Back in March, I hit the bottom. My life as I knew it was over. My partner, soul mate, and best friend was gone. There was one weekend that I spent the entire weekend in the bed. I only came out for a few moments at the time. I could not eat. I will never understand how emotional trauma can affect your body in physical ways. I literally went weeks with absolutely no appetite. I resorted to drinking protein shakes just to get the nutrition. For about two weeks that was the only nutrition my body received.
I had been spiraling down to this point for several weeks. Up until that weekend, I was still running at least four times a week. I was staying in scripture, and I was surrounding myself with supportive people. I was seeing a wonderful, Godly therapist who was helping me process through this difficult time. However, I finally reached the point where, in spite of all these things, I still spiraled into "the dark place."
After I had done everything that I could do to pull myself out, I knew that I had to go see my medical doctor. I shared what was going on and told him that I had finally reached the point that I could no longer function effectively. He recommended an anti-depressant. He described the situation to me this way. When our bodies go through intense emotional trauma, it is as if the wiring in our brains is short circuited. The chemicals get all out of balance, and things are just not right. He offered to put me on a medication that would help stabilize the chemicals and with time help me begin to feel a little more like normal. He assured me that it was not a quick fix. It would take a few weeks for the medication to do its job. I agreed to the treatment and started the medication.
It was not a miracle drug. It did take time for it to really start taking effect. Even then, I still had some difficult days. But, in the big picture, it did help me in my day-to-day functioning skills.
The last time I saw my doctor, we talked about my going off the medication. We decided that it would probably be best to stay on for a few more months. This morning, I forgot to take it . On the way to work, I thought to myself, "Maybe I can just go without it." Here is the critical point. Once one decides to go on an anti-depressant, that person must follow the doctor's advice. One just does not need to decide that he doesn't need the medication anymore, or it's not effective, and then just cut it out cold turkey. By the end of the afternoon, I felt like my head was swimming, and I just could not process things. I realized that I needed to come home and take the medication as soon as possible.
My doctor is strongly in favor of my coming off the medication, but this step needs to happen the right way. When he and I decide that time has come, he will guide me through the process of stopping the medication.
I had this on my heart to share for a couple of reasons. For me, I had done all I could do to help myself, but it finally came to the point where I needed more help. I am not embarrassed about that. If I had high blood pressure, I would not hesitate to take blood pressure medication. Secondly, playing doctor is great when one is a child. But when one is taking real medications, it is crucial to trust the professionals who know what they are doing and can help the individual handle these things in the best manner. I know so many people who have just decided that the medications are not working for them, and they quit cold turkey. They end up in a worse situation than when they started. It is a fact that sometimes a particular anti-depressant may not work for someone. Those persons should go to their doctor and let the doctor help them work through the process of finding one that does work for them.
Surviving my bout with depression has been the most difficult thing I have ever encountered. No one should ever fool himself into thinking that a pill can cure it. That is just not realistic. For me, the medication has been and continues to be very helpful. But it is by no means the only piece to the puzzle of overcoming depression. I have had to do my part through reaching out to God through prayer and scripture, exercise, an amazing Godly therapist, and wonderful family and friends to help me through. It is a complicated process, but it can be overcome. There can be life again, and that life can be abundant and full of much joy!
Isaiah 61:3 (New International Version)
To all who mourn in Israel,
he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
that the Lord has planted for his own glory.
One of the greatest books that I have ever read on depression is "Bright Days. Dark Nights." It is written about the great preacher and theologian, Charles Spurgeon. It is the story of his great suffering with depression. I would strongly recommend it for anyone who finds themselves in the "dark place."