"You know, I just read that 1 out of 4 women are on anti depressants.”
It’s usually said sadly in a hushed voice, with just a trace of judgment. Bystanders shake their heads incredulously, and sip their drinks unsure of how to respond to such shameful news. As though we as a society are all failing, but especially those poor pill poppers.
I hear this sentiment in both the faith community where I’ve pitched my spiritual tent, and in mainstream culture. In 2015, I am baffled that we still stigmatize depression, but I get it. For a long time I was one of those people. I would nod my head, sip my drink right along with them, all the while struggling internally, rejecting my doctor’s persistent suggestion to try medication, and worst of all, contending the loneliest part of depression; suicidal thoughts. I unwittingly drank the Kool-Aid served up by well-intentioned folks who portend that depression and anxiety are spiritual conditions to be treated with prayer and trying just a little harder not to be anxious or depressed. A truly depressed person can barely muster the energy necessary to groom themselves, so willing themselves out of the darkness would be a Herculean feat.
I tried what everyone who resists medication tries to help manage their anxiety: exercise, healthy eating, talk therapy, more time with friends, less time with friends, working more at the job I love, working less at the job I hate, overly focusing on my husband, ignoring my husband, prayer, meditation, more socializing, more alone time, and always, lots and lots of wine. Admittedly, I was inconsistent, but when it became clear these practices alone were insufficient, I started taking Lexapro to manage my depression. It helped.
Perhaps we could re-frame the aforementioned statistic and and share it at our next cocktail party: “Did you hear 25% of women have taken back their lives by admitting they need help and are finding healthy ways to cope with depression? Cheers!”
Let's accept that this process is highly personal and fluid, and can change over time in different seasons of a person's life. My only resolve to live with as much physical, emotional, and spiritual health that I can possibly can. Sometimes this might require medication, and other times it won't.