(original post 5/15/12)
I can't be, I'm a Christian...
Lie #1 - "I can't be depressed. I am a Christian."
"I am not happy, but I cannot let others know. Christians are supposed to be a light and mine is pretty dim. I have to hide this side of me." This was my thinking for a long time and boy was I good at hiding it... most of the time. I think some of you know what I'm talking about. Many of us stay in denial or hide it... especially Christ followers. Why? Is it pride? Some. Embarrassment? Most definitely. A misconstrued understanding of what it means to be a Christian? Absolutely.
We have been saturated with a lie that once you become a Christian, you are supposed to live "happily ever after." (This truth will not happen until heaven.) The Christian life is a race ... more like a marathon (Hebrews 12:1). Life still continues as normal and we still have our struggles, but, the difference is we now have the Savior of the world, our Comforter, Refuge and Best Friend walking alongside of us.
John 16:33 I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
Matthew 5:16 You are the light of the world... let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
We are not free from the throws of depression nor any other ailments or struggles. We have this notion that if we are not happy and just about perfect, we can not be a light to others. This is a lie and a way for Satan to hold us back. The Truth is we are supposed to be transparent about our imperfections and show how differently we deal with them (with a humble, repentant and dependent spirit). This is when our light shines. Think about it. What's more effective, speaking the gospel all day everyday, or living it out in front of the world so they can actually see it and not just hear it?
My story - I've struggled with depression for at least 15 years. The earliest I can remember having any symptoms was in college. About 11 years ago, I spoke with a Christian counselor about "food issues" (at least I thought that was why I was there). She asked me a series of questions, then said "Christie, you are depressed." Of course my response was "NO I AM NOT!" A couple years later, in pre-marital counseling with a pastor, I was asked if I deal with it. Again, my response was "No Way!" I left both of these meetings defensive and embarrassed. I denied it for so long, but eventually accepted something was wrong... not depression though... maybe seasonal affective disorder.. yeah, that doesn't sound as "bad". So I continued in my denial and tried my very best to mask it around others...
Lie #2 - "I am a Christian, I cannot take an antidepressant"
In the Christian community, there is a difference in opinion on this topic. I am no expert, so all I can do is tell my story. For me, not taking the medicine prolonged my ability to grow and be a light. Satan had me right where He wanted me ... paralyzed and doing nothing.
...I finally accepted that I struggled with depression, but told myself I had to just deal with it because I couldn't take medication. It wasn't until 6 years ago, that I decided I could not overcome this on my own. I confided in a friend who was transparent and let me know she had also dealt with it. She asked me the questions, "If you had high blood pressure, would you take medication for it?" I said yes and began to understand why people take antidepressants. It didn't define me or where I stood as a Christian. It was medicine to help my body get back into balance. I started taking an antidepressant and all I can say is my life began to change. The fog began to clear. My "stuff" was still there, but, because the fog was lifting, I was able to face it instead of trying to hide from it. MOST IMPORTANTLY, my relationship with God began to grow leaps and bounds.
For awhile, I still tried to come off of it or put a time limit on taking it, but was unsuccessful. Two years ago, I finally admitted to myself that I need this medicine right now and would take if for as long as it took. I was finally being a "light" (Matthew 5:16) and able to enjoy my life in its abundance (John 10:10). I have come to the conclusion that God is more concerned about me being a light in a dark world to further His kingdom, then He is with me spending all my time focused on perfecting myself on my own.
For me, antidepressants have helped "clear the fog" so I can:
1) Face my issues (doubts, insecurities, negative thoughts and mindsets). They are still there.
2) Grow closer to God (For me, it lifts the fog that stands between me growing. I can focus on Him instead of my problems.)
3) Step out and be used by Him (Focus on and serve others, tell my story).
Without my surrendering to pride and being open to antidepressants, I do know I would not have gone on my last two mission trips (where I grew tremendously), and I certainly would not be doing what I am right now ... being used for ministry.
If you are considering taking an antidepressant,
1) Come out of denial, stop being embarrassed and admit there is something wrong. Ask God for help and to show you what to do.
Psalm 34:17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their distress and troubles.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.
2) Identify - Determine what is based on circumstances? What are mindsets? Physical symptoms? What may simply be habitual responses that you have fallen into?
Define - What are you thinking about? What do you say to yourself and not even realize? Many times Satan pulls us down by feeding us lies about ourselves or others. Listen to your thoughts, write them down and find Truth (scripture) that speaks against these.
Fight- Have you first tried taking this to God and began addressing it? Pray specific prayers? Seek His counsel. Have you already tried this but feel there is a wall up and you cannot get through?
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
3) Talk to a Christian Counselor (Proverbs 11:14; Proverbs 12:15; Proverbs 19:20-21)
4) What are your motives for taking an antidepressants? Do you want a quick fix? Do you NOT want to deal with underlying issues? (i.e. Medicine for me has helped me break the chains that kept me from growing spiritually. For another, when they began to feel better, they feel that they don’t need God's help anymore. There is a big difference in motive in these situations.)
Proverbs 16:2 All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord.
5) Don't look at it as the solution to all your problems, but instead, the beginning of healing.
Exodus 15:26 ...For I am the Lord, who heals you