“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: forgetting the past, and looking forward to what lies ahead. I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us… We must hold on to the progress we have already made”
~ Philippians 3:12-16 (NLT, paraphrased)
From my list of recent achievements, you could say I’ve pretty much got my life together just fine. I’ll be graduating from university in September with First Class honours, and while I was doing my finals I’d already started my dream job in London working with young women.
But this morning, I didn’t feel like I’d achieved very much at all.
I went to see my new GP now I’m finally registered back at home again (nice bit of information for you there #AnnieUpdates), and we chatted about my antidepressant meds. The next thing I’m going to say is not advice and definitely not something I would recommend you copy from me! For the last few months I’ve been a bit reckless with my meds and, well, not really taken them. You can call me stupid, an idiot, whatever – I’m kind of over it – but the point is, I made an unwise decision not to take them, but not without a reasonable excuse. I’ve been on antidepressants for quite a long time now – almost 4 years – and recently I’ve just been feeling really, really fed up of having to take them. In the midst of my finals and starting work, I felt like some sort of superhuman on overdrive and didn’t worry about taking them so much. It’s only in trying to deal with the recent changes in my life, like moving back home, leaving my uni friends and the undergraduate life behind, that I’ve realised that having those little white pills on my side may have helped me a bit more than not having them at all.
For all of you Christian readers, whatever your stance on medication like this is absolutely fine with me. I’ve chatted with many people about it with different persuasions, and the general consensus (and what I’ve come to believe about all this) is that God can still work through a few milligrams of antidepressant. I also believe that God is a God who can heal overnight, but for whatever reason, he’s chosen not to do that with me. I just felt I needed to clear that up.
(seeing this post is about joy, I thought I’d share this photo, cause my plastic mac and wonky lashes fill me with joy when I look at them)
I found these verses and they just really seem to sum up my entire situation and headspace currently. On the outside, it might look like that perfect Facebook feed where all you see are those beautiful holiday snaps and great uni results or a new pet or whatever – all of the stuff that gets the likes and the loves. It might seem that my life is going great, and in many respects it really is going well to be honest, but in the background – behind all of those photos and plenty of likes and loves (they’re called ‘reactions’, right?), I’m battling back and forth between feelings of anger and complete desperation: why am I still not ‘okay’? Why do I still need to take these? I’ve finished counselling – why won’t this just go away?
I know Wimbledon is on the TV right now, but there’s a seriously fierce game of tennis going on in my head currently.
This morning I was faced with the reality that this part of my life is still not over and I still need to take my medication. To be honest, this hardly sounds like a big deal considering everything else that’s been going on recently (my thoughts on that are found here, in case you were interested), but it’s a crazy big deal to me. I still need my antidepressants. I still suffer from depression.
But it is getting better.
Bet you weren’t expecting me to say that, were you?
My favourite bit of those verses is of course the bit in bold: “we must hold on to the progress that we have already made”. From when I was first diagnosed, the progress I’ve made has been massive, and I have been and am slowly getting better. I know that Paul isn’t talking about depression here, he’s more going on about striving to be more like Jesus and slowly reaching that goal of perfection. As far as I’m concerned, the point is still the same. Just like Paul needed Jesus to become more like Jesus (as well all do, let’s be honest), I need Jesus to get better. I can’t get better without Him, and I won’t get better without Him. It’s only because of Jesus that I’ve got as far as this, so thanks mate. ❤
Later on in Philippians, Paul also says this:
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again – rejoice!
~ Philippians 4:4 (NLT)
It must have been a pretty big thing to rejoice in the Lord if Paul has to repeat himself. At first when I read this, I thought oh, I need to happy with Jesus all the time. I need to be happy about Jesus all the time. I need be happy all the time. And honestly, doing those things and being that person have been pretty difficult for me the last few days and weeks. It’s only when Paul says this, literally in the next few verses:
“Don’t worry about anything. Instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all that he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand… The peace of God will be with you”
~ Phillipians 4:6-8 (NLT, paraphrased)
What if rejoicing means knowing that Jesus is with you regardless of your circumstances? What if being joyful means being honest with God, committing to him what you need in prayer, and knowing that Jesus alone is enough?
I don’t always get this right, but I’m definitely willing to give it a shot.
For those of you who feel like you’re drowning in the depths of depression, or supporting somebody who is – or even if you’re just having a crappy day and need some encouraging, I hope you will be encouraged by my game of internal tennis. I hope you will be encouraged that the perfect Facebook profile doesn’t mean it’s all good all of the time, and that Jesus is still sovereign over all of that anyway, regardless of how many reactions you’ve got from other people. I hope you will be encouraged that Jesus will take you from A to B. When He makes a promise, He keeps them. I hope you are also encouraged that you are enough. I’ve never felt that God has asked me not to feel sad, or not to cry or not to feel depressed. I’ve only felt that he is in it with me, and he is carrying me through.
Thank goodness for that, eh?
Peace, joy and blessings x