Friday, September 17, 2010

Indigo Files: Day Four

Read other entries about dealing with depression here.

My first three days on drug therapy were overwhelming, to put it mildly. I experienced pretty much every side effect on the list, although many of them began to taper off after the first day. I experienced no more hallucinogenic nights like the first one, for which I was profoundly grateful.

The sweatiness, however. . . ugh. That side effect lingered. Palms, forehead, elbow pits, all perpetually sticky. I started to feel menopausal, frequently finding myself asking, "Is it hot in here, or is it just me?" Of course that would be a side effect; it's a side effect of living in Texas. But when I would ask, the people around me would look at me funny, so I got the impression it was just me. I am not a fan of feeling sweaty. But I'll tell you what: it's a small price to pay for the benefits.

By the fourth day, I was starting to come out of my side-effect induced haze. I started thinking about whether God gives depression to test me, and if I am taking the easy way out by relieving it with medicine. Maybe he wants to teach me something about relying on him, and I am taking the non-God-reliant way by choosing medical treatment. After all, the apostle Paul had some kind of physical ailment that he prayed God to remove, and God's answer was, "My grace is sufficient for you."

I definitely desire to allow God's grace to be sufficient for me in my challenges. But what if there is a treatment available? Then perhaps, God's answer is get treatment.

For one thing, depression carries a genetic link. And after watching another member of my family struggle with this for decades, I have a pretty good sense that this is not a matter of needing more exercise or better eating habits. This is part of me, and it will not just go away. Even if it does come and go, I will likely be fighting depression for the rest of my life. So I could ignore it and try to power through the next 20 years of child-rearing and pray for the best. Or I could acknowledge its presence and attempt to conquer it.

For another thing, depression is considered a medical condition, because it involves imbalanced serotonin levels in the brain. That's a physical fact. And medication can improve serotonin levels. I realized that if I had high blood pressure or diabetes, I would try to improve my health through lifestyle but I would also take the appropriate medication. I would pray for God's help to manage my health, but I would still take the appropriate medication. I think depression is the same. I can pray for God's presence in my struggles, and I can resolve to manage my health through lifestyle change; but I can still justify taking the appropriate medication.

If nothing else, I just finally came to the point of admitting I needed a crutch to get me over the hump while I develop better prayer and lifestyle habits. Because it's incredibly difficult to pull oneself out of a mental pit when one does not have the energy to make good decisions.

Also, if this is merely a crutch, this allows me to be present in the lives of my husband and kids during these critical years of our life as a family. I don't want their childhood to be tainted because I was too proud to admit to a treatable condition.

So I will continue with this therapy at least through the winter. Perhaps I will continue through the years my kids need me so heavily. And maybe, I will continue on it for the rest of my life. Whatever it takes, because right now I am feeling like this pill gave me my life back.

I am more patient with my kids. I (mostly) have more energy to keep my house clean. I have been blogging like a fiend all summer. (Have you noticed?)

Mainly I just feel like I am the person I want to be, without all the things that have weighed me down and dulled me. And I am so grateful.


  1. I, too, suffer from depression. About 6 years ago I finally decided to try medication. For most of my life I'd try to stave off the depression with exercise, but I finally got to the point where I realized I'd have to be running non-stop -- it just wasn't as effective anymore.

    I had resisted drugs for so long, but when I finally made the decision, it was a life-changing one. I tried to come off the meds once, about 3 years ago -- never again. I have totally accepted the fact that I have a chronic medical condition not much different from any other, and I will probably take medication for it for the rest of my life.

    I think you are doing a great service here -- writing opening and honestly about depression. There is still a stigma attached to it. And stories like yours will help bring more understanding to the disease.

  2. Just last week I found out someone I love very much is suffering from depression. She blogs so I'll send her over here. She's a new mom and I think she will be encouraged by your writing. It has helped me to pray on target for her as you write the Indigo files.

  3. thanks for writing this. this is something i have struggled with as i decided to take medication and even while being on it. it helps to hear your perspective and makes a lot of sense.
    i have not noticed the results you have yet (i've been on it for about 2 months now) but i hope i get that clarity and energy you have! we'll see....everyone's road is different.


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