When You Can’t Pray It Away

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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 stomachache 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, hormone therapy and lumps in my breasts and all the scary-unfortunate things that come with those lumpy breasts. 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 smelled was 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,

Jennifer Renee

 

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?

#FreedomFriday

 

 

 

26 thoughts on “When You Can’t Pray It Away

  1. Thank you Jennifer for being open & honest. Your situation helped me to know more & more how important it is to bring all out in the LIGHT, to surrender & to receive what the HOLY SPIRIT has for us. Please pray for my close friend Blaine who is very depressed, she is a Believer, she is one of the kindest, most generous & loving people you will ever meet. It hurts me so for her to always have these bouts of depression which she has had since I’ve know her which is about 25 years. Thank you again for sharing & for praying….

    1. Michele,
      I will keep Blaine in my prayers, I know how hard it is to love a friend through this. Thank you for being the friend that she needs and for not giving up on her. Praying for healing and restoring for Blaine!

      Much love to you,

      Jennifer

  2. Jennifer~you are so brave and bold and I appreciate your realness! I hope more of God’s Girls read your message. To understand in all life circumstances, we are good enough. We are worthy of love. We are worthy in and through our Jesus. Thank you for sharing your ❤️.

    1. Thanks, Michele. I hope it opens lines of communication for others fighting the same thing or trying to walk someone they love through it. Praying it leads them closer to Jesus and hope in Him!

  3. Thank you Jennifer. I feel sad, joyless, hopeless, and i am sobbing a lot. I was on anti-depressants last year, but not since i lost health insurance. Therapy has helped, but recently ive been dealing with joblessness, homelessness, and my beloved not being able to be here for the time being. And i hate winter. Finally recognize this is depression. I will be looking to get back on my meds ASAP.

    1. There are places in almost every community that have services that help people in your situation. Most of them will provide little to no cost. You may call 211 and see what’s avail in your area. 😘

    2. Delsie, I am praying for you today. If you are connected to a local church reach out to them and see if they can connect you with organizations that can help you right now. What you are going through right now is heavy and I’m praying for open doors, provision for all of your needs, and for hope to return to you.

  4. Thanks for being transparent and so intuitive. Depression is horrible and somehow we (Christians) seem to think we should just be able to pray through it. I have never been able to figure out why it’s accepted to take medication for physical problems but not for depression. Taking medication for depression can be a blessing from God. Don’t EVER feel guilty for taking medication if you need it. Love you!

    1. Thank you so much, Pat! I agree…it’s such a double standard with this issue of medication. I know it’s not the right option for everyone, but it certainly was for me. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Love you!

  5. Thank you for your story. It is always good to know your not alone in this struggle. I have suffered for nearly 2 years with anxiety and depression. It has literally been crippling! I go to a therapist I go to my dr just still can’t find a med that will work for me. They all have nasty side effects. But I’ve not given up and I know God has an answer. Please pray that I find mine and quickly. Thank you again.

    1. Julie,
      Thank you for taking the time to comment, I completely understand the struggle and how hard it is finding the right thing. Or the right diet, vitamin combo, or exercise plan. It can be overwhelming but I am praying that God leads you to the right option and fit for you, whatever that looks like or involves, and that you will feel hope and less alone in this. So much love to you, Julie! <3

  6. Wow I can really relate to this. No matter how hard I try, I can’t do it either. I need more Jesus and I need to do things that make it better. Thank you!

    1. Start with more of Jesus and a long walk each day! You can do this. Thank you for taking the time to comment and share with us. Praying for you today!

      Love,
      Jennifer

  7. Wow, i am literally speechless, a women who inspires many to open up like this is amazing. you are a great inspiration and now even more. i have been struggling with depression since I was a teenager finally at 25 gave in and confronted the fact that i did not choose this, and that God will use it for his glory. thank you for sharing this intimate part of your life. God bless!!

