At age 26, I married my personal psychologist. No, I didn’t meet him in counseling. But he did have a degree in psychology. James had been a bartender for quite a while-which is pretty much like being a psychologist, in a sense. He had been my close friend four years leading up to our wedding.
No More Meds, Whaaaat?!
For various reasons, we both felt the Lord leading me to go off of my depression medicine within a month after we were married. I notified a handful of friends and asked for their prayers. I also invited them to check in with me regularly for the next year or so. In order to ensure the successful weaning of my meds, it was done in the summer, over the course of three months (not two weeks like before!) and with my new family doctor’s supervision. My husband and I also decided that I shouldn’t work for a while in order to lower my stress. I continued all the daily management I’d grown accustomed to while dealing with depression: Reading my Bible, reading other books, prayer, connecting with others regularly, journaling, running, etc.
We faced challenges in our marriage just like every other married couple (1 Corinthians 7:28). For me, simply moving to a new area and getting connected to people locally proved to be a challenge as a stay at home wife without children. Outside of a few close friends, no one locally really knew why I wasn’t working. That seemed to be the focus of most people’s concern upon meeting me. For obvious reasons, I didn’t feel comfortable explaining all of that right away. Can you imagine if I did? “Hi, I’m Becca. I’m not working because I’m trying to be weaned off of depression medication that I’ve been taking for the past eight years. The first time they tried to wean me off, it went very bad and I struggled greatly with suicidal thoughts. I had to quit doing most things for nearly six months just to get back to my ‘normal’ medicated self. (See “Suicidal Thoughts” blog.) But let’s not talk about that, because I’m not ready. I’m sorry, what did you say your name was again? Oh you’re leaving. Was it something I said?” Ha! Yeah right. I chose instead to allow people assume I was lazy. It once again seemed easier to let them to believe a lie about me than to risk being rejected because they knew the truth. The shame and stigma of depression continued to be an inward struggle, known only to a few close friends who lived far away and I occasionally spoke to on the phone. After a year of not being on depression medication, I did return to the workforce. Praise God the weaning of my medication went well this time!
How was it Without Medicine?
They say having depression is like being PMS-y all the time, or super emotional. Many of those pre-children marriage days, the Lord was teaching me how to deal with my emotions. I no longer said things like, “should I work on this task or deal with what’s going on inside of me,” like in college. I knew more quickly when something inside of me needed dealt with. I knew to turn to the Lord and His Word for help. It wasn’t easy. I still felt hopeless at times.
For instance, I struggled a lot with wanting children and not having them. This added one more way I couldn’t connect with others. We weren’t open about wanting children and not having them. But the Lord provided manna bit by bit in dealing with that and all things. One week, the Lord would remind me of my opportunities to do ministry that I might not have if I had children of my own. Another week, God would allow me to watch someone’s children. That would often encourage me.
My husband really did serve as my psychologist in many ways. He helped me understand people and even myself in a different light. I understood others’ perspectives better after discussing issues with him. He also helped reveal the deeper underlying issues going on with me when I was upset. Slowly but surely, he rubbed off on me. He taught me how to love others better, let go of hurts, and be quick to forgive. All of this aided in healing my depression.
Did Anything Else Help?
Well, I knew a Christian counselor at our church I spoke with occasionally. I signed up for a mentor at church and have continued meeting with her ever since. We got involved in a small group at our church. That small group continued for six years. I also started running half marathons again. (I ran half marathons in college. While I still ran post college and in graduate school, I didn’t have time to train and run for a long race.) My husband worked on Saturdays when my married friends would spend time with their spouses. I spent that time going for long runs and writing a book (God’s Heart for Orphans and Widows). I saw a shirt during one race that said, “I run because it’s cheaper than therapy.” I agreed. I clung to the Word of God and His promises for me. It took nearly five years for me to finally get connected with people and adjust to the area. Then we had children.
Focus on the Family offers one time call back basis counseling: https://www.focusonthefamily.com/