Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"Pills and bills. Pills and bills"

Two thousand points to the one who correctly names the movie the post title comes from...

I always get a sour taste in my mouth when I hear about depression medication. For a long time, I didn't know why. The fact that people take medicine for such things just rubbed me the wrong way. Disclaimer: That doesn't mean I harshly judged those who did take such things. It merely made me cringe a bit and that was the extent of it.

It wasn't until last year when I put a name to specific personal trials that I decided to figure out why I innately recoiled from pills for depression. When I did name my struggles as depression one of my first thoughts was, "Dang. Do I need to go get some pills?" That actually made me shiver. Literally. It was a creepy moment. Until I said, "okay. No pills." and felt relieved.

So pills were definitely not the right choice for me. But why?

It wasn't until I concluded that depression was a fight against temptation that I figured it out, and there's lots of different aspects of my disdain for such meds. Here they are:

My emotions are MINE; one of the few things I can exercise control over. I can't balance out a God that would give me agency to choose my own way and a God who wouldn't give me a way out of struggles I found myself in unless I purchased medicine.

I tried before to take control of my internal chemicals. Birth control messed me up in multiple ways. Never again will I subject my body to externally-controlled chemical levels unless absolutely necessary (e.g. should I suddenly find myself without ovaries).

I shouldn't be able to take a pill for temptation. That's cheating.

And lastly, here's an idea I take from a discussion on this subject with someone I love and respect who didn't know about the extent of my personal struggles. Honestly, what's the difference between popping a pill for depression and having a glass of wine? Dulling my senses, taking the edge off, or helping myself relax with such assistance would not be a good idea.

Oddly enough, the decision to not take medication has added a new struggle (while also empowering me with the confidence to really fight back against these temptations). Before I put my opinions on depression meds in concrete, I didn't care one way or the other what other people did. Now? Now I get angry when I think of other people taking them, or worse find out someone I know takes them.

I feel like they're taking the easy way through what I have had to fight tooth and nail for and my pride wants other people to recognize how hard this is and that the fix isn't simply taking a pill. At the same time I feel sad because they're probably just making the process that much harder on themselves because they're not finding a real solution.

I also try to remember that in today's society, the way to fix depression is to take a pill. Most people accept that at face value. Many of them don't like it, but they don't think there's another way.

So I can't make assumptions or be upset at other people who take depression meds. Unless of course they call me a jerk and spit in my face and tell me that my conclusions are idiotic, then I might be upset for real. Yet another personal problem I have to work on.

There you have it. My thoughts on depression pills. What do you think? Agree or disagree? Anything to add that it looks like I haven't considered?


Jar and Steph said...

Oh, the woes of birth control!! Life was so simple before birth control...definitely messed me up for a while too. I do understand that.
I don't understand depression. But I do believe that it is real, that it is not a temptation for many people who are suffering from it, and that pills save people's lives sometimes - literally. I think because we've been around different people growing up, our opinions and definition of "depression" aren't the same. And that's all good. :)President Uchtdorf gave an amazing devotional last year about self worth and happiness. Before telling people not to be unhappy and depressed, he added a disclaimer about severe depression not being a trivial thing and put that in a different category. He said those people need to seek help.
Do I think medication is the ultimate answer? No. But it can be a temporary life saver for many people who are in serious trouble until they can get a hold of their emotions.
And no, I would never call you a jerk or an idiot or spit in your face! ;)

Jordan McCollum said...

I agree and I don't.

I think that some people don't realize the impact that medications can have on people, especially for psychological disorders. I hate that it really is treated so casually by our society. Medication isn't an instant thing, either. It takes weeks for your body to regulate with it, and weeks to recover if you do go off it.

I have never wanted to take a pill for depression, but I wouldn't rule it out forever. Depression may be temptation for some, but for others it's a far more severe mental illness. If it ever came down to the choice between medication and suicide (and for some people, it does), I can't imagine anyone faulting that person for taking the medication.

I think you're right that it *is* pride that rebels when someone else finds a way not to struggle with something we struggle with. But we don't know and can't tell how hard that decision may have been for them, how far they'd gone before they made that choice, or what kind of side effects they may be suffering, even now (since the commercials say that sometimes depression drugs accidentally make it worse).

God doesn't want us to succumb to temptation—but sometimes He provides a way for us to get out of it. I have to believe that for some people, medication would be His will, and foregoing it in favor of making everything okay by ourselves would be prideful.

Or, to put it another way, would we expect paranoid schizophrenics to "toughen up" and make it without their meds? I think depression is as serious a problem for some people.

Lindsey the Muse-r said...

I was trying to avoid the whole medication debate by focusing on my own personal beliefs with my experiences in this post.

I guess I haven't been clear enough. I'm not exactly sure how to be more clear though...I, too, think there are instances where medication is beneficial. I also think those cases are much more rare than we think. Like Jordan, I think this is treated way too casually by our society.

More often than not, I think the benefits do not outweigh the risks of taking medicine for depression. As it can seriously screw things up, I would hope that everyone who considers it would make it a serious, serious matter of prayer before starting.

I do understand that there are very extreme cases of depression and suicide is a serious issue with regard to that. But I still hold by my belief that depression is based in temptation. I think extreme cases built up from common cases.

Suicide was never an issue for me. But that doesn't mean that the thoughts never entered into my mind. Those particular thoughts were never a big temptation for me and I therefore never entertained them or let them grow or fester. But I think the people who do struggle with that have let smaller thoughts roll into bigger and more gripping problems. I firmly believe that if I had entertained those thoughts I would have reached the seriously-considering-suicide levels of depression.

I DO think medication is beneficial for some, but I don't think it is beneficial for the majority. I'm not trying to minimize anyone's suffering and struggles and I hope everyone else will allow me the same courtesy.

And I'm glad to be getting some great feedback on my posts finally. Those have to be the longest comments I've ever received:)

Jar and Steph said...

Yay opinions! Yeah, I'm sorry I misinterpreted, it seemed like pills were the main issue of the post.
P.S. you are one of the most compassionate, understanding people I have ever met. I know if I shared even more, you'd be open to considering it. Thank you for sharing your opinions and being such a great sister.

Lindsey the Muse-r said...

Thanks, Steph! Right back at ya:)