My name is Liz, and I take antidepressants.
I’m also a crunchy granola wannabe who believes that food heals and uses essential oils for first aid. I like to keep count of how many months I’ve gone without needing a prescription, and I’ll stubbornly suffer a headache or sneeze up a storm without digging into the medicine cabinet. I wear my tough-guy status like a badge. I’ve been known to brag about all my broken bones (four, at last count). I even gave birth unmedicated.
But I take antidepressants. I have since my only daughter, Zoe, was six months old, when I was diagnosed with postpartum depression.
I can hear the grumbling now.
“But pharmaceuticals are so baaaaad for you! Haven’t you tried anything more natural?”
Pharmaceuticals as strong as most antidepressants are bad for you. The first medication I was given to stabilize my mood came with side effects so intense my doctor thought I had multiple sclerosis. My current prescription causes exhaustion, fuzzy thinking and aches and pains. I can’t wait to be through with it. But I also praise God for it.
I kicked and screamed when my husband insisted I see a doctor. I was in denial when the doctor told me the minimum length of time I should take my medicine was six months. I felt defeated the first time I opened the bottle of pills with my name on it. When someone asked how I was treating my depression, my answer was always prefaced with an apologetic aside about how much I hated my medication. I listened patiently to the well-meaning friends who educated me on the evils of antidepressants. I felt I almost deserved the lectures.
Then, the medicine began to work. Even though the physical side effects were undesirable, I could feel my brain beginning to heal. I no longer had daily, intrusive thoughts and anxieties about what a bad and useless person I was. Gone were the episodes of sobbing and crying. So were my thoughts of dying or running away to get away from my pain. I slowly began to be able to take care of myself; before, even taking a shower had seemed impossibly difficult. I began to enjoy my hobbies again. Best of all, I became more present for my husband and child, reawakening to the fact I had a family and not just a few roommates who probably hated seeing me. And amid all this struggle and healing, God began to answer my questions about why I had to rely on medication to function.
Just as it is God’s will how each of His children is chosen to suffer, it is also His will how each is chosen to heal. Natural remedies are wonderful gifts from the Lord and are often the best choice to take care of the things that ail us. But for some people and some mysterious reasons, they aren’t enough. In these cases, the things that heal us are often unpleasant. Chemotherapy can treat cancer. Serious infections require antibiotics. A broken leg needs a crutch. A broken brain does too.
To refuse a healing but bitter pill simply because it’s not to our personal tastes is idolatry–a putting of created things above the Lord our God. So rather than make my own little idol out of natural living, I’ve stopped worrying about it. The same God who made the healing herb made all the chemical constituents of the world. He loves the granola girl and the scientist in equal measure. He is good, and His wisdom is without boundaries.
Dedicated to Gabs Roman