I have depression.
Long-term, never going away, incurable albeit manageable, depression.
In April, I knew that I needed to get help. Again. So I re-enlisted in therapy and made an appointment to see my primary care physician. I'm happy to say that I found my "forever med" in Wellbutrin and am finding my old, "normal" self a bit more every day.
And now I have a recovery story to tell that isn't so much like some huge, dramatic Lifetime movie as much as it is me screaming to the public and anyone with ears to hear in my little communities around me that I am the poster child to illustrates the potential for a depressed person who goes unchecked because, "she seems to handle so much so well."
It's been 5 months. I am doing great as the light at the end of the tunnel grows bigger and brighter and nearer every day. So why say something, why feel compelled to evangelize about depression now? I mean, it's not like I've never broached the subject before, but why so passionate now?
Because three things.
Because of Robin Williams.
Glennon's response to the news of his death said everything I thought and felt for days:
When we mentally ill find out that one of us was taken, we feel sad, yes – but mostly we feel afraid. Monday night I was going about my business and all was well-ish and then I read the news and suddenly fell still and silent with fear. I felt shamed- like the universe had caught me red-handed with too much peace in my grubby little hands. Like I was getting too free and healthy and big for my britches and so I needed to be put in my place.In the wake of Robin Williams' death, hundreds of bloggers weighed in and people opined on social media. Some posts were compassionate. Others were not, simply spewing opinions and unsound (some downright false) "facts" to huge channels, often Christian audiences.
And the ignorance must be fought.
Then, because Sunday at church, (we're talking about Hard Things - one of the many things I love about my church - and how to deal, particularly with Addiction) we broached the topic of prescription drug abuse, you know painkillers, sleeping pills, hard core anti-anxiety drugs, etc., when somehow, antidepressants and other psychotropic meds got lumped into the mix and I felt my face go hot.
Seth was in another room prepping for the worship he was about to lead. So I was on my own with this.
The room began to close in on me as I felt the judgment, the impending, "If people just choose joy/pray hard to God/insert some other well intended but horribly wrong mental health prosperity gospel" platitudes that would cause the familiar and all-too-dangerous echo of doubt begin to play in my head.
Comment after comment came from the audience about how we are quick to just ask for a pill instead of working toward recovery the "hard way," that people just want to be numb and escape their issues.
All of which I agreed with, as pertains to the root of addictions. That's when it hit me, and my shame turned to indignance. I raised my hand and said, "Excuse me," with a tone that came out more harsh than earnest, "but I think we need to be very careful in our comments and comparisons here. People who abuse prescription medicines to achieve an altered state of mind, or high, is one thing. People who take medicines, as prescribed, to effectively manage a brain disorder that is a medical condition is quite different."
My point was conceded and acknowledged, but then the conversation turned back to more of the same.
I sat there for a few moments, as my love for the individuals in the audience warred with my desire to scream, much like Jesus did at the moneychangers, that they were all very, very wrong and Had No Damned Idea .
Instead I left the room and sought solace in a bathroom stall where I let some silent sobs free. Some women, wise to my struggles and recent return to living medicated, came in and supported me with words of validation.
Upon leaving the bathroom, class was over and several other ladies I love came and talked with me, again offering support in the hallway. Later that day, two older women told me they appreciated my comment in class, that it needed said.
But beloveds, as grateful as I am for those nuggets of affirmation, the hallway assents to truth in hushed voices, these truths need to be testified boldly, bravely, and from people who've experienced the darkness and its unrelenting pursuit for their souls to shake the scales regarding depression from the eyes of everyone in our churches.
And conversations need to be taking place.
The third because is because yesterday I went to a funeral with my 6th grade son for one of the students at his school, who, at the tender age of just 13, intentionally, tragically gave his life up last Friday night.
It needs to be ok to be sad. It needs to be ok to seek help. It needs to be ok to ask someone if s/he needs help. And it damned well needs to be ok to treat depression with meds if necessary.
We have to be kind. And care for one another in word and in deeds.
And lives need to be saved.