Back on drugs

bedside treasuresJust about four years ago I wrote “Sin and Effexor: what drugs do to my sanctification“. I was diagnosed with bipolar II right around this time. since writing that post, I have been on and off medication (mostly off… hooray for expensive medication and no insurance). I am about to start taking medication again, and I am finding a mixture of trepidation, fear, relief, and apathy sitting in my chest.

I fear that the medication will alter me, change the way I understand, see, think, and some fundamental part of me will go away. This is the same fear I had first time I began taking medication. It didn’t happen then, and it most likely won’t happen now… but still that fear is there.

I worry that the medication won’t work this go around. I got really lucky before, and the first medication I tried worked for me. I had to change the dosage at times, but the drugs worked, correcting the chemical imbalance I have and helping me deal with life better. What if they are ineffective now? What if I have to play “try and see” with a bunch of medications? What if nothing works any more?

At the same time, I find relief in the thought of getting back onto the medicine that I need.  It is exhausting trying to constantly fight depression while worrying that your good days will begin to swing into hypo-mania. Trying to fight your own condition, fighting  to find mental and  emotional healthy is damn hard.

And of course, my good friend apathy is along for the ride. Will any of this really do any good? Does it really matter?

This whirl wind of thought, feeling, and  emotion is exhausting. It eats at my ability to be be the father and husband I want to be; it saps my creative sparks, killing the writer before I even attempt to practice the craft; it erodes my sense of self, worth, and identity, leaving me unsure of everything about my self; it dries up my faith, isolating me from community and in many ways from God himself.

At least this is how it all feels.

I’m sure some logical person could come in and debunk every feeling statement I have just written, but, this is not a logical condition. Bipolar by definition is a disorder of the mood, a chemical imbalance in my head that changes the weight, light, and beat of my heart. Logic has nothing on these moods. I’m hoping that medication will give me the crutch I need to dig deep and do this writing work I feel in my bones. I’m praying the drugs will help open this box I feel in my heart so I can be for my family better. I’m wishing with all my might that the medication can continue to be part of my sanctification, to open this chest up so I can be in some sort of path of grace, and that I may not feel so isolated from my God.

Drugs are not the solution to my condition. I have to be careful not to put all my hope in just a little pill of medicine. Jesus is my  hope; and he works in ordinary ways. Still, there is a kind of great hope in the idea of getting a bottle of pills, in taking my medicine, in maybe learning to feel good again.

  • InciteFaith


    Thoughts and prayers with you. I’ve never been on medication before and can’t speak from experience. But ‘mental illness’ (blah hate those words) runs in my family. Specifically bipolar disorder. I wonder sometimes if *I* have it, but I try and not diagnose it and focus instead on what God is doing through me right now.

    Maybe it’s fear, but I appreciate your courage in this and you have a strong group of people in your life fighting with you.

    We’re all standing in your corner.

  • Love and prayer to you, my friend and brother.

  • I have such a love hate relationship w/ RX meds, while I know my mother can’t function w/out them… I on the other had have had nothing but bad experience w/ it. I recently started therapy again b/c I felt out of control, but he (my therapist) made a great point… not that out of control since I went back to therapy…

    I use homeopathic remedies when I start feeling anxious (or really really low) and sometimes I hate myself for NOT seeking medication…maybe I’m doing it all wrong, but I’ve learned to cope

    good luck w/ it all… I do know many people (including family members) who have found great help w/ meds. Some things are more chemical than otherwise…

  • Jim Nicholson

    I am convinced that what bothers people of faith the most about psychotropic drugs is that they work. If my feelings, which are so important to me that they define me, can change just by taking a pill, then in what sense are they mine?

    Your brain is an organ, just like your heart. If you heart was malfunctioning, you would do what you need to do to fix it. The pills you take for depression, anxiety, hyperactivity or whatever WILL change you. They will make you closer to what you were intended to be. If taking a pill makes you stop behaving bad, that doesn’t mean sin isn’t real. It just means that sin isn’t just bad behavior.

    I’m not sure what sin is, really. But I know that God hasn’t done much to address the “problem” of my bad behavior in the past 50 years, so I’m trying to stop obsessing on it.

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