For those of you that don’t know me, I have a warrior spirit with a huge heart. I can come off really strong, but deep down it is because I care.
I know I am going to ruffle some feathers with this article, but I am ok with that. Mental illness and faith are two things that many see as oil and water. Instead of partnering the two together to help improve things, some people are just shamed for their condition or current state of mind. This happens in and outside of the church. I can personally speak on this topic because it is something that I have dealt with. In my life I have dealt with 2 major brain injuries (one that broke my skull), trauma/abuse, illnesses, bullying, and more that impacted my mental health. When you just give a blanket statement to just get over something without knowing what things affect people and their mental health, it can be very invalidating and judgmental. It will also shut them out. I'm not saying I'm perfect, I know I have made some statements that I could have said differently.
Different seasons of my life brought new things out of me; good and bad. I would be able to reach new heights and in the same breath deal with depression that would try and swallow me whole. I dealt with anxiety of my workload and the constant sickness from my different conditions. I was trapped. Most of my life, minus a season, I believed in God and do now. I did not always utilize God, faith or The Holy Bible in the way I needed to, to improve. Having faith does help heal things. I do believe in the immense power God has, but I also understand there are other factors that impact us. You have to partner your faith with work. (Visit James 2:14-26). I am not saying let's just drop everything and not give a care in the world on what we can do for ourselves. We are to steward what we have and carry our cross (aka manage your life and what comes with it).
All mental illnesses are not the same. Some things that affect mental illnesses; trauma/abuse, brain injuries, stress, loss,genetics, and drug & alcohol abuse. There are people that have a different genetic makeup. They lack the vitamins and proper chemical balance in their brain. There are tests for this. This is one of my issues. I have a chemical imbalance, my body doesn't create enough to keep me naturally balanced on its own. I have certain health conditions that contribute to this. Your genetic make up may create great levels of serotonin without you even trying to develop the skill of working to be happy. You just “are.” Attacking someone that doesn't naturally produce something you do is ineffective.
There are many triggering statements for people either suffering from mental illnesses or a tough season.
If you have God then you should not deal with mental illness.
You do not have enough faith, if you’re still dealing with that.
You’re not praying hard enough.
It is all in your head.
Just stop thinking that way.
Get over it.
Although, yes there is SOME validity in the statements, but it does not help the problem. Learning to “stop thinking that way” takes learning different tools. If you have developed the skills, TEACH THEM. Where did you start? What habits did you create or dissipate? What things contributed to your success or downfall? What resources did you use to get there?
I have to do a variety of things to make sure I am “OK.” It takes me taking extra vitamins, exercising, praying, keeping things organized, planning things out, a specific food regimen, therapy, community, and keeping my sabbath. If I am not doing all of those things my body gets out of whack. I do have to put things in God’s hands because I cannot control everything, but I need to put in the work to support what I am asking for. You can’t expect healing and just eat junk all day. I have combatted suicidal thoughts/actions, trauma, depression, illnesses, anxiety and more. Without God I would not be alive today. My faith in him has given me strength and he has pulled me out of many dark places. It is a PROCESS.
Now, when people say if you believe in God then you shouldn’t deal with that; it confuses me. Why does it confuse me? It confuses me that people that read the Bible are saying if you believe in him that it would be non-existent. God can heal anything he wants. Jesus asked “Do you want to be healed” (John 5:6). There are other times that the conditions remained;“thorns in their side.” (2 Corinthians 1:12:7-10).
The Bible speaks on many physical and mental illnesses.
Here are a few examples of mental illnesses or “tough seasons” that affected people’s mental state.
Martha (Luke 10:40-42)
Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is a need for only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”
Saul & his armour bearer (1 Samuel 31:4-5)
4 Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and run me through and abuse me.”But his armor- bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it. 5 When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died with him
27 The churning inside me never stops; days of suffering confront me.28 I go about blackened, but not by the sun;I stand up in the assembly and cry for help.
(fine more on anxiety and depression here).
Although we have gone over the different aspects on how things affect it, I want you to understand to take the steps you need to get healthy. Go to therapy & or/psychiatrist, build healthy friendships, ask questions, workout, pray, read, ditch the toxic people and things, take at least 1 day to rest, do some fun activities that don't end up causing more damage, get out of bed and get some sun, read books on your condition and things to fuel you. Create a plan with someone to get the help you need.
For those that are blessed enough to not suffer from these conditions, have some understanding & compassion towards people. The tables could turn any day. Help someone up or point them in the direction of help. This world has many struggles, but working together we can overcome a lot more. If you would like some insight on faith and mental health I heard this amazing podcast the other day. Check it out here.
If you need resources to get some help, visit my resources page , contact your local church, or go on your insurance website. You've got this! Its a great day to work towards healing <3
Have a blessed day!