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We Need to Talk about Prozac

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No matter how you slice me, I am my father's son. I like to think that I act like my mom and look like my dad, but I think it is more true to say I am just like him. I look like him, skinny legs, pot belly, pointy chin, and Robin Williams like smile. I walk, talk, and tell stories like him. I have his remarkable memory for details. And I have his depression. 

At least, I have the depression that runs on his side of the family. My dad's father, uncle and nephew all committed suicide as young men. I would be a fool to ignore that trend. 

We hate this idea of emotional tendencies running in families. Let's be honest, we do not like to think this way. I want to believe that how I feel is my choice. I can choose to rejoice, be anxious, or be sad. I want to be in control of my personality. I mean why would the bible tell me to not be anxious, or to rejoice in the Lord always if that is impossible for me. I must be responsible at some level for my emotions. 

To a certain degree I am in control. But the decisions I make have to take my genetics into consideration. Here are a couple of examples. 

We are all responsible to eat responsibly. Gluttony is a sin. For some people, that means you limit yourself to one cookie. For others, that means having no cookies in the house because one serving for you is a bag of cookies. You have to know yourself and decide accordingly. 

We are all responsible to stay sober. Drunkenness is a sin. For some that means limiting yourself to one glass of wine a night. For others that may mean you choose a way home from work that does not take you by liquor stores or bars. Taking responsibilty requires knowing yourself. 

I am responsible for my mental health. For me that means getting plenty of sleep, exercising daily, getting outside several times a day, not watching dark or disturbing T.V. shows, and maintaining a healthy prayer life. It also means I take medicine. My medication is not a way I avoid taking responsibilty, it is how I take responsibility. 

I know this idea of medicating for mental health is controversial in some camps. I think a lot of the controversy is caused by misunderstanding. We misunderstand the integration between body and soul. Therefore, we assume our spiritual life has nothing to do with physical health. That belief is Greek, it is not biblical. Biblically we know God created the body and soul to be eternally unified. We also believe that body and soul have been affected by Adam's sin. Both body and soul experienced death because of sin, and both will experience the resurrection by grace. 

Body and soul are both affected by depression, and both need to be treated. 

Who needs to be treated? How long? Should it be temporary or a lifetime treatment? I don't know, I am not a doctor. But if your depression haunts you, and has become a long term struggle, especially if you have considered suicide, or have thought that everyone would be happier if you were gone, then please talk to a doctor. You may benefit from medicinal as well as mental therapy. 

Your life does not belong to you alone. Your life belongs to your family, friends and church (not to mention God, 1 Cor. 6:19-20). We would miss you. Please, out of love for us all, take responsibility for your mental health, and get the help you need. 

3 Comments

Thank for opening up about depression in your family. In September my brother passed away at the age of 41 from years of alcoholism and depression. And a lot of people tell me I’m going down the same road. I don’t drink alcohol much. They are just comparing me. Should I be offended? Should I be defending my brother? Anyway….. I guess people misunderstanding of mental illness is what gets me. They have not a clue how to deal with it. But act as if they do. “Get your life in order”! Oh I hadn’t thought about that ever single day I wake up! Thanks for the advice!
Truth! And so well worded. Ricky, thank you for sharing!
Love you, Ricky Jones!

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