Psycho-Babble Faith Thread 291754

Shown: posts 1 to 18 of 18. This is the beginning of the thread.

 

Antidepressants and religious faith...

Posted by Tovah on December 19, 2003, at 20:59:01

I've been on antidepressants for many years. Sometimes they haven't worked, sometimes they have, and I think they have kept me from getting suicidally depressed on several occasions. I see them as a gift from God, despite unfortunate side effects.

I know a number of people on this board are on meds...as are a great many other Christian people that I know. Now, granted, most people in our society are Christian to a degree, so I know more Christians than non-Christians...but it does seem to be a high percentage. Don't know if it is higher than or equal to or less than the rate of meds use for those of other religions or no religion.

But it makes me wonder sometimes. Today medical science has (almost) proven that depression, chronic anxiety, etc are medical disorders and there is no shame in treating them medically. But I think of all the generations that came before and how closely emotional health would have been to spiritual health - for many, one in the same. For what we pop pills for, people in past generations felt was spiritual need that had to be addressed. The idea of "self esteem" was not considered important; one's relationship to God is what made one happy, satisfied and at peace. If one felt guilty, he needed to repent before God. If one felt anxious, he needed to make his life right before God.

Many religious figures thoughout time are now believed to have suffered from what is now considered medical mental illness. I've heard it said, for instance, that Martin Luther suffered from OCD (spiritual scrupulocity) which is why he couldn't accept God's forgiveness through the Sacraments...eventually he decided that the Sacraments were no longer needed (how interesting if all of post-Reformation theology was based on a belief that came about due to a mental illness!) (Please, no flames...I am not trying to be disrespectful of ML here; though I disagree with his theology, it is clear that his views resonated with many and he had legitimate gripes with the church of the day...but it is something to think about). If ML lived today instead of in the 1400s, he would have been given Prozac or Zyprexa to stop obsessing. And where would the Protestant movement have been?

Are we medicating things today that would have been treated spiritually in the past? How do we know today if our problem is emotional or spiritual?

 

Re: Antidepressants and religious faith...

Posted by Dinah on December 19, 2003, at 22:01:11

In reply to Antidepressants and religious faith..., posted by Tovah on December 19, 2003, at 20:59:01

>
> Are we medicating things today that would have been treated spiritually in the past? How do we know today if our problem is emotional or spiritual?
>

Absolutely. Many epileptics and schizophrenics would have been considered posessed by demons and the treatment of choice would have been exorcism, not anticonvulsants or antipsychotics. We tend to explain things in the terms we understand. And perhaps in these days, we understand neurotransmitters and medical models better than we do spiritual ones.

 

Re: Antidepressants and religious faith...

Posted by stjames on December 20, 2003, at 1:28:58

In reply to Re: Antidepressants and religious faith..., posted by Dinah on December 19, 2003, at 22:01:11

> >
> > Are we medicating things today that would have been treated spiritually in the past? How do we know today if our problem is emotional or spiritual?
> >
>

In the past the mentally ill were devils and whiches. Burned at the stake, stoned, and crucified.
Which treatment would you prefer ?

 

I am well aware of that, and you're missing....

Posted by Tovah on December 20, 2003, at 8:46:04

In reply to Re: Antidepressants and religious faith..., posted by stjames on December 20, 2003, at 1:28:58

...my point. I am talking more about the feeling of a general malaise.

 

Re: I am well aware of that, and you're missing.... Tovah

Posted by Dinah on December 20, 2003, at 10:10:52

In reply to I am well aware of that, and you're missing...., posted by Tovah on December 20, 2003, at 8:46:04

Well, I think that what I said would still apply. We're still more comfortable nowadays with neurotransmitters than spirituality, even those who go to church regularly.

And it's a tough call. I know people in my church who are very obviously depressed and really should seek professional health, who are trying to find their answers in the spiritual realm. I've also found that to be true of others who are very spiritual and yet troubled. They find it hard to give up their belief that if they were just spiritual enough they'd be ok.

