Ok, so it took a little longer than a day to get back to posting… but I’m back with a long post.
I’ve had some time to think about this journey I’m on and to reflect on what has led me to having to take medication to manage anxiety and depression, and it starts as far back as I can remember as a child. I have always been anxious and felt insecure and have had periods of being overwhelmed, but nothing like this. I could go into the reasons why, but my goal here is to focus on overcoming and the grace of God (who by the way has been truly amazing in this process).
Just to set the stage, on Jan 2, 2015 I had an episode while lying in bed where I started to shake head to toe, and after which I couldn’t sleep, and didn’t sleep properly for over a week, getting 3-4 hours of sleep per night if I was lucky. On Jan 12, I got sleeping pills from the doctor that helped me sleep at night and help with the anxiety, but left me drained by supper time.
Starting around the same time God started talking to me about what I was going through, why, and how he was/is/will help me in this process. So here are the things I have learned so far:
It Was Time
I truly believe that this current state I am in was not the will of God and is a result of issues in my life. I read today that the Bible says 110 times “Do not be afraid”, but the reality is that I am (about a lot of things). That I worry about a lot of things, some of them legitimate like providing for my family, others not so logical like not being able to sleep (which turns into a self fulfilling “prophecy” as you lay awake worrying about not sleeping…)
All these issues came together to”overload my structures” (as they say in teachings from Elijah House Ministries) and I reached a point where I couldn’t cope any more. When this first started I told people that I don’t think God started this, but He will definitely finish it because He will get the glory out of this, because if he isn’t going to, then it ends now (more on this in a minute). But now, though I still believe what I said about God finishing this and getting glory, I believe that maybe God did start it because he loves me. I know that sounds weird, but I believe its time for me to deal with things in my life that frankly I have run from most of my life (some of it I knew I was running from, some of it God revealed to me). And because God loves me and doesn’t want this fear in my life any more, he made it impossible for me to avoid.
From My Head To My Heart
The second thing that is happening in this process is stuff I knew with my head is making its way to my heart. I’ll give you an example: I knew that God loved me with my head, but only when I broke down (with tears and snot) and said to God, “do you really love me?” did he say to me (quite clearly) “Yes, I always have” and “God loves me” started to make its way from my head to my heart.
In this process, it was only by throwing myself on God, did I not lose my mind. I found God to be my strength, because I was broken and couldn’t do it any more. I was so tired, so empty, and had nothing left. I was doing a lot of crying. And it was only when I worshipped God, either through song or through prayer, that I found strength to go on. He was close to me, and I felt him lifting the heavy weights from me. In these times of worship (especially at Friday Worship nights at Water & Wine) God showed me things:
God Doesn’t Change
Despite what I was going through God didn’t change. He was moved by what I was going through, but he didn’t stop being God because I was coming apart. God is secure in who He is, and is more than capable of being my anchor, strong tower, solid rock on which I stand. Jesus didn’t stop sitting on the throne, both over all of creation and in my heart. I could come to him, cling to him, and find refuge and strength in Him.
The Father Is Gentle
I have felt close to Holy Spirit for many years, and in this season I have been seeing Jesus as the loving, joyful, beautiful, glorious Lord that he is (and it brought me great comfort and excitement about what God about to do in the earth as I believe this is the year that we will see great revival start, and is part of why I’m going through this process). But I hadn’t really seen the Father in years, I knew he was there, but I just didn’t really stop to notice. But in this time, it was the Father who came to me, as any father does when his child is distressed. It was the Father that gave me strength, and who held me when I cried. It gives me hope knowing that my heavenly “Papa” is carrying me. (I’ll share a vision I had in a minute that speaks to this).
God Is All Powerful
The day this process ceases to be of use to God, it will end. God is all powerful, and will remain such through any trials we go through. And in an instant this can all be over with, at the command of God, it will stop. There is nothing in heaven, earth, or hell that can stop God’s command. My part is to trust God in this process, knowing that the end is always a word away, because there is purpose in what is happening to me is the only reason it continues.
Jesus and Medication
It was around this point that I had my second visit with the doctor, and completely lost it while trying to explain to her how I had no energy to play with my kids at the end of the day. I was diagnosed with anxiety and a bit of depression and was prescribed Cipralex (generic name is escitalopram). I struggled with the idea of taking anxiety meds, because a good Christian should trust God. There is a couple ways you could look at it, but what I will tell you is what God told me through a vision:
I found myself staring at an angel standing there with a drawn sword, but the image was “swimming” before my eyes and it was dark all around. It was at this point I realized that I was in the depths of the ocean, so I swam towards the surface, and as I broke through the water, I heard God say “I am with you” and the sound of his voice caused waves and spray on the water surface like a helicopter does while hovering over water. Then from the depth I saw something rising up that looked like a huge hand, and as it reached the surface I realized that it was actually made of sand, and it lifted me out of the water, and the vision ended as I lay on the beach catching my breath looking at the palm trees of a desert island.
The moral of this vision? It’s better to learn to survive on a desert island than to drowned in the ocean and that God is with me. Because of the meds, I don’t experience the lows I had before, but I also don’t experience the highs either (I would get so lost in worship, it was great). So I’m in a season of developing faith and learning to walk with God when I cannot seem to keep a train of thought (side effect of meds, I switch contexts / streams of thought often, though I always seem to come back around remembering where I left off).
It’s still hard some days taking meds, especially ones like Cypralex that alter body chemistry (It was like I had the flu for the first 4 days I took it, didn’t throw up, but my body didn’t absorb nutrients and I was weak and shaky) and I have struggled with wanting to take the meds earlier in the evening because of the buzz they give me when they kick in (I take them before going to bed and I am usually asleep before they kick in so I don’t feel them). I also have a permanent sore neck and I have ringing in my ears when I go to bed and first get up (either it clears during the day or I’ve learned to ignore it, not sure which). But I can do my job, play with my kids, and be there for my family. It does mean I now need to be deliberate in dealing with the issues that landed me in this mess to begin with, but I made a promise to God and I intend to keep it in dealing with the root causes. I’m just waiting on God’s timing.