(I posted this on my "Then Sings My Soul" blog a week ago and thought I'd re-post it here since I'm not sure how many of you check that other blog.)
Okay, so I would say that I am officially weaned off of all anti-depressant medication as I haven't taken a pill in a week. One whole week.
And I'm still alive!
Honestly, the whole withdrawal process this second time around was quite manageable -- at least compared to the Paxil withdrawal that I experienced at the beginning of summer. The worst of it was just feeling exhausted and achey, like I was coming down with the flu. Not that those are fun symptoms to be experiencing -- but I'll take that any day over brain zaps and such from last time. It's all about perspective. And it (the withdrawal) all appears to be over -- for the most part.
So now what?
Well, now that I seem to be in the clear with withdrawal symptoms, I am left to deal with my emotional state as it was a year and a half ago before any anti-depressant medication had ever set up camp in my body. Not exactly as it was a year and a half ago...I know I was much worse off by Spring of '08 than I am now, in the Fall of '09. But I still find myself wondering how I am going to cope with life without the aid of medication.
I know this is not the best time of year to be the judge of that though. With Joelle just starting Grade 1 a few short days ago, it has already been a huge challenge getting used to all of the adjustments: eary mornings again, Joelle gone all day, Malia left at home needing to be entertained, making lunches/snacks every day, dealing with the exhausted Grade 1'er for the last 4 hours of the day...and all of it basically on my own as hubby is gone by 6am and doesn't get home until after the girls are in bed.
That's a lot for someone to handle at the best of times. Not to mention when they are just freshly weaned off of their meds and are trying to do things on their own.
There have been several times just over the past week where I have had to talk myself out of freaking out. Where I have had to remind myself to just breathe; take things one step at a time. Not one day at a time; one step at a time. Not to look ahead to the cool days of fall that are fast approaching (although it's hard to tell with the weather we've had all week...it's finally showing signs of summer, just in time for fall to show up). And especially not to look ahead to the dark, dreary days of winter that will be here much too soon for my liking.
Not to look ahead to the weeks and months ahead of 90% single-parenting, or sure bouts of sickness that will attack my family of 4 over the winter, of financial burdens up ahead -- you can never entirely escape those, of hearing about friends going through rough times and not being able to help, of weight ups & downs, of friendship issues...and the list could go on and on and on.
I realize that the things I am listing are everyday things that everybody has to deal with -- and I should just be able to take everything in stride like 'normal' people -- but it just doesn't work that way. Not with me. If I focus on the above list for too long...well, it's not pleasant. I get way too panicky and I just know that I can't handle it all. Life is just downright scary, there's no way around that.
And I know there are probably a lot of you who have things a lot worse than I do with life situations and may even be thinking: What does she have to worry about? She's got it so easy compared to me...and I don't need medication to get through it so why should she?
Believe me, I tell myself that all the time. I tell myself that I am being rediculous and that if I just trusted in God more, things would be okay. And you know, there is definitely truth to that to some extent. I do need to work on my faith and my level of trust in our Creator. But at the same time, that doesn't mean that if I do that, all of these issues will go away. See, I have learned that depression is a sickness. It's not just a bad attitude, or wallowing in self-pity. Not at all.
It may not be a fatal sickness (although I suppose for some it is, if it leads to them taking their own life), but a sickness nonetheless. And while faith in God can definitely help you through any sickness, it doesn't necessarily guarantee that you will be cured. And that is what I need to remind myself of. If I struggle with depression all of my life -- will it mean that I didn't have enough faith in God? Will it mean that I didn't trust Him for healing? No, not at all. A cancer patient can have all the faith in the world, and can still lose the battle. Someone with diabetes can be God's #1 fan and still have to take insulin shots on a daily basis.
And someone with depression can believe in their Saviour with their entire heart and soul and still need to rely on anti-depressant medication to get through each and every day.
I suppose this post is wandering a little bit. But basically what it comes down to is acknowledging the fact that I still have a problem. I still have a struggle with depression that isn't going to go away overnight. I may have weaned myself off my meds -- and I hope I can stay that way -- but that doesn't mean that I am magically cured. No, I would still consider myself in a state of depression...but I have hope.
I have hope that God will get me through one day at a time. I have hope that this 'disease' is going to strengthen my faith; that it will force me to spend more time relying on God and bringing me to a closer relationship with God. While my faith has never wavered, goodness knows I could sure spend more time with my Heavenly Father.
So now what? I ask myself.
Now I pour out my heart & soul to the Lord. I put my life in His hands with 100% faith that He will guide me. Whether that means He will guide me through a medication-free life, or He will guide me back towards meds...it's all in His hands. And I seek to do His will for my life, whatever that means.
I do know that things happen for a reason, and that God can take any situation and make good out of it. I am living proof of that. I can't even begin to tell you how many people -- some I know, and some who are complete strangers to me -- have emailed me or spoke to me directly to tell me of their struggle with depression. And how brave I am to be so forthcoming with all of it and how my story has helped them even a little bit. It has opened the door to so much communication and prayer.
And where there is prayer -- there is power.