On the other hand, any number of people would probably benefit from spirituality in their lives. It might give them a sense of purpose that they are missing, and if they join a community a believers, also a sense of community that is much missing in our society and yet seems to be necessary to a human's wellbeing.

But many psychotherapies don't insist on a difference. Victor Frankl combined the two didn't he? And there are counselors who emphasize spirituality, and clergy who don't hesitate to urge mental health services where needed.

So maybe at this point in history, we have in our hands the best possible combination of tools (which will hopefully get even better), if we look for the right craftsmen.

 

Victor E. Frankl

Posted by Jai Narayan on December 20, 2003, at 11:07:43

In reply to Re: I am well aware of that, and you're missing.... Tovah, posted by Dinah on December 20, 2003, at 10:10:52

>Victor Frankl combined the two didn't he? And there are counselors who emphasize spirituality, and clergy who don't hesitate to urge mental health services where needed.
< Victor E. Frankl was my favorite person for a longtime. His insight and strength helped me though many a dark time. I am so glad to see his name again. Thank you for mentioning him.


 

Re: Antidepressants and religious faith...

Posted by MaTurtle on December 20, 2003, at 16:07:16

In reply to Re: Antidepressants and religious faith..., posted by stjames on December 20, 2003, at 1:28:58

This is a good point but I have come to believe that faith can change chemical balances in the brain. External and interal stimuli also greatly have an impact on chemicals in the brain, so I guess the external objective (or environment) world has a profound impact on our mood and functioning. Sorry for poorly writing this, but does anyone know what I mean, can you get the point I'm trying to make. Feedback anyone?

 

Re: Antidepressants and religious faith...

Posted by rayww on December 21, 2003, at 0:26:15

In reply to Re: Antidepressants and religious faith..., posted by MaTurtle on December 20, 2003, at 16:07:16

Funny, I wrote to this topic this morning, but didn't finish it, and tonight when I came back it was lost, but you have expressed some of my thoughts poignantly in fewer words than I.

If faith can change (for the good) the chemical balance in our brain, then the opposite (sin) could also alter our chemical balance. Would you say repentance from the inside out is the only true healing? Chemicals can change our brain chemistry, but they can't repent. Each part of ourselves must work toward the healing for it to be effective. If we do everything, except get proper sleep we'll be a mess. If we neglect nutrition and don't drink enough water we'll dehydrate in more ways than one. And if we don't exercise our muscles, they will turn to fat and that will certainly cause a chemical change.

 

Re: Antidepressants and religious faith... rayww

Posted by Dena on December 21, 2003, at 9:08:36

In reply to Re: Antidepressants and religious faith..., posted by rayww on December 21, 2003, at 0:26:15

Dear Rayww (so nice to be writing to you here again!) & MaTurtle:

Amen!

I agree wholeheartedly with both of you. God has put us together in such a way that all parts of us are intertwined in a mysterious symbiotic design. The physical affects the emotional affects the mental affects the spiritual affects the chemical affects the physical, etc. There's no way to disconnect, isolate or compartmentalize any one component. We are truly fearfully and wonderfully made!

I'm both grateful to be living in a time where medication can be used to assist imbalance, as well as concerned about the unknown long-term effects of such medication. For me, I'm choosing to go off of my antidepressant (lexapro), just to see what's what without it. (yes, I'm doing this under the supervision of my doctor - he's been weaning me for the last six weeks - Christmas Day will be my first drug-free day in over 12 years!)

I've felt unable to achieve a level of intimacy with God & with others while I've been under the influence of this (& the other) medications. I was healed of bulimia three years ago ... it's time that I found out whether or not my depression was healed along with it.

I've been going the "rely on medication" route for a long time now. I'm ready to face whatever may be lurking below the artificially-induced balance, & to let God walk me through whatever healing may be remaining.