    1. Thank you so much, Gaby. Your words are so special to me. From what I hear, it was a pretty gutsy thing for me to open up about. The feedback has been overwhelming and encouraging. Honestly, I felt like it was time. And, I had finally stopped feeling shame about it and stopped hiding it from people who think meds are a horrible option. 😉 I get it, I was one of those, too, at one point. Xo

  8. Your posts are always so touching, so right for my “now”. My 15-year old son, West, is really struggling with feelings of sadness. He has not officially been diagnosed with depression, and we know teenage hormones have a part to play, as well as just the toughness of high school and figuring out who you are… But that word lingers in the back of my mind, and I am terrified… And his sadness makes me sad… My constant prayer is that this will be lifted from him… Thank you for sharing this… It gives me hope. I needed to be reminded that sometimes a prescription is the answer, and that’s okay. Love to you.

    1. I am so sorry, Robyn. I will be praying for West. I know from a mother’s perspective that you must feel the weight of this so heavily and feel sadness that you might not have if he was doing better. High School and hormones are hard enough. I will agree with you in prayer for this to lift on it’s own and that West will find an outlet to pour himself into that will renew his hope! So much love to you, thinking of you and praying.

  9. Thank you! I could have written this. Working through some deep waters right now, ones I’ve already addressed, but God is taking me I a deeper layer. I’m grateful for your honestly so I can know I’m not alone in how I’ve felt as I wade through abandonment issues and really learning to feel, not repress, for the first time. Appreciate your prayers, dear sister!

  10. Thank you, Jennifer. Your words comforted my heart this morning. My daughter has suffered with clinical depression for most of her life. She has a wonderful Christ loving husband and children – God has been SO good to all of us by blessing her with her wonderful family.

    Heartbreaking on so many levels as you know. The saddest part are the relatives, die hard Christians who tell her “you are just not praying hard enough.” Or “just get over yourself.”

    Your bringing up your life story to the Christian community is a God Send! Thank you. Thank you.

    I pray for you and request that you pray for my daughter for strength and wisdom while dealing with her depression and with her in-laws. I thank you, again. In Jesus Name.

  11. Thanks Jennifer. For too long I thought medication was only for the not spiritually strong. After my husband died, I suffered from depression – the I kept going because I didn’t have a clue that was what was wrong kind – and when a friend said to me don’t hesitate to talk to a doctor, I thought there was something wrong with her!
    A long 2 years later, I am better. It might have been a shorter time if I had taken her advice. Leaning on the Lord and just plain talking to Him, out loud, frequently, immersing myself in the Word, eventually got me through but what did I miss and how did all those days and months effect my witness. Sharing this post with friends. Again thank you.

  12. After reading this I know the Lord sent me here to read what you had to say about your life. My story is a miss, and I do feel worthless most of the time. My health is not in a good place right now,but I can get it together if I start taking my medicine correctly, and I do believe the Lord wanted me to see I am not alone, other real good people struggle with this also, and can overcome these issues and well I can too? After 34 years of marriage I got a divorce about 3 years ago, it has been a struggle and a blessing…funny hug!!! I struggle everyday with I am not good enough, but I don’t want to feel that way…I am trying to straighten up and fly right… prayers please…thank you Robin

  13. Thank you, thank you for being so open about something that most people are afraid to talk about or just don’t understand. I have realized that I come from a long line of clinical depression. Those who do not understand it tend to say-“Just pray harder” or “There must be some sin in your life” (sounds like Job’s friends)
    I have been on an antidepressant for years. It was recommended by a Christian counselor. It has made a huge difference but winter is still difficult.
    Thank you for being so honest and vulnerable

  14. Very powerful and liberating, Jennifer. Thank you for sharing and being vulnerable.

    I’ve struggled with anxiety, depression, and panic attacks all my life. Yes, pride needs to be shed. There’s no pride in being isolated and in a dark place anyway. It only pushes us further down into the black hole. I don’t take a Rx but, I do have an arsenal of mental health herbals I have come to find helpful, plus other supplements for my health. I’ve found the right combination that works for me. I have community fellowship and the love of God.

    Your story makes me think of Sheila Walsh.

  15. So powerful! Thank you so much for sharing your heart. It is such an important message. I refused to take meds after my son was born and was suffering with post-pardum depression. It took my pastor’s wife asking me if I would choose not to have a cast if I broke my leg to wake me up and help me realize I could not pray it away. And I sure did try!
    Thanks for being so brave!
    XXOO

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