Depression, Grieving…and Medication

Well, if that title isn’t enough to cause an uproar…, or trepidation on my part!  I’ve had a couple of blog post ideas floating around the past few days, but nothing that I felt strongly about running with.  In the past 24 hours, I’ve read certain articles and had several discussions with friends about this topic and then came that overwhelming sense when I know what the next post will be.  But this time, I thought, “Boy, I do NOT want to tackle this subject.  I don’t see an upside and I’m pretty sure I will offend people that I love and respect!”  I’ll just have to trust God for the upside!

So here I am, typing up this explosive topic – mind you, not before praying and asking God to give me HIS words.  So, I do pray that God would help me be clear in what I sense Him asking me to share, and that He would give all the readers an open mind and a heart of grace.

So here goes.  Let me begin by saying that I have never had to deal with any kind of long-term clinical depression and for that, I’m extremely grateful.  Nor have I really walked closely with someone dealing with that horrible disease.  I do, however, have friends who have dealt with this and several close friends who have spent decades walking through this nightmare with their loved ones.

I can’t even begin to comprehend what it must be like to deal with clinical depression personally, or to watch a loved one suffer through this.  My heart breaks for them.  Clearly these are the situations where modern medicine can and should step in to help deal with the chemical imbalance wreaking havoc on their brains.  I do know many people have found some sense of healing or relief under their doctor’s supervision.  I also know that healing doesn’t always come, and the pain and hopelessness continue.

If any of this describes you or someone you love, please know that my heart goes out to you as you struggle through this very real, very physical challenge.

That, however, is not what I’m experiencing as I grieve the loss of my husband.  Yes, I am sad, and I still cry daily, and I’m often overwhelmed by the loneliness.  But I feel that I do a disservice to those suffering from clinical depression if I think it’s OK to say our sufferings are comparable.  Or to put them in the same medical basket.

One thing we do have in common, however, is that the “solution” for either of us is not to just get over it.  Society may tell us to think positive thoughts and stop being so blue.  Wrong answer – wrong suggestion.  Neither suffering benefits from that advice.  Clinical depression likely will need medical intervention.  Grieving has to run its painful course.

Some in the field call my particular grieving a form of situational depression – a sadness borne of some great loss which, theoretically will lessen over time with or without medical help.  And maybe that is what I’m dealing with.

Enter the gray area where there is no right or wrong, but only what an individual feels works best for him or her.  I have close friends who have benefitted from medication to help them through some very difficult and stressful times.  I supported their decision to do so 100%.  It’s absolutely their call, and I know that they received relief.  No judgment on my part.  Grateful when they came out of their self-described fog.

Over the past 7 months, friends have suggested to me that I consider taking some medication as well, to help me through these dark days. I know, without a doubt, that they had my best interests at heart.  They don’t want to see me hurting, and feel helpless to know what to do for me.  I LOVE the heart of those friends who want my pain to go away.  But that’s not really how grieving works.  If it was, I guess it wouldn’t be called grieving!

As I explain how and why I came to the decision I made, I hope that you will also extend grace to me and not judge this personal choice I’m embracing.  When I engage in conversation with those suggesting I take some medication, I can honestly tell them that I’m functioning, I exercise daily, I’m sleeping quite well, I’m eating well (actually TOO much chocolate…).  I’m not without hope, I’m not suicidal.  I’M GRIEVING.  This is what it looks like. I would even go so far as to say that I don’t consider this to be situational depression.  It’s the process any of us must go through when we grieve the loss of someone we love.  Not grieving means you’ll pay the price in some other way at some point in your life.

I talked in an earlier post about how God does His best and most permanent work in our lives through our most difficult times.  I believe that with my whole heart as I’ve seen time and time again the lessons that God is teaching me as He walks through this journey with me.  Some I would never have learned any other way.

So the next lesson came in the form of a question that it seemed God was asking of me:  “If He does in fact teach me the most through my pain, why would I want to limit what He is going to do in my life by purposely lessening that pain?”  I’m not trying to be a martyr here; I’m just trying to be true to where I believe God is leading me on this particular issue.  And possibly share a perspective that you might not have had before.  I certainly didn’t have any clue about this until recently!

Let me be clear; this is MY path and decision.  It’s where God is leading ME.  I don’t know where He has, or is, or may lead you down the road.  It may very well be to help you through some dark days with effective and trusted medication.  And maybe I’ll be there some day, too.  But right now, this is where He has me.

I make no judgments on anyone choosing medication or procedures for any part of their healing.  And I ask that you not judge me for choosing not to go that route.  May God give us ALL the grace and understanding to support each other no matter which path we are on!


13 thoughts on “Depression, Grieving…and Medication”

  1. Lovely, Lynne! As someone who benefits from daily medication for anxiety due to a physical shortcoming in my judicial being, I think you are wise to separate your circumstances of grieving from the need to address a physical medical issue. I didn’t change my prescription when I grieved the loss of my father and family pet. Only time can’t heal such wounds to the heart & soul. Such feelings are justified and real and need to be felt, processed individually, and not masked or dulled by medication. I think you are wise to see the difference. God bless!


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