(New) Daily Routine
It was a Sunday morning. I woke up a little earlier than usual and just started pacing around the house.
I looked at the medicine bottle with the little blue pills inside.
“Hmm… let me get ready for church first,” I thought.
About 30 minutes later – Hair, check. Make-up, check. Purse, check. Car keys, check. iPad, check… I am forgetting something… oh yeah! Deodorant, check!
OK, there’s still one more thing… the little blue pills in the medicine bottle.
Let’s rewind to a couple of days prior and we are looking at Wednesday. I was sitting in the waiting room to see the psychiatrist I had been referred to. I was fidgeting like I always do.
She came out, “Ready?” I looked up at her and smiled, “let’s go, we’ll take a short cut,” she said and we hurried off into her office.
10-15 minutes tops. Prescription was sent to my pharmacy, she went over side-effects… you know the usual – “nausea, weight gain or weight loss, don’t get pregnant”. Everything else you hear on the commercials and she ended with, “thoughts of suicide come see me.”
And the instructions – “Take it in the morning after you’ve had something to eat. Don’t take it on an empty stomach.”
Let’s fast forward to Sunday morning, there they were… those little blue pills.
I thought to myself, “Is my happiness really inside these little blue pills?”
I was nervous. What if this doesn’t work? What if they are wrong?
I prayed, “God I trust that this is all bigger than me. I know that you have the power to deliver me from depression, or Dysthymia, as they’ve called it, but after 27 years of praying and fasting and waiting and hoping, perhaps this will help. Let your will be done.”
I took the little blue pill and tears rolled down my face. Get it together woman, all you do is cry these days. I went to church.
The next week and a half was rough. The pills made me nauseous. They made going to the gym a bit tough because well I wasn’t eating enough due to feeling nauseous all the time.
But, after a few days it wasn’t that bad. The side effects dwindled and the little blue pills turned into a regular step in my morning routine.
Happiness in a Bottle?
Medication has helped me tremendously! I have been on anti-depressants for 6 months now. I feel so much better. I actually regret not doing this sooner.
BUT, of course, the medication alone is not at all a “fix-all-magical-solution” of some kind. I still continue going to therapy once every 3 weeks.
What the medication provides is clarity. It alleviates the symptoms of depression enough for me to tackle some of the roots that cause negative thought patterns, attitudes, and behaviors that have plagued me for years.
So, no, happiness is not in a bottle.
I still have to pray and find support in friends and family. I am simply trying to figure life out. Whatever that means. I feel a bit lost sometimes and a bit overwhelmed with certain aspects of my life but, I am working on it. One day at a time.
No More Shame
One of the major struggles that I had to face throughout this whole journey was coming to terms that it’s perfectly OK to receive professional counseling and medication to help treat depression.
For some context – I grew up in a relatively strict and religious environment. I have been a Christian since I can remember. The church I attended was a predominantly Hispanic/Latino Pentecostal Church.
This meant awesome things like bilingual services and amazing potlucks! But, it also meant that some of the religious teachings were deeply rooted in cultural beliefs more so than on actual biblical teachings. In general Latinos are less likely to seek professional help for physical ailments, but mental health is even less likely to get treated. Throw in there ideologies that seeking medical help somehow equates to not having enough faith… and boom! I was stuck in an emotional oblivion for, give or take, 10 years.
Seeing a therapist (or a psychiatrist) was something that was almost shameful. Sometimes, I would hear things like, “what a shame that a child of God should need pills to have a sound mind.” This sentiment was evident in sermons, in simple everyday conversations, or whenever I tried to open up about my struggles. Though those that I reached out to tried to be supportive, there was very little knowledge on what to do, and how to counsel someone struggling with depression. I am not talking about the blues you get after someone breaks your heart, or when your favorite team looses the playoffs at the very last minute, but that never ending fog that doesn’t seem lift no matter how much you try.
I now know that these beliefs are not biblical and have more to do with things such as social stigmas, lack of education regarding mental health, myths and taboos, etc. I hope that through my journey I acquire a good understanding of mental health issues and take those teachings along with grace and compassion to help others who are struggling with these things.
So, if you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or anything else along those lines… I am here to to tell you: It’s OK. I don’t have it all figured out either, I don’t know what tomorrow will look like, but I do trust that God loves us enough to see us through it.
Also, the church is a place full of imperfect people simply trying to figure life out. Leaders and members will sometimes make mistakes, even those who have nothing but good intentions. Not all churches are the same, not all pastors are the same, and not all members are the same. So, please don’t take my experiences to mean that I am against attending church. NOT AT ALL! It’s simply one person’s experience. The way I see it perhaps by sharing this journey someone who is currently going through similar experiences as I am can find solace in the fact that they are not alone. Or maybe one day I’ll be in a position where I get to help educate others on the importance of mental health.
I don’t know and to be honest I don’t fully understand why things happen the way they do, and I probably never will, so I just have to trust that God has everything under control.