Petty3

Where is heavenly father when I need him? Antidepressants and the spirit.

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I have grown up in the church, served a mission and married in the temple.  When I was 12 my dad sexually abused me.  Now I'm in my 40's and the past that I buried has come to light and I have had a tough year as I've been dealing with this.

A year ago I started antidepressants.  I have met with my bishop and have been seeing a counselor.  Sometimes I have felt like I've improved but lately I'm struggling again.  I continue attending church but my heart hasn't been in it.

I feel like the medication takes away my ability to feel the spirit.  It's hard to keep doing everything when you haven't felt the spirit in so long.  I feel deserted by heavenly father.  

I am confused and am questioning the truthfulness of the gospel.  I feel like I've lost my testimony but I don't want to continue on like this.  What can I do?

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Petty,  your story is a heartbreaker. We're all praying for you, big time. 

Our Heavenly Father will never desert or abandon you. He's very proud that you are getting yourself help with counseling and medication. It takes a strong man to do that. Medication makes us better my friend, and like Apostle Holland has said, "There is no shame taking medication for depression-it's like taking medication for high blood pressure."  

Be sure to communicate with both your bishop and counselor-it seems like you are doing that. Inform them if anything changes, and keep praying my sister. 

Edited by MormonGator

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Thanks mormongator.  I'm actually female but I didn't make that clear. I realize there's no shame in taking medication.  I've had things switched around until we finally feel like I'm on the right one.  I just don't like how it makes me feel - or rather that I don't seem to feel anything.  

I know people say heavenly father doesn't desert his children but that's sure how it feels.  I hate not feeling like he cares for me or answers my prayers.  

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My heart goes out to you Petty.  Too was sexually abused as a kid.  I spent decades side-stepping things and dealing with major depression.  When I did finally face the battle head on it... I compared it to fighting dragons every day after every day.  In the end, Christ one and I am healed.  But it was a mega long journey though.  

You're not alone in this fight.  The church now has a whole website on fighting mental illness.   Elder Holland has spoken over the General Conference pulpit about his own battle with depression: how mental illness is just like all other illness--  it's  not your fault it happens, and seeking a medical doctor when you are ill is a good thing.  There are Facebook groups of LDS sexual abuse survivors, supporting each other in the battle.  You're not alone.

 

The thing that concerns me the most about your post is you saying you're having  hard time feeling the Spirit.  Are you having a hard time feeling other things as well?  If there's other things you're struggling to feel, perhaps your medication needs adjustment (either in amount or a different prescription).  

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20 minutes ago, Jane_Doe said:

The thing that concerns me the most about your post is you saying you're having  hard time feeling the Spirit.  Are you having a hard time feeling other things as well?  If there's other things you're struggling to feel, perhaps your medication needs adjustment (either in amount or a different prescription).

That's what I was wondering.  Someone once pointed out to me that at least some prescriptions are not meant to be taken for longer than a year or so, and if you stay on them longer, they start doing bad things.  (Sorry, I can't remember the specific class of meds she was talking about, but it was related.)

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5 minutes ago, zil said:

That's what I was wondering.  Someone once pointed out to me that at least some prescriptions are not meant to be taken for longer than a year or so, and if you stay on them longer, they start doing bad things.  (Sorry, I can't remember the specific class of meds she was talking about, but it was related.)

Prescriptions can also change due to the person taking them and their condition changing.  For a physical example: after a person is in a traumatic car accident, it's quite common to need to change pain-Rx several times as injuries heal and the person works through difficult physical therapy.  Likewise with traumatic mental incidents and working through difficult therapy. 

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I might not be LDS, but you said something that crosses denominational lines:  That you are attending your ward even though you don't feel like it. Please know that you are not a hypocrite for doing so. Rather, when you praise Heavenly Father, despite not feeling like it, you are offering a sacrifice of praise. It's easy to praise God when we feel the glory. When we feel down, draggy, and just dull, yet choose to praise Him anyway--I truly believe God smiles extra long at that. So, kudos for bearing up through this difficult season.

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I have adjusted and reviewed the medication quite frequently.  A few months ago on my own I stopped taking it and became suicidal.  I meet with a psychiatrist every few months now to review the medication.  I feel like what I'm taking now is working.

