The last few years have been interesting for me. At times – inexplicably void of emotions or on occasions overwhelmed by them. For no reason. My life has been incredible – effectively swimming in awesome blessings. I have a family better than I ever could have imagined: my wife, daughter and pup being everything I could have dreamed of and more. Business thriving and generally everything better than OK. But, every now and again, something would send me off into a spiral of despair. Usually something so trivial that it would mean nothing to most people. But my inability to stabilise my outlook on the situation would often cause me to struggle with even the simplest of tasks.
I spoke with a few key people in my life about how I felt – which were met with mixed receptions. As someone who likes to fly in the face of logic and believe in the supernatural – there were spiritual complications too. In case you didn’t know, I believe the Bible to be true, all the way through. I believe the Jesus is who He said He is and that it’s through Him all the crap of my past is wiped clean. It’s great to know that no matter how I try to rationalise it, I already had to take a step of faith to believe it – so no-one can really argue me out of it. But the complications come when a doctor prescribes you anti-axiety medication. Sometimes known as anti-depressants.
You see, prior to a doctors’ diagnosis, I never really considered this option. While I never liked the stigma attached to the medication – I am more than aware that there was one. Certainly in Christian circles. By simply taking this course of medication, some people would consider that an acceptance of defeat, or lack of faith that God can heal my situation and emotions. And it was these lies that plagued my decision on whether or not to accept the medication.
Firstly, before I proceed with this story – let me say – this really isn’t meant to offend anyone or attack any particular belief or community. I’m not saying one way is right and another is wrong. But this is me. This is what I found. And so this is just some guy expressing his story in the hope that if someone else goes through this dilemma – they’d have something to read about the struggles I went through. What they conclude is up to them.
I read up online about what the Bible says emotional stability as well as reading blogs and messages from various esteemed Christian speakers. There wasn’t a vast amount out there, but one that really stuck with me was the journey of Perry Noble. I read this blog, which really encouraged me: “Should Christians take medication for Mental Illness?“. I prayed about it for a while but didn’t really get an answer.
At the same time, my daughter was suffering from an extreme rash resulting in one of us needing to physically stop her itching her skin off 24 hours a day. Whether she was asleep or not. The doctors didn’t help at all, prescribing ointments and creams that only made it worse. They submitted us to an ‘urgent’ 3 month-long waiting list – resulting in 3 months where either my wife and I were awake at all times. To top this, both me and my wife has reasonable health scares. All at the same time. This pushed me over the edge. My heart was being torn in so many directions that I couldn’t focus on my job, my hobbies or even eating right. It was one day that my heart just broke. Emotionally speaking smashing into pieces. All I could do was crawl into bed and switch off to the world. And with the ant-anxiety medicine sitting in my medication drawer in the kitchen, I knew what I had to do. I told my wife and she agreed.
My wife (although managing!) didn’t need to have to take care of a baby as well as her baby husband. I needed the willpower and focus to help in my family. I needed to pull my shattered heart together, but I couldn’t even gather the pieces. It was that evening I decided to take the medication. It’s only a small dose – but I came to the simple decision that if I had a sprained leg – I would take pain-killers, why would I not do the same for my emotional state?
Within a week, it started to work and I have gone from strength to strength. I still have bad days but they aren’t nearly as bad. And more importantly, they don’t even come close to overwhelming me. I won’t be on the meds forever, it’s a process – but it’s one that I think is surrounded by mystery and concern. Quite needlessly.
I love the lyrics to the recent United song: “Holy, Heart like Heaven…. Own this heart-broke sound”. Like much of the album, this song tells the story of accepting the brokenness and allowing God to pick up the pieces. A place I know only too well. But here’s how I saw it in that moment. The medicine wasn’t for fixing my broken heart – it wasn’t even about helping me forget about the problems. It was giving me the strength to do something about it, or the strength to allow someone who could – fix me.
How I can I let God put the pieces back together when I’m holding on so tightly to everything? I’ve pasted the song at the end of the post. I think it’s a beautiful reflection of some grown-up lyrics in Christian music. Some that actually accept that life is hard, but that God loves us anyway. I will undoubtedly be posted a blog about the Hillsong United album – Empires and it’s effect on me.
The decision to take the medication was one of the most humbling experiences. The acceptance that I needed help. The moment I did, it started me onto a course of more stable emotions. It hasn’t changed who I am. My faith in my God and Savious hasn’t changed and I’m still a glass-half-empty guy, I can’t see that changing. But now, instead of despairing in apathy there’s only half a drink available – I’ll now just drink the remainder of the glass and see what happens.
Finally, I want to thank all the friends and family who have supported me and my decision. But I also just want to say this: you may not agree with the decision to take this medication – but I urge you to reconsider before judging anyone who does. You really have no idea of what they battle against. In most cases, I would suggest that if they are taking medication and they are willing to talk about it, they are stronger and more humble than most.