I was put on medication for my Anxiety and Panic on Halloween, after physically being unable to get up and go to work, I couldn’t dress myself I needed my wife to help me. Lying collapsed on the bed feeling hopeless, pathetic, scared, paranoid, guilt ridden, crying uncontrollably and wishing it would all end; this was a mega anxiety/panic attack. There was fear in me it came from nowhere and totally wiped me out. After a while my wife calmed me down (what a blessing she is because I know it was probably hard for her to watch the man she loves in such a way). At 26 years old my mother had to come to my house at around 7.30am, made me a cup of tea and sat and chatted to us until I could get an appointment with the doctor. My wife took the day off work and came with me to see what I could only hope would be a solution to the problem.
Now I must stress before I went to the doctor I had tried my best to overcome this without medication but I couldn’t fight it anymore, I was close to giving up I needed help and I wasn’t afraid to admit that, my strength and mind had depleted that I could no longer see how I could ever feel normal again. After discussing with the doctor my symptoms, my fears and my feelings, he had assured me I could come through this and the feeling of Depersonalization / Derealization would leave me. For any of you who don’t know what this is it’s a common side effect of anxiety/panic attacks its when your brain wants to rest and is telling you to rest, so as a temporary safety procedure it shuts down all your emotions so you can no longer feel anything, no love, no sadness, no joy, nothing, it feel like your living in a dream, can you imagine what it is to look at the people you love most in the world and not feel a thing. If someone had of told me my parents had died at this time, I can honestly say I would have felt nothing it wouldn’t have fazed me. Can you imagine your daily lives and how feelings and emotions are everything, having a conversation with someone involves being able to relate and associate yourself to the emotions that person is giving off, so think of a time when you were chatting to someone and you were laughing and joking, now imagine that same conversation without you having any emotions or feelings; I bet you can’t! Because that’s exactly what its like, unless you have experienced it you can’t imagine it.
Well after the doctors they decided to put me on Sertraline (50mg) for 4 weeks then a review after that to see how I was coping, and so on. I can remember that day so vividly because it was Halloween, what a great way to remember your first time on anti-depressants by associating it as the same day most people dress up as a monster and that really is what anxiety and panic is a monster in your brain that rears it ugly head uncontrollably and out of nowhere, its like your brain cant shut off and you can’t relax, its like this monster is a tornado in your head spinning obsessive thoughts around it all day long.
I had given my life to God 3 weeks prior to this and being new to it all I didn’t understand a lot of what was going on, and how God could let me go through this especially as I had just been saved. I thought when I became a Christian life would be easy; I guess that was naïve of me. The first 2 weeks on the tablets were horrendous start up side effects, taking me to the lowest point I have ever been in my life, I didn’t think I would ever get through it, I hated myself, I hated the way I was, I couldn’t find joy in anything, I wanted to end it all to stop my misery. I was thinking is God punishing me for my life before giving it to him? Why couldn’t he just make me better? Where are you? On the Sunday at my worst I attended church with my wife, the minister preached a sermon that day about God working in our lives, to make us better. We face trials for the benefit of us that we should persevere through as it says in Romans 5.
1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, wea have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And web rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but wec also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
It touched me in a way that made me feel safe, it felt as if God was speaking to me he knew I needed his help, and he knew I couldn’t get myself through it but I didn’t need to because when I needed help most God would lift me up and carry me through. My wife and I went to the prayer ministry team who took us into the ministers office and sat us down to talk to us. We chatted about what I was going through and how it was affecting us both. I’m not embarrassed to admit tears were shed and the acceptance and love from these people was something I’d never experienced before, these people I had never spoken to, had told me every hymn and praise song in the service was talking to me about protection and not to worry so they prayed over us both and in that moment I felt the Holy Spirit filling me with peace that I couldn’t understand.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philipians 4:7)
I came away from that experience with a whole new outlook on my life and faith. I was in Gods hands and he was looking after me and my tablets were for my benefit to take me through everything it was not a reason to be ashamed. When you are at your lowest point the devil will torment you, he will taunt you, he will accuse you and deceive you. You just have to remember to put on the armour of God (Ephesians 6) when facing trials, for whatever is thrown at us by the accuser we can fend off with the strength of our Lord and Saviour. To answer my own questions God isn’t punishing me he is strengthening me because he loves me, he doesn’t work to our timescale I’ll be better when he knows I’m ready, he’s making me a better person, a better husband, a better son and a better disciple.
I not saying I was instantly cured, I’ve been for more prayer and I’ve had to up my doses of my medication through a gradual process since October. Each time the side effects come back, but each time I find I have the strength to carry on, to not worry as much, to learn from things. I honestly feel like a stronger person and if we are to carry out Gods work we need to be strong and fearless and trust in the Lord, which is sometimes hard to do when you’re so used to trusting in yourself. I take anti-depressants I’m not ashamed to admit that, people shouldn’t judge and think it’s a sign of weakness because if I didn’t take them I wouldn’t have changed and grown as much as I have. Today I will be increasing to 150mg of Sertraline a day…..so the journey begins again.
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