Sometimes I feel like crying but I am unable to.  I don't feel in touch with my feelings. 

And I feel like my bishop is done with me.  I don't think he wants me to bother him anymore with my concerns and I understand because things don't seem to be getting any better...if anything they seem worse.

Edited by Petty3

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Petty3, having also come from a background similar to yours and continually struggling with depression I do understand how you feel. I can tell you it does get better. I can testify to you that our Father hasn’t left the room, he is, in the words of CS Lewis, taking his hand away to help you learn how to walk. 

When I’m struggling with depression I I have found the following advice of Elder Uchtdorf to be most helpful.

Work is an antidote for anxiety, and ointment for sorrow, and a doorway to possibility. Whatever our circumstances in life, my dear brethren, let us do the best we can and cultivate a reputation for excellence in all that we do. Let us set our minds and bodies to the glorious opportunity for work that each new day presents.
I took his words to mean service to others. To go out and do some random act of kindness. For me that’s baking muffins and dropping them off with people I appreciate or baking cookies for the primary kids or just finding kind things to say about everyone I meet. 
 
When I do that I find that hole isn’t so deep or dark or alone as I thought it was.
 
Never forget God loves you. 
 
Elder Holland once gave a talk where (A Conversation With Elder Holland) , holding his scriptures in his hand, that God’s word is full of people who suffered much like us. Elder Holland asked the question if we thought God loved Peter or John or Lehi or Jesus any less because of the troubles they faced. 
 
Christ knows how how you feel, he was the one who cried, “My God, my God,  why hast thou forsaken me. 
 
He love you. He is still there with you. He never left. 
May our Father bless you and wrap you in his arms. 

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10 minutes ago, Petty3 said:

I have adjusted and reviewed the medication quite frequently.  A few months ago on my own I stopped taking it and became suicidal.  I meet with a psychiatrist every few months now to review the medication.  I feel like what I'm taking now is working.

Sometimes I feel like crying but I am unable to.  I don't feel in touch with my feelings. 

Ok, keeping you from being sucididal is VERY important.  Though, if you're unable to feel things, that might lean to medication being a little too strong.  

This strikes me a much more a general mental health issues (being unable to feel at all) rather than specifically can't feel-the-spirit.  

10 minutes ago, Petty3 said:

I don't think he wants me to bother him anymore with my concerns and I understand because things don't seem to be getting any better...if anything they seem worse.

What does your counselor think: does he/she think you are making progress?

Edited by Jane_Doe

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For me... one of the worst parts of the whole healing process was when I... when I started to emotionally "thaw" from my frozen state.  It sucked!!!  Everything hurt so so much- even stuff that didn't bother me before (because frozen hearts don't feel much at all).  With time and more work, I was able to work through things, but I do recall vividly how much that hurt then, and how at points I totally wanted to turn back and just be frozen again- and at points I did slide in that direction.  

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Jane_Doe, 

What you said makes sense.  It does hurt to thaw.

I think what really bothers me is that even attending church or the temple I still can't feel the spirit.  I just don't understand why.  

I have been trying to decide if all the work is worth it.  

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2 minutes ago, Petty3 said:

I have been trying to decide if all the work is worth it.  

It is!  

I... I struggle to describe it, even having been on both sides.  It's like describing a rainbow to a person who's always lived in the dark.  I... when I was frozen I just wanted things to end.  I skied recklessly, not carrying if I got hurt in an accident or even killed- after all, no physical injury could really hurt me compared to what I hurt inside.  I felt like I didn't matter- after all I was a "defective" person (that's all the depression/abuse talking, not reality).  

When I did start to thaw, when I did start to care... suddenly skiing was terrifying!  I could get hurt- this would HURT so badly- even when I did things right my muscles ached like never before.  I'm a person who always had nightmares from the past but now... now I remembered like never before.  And I cared what happened to that little girl in my dreams.  And I CRIED for her so much!  Like never before- I never cried like that when I didn't care.  

