Unless you were born yesterday, you’ve probably heard the saying, “Be careful what you wish for!” Or if you’re a devout Christian, it’s more like, “Be careful what you pray for!”
The day I decided to begin taking my new anti-depressant medication was April 1st. I have said and done a lot of foolish things in my life, but I’d like to think I’m no fool. Like most people, I didn’t just wake up one morning to discover I was suddenly 60 pounds overweight. I don’t ever remember waking up thinking, “oh gee … I think I want to be depressed today.” Realistically, I’m smart enough to know that both weight loss and treating depression is going to require a certain amount of time. Pretty much every thing good worth having in life takes an investment of time.
I began seeing a pain management doctor for my knee pain a month prior to my son’s wedding. Because of the usual insurance company runaround, it took some time to get approved for any type of treatment. Once seen by the doctor, he prescribed a round of injections in both knees to help with the pain.
We started with Cortisone, which I’d previously tried, with little success and this time was no different. We moved onto hyaluronic acid which could provide relief for up to a year. It bears mentioning that I have an intense dislike and pretty significant fear of needles. I needed four rounds of shots times two knees. That equals eight needles. During the first round, the doctor accidentally hit my bone which only reinforced why I hate needles. He said it was a million to one shot for that to happen since he used a fluoroscope to guide the needle. Go figure. I certainly didn’t feel lucky!
I was scheduled for my second round of shots about four days after beginning my anti-depressant. My appointment was scheduled for late afternoon and I could feel myself getting all worked up in a fearful, frenzied state as soon as I got out of bed. I tried to do a simple workout on my stationary bike to take my mind off my appointment anxiety.
The worry that I’d have another bone-piercing, painful appointment was very real. About 15 minutes into the workout, I started feeling very winded and my heart began pounding at an unusually fast, hard pace. At first, I just assumed it was exercise exertion, but it quickly became apparent that I was feeling something I’d never felt before. I was feeling slightly dizzy and light-headed on top of everything else.
As I called my husband in a panic, I couldn’t catch my breath and thought … “Holy crap … this is it … I’m having a heart attack!” Now I know that just a week and a half ago, I’d been begging God to take me quietly in my sleep. It was never my idea though, to be fully awake when the death knell tolled. Like most people, I’d really rather have death come swiftly, painlessly and preferably while asleep or unconscious.
As much as I thought I wanted to die – when faced with the very real possibility that I was having an actual heart attack and potentially staring Doctor Death in the face, I freaked. “Lord, this is not what I had in mind at all!” My overactive imagination (or perhaps the accusatory voice of the enemy in my head), had all but convinced me the anti-depressant had caused this heart episode. This was my fault because I never read the warnings or side-effects of the medication.
In my desperation for this medication to work, I was afraid my overactive imagination would manufacture any warning symptoms. A classic ignorance is bliss mistake on my part. Perhaps I really am a bigger fool than I gave myself credit for.
My husband works quite a distance from our home, so he called my youngest daughter and she called her siblings. Within a very short amount of time, both my daughters arrived. My son called me, as well as my new daughter-in-law – who is a registered nurse. After describing my symptoms, everyone agreed that I should go the ER, just in case.
I checked in with the triage nurse, explaining “I’m 60 pounds overweight and almost 60 years old. I think I’m having a heart attack.” That was enough information to get me seen very quickly. I explained my anxiety regarding my upcoming pain management appointment and told the nurse about the new medication I was on. After a few hours of heart tests and blood work, I was diagnosed as having had an acute anxiety attack. I’d never felt so stupid in my whole life.
The nurse who treated me said it was in fact, smart of me to get my heart checked out. She confessed to me that she also suffers from depression and anxiety. “I couldn’t do my job – probably wouldn’t get out of bed, without the help of my anti-depressant and anti-anxiety meds,” she admitted.
She reassured me that depression and anxiety are very real mental illnesses and there is no shame in taking medication for them. Both my daughters agreed with her and reinforced to me that it was smart for me to be on medication. Apparently they all could see that I was not okay with taking medication for depression.
This incident may have been triggered by my “needle anxiety,” but it revealed my underlying issues about the depression meds. While I had prayed for peace about taking the medication, my “episode” showed me that I’d secretly been feeling very ashamed and conflicted for needing medicinal help. The ER visit made me face the fact that I really hadn’t fully released my worry and “shame” to God.
Once the doctor gave me a clean bill of health and sent me on my way with a chill-out drug coursing through my veins (and one that he recommended I take before every knee injection), I made a decision that enough is enough.
Either I believe God’s Word and trust Him — or I don’t. I have an illness that requires medical intervention, but this illness does not have to define me and it does not have to control every aspect of my life – especially if there are medications that can alleviate my symptoms.
Insert my standard: the devil is a liar, proclamation here! One sure way of knowing that the voices in your head ARE NOT God, is simple. If everything you’re hearing in your brain is negative or self-destructive … THAT IS NOT THE VOICE OF GOD! That is the voice of the enemy!
God’s Word tells us in Jeremiah 29:11:
Did God give me depression? Emphatically … No! BUT, God can certainly use depression to help draw me closer to Him. (*SEE: Genesis 50:20 and Romans 8:28.) Because God never wastes pain, I like to think that anything that He teaches me through depression and anxiety, will be something I can use to help someone else someday.
If you are suffering with depression on any level, I urge you to talk to someone. It can be a friend, relative, trusted professional, crisis hotline, etc. God does not want you to suffer in silence. Jesus died for me. Jesus died for YOU.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
I may not be there yet, but I’m closer than I was yesterday. ~ Author Unknown
My daughter’s attempt to distract me from worry while I was in the ER was to steal my phone and change my wallpaper settings! I LOVE her sense of humor!