I have struggled with depression since adolescence, though I never knew to call it that. I grew up in a stable Christian family, always had good friends, did well in school and career, and had a firm faith in the Lord. And yet I found myself over and over in periods where I just felt “yucky” inside. There were days I didn’t want to get out of bed out of dread. I felt like I was going to fail before I even got started.
The very act of living was painful. Because there were no discernible external circumstances triggering these seasons of darkness which lasted for days or weeks, I thought the cause must be something in me. Something was wrong with me. Because I was a Christian, I earnestly sought the Lord in this. Was I not spending enough time with Him? Maybe I didn’t have enough faith? Surely if I were more mature I wouldn’t struggle so much. But discipline rarely made a difference, and then it was only temporary. Not that I didn’t grow in my faith – God was clearly working in my life and leading me, even to seminary and ministry. But I would end up in these pits yet again.
In my 30’s, through God’s providence, I slowly came to realize that what I was experiencing was depression. Talks with a counselor and a trusted psychiatrist revealed that the probable cause was biological so I began taking anti-depressants. The fact that I was even open to medication was God’s grace to me. I would never use medication as a “crutch” to get by and ignore the “real” issue.
I came to realize that just as a person who does all the right healthful things may still need to take blood pressure medication, my body chemistry could very much benefit from an anti-depressant. God uses various means of healing, and I don’t think that medication is the right route for everyone, but I do believe that this medical support is His good provision for me. I am finally able to feel “normal”, with normal ups and downs, not at the whim of my erratic levels of serotonin.
And instead of medicine being a crutch, since being on medication I have actually experienced some of the deepest spiritual growth of my life. God has brought deeper experiential understanding of who He is as Father, how much He loves and cherishes me. He has healed emotional wounds left by loving yet broken parents. He has given Himself in answer to the deepest longings of my heart to be accepted unconditionally and to feel special. He continues to prune me in areas of sin. He uses the community of His Church as a place to grow and love and be loved.
We are body, mind, and spirit, all interwoven as one. God has used His Word, His Body, His Spirit, and medicine to bring great healing to my whole being. I am thankful for all of these good gifts from Him.
He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. Psalm 18:16, 19
The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17