I have a terrible fear that our country is over-medicating themselves. Recently, as most of you know, the actor Heath Ledger was found dead in his New York apartment, a bottle of sleeping pills beside his head, and although the toxicology report is not in, the news has reported that Heath was on anti-anxiety and sleeping pills, that he had extreme trouble sleeping, and that he was very stressed. The reason this story hit me so hard was not only because I thought Mr. Ledger was a great actor, but because I too, suffer from a very nervous disposition and tend to get easily stressed about things. I have also had very difficult bouts of insomnia where I was up until 3 or 4 in the morning trying to fall asleep. I have been on anti-depressants, anti-anxiety and sleeping pills myself to combat these problems, so I can really relate to Mr. Ledger.
I can now say, by the grace of God that I am no longer taking any of those drugs, nor any drugs at all. But, I also know several friends and family who are. Christians, in fact. Now, I'm no doctor and I'm sure there could be true biological and chemical reasons for some of these disorders, but all of them? Millions of Americans on sleeping pills? I believe this a result of three things:
1. We Amercans love a quick fix. We love fast food, fast women, fast cars and quick results. Gone are the days of long hours working to produce a product of great quaility that would last a lifetime. When I was a kid, TV sets were expected to last over 20 years, Now 5 years. Same with cars. If your car is over 5 years old, it's a hasbeen, washed up and will most likely break down soon. Now, we have a problem with our marriage, we get divorced, We can't afford to buy what we want, we borrow money. We snap our fingers and expect instant gratification for all our needs and this includes stress and sleeplessness. Instead of addressing the real problem, we cover it up with a pill.
2. Life is more stressful today than in prior generations. Is that true? A hundred years ago, two hundred years ago when our forefathers fought their way through this wilderness, you can't tell me they didn't have problems. Half of their children died before they reached puberty. Not to mention, freezing winters, hunger, Indian attacks... What I think life is today is far more busy and far more complex. We keep ourselves so busy busy busy with a million tasks that steal all our time away. We rarely just sit down without phones, Ipods, blackberries, TV or radio blaring in our ear and just reflect on life. With all our technology and all our advancees, we've only made our lives more complex and distanced ourselves from human interaction.
3. We've taken God out of our country, our schools, our politics, our workplace, our homes and even most of our religions. Only Almighty God is our true source of peace and rest. Without Him to lean on, to bring our problems to, without a trust that He is in control and loves us beyond measure, life just becomes too frightening, with too many unknowns.
"God is our refuge and strength an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging." Psalm 46: 1-3