One in four people will have a mental disorder at some point in their lives. Does this number surprise you? It doesn’t surprise me. As a psychology major, the prevalence of mental disorders is well known to me – I just never thought I would end up being the one in four.
In the fall of 2015 I started noticing that my PMS was becoming abnormal. As the months went on, I almost physically couldn’t stand being around people – especially the people I was closest to – because I would get so irritated or angry. It wouldn’t have bothered me if I could go an entire day or more without talking to someone. I would lay in bed for hours watching TV. It would take everything in me to convince myself to get up. To interact. I didn’t really care to eat. I was so ashamed of the way I felt that even when I wasn’t PMSing I still didn’t want to be around people. I still wanted isolation. Finally, in May of 2016 I went to see my doctor. I told her what was going on, and she said that my symptoms sounded like Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (or PMDD).
I started on an antidepressant. This didn’t bother me. Because of my study of psychology I knew how beneficial medication could be when needed. By the time the next month rolled around, my symptoms were much less extreme. As time went on, I was able to better manage my emotions and my reactions. I could be around my loved ones without wishing for a way out. I was starting to feel normal again.
Not many people knew I was taking medication. There is a belief that is common in the church that if you are a Christian, then you shouldn’t need things like antidepressants. In all honesty, I digress.
We live in a world full of sin, death, and disease and depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, conversion disorder, and panic disorder still exist whether you are a believer or not.
Because of this stigma around medication, I chose to stop taking my antidepressants too soon, in all honesty. I felt that if people knew they would look down on me because I should have had it together. I should have been able to overcome my problem without a pill. I study mental health and behavior, I know what happens in the brain and how therapy/medication can help, and yet I still felt this way. Something is wrong here. Because I chose to medicate and my symptoms calmed down to a manageable point, I was able to think more clearly. I was able to calm myself down enough to pray and to seek Him. I believe that God has equipped many men and women in the field of counseling. Therapy is a wonderful thing. Medication can be, too, when necessary. Seeking help doesn’t make you any less of a believer.
As an believer, as an individual, you have the right to make the choice of how you choose to seek help if you need it. My decision was one that I thought about, one that I prayed about, one that I had peace about. If you found yourself in the same situation as I found myself in, your choice could have been different. You could have chose to seek counseling. Or to not to seek outside help. Or to seek help some other way. And that is perfectly okay. But don’t let someone make you think that because you are a Christian, you aren’t allowed to have mental health issues – that would be like saying you aren’t allowed to have diabetes. I fully believe that through the power of Christ in us we can overcome the obstacles in our life – but just like we go to a doctor when we are sick, we are allowed to reach out when we are struggling mentally.
I am a Christian and I was on antidepressants. I’m okay with that. I’m grateful for it. When I struggle now, when symptoms start to creep back in, I can handle it because the time that I spent on medication allowed me to learn how to control what was happening, which I couldn’t do beforehand. Think. Research. Pray. Make the decision that you need to.
Photo Credit: Misael Nevarez