But now... I rarely have nightmares any more.  I sleep soundly, and dream about things in the present I enjoy.  I see rainbows, colors, vivid like never before.  Food- man food can taste SO great.  Skiing is a thrill- I feel the mountain beneath me, I jump from mogul to mogul, feeling the snow beneath me, my heart pump, my muscles and self empowered.  I love... I love so deeply  Before, when I gave my cares to someone... it didn't mean as much.  Because what I was giving (me) was shallowly rooted and not prized.  Now, I give my love I give my whole self- the valuable person I am, to another.  I am here- in the here and now- 100% with that person.  I give my whole heart, not holding back that I froze long in the past.

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3 hours ago, Petty3 said:

I feel like the medication takes away my ability to feel the spirit.  It's hard to keep doing everything when you haven't felt the spirit in so long.  I feel deserted by heavenly father.  

I am confused and am questioning the truthfulness of the gospel.  I feel like I've lost my testimony but I don't want to continue on like this.  What can I do?

The thing is nobody knows you better than you.  You get to decide how you want to live and the goals for how you want to feel.  Think about it . ..you see a therapist for what 1 hour every week and they are supposed to know how you feel the rest of the time?  Therapists are good for an outside perspective, they are good for helping you see things from a different viewpoint, maybe even giving some tools to help out . . .but honestly you are the one who's really got to put in the work.  Really self-analyze and self-reflect. Why am I feeling this way?  What happened so that now I feel this way?  Am I loving myself? Do I see myself with all the self-deception and lies gone? Do I see myself as Heavenly Father sees me?

It is my opinion that there is really no such thing as mental illness . . .it's really spiritual illness.  The symptoms of mental illness are really signs that the spirit, body, and mind are not in harmony with each other.  The only way to cure the symptoms are through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Get good rest, eat healthy and allow Christ's Atonement to work in your life.

(oh I know this is taboo) but you can experiment with the medicine . . . pill splitters plus do as much research as you can about the specific drugs.

Honestly, the way we treat this is soooo incredibly depressing.  How depressing is it to tell someone, you have xyz, it's not your fault and there is nothing you can do about it . . . here take these pills they will make you feel better.  What you mean I have to deal with this the rest of my life???  People intrinsically know that something is wrong with how we treat it . . . there are no brain scans, no objective truths to test "mental illness", it is all based on what you tell someone else.  That's not science, that's voodoo magic.  And it's so depressing to tell someone, "you will have to take this the rest of your life"

Jane_Does last comment was really good.  It is a lot of work, but it's worth it.

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4 hours ago, Petty3 said:

I have grown up in the church, served a mission and married in the temple.  When I was 12 my dad sexually abused me.  Now I'm in my 40's and the past that I buried has come to light and I have had a tough year as I've been dealing with this.

A year ago I started antidepressants.  I have met with my bishop and have been seeing a counselor.  Sometimes I have felt like I've improved but lately I'm struggling again.  I continue attending church but my heart hasn't been in it.

I feel like the medication takes away my ability to feel the spirit.  It's hard to keep doing everything when you haven't felt the spirit in so long.  I feel deserted by heavenly father.  

I am confused and am questioning the truthfulness of the gospel.  I feel like I've lost my testimony but I don't want to continue on like this.  What can I do?

 

I am sorry that I do not have much in my life that I can relate to you.  I know some individuals with similar problems (some are relatives).  I have never been good in such circumstances to say the right thing.  It is easy to dismiss people like me because we seem heartless and uncaring. 

I do not try or intend to be distant.  There are likely a lot individuals like me in your ward.  Please do not hate us or be disappointed because we cannot relate and say things that are not that helpful.   If I could suggest anything – I would suggest getting outside yourself and involved some kind of service for others.  Service and sacrifice and being outside myself is what helps me the most to connect spiritually.

Again I apologize for not being more in touch with your needs and hope things will improve.

 

The Traveler

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3 minutes ago, JoCa said:

The thing is nobody knows you better than you.  You get to decide how you want to live and the goals for how you want to feel.  Think about it . ..you see a therapist for what 1 hour every week and they are supposed to know how you feel the rest of the time?  Therapists are good for an outside perspective, they are good for helping you see things from a different viewpoint, maybe even giving some tools to help out . . .but honestly you are the one who's really got to put in the work.  Really self-analyze and self-reflect. Why am I feeling this way?  What happened so that now I feel this way?  Am I loving myself? Do I see myself with all the self-deception and lies gone? Do I see myself as Heavenly Father sees me?

