As I look back on my life, I've recognized that I've suffered from depression on and off for years. Usually when grief has overwhelmed me like a tidal wave that won't stop, that's when I have a hard time getting back on my joyful little feet.
Or at least some groups tell me that's how I'm suppose to be.
I struggle with consistency. Consistency with my responsibilities, maintaining healthy relationships, with my hub, my relationship with God. Seems like with just being human.
Well I pretty much struggle with life period.
Everything takes so much darn work.
But I'm trying.
A little more than a year ago I began having full blown heart attack symptoms. Now I had a very stressful work environment PLUS it just happened to be right around the anniversary of my dad's death. I didn't put the two together at the time. But after spending nearly 24 hours in the hospital, being starved to death and my water bottle mocking me, with zero permission to take even the smallest drink, they said I was in perfect health. "Heart looks great," they said. Even told me I had great circulation in my feet, due the patch of hair they saw on top of my feet. Guess I forgot to shave. Whatev.
I've always been paranoid about taking pills. I didn't want to become "addicted" to them. With a grandmother that suffered from Lupus and a grandfather that suffered from Parkinson's disease, I saw rows and rows of prescription medication on their open shelves in the kitchen. My thought was, if I allowed myself to take one prescription for depression, I equated it with me taking all those bottles I saw as a child.
After having heart attack symptoms, and I mean I had chest pains, left arm went numb, even pain in my left jaw, my doctor said all I was having was a panic attack. How can something like that produce physical pain when it's all suppose to be in your head?
I knew I needed help because I thought I was gonna die and I was finally willing to get help.
Isn't it funny when faced with death we decide to do something about it?
What I've learned is that depression is a very real thing, as is panic attacks. I liken it to when you have a fever. It's your body telling you that some things in life are too much for you.
So my doctor put me on Zoloft. I didn't like the side effects I had in the introductory period but I felt I needed to give it a chance, a full month, like my doctor said. I didn't want to feel like I was gonna have a heart attack all the time so I continued with it.
It certainly helped with the heart palpitations I was having but I still felt depressed. And I felt like I could sleep all the time. I wondered about feeling that way but just thought it was my circumstances that brought on those feelings. I began to feel numb to everything. Like I didn't care about life. Almost like a zombie. Cause Zombie's don't have feelings. They just walk around in life with a blank stare, unable to respond with any emotion period.
I couldn't laugh, cry or enjoy any other wonderful emotion we take for granted. It seemed like something had sucked my soul out and I was just a shell.
But I didn't connect the two. Me and Zoloft. Not a good combination. Yes it may have helped my palps but I felt as if I was physically alive yet dead.
Because I just didn't care anymore, I started doing things that were out of character for me. Reckless things. Things that went against my christian morals. And eventually I put myself in a compromising position, yet I still didn't care.
Still not connecting the toxic combination of me and my so called friend Zol.
I didn't recognize it until I got off of it for several months and then was put back on it. At first I felt fine, sure I had the fuzziness going on in my head during the first week or so but I was willing to deal with it to help the panic attacks I began to have again.
I started to feel like I could sleep all the time, even after I just woke up. I thought it was just my monthly visit but then slowly I began to feel like I didn't care anymore. I was laughing less and less. And when my husband said something endearing, I wasn't reacting in a gushing, "I'm the luckiest female to have someone love me like that," manner.
When those feelings of not caring were starting to override my zest for life. I knew something was wrong. It was when I noticed that I had remained in my chair for 6 hours straight, only getting up for bathroom breaks and food, I had an epiphany. Maybe me and Zol shouldn't see each other anymore.
So I decided to share it with my therapist.
She let me know that she's had other's share similar testimonies about Zoloft, that they feel lifeless. Just existing. I told her I didn't want to feel that way anymore. She said something so encouraging to me. She said she didn't want me to either. She told me that she saw a passion in me and that was a beautiful part of me and she didn't want to see that snuffed out by Zoloft.
Now I've always had this motto that I should push through the hard things. Well I'm finally giving myself permission that I don't have to. I can let go and move onto something else that will benefit me better in life.
I experienced the danger of not caring before. Because I DO care. And I saw the effects that certain medication can have on you also. The right medicine is suppose to help you. The wrong medicine can lead you on a deep dark path. Unfortunately I had to go down that path to recognize it this time around.
Well we've decided to try Wellbutrin. I'm hopeful with this one. I'm not tired like I was. And I'm beginning to feel some life come back in me. The darkness has begun to lift.
As a Christian though, I started having feelings of guilt. Ringing statements of "Your faith just isn't strong enough." Or "You don't need that stuff Julie." Or "Your a weak Christian."
Ugh those negative thoughts have power don't they!
But in the quietness of the morning, the light broke through! As I was pondering how I sucked as a Christian, needing this stuff, I heard these reassuring words, "If someone has high blood pressure, why is it okay for them to take medicine but not you? How about someone who has seizures. It's okay for them to take something to help them NOT to have seizures. Why can't someone like you, who struggles with panic attacks and depression take medication to help yourself?"
Then I thought of my Aunt Judy. She had severe high blood pressure. She took medicine for awhile but decided she was gonna treat it herself. So she stopped taking it. She had a stroke and massive brain aneurysm. That was 13 years ago. She died at the age of 61.
I've thought about the words the EMT said to her after checking her blood pressure and seeing it was off the charts. These were the last words she heard. "Ma'am, when was the last time you took your blood pressure medicine?" Her response, "I don't take any." After she spoke those words, she went into shock. He had to quickly give her something to stabilize her and 3 days later we had to make the difficult decision to take her off of life support.
She felt the negative stigma of taking medicine then and it remains to this day.
Oh how I loved my aunt so much. What if she had given herself permission to take something for high blood pressure. Maybe she'd still be here.
I know a Christian gal who is nearly blind and cross-eyed. At one time she decided to stop wearing her glasses because of feeling like she had no faith because she wore them. That's preposterous!
Well since then she's decided to wear them again until God chooses to heal her.
Does it mean I have a lack of faith if I chose to take something? No I don't think so. Life is hard. At least it's hard for me. And I need help.
I'm giving myself permission to go against the current of christian rules that say I don't have faith when I take medicine. Cause I do. I love God. I wanna please Him. I know His word says that Christ took all sickness and disease but if He's willing to reassure me that it's simply okay to take care of myself in that way, then I'm gonna.
Until God chooses to heal me.
Love and Peace,