If however, it turns out that I just can't handle it, even without His help (or that it just isn't the time for further healing), I will have no problem returning to the "crutch" of medication. There are definitely times when a crutch is necessary. How foolish to limp through life, when support is so available.

I'm not endorsing, in any way, that others should attempt to cease their prescribed medication without their doctor's support. This approach was initiated by me, but my doctor fully supports me in it. He's a believer himself, & he understands the whole person, rather than viewing me as just a combination of chemicals. He believes in divine healing as well as healing which comes through the assistance of medication (all good comes from God). I'm blessed to have such a man looking out for my health - I've had others who downplayed my faith.

I'm excited & apprehensive about this stage of my journey. I long for a deep, intimate, REAL connection with my God, rather than being hampered by an inability to connect.

Shalom, Dena

 

Re: Antidepressants and religious faith...

Posted by rayww on December 21, 2003, at 16:16:03

In reply to Re: Antidepressants and religious faith... rayww, posted by Dena on December 21, 2003, at 9:08:36

Way to go Dena. Have you had any real ups or downs with it?

 

Re: Antidepressants and religious faith... rayww

Posted by Dena on December 21, 2003, at 19:26:12

In reply to Re: Antidepressants and religious faith..., posted by rayww on December 21, 2003, at 16:16:03

Dear Rayww -

It's funny you should ask today, because I haven't had anything remotely like a withdrawal symptom 'til today.

Yes, I've found myself feeling overwhelmed & critical toward my children, but 'tis the season. That's a somewhat (sadly) "normal" response to their arguing (which they've been doing a lot of lately).

I also started my period today (sorry guys), which I normally don't even know is coming, but I was late enough that I was beginning to think I was pregnant, & what a nice Christmas present that would be, but, oh well.

I never, or rarely, get headaches, but all afternoon I've had a doozy - I was wondering whether it could be the dreaded flu coming on, or if maybe the withdrawals have kicked in. But, of couse it could be hormonal, stress, lack of sleep, you name it. Such is my life.

Soooooo, to answer your question, heck if I know!

Thanks for asking. I'll keep you posted.

Shalom, Dena

 

Re: Antidepressants and religious faith... Dena

Posted by simus on December 29, 2003, at 0:19:22

In reply to Re: Antidepressants and religious faith... rayww, posted by Dena on December 21, 2003, at 9:08:36

Dena, your post really hit home for me. I am a Christian, and I have been on antidepressants for over 8 years, the latest is Lexapro. I would love to be healthy and med-free, and I look forward to that day. But until then, I will be greatful that the Lord has provided an avenue of help me.
Please let me know how you are doing in your attempt to go of meds.

 

Re: Antidepressants and religious faith... simus

Posted by Dena on December 29, 2003, at 10:53:06

In reply to Re: Antidepressants and religious faith... Dena, posted by simus on December 29, 2003, at 0:19:22

Dear Simus -

I'm so happy to meet you - what a gift to hear from a fellow follower of Jesus!

My last 5 mg. of Lexapro was taken on Christmas Eve, making Christmas Day my first drug-free day - I promise, I didn't plan it that way; when I approached my doctor several weeks ago, he put me on a withdrawal plan. I'm so grateful that I followed his plan ... previously, I went cold turkey off of Paxil, & then Celexa. I have never felt so wretched! Those withdrawal symptoms were horrendous! I felt like I had a case of the flu, plus like I was being poked with a cattle-prod every few seconds - the whole world would shift around me - weird!

So far, just 5 days drug-free, I'm happy to report that I feel -- fine? I'd like to say "normal", but I'm not sure I've ever known what that felt like! I have no withdrawal symptoms, & I sense no depression creeping in. Praise God!

I've experienced depression, along with a general pessimistic, melancholy personality for as long as I can remember (I remember feeling so depressed as a one year old - yes, I do have memories of that time). I also suffered with severe bulimia for 21 years, but God completely healed me of that just over three years ago. Perhaps the depression was healed along with it - only time will tell.

