Thursday, January 10, 2013

No Shame

I have pretty much been a wimp my entire life. All spineless 49 years of it. But every so often something happens that lights a fire under me and as my husband well knows, watch out. Sometimes it is seeing somebody else speak out with boldness that gives me courage. Sometimes it is getting so frustrated that I, as my grandmother would say, "bust a gusset". Sometimes it is just becoming so confident and at peace with my convictions that I cannot help but speak out. Today there was a harmonic convergence of all three.

The issue at hand is the Christian's use of antidepressants. (Note that when I am regarding antidepressants in their use to treat not only depression but also anxiety spectrum disorders and OCD) Now I have had a more intimate relationship with this class of drug than many people out there. Starting at age 12 when I could no longer function and had developed bizarre rituals to keep myself safe to age 17 while I tried to starve myself out of existence to age 24 when I reacted poorly to oral contraceptive use in early marriage and finally to age 33 when I could not longer live with a constant state of doom looming over my head and got on them for good. Antidepressants have been a part of my life for a long, long time. Every doctor I have seen in the past two decades has told me that my body obviously does not make enough serotonin. No doctor has ever seen a problem with their use.

Apparently a lot of Christians do. The concerns seem to go something like this: If you take meds you will feel better and therefore not address the sin causing your depression. Painful emotions are what drive you to Jesus and if you take meds you won't hurt and will not experience the depth of God's mercy. If you take meds you will become addicted to false something or nother. Meds are overused and it is unspiritual to be jumping on the bandwagon? I'm not sure really what all the hooplah is about, now that I think about it. I just know that taking meds, this class of meds, is a shameful thing for many Christians. 

Well, this is what I have to say. We seek medical treatment for all sorts of conditions but feel it is somehow unbiblical to pursue so for ongoing depression? What are we? Christian Scientists? No. We live in a fallen world in fallen bodies. Sometimes those fallen bodies can create debilitating emotions.What if the depression isn't a spiritual problem? Or what if it even only partially a spiritual problem? What if a medication can enable you to better see the truth of the gospel and the wondrous works of God? What if the medication clears the cobwebs from your brain so that you are better able to see your sin and repent with joy? What if the medication actually helps you to sin less and embrace God more? This has been so true in my life and in the lives of so many people I know. Taking antidepressants is not a sin. But I would dare to say that making somebody feel inferior or ungodly because they do take medication IS.

I know that that sounds very harsh. But to treat somebody who is pursuing healing in their life as somehow unspiritual because they may need medication is downright cruel. We aren't all alike. Life is not a level playing field. Some of us are stronger than others in some areas and weaker in others. We are not the same. And sometimes we need some help. 

Please know that I am not saying that drugs are the answer. Drugs alone are never the answer.  Only full dependence on the grace of God is the answer. But if taking meds enables me to see God more clearly and trust him more fully and be the wife and mother and friend that I need to be and live the life he called me to live, then I am going to take them. Without shame.


  1. Not to mention that antidepressants might just keep someone alive long enough to hear the gospel! I'm right there with you, Ginny. Adam once did not get a job, simply b/c a friend told a session that she thought Adam was on antidepressants. He wasn't at the time, although he had been, years before. That's all it took. They wouldn't hire him. It's horrible.
    As you say, we freely admit that every inch of our bodies is fallen and liable to illness ... except the brain. For some reason, Christians are often so arrogant they really believe their brains can't get sick and need medication, like the rest of their bodies. It's lunacy. Thank you for speaking out.

  2. I just read this Ginny and really appreciate you sharing this!

  3. Antidepressants can have some awful side affects but I know that if I were not on them I would still be groaning with chronic pain and unable to move because of my chronic dizziness ( both for unknown reasons ) and would not be able to raise my beautiful baby daughter! Frankly, people speak about what they don't know a lot of the time on this issue. I have only told a handful of my closest family and an elder that I have been using them for 4 years (because for some reason I am embarrassed about it, due to my pride I suspect) and I don't even use them for depression!