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When Getting Help Feels Like Giving Up

“Amy, you’ve been living in trauma for so many years that it’s reprogrammed your body. You likely can’t overcome this without medication.” 

…I cried in the doctor’s office. I don’t cry in front of people I barely know. That’s not how I operate. But there was something about this situation that made me feel completely and utterly defeated.

The diagnoses: Chronic Fatigue, Anxiety, and Depression. These alone weren’t shocking revelations. I’d been battling the exhaustion, the chest pains, and the hopeless feelings for over a year. I just wasn’t ready to admit that all of my efforts to “fix” them weren’t working. Along with the lifestyle changes I’d made, I was sure that if I just prayed hard enough, God wouldn’t leave me like this. After all, if God allowed the trauma and is using it for a purpose, He’s got to give me the strength to overcome its effects…right?!

I called my husband and sobbed. I cried some more on the drive home. I cried myself to sleep that night and several nights since. For some reason, getting help felt like giving up. It felt like failure. I’ve always viewed myself as a strong person. I am not great at seeing the positives in myself, but that was one thing I knew for sure…I was strong. I had to be. I was born and raised in dysfunction, experienced one traumatic event after another, until it all strung together into an unchosen way of life. Survival mode was my normal. I knew no other world, but I could no longer function there. My body had betrayed me. Broken under the weight of it all, I felt forsaken. I felt as if God had listened to me beg for mercy and simply turned away.

A few days, good friends, and desperate prayers later, I was able to see that my choice to get help and to take medication was not an act of weakness, but a different kind of strong. Shame was replaced by grace and I was able to understand that, just because my body had failed me, didn’t mean that my God had. That, sometimes, what we think is unanswered prayer, is simply not the answer we expected.

Matters of mental health can be messy and overall misunderstood. They can cause us to unnecessarily judge or shame each other and ourselves. My prayer is that the commonality of depression, anxiety and other issues such as these would bring about a sense of deeper community; that God would use this pain to foster compassion for one another…that it would be used to point us to hope, and the truth that we are not alone.

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