Monday, May 17, 2010

Prayer and pills, too

Before we moved to Michigan, a friend, who'd recently made a move from Georgia herself, told me not to be surprised if I thought I was depressed after the move. She said she didn’t think her move would affect her the way it did – she was only moving two hours from home and she could easily go back to see her family whenever she wanted. But she found she missed the regular contact she was used to, and making friends proved more difficult than she’d imagined. “Give yourself two years to feel normal,” was her advice. “And don’t be too proud to see a counselor and get some help.”

Her story caught me off-guard. Her picture is in the dictionary beside “out going.” She’s super-friendly. She’d always had a passel of friends and was active and busy and thinking of her as lonely just didn’t compute. Thinking of her depressed shocked me.

Six months after our move I completely understood. I absolutely would have seen a counselor if I didn’t have two in-house; my mom and my sister talked me off many a ledge those first two years.

I guess because we have so many counselors in my family I don’t recoil at the idea of seeing one. Heck, I often tell my kids, “I paid for my counseling – you’ll pay for yours.” But the number of people, especially Christians, who think depression is a sign of weakness, or worse, a result of sin, blows my mind.  A recommendation to see a counselor is often met with disdain. Don’t even think of discussing going on meds…

Which is why I’m so thankful my friend Catherine recently recounted her story:
…I began to feel completely overwhelmed by life. I was sad all the time and I found it increasingly difficult to function normally in the real world. The smallest things would upset me out of all proportion. I was exceptionally angry. And I sat paralyzed at my computer for more hours than I care to admit, unable to do anything. It was a dry season that lasted far too long.
Finally in the middle of one dark January night I seriously considered downing all the ibuprofen in my medicine cabinet, figuring that Costco's large economy size bottle would do the job. I searched my heart as I thought about taking this step, reminding myself that there WOULD be people devastated by this action I was contemplating.
But I really didn't care who would be devastated. I didn't care how hurt they'd be or how bereft my absence would leave them...

I can’t recommend her post enough. Read it if you’re struggling. Read it if you know someone who is. And read it even if you don’t fall into either of those categories because one of these days you will.

Thanks, Catherine, for your honestly and vulnerability. I can’t imagine how many people you’ll help by being so open.

(Click here to read her entire post.)