From: Name Withheld
Hi. I take antidepressants, and it has helped me a lot. The only problem is that, truthfully, I do not feel the same connection to G‑d now as I did when I was depressed. Sometimes I used to pray with tears. I guess you could say that medication has made it harder for me to feel spiritual.
So this may be a silly question, but should I keep taking the medication even though it makes it harder for me to feel as spiritual as I felt before?
Dear Name Withheld,
Your question is both silly and serious. Silly, because you know the answer: Keep taking the medication as directed by a competent health care professional.
But serious, because you’ve touched on a basic Jewish concept: “Man was born to struggle” (Job 5:7). All of life’s situations are in fact challenges and struggles to be overcome for self-growth.
Depression has been a painful challenge for you, but you’ve used it as an opportunity to feel close to G‑d. That’s a great accomplishment. So why not stop taking the medicine and go back to the challenge?
Because you’ve overcome the hurdle and G‑d has decided that you’re ready for a new challenge: Finding spiritual inspiration in a normal, healthy state.
You know, after my son was in first grade for a few weeks he asked if he could go back to kindergarten. Kindergarten is fun and affords wonderful growth, but I said no. There’s no going back to kindergarten.
For you, depression was a course called “Spirituality 101 – Finding G‑d during Dark Days.” But you graduated. Now you’re in a class called “Spirituality 102 – Finding G‑d in Normal Life.”
This may be harder. The Sages taught that wealth makes it harder to be spiritual, and the same is true when we’re well-off in other areas as well, such as health. The challenge is, can you seek and find inspiration when things are OK? The answer is yes, because G‑d only sends challenges that we are capable of overcoming.
May G‑d bless you with success and happiness and continue to give you strength and courage to take responsibility for your emotional health and spiritual growth.