If you’ve missed any part of this series, click on any post directly below.
Part Two-My Storms in a nutshell
Part Four-More Depression
Part Five-Even More Depression
Part Six-Guest Post, Dan Blanchard
Part Seven-The Last Depression Post
Part Eight-Death of a Child
Part Nine-Death of a Child
Part Ten-Guest Post, Holly Good
Part Eleven-Death of a Child
Part Twelve-Death of a Child
Part Thirteen, Death of a Child
Part Fourteen, Death of a Child
Part Fifteen, Death of a Child
Part Sixteen, Conclusion
But whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm. Proverbs 1:33
It might have something to do with the fact that about 78 of my friends send their children to preschool in the very same building as the psychiatrist’s office. Add to that the social stigma associated with needing a psychiatrist—a stigma prevalent especially within the Christian church. But mostly, it was an admission that I had a mental illness. I was mentally ill. Even typing that gives me a level of discomfort and embarrassment.
Approaching the office that morning, I pretty much just wanted to drive my van onto some country road and proceed in the opposite direction. For the next several hours.
The actual visit was way less intimidating than I feared. The doctor was kind and approachable. She asked a series of questions and listened intently. When she finally offered her analysis, it was actually reassuring that she was so confident in my diagnosis: Major Depressive Disorder, Recurrent Type.
Yep. That pretty much summed up my last seven years. Recurring major depression. Very descriptive.
It was also enlightening to learn a little more about my condition. Namely, the strong genetic component (almost everyone in my family suffers from it, but no one talks about it and no one calls it depression), the close association with exposure to sunlight (I had moved from the Sunshine State to often-dreary Kentucky making my depressive cycles appear more often), as well as the common symptoms—many of which I would have never associated with depression.
But the thing that really got my attention was how perfectly she described the cycle: a stressful or life-altering event, followed by a slow digression into depression, then a lifting of the depression where the person feels completely normal for an extended period of time. With this particular type, each depression episode gets longer, deeper and more difficult to conquer. Left untreated, many individuals with this type never come out of the depression and ultimately commit suicide.
That was all I needed to hear. Though I was really hoping we could treat it without the meds, I was now ready to do whatever I needed to do to get better. Even if it meant chemicals.
I left her office and drove straight to Kroger to fill the prescription, thanking God that He was clearly leading me toward my recovery. But somewhere between the office visit and the Kroger parking lot, fear crept in again. That’s when I had Freak Out Moment Two.
Waiting for the pharmacist to fill the prescription, I slowly pushed a shopping cart up and down the aisles, choking back tears, silently asking God to confirm to me one more time that I should take an antidepressant.
Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident. Psalm 27:3
As I approached the pick-up window, the girl at the desk said, “Have you ever taken this before?”
“No” I responded.
She looked me straight in the eye with a warm smile on her face and said, “You will not regret this decision. I take this same drug and it has made all the difference for me. Ask anyone who works here. I’m a much happier person since I started on this. I feel completely different than I did when I was depressed.”
My eyes welled up with tears (which now that I think of it, is pretty irrelevant, since I was crying non-stop anyway), and I thanked her. I don’t know if that was God speaking through her or not, but it sure felt like God. And I thanked Him for it.
Somewhere between the Kroger pharmacy and the two-mile drive home, fear crept in again. That’s right. Freak Out Moment Three. It didn’t help that the package insert on the Lexapro gave all kinds of suicidal warnings, not to mention a whole host of possible side effects which sounded worse than the depression itself.
He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD. Psalm 112:7
That night I told my husband, “Apparently, I may want to unexpectedly kill myself after I start taking this medication. So keep an eye on me. K? Good night.”
God bless my sweet husband.
I took the first pill at 11 pm, knowing once I started taking this medication, I could not stop without doctor supervision. Introducing, Freak Out Moment Four. I curled up on the corner of my couch scared to death, wrapped up in a blanket, and cried myself to sleep…
Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me. Psalm 55:5
Excuse the awkward segue, but you know those weight loss ads where some person drops a ridiculous amount of weight in a short period of time and becomes a spokesperson for the weight loss product? But then in really small letters at the bottom of the add it reads, “RESULTS NOT TYPICAL”? Well when I tell you about my experience on Lexapro, I need to have a little blurb that says “RESULTS NOT TYPICAL.”
OK…back to the story:
At 4 am my eyes popped open. Wide awake.
Are you kidding me? I can barely function as it is when I’m sleeping all day! I will not be able to function on a few hours sleep. Literally, God. I won’t be able to function today if you don’t allow me to go back to sleep!
Still wide awake…tick tock tick tock tick tock… until 6 am, when I needed to get up.
As I stood at my mirror and started brushing my teeth and my hair, I noticed I felt rested.
Not only that, but I felt a little twinge of excitement—excitement that we were getting a new front door soon. You read that correctly. Excited that we were getting a new front door.
Hold the phone, you lost me, Sandy. What does a new door have to do with the price of tea in China?
The significance is that I had not felt a twinge of joy—not one single twinge, and certainly NOT in the morning—for the last five months. Five months of no twinges. No exaggeration.
My days are swifter than a runner; they fly away without a glimpse of joy. Job 9:25
And the front door? My front door was rotting off its hinges and I could not have cared less. A few hours prior, I was literally not caring less. If my whole house was rotting, I could not have cared less. And here I was at 6 am on five hours sleep feeling a little bit of joy about a new front door.
That may not seem like a big deal to you, but to me, it felt like someone cracked open the blinds and a ray of sunlight broke through utter darkness.
The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. Psalm 28:7
To me, it was nothing short of a miracle. A tiny ray of hope that I wasn’t hopeless. That maybe, just maybe, I was going to be OK. That God was going to lead me out of this deep depression and restore my joy. That God was speaking through a psychiatrist and a check out girl, and all the people and events before that day, and reassuring me all along that I could trust Him if I just keep walking with Him.
You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16:11
This isn’t about Lexapro. It’s about a God who will work out your deliverance when you cling to Him. It may be through medication. It may be through therapy. It may be through divine healing. It may be through a thorough cleansing by His Word. For me, it was a combination of all those things. I’m not sharing this so you copy the path I took. I share this to point you toward the One Who illuminated the path for me. To assure you that God is holding you in the palm of His hand even when everything in your mind is screaming to the contrary.
Results not typical, indeed. But then again, miracles rarely are.
Did you know that early posts on this blog lay a scriptural foundation for God speaking to us today? You may want to check out this post where I discuss ways we can hear God more clearly based on Philip’s experience.
**************************************Coming up on God Speaks Today:
Wednesday: God Speaks at a writer’s conference. A little commercial break to tell you about something really cool and a chance for us to meet in person!
Friday: Fitness Friday!!!!
Next Monday: God Speaks Through the Storm Part Six: Hear from Dan, the Godly and Funny Therapist, on the many aspects of clinical depression. You won’t want to miss this!!!
Next Wednesday: God Speaks Through the Storm Part Seven: Why I so highly recommend counseling when you are in the Storm.