“Let me break it down until I force the issue/you never come around/and you know we miss you. . .”
Wounded, Third Eye Blind
The two things that I impress on my kids, frequently, daily, maybe even multiple times daily, is to be truthful and kind. If you cannot be both of those things, then you have no business speaking. When you find yourself being unkind, untruthful, or both; then you are to apologize quickly, sincerely, as though the other person was priceless and precious to you.
I feel such an opportunity, and an obligation, to be transparent, honest, and respectful in my writing. That obligation is first to myself and God, and then to everyone that may come in contact with my words. I realized at an early age the great ability I had to manipulate my words, and that I was gifted in convincing my target audience to believe what I said, whether or not I truly believed the words for myself. In turn, I feel the weight of responsibility for my words. And for my writings here to be upfront, thorough, and meaningful.
Since I first wrote about having depression, I have advocated for those suffering to seek help, and to please take any medicine they may be prescribed. And, I am sincere in that plea. It is a gift to live in such a time as this, where science meets need, and those who once would have been debilitated are now able to function at their wonderfully unique capacity.
It makes no sense, then, that due to life events, when I came to the conclusion that I was struggling to maintain an even mood without the help of medical interventions, that I hesitated to make the call to my doctor.
Because, I’m special. I can do it without the medicine. I do not want to feel unlike me. I have been successfully managing my moods, myself, my home, my family, my responsibilities, for over two years without it. I haven’t cut myself in over two years. I haven’t had suicidal thoughts in almost three years. And, I shouldn’t need it.
But, life. I no longer have two hours of time to sit and process. I no longer have time to sit on my couch, and give myself space to feel all the things I need to feel in order to manage my mood well. I no longer have time to do everything I need to do, and take care of me in the way I had before.
I needed to still take care of me, in all honesty and love, with less time and space.
I started taking different medicines to stabilize my mood and anxiety earlier this year. I called them my crazy pills. I called them take the bitch away. I called them my quitter pills. I called them my cop out meds.
Because I was ashamed.
For anyone else, I would beg you to take the damn pills. Do whatever it takes for you to be well, because I love you and you are valuable to me. I mean that: I would take you to the doctor, the pharmacy, and buy you a drink so that you could take your medication. Because there is no shame in taking care of you, someone worth more than all the stars in the sky. Someone who may be the very reason there are stars in the sky.
In my shame, I saw the hypocrisy. But, it did not matter. The script was already there. The script that said if my faith were bigger… If I really believed in God… If I was really who I said I was… The script that said taking the pills meant I was a quitter, I was crazy, which meant I was not a Christian, and that I had some fatal spiritual and condemning flaw in me. Taking the pills was just taking the easy way out, not much better than the cutting of my arms I had been doing, not really any better than being suicidal.
That I was broken, and I needed to stay that way. Because, is that not what God wants of me? To be broken, to be down, and stay down?
I did not write that script. But I rehearsed the lines, memorized the scenes, and ran through the script with the cast over and again. I became the character in the play, and I could no longer tell where I began, and the character ended.
And to take the pills, everyday, was a reminder of what a hypocrite I was. What a hypocrite I had been.
You see, I was told early on in my Christianity that mental illness was not real. Which, is kind of ridiculous, considering I had been on antidepressants from the time I was ten until I was 18, and that I had been in therapy for nearly my entire childhood, and a short while as a young adult. Or, maybe it was not ridiculous, because I had been so wounded by an adult who claimed everything could be fixed with a pill or a counseling session. That feelings were to be managed with medicines, and were not able to be dealt with in any other real way.
The kicker? I married a man who worked in psychiatry.
Up until I was most recently diagnosed with depression, I preached that mental illness was just another name for a spiritual condition. If those claiming to have mental illness would just get right with God, they would not need all that other hokum.
But, I always knew. Deep down, I knew.
I knew that it was not just hokum. That there was a physical science to it. That you could prove it was not just something that could be prayed away: that there was a clinical reason beyond the individual’s control that sparked the symptoms of a disease.
That my fears were not simply because I watched horror movies when I was younger. That my constant sense of impending doom was not normal. That the overwhelming sadness I felt was not simply a weakness. And that the never ending shame I lived buried under was not due to a sin I just did not realize I had committed.
Y’all. I just stuffed all that knowing down, though. The same way I stuffed that feeling of knowing I was being an a jerk for striving to persuade others to be a Christ follower. The same way I stuffed that nagging feeling that maybe coercive Christians were the ones being more harmful to others here, and not the atheist, or the abortionist, or the feminist, or the psychiatrist.
Maybe, just maybe, depression was not the lie.
The lie was that depression should be denied.
The lie was that I was at fault for it.
The lie was that I just did not believe enough.
The lie was that I did not love Jesus enough.
The lie was that I was lacking, found wanting, in some way.
And I held onto that lie a lot longer than I knew. It has taken a lot of being told that there is nothing wrong with me, that there is nothing to fix, nothing broken in me, to believe that there is no shame in taking something that helps.
That it is okay to take an antidepressant. And that the mistake would be in not taking the anti anxiety medicine when I could feel the stress climb into and throughout my chest. It is strange: I know I need to take the anti anxiety pills by how much I resist wanting to take it.
Today, for the love of God, I take my antidepressants.
And, I post this little essay, knowing that when a few people read it, it may be the end of the road for us.
And, I post this little essay, knowing that it is the best way for me to fulfill my obligation to be truthful and kind, to me and God, and to you. I post this essay, fully aware, that it places more distance between me and the character I once played.
Hello, dear one. My name is Heidi, and I really, really do like you. And I promise to be kind, and honest with you.
“Back down the bully to the back of the bus/because it’s time for them to be scared of us/till you’re yelling how we living cause you got the ball
Then you rock on baby, rock on, you rock on, on and on. . .”
Wounded, Third Eye Blind