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When Grace Comes in the Form of a Pill

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“God has a lot of grace for you, Amanda. And sometimes that grace comes in the form of a pill…”

There are some words that are spoken over us, into us and through us, that take hold and affect our lives. For those of us who live with mental illness, a little grace is a precious offering. Ironically, Grace is my middle name. I am often reminded of the need for it in my relationship with myself.

I struggled and have struggled with the thought of taking medication. I was determined, not even six months ago, to get started. Then, for some reason, I told my assigned psychiatrist I was fine. I didn’t need it. I was all good. It was probably just my hormones, indigestion or something. So, she told me to check in next month, and I was on my way, prescription-less.

Well, I wasn’t OK. Somewhere, deep down, I knew that. You would never hear me say it aloud. No, no. I was just going to work harder at being “healthy,” and it would be fine.

I don’t like to be told something in my life can’t be improved with hard work and determination. So, naturally, when I was told there was an organic, chemical defect in the way my brain worked, my first thought was how I was going to change my eating habits, sleeping habits and exercising habits and that would be enough.

More tea, less coffee. No alcohol. No sugar. No dairy. Daily exercise and eight plus hours of sleep a night. Drink more water. Find a new job. Reduce my stress levels. Meditate more. That will fix it. No meds needed.

I had been doing all those things and more for awhile. It didn’t fix it. Sure, I improved a little the more intense the rules became. I also spent so much time trying to function on a basic level that I had no time for anything else. I still ended up in the passenger seat on a Sunday afternoon outside of a Trader Joe’s, utterly paralyzed by a deep depression and a tormenting anxiety. I still ended up sobbing over nothing. I still ended up with a real feeling of utter isolation and loneliness. I was still in real pain.

In short, the external did not matter. It was not life, my eating habits, how much I focused on being positive or strengthening my resolve. It was my brain. I needed help.

So, I sought my pastor. I actually requested to counsel with him for reasons unrelated to my mental health issues, but they came up eventually. He could read between the lines. He told me something I will never forget.

“God has a lot of grace for you, Amanda. And sometimes that grace comes in the form of a pill…”

So here I am, submitted to that grace. I called my psychiatrist and I told her I was wrong. I did need help. I called my doctor. Even though I am afraid, I am not ashamed. I don’t tell a man with a broken arm to bury his pain. Why am I different?

Invisible disease is still disease. My pastor was right. We’re lucky. We live in a time when medical help is available. I don’t have to struggle without an answer. There’s grace for me.

Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: September 13, 2016
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