For many people depression comes out of the blue, but for me it is the brother of the other thorn in my side, anxiety. Throw in some stubborn obsessive thoughts, and you have a whole stew of messed up mamma on your hands.
A messed up mamma who learned at her first visit with a neurologist today that the very nerves that make her anxious are not functioning properly. The technical term is neuropathy. I was shocked to learn that not only have I lost sensation in my hands, but also my feet. No wonder I stumble at least once a day — I was unable to tell whether my toes were being pushed up or down. For some reason that made me feel ashamed.
I know, that’s a strange reaction. Why shame? I feel somehow less intelligent. Dense. How on earth is a person unable to tell when their toes are being manipulated by someone else?
In addition to shame, I also feel anxious. I’m facing some painful tests in my near future to more precisely measure the damage to my nerves as well as a biopsy of my skin. More than anything else, though, I feel anxious — and mad at myself — because this neurologist who does not know me or my struggle with anxiety prescribed a medicine (in a “baby dose,” she said) just to see if it might help stop the night-time muscle spasms. Neurontin is prescribed for people who have epilepsy and also for people like me who have nerve damage.
One of the side effects of this drug is nausea. So guess who’s not going to take it? Another side effect is withdrawal symptoms so severe that they can lead to death. Excuse me? You want me to put WHAT in my system?
The doctor ridiculed my fears. She told me I should trust the science. She also said that every time I use alternative therapies (such as essential oils) I am using blind trust. But then she followed up by saying this drug “sometimes” works for some people, and for others it’s no more effective than drinking water.
Let me get this straight: I’m supposed to trust a drug that can make me DIE when I stop taking it yet not trust essential oils that are distilled directly from natural products that I eat anyway, like basil, lemon, and peppermint?
“Why not take the medicine that might help you?” she asked me. “There’s no sense in suffering for so long when there are medicines that can make it better. If it makes you sick, so what? Trust the doctors who study the science. We know the side effects. I’m giving you a baby dose.”
It is very difficult for the people who love me to know how to deal with me. I suffer yet refuse to take the medicine that’s supposed to help me. For goodness sakes, I won’t even take the Ativan that was prescribed for my anxiety because I’m….ANXIOUS about it!
About the only way they are going to get me medicated is to prescribe something that completely bypasses my stomach. Patches, shots, IVs, hyper-sprays.
So. The depression lurks because deep down, I know I need to just trust God. Stop worrying and take the medicine like a good girl. But I am unable to do that. And this leads to self hatred. And self hatred leads to very bad thoughts of just giving up. Let me just lay here in my room in the dark. I don’t want to eat anything. I don’t want to drink anything. I don’t want to read, or watch television, or talk, or answer the phone. Just let me cry until I have no more tears.
That’s the place where I found myself this afternoon. But somehow, not through any effort of my own, I got up. I had a hot bath and a cup of tea. I ate something and watched a television show with my husband, and now I am writing this blog. I think God works in ways we don’t always realize until it’s already happened. I asked one of my close friends for prayer. And then I got up. I put one foot in front of the other and slammed the door on my old enemy Depression, at least for this moment.
When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, He used the Word of God to thwart the enemy who tried to deceive him, who tried to make him believe his situation was hopeless. A few weeks ago the words of King David in Psalm 18 resonated deep in my spirit, and I held them there. Tonight I take them as my own:
You light a lamp for me.
The Lord, my God, lights up my darkness.
29 In your strength I can crush an army;
with my God I can scale any wall.
With my God I can scale any wall, messed up toes and all.