Thursday, March 1, 2012

Christians & Anti-Depressants ~ My Story

I read a very good article by Russell Moore the other day regarding Christians taking anti-depressants.  I believe he gave a very thoughtful, balanced perspective on the issue - not taking the route that drugs are evil & for "weak" Christians, but also not buying into the pervasive belief that drugs are the cure-all for everything that ails us.  I posted the article on FB, which seems to me at least to have either struck a wrong chord or been offensive (or both) to a few.  I believe this is more from not reading the article carefully or - possibly - believing that only those who have undergone "professional training" have a corner on the market & may make statements regarding it.  Or, it could even be that our society is so plagued with diagnoses & syndromes that any questioning of that is not tolerated well.  Whatever the reason, I feel compelled to offer my thoughts on the subject as one who once used anti-depressants.  I don't expect my story to be everyone's story; there are always variations, so don't feel as though I'm heaping judgment upon anyone who has experienced this issue differently from myself.  However, I do think the caution in the article (that I repeat below) should be heeded.  Thanks for letting me share my experience with you.

I agree with Russell Moore when he advises that while antidepressants are necessary for physiological imbalances, situational depression may need a pharmaceutical boost, but the underlying reason for the depression still must be dealt with. In such a case, the drug is a help, but it's not a curative treatment. In taking insulin for Type I diabetes, for instance, you are treating the underlying cause of your illness rather than just the symptoms. As I said above, so are those people who have a physiological issue; but those of us who rely on said drugs to deal with the symptoms while ignoring the root cause are not ultimately helping ourselves. Some have said that when you break your leg, you need a crutch. That's a true statement; but if you break your leg & your only treatment is using crutches - meaning, you don't go to a doctor to set & cast your leg - then your leg will not heal & you will be crippled. Such is the case if you have depression caused by life's circumstances rather than physiological imbalances & your only treatment is a drug rather than dealing with the issue(s) causing the depression. My personal experience is that I was diagnosed with depression in my teens, & so off & on I took an antidepressant for years. I mainly acted out my "depression" with anger, so anytime that I started doing so, I turned to the drug to "fix" me. When my darling husband, Michael, came along, he showed me that my anger was sin (not in a condemning or accusatory way, but in love as a fellow sinner also in need of God's sanctifying grace) & I needed to confront it, not numb it. I got off the antidepressants, & with that realization - which for me has definitely proven true - I fight my sin with God's Word & prayer rather than just covering it up with a drug. Now, in my situation, the underlying cause of my anger was a fourth-grade molestation by an uncle & how some of the family dealt with it (blaming me & sweeping it under the rug). I went to counselors - even "Christian" counselors - for years & was never freed. Michael sent me a Mark Driscoll sermon on expiation & C.J. Mahaney's book Living the Cross-Centered Life, both of which applied the Gospel to my situation & freed me! I learned from Mark that not only did Christ's death cleanse me of my own sin, but also the sins committed against me (sexual abuse victims always feel dirty & at fault). I learned from C.J. that my own sin committed against our perfectly holy God was far worse than any sin someone committed against sin-filled me. Yet, God forgives me & loves me. Who am I to withhold forgiveness from anyone? I can't tell you how clean I suddenly was, how free of the bitterness & hatred! I wasn't healed because of my own prayers or faith (like some new-age Charismatic), but through the application of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. No drug could ever have done that; it would have simply continued to numb me. I've never taken an antidepressant since. That doesn't make me a stronger or better Christian. It just shows the greatness, mercy, & grace of God in the Gospel's healing power.