My analogy: a good therapist is like a hiking guide.  They're there to help you get where you want to go by pointing the way, and providing the wisdom of experience.  But they don't tell you where you want to go, or do the walking for you.  You got to do that part.

3 minutes ago, JoCa said:

It is my opinion that there is really no such thing as mental illness . . .it's really spiritual illness.  The symptoms of mental illness are really signs that the spirit, body, and mind are not in harmony with each other.  The only way to cure the symptoms are through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Get good rest, eat healthy and allow Christ's Atonement to work in your life.

I would stress that while the Gospel is essential that doesn't mean you should skip on other treatments as well.  Like if someone stabbed you with a knife, yes the Gospel is going to bring you hope/forgiveness, but you should still call 911 and get into an ER ASAP.  

3 minutes ago, JoCa said:

Honestly, the way we treat this is soooo incredibly depressing.  How depressing is it to tell someone, you have xyz, it's not your fault and there is nothing you can do about it . . . here take these pills they will make you feel better.  What you mean I have to deal with this the rest of my life???  People intrinsically know that something is wrong with how we treat it . . . there are no brain scans, no objective truths to test "mental illness", it is all based on what you tell someone else.  That's not science, that's voodoo magic.  And it's so depressing to tell someone, "you will have to take this the rest of your life"

My husband has diabetes.  He has to take these pills the rest of his life.  This is not depressing, it's the facts of an illness.  Some illnesses are temporary, some a permanent, some we don't know when they will be better.  Trust in the Lord & listen to yourself & consult with expert medical help. 

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@Petty3. I am so sorry to hear of your troubles! I have also taken antidepressants and I know how tricky they can be. I found that a really good pharmacist often knows more than the doctor about side effects. The Pharmacy that the hospital orders from, often the one open 24 hours and near the hospital, Is often the best. I found that I could just go and talk to the pharmacist.

It is difficult to feel the spirit when you are depressed! I found that I had to make rules for myself. I never watch a movie or read a book that is too depressing. I don’t let myself contemplate certain thoughts. Purely optional but...I tend to be relentlessly positive and cheery as a way of coping. I block depressing thoughts by singing a hymn and I try to go to the temple frequently. Praying fo you!

Where is that Second Coming? 

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Just now, Jane_Doe said:

My husband has diabetes.  He has to take these pills the rest of his life.  This is not depressing, it's the facts of an illness.  Some illnesses are temporary, some a permanent, some we don't know when they will be better.  Trust in the Lord & listen to yourself & consult with expert medical help. 

But you can't compare diabetes to depression or any other "mental illness".  One is very scientific, one is not.  In one case, you can measure blood sugar, you can not measure whatever bs the psycological profession likes to use.  As the founder of the whole chemical imbalances stated "it is a useful metaphor".

No one would say that diabetes or low blood sugar is a "useful metaphor", b/c it's actually based on science.  The way we currently treat "mental illness" is like doing blood cuttings from the 1700s, there is no objectionable proof to back it up, it is all just a "useful metaphor". 

The symptoms are very real, but to say that a "chemical imbalance" causes them is bs. . . .the vast, vast majority of mental illness deals specifically with trauma-as the woman and you have pointed out. Once the trauma is cleared up, by and large, the illness gets much better.

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Just now, JoCa said:

But you can't compare diabetes to depression or any other "mental illness".  One is very scientific, one is not.  In one case, you can measure blood sugar, you can not measure whatever bs the psycological profession likes to use.  As the founder of the whole chemical imbalances stated "it is a useful metaphor".

No one would say that diabetes or low blood sugar is a "useful metaphor", b/c it's actually based on science. 

Just because we now have the tools to better measure some illnesses than others doesn't make any less real.  Pretending a problem isn't a problem only hurts things.    

Just now, JoCa said:

The symptoms are very real, but to say that a "chemical imbalance" causes them is bs. . . .the vast, vast majority of mental illness deals specifically with trauma-as the woman and you have pointed out. Once the trauma is cleared up, by and large, the illness gets much better.

