpkin-spice-everything in the air, but all I smell is my fear.
The allure of having it all together in such a messy world can be exhausting for our soul. We have learned how to fake it covering it all up, the scars, the pain, the sleepless nights. But, what are we supposed to do when we’ve dealt with everything, talked through life’s tragedies and called out every broken moment in our life while ignoring the elephant in the room?
I’m an overachiever when it comes to dealing with my junk so I took out my prayer journal on those nights of endless wrestling with thoughts and sheet covers. I had figured out my root of depression. It was only four words, but those four words took me down toxic trails that caused me to try harder and spend myself to the point of exhaustion.
I told my counselor those four words and how those four words took on a much larger shape of unrealistic expectations. Those four words became a foundation that I built upon- walls and rooms filled with striving and measuring sticks.
The lie of “I am not enough” meant that I am not worth being taken care of.
But, for every lie we believe, there is a more powerful, stronger truth found in God’s word.
I started praying scriptures. Sometimes I could only pray one-worded prayers like, “Help.” But, I knew that was enough because I learned the power of a God who specializes in wordless groans. The Spirit helps us in our weakness when we don’t know what to pray for- the Spirit himself intercedes for us through those wordless groans. (Romans 8:26)
After I worked through a mother-load of baggage and found true freedom I was brave enough to address the dark cloud that followed me. I was done. I was tired of being tired. And, for the first time, I knew that I was worth being taken care of and that meant I had to take care of myself and pay attention to the warning lights going off inside of my heart and head. I called out the elephant in the room and filled that prescription without an ounce of shame. Every morning I am thankful for the grace of God and for antidepressants that make everything manageable. I have a healthy level of anxiety from living in a broken, jacked-up world. But, this time I don’t have to sit on the cold tile in my bathroom trying to talk myself out of throwing up because of a panic attack. I feel everything, pain and joy, anger and sadness. Even when it’s painful, I am thankful that I can actually feel something now.
We do not all need Prozac, but we all need Jesus and to figure out what the root is for our inner wrestle with insecurity and depression. Where did it come from and when did it start? I looked back for only a short season so I could finally have the guts to move forward and gain better ground with sturdier legs. We have to silence the voice of shame and swallow our pride, maybe even a pill we wished we didn’t need. Am I weak for filling a prescription every month and taking it? No. I’m brave and worth the time it takes to care for myself first so I can take care of the things God has so lavishly blessed me with.
To do life well surround yourself with soul sisters and have accountability partners, find a good godly counselor, and a primary care doctor that you see to help you monitor where you are physically and mentally. When you can’t pray it away, be brave enough to get the help you need shame-free. That’s not weakness, it’s pretty darn strong if you ask me.
Much love to you,
Please leave me a comment and let me know how I can pray for you or someone you love. Let’s keep this conversation going, okay?