I only know that He showed me the root of my bulimia (which went way back into my time inutereo), & once He replaced the lies I was believing with His truth, the bulimia vanished (& I had been someone that everyone had given up on - countless therapists, treatment centers, prayer ministers, etc. had told me that could do nothing more for me).

I've had absolutely no thought of bingeing or purging for over three years, much less a temptation of any sort. Believe me, this power did not come from me! I was bingeing & purging continuously every day - the moment my husband left the house, I was eating everything in sight & throwing up - over & over & over. I could not stop on my own, nor with the best help that others had to give. Getting married didn't stop me, having 7 babies didn't stop me, homeschooling them (having them around me 24/7) didn't stop me, getting arrested three times for shoplifting food didn't stop me, taking 8 different anti-depressants didn't stop me. I was enslaved.

I've experienced "abstinence" before - with the support of a group of fellow sufferers, I was able to mantain "abstinence" for several months in a row ... but it was a far cry from being healed. I constantly wrestled with temptations & compulsive thoughts - my abstinence was achieved only with white-knuckle determination. It was not freedom from bulimia, it was torture.

When I was set free from bulimia, it was a complete transformation - I was no longer the same. For about three weeks after the healing, I felt as though I was enclosed in a "bubble" of safety? - protection? I wasn't sure - I didn't even want to analyze it, much less talk about it. All I knew was that I knew I had the CHOICE to not binge or purge - there was no compulsion. I just stayed within that bubble, & floated through the days, able to do the "next right thing". After three weeks, I decided it was time to gather the family & talk about this. They had all noticed the obvious changes in me - I was available - no longer spending all day going between the kitchen and the bathroom. My eldest daughter asked, "what should we do if we see you doing it again?" I was formulating my response, planning on saying something like, "let your father know", when I heard these words come out of my mouth, "I'm free. I'll never binge or purge again." I felt shocked, & my husband did a double-take. But I knew that I knew that I knew it was true. I had been completely healed & delivered from the bondage of bulimia. Completely.

This is not like abstinence - I don't have to do any sort of "maintenance" to "keep" my healing. It's not my doing at all - it's the power of God.

I've always believed, & now I know, that Jesus still heals people, just like He did when He was walking around here on earth. He healed everyone who came to Him, asking. If they had the faith to believe that He could & would heal them, if they recognized the power of the Living God in Him, if they hungered & thirsted for righteousness, they were healed.

And I know He heals completely. When He healed the blind man, He didn't say, "Now you can see - as long as you use these glasses," He said, "See." And he saw.

When he healed the paralyzed man, He didn't say, "Now take up your mat & limp as best you can." He said, "Now take up your mat and WALK."

I realize that He didn't heal every single person in the countryside - but He did heal every single one who came to Him, trusting Him, for healing.

For me, & for thousands of others, the healing comes when we allow Him to show us the depths of our hearts - He shows us the deceptions we're under, He shows us the lies we've accepted in place of Truth. And when we see the Truth, the lie disappears. When the lie is gone, so is all of the power of that deception, the power that enslaves us & keeps us from God.

My lie was that I had to provide for myself, since no one else was going to provide for me. I believed this lie while still in my mother's womb (yes, unborn babies not only feel, but can think; their bodies may be tiny, but their spirits are full-sized from the moment of conception). It felt like life-or-death to me, that I would be destroyed if I didn't get relief from the deprivation (I remember none of this, it was revealed to me during my healing). I then began to believe the lie that no one would care for me, to give me what I needed, & that it was up to me. I made a vow, as an unborn child, that I would never allow myself to be deprived again. (Later, while talking to my mother, she told me that her doctor had put her on a stict diet during my pregnancy - she was being starved, & I was feeling the starvation. I was experiencing an intense deprivation, & her own deprivation was transferred to me as well.)

