I learned to lean on God and trust in His ways through the healing process, and my eyes were opened to all of the invisible miracles He works every day.
Every morning I take the same two pills with a glass of water, and then I go about my day. My day is typical of a thirty-something married mom of two. There's work, playing with kids, cooking meals, and cleaning dishes. And laundry. Don't forget the laundry. These things seem like ordinary, everyday things. Trivial to many, I'm sure. They are the kind of things I used to take for granted too. But there was a time when those essential human functions became daunting, and giving up looked like the best option.
But God had other plans. And His plans required a willing, trusting, and patient woman—qualities I didn't possess.
Years ago, I would stare through tears at the tiny pills in my shaking hand. I fought hard to avoid taking this prescription because of what it represented. These tiny white pills held the weight of deep shame, disappointment, weakness, and brokenness. I viewed myself as defective because I inherited genes beyond my control. I'd think to myself how someone like me should not have a mental health issue. This kind of thing doesn't happen to a Christian woman like me, who should be able to rise above her emotions and distress, put herself back together, and prayerfully rewire her brain. I now know how prideful and pretentious that sounds.
When I swallowed the tablets, all I thought about was a lifetime of being labeled and shrouded by an overarching stigma of who the world said I was due to my illness. I believed I would need to hide for the rest of my life. I gave those small pills a lot of power, and my pride was the culprit. I relent; I am a stubborn soul at times. There is an old saying, "pride and stubbornness share the same fence," and I rode that fence like an egotistical cowgirl. I'd probably still be riding the fence today.
But God had other plans. And His plans served up a thick slice of humble pie, transforming me into a more willing, trusting, and patient woman. One who found her worth and identity not in who the world says she is but precisely who God made her to be.
Weighing the Pros and Cons
If you Google "the benefits of mental health medications," you will find many links explaining the cons of taking mental health meds. I digress; there are a lot of negatives to taking these medicines, mainly due to adverse side effects, which all prescriptions have. Having been given the wrong treatment plan a couple of times, I understand the challenges of medicinal treatment. That was one of the reasons I fought so long to avoid taking the meds.
Almost everything in life has pros and cons; even winning the lottery has cons. I'm not providing medical advice or trying to convince you that mental health medications will help. You should always discuss your condition and treatment plan with your mental health care provider.
Treating a mental disorder, whether depression, anxiety, or something else, usually takes various tools—therapy techniques, counselors, good friends, and time to get back on track. I always say I'm pro-treatment—whatever tools bring joy and fulfillment back to your life, use them. Mental health medication is usually the last resort in most cases.
Most importantly, it takes faith in our great healer, Jehovah Rapha, and realizing that miracles sometimes come through therapy and are sometimes compounded in a pharmacy.
Let's look at four ways mental health medicines can benefit a person struggling with mental illness:
1. Ease Adverse Symptoms of Mental Illnesses
The primary benefit of mental health medication is managing negative symptoms of the disease. Prescriptions can play a vital role in the treatment of co-occurring disorders and can help patients dealing with addiction minimize cravings and stay clean. They can reduce symptoms and prevent relapses of psychiatric disorders. The proper treatment plan can help a person get back to regular home and work activities when other avenues aren't working.
2. Make Other Treatments More Effective
Medicine can make therapeutic treatments more effective. The National Alliance on Mental Illness states, "Psychiatric medications influence the brain chemicals that regulate emotions and thought patterns. They're usually more effective when combined with psychotherapy. In some cases, medicines can reduce symptoms, so other methods of a treatment plan can be more effective. For example, a medication can ease symptoms of depression like loss of energy and lack of concentration, allowing an individual to engage more in talk therapy."
3. Can Be Used Temporarily
Mental health medications can temporarily get us through tough seasons when we can't shake the sadness or anxiety. My mom showed me an old prescription bottle in the throes of my most challenging seasons and my relentless pursuit of finding a cure that didn't include medicine. It was half-filled with an anti-depressant. The date on the bottle was the same month and year I moved out of the house. During that season, she retired and became an empty nester, and the uncertainty and loneliness caused depression. She filled a low-dose anti-depressant through her general physician, and it helped her through the season.
**Note: do not come off your prescription medication without consulting your doctor.
4. Doesn't Change Who You Are as a Person
A lot of people believe the lie that mental health medications will change who you are. I thought the medicine would make me someone I wouldn't know or understand, but my illness caused me to not recognize the woman in the mirror. I went through the rapid onset of a mental health crisis, and all I wanted was to rewind and go back to the old me. While there is no such thing as a time machine, time moved forward like it always does, and I became who I once was and so much more through God's miraculous restoration. I learned to lean on God and trust in His ways through the healing process, and my eyes were opened to all of the invisible miracles He works every day.
Our own Peyton Garland said it best on Instagram. "Recently, I had a friend of mine say they didn't want to go on mental health medicine because they were afraid the medicine would steal their identity, peeling them from their true self while offering an unfair advantage in work, school, etc. Friend, your medicine allows you to be you. It gifts your mind the chance to function properly as a "normal" and healthy brain. It doesn't grant superpowers—trust me, I wish. Don't negate the form God's miracles can take. He's not limited by our stereotypes and fears. In fact, he often employs them to glorify his Name. Don't count out the meds, friend. Don't count out our good God."
Friend, you are not alone. A community of us sees this "form of God's miracles" as a blessing. There is no shame in seeking healing. I've said it before, faith and mental wellness are inseparable. My faith is not in my medicine. My hope is not in my therapist or doctor but in Christ who placed them in my path.
When I look at those little white pills now, I see God's gift of a second chance for my stubborn soul. Okay, it might be my third or fifth—but who's counting?
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/PeopleImages
Darcie Fuqua is a Business Analyst, Auburn Grad (War Eagle!), Christian blogger & podcast host, and mental health advocate. She is from the deep south of Alabama, where she currently resides with her husband, two energetic fun-loving boys, and a dog named Charlie. She loves sinking her toes in the sand, cuddling with her boys, and having great conversations over a table of good food. You can read more of her writing on her website www.leightonlane.com and connect with her on Facebook and Instagram. Check out Darcie’s latest project as cohost of Therapy in 10.