I see my doctor every six months to make sure the Vitamin L (Lexapro) is doing its thing. Today was that day, which included a flu shot (too late for poor Corban, my second) and an unexpected encounter with the bleeding woman and a dead girl.
My doctor asked me about my mood and whether or not I was having any anxiety attacks. I was honest, telling her there have been several times in the past six months where I have had to take some deep breaths and mentally go “there” – dig deep, to breathe, close my eyes literally or metaphorically, and slow…things…down…to figure out the trigger of the anxiety, the fear.
Instead of asking me about dosing alprazolam, she sent me to the very passage in the Bible that I had used a few weeks ago when preaching at the Asian American InterVarsity chapter at UW-Madison. She sent me to meet the bleeding woman and the dying girl.
My doctor and I have talked about the stigma of mental illness and of using drugs to help address depression and anxiety, and today she addressed it head on by reminding me not to be afraid of fear.
She said to remember that whenever God shows up in a big way, through angels or a vision, God says, “Do not be afraid” and then offers some sort of assurance that He is with them. That fear seems a rather natural physical and mental response, the kind that keeps people from speaking and acting, the kind expressed on your face or in your body language. Fear happens even in the God’s presence. In the gospels of Mark and Luke, Jesus encounters people who were afraid of the demon-possessed man, the bleeding woman who trembles with fear having been “caught” healing herself by touching Jesus’ cloak, and Jairus who is afraid because his daughter has died.
If that kind of fear and anxiety exists in scripture, why are we so afraid to deal with it?
I am certain there will be many moments and seasons of fear in my life. The drugs don’t make it all go away. They do not erase or eliminate emotions. But what I have found most freeing in this journey has been to take that which festers in the darkness and elicits fear and to bring it out whether through my blog or when I speak publicly. I do not want to be afraid of fear,
of what people think when the read whatever I’ve written and disagree with me,
of disappointing my husband or my kids or my parents (it’s a cultural thing),
of bombing a speaking gig or not doing what I imagine would be my “very best”.
I want only to breathe and believe that God
***Don’t worry. My doctor knows I am a Christian, and I have told her I welcome these candid conversations as she is taking my vitals and vaccinating me. I am blessed.***
What a bonus that your doctor is a believer and that you can have such talks with her! I’ve never had such an experience. Can’t even imagine that, a physician willing to talk like this with you. Btw, did you and your family ever consider living somewhere sunny? (not that that is a cure-all but for myself, I would like to move back to SoCal from current residence of NYC to soak in the sun all year-round).
Peter and I have joked about where we will settle down once the kids fly from the nest, and Peter has lived in CA for a spell. But we are Midwesterners through and through. I love the changing seasons. I love to complain about the heat and humidity and then the cold and the darkness. And there is something very holy and grounding for me to watch the first snowfall, the first crocus push through the frozen ground, etc. A happy light will have to do 😉
i especially appreciate this today. mental illness touches my life via my loved ones. and some days it’s hard– for them and for myself. thank you integrating your faith as a vital part of your experience and journey. and yes, sometimes, “praying it away” does not work. lexapro does. 🙂
Praying won’t pray it away, but praying & lexapro has certainly been a perfect prescription for me. That and coffee. Grace and peace to you!
your doctor is pretty cool. you are blessed.
and indeed, God is with you, and you don’t have to be afraid.
(thanks for this reminder.. i totally need to read/hear that today too).