It’s hard to say that there is a beauty in my need for daily medication to manage my OCD. There are days I struggle with the need to take so many pills at the moment to fee normal. There are days I struggle with the side effects.
There I days I struggle with guilt.
But I have a hope that Jesus has already overcome my affliction.
A blessed assurance that Jesus has indeed overcome all afflictions on the cross.
A bad prognosis
Whatever the affliction this side of heaven, there is hope that our Savior has already won the war.
Even as the battles still rage all around us.
And my battle is my OCD and the sometimes sad reality of choosing to treat it with medication.
This isn’t always a popular choice in the world of professional internet researchers and orthorexia. I’ve discovered that everything seems to have a “natural” alternative as if a naturally occurring chemical is better than a lab perfected one.
They both have a purpose in treatment.
And before I decided to reach out to my doctor for medication I did try. I tried to think myself better. I tried oils to calm my anxiety, I tried natural supplements. I tried self help and christian self help.
I prayed. A lot.
But the St. John Wort failed me, the lavender only just smelled good, and exercise didn’t keep the obsessive fear away.
So I asked for help.
But there is a reality in that help that people don’t talk about. We know all about insulin as lay people, we know vaguely about thyroid medications, and blood pressure medications, and asthma medications.
We speak and walk and fun run in support of all of the other afflictions.
But we never tell sufferers to pray it away. We never suggest a person with diabetes try an essential oil or new supplement and stop testing their blood sugar and taking insulin. We accept that this side of heaven, sometimes a pancreas breaks.
But not the mind.
We can’t except a broken mind.
There is still so much stigma, so little open discussion, and so many hushed whispers or suggestions about how to not medicate, because medication is scary.
SSRI’s like prozac stand accused as the boon of Big Pharma. Benzos are referred to with fear. Sedating antihistamines are joked about as zombie inducing.
And my personal favorite.
“I am not psychotic.” I say to myself every night as I pop my Abilify.
This does not define me.
I refuse to let it.
Because the truth is, the only One who defines me is Jesus Christ.
I am Beloved.
I am Pleasing to the Father.
I am His daughter.
I am a priceless treasure.
I am His masterpiece.
I am reconciled and grafted in, and adopted into the Kingdom of God.
But still, I live with the reality of my broken brain. And that reality can be hard. The reality that no one talks about. The reality that I have often been shamed for speaking of.
The reality that people make out to be bigger than Jesus himself.
Because isn’t that what we do when we minimize sickness out of fear?
Isn’t Jesus bigger than the medication I need to be human?
Isn’t Jesus bigger than mental illness?
Because the fruits of the spirit do not flow from me when I am sick.
There is no peace, or joy. Love is hard. Faithfulness hides, patience is an impossibility. Kindness and goodness?
More like angry and afraid.
And that fear and anger that comes from nowhere but the back of my brain, even as my lips and heart sing hymns and cry out to God, is grating and soul destroying. It’s not me. It’s not who God calls me to be.
And I won’t let it define me.
I won’t let it take over when on the other side of stigma, is help.
So I choose medication. Because with medication I do have peace. I feel deep contentedness and joy. I speak to strangers at the grocery store, and laugh with them at the gym.
With medication I’m not cowering in fear all the time. Instead I am offering encouraging words to people I meet. Speaking what is beautiful when I see it.
And I see.
And that is what medication is.
It’s being able to see. To see beyond myself. To see color in a word that is otherwise red with fear or grey with disassociation from coping with that fear. It allows me empathy, and kindness. I’m not afraid, so I don’t need to rush I can be patient.
I am fruitful when I am on medication.
And that is how I know it is from God.
But that means I choose the side effects too.
And that’s hard. That’s where the struggle is. The side effects aren’t feeling like a zombie, or not feeling like myself, or feeling numb, as people commonly think.
No, I actually have energy, because my brain isn’t diverting itself into constant fear. I feel more myself now than I did before. I know myself better and can speak up for myself. I feel deeply in fact. Happiness, laughter, joy. It’s not just the red of fear.
The constant taste and smell of panic.
I feel calm.
But today I had to adjust one medication because for a week I could not pee. Urinary retention was the side effect. It was awful. There is no worse feeling than needing to pee and being unable too.
So we had to switch a medicine. But in stopping one the hyper-vigilance came back. I jumped at everything. Doors closing, dogs barking, my kids saying, “Mommy?” A toilet flushing. And thats exhausting.
So in changing one, we needed to then change two because the medications work together in symphony to help my brain fire correctly. The medications are my Conductor.
Which means my SSRI was changed. A change in an SSRI means a guaranteed two weeks of feeling like you have the flu, with brain zap electrical head aches and full body aches. And nausea. Never forget the nausea.
And we start the song over again, hoping that this new arrangement will be the one to balance the fear and the side effects. Hoping my libido stays around and I still desire my husband. Hoping this one lets me sleep instead of causing insomnia. Hoping I can pee.
Hope. My doctor and I have to hope together. Because this is the serotonin art of brain and body chemistry. The science ended in the pharmacy and now we arrange the instruments and conduct the orchestra and pray and hope that Keely comes back.
And still I say it’s worth it. It’s worth it because at the end of the day I would rather not pee, than not be myself.
Because that’s what medication gives back to me.
And that is what God promises to give us too. A new definition, a new self. A new identify in Jesus. One where our afflictions and our pain and our stories don’t define us, but rather reveal the mighty work of Jesus on cross as we are redeemed through it.
As others are redeemed through our testimony.
And that is where the beauty is, I suppose, in the daily reality of my medications, the bottles that line my medicine cabinet, the atypical antipsychotics that can scare even, the xanax and lexapro and atarax.
The beauty is that these meds don’t define me,
Because Jesus does.
And that is beautiful.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” –1 Peter 2:9
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” -Galatians 2:20