When I was a young child, I constantly stole & hoarded food. I was always afraid of not having enough to survive. As a teenager, I became overweight, but struggled also with wanting to have an acceptable body. At 18, I "discovered" purging, & became bulimic. I created that "perfect" body for myself, while still being able to use massive amounts of food to keep myself from being deprived.

All of this self-destruction & enslavement, from believing a lie!

While I was being healed, the Lord impressed on me that it wasn't my job to sustain myself, but His. As soon as I saw the truth of it, the lie became powerless. It took me hearing the Truth from Him, directly, rather than hearing the same message from humans, to set me free.

He did this for me because He loves me, & He's done similar deliverences for thousands, millions, of others. I didn't earn this healing; I didn't do anything to become worthy of it. He did it out of His merciful grace.

The key for me was to come to the end of myself & my own efforts. To come to the end of what the world has to offer. To come to the place of giving up, surrendering my will to His.

The key was for me to allow Him to show me the ugliness of the lies in my heart, in my belief system, to be willing to let go of what was familiar (but destructive), for what was mysterious (but delivering). The key was to trust Him, not myself. The key was to be willing to lay aside all that I thought I knew about Him, about myself, about truth, & let Him fill me with His version of that Truth, even if I couldn't understand it. Even if it contradicted things I'd been taught.

I don't know why it took 39 years to come to that place (including 21 years of bulimia). But I know He doesn't ever waste any suffering. He's already used my suffering (even the self-imposed suffering) to enable me to relate to others who suffer. It took this long, because I needed it to take this long, so that I could learn what was necssary - I may never understand it on this side of eternity, but I know that He knows & that's enough.

Sooooo... I'm more than willing to believe & accept that He can also heal me of my other wounds, including depression. Maybe He's already done so, & it's time to find out. Maybe He's in the process of healing me, & I only need to trust Him, regardless of my perceptions (which are so limited, compared to His).

I believe that He has provided a way for us to overcome, if we trust Him in spite of our feelings. I believe that suffering is unavoidable in this life, but that enslavement is optional, provided we let Him show us how to overcome.

Shalom, Dena

 

Re: Antidepressants and religious faith...

Posted by simus on December 29, 2003, at 12:56:16

In reply to Re: Antidepressants and religious faith... simus, posted by Dena on December 29, 2003, at 10:53:06

Dena,
Thank you for your response. I wish I had a friend like you in my life. God bless.

 

Re: Antidepressants and religious faith... simus

Posted by Dena on December 29, 2003, at 13:08:32

In reply to Re: Antidepressants and religious faith..., posted by simus on December 29, 2003, at 12:56:16

Dear Simus -

Consider yourself having a friend like me in your life.

Here I am. I can be your friend.

Feel free to write: brehmites@aol.com

Shalom, Dena (Brehm)

 

Re: Antidepressants and religious faith...

Posted by simus on December 29, 2003, at 23:43:18

In reply to Re: Antidepressants and religious faith... simus, posted by Dena on December 29, 2003, at 13:08:32

Thank you. Your offer touched my heart, and I am taking you up on it.

 

I Feel the present, I am, this is, but it's not

Posted by MaTurtle on January 4, 2004, at 16:35:03

In reply to Re: Antidepressants and religious faith... rayww, posted by Dena on December 21, 2003, at 9:08:36

It's odd when I used to be depressed, and I'm still on antidepressants. I've noticed through trying to intensify and bring to the surface my awareness of myself and everthing around me, how interconnected everything is. I've also though maybe I've just be weirded out by psychedelic mushrooms and ayahusaca to the point where I was just crazy. However I have noticed a few things that psychedelics have made me realize about awareness and consciousness. On a chemical note the active alkaloids in psychedelics mushrooms are a tryptamine, which means it's chemical shape is similar to serotonin, and this is why it is active in the brain. The other one in ayahusca is N,N,DMT it is found in every living thing on the planet and is a very potent psychedelic, is chemical structure is very very identical to serotonin, in fact the only different between serotonin and dmt is two methy groups.

