Sunday, October 18, 2015
The Role of Medicine
I was reading this LDS talk (here) and it got me thinking about my depression, my doctor and medications. The part that stuck out to me was:
"The Role of Medicine
We should not believe that all who suffer from illness, whatever the cause, need only receive a priesthood blessing to have their burdens lifted, perhaps permanently. I am a great advocate and supporter of priesthood blessings. I know from many personal experiences that Jesus Christ, and He alone, has ownership of the precious “balm in Gilead” (Jeremiah 8:22) needed for final and complete healing. But I know also that God has given us wonderful knowledge that can be of inestimable assistance in dealing with suffering. We must, I believe, take every advantage of such God-given information.
"Some persons who are ill, who have received a priesthood blessing and have prayed fervently that their burdens might be lightened, may feel that they suffer from a lamentable lack of faith if they seek professional help for their affliction. They may even stop taking prescribed medication, thinking erroneously that their faith will replace the need for it. Such thinking is quite simply wrong. Receiving and acting upon professional advice and the concomitant exercise of faith are not in conflict. In fact, exercising faith may require following the advice of experienced health professionals.
"Wise health professionals—whatever their academic training or orientation, be it primarily medical or psychological—increasingly are aware that spirituality is a significant component of their therapeutic resources. As recently as a decade ago only a handful of medical schools in the United Sates offered courses in spirituality and healing, but now more than half do. Particularly with religiously devout patients, evidence is beginning to show that spiritual approaches to the psychotherapy of depression, for example, are at least as effective as those that are purely secular. A growing number of physicians and psychotherapists now use spiritually oriented approaches and interventions in treating patients with both physical and mental illnesses."
-Elder Alexander B. Morrison
I know I've mentioned the story before, but my husband has talked about it several times over the past few weeks so I'll post it again.
A few years ago I was finally accepting the depression, but I didn't know where to start. Do I start counseling again? Do I try medication again? What doctor will be best for me? Instead of actually trying to find answers I did nothing.
One day at church everything started falling into place. Our ward High Councilor was speaking, it was easily the third, if not forth or fifth time he had spoken since we had moved into the ward. His talk was on service and he started talking about how he is a doctor and has patients with depression and how service helps. I knew instantly that he was the doctor I was supposed to go to. The second Sacrament meeting was over I told my husband that I knew I was supposed to go to him for my depression. For some reason I put off making an appointment for months. In that time I started going to the Depression Support Group.
I finally went to this doctor and went back on an anti-depressant. (here is the whole story about our first appointment) I was impressed that he didn't just give me a prescription and send me on my way. I loved his whole process with it. Over the past 18 months we had to make adjustments to the medications and have had to deal with my crazy cycles.
Now that bring me to the medication. For so long I was against it. I didn't want anything to do with it. Through the Depression Support Group I came to terms that I needed to at least try medication. It took trial and error and tweaking, but we finally got the right medication at the right dosage and it worked/s, (I'm still on it) perfectly. Since I didn't have health insurance the first 14 months I saw him I didn't go back to him as often as I would have liked to get me on the right stuff. Plus, without insurance the "right stuff" is $100 a month! I couldn't do it not knowing if it was even going to work. Now we know it works wonders and I pay $25 for 3 months worth!
I was on my current medication when I started seeing Joy again. Even though she talked about how some people need to stay on medication for the depression, she also talked about how some people when they change their thought process can go off them. In between our first and second session I went off my medication. I thought I would try to see how applying these new tools actually helped without the aid of the medication. In some ways using these new techniques helped, but in many ways it did not help the depression. I know that thinking more positively and changing your thought process is vital to depression. At the same time changing my thoughts didn't help me sleep better like my medication does. It didn't help me have more patients and less stress either. I also found that when we had our second session I was starting to shut down. On them it is easy for me to talk and open up and truly deal with things. Since I was off them I just sat there and pretty much just answered her questions vaguely. As I left her office that day I realized I NEED the medication and that is okay!!!
Then there was Bishop S.... I was seeing James at the time we moved into Bishop S's ward. One week my homework from James was to talk to Bishop S about how I was in counseling. (full story here) He asked me if I had faith in healing, yes. He asked if I believed in the power of the Priesthood, yes. Well, I know he was well meaning, but he truly thought that by giving me a Priesthood blessing it would "heal" me. I know there have been times in my life that a Priesthood blessing as "healed me". There was also a time that a Priesthood blessing worked in the form of medication! At the time my doctor could not get my cycle to stop, in the blessing my husband said something to the effect that my body would correct itself. It never did, however after that my doctor was able to find the right medication to make the bleeding stop! I guess my point here is, I know that Priesthood blessing are great, amazing, powerful things, but I personally don't believe that a Priesthood blessing can magically take away all the effect from sexual abuse or depression. I also know that sometimes in addition to them you need to not just stand idly by waiting for miracles to happen. Sometimes the things said in a blessing happen in the form of medication or counseling.