As a woman who has struggled with severe panic and anxiety, I have studied a thing or two about anxiety and medication. I know firsthand how debilitating anxiety and panic can be. It’s a personal hell that nobody can possibly understand, unless of course you have experienced it yourself. The journey to healing for me was about an eighteen month process, and it DID include medication. Through the emotional struggle and the intense amount of pain I experienced, my purpose was birthed. I now co-run an organization called Fearless Women, which helps women overcome fear and anxiety. A recurring question that comes up quite often after our meetings is, “Should I take medication to help me”? Answering that question is tough. I write this humbly knowing that contrary to popular belief, my belief may not sit well with you. However, my prayer is that you will read this in its entirety, with an open mind, and take some time to digest these words. I also pray that you consider everything written and see if these words may hold more truth than you once may have thought.
According to an article written by Berkley Wellness, 1 in 10 Americans take an antidepressant (which can also be prescribed for anxiety disorder, among other types of drugs). That is a lot of prescriptions going out each year to Americans! Do I think that’s necessary? No, I absolutely do not! Do I think antidepressants gets over prescribed? Yes, yes I do! You see, I believe people run too quickly to medication, looking for a cure to their anxiety problems. Although I wholeheartedly believe they can help and can be an instrumental piece for so many people wanting to find victory over anxiety… I do not believe they should be the first priority or hold as much weight as they do in a person’s life. Anxiety medicine should help in your recovery process, but it should not be an idol in your life. Allow me to break this down further, hopefully you haven’t written me off yet. Remember, I asked you to hang with me until the end. These things take time to explain. :) My very wise primary care physician, who diagnosed me with severe anxiety disorder said to me the day I got slapped with that diagnosis… “Christy, I’m going to prescribe some medication for you that is going to help you, BUT I want you to do your homework, get to the bottom of what is causing this in your life…because if you don’t, you will be back here a year from now, and I will just have to increase your medication”. Those sobering words have stayed with me forever. “Christy do your homework”, and that I did! What caused me to get where I was? Why was I experiencing these massive panic attacks that ultimately led me to a nervous breakdown? Those were the questions at hand. Think about this for a moment. How often do we turn to medicine to give us relief, peace, less pain, instead of really tackling the root of the issue as to why we got into the mess to begin with? If not handled properly, anxiety medicine becomes a Band-Aid. Now, I want to note that I do believe in genetics. I hear you screaming through the screen at me right now, “But my mom has it, my dad has it, my grandma has it, so that’s why I suffer with it”. Yes, yes I hear you! That plays a HUGE role in why you are more likely to suffer. However, I believe there is more to the story.
Remember me saying, anxiety medicine should not be an idol in your life? Let’s explore that a bit. An idol is anything that you put before God. Anything you run to instead of running to Him, is considered an idol. Anxiety meds can become dangerous when…
You turn to anxiety medication before you turn to God.
When your confidence is in the drug rather than God.
So what is the answer? How do we take anxiety medication and still put our trust in God? By understanding that often times the pain is part of the process which allows you to put your full trust in God. Which then, helps you see medication as a gift that God has given us to help aid in recovery, instead of the answer to all our problems. See, in my case, I was a huge control freak. I was a workaholic with all the wrong priorities. I cared more about the success of my career instead of the health and welfare of both myself and family. Several years of that nonsense took a toll on me, which led me to my nervous breakdown, which now I have redefined as my nervous breakthrough. I believed in God back then, I mean I thought he was up there somewhere, responsible for this great world we live in. I prayed occasionally, went to church on Easter and Christmas but that was about the extent of my belief in God. You see, we are designed with a God shaped hole in our heart, that only God can fill. We can try and fill it with work, success, money, shopping, relationships, medication, children, etc. By doing this, it will only leave us empty, if that’s ALL we try and fill it with. God taught me during that extremely painful and discouraging time in my life, to draw closer to Him. He wanted me to fill my heart with Him first, instead of filling it with everything else. That is what our trials do. They mature us and draw us closer to our heavenly father, IF we allow it. That’s the homework answer that I needed that my brilliant PCP encouraged me to study out. When you seek the kingdom of God above all else, He will give you everything you need. I was not living my life by seeking God above all else. Could I go as far to say that, maybe you are not either? Could I go as far to say that, maybe your anxiety is caused by past wounds, fears of the future, your own selfishness, or your own lack of surrender to the God who created you? What homework do you need to do?
I’ll end by saying, a surrendered life following God is far better than anything I have experienced before being sold out to Jesus. Our God heals. He has plans to prosper you and NOT harm you. He doesn't want you in a mental state of depression and anxiety. In fact the word of God says about 365 times in some way shape or form, “Do not fear, Do not be afraid, Do not be anxious”. One time for every day of the year! So, you may have come from a family line of anxiety in which case you may be battling some very real and debilitating anxiety. You may be suffering enormously from past wounds causing anxiety. You may be suffering deeply from a relationship that has hurt you and now you're anxious to move forward and don’t know how to trust anyone…but you must know this, God doesn't want this to be your story forever. He doesn't want you to ignore your homework and come back to the doctor in a year and ask for MORE medication to cover the pain, pride or hurt you are trying to cover up. Dig up the root cause of your issue and surrender it at the feet of Jesus and let him be your great physician who forgives you of all your sins and heals all your disease, which includes mental health disorders. So, take the medicine to aid in your recovery without fear, knowing it’s a gift God has given you not to replace Him, but to seek Him more, above all else.