For much of my life, the words “What is wrong with me,” were an annoying earworm, stuck in an endless loop in my brain. A daily performance danced in the gray matter between my ears, reminding me that I was a colossal failure. A loser who’d made a career of self-loathing, I was rudderless without purpose and someone who wouldn’t be missed if I decided to voluntarily check out.
A couple of months ago, Pastor Marty Kaiser interviewed a Reveal church member, Chris Morris, to address the current mental health crisis afflicting our nation. Chris candidly shared his personal struggles with mental illness and suicide. As someone who has personally battled depression and anxiety, the interview resonated so deeply within me, that I’ve since rewatched it twice.
Listening to both Marty and Chris discuss their mutual connection of living with mental illness and the stigma that comes with all that that entails, I felt somewhat relieved hearing that even people of the strongest faith (and EVEN pastors), struggle with depression.
I battled childhood depression decades ago, before such a malady was named. After my parents’ divorce, my mother brushed off my fears and debilitating sadness as childhood angst and moodiness. My mother chose to ignore me rather than help, leaving me to struggle in silence.
Depression, fear and anxiety would become uninvited, regular companions throughout my life. Denial and feeding my emotions with food were my go-to coping strategies. The enemy thrived in my target-rich environment of pretending I was fine all the while stuffing my feelings with cookies and cakes. With each self-destructive binge and beat-down, Satan served up heaping helpings of shame and guilt.
It would be years before I finally reached a point when I knew I needed outside professional help.
I’m not sure why there are so many negatives when it comes to medicating mental health problems. (Yes, even in the church). The admonition of one misguided naysayer whose only advice is to “man up and pray more,” is just that – misguided. Sadly, this was the unfortunate advice Chris received many years ago when he sought counsel from a church pastor.
At one point in MY mental health journey, I totally shut down and no amount of Scripture reading, or prayer could pull me from the abysmal darkness. I felt abandoned and forgotten by God and the only thing that literally saved me, was a caring, intuitive M.D. who prescribed medication.
Satan is a master when it comes to attacking us with guilt, denial and shame. One of the prized weapons in his toolbelt is comparison. Do not be tempted to compare your health struggles with others. You are uniquely made by God. If you or someone close to you is warring with any type of mental illness, seek help from a medical professional and address your issues with a plan specifically designed for YOU. Do not delay! Help is a phone call away.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)
If you’re in a crisis now, do not hesitate to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)