The Dangers of Self-Medicating

A couple months ago, my life went into a crazy tailspin.

For about a month, I experienced relentless stress, anxiety attacks…and the kind of fatigue that makes a sick day an attractive option just about every day.

At first, I figured I was simply enduring a transient anxiety episode (especially since I've had depressive ruts before, though not for prolonged periods of time). But once I realized this so-called “bug” was taking deliberate root within, I decided to run some self-diagnoses from multiple sources to determine what was going on.

It didn’t take belong before I discovered a cold, hard fact…

I had dysthymia
…a chronic depressive disorder with a paralyzing punch.

Considering I didn’t know a whole lot about the condition, I elected to keep a lid on the issue, fully convinced the struggle was better left concealed than revealed.

But after months of silence, I started to realize how siloing my struggle wasn’t helping anything.

So I wrestled…and wrestled…and wrestled some more. I prayed, talked to my wife, even opened up to my immediate family (which I don’t often do).

Interestingly enough, it wasn’t long after informing my family when my perspective started to change. Granted, discussing the matter was a small step; however, in hindsight, that “small step” helped me better understand the value in being intentionally transparent.
 
Thus, in the spirit of recent lessons learned, I want to share a simple reminder with you:
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 You are not alone.

You may think no one cares or understands…or is going to even try to make a difference.   

You may think your personal battle is a necessary consequence of who you’ve been or where you’ve come from…and thus…will keep you from becoming who you really want to be.

You may think you’re not worthy of being set free of your despondency.


But I’m here to tell you:                               You are not alone.

You don’t have to accept depression as the solution to what you’ve been through.
 
You don’t have to mute your life to preserve respect.
 
You’re not a hopeless cause even though you may be overwhelmed by the mistakes you’ve made.
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‘Cause at the end of the day, we were made by grace, for grace…to live freely as wonderfully made.

Thus, we don’t have to keep the duct tape over our mouths…or stubbornly retain our chains by some counterfeit remedy numbing us to the pain they cause.

And perhaps this is all hard to take in because you’ve abided by a certain deception for so long.

But take it from one who has screwed up time after time…who knows what it’s like to feel like a helpless underachiever …and what it’s like to pop pills of self-hatred (#notallcuttersuseknives):

If you’re medicating by self-loathing…self-abuse…basically, if “self” is in any way attached to your recovery plan, as the wise Josh Taylor says, “You’re doing it wrong.”

‘Cause when we self-afflict, we’re essentially slamming the door on reconciliation and opening the door for the enemy to contaminate our thought patterns and beliefs. So instead of receiving the forgiveness and healing we crave, we renew the terminal perspective we’ve bought into, which in turn, converts a stronghold into a drug we can’t put down.

In my case, in order to adjust course, I had to really dwell on the cross (in a heart-to-heart with God sorta way) and get completely honest about my afflictions (not only with God but other people as well). It wasn’t until I expressed my frustration and desire to change that I begun to understand how my bout with dysthymia was (and still kinda is) being influenced by the kind of fear-induced walls that not only shut people out as a means of self-preservation, but also shut God out as a means to withdraw.

Which for the record, have you ever wondered why we shut God out? Are we not, in a figurative sense, transporting ourselves back to the garden…to where Adam and Eve first withdraw and hid out of guilt and shame? Has the cross lost so much impact, we haven’t learned to respond differently over thousands of years of time?

Then why is it we still hide, cover up…and try to convince the world we’re okay, when we’re anything but? Or why is it we make life a ‘tiptoe on thin ice’ experience, forgetting we were called to have the kind of faith to walk on water? Is it because we’re terrified of being vulnerable in the proximity of other people’s fragile opinions? Is it because we want to believe we can handle the adversities of life our own?

Seriously…what will it take for us to realize how it is the broken heart that God is after (Psalm 51:17)…that because of the cross, we don’t have to hide our problems as a means to control how others see us?

‘Cause truth is: God desperately wants to be more than enough to you. He so desires to fill you up with His love to the point of overflow…so that there’s literally no room for us to fill our voids on our own terms.

And so, as I bring this blog in for a landing, I want to encourage you to think about the afflictions and addictions in your life (what you may be wrestling with, whether it’s a fear, an anxiety…or the after-effects of emotional and/or physical pain).

Then after taking inventory, lay it all on the altar, confess your brokenness to God, receive His grace…and speak life into present and future freedom by asking God to help you conquer your addictions, stress, depression, misaligned perceptions and diseases…all so that His glory and loving power may saturate your life.
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