The last week and a half have been difficult. My psychiatrist allowed me to decrease my Cymbalta (antidepressant). This is a really big deal. It’s terrifying, actually! Anyone who knew me while I was very ill, in the throws of depression, knows how life-threatening and serious my illness can be. I am not against medication use at all! For some people, medication can make a huge difference. Medication for a mental illness is no different than insulin for diabetes, chemo for cancer, or medications for epilepsy, if it works and it keeps you healthy-it is 100% necessary.
However, I never noticed a change while taking Cymbalta but I still stayed on it through ECT and exposure therapy-both of which DID help me. I have a few side effects from Cymbalta. Heat intolerance-which is horrible! I am comfortable outside in a t-shirt when it is 4 degrees outside. I also have noticed an impact on my creativity and ‘sharpness’ of my thinking.
The Cymbalta was decreased exactly 2 weeks ago, all was well until last Monday night when I noticed my mood slipped and I was very anxious. My mood has gone back up nearly to where it was but my anxiety levels have stayed quite high. As a result, I have had limited time in public places. There is no reason for this anxiety and no specific worries, which makes it so frustrating for me! I did not have this type of anxiety before taking any antidepressants, so hopefully this isn’t just another presentation of my illness.
Two days ago, I was given the choice to go back on the Cymbalta which would likely relieve the new anxiety, or I could continue to wait it out a little longer to see if it will fade over time. I decided to continue with the decreased dose. We will wait and see what will happen.
It was during this past week that my devotions featured Scriptures on joy.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again—Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23).
Since these are words from God, I figured I shouldn’t roll my eyes at these passages, but I was doing it on the inside. I do like these verses. They are feel-good words…when I’m feeling good. But when life is such a mess, they sound superficial and even seem to mock my current reality.
As I kept myself in check, the Lord clearly and ever so gently challenged my thinking.
You don’t need joy when things are going well. You need joy when life is hard, and I am always here to supply it.
I tend to be black and white in my thinking. I want things to be “either-or,” rather than “and.”
James 1:2-3 throws a wrench in my thinking.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
Sorrow and joy are not mutually exclusive. The Lord intended joy to be an ever-present part of a believer’s life. Even in the midst of trials, chaos, and in the messiness of relationships.
I am thankful that it doesn’t say, “Be happy whenever you face trials of many kinds.” There are trials and pain in life, and I’m not going to be happy about them. I am not happy that I am struggling with ANOTHER form of anxiety. I don’t have to paste on a smile and pretend that everything is beautiful. I can acknowledge the struggles, and that’s okay. My happiness is an emotion that changes with my circumstances.
However, as a follower of Jesus, joy is independent of my circumstances. Joy is based on my trust in the Lord, my confidence in His constancy that gives me security and well-being. It focuses on the hope and future anchored, immovably in Christ.
Unfortunately, we will all encounter trouble. Jesus said we would in John 16:33. We will be moved by tragedy, but it should not define us.
Job lost everything dear to him—family, wealth, and health. He was devastated and praised the Lord from the depths of his soul.
Paul instructed us to “Rejoice in the Lord” while he was in prison.
Jesus wept at Lazarus’ tomb and then raised him from the dead.
I am filled with joy and fighting a severe Illness.
Joy comes from the Holy Spirit, not from us.
As we walk in the Spirit and allow Him to flow through our lives, we will experience joy. We will be able to rejoice in the Lord. Yes, always.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:8-9).
If you are struggling to have joy in your circumstance and would like to talk more about it or would like me to pray for you, please do not hesitate to contact me through the contact page on this website.
If you do not yet have a personal relationship with Jesus but would like to know more about beginning that relationship I would LOVE to talk to you and pray for you!
Summer & Zoe