I should start off by saying that it’s not easy for me to be this vulnerable, this honest, but I know I’m not the only one who has gone through this. I hope that my story will encourage you.
Sometimes, I feel like a refugee, who left my home in the midst of turmoil, only to come back and find it burned to the ground, in the middle of a war zone. My heart and mind resemble that home right now. I didn’t truly believe that my mind and emotions were a battlefield until I let my guard down and was shocked at the results.
We’re all girls here, right? So I can be honest about my issues with … the pill? I was on three different birth control pills between the ages of 16 and 18 and I can truly say that every single one turned me into a monster. They weren’t for contraception, so it was easy enough for me to opt out of them after awhile when I saw the side effects. Before I got married, however, I told myself I was just going to have to suck it up and deal with it. I thought I had to be on some kind of hormonal birth control so I decided I’d put mind over matter. Eleven months, three doctors visits, two types of pills and an untold number of tears later, matter had won out. I fought with my body and I lost.
The medical world clashed with my emotional world; the pill severely altered my mood. Truth be told, it sent me spiraling down until I was caught in a continual state of discouragement and depression. I was in a weakened, vulnerable and emotional state and the enemy took full opportunity of this and further filled my head with lies about myself, about my husband, about God and about who I would become. At this point, I was in survival mode. I was just trying to make it through the day and I did not have the extra strength to fight these lies and defend my heart and mind. Whatever thought entered, I let it stay there; I figured I’d deal with it later. For now, I thought, I just need to get through this with as little pain as possible.
So my life looked a little something like this (maybe you can relate): While we were eating dinner, my husband would say “I really liked what you cooked last night.” The thought would enter my head “Is he saying he doesn’t like what I cooked tonight?” I would let this thought run wild, I would think of other examples of times when he had done something similar. Anger, discouragement, resentment and feelings of failure would fill me. I started thinking, “He never really has appreciated me.”
From then on, my goal was not to capture these thoughts, but to conceal my anger and self-consciousness and keep from crying at dinner. I usually lost this battle and broke down before the night was over.
This may seem like the satirized marriage relationship in a sitcom, but it was honestly my life (and my poor husband’s life) for a while. Because of a simple dosage of synthetic hormones, I could not control my thoughts and emotions, so I stopped trying to sift through them.
I’m so glad this period of my life didn’t last long. In time, I got off that medicine and the dim fog of depression finally started to lift. But I found my mind a very different place than it had been. I had checked out, ignoring my thoughts, not discerning them for truth, but leaving them in charge of my behavior. Even after my medical issues began to improve, I found that those thoughts that I had let creep in months ago still ruled me. At the slightest provocation feelings of failure would engulf me. If I was ever alone, I would hear “no one loves you” being whispered into my head. Negativity and self-consciousness now dominated me.
During this time I found the words of Proverbs 4:23 to be true “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Everything I do flows from what I let into my heart. This is where I got hung up for a while and where I think a lot of other people do too. Thoughts pop into our heads all the time and we can’t necessarily control them. We feel unpleasant emotions like anger, sadness and discouragement that we can’t always reign in. When medical or hormonal issues come into play, these thoughts and emotions are heightened and even more uncontrollable. They will knock on our door unexpectedly, but that doesn’t mean we have to invite them in and let them stay in the guest bedroom in our hearts. When we give validity to these thoughts and emotions, meditating on them and believing them to be true, they almost always become actions and habits that are hard to kick even when the original issue (for me, the birth control pill) is out of the picture.
We must discern our thoughts, good from bad, true from the untrue and constructive from destructive and give those bad, untrue, destructive thoughts over to God before they wreak havoc on our hearts and minds. This is not easy to do when you’re going through the day just trying not to burst into tears in public. Trust me, I get it. I’ve already shared that I failed in this area. I didn’t ever give any of them over to God. I let each and every thought go wild because, at the end of every day, I was at the end of my rope and that was all I ever saw. I relied on my own strength and never asked God for His. I fought with my body. I tried to put my mind over matter. I failed. But I forgot that “Yahweh is the everlasting God, the Creator of the whole earth. He never grows faint or weary; there is no limit to His understanding. He gives strength to the weary and strengthens the powerless.” — Isaiah 40:28-29
As humans, we will almost all deal with stress, anxiety and depression, but as women, we have PMS, pregnancy, birth control pills and other hormone related joys tacked on throughout our lives. We cannot always be strong. Sometimes, matter will win out over mind. Sometimes, we’ll fight with our bodies and lose. But I can honestly say that God has always been strong for me. He has always helped me to weed out lies. He has always spoken truth into my heart and made it grow until I believed it. If you are going though a hard time — discouraged, depressed, hormonal, I have good news for you: there is nothing wrong with you. If you are sick of trite advice and one-liners from well-wishers and just want to work through everything in peace, I have more good news: there is no quick fix. It just takes time. Whatever you do, do not let your feelings dictate your actions and beliefs while you’re waiting. Trust God and ask Him to help guard your heart in this difficult time. You may find that when the dust has settled, your heart and mind is as beautiful a place as it’s ever been.
P.S. For more info about the world of non-hormonal birth control, check out another post of mine here