A person should NEVER shame another for carrying illness (whatever the cause) or seeking the best medical help.   I know you don't mean to @JoCa, but for me it's coming across as you're shaming people who have illnesses you can't quantify and shaming them for seeking the best treatments for that.  Again, I know you're not meaning that impression, but it is that being given.  

 

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1 minute ago, Jane_Doe said:

A person should NEVER shame another for carrying illness (whatever the cause) or seeking the best medical help.   I know you don't mean to @JoCa, but for me it's coming across as you're shaming people who have illnesses you can't quantify and shaming them for seeking the best treatments for that.  Again, I know you're not meaning that impression, but it is that being given.  

??? Okay, way to read way too much into what I wrote. Shaming people (sigh) I swear I hate modern culture.  You can never have a actual open conversation anymore, without it delving into "shaming".  This is a major problem in today's society . . .literally you cannot have a conversation anymore based on logic, facts, etc.  b/c if the facts are against what you feel you are "shaming people"

No, of course the symptoms are very real, of course people suffer from them, of course they need help and you know where-ever they can find help . . .great. But this idea that doctor's know what's going on is just BS.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mental-illness-metaphor/201709/the-myth-the-chemical-imbalance

Freaking A . .. read the blooming article from PsycologyToday!

Oh my word, I swear . . .

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11 minutes ago, Jane_Doe said:

Just because we now have the tools to better measure some illnesses than others doesn't make any less real.  Pretending a problem isn't a problem only hurts things

Do you honestly not understand what I'm saying? I swear.

I say: Symptoms of depression etc. are real, however doctor's don't know jack about why the symptoms are there.

You think: How dare you shame people? Don't you know that just b/c we can't measure it, it doesn't make it any less real!

Me: Umm, yeah it's real alright, where did I say otherwise, just b/c the symptoms are real doesn't mean doctors know how to fix the symptoms! With medications, you are literally a guinea pig, here take this one, oh that didn't work, take this one, oh that didn't work, take this one.  You are a guinea pig. Face facts.

You yourself said you had major trauma, this lady had major trauma, there are good journal articles that describe how most major illness, bipolar, etc. have trauma as a root in the background. Fix the trauma, people can function.

Edited by JoCa

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I hope to get off medication sooner than later.  I have no idea if I have a chemical imbalance or not but I do know that a year ago when I first was put on medication that it took a while to find the right balance.  I was hospitalized for a short time after starting the medication for suicide and realized the medication was doing the opposite of what it should.  But after some trial and error I feel like what I'm taking is working.

The psychiatrist said that to get off the medicine she will decrease the amounts slowly and that it takes up to a year to get completely off.

 

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2 minutes ago, Petty3 said:

I hope to get off medication sooner than later.  I have no idea if I have a chemical imbalance or not but I do know that a year ago when I first was put on medication that it took a while to find the right balance.  I was hospitalized for a short time after starting the medication for suicide and realized the medication was doing the opposite of what it should.  But after some trial and error I feel like what I'm taking is working.

The psychiatrist said that to get off the medicine she will decrease the amounts slowly and that it takes up to a year to get completely off.

 

Remember my friend, you should pay attention to the doctors and mental health professionals-they do know best. You are doing the right thing! 

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1 minute ago, Petty3 said:

I hope to get off medication sooner than later. 

Great goal; you know yourself better than anyone else. It's important to be very aware of yourself. How you are feeling, are you coping well? If you aren't, find some good coping mechanisms.

3 minutes ago, Petty3 said:

I have no idea if I have a chemical imbalance or not

You don't.  It is certainly possible to have a damaged brain . . .but for that I'd get an MRI.

5 minutes ago, Petty3 said:

I was hospitalized for a short time after starting the medication for suicide and realized the medication was doing the opposite of what it should. 

Doesn't surprise me; the amazing thing about today's mental health profession is that people will get all up in arms about it, but they never seem to get up in arms about the crap they give you. Just look at the side-effects a good portion of them say "suicidal thoughts".  Oh isn't that just lovely.  If I'm a cynical person I say it's almost a plot.  What's the best way to get rid of people who are depressed, give 'em drugs to "cure" it but that really just make them kill themselves.. . .yeah that will solve the problem!

The rest generally just make you drugged up . . .oh isn't that lovely you can't think about being depressed if you are half-asleep for the entire day.

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