( side note: I've heard that when your body thinks it's going to die it releases massive amounts of dmt into the brain from the pineal gland and that is could be why we experience very similar dream experiences near-death and with ayahuasca(DMT) ).
Anyway admist my experiencing of ayahusca, I was convinced that I have never died nor ever will. I also felt my ego die, all the things I was worried about (i.e. how I look, jealousy, job, basic cynicism) didn't even matter becasue I knew they were not real. As I came down from this trip I was crying, and I don't know why, it just felt good. Finally the morning came and I felt as if I was reborn, and was very humbled.

What I've come to is this, when we cruicfy or ego (dedicate it to compassion [sorry to offend any christians this is just my thoughts] ), we have opened the door to let in the true love/bliss of life, and that if one looks past the ego he will find himself humbled and truely compassionate leaving behind guilt and cynicism.

About the DMT/ayahusca, I took it becasue I thought it would enhance my existance, and it did just that. I don't think however, that you need a drug or chemical to follow the progress of the soul. All it takes is intense emotion/concentration/awareness to climb up the steps of the soul toward the light that makes us step out of the darkness.

I have been so depressed that in fact I almost couldn't stand it, but I knew I just needed to let it go. Letting go is not as easy as it sounds sometimes. So I layed down and really tried heard to just let it go, I called on the healing force(like some people pray) to just help me let it go. I was still laying down concentrating, just thinking let it go. Trying to call upon the healing energy I felt like an infant crying. Then suddenly I felt a warm sensation, kind of like the love and nurturing feeling of a mother. I was still crying but when the energy of mother ( or my own healing energy, or god's healing energy, or jesus or whatever you call it) hit me all the tears turned into joy. I was now crying becasue I was in total bliss of just letting it go, I felt as if I knew god, and understood the healing powers of emotion.(this was with no drugs at all, just depression)

So, maybe intense emotion/awareness/consciousness takes us through the steps of the soul to the center. I think it's important to feel, and to have emotion. Moments of intense emotion whether you feel bad or good, you will probobly learn something from it. I think if you look closley enough at how you feel, and allow the emotion to flow through you and not block it out, you will learn something. Everything you learn about yourself is very important. So please don't deny feelings or block them out, becasue you would be taking yourself down the wrong river. Just let it out, let go, feel in the now. Learing about yourself I think will lead you down the pathway to your soul and true essense of being.

If you have felt true enlightenment/awareness/consciousness then you probobly will know what I'm talking about, and you may have accomplished this differently. Some people may think I'm just rambling, which I am but hey it's difficult to put these things into words. Maybe I'm just crazy, but I think emotions are important to the progess of the soul (Jungian).

I just want to help anyone, so these are my personal experiences. If I helped you, or your pissed off at me you can e-mail at bluesking@comcast.net

These intense emotions made me feel humbled, satisfied and compassionate, becasue I realized something while in these periods deep feeling. I realized something I cannot explain, and it has no explaination, reason, or purpose it just is.

"you are my reflection, whatever I see in you, is in me" -Robert (love and balance to all)

[ note: I'm not trying to offend anyone religiously, so please don't take it that way. I don't believe in demeaning anyone's relgion or trying to antagonize it in any way ]

 

Re: I Feel the present, I am, this is, but it's not

Posted by Pathur on January 6, 2004, at 12:41:20

In reply to I Feel the present, I am, this is, but it's not, posted by MaTurtle on January 4, 2004, at 16:35:03

I really enjoyed reading your post, particularly because I was introduced to similar ideas while web surfing the other day. Are you familiar with Terrance Mckenna, I'd never heard of him. http://radiov.com/main/beam/innerviews/terence/index.htm , I found this interview intriguing to say the least, and your post actually put into perspective for